Supremes Halt Same-Sex Marriage In Utah, While Under Appeal

Though we thought that an era had passed
It was, maybe, too perfect to last
Hundreds thought they were wed
Now the court says, instead,
“Equal treatment? Hang on, not so fast!”

It took a while–long enough for hundreds of same sex couples to have already wed–but the highly-expected appeal finally came through, and same sex marriage in Utah is on hold:

The terse order, from the full court, issued a stay “pending final disposition” of an appeal to the federal appeals court in Denver. It offered no reasoning.

This kinda-sorta happened in California, earlier, when the supremes danced around the issue instead of taking it on:

Judge Shelby was only the second federal judge to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriages, along with Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco, who in 2010 struck down Proposition 8, California’s ban. That ruling was stayed while it was considered by an appeals court, which affirmed it, and by the Supreme Court.

In June, the Supreme Court effectively sustained Judge Walker’s decision on technical grounds and without reaching the question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

So the couples in Utah had longer than the few hours some expected, but their concerns were dead on.

Live Same-Sex Wedding To Be Part Of New Year’s Tournament Of Roses Parade

At the Tournament Of Roses,
There’s a wonderful parade
Where the floats are not just beautiful,
They’re very strangely made:
Every inch of them is covered
With a flower, leaf, or twig;
They must hide the float’s machinery—
Each lever; every rig—
It’s a grand show of technology,
A flowered tour de force,
And it’s televised to millions
Every New Year’s Day, of course
For a hundred years they’ve done it
(And a handful more, as well)
But this year there’s something different,
So the whole thing goes to hell.
It’s been flowers and designers
Since the Tournament’s first day,
But there’s going to be a float this year
That turns the whole thing gay!

The beginning of the New Year is the end of the world, or so it seems to the Christian News Network. You see, they have horrible news:

PASADENA, Calif. – Two homosexual men are set to ‘wed’ on New Year’s Day during the historic Tournament of Roses parade, as they ride a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Congratulations! Danny Leclair and Aubrey Loots are getting married!

According to reports, Leclair and Loots will ride a wedding cake-shaped float themed “Dreams come true,” which will also bear the motto “Love is the best protection,” referring to the global AIDS epidemic. The AIDS Healthcare Foundations says that the float is meant to demonstrate “the role marriage can play in reducing HIV infections among gay men.”

The Christian News Network, of course, is opposed to their marriage. It is an affront to God, it displays sin, it something something … reasons. Apparently, they would rather have unstable relationships and HIV infections, because God loves… sick or dead people, apparently.

Anyway, the comments at the CNN are either hilarious or depressing, depending on how seriously you take them. Especially the letters of complaint people have written to the Tournament of Roses people, expressing offense on the part of themselves and God.

You might want to make a New Year’s resolution to never read the comments again.

Narrow Ohio Ruling With Broad Implications For Same-Sex Marriage

If you’re living in Ohio
And you want to wed your mate
There are certain situations
Where they’ll send you out of state:

See, Ohio has its standards;
Still, the balance of your life
They will recognize your union—
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you’re more-than-kissing cousins
And you want to tie the knot
There are states where you can do so
(Roughly twenty—not a lot)

You could fly to Alabama,
California, or New York,
Maybe Cape Cod, Massachusetts,
Say “I do”, and pop the cork

When you fly back to Ohio,
The remainder of your life
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you want to wed your sweetheart
But she isn’t yet fifteen
There are states that you could fly to
(Well, there’s one or two I’ve seen)

Though Ohio doesn’t like it,
You could wed your child bride,
Then it’s back as married Buckeyes
Cos it cannot be denied

Though Ohio doesn’t like it
It remains, for all your life—
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

But they made one big exception
Yes, they made a special note
And they said it was important
Cos they put it to a vote

And the people used the ballot
On that cold November day
To deny a legal status
If the wedded pair were gay

Adding injury to insult
Voters made it very clear—
If you’re legal in some other state
You’re still not legal here!

No, it won’t apply to everyone
With un-Ohio ways…
Not the cousins, nor the children,
No, it just applies to gays

But… the U.S. Constitution,
As amended, makes it clear
That we’re equally protected
Though Ohio thinks it queer

When majorities discriminate
And do it “just because”
It falls to the judicial branch
To scrutinize our laws

So, Ohio may not like it—
Disagreement may be rife—
But a man can wed a husband
And a woman wed a wife

Seems this is the week for court rulings you’ll want to bookmark. This time, it’s Ohio. The latest installment of (among other things) the story of John and Jim, whom we have seen here, here, and here.

