Make it stop! (Or, even more gay marriage victories in IN, UT, CO and Mexico)

For the love of God, make it stop.

It’s been a funny to be alive and gay, and care about civil rights.  We’ve done awfully well of late.  To an amazing degree, that many of us never thought we’d see in our lifetime. Sure, we figured we “might” be able to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (some day), but most of my friends never imagined we’d see marriage.

And now, there’s so much marriage, it’s actually getting a little boring.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s boring in a good way. The same way eating brownies for breakfast, lunch and dinner gets boring after a while (though, all you have to do is time it right, and the brownies can continue to serve as a fabulous green vegetable stand-in).

But my God. In the last year, since the Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), we’ve seen 20 or so victories in court in a row. As I’ve written before, I think the Windsor decision is a death knell for the anti-gay forces, and a rather brilliant one at that.  Rather than simply saying “go for it,” and making the-gay legal across the land, the court limited its decision to DOMA’s benefit, but wrote the decision in a way that pretty much guaranteed no court in the land could stand against it.

Why is that a good thing? Because legalizing gay nuptials nationwide simultaneously might still risk provoking too strong a backlash. But this way? We’re seeing a steady dribble of civil rights in state after state after state, day by day, week by week, to the point that it’s just getting downright boring, if not annoying. “Just get it over, already,” you can hear Americans, and even many Republican Americans, saying, and that’s a great thing.

So back to yesterday’s high-velocity news day on what has already become a high-velocity news decade for gay rights. We saw major victories in Utah, Indiana, Colorado, and Mexico. And we even got another Republican senator, Maine’s Susan Collins, on board as well.

Indiana wants me…

Let’s start with Indiana, where a federal judge struck down the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, which immediately led to weddings breaking out across the state, including these two adorable boys, courtesy of a great video from the Indy Star (they’re Craig Bowen and Jake Miller, the first gay couple to marry in Indiana).

The judge didn’t issue a stay, so the marriages began, which even if the state is successful in temporarily stopping, pending appeal, the cat’s out of the bag now. How can an appeals court permit some Indiana gays to be married, and others not?

Sorry, the Indianapolis Star apparently thinks the year is 1999, and that Web videos should automatically turn on when you arrive on a Web page. As a result, I’ve removed their rather adorable video. Not going to subject you guys to that.

And on to Utah!

Next up on the never-ending smorgasbord of love is the state of Utah, where marriages of gay couples became legal for a scant few weeks last December, only to see the Republican state government, in cahoots with the Mormons, shut it down.

But, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in yesterday, and said “nuh uh.”  From the Denver Channel:

A federal appeals court, for the first time, rules a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. The judges upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the ban in December.

However, they immediately put their ruling on hold so it could be appealed.

Next stop… Colorado!

Since 10th circuit decisions apply in Colorado, a Colorado county clerk in Boulder started marrying gay couples yesterday, and the gays showed up in droves.  Well, okay, maybe it was just a single drove — just two couples were able to get married before they closed for the night — but the weddings will recommence at 8am Thursday, Colorado time.

The 10th circuit covers Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico and Kansas. They’d be some fun states to have some weddings in.

What I’m not understanding fully is how marriages are starting in Colorado if the 10th circuit stayed their decision pending appeal.

Y finalmente, México!

The ins and outs of gay marriage victories in Mexico are sometimes a bit vexing for mere legal mortals.  Not surprisingly, Mexico ain’t America, and their court system works differently than ours. Which makes it awfully hard to fully comprehend how important these recent string of court victories really are, and what their final impact will be.

While I speak Spanish, I don’t speak Spanish courts. So I’m not even going to pretend to fully comprehend the implications of this decision concluding it was unconstitutional to deny a gay couple from Baja California a marriage license. But we know enough to say that it’s a good thing.

Susan, Susan, Susan

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, who was against gay marriage when it really counted — such as when far-right bigots in her state successfully repealed the right to marry in Maine, and when left-wing freedom fighters subsequently won their battle to relegalize gay nuptials in Maine.

Yes, Senator Collins was MIA the entire time.

But as Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade notes now that Collins is past her primary, and it’s “safe,” suddenly she loves the-gay:

by-default-2014-06-25-at-8.03.38-PM

Look. I’m not one to look a gay gift horse in the mouth. I embraced GOP Senator Portman when he came out in support of his gay son, and supported gay marriage, and I embraced Ken Mehlman when he came out in support of his gay self and did the same. And from the beginning, I was excited that GOP super-lawyer Ted Olson was going to be co-counsel of the Prop 8 case.

So I, more than many, get the importance of embracing people when they come around on issues. After all, you can’t urge (usually Republicans) to do the right thing if, after they do the right thing, you then criticize them for it.

But.

Susan Collins:  Dedicated to protecting George Bush and his many, many failures

Susan Collins: The courage to do what’s safe.

