Gay Primary Source

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Justice Dissents

"[T]he ‘absolute equality of all’ persons before the law [is] ‘the very foundation principle of our government.’ " (Varnum v. Brien (Iowa 2009) 763 N.W.2d 862, 877.)

"The question before us is not whether the language inserted into the California Constitution by Proposition 8 discriminates against same-sex couples and denies them equal protection of the law; we already decided in the Marriage Cases that it does. The question before us today is whether such a change to one of the core values upon which our state Constitution is founded can be accomplished by amending the Constitution through an initiative measure placed upon the ballot by the signatures of 8 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election and passed by a simple majority of the voters. Or is this limitation on the scope of the equal protection clause to deny the full protection of the law to a minority group based upon a suspect classification such a fundamental change that it can only be accomplished by revising the California Constitution...

...I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus "represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the nature and operation of our governmental structure that it must be considered a ‘revision’ of the state Constitution rather than a mere ‘amendment’ thereof." The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent.

As discussed, there is no "underlying" principle more basic to our Constitution than that the equal protection clause protects the fundamental rights of minorities from the will of the majority. Accordingly, Proposition 8’s withdrawal of any of those rights from gays and lesbians cannot be accomplished through constitutional amendment. ...As discussed, denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, by wrenching minority rights away from judicial protection and subjecting them instead to a majority vote, attacks the very core of the equal protection principle.

Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution."

California Supreme Court Justice J. Moreno, concurring [legality of existing marriages] and dissenting opinion, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Justice Supports Equal Rights

"I agree with the majority that Proposition 8 is a valid amendment to the California Constitution rather than a procedurally defective revision. I reject, however, much of the majority’s analysis... The drafters of our Constitution never imagined, nor would they have approved, a rule that gives the foundational principles of social organization in free societies, such as equal protection, less protection from hasty, unconsidered change than principles of governmental organization.

The history of our California Constitution belies any suggestion that the drafters envisioned or would have approved a rule, such as that announced today, that affords governmental structure and organization more protection from casual amendment than civil liberties. The delegates to the 1849 constitutional convention recognized that "government was instituted for the protection of minorities," and that "[t]he majority of any community is the party to be governed; the restrictions of law are interposed between them and the weaker party; they are to be restrained from infringing upon the rights of the minority." Similarly, the delegates to the second constitutional convention in 1878-1879 well understood the charter they were drafting would provide the only effective protection for civil liberties. The initial draft of the 1879 Constitution, in a provision ultimately rejected, would expressly have looked to the federal Constitution for this purpose... Even the conservative delegates conceded that reliance on the federal Constitution as the principal author of liberties was "a mistake historically, a mistake in law, and it is a blunder all around." Thus, the convention’s refusal to label the federal Constitution ‘the great charter of our liberties’ provided a clear indicator ‘that the idea of rights rooted in the state’s own constitution was a robust one."

Equal protection’s continuing vitality in the present context is shown by this court’s unanimous reaffirmation..., that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation are subject to strict scrutiny, and that - excepting the name - same-sex couples are entitled to enjoy all of the rights of marriage. Accordingly, all three branches of state government continue to have the duty, within their respective spheres of operation, today as before the passage of Proposition 8, to eliminate the remaining important differences between marriage and domestic partnership, both in substance and perception. The measure puts one solution beyond reach by prohibiting the state from naming future same-sex unions "marriages," but it does not otherwise affect the state’s obligation to enforce the equal protection clause by protecting the "fundamental right . . . of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other official recognized family relationships." For the state to meet its obligations under the equal protection clause will now be more difficult, but the obligation remains."

