Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gay Marriage on the Docket

A state court yesterday heard arguments from eight same-sex couples who want to be allowed to marry. This court case is significant, as it was a similar case in 2004 that led to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

The state permits gay and lesbian couples to obtain civil unions, but these marriage-like partnerships don't provide all of the intangible benefits that come with a marriage license, asserted Bennett Klein, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
...
But, asked Superior Court Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman, is that sufficient to revise the state's marriage laws? "I'm still troubled ... whether there is enough legal harm," she said.

Jenkins Pittman must weigh Klein's argument about the fundamental right to marry against Assistant Attorney General Jane Rosenberg's assertion that no such right exists under state law.

"All the rights and benefits have been granted," said Rosenberg, who represented the state. "It's unclear what we're left with other than the word `marriage.'" (Altimari)

Yet the word matters a great deal to the people on both sides. When civil unions were quietly and peacefully implemented last year, there wasn't a rush. Many gay couples haven't taken advantage of civil unions because they see them as an admission of second-class status, even though they come with all the legal rights of marriage.

Social conservatives, on the other hand, see marriage as an essential building block of society that must not be tinkered with, let alone be extended to people they think are rather immoral and icky.

Connecticut's civil unions law makes the outcome of the case difficult to predict. Another wild card that may be played comes in the form of the lovable thick-necked goofs at the Family Institute of Connecticut, who would like to intervene in the case. They feel that the Attorney General is not doing his job by not spelling out exactly how homosexual marriages are harmful to children (and possibly bunnies. Cute ones).

Brian Brown, who is currently the head of the FIC, argues that social science shows that same-sex marriages have been shown to hurt children living in those households. This is, in fact, untrue.

In court cases and in the national political debate over same-sex marriage, both proponents and opponents regularly appeal to social science to support their positions that the welfare of children is well-served or ill-served by same-sex marriage. Although each side would love to have a conclusive, scientific "silver bullet" that eliminates all doubt, no definitive answers reside in social science research. Not only judges, but voters considering ballot initiatives, legislators evaluating proposed bills, and ordinary citizens attempting to assess the material they read in their daily newspapers must know how to weigh the social science claims made by advocates on both sides. (Newman). --emphasis mine

I suggest you give the article, which is entitled The Use and Abuse of Social Science in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate, a read. If you don't have time, give it a skim. It's representative of what I've found in my research of this topic: that social science doesn't have any conclusive proof either way that children who grow up in households headed by a same-sex couple are any worse off than children living in a "traditional" household.

Mr. Brown is therefore basing his claim that children are harmed by same-sex marriage on faulty and incomplete science. This means that even if his group is allowed to testify, their assertions hopefully won't make much of an impact on the decision.

This doesn't mean that the judge will necesarily find for the plaintiffs. But the removal of Mr. Brown's rather paranoid argument levels the playing field. Both of the traditional arguments, that gays are legally relegated to a second-class status (solved by civil unions) and that gay marriage hurts children (an unsubstantiated claim), don't actually apply here.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the court is preparing to rule against the plaintiffs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for them, since the case will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court. But even defeat there might not be such a bad thing, in the long run.

Gays should be allowed to marry. It's silly and unfair to deny them this basic right, and in a perfect world there would be no hesitation. But the world is imperfect. It's been less than forty years since Stonewall, and old habits and stereotypes die hard. I worry that pushing for too much, too soon may result in more division and strife instead of understanding and tolerance.

In twenty years, we will have gay marriage. That's where we're heading, and we will get there eventually. Advocates of full marriage can force the issue now and face the consequences, or have patience and trust that a better, more open world can slowly and surely be built, instead.

Sources

Alitmari, Daniela. "Judging Gay Marriage." Hartford Courant 22 March, 2006.

Norton, Stephen A. "The Use and Abuse of Social Science in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate." New York Law School Law Review 49(2): 2004.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do all kids who grow up in different sex marriages turn out OK? How about kids with only one parent because the spouse died and the parent never remarried? Puh-leez; responsible multivariate social research involves more than the M factor.

Franks said...

Thank to Anon, we can show that some kids who grew up in catholic orphanage or in close contact some priests were clearly harmed. Do we prohibit their contact catholic clergy?

