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Come learn how you can keep all that’s yours! OCEC is hosting free legal forum on tax tips geared toward LGBT people.  They have a panel of Orange County tax professionals ready to answer your questions! The event is being held on March 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Chapman University School of Law.

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gonediving

You all know this already: the CA Supreme Court will issue its decision on the constitutional challenge to proposition 8 and on what will become of the legal marriages entered by 36,000 people tomorrow at 10 am PST.

Here is what is happening tomorrow night: Day of the Decision. On Saturday, everyone will be meeting “in the middle” of the state…Fresno (which, by the way, has a happening LGBT film festival every year, so don’t totally discount its scene). Here is the info on that: Meet in the Middle. (So Cal folks check out Orange County and Long Beach events.)

Fortunately or unfortunately, my wife and I will be on a remote island in the Caribbean for the next week. Though we wish we could be with you during this historic time, we will relish the opportunity to get away from the struggle and, for a brief time, remember why we are fighting so hard.

With love and in solidarity,

Lindsey

Gay Marriage New England

In his own words, via The Huffington Post:

“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,” Governor Baldacci said. “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,” Governor Baldacci said. “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,” Governor Baldacci said. “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,” Governor Baldacci said.

“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,” Governor Baldacci said. “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,” Governor Baldacci said.

Congratulations, Maine.

Gay Marriage Maine

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So I would LOVE to stop writing about Orange County head of Chapman Law School and intellectual dinosaur, John Eastman, but he’s fighting so hard for attention that it’s a shame to ignore the little guy. In an ongoing war of words with most of the world, including colleagues and students at conservative, Chapman University, Eastman is carving out his niche with the crazies–presumably so he won’t be completely forgotten once Dean Erwin Chimerinsky opens UC Irvine’s new law school next year.

Eastman was interviewed by the OC Register late last month (full article). His main point was that proponents of Prop 8 should be emphasizing how inferior gay “situations” are to their hetero counterparts, as opposed to their campaign lie that they wanted gay citizens to have all the same rights as non-gay people.  Eastman says in the article:

“Marriage is for procreation and promotion of the family. There is a biological connection to the institution of marriage. The people who have the greatest natural instinct to care for children are the natural parents.

“That natural instinct is so powerful that when we push it aside, it can have a profound affect on society. When one or more of the parents are adoptive, you’re usually starting with a less-than-optimal child-rearing situation.”

The logical oversights here are obvious. People marry for many reasons–birthing and/or raising children together is often not one of them. Marriage is not about “procreation.” If that was the sole reason for people to get married, then old people, infertile people, and people who do not want kids would be ineligible (for the record, not all same sex couples want to have kids). The idea that adoptive families are “less than” biological families presumes that bio families are all the Cleavers and the Cosbys. As a back-sliden social worker with career experience in the county foster/adoption system, I must point out that when a foster child is adopted, it is because that child was in some way abandoned or neglected by its biological parents and family–so much for natural instinct.

Eastman’s interview prompted an op-ed piece, entitled “Unjustified Accusations,” in Chapman’s university paper, the Panther. Andrew Scheppmann writes:

Adoptive parents endure a lengthy and time-consuming process to start a family and to give homes to children in the foster care system – many of whom come from abusive homes and were taken away from their biological parents.

Eastman is assuming that adopted children will turn out poorly and affect society negatively. But his accusations are unfounded and unjustified.

Eastman responded to this op-ed with a Letter to the Editor in which he splits hairs over whether he meant that children raised by non-bio parents will turn out “poorly” or “less well” than those raised by bio parents in a “low conflict marriage” (such as the Cleavers and the Cosbys). His money line is this: “It is unfortunate that debate over this contested issue has taken on such an anti-intellectual cast.”

Eastman has sponsored one bigoted “forum” after another about Prop 8 and the state’s recognition of same sex marriages (some of which I have covered here and here). He has given a bully pulpit to the likes of BYU professors of law Lynn Wardle and Scott Loveless–both of whom perpetuated wildly outlandish misconceptions about same sex relationships, apparently in an effort to convince the audience of the inferiority of these relationships. Loveless claimed that LGBT people often had thousands of sexual partners, and compared relationships between consenting adults to pedophilia. Wardle also compared peaceful “No on 8” protests to the night that Nazis assaulted Jewish neighborhoods sending over 100,000 Jews to their death in concentration camps.

These Eastman “forums” also included professors who support lifting the ban on marriages for gays and lesbians; a fact that Eastman seems to believe legitimizes the conversation. His “money line,” highlighted above, presumes that his arguments are “intellectual”–as opposed to ignorant at best and malicious at worst. Though I have heard him repeat that opposition to equal rights does not automatically constitute “bigotry” or “hatred,” I have never heard him offer an alternative justification. Arguments chocked full of dehumanizing mischaracterizations are, in fact, anti-intellectual.  The fact that these men are teachers and deans and wear suits does not mean that their opinions are “scholarly.” The Senators who filibustered for 57 days in an attempt to derail the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 were not wearing their white sheets either.

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There is a lot of talk about the idea of calling all civil marriages “civil unions.” People wanting to couple officially, straight or gay, could get a civil union contract with the state. They would then be free to pursue a “marriage” at their chosen religious institution. The idea is that the state can satisfy the issue of equality while religions are free to only marry who they so choose. This is being called “getting the state out of the marriage business.”

There was a discussion on this point held on Patt Morrison’s show on KPCC yesterday because a group of UCSB students are collecting signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would remove the word “marriage” from the California Constitution. Obviously, this would cause problems with Californian’s trying to reconcile our Constitution with the US Constitution. While this sounds like somewhat of a reasoned compromise, there are many important issues that arise.

The marriage/civil union discussion seems to incorrectly presume two points. First, same sex marriage is a newly constructed unit that is different from opposite sex marriage. The truth is, gay and lesbian people have been marrying each other for millennia. Indeed, these marriages occurred and were legally recognized in antiquity. Many same sex couples get married in churches within their faith traditions. These marriages are not illegal; they are *ignored* by the state.

The wording of Prop 8 requires that the state continue to ignore these marriages. So if Prop 8 is upheld, even if the state then “got out of the marriage business” by only offering civil union contracts, the religious marriages of straight couples could be recognized as such while the religious marriages of gay and lesbian couples would continue to be ignored.

The second incorrect presumption is that if the state recognizes the marriages of same sex couples, religious people or institutions will in some way be harmed. Same sex couples and families are harmed by the state (and the federal government) ignoring their relationships. The state recognizing these relationships provides remedy to this harm. The religious institutions that feel strongly against gay people and/or gay marriage are not affected by either outcome. They will continue to enjoy the same religious freedom they have now. Rightly, the religions that honor marriage commitments between gay and lesbian people will begin to enjoy religious freedom that is *equal* to the majority religion.

The idea that the rule of law should be dictated by bare majorities represents nothing more than the quickest road to fascism. It is not truthful to the founding and ruling principles of this country–it is not the American way. The American way is that government shall equally rule all people. Just because some people don’t like other people doesn’t make the unpopular group less of a citizen.