It sure would be nice if so-called moderate Republicans grew a pair. From my early days in Washington, in the mid 1980s, GOP lefties were always the biggest wusses on almost every issue. And while that’s not entirely surprising, and moderation doesn’t always lend itself to tenacity, it’s still frustrating to watch the Republican party’s 20-year takeover by lunatics, and the refusal of so many in the GOP stand up against the crazy in its midst.

Still, it’s not exactly a popular view among Senate Republicans, supporting gay marriage and all, so let’s give Susan Collins a qualified one snap for daring to do what’s right when it carried the least personal risk.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • cleos_mom

    Well, they did say “woman”, which implies marrying an adult so maybe it wasn’t so contradictory.

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  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    What I’m watching, now that my state joined marriage equality on 20 May, is Wyoming. I just checked Matthew’s (Shepard) Place, but they’re holding comments for now. By the force of “Brokeback Mountain”, I’d like to see that state go as the ironic Equality State with the Cheneys still there.
    My mother passed in 2009, but she used to use my advocacy against me. (So which man are you going to marry?) I quickly reminded her that I’m a misogamist. I’d like to know what she’d think now that it’s legal in Pennsylvania.

  • Zorba

    And they didn’t disavow not allowing black men (not women, either white nor black, of course) to hold the priesthood until 1978.

    It was Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, who adopted the policies that now haunt the church. He described black people as cursed with dark skin
    as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother. “Any man having one
    drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood,” he declared
    in 1852. Young deemed black-white intermarriage so sinful that he
    suggested that a man could atone for it only by having “his head cut
    off” and spilling “his blood upon the ground.” Other Mormon leaders
    convinced themselves that the pre-existent spirits of black people had
    sinned in heaven by supporting Lucifer in his rebellion against God.

    The priesthood ban had sweeping ecclesiastical consequences for black
    Mormons. They could not participate in the sacred ordinances, like the
    endowment ceremony (which prepares one for the afterlife) and sealings
    (which formally bind a family together), rites that Smith and Young
    taught were necessary to obtain celestial glory.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/racism-and-the-mormon-church.html?_r=1&

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I still remember John’s posts here from 2010 when the early DADT repeal attempts failed — back in October 2010 — and the HRC was crowing how they and Obama deserved praise and credit for the repeal which didn’t happen.

    And then afterwards, they tried to claim credit, when it was OutServe and other groups which really made it happen.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Ayup.

  • UncleBucky

    The LDS sounds very political there, huh?

    Some nice juicy taxes need to be levied and paid, eh? :)

  • nicho

    And cocktails — you forgot cocktails. D.C. Is a town where people would sell their first-born — and even their soul — for an invite for Cosmos and Cheesy Poofs at the White House.

  • nicho

    Is this the same Pam Bondi who has already had two real marriages and one fake one?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Gosh, what a surprise. (/snark)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Or, the same as Lynn Ellins of New Mexico who ‘went renegade’ last year — and eventually sparked the complete overturning of New Mexico’s defacto ban on gay marriage.

    His marriages, unlike the ones from Newsom in SF and Victoria Dunlap in New Mexico in ’04, were eventually upheld. Given the way things are going, it would no longer surprise me to see the Colorado ones be declared valid, retroactively.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    This is the HRC we’re talking about, the organization for whom access and bragging rights are far more important than actually accomplishing anything.

  • why_not_now
  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Because Yale colors would’ve clashed with the upholstery?

  • richardgrabman

    re: Mexican courts. Mexico is a federal republic, like the U.S. and… like as in the U.S., the federal constitution trumps state constitutions. Our protected rights unde the federal Constitution include sexual “preference” . Marriages (even same-gender ones) in one jurisdiction are valid throughout the Republic. All well and good. But, when the Federal District changed its marriage laws to permit same-gender marriages, several states passed “one man-one woman” laws. At present, Federal courts automatically grant injunctions when these laws are challenged, BUT:… it’s expensive to bring a lawsuit AND… the way the Supreme Court works, it has to hear several similar cases before it can make a binding ruling (five, if I’m not mistaken). By not challenging federal injunctions (amparos), the individual couple gets their marriage license, but the legal issue never reaches the Supreme Court. I’ve lost count, but I believe two more rulings are needed to reach the threshhold for a binding ruling on all 32 states. It’s an odd situation: we’re need two state governments to act like assholes and challenge a lower court ruling to bring it to the Supreme Court, which has already publically stated how they’ll rule. And, the Supremes are basically begging the states to bring them a challenge so they can settle this. Complicating things, in a few states, the progressive side got frustrated, and created “civil unions” of various kinds which allows couples of moderate means some legal recognition without having to go to federal court… BUT… civil unions do not protect the couple’s rights (or assets) if they move out of state. And, just to make things more difficult, most states (and the Federal District) have residency requirements for a marrriage license, so even if one can afford to travel to Mexico City (or the state of Quintano Roo), it’s a crap shoot on whether you can get a license or not. In THEORY, we have same-sex marriage here. In practice, not yet.

