Posts Tagged ‘same-sex couples’

So It Begins: Military Same-sex Couples Already Facing Problems

September 27th, 2011 No comments

As I wrote in my previous post, the repeal of DADT peels away the mask on a problem just as it solves another: Once gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly, their relationships snap into view. And then we can see, clearly, the devastating effect of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the daily lives of these couples.

A regular reader and friend drew my attention to this story from Reuters. It details the difficulty that a lesbian couple — a couple with a six-year-old child and a baby on the way — faces when both parents are in the military. The odds that they’ll be placed together are much lower since they’re not married. They have to appeal under a hardship rule, and that’s less likely to be successful than a request to remain together submitted by a legally married couple.

In this case, the hardship request was denied. (But the request was made before Luz Bautista, the mom making it, was able to reveal that she was in a relationship.) So Bautista is about to be shipped off Illinois for a three-year posting that could be extended. The couple plan to swap custody every three months or so, which seems the best they can do under the circumstances. This is another stark example of how DOMA undermines the very family values it was supposedly implemented to protect. We should call attention to cases like this at every opportunity, and call upon the oppositionists to explain and justify such a result.

Meanwhile, until DOMA is either repealed (not any time soon) or declared unconstitutional (a better chance), advocacy groups should be holding the Obama Administration’s feet to the fire. We should insist that the hardship rule be interpreted in such a way as to render same-sex couples no less likely to be placed together than their opposite-sex counterparts. A directive so mandating should issue, forthwith. For now, stories like this one reveal the stark inequality of DOMA and draw the date of its demise ever closer.

Bautista: “The emotional toll. You can’t even describe it. It has been tearing us apart for the last couple of months.” Most parents would agree. And there’s no need for this trauma. Fix it, already.

Prop 8 Appellate Arguments to be Televised (Probably)

November 17th, 2010 No comments

All over the gayosphere this evening was the news that oral argument on Prop 8, set for December 6, is to be televised. The Ninth Circuit issued an order allowing the full two hours of argument to be broadcast.

You’ll probably recall that the proceedings in the court below had been approved for telecast, too — until SCOTUS stepped in with some trumped-up reasons for reversing that determination (by an ominous 5-4 decision). Technically, at least, the Court’s ruling was based on the lower court’s failure to follow the rules for approving broadcasting, so assuming that these rules have now been followed (sheesh, let’s hope so!), I don’t expect the Supremes to weigh in again — at least not for now.

The two hours are to be divided equally between procedure and substance, and that’s telling all by itself. The first hour will focus on the quite serious standing issue; since the State of California has declined to appeal its loss, there’s strong Supreme Court language suggesting (though by no means stating unequivocally) that the intervenors supporting Prop 8 don’t have standing to lodge the appeal. The case might or might be complicated by the alleged interest of county officials, though. Can they defend the law even if the state won’t? It’s quite possible, for the reasons set forth in this clear, and excellent post. It’s also possible that the whole case could be thrown out on this basis: If the intervenors don’t have standing to appeal, why then did they have standing to sue? (The post also discusses this problem expertly). If the court finds no standing for this reason, then the suit would have to be refiled — but would have no defenders (since the newly elected Governor — who’s also the former AG — believe that Prop 8 should die.

OK, standing isn’t the best topic with which to debut Prop 8 Court TV, but it will get more interesting for non-lawyers from there. They will rouse themselves from a deep, coma-like sleep once the argument moves to the serious constitutional issues. I hope enough people are watching for word to spread, far and wide: The Prop 8 proponents have little to commend their position. As David Boies has memorably stated, once the issue moved out of the public square where anything can and will be said — support or logic be damned — and into the courtroom where actual arguments are needed to sustain the ban against same-sex marriages, the emperor stood revealed.

Don’t expect anything to happen soon, though. Whatever the court decides, an appeal to the court en banc (which usually means all judges on the appellate court, but is constituted by fewer judges in the Ninth Circuit given the court’s sheer size) is inevitable. Then, on to the Supreme Court, in all likelihood — whether on standing issues or substance, it’s too early to say.

But the public will get a rich sense of the injustice of the law’s exclusion of same-sex couples from the dignity and legal recognition of marriage. For that, we can thank the court’s sensible decision to allow this broadcast.

More on the Next Gayby Boom

November 4th, 2010 10 comments

In last week’s 365gay column, I looked at recent scientific advances that might soon enable same-sex couples to have their own biological children. Many, many comments have been generated by readers who feel strongly about whether this science should be used, even if available.

This week, I dig more deeply into the bioethical and legal questions that would surface, encourage debate on the subject now, and call for a debate on the value of having one’s own bio kids in the first place. Some incisive comments are already coming in.

Live Blogging Lingle’s Civil Union Announcement

July 6th, 2010 1 comment

It’s weird. I’m sitting here looking at the seal of Hawaii, soon to be occluded by the Governor, Linda Lingle, who’s set to make her announcement. I guess this is a live blog….

