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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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Read the whole opinion.

Compared with the overturning of miscegenation laws enacted ennacted in 41 states to criminalize marriages between people of different races–namely African Americans, Iowa was the third state to overturn such laws. Wikipedia has a timeline showing when the laws were enacted and when they were overturned. Just fyi, the US Supreme Court upheld the bans on interracial marriage in 1883, then overturned them in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. The US never enacted a federal law or constitutional ban against interracial marriage.

The current Iowa decision is set to take affect in 21 days.

youth-march

For more info, go to the Equal Action website, view the event Facebook page, or contact: info@equalaction.org Adults who want to volunteer contact volunteer@equalaction.org.

UPDATE: If you have a Facebook account, click on to the Facebook Event Page to view photos and video from the event.

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.

Photo by Corey Clark

Photo by Corey Clark

So much to write about, so little attention span. Here are the highlights:

Orange County, of all places, is lighting up the scoreboard for equal rights. Chapman University School of Law has been a hotbed of controversy these past few months. The brief supported and signed by several Chapman staff, faculty, and students was recently joined by the President of the entire University. The University President, along with a Trustee, filed a joinder application asking the court to include them in the brief filed in support of overturning Prop 8.

03/02/2009      Order filed     The application of Chapman University President James Doti and Chapman University Trustee Wyle Aitken to join in the amicus curiae brief filed by Individual Chapman University Organizations et al. in support of petitioners is hereby granted.

The dean of the law school, John Eastman, responded to this news by filing his own joinder motion to be included in a brief filed in support of Prop 8. Apparently, the dean feels that the proposition is not discriminatory. Eastman was instrumental in the filing of a previous amicus brief supporting the Proposition. Although this brief was allegedly not affiliated with the University, it uses the University’s address.

Chapman law held another “symposium” to discuss Prop 8 on February 27th.  We have all come to expect these things to be propagandist in nature. Indeed this event included a BYU law professor who compared peaceful no on 8 demonstrations to “kristallnacht,” the night that Nazis stormed through Jewish neighborhoods, ransacked homes and businesses, and rounded up tens of thousands of Jews to be sent to concentration camps. Ludicrous, but expected–this is the OC after all.

What could not have been expected were the thoughtful and stirring challenges to this establishment made by professors who understand that equal rights is an issue of civil rights. Professors like Katherine B. Darmer, one of the principal drafters of the amicus brief supporting the overturning of Prop 8, spoke to rousing applause and a standing ovation (the BYU professor speech evoked mainly laughter from the audience). The school’s paper wrote an article summarizing this event and highlighting the polarity of Eastman’s opinions–even when compared to the conservative school’s leaders. You can view video tape of the symposium at the school’s website.