California Supreme Court Justice J. Werdegar, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Validates Same-Sex Marriages

"...we conclude that interpreting Proposition 8 to apply retroactively would create a serious conflict between the new constitutional provision and the protections afforded by the state due process clause. In the absence of a clear and unambiguous statement that the new provision is to have such an effect, the general legal guideline that requires courts to interpret potentially conflicting constitutional provisions in a manner that harmonizes the provisions, to the extent possible, further supports the conclusion that Proposition 8 properly must be interpreted to apply only prospectively. Accordingly, applying these well-established principles of interpretation relating to the question of retroactivity, we conclude that Proposition 8 cannot be interpreted to apply retroactively so as to invalidate the marriages of same-sex couples that occurred prior to the adoption of Proposition 8. Those marriages remain valid in all respects." California Supreme Court, Tuesday May 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine State Senator Lauds Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"I am truly overjoyed today. The government of the State of Maine has certainly come down on the right side of civil rights, equality and ending discrimination today. I am very proud to be a member of the Legislature. And I am extremely proud to be a Mainer. This has been a long and at times difficult process. Today will stand forever as one of the most historic days in our grand and glorious history. I pray that as Maine goes, so will the rest of the nation. For far too long people have been denied this basic right that so many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted. Today, in Maine, we have said that same-sex couples are not second class citizens, that separate is not equal, that justice and fairness ultimately prevails over fear and hatred. It’s a great day in Maine." Maine State Senator Dennis Damon, sponsor of LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage..., following the signing of the bill into law by Governor Baldacci, May 6, 2009

Governor of Maine Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully. I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste. I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue. This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question. In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage. Article I in the Maine Constitution states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.’ This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State. It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government. Even as I sign this important legislation into law, I recognize that this may not be the final word. Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people. While the good and just people of Maine may determine this issue, my responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. I believe that signing this legislation is the right thing to do." Maine Governor John E. Baldacci, upon signing LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage...

Maine Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 2. 19-A MRSA §650-A is enacted to read:
§ 650-A. Codification of marriage
Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including, but not limited to, "spouse," family," "marriage," "immediate family," "dependent," "next of kin," "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," "widow" and "widower," must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law.

Sec. 3. 19-A MRSA §650-B is enacted to read:
§ 650-B. Recognition of marriage licensed and certified in another jurisdiction
A marriage of a same-sex couple that is validly licensed and certified in another jurisdiction is recognized for all purposes under the laws of this State.

Sec. 4. 19-A MRSA §651, sub-§2, is further amended to read:
2. Application. The parties wishing to record notice of their intentions of marriage shall submit an application for recording notice of their intentions of marriage. The application may be issued to any 2 persons otherwise qualified under this chapter regardless of the sex of each person.

An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage..., Enacted May 6, 2009

Washington DC Recognizes Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

DISCLOSURE TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT AMENDMENT ACT OF 2009 - A new section 1287a is added to read as follows: "Sec. 1287a. Recognition of Marriages from Other Jurisdictions. - A marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction between 2 persons of the same sex that is recognized as valid in that jurisdiction, that is not expressly prohibited by sections 1283 through section 1286, and has not been deemed illegal under section 1287, shall be recognized as a marriage in the District.".

"Today’s vote was part of the continued march towards full equality for gays and lesbians in the District of Columbia. I was very heartened by the unanimous support the amendment received. It is also particularly pleasing that the Council took this action only moments after the Vermont legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation in that state. While our work on this issue won’t be finished until same-sex marriages are permitted in the District, today’s vote was a major step forward for those who support equal rights." DC Councilmember David Catania on the D.C. Council’s 12-0 vote to approve an amendment to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Tuesday April 7, 2009

"Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights. Gays and lesbians bear every burden of citizenship and are entitled to every benefit and protection that the law allows to everyone else. I am proud that the District of Columbia will be among the first jurisdictions to confer equal marriage rights to all its residents. Whenever 12 out of 13 Councilmembers vote to support any issue, it indicates that there is strong support for the issue among our constituents." DC Councilmember David Catania on the D.C. Council’s 12-1 vote to approve an amendment to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Tuesday May 5, 2009

Only Councilmember Marion Barry, who previously sponsored the amendment, and was "absent" at the first reading, voted against it.
The bill was signed into law by Mayor Adrian Fenty, May 6, 2009.