Legislators target marriage ban

The San Diego Union-Tribune
February 18, 2009
After hearing conflicting and often emotional testimony about who deserves the last say on the marriage question, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 7-3 in favor of a resolution stating citizens lacked the authority to put the gay marriage ban directly to voters. [Link]

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Calif. Lawmakers Back Prop. 8 Challenge

San Jose Mercury News
February 17, 2009
As Calif. marriage equality advocates lobbied for legislative support at the state Capitol yesterday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 7-3 in favor of a resolution stating that citizens lacked the authority to put Prop. 8 directly to voters. [Link]

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TALKING TO POLITICIANS: Speaking to Politicians about Equality

Guest Blogger: Andrew Meyer


I have given this problem some thought, and as of now my best answer came to me from a speech delivered by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during House debates over the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment.” Rising on the floor to speak, she prefaced her remarks by saying, “As we consider this amendment, we must understand we are talking about our fellow citizens—people under the law…”

These last words hold the key for me- “people under the law.” In addressing elected officials we must strive to continually bring them back to this focus and this responsibility. However solemn and dignified their offices may be, they do not have the right or the authority to view any Americans through the lens of their own preferences and predilections. They are honor-bound to view all Americans (including themselves) first and last as “people under the law,” and to exercise the office we citizens have given them ever-mindful of the constraints that implies.

The first imperative this binds our elected leaders to is to distinguish clearly between the civil and religious institutions of marriage. Different religious groups will always disagree about the rightful parameters of the marital bond. If a church considers divorce a mortal sin, for example, it might like to see the government do away with it as a civil institution. This will not happen, of course, because most Americans recognize that to do so would be grossly unfair to those who do not share in that particular church’s faith (and even to those members of that church who do not elect to be bound by its strictures).

This is thus the question that confronts us as a society: given that all of us hold to different religious notions of marriage, what is a fair basis for civil marriage law? The spiritual benefits of marriage are a matter of personal conscience and confessional deliberation. The legal benefits of marriage are real and objectively quantifiable, however. The Government Accountability Office lists 1,138 benefits, privileges, and rights that flow to an individual as a result of married status under federal law. What is the fair basis for denying those benefits and protections to a citizen of this Republic? If two people avow to love, honor, respect, and care for one another, and they manifest all the signs of mutual fidelity, affection, and responsibility, that are the hallmarks of those commitments, is anyone justified in denying them the protections and benefits of marriage simply because they are of the same gender?

This last question touches upon the second great imperative by which elected officials are bound in viewing all citizens as “people under the law.” Our system is grounded on the principle that there is a reality more fundamental and powerful than the law, forming the bedrock upon which the law is built. That foundation is our rights. Though law is made, rights are discovered. They exist before the law, and as the law is built care must be taken not to injure them. In this regard we must confront our leaders and ask them clearly and deliberately, do you truly believe that two unrelated adults who love one-another do not have the right to marry one-another? The Supreme Court found, in Loving v. Virginia, that that right could not be denied to two people on account of race. What, then, is the logic for denying it on account of gender or sexual orientation?
There has been a great deal of talk about the “sanctity” and “defense” of marriage. The true significance of marriage, however, is lost to many Americans because our culture is so focused on the myth of the “rugged individual” and the “self-made person.” The truth, as so many spiritual leaders and artists have declared (and as I have discovered as a happily married husband and father), is that none of us make ourselves, at least not singly and alone. We come into being through our attachments and our relations to other people, thus our greatest potential for “self-creation” resides in those relationships over which we may exercise some degree of choice. Marriage is the one kinship relationship into which we may enter voluntarily; it thus affords us more power to shape our own identity than any other institution. It is this sense in which marriage to the partner of one’s choice is an inalienable right, one that can not be denied to an individual, even by a vote of the majority. If we can make our elected leaders understand this basic truth, marriage equality will be secured, and we will have advanced one more step along the never-ending search for the “more perfect Union” of which the Constitution speaks.


Andrew Meyer is a professor of Chinese history at Brooklyn College. He and his wife believe in sharing their ideas about equality and a few months ago, he began a blog writing effort targeting congressman at marriageequalityamendment.blogspot.com.

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Marriage Ban Falls in Wyo. House

Casper Star-Tribune
February 7, 2009
By a 35-25 vote, the Wyoming House defeated a bill on Friday that would have tried to place a proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment before the state's voters. [Link]

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Vt. House to introduce marriage equality bill

Rutland Herald
February 6, 2009
Members of the House of Representatives will introduce a bill today that, if passed, would end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Vermont. (Link)

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NH bishop Gene Robinson testifies in favor of marriage equality bill

Vermont WCAX TV
February 5, 2009
The Rev. V. Gene Robinson testified in favor of the bill at the State House on Thursday, calling it a matter of fairness. He urged lawmakers to ignore objections opponents may have on religious grounds. "Ladies and gentleman of the Judiciary Committee, don't let the religious opponents to marriage equality you will hear from today and in the days to come make you afraid to do what is right," Robinson said. (Link)

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Hawaii civil-union bill advances

Star Bulletin
February 6, 2009
Hawaii lawmakers have moved forward a bill supporting civil unions for same-sex couples. A packed room of people wearing gold stickers with the word "Equality" on them erupted in loud cheers and hugs as the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill 12-0 last night. The measure advances to a vote before the full House next week, where a majority of representatives - 32 out of 51 - have already said they support the civil-union measure. If it passes, the bill would then move on for consideration by the state Senate. (Link)

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NH Bishop to testify at marriage equality hearing

Associated Press
January 30, 2009
The Rev. V. Gene Robinson will testify Thursday before the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee on a bill to end exclusion of gay couples from marriage in the Granite State. (Link)

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Study: Legislators Are Not Hurt by Voting for Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

San Francisco Bay Times
January 22, 2009
Voting for marriage for gay couples or against an anti-gay amendment is a safe move for politicians, a new study by the group Freedom to Marry has found. (Link)

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Hawaii lawmakers to consider gaming, marriage equality

Associated Press
January 21, 2009
Hawaii lawmakers convene a new session Wednesday in which they expect to consider legalizing gambling, recognizing marriage for gay couples and preserving Hawaiian lands. The session runs through May 7. (Link)

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