  • Indigo

    Yeah, about them, why does the HRC bumper sticker have Notre Dame football team colors?

  • Indigo

    Florida has yet to review the issue. It’s scheduled for July 21. Don’t hold your breath because both Governor Skeletor and his pet State attorney, Pam Bondi, are frothing at the mouth over this attack on the sanctity of marriage.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    One reason the marriages happened (are still happening?) in Colorado is what I call the “Doña Ana County Effect” — so named for the actions of County Clerk Lynn Ellins who decided on his own to move ahead with issuing same-sex marriage licenses in New Mexico, because a literal reading of the state law did not seem to prohibit it. Ultimately, his act of civil disobedience broke loose the entire dam.

    In this case, the plain language of the Windsor case DOMA overturn, and of the 10th Circuit’s ruling, and the now dozens of federal cases, none of which ever uphold the bans, would seem to make it clear the only purpose in maintaining the stay is to deny rights a little longer. Causing demonstrable harm with no resulting good at all.

    Another angle appears to be an interesting interpretation of the 10th Circuit ruling and subsequent stay. The Boulder City county clerk is saying the original case referred to Utah’s ban, and they’re the ones making the challenge — so the stay, as the theory goes, applies only to the state defending its ban in court. The 10th is totally clear in its ruling: It found for a 14th Equal Protection right to civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples, period. Meanwhile, the 10th Circuit’s jurisdiction includes a bunch of states, including Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. (Of these, gay marriage is legal only in NM.) Normally, a ruling by a circuit court of appeals means it’s intended to apply to all lower courts within its jurisdiction.

    The status of these marriages remains uncertain though, especially since Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (Republican. Surprise! Not…) has said the marriages are invalid — and he was one of the state AGs to sign on an amicus brief to the SCOTUS urging them to uphold both Prop 8 and DOMA last year. So expect him to drag his feet on this. The Colorado marriages will probably be upheld eventually, but for the moment, unless the state is ordered by the courts directly to begin registering the marriage licenses, expect them to remain in legal limbo for a while yet.

  • jomicur

    Our laws are made, in the main, by men who have sold their honor for their jobs, and they are executed by men who have put their jobs above justice and common sense. —Mencken, Notes On Democracy

  • jomicur

    All I can figure is Collins must give better cocktail parties than her opponent.

  • nicho

    If you go into the US Congress looking for courage, conscience, or principles, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. Now, if you go in with a suitcase full of $100 bills, the line will go around the block.

  • Bill_Perdue

    On the positive side we did this. We changed public opinion, we challenged in the courts over and over again and we exposed the bigots who oppose a basic right like marriage equality.

    As for Susan Collins, she’s already been endorsed by those ‘one tiny step at a time or I’ll kill you’ renegades at HRC.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Well I can see why there would be a tactical advantage to backing a Republican if your only issue is marriage equality, makes it look non-partisan.

    But the fact is that the GOP is the party of hate. Hate is what keeps them alive. And ever since they couldn’t hate Black people in public any more they have been practicing their hating on gays.

    It is really not an advance to move from hating gays to hating Latinos. We all know what ‘illegals’ is really code for. The rest of the Progressive movement has backed the LGBT lobby big time on marriage equality. Now is not the time to go backing anyone who would vote for Mitch McBigot as Senate majority leader and push a bigoted agenda.

  • Thom Allen

    Agree. I think HRC has gotten seriously off track in the past two years. I think that HRC has evolved and now looks out for what’s best for HRC first and then what might be best for its base.

  • bkmn

    I’m so used to Susan Collins trying to straddle both sides of an issue that I’m surprised she took a side. Very disappointed in HRC’s endorsement of Collins who dragged her feet on the issue when it mattered while not endorsing her opponent who has been a strong ally.

  • caphillprof

    For the most part, public opinion is driving this. From a legal standpoint, it was never clear`how to square a ban on same sex marriage with the clear mandate for equal protection of the laws. The 19th century put an end to procreation as any basis for discrimination. Moreover, the law married all sorts of couples who could not for various reasons procreate. So that alone cuts down any procreation argument. In addition, the society overwhelmingly organized itself around marriage. All sorts of rights and benefits that could have been hitched to any condition were unthinkingly hitched to marriage. The result was to make the denial of marriage indefensible. All we have left (right?) are bigots and Republicans with one foot already in the grave.

  • dcinsider

    Susan Collins is certainly not a profile in courage. In fact, she should be sort of embarrassed at this stage. However, we welcome her on board the ship. However, she is NOT permitted to use the open bar that was paid for by our blood, sweat, and tears. Cash only.

  • Benz981

    The only counter push analysis I’ve heard pertains to the opinion of the dissenting judge on the 10th Circuit… and I’m hoping that, moving forward, other judges won’t use his rationale as a model for anti-gay opinions. Judge Kelly’s position made all the bigots over at the National Organization For Marriage reallyyy wettttt….

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