How one views marriage is a personal decision, it does not reflect on anyone else or their choice and using one brush to paint all relationships harmfull is a much more destructive force in a society.

At some point, we will leave people to make their own choice, leave them alone and not judge them for it.

Genghis Conn said...

At some point, we will leave people to make their own choice, leave them alone and not judge them for it.

I certainly hope so.

Anonymous said...

Genghis--

Thank you for taking a stand on a very relevant issue.

The fact is that groups like the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, & the Family Institute of CT aren't science based at all.

More than that, their arguments aren't very well grounded in religion, either. What does motivate them is politics.

Since the Goldwater era, the GOP has been fomenting cultural wars within America. This whole pre-occupation with "gay marriage" is yet another attempt to divide us, such that the Republican Party can gain advantage at the ballot box.

If Brian Brown was a good Christian, he'd be spending his energy bringing CT together, and fighting for the less rich and the less powerful.

Instead, Brian is a tool, fighting false battles for the benefit of those who care most about money-- and not about the average people who were the subject of Christ's teachings.

Anonymous said...

what's also problematic about the bible thumping wing of the RC Church is that when it came time to pay for the horrible misdeeds allowed by its hierarchy, the finacial burden went directly to the local parishes and not the Vatican who was raking money off the top for decades and is still one of the richest institutions - and theocracies - in the world. The Arab countries can't operate our terminals in our ports but the Vatican can operate healthcare facilities that it markets to the public in general free from taxation.

bluecoat said...

I'll take issue with the Goldwater slur. He beleived in equal rights but he also beleived they could be guarantedd by the states. He was in reality proven wrong and suffered politically but Goldwater was by no means the magnet for the religious right to the GOP.

Anonymous said...

I now pronounce you....Mr. And Mr. Andrew Fleischman.

Anonymous said...

what would your stance be if a gay couple demnads to be married in the catholic church...what then?

How many local churchs will be sued in order to get gay marriage, where does it end.

Why is a Civil Union not good enough?

Anonymous said...

Both marriage and divorce have all of their roots in religion. (Going back to when there was no separation between church and state). We have, for years, separated the civil aspect of divorce from the religious aspect. One can be civilly divorced, and still act in faith and in fact, bound by the original marriage. I think it's about time we separated the civil and religious aspects of marriage. Many other Catholic countries (France, most South American countries) have both a civil rite (no pun) and a subsequent church or religous rite. Why won't that work here?

Anonymous said...

we have civil unions in the state,

they want more...

Anonymous said...

Anon207:
what would your stance be if a gay couple demnads to be married in the catholic church...what then?

The church would say no. We're talking about civil marraige, not the Catholic sacrament of marraige.

How many local churchs will be sued in order to get gay marriage,

None. You can't sue a religion into changing its dogma. The Catholic church doesn't officially recognize civil divorce either.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I now pronounce you....Mr. And Mr. Andrew Fleischman.
1:43 PM, March 22, 2006


Huh?

Andy Fleischmann is straight, married, and expecting a child.

I don't get it.

marry whoever you want said...

Someone asked: Why isn't civil union good enough? I ask: Why should anyone have to settle for "good enough" when they can have equality?

Anonymous said...

its wrong for 2 men to have sex or 2 women to have sex and why should the statre let them get married and have kids just to teach them to sin?

Anonymous said...

Fleishman's not gay? Geez, next thing you'll tell me is that McCluskey and Tercyak are straight too....

Anonymous said...

Who said married people have sex anyway? Many I know stopped shortly after the honeymoon. As Lenny Briscoe said on an old issue of Law and Order about gay's marrying: let them be miserable like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

nanon said its wrong for 2 men to have sex or 2 women to have sex and why should the statre let them get married and have kids just to teach them to sin? gays can't have kids by sinning; only two people of the opposite sex can sin to get kids; gays can be compassionate, however, and adopt unwanted kids and give tem a loving environment in which to grow and prosper. not that you will listen or even try to understand that. And I am straight but what I do in private is non of anybody's business as long as nobody gets hurt..

Anonymous said...

it isn't about settling for good enough, Why is it not enough for the state to reconize them.

Now they want churches to be forced to marry them, what happened to the churches rigth to marry who them see fit...churches can refuse hetro couples too...what happened to seperation of church and state? or freedom of religion?