That seal translates into English, roughly, as “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” And one of the two figures on the seal is the Goddess of Liberty. Let’s see whether the governor’s physical blocking of the seal also represents a symbolic obliteration of the lives of her LGBT citizens.

We’ve just heard that she’s to appear in “a minute or two,” followed by the now-ritual plea to silence phones. The only other sound has been a persistent cough.

Here she comes, greeting the media with an “Aloha.” She’s invited representatives on both sides of the bill. Now she’s asking people not to react until she’s done. Enough, already….What’s her decision?

Now she’s thanking everyone.

She’s vetoing the bill. It’s a good thing, it turns out, that we can’t see the seal or the Goddess of Liberty.

She has been “open and consistent” in her opposition to same-sex marriage, and this is the same thing by another name.

She’s become “convinced that this issue is of such societal importance that it deserves to be decided by all the people of Hawaii.”

So much for representative government. There are some issues that call for direct democracy, she says (without specifying which ones, or how that’s decided, or why people get to vote on others’ rights) and now she’s blaming the legislature for its maneuvering — maneuvering, by the way, that’s common. Now she’s criticizing the Democrats, as though she’s not signed bills passed by similar maneuvering in the past. This is just a diversion from the reasons for her decision, as she all but admits later (during Q and A). (I’m now editing this post.)

Now she’s blathering on about how deeply people of all ages and beliefs feel about the issue. A “big island” man had moved her by his story telling him about coming out to his traditional family, but was similarly moved by a mother who was concerned about her kids learning about same-sex couples and how they’re the same as opposite-sex couples.


Definition of marriage — we’re all invested, not just same-sex couples. Well, that’s true, but she doesn’t stop to consider the disparate impact on the two groups.

This should be decided “behind the curtain of the voting booth” — in other words, in complete and safe anonymity. This is the dignified approach. Dignity? Give me a fucking break. Would she be saying this about interracial marriage? That we should respect people’s rights to vote on others’ civil rights? But she doesn’t see this as a civil rights issue, obviously.

And then she has the nerve to talk about the “honor” of the political process.


She made her decision about a week ago, and had gone back and forth because of the strength of the arguments on the pro side. But they’re not arguments she bought.

Aren’t you just passing the buck? You’re supposed to make difficult decisions and not pass it along to the voters.

Unanswerable, really. More boilerplate about the will of the voters.

Will this define your term as governor?

It will be the most discussed, but then ticked off a list of her accomplishments.


I really don’t want to listen to the rest of this, beyond noting that she’s again passing the buck. She says she respects the same-sex couples who came before her, but ultimately that’s just not true.

Yes, I was wrong in my prediction of earlier today. But that’s because I thought that Lingle would understand that the feelings of those directly affected would matter more than the sentiments of those worried about some possible discussion they’d have to have with their kids — discussions they should already be having, given the reality of same-sex couples and their families.

History will judge her harshly, as it should.

One last note: She predicts that the civil union issue will end up on the ballot. Maybe that’s right, and if so, maybe the electorate will do the right thing. But we shouldn’t need that to happen. It’s a shame the simple power of equality held no sway over this governor. May her final days in office be tortured by doubt.

Throw Those Dogs A Bone

June 16th, 2009 No comments

Word coming out tonight is that the Obama Administration is set to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian federal employees. The announcement came without fanfare or warning, and is apparently to be made official tomorrow.

This is a small step, but ordinarily I’d be cheered by it. Now, though, not so much: It looks like an effort to calm down the LGBT community after the fiasco of the DOJ’s incendiary brief filed in the DOMA case. (See my earlier posts, here and here, on the topic, with links to others.) According to the same AP story reporting the move, appeasement might also have been driven by the withdrawal of cash by gay fundraisers for a June 25 event to feature VP Joe  Biden.

And keep in mind that all the government is doing is what many private employers, including my own, already do: extend benefits to “domestic partners.” A real step, and valuable to the couples who gain from it, but the move doesn’t touch the issue of benefits that the federal government ties to marriage; for that, we’d need a repeal of DOMA. Oh, wait — DOJ just…filed…a…brief…[slump]

If this is the first of a series of steps to move towards real equality, I’ll eat crow — happily. But I’m already cynical, not six months into this Administration. Pres. Obama, if  you want to convince fair-minded people — of all sexual orientations and identities — that you really “get” this, how about a transformative speech, followed by action? The 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is less than two weeks away.

Update: The “bone” is even smaller than first thought. The NY Times is reporting that the benefits won’t include full health coverage for same-sex partners. We don’t yet know what goodies will be granted, but I’ve heard mention of…relocation expenses! Hooray! (Excuse me, I’m tucking in my sarcasm.)

What this may really be about is the statement the President will make at 5:45 today (EDT), when he signs the memorandum making this happen. How broad will it be? Will it contain promises? An apology for the DOJ  brief? Stay tuned.