Ohio’s ruling this week is very narrow, but with explicit hints that it applies to much bigger issues:

The court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages, if valid in the state performed, and even if not authorized nor validly performed under Ohio law, such as marriages between first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages.

That is, once you get lawfully married in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.

Moreover, as this Court held in its initial Orders this summer and reaffirms today, by treating lawful same-sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection: that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws” U.S. Const. amend XIV, § 1.

Therefore, under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize on Ohio death certificates valid same-sex marriages from other states.

As with the last decision reported here, Scalia’s dissent in Windsor is cited–judges apparently love irony.

And in case subtle irony is too subtle, the final footnote (22, on page 43) is more explicit:

As a final note, although the question of whether Ohio’s refusal to grant same-sex marriages also violates Ohio same-sex couples’ right to due process and equal protection is not before the Court in this case, the logical conclusion to be drawn from the evidence, arguments, and law presented here is that Ohio’s violation of the constitutional rights of its gay citizens extends behond the bounds of this lawsuit.

Another One To Bookmark

It matters not how you re-word it; they’ve heard it,
Your argument stinks—that’s a matter of fact.
The judge gave to you, in this ruling, a schooling
A thorough rebuking, though written with tact.
You claimed it amounts to miscarriage of marriage
To change what such unions have meant all along;
The judge found your “think of the children!” bewilderin’
Considered your logic, pronounced it dead wrong.

What you label “logic” is tortured—the sort you’d
Expect from a kid, whom you’d then want to scold!
In your view, to give churches freedom, you need ‘em
To keep other churches more tightly controlled!
You say that gay men have the same rights you claim, rights
To marry a woman—whichever they choose!
The judge, as you’ll quickly intuit, saw through it;
Your argument’s specious, and guess what? You lose!

Majorities see what they’ve wanted confronted
When sometimes their wishes are not what they ought
The judge, in his wisdom, saw through you, and knew you
Were moved by religion and prejudiced thought
“Gay marriage” is “separate but equal: the sequel”
It’s one institution, for straight or for gay
Just “Marriage” will do—it’s a beaut! Ah, but Utah,
I love what you’ve done in this ruling today!

It’s one to bookmark. No, not this verse, the Utah Same-Sex Marriage ruling:

The court agrees with Utah that regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states, and remains so today. But any regulation adopted by a state, whether related to marriage or any other interest, must comply with the Constitution of the United States. The issue the court must address in this case is therefore not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution.

Few questions are as politically charged in the current climate. This observation is especially true where, as here, the state electorate has taken democratic action to participate in a popular referendum on this issue. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action. But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins. The question presented here depends instead on the Constitution itself, and on the interpretation of that document contained in binding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.

It’s a great read–the stories of the plaintiffs make it clear that this is no abstract fight, but a genuine problem for real and relatable people. The judge, Robert Shelby (as is his duty) considers all the state’s reasons for denying marriage to same sex couples, and not only finds them lacking, but occasionally points out that the real effects are likely to be the polar opposite of what the state claims!

I was very interested to see what the state’s arguments actually were; I’ve argued this topic for years, and have yet to find a decent argument against same-sex marriage that was not either inane, fundamentally religious (and thus moot by virtue of the first amendment) or both. Here, though, we don’t have just morons on the internet arguing, but the lawyers for the state of Utah…. and the arguments are the same as you see made by idiots on the internet. Seriously, the state argued that (for instance) gay men have the same right to marry the woman they love as any straight man does. Therefore allowing them to marry the man they love would be giving them additional rights. They really argued that.

The arguments based on the state’s responsibility to promote “responsible procreation within marriage”?

The State has presented no evidence that the number of opposite-sex couples choosing to marry each other is likely to be affected in any way by the ability of same-sex couples to marry. Indeed, it defies reason to conclude that allowing same-sex couples to marry will diminish the example that married opposite-sex couples set for their unmarried counterparts….If there is any connection between same-sex marriage and responsible procreation, the relationship is likely to be the opposite of what the State suggests. Because Amendment 3 does not currently permit same-sex couples to engage in sexual activity within a marriage, the State reinforces a norm that sexual activity may take place outside the marriage relationship.

(page 44, if you are looking)

Seriously, bookmark this ruling; when the idiots on the internet make stupid arguments, and you want the perfect rejoinder (including precedents), you’ll be glad you did.

An Atheist Wedding? Good God!