I ask again why isn't civil union enough...they are seen by the state as the same as a married couple...

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that gays wanted to be married in churches that are hostile to them but in any event here is a new candidate for the 132nd's announcement. It doesn't say what he intends to do about gays

t

Anonymous said...

"Now they want churches to be forced to marry them, what happened to the churches rigth to marry who them see fit...churches can refuse hetro couples too...what happened to seperation of church and state? or freedom of religion?"

What about the churches that have been marrying gay couples for decades? What about their freedom of religion?

And I find it absolutely obnoxious for those who are arguing for the "church" and about America's "freedom of religion" and "seperation of church and state" to use the bible as a reference. Why not the Qur'an? The Torah? The Tao Te Ching? Chances are that if you are living in America today you are sinning every day according to some religion.

And for what it's worth, I dont think RC hospitals should have to prescribe Plan B unless they rely on the state government for funding. And Im sure they dont, right?

BTW - Family Institute's "rally" on the capitol steps was about as well attended as a Banks Committee meeting. The gay monks in baby blue with Jesus Hoppers were there though.

Anonymous said...

ANON3:10, you wrote:
its wrong for 2 men to have sex or 2 women to have sex and why should the state let them get married and have kids just to teach them to sin?

Yeah, that's right. Homosexuals have gay sex because they were taught to be gay! (by a parent, supposedly?).

That's some hardcore ignorance you are displaying there, sir.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell cares what anybody does? This country's morals have gone to hell in a handbasket anyway.

bluecoat said...

Hey GC; how about a new post; nobody is going to move on this one.

Light in the Loafers said...

And what about Feltman? It's not just a clever name...

Anonymous said...

moove, shmoove.

I like that some of the anti-gay ignoramuses are posting here. And I like the chance to throw their ignorance back at them.

Let homophobes go to bed knowing that thinking people believe them to be utter morons.

Anonymous said...

The priest scandal wasn't so much a priest scandal as it was a gay scandal! These so-called "priests" joined the clergy to try and mask their homosexuality. But they couldn't and they preyed on boys. Why boys? Because they are gay!!!

The gay groups who hate the church are going after the church becasue they want to make sure that it's a priest scandal and not a gay scandal!!!

What the Heck let them marry!!!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Richard Simmons is gay.

Anonymous said...

The little boys that the mentally sick priests preyed on were gay? That's a new twist>

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The little boys that the mentally sick priests preyed on were gay? That's a new twist>
...............
A "twist"? Doesn't male on male action imply a some degree of homosexuality by defenition?????

Anonymous said...

So if they preyed on little girls that would have been God's will especially if they got them pregnant. Pedophilia is not homosexuality in most medical books.

Genghis Conn said...

...This thread is starting to get offensive, in places. Please refrain from making offensive comments, and try to remain civil.

Seriously, what is it about discussing homosexuality that brings out peoples' inner fifth-grader?

MikeCT said...

Civil unions and marriage, separate but equal... now where have we heard these arguments before? Here's why we can't wait:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights.
.......
I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.


Love Makes a Family and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders need your help. No more waiting.

Anonymous said...

If we have gay marriage then can ROY O marry the dollar bills he chases?

Anonymous said...

Mike CT, go give that speech in a black Baptist or AME cheuch. Let us all know how it turns out.

BTW, doesn't "Love Makes a Family" sound like some lobby for polygamy out of Utah?

MikeCT said...

Anon,
Well, here's an African American Hartford minister who is doing just that. Sorry if they don't all fit your preconceptions.

Reverend John Selders, pastor of the Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford and Bishop Presider of the Inter Denominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries, has started work as a consultant for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Love Makes a Family. He will work to foster dialogue and build support in Connecticut’s African-American faith communities on the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Selders is a long-time activist on HIV and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues both in Connecticut and nationally, naming those concerns as an essential part of a social justice agenda. With the National Black Justice Coalition, he helped organize the first Black Church Summit in Atlanta in January this year to discuss making churches more welcoming to gays and lesbians. He is also the vice-moderator of the UCC's Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Concerns.

Anonymous said...

most fit Brian Brown's

It's like thinking Kerry was going to win Idaho because a theatre in Boise was showing Farenheit 911

Anonymous said...

I thought Utah government outlawed polygamy but a church group allowed it?