November 2008 Archives

November 25, 2008

Florida Gay Adoption Ban Unconstitutional

And about time, too! For 31 years, Florida has had a law prohibiting lesbian and gay parents from adopting children. Today, a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled that the ban is unconstitutional, violates children's equal protection rights, and is not supported by any rational basis.

The judge noted that there is no legal or scientific reason for preventing gay parents from adopting, despite the state's efforts to use old stereotypes (more drug use, less stable relationships) to persuade her that gay people are ineffective parents. To the contrary, the judge noted, "It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent."

In this belief she is joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association, all of which support allowing LGBT people to adopt children.

The state says it will appeal the decision, so the issue may end up in front of the Florida Superme Court.

November 20, 2008

Stop the Presses: Homophobic Laws Make Us Feel Bad

Okay, I don't mean to make light, but don't we already know that we're really, really bummed out and angry about the various homophobic constitutional amendments that passed in this most recent election?

Still, it's good to have credible evidence that this is truly a significant psychological blow to lesbians and gay men and our families. Three different studies in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, conclude that amendments denying the right to marry to same-sex couples have led to higher levesl of stress and anxiety among LGBT adults. Not only that, but it also bums out our families of origin, who sometimes identify so deeply with the experience of discrimination that they feel attacked as well. This is apparently called "secondary minority stress."

In all seriousness, these are very interesting studies. Check them out here (Marriage Amendments and Psychological Distress), here (GLBT Experience in Time of Anti-Gay Amendments), and here (Family Members' Experiences).

November 20, 2008

Prop 8 Opponents Get Day in Court

The California Supreme Court has agreed to consider multiple lawsuits challenging Proposition 8, the ballot initiative limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. The lawsuits, described in this post, will be considered by the court on an expedited schedule, with briefing completed in January of 2009 and oral argument possible as early as March. (I know, that doesn't seem so expedited, but for the state high court, it's lightning-fast.)

As described in its order of November 19, the court will consider three questions: (1) whether Prop 8 is invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution; (2) whether Prop 8 violates the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution; and (3) if Prop 8 is upheld, what is its effect on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the election?

Six out of seven justices voted to consider the lawsuits. The sole dissenter was Justice Joyce Kennard, whose decision not to join the majority here is somewhat troubling because she was one of the justices who joined the majority opinion in the marriage cases that resulted in the Supreme Court's May 15th ruling making same-sex marriage legal in California. But the questions being considered here are very different from those considered in the marriage cases, so it's difficult to predict where the justices will come down on this one. All of the filings in the Prop 8 case are available on the Supreme Court's "high profile case" page.   

November 17, 2008

Prop 8 Challenged in Court and On the Streets

On November 4, the voters of California passed Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to say that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Since then, protests all over the state have demonstrated that California's LGBT citizens -- and many thousands of their straight allies -- aren't willing to accept the amendment of the Constitution to deprive one class of people of equal protection under the law. And on Saturday, November 15, a coordinated national protest against Prop. 8 and for marriage equality drew crowds in cites all over the country -- some as small as 15 people, and some with many thousands, as this interesting and rather charming list of protest attendance from the organizing website Join the Impact shows. 

At the same time, the California Supreme Court is being asked to review the validity of Prop. 8. The day after the election, a lawsuit was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal, asking the high court to declare Prop. 8 invalid on the basis that it is a revision to the Constitution, rather than an amendment, and therefore can't be approved by a simple majority vote.

There's no way of knowing what the Supreme Court's time frame might be on this. In the meantime, there's no question that the marriage equality movement has been re-energized. More to come on this.

November 12, 2008

Same-Sex Couples Marrying in Connecticut

Today is the first day that same-sex couples in Connecticut can take advantage of the state's new law allowing them to marry. But in contrast to the enormous amount of media generated by the first marriages in Massachusetts four years ago and in California earlier in 2008, the early nuptials in Connecticut haven't garnered nearly as much attention, according to an article in the Hartford Courant. Apparently non-gay people there are now much more concerned about things that actually affect them, like the economy. A refreshing change right in the face of all the folks who think other people's intimate relationships are their business in 30 of the other states.
November 6, 2008

Yes We Can! Unless We're Gay.

Tuesday was an amazing day for all Americans as we elected a president who promises to bring change to America. And do we ever need it! Especially those of us in the LGBT community, who did not fare so well on election day.

My last post described four anti-gay measures on the ballot in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas. All four of them passed. Voters in California approved Proposition 8, which amends the California Constitution to provide that marriage is only between a man and a woman, by a slim but firm margin. This was a devastating result for a state that has actually been performing same-sex marriages for nearly five months following a state Supreme Court decision striking down the same discriminatory law that is now enshrined in the state Constitution. Ouch.

Arizona voters approved Proposition 102, and in Florida, Amendment 2 was passed by 62% of voters -- both are also constitutional amendments to limit marriage to a man and a woman.

The only good news is that Connecticut voters rejected a proposed constitutional convention that would have allowed changes to the state constitution by popular vote (exactly what happened in California). 

Two down, forty-eight to go.