Sunday, May 8, 2011

This won't harm you a bit

One of the claims in the Calif. marriage case was that it is fine to prevent gays from getting married because there is no harm. They had to claim something to avoid the accusation they did it simply because they don't like gays (even if true).

The judge in the case is now retired and has publicly declared he is gay (there were rumors during the trial). He has been in a partnership for 10 years, though didn't marry when he could. The anti-gay side demands the ruling that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional be thrown out because, obviously, the judge was biased. Meaning he had a stake in the outcome. Meaning he would be harmed by one outcome. Meaning there is harm. This posting has a couple other examples of anti-gay craziness.

Also meaning because a straight judge would not be biased, not be affected by the decision, then gay marriage does not affect straight marriages. This was the sentiment in a letter to the editor of the SF Chronicle.

Lots of sources, such as this one (which gives lots of detail), comment about how ridiculous the claim is. If it were taken seriously a lot of judges would be prevented from taking a lot of cases. Even so, it is to go before a judge.

In related gay marriage news, the House hired law firm King and Spaulding to handle the defense of DOMA (federal marriage act). Within a couple days K&S backed out, though the particular lawyer kept the case and took it to a more conservative law firm. The actions of K & S prompted lots of snarking from the anti-gay crowd that those powerful gays bullied the law firm to do their bidding. See! Gays are powerful enough not to need housing and hate crime protections!

That has left some wondering about the difference between bullying and boycotting. It seems, "We boycott, they bully," even when the same kinds of actions are taken.

K&S withdrew for several reasons. (1) Boehner required all K&S employees refrain from any action related to DOMA or its repeal (infringement of free speech), (2) K&S employees didn't like taking a case that conflicted with K&S diversity policies and goals, (3) Coca-Cola (!) applied a bit of pressure because the case conflicted with their diversity policies, (4) Human Rights Campaign applied a bit of pressure.

Keep in mind that the big law firm sided with gays. That would not have happened just a few years ago. We won this round.

K&S did suffer consequences. Both the NRA and State of Virginia (more precisely, the homophobic Attorney General) have dropped the law firm.

Because of DOMA, gay couples in which one is not an American citizen live on shaky ground. The non-citizen must continually come up with student or tourist visas or face deportation. Many couples, if they can, move to a country that will accept them as a couple.

This week has seen a lot of turmoil around the couple Henry and Josh. Henry faced a deportation hearing on Friday. He is from Venezuela, a country that would not look kindly on Josh joining him there. The legal standing became more confusing when, a few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama said they would no longer defend DOMA, but would certainly enforce it until it is repealed.

On this past Wednesday came speculation that Henry would have to pack his bags soon because of what was called Super DOMA. Obama wanted to be seen enforcing the law so cases that really didn't pertain to DOMA were slapped with that issue, making it harder for gay couples. In Henry's case, the deportation judge said that since Josh couldn't sponsor Henry for a Green Card because of DOMA, then Henry must be deported. That was in conflict with Obama's priorities in deportation, which are to get rid of criminals and terrorists. Since Henry contributes to his community and is legally married to Josh (but not in the eyes of the federal government) the judge should exercise his available leniency.

Ari Ezra Waldman, a blogger about gay legal issues, responded by saying that too much of the situation is left to the whims of the judge. We are a nation of laws and the law should provide clear guidance for the judge.

On Thursday Holder provided some guidance when he issued a statement on another gay binational case. He overturned the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals and issued instructions to judges on how the (hopefully) impending demise of DOMA should affect future cases. He essentially said that the judge should treat the case as if DOMA were not there.

On Friday, at Henry's hearing, the judge essentially said that he'll take another look at the case in December. In the meantime, Henry is allowed to stay with Josh.

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