In the planning for our wedding
We had made the usual list
Of the people we’d invited
Making certain none were missed
From your little cousin Hanna
To my scary uncle Todd
There was one, though, uninvited:
We had left no room for God.

We would build our world together
We would make our solemn vows
We would share with one another
All that time and life allows
You and I were getting married
So we really found it odd
There were some who thought a marriage
Needed you, and me, and God.

We’d be legally united
By authority of state
What our love had joined together
Lack of God can’t separate
With no need of church approval
With no priest to give his nod
We’d be married—just as married
As the ones who called in God

And there’s really nothing missing
Cos we’re married just the same
Though we didn’t take our wedding vows
And swear “in Jesus’ name”
See, our vows are to each other,
And that doesn’t make them flawed
Only two of us got married
Cos we saw no need for God.

SO, yeah, CNN had a story up on atheist weddings. Seriously, I would have thought this the non-est of the non-stories, but there ya go. Marriage certainly precedes Christianity (but you wouldn’t know it from the comments at CNN), and will likely survive it as well. The last two weddings I went to (my niece and nephew’s weddings) were both secular, and were both beautiful. It was wonderful to attend weddings that were about the couple, and the families, who were gathered there, rather than about some ancient verses in a book. Really, First Corinthians 13 can be retired for a generation or two, and then maybe it will be beautiful again; as is, it is a stale cliche, and may as well be two minutes of static noise.

I vaguely remember attending some religious weddings–I videotaped my sister-in-law’s Catholic wedding (by her request), happy for the excuse to wander around with a camera while everybody else was praying. That wedding was not about the couple, it was about the church. No fun at all.

Why have a wedding that you don’t enjoy? My niece and my nephew did it right. Beautiful, wonderful ceremonies–laughter, and joy, and tears (that might have just been me). The difference? No God.

Want a beautiful wedding? Step one: Don’t Invite God.

A Perfect Match

He gave her his heart, in exchange for her own
And he owed her that heart and more, didn’t ‘e?
They already knew they were perfectly matched…
Cos, you see, she had given him her kidney!

(Honestly, if you are the sort who doesn’t watch videos until you see if it is worth it, watch the video, and then you can read the rest. And yeah, I cried. But that might just be me.)

The full story is here, at the Indy Star

Chelsea Clair, then 22, had never met Kyle Froelich, then 19. But she had heard his story through a family friend and had already volunteered to help raise awareness for his cause.

On that very first day they met, without really knowing why or what it would mean, she said to him: “I’m going to give you my kidney.”

Froelich didn’t think the outcome would be different from anyone else who had offered. Then, a month later, the test results came back.

“We ended up being almost a perfect match,” she said.

The whole thing is worth reading–stories like this are rare and wonderful, and you want to read it before it is turned into a Lifetime movie or Hollywood script.

Doctors removed Clair’s left kidney and planted it inside Froelich’s abdomen. In its new home, the kidney started working right away.

When she woke up, she asked, “Is Kyle OK?”

When he woke up, he asked, “How’s Chelsea?”

Immunosuppressant drugs worked to keep Froelich’s body from rejecting the kidney, but the medications also meant he had to be isolated to prevent infection.

On his way to recovery, he pleaded and persuaded the nurses to wheel him past Clair. Even though she was still too woozy to notice, he just wanted to wave at her through the window.

And of course, my favorite line:

It’s hard to pinpoint when they fell in love.

Perfect.

I have no idea at all what belief systems these people hold. I honestly don’t care. The news stories are astonishingly and refreshingly devoid of religious particulars, but the comment sections are predictably full of them. I don’t care. I rejoice in their happiness, their health, and their lives together. I hope you do too.

The Concerned Neighbor

There’s a little get-together
In the house across the street
Where they’ll have some beers, some chips and dips,
And maybe grill some meat
Though it’s not the sort of recipe
My family cares to eat,
Still, I must admit, they’ve gathered quite a crowd.

All the cooking is downwind from me
There’s nothing I can smell
But I still—of course—am bothered
Cos the thought makes me unwell,
And notion of their cooking
Makes my life a living hell
So I’m thinking that it shouldn’t be allowed.

***
When my neighbor is relaxing—
Say, there’s no one else around—
He prefers a sort of music
With an odd and foreign sound
I imagine different harmonies
Like none I’ve ever found
Though his headphones keep his choice of music hidden

Now, his music doesn’t sound the way
That music’s meant to be
I believe it might be harmful—
Well, it seems like that to me—
I can’t hear it, but I hate it
So my path is clear, you see:
I must push to have that sort of noise forbidden.

