VOLUME 3, ISSUE 309 | February 26 - March 3, 2004
The Civil Marriage Trail, which last week brought New York gay couples to Canada to legally wed, is organizing a group to go to Boston by bus on March 11 when the constitutional convention reconvenes there to decide whether or not to propose a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. If an amendment is passed, it would not go to the voters unless another legislature passes it two years hence. If passed again, a November 2006 referendum would be held.
New York activists Brendan Fay and Jesus Lebron are encouraging folks to “sacrifice one day of work” for the cause of gay marriage in the Bay State.
For more information, go to CivilMarri
Massachusetts residents now oppose same-sex marriage by a 53-35 percent margin, the Boston Globe found. When the Supreme Judicial Court first ordered equal marriage rights for gay couples in November, the Globe found state residents in favor or legalizing gay marriage 48-43 percent. With the Catholic Church very active in the fight against gay marriage, opposition by Roman Catholics jumped from 47 to 66 percent. More people now disagree with the court’s ruling than agree with it, a reversal from November.
The latest found support for civil unions at 60 percent. Seventy-one percent want a referendum vote on the issue, but most want several options, something that is not likely to come out of the constitutional convention March 11 if anything does. Gov. Mitt Romney, who is doing everything he can to stop same-sex marriage from going into effect May 17 as the court has ordered, saw his popularity rise slightly from 44 to 48 percent.
Patrick Guerriero, a former Massachusetts state legislator who now heads the Log Cabin Republicans, attacked Romney for opposing a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage during his campaign in 2002 but supporting it now. “He was elected to be inclusive, not turn back the clock,” said Guerriero, who backed Romney in the race, but now feels betrayed. Romney claims he opposed the amendment back then because it banned domestic partner benefits along with same-sex marriage.
The speaker of the Massachusetts House, Thomas Finneran, publicly came out for an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage but also extend civil unions to gay couples, with the proviso that the Legislature can define civil union benefits “from time to time,” the Globe reported. While Finneran’s backing is key, an amendment that extends any rights to gay couples is anathema to the hard right on principle and because they believe it would increase the 2006 referendum vote against it among people who don’t want to give gay relationships any recognition.
The Forward, a Jewish newspaper in New York, did a story about how all fourteen Jews in the Massachusetts legislature oppose banning same-sex marriage. “Jews seem to be playing in this movement for equality a role similar to the one Jews played in the black civil rights movement of the 1960s,” Arlene Jacobsen of the state’s Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus told the paper.
Jacobsen told the Boston Globe that the San Francisco situation, where couples have been married in defiance of state law, “has not helped us at all and it arguably made things worse here.”
A third member of the state legislature came out this week. Rep. Cheryl Rivera was known as lesbian to many of her colleagues and constituents, but has become more public during the debate, joining Rep. Liz Malia and Sen. Jarrett Barrios as openly gay. She has not yet decided whether to speak from her personal experience when the debate resumes March 11 as the two others already have. “But I applaud them,” she said. She also had special praise for Representatives Byron Rushing, an African American, and Steve Walsh, an Irish Catholic, for their stirring speeches opposing an amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Amidst all the hubbub about Massachusetts and San Francisco, less attention has been paid to the gay marriage situation in Canada. Gay couples are still marrying in Ontario and British Columbia, but the Supreme Court, which was supposed to hold a hearing in April on a national bill to legalize same-sex marriage nationally, has delayed it until October. The new Prime Minister, Paul Martin, added some questions to the justices (such as whether civil unions would be acceptable under the Charter of Rights), provoking the delay—which also puts the decision well past the spring elections. Once the court issues its advisory opinion on the proposals, parliament will vote.
Maine already has a 1997 law banning same-sex marriages, but it killed a constitutional amendment doing the same thing by a 73-63 vote that mostly went along party lines with the Democrats in the majority.
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington DC has issued a report saying that the district extends 212 rights and responsibilities to married couples and just eight to domestic partners, who may be either gay or straight. They are allowed hospital visitation, to make medical decisions for each other, claim a partner’s remains, receive job leave when a partner is incapacitated, and get protections under the domestic violence law. Employees of the DC government can purchase health insurance for their partners at their own expense and use “opportunity account funds” for a partner’s education or business start-up.
The General Accounting Office has identified 1,049 federal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage.
Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, wrote a column for Newsweek’s website endorsing same-sex marriage. “The irony of our times,” she says, “is that the one group of people gays-who-passionately want to get married are slamming into a wall built of political concerns, legislative wrangling, right-wing religiosity (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and oddly enraged TV pundits who seem to think the world will come to an end if two people of the same sex join in holy matrimony.” She then asks, “what is frightening?” to people about gay couples marrying and concludes, “Maybe the bravery is what’s threatening. I don’t know if I could stand up to society’s wrath in the name of love.”
Marriage Equality/New York rolls out a Same-Sex Wedding Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan the weekend of March 20-21.
Mel Gibson is up to his bigoted tricks again, this time in “The Passion of the Christ.” Just as in “Braveheart,” his Oscar-winning film about Scottish hero William Wallace, some of the prime villains are portrayed as gay stereotypes. In his kill Christ movie, Satan is portrayed as “slithery” and “effeminate,” according to the New York Times, and played by a female actor to boot. Other reviews have described his Herod as a mincing king. Deliver us from evil, indeed.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has been besieged with hate mail since making the decision to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He could use a little encouragement. If you would like to thank him, he can be e-mailed at gavin.news
Gay demonstrators showed up in Austin outside Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s mansion this week with signs reading, “It’s OK to be Gay.” On one level they were protesting his signing of an anti-gay marriage bill last year. But they were also feeding the rumor mill that is swirling in Texas around Perry’s sexuality. Internet blog sites are full of stories about how Perry’s wife, Anita, caught him in bed with another man and has retained divorce lawyer Becky Beaver. Most sources say the man was Secretary of State Jeff Connor who was long rumored to be gay. Another source says it was Connor’s 19-year old son who has been interning in the state capital. The governor’s office denies it all and attributes the stories to political enemies of the governor. But Texas newspapers and some major national news organizations are making serious inquiries into the story. Stay tuned.
The New York Times just ran a story about Christelle Demichel, 34, of Paris who just married Eric Demichel, who died in 2002. Such marriages have been permitted since 1959 with the consent of the president. The dispensations are granted to people who had planned to get married before their partners died so that the survivor can take their intended’s name. It requires the consent of the deceased’s parents and does not include any material benefits or inheritance rights.
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com