Friday, July 9, 2010

Insisting on heterosexual privilege

Here's a bit more on the veto of the Domestic Partner bill in Hawaii. Timothy Kincaid noted that Linda Lingle, the governor wielding the veto pen, gave two examples of stories that touched her as she was deciding what to do.
* The struggle of a young man telling his parents he is gay.
* The anguish of a mother at the thought that schools will tell her children a gay relationship is as good as the parents' marriage.

The coming out story was the only one that moved her? Not the stories of gay couples facing discrimination that the bill would help alleviate?

Ah, but she is ultimately swayed by the story of a mother who insists on heterosexual privilege.

Back in 1996 Congress signed the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly referred to as DOMA. It has two parts. One part says that no state must recognize a gay marriage from another state, in contrast to straight marriages that if one state says a couple is married then all other states must honor that marriage. The other part says that the federal government cannot acknowledge any marriage except those with one man and one woman. This law went into effect even before Vermont began Civil Unions (which was 10 years ago and the sky hasn't fallen!).

Yesterday, a federal judge said the second part was unconstitutional on equal protection grounds. There were actually two cases involved. One was brought by gay couples in Massachusetts who said the federal government treats married gays differently than married straights. The other case was brought by the state, saying the federal government requires it to discriminate against its citizens to qualify for federal funding. Part of the ruling hinges on saying it is the states who define marriage, so the feds shouldn’t. But with that statement the judge didn't rule on the first part of DOMA -- if you can't get married in Michigan, the feds still won't honor your relationship.

It is theoretically up to Obama's Department of Justice to appeal. He would make up for a lot of previous anger from gays if he simply decided he didn't want to (as Arnold did in Calif.). I'm sure an anti-gay group would be glad to push the case on to Circuit Court and the Supremes.
Analysis here.

The country, which is 95% Catholic, has instituted Civil Unions. This link has a nice map showing the current state of Europe.

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