***
Down the block there are some neighbors
Who are looking to be wed
But they’re not a normal couple—
No, they’re lesbians, instead;
When I think of them and marriage,
Why, a part of me goes dead
And our peaceful little neighborhood is wrecked

So I’m going to their wedding
Which they’ll have at City Hall
It’s a civil ceremony
Thus available to all
And I’ll steel myself to answer
When the J.P. makes the call:
“Is there anyone here gathered—“ “—I OBJECT!”

Inspired by today’s A Good Cartoon (which, of course, you should be reading daily).

The Ballad Of Kat and Krista (Or, Why The Church Is Losing)

The city saw progress;
It’s moving, at last,
But the church remains stubbornly
Stuck in the past

When Kat married Krista
They first had to fight
Till the city agreed
To their benefits right

So health care was covered
Which only seems just
And the city agreed
That they certainly must

And Kat’s parents supported
Her fight all along
They were quite in the right—
Now their church says they’re wrong

The church has the parents
In hot (holy) water
Demanding the couple
Abandon their daughter!

Or at least, they must publicly
Fully repent
(“What? Supporting our daughter?
That’s not what we meant!”

“She’s sinful and evil,
Her marriage a fraud!
I denounce here right now
In the name of my God!”)

But the parents are better
Than God up above
Their daughter (now, daughters)
Get nothing but love.

For good, loving parents,
There’s but one way to choose:
If it’s church or your daughter
Then the church has to lose

From CNN’s belief blog, a couple on a bit of a nightmarish roller coaster ride. Kat and Krista are married (yay!); Krista’s parents have essentially disowned her (boo!). Kat’s parents love them both (yay!) and have supported them while they fought, successfully (yay!), for health benefits from the city where Kat is a police detective. Not all parents are so supportive (boo!)

So the family supported their daughters through the court battle (yay!) and their church wants to recognize that display of familial love… by kicking them out of the church (I’m gonna go with “boo!” here, even though I think being kicked out of church is cause for celebration).

Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper’s gay daughter, went against the church’s teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church.

Linda left the church.

More proof that morality is innate–clearly, in this case, the moral thing to do was to go against the wishes of the church.

When the Ridgedale congregation next updates its membership rolls, it will be crossing out the Coopers. The family told the local newspaper they were devastated to leave a church where they had been active for 60 years.

For now, both the Coopers and their former church are standing by their own convictions, and after six decades of traveling together, they are heading in different directions.

Those different directions are not equally valid; they are right and wrong. The Coopers have done right. The church is doubling down on wrong.

Why, Oh Why, Oh Why-Oh (…Would You Act This Way, Ohio)

Attorney General Mike DeWine
(Republican, Ohio)
Is looking for an act of hate
To supplement his bio

He can’t be seen as gentle
(He’s Republican, of course)
So while Jim’s love John is dying
Mike is showing no remorse

While he can’t appeal the ruling
(Which is really quite a shame)
He can still deny the rights of those
Whose marriage is the same

That’s the law here, in Ohio
(And we follow every rule)
Though it makes gays less than human
And it makes DeWine seem cruel

He will fight, defending marriage
(So the local paper quotes)
Just as long as that position
Is the one that gains him votes

My most recent post on Jim and John ended on a partially optimistic note:

The bad news is, the court’s injunction is limited to this particular case and these two individuals. The good news is, even Cincinnati doesn’t expect that to remain the case

Ed also had reason to be hopeful:

This is just a temporary restraining order, but it obviously indicates how the judge is likely to rule on the case itself.

Looks like even if Cincinnati recognizes a marriage, and the judge does as well, the attorney general does not. Although DeWine appears to have initially said he would actually appeal the judge’s decision, he seems to have walked back from that cliff just a bit. ThinkProgress includes this update (after an unknown number of calls to DeWine’s office by concerned citizens):

A spokesperson for DeWine clarifies that he does not intend to appeal this temporary order because, the spokesperson says, such an order is not generally appealable. Nevertheless, DeWine also plans to “continue to defend Ohio’s constitutional amendment and law banning same-sex couples from marrying and banning the state from recognizing such marriages,” according to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner.
In other words, while DeWine does not plan to appeal the judge’s recent temporary order, he still plans to put up a full legal fight against Arthur and Obergefell’s right to be permanently recognized by Ohio as husbands.

Fucking Bastard.