Wednesday a federal judge in San Antonio joined judges in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia in ruling that bans on same-sex couples marrying or recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples are unconstitutional.
“Today the 6th federal judge in a row has ruled – in Texas – that there is simply no legitimate justification for denying marriage to loving gay and lesbian couples,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.
“The court’s holding is solid and serious, and follows the language and logic of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling last year and the Constitution’s clear command. With 47 marriage cases in 25 states now moving forward, and the possibility that a freedom to marry case will again reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue the conversations and progress – Texan to Texan, American to American – that show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson added.
Kenneth D. Upton, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, said: “The yellow rose of Texas has a distinctly rainbow hue today. That the judge in this case saw fit to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Texas state officials from enforcing the discriminatory marriage bans illustrates his belief that the state was unlikely to prevail at trial. As important, this ruling extends the impressive run of recent victories that have stretched from Utah to Virginia. The walls of exclusion continue to crumble as court after court after court recognizes that denying marriage to same-sex couples is discrimination, pure and simple.”
Upton added, “Congratulations to the attorneys in this case – Barry A. Chasnoff, Daniel McNeel Lane, Jr., Jessica M. Weisel, Matthew E. Pepping, and Michael P. Cooley of the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, as well as San Antonio Attorney Frank Stenger-Castro – and to the plaintiffs. We look forward to the continued progress of this case and to the continued march towards justice for LGBT individuals and their families across Texas.”
The Public Research Religion Institute released data Wednesday that showed increased support for the freedom to marry in the South and in Texas. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Southern millennials support the freedom to marry, and support across the South is split, with 48 percent in support and 48 percent opposed. Support has grown the fastest in the South of any region in the country, more than doubling in the last 10 years. In Texas, support is split, with 48 percent of Texans in support and 49 percent opposed.
On Monday, Freedom to Marry launched a public education campaign called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, with the goal of building majority support for marriage in Southern states, including Texas.
Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian
Yes, we are two women and yes, we are getting married next year, legally even. So, just like most engaged couples planning their special event, we have a vision . . . a color pallet, an overall idea of what we want our wedding/reception to “feel” and look like. So why is it that most of the invitation designers I’ve seen online think every LGBT wedding’s theme is Gay Pride?
Our wedding colors are tangerine and malibu. That’s fancy talk for orange and blueish. We would like to incorporate our colors into our invitations, like most couples, and luckily, with editing and personalization we will be able to.
So then, what’s my beef? It’s that several companies have decided to be totally stereotypical. Let’s not design and market a bunch of same gender wedding invitations in lots of different colors, let’s sample most of them rainbow and then let’s keep all the other invitations sampled (that are shown in various colors because couples have different styles) strictly straight.
Where’s the rainbow invite for Ben and Tricia? No where to be found.
Where’s the rainbow or two bridal gown invitations for Erin and me? Everywhere. Is there an option with a bridal gown and a tuxedo with boobs because not all lesbian couples wear two dresses or even one.
Why not just market all invitations with various names and pictures? And while I’m on my equality soap box, where in the hell are all the sample photo invitations showcasing interracial couples and couples of color? I have seen the wedding invitation websites and it is WHITE washed, my friends.
Yes, I’m white, but I’m also armed with a set of eyes, a MA in multicultural education and a not so invisible knapsack.
Some may say that the lack of sample invitations with same gender names/photos is because “Gay Marriage” is so new. I call bullshit. If that was the case, then the invitation sites should be flooded with couples of color and interracial couples too. Even Justice Alito knows that the right to marry for people of color, to each other and interracially, is (in fact this time) older than cell phones and the web and catalogs should show as much.
I guess I should be happy in that most of the same gender invitations weren’t sampled as just taking place in the Castro. Baby steps.
Illinois is set to become the 15th state in the nation to provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry.
On Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 61-54 to approve the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, affirming the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in the state. The bill passed the state Senate in February and will soon go to Governor Pat Quinn, who has expressed strong support for marriage and will sign it into law.
“It’s a fabulous day for Illinois! The Illinois House of Representatives finally made legal what the majority of Illinoisans have long understood–that love is love and all families deserve to be treated as equal under the law,” said Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal. “Same-sex couples and their children can celebrate a new era of equality in the Land of Lincoln. With the 5th most populous state in the union embracing the freedom to marry, we have moved much closer to bringing equality to all Americans. This victory will be a catalyst in our ongoing efforts to achieve full equality across all fifty states.”
“This was an enormous group effort and along with the leadership from the House, Senate and Governor’s office we’d like to thank our colleagues at the ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois, all of the members of the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign and advocates from across the state who called, wrote letters and made visits to their elected officials,” added Bennett.
“Today’s vote by the Illinois House means the Land of Lincoln will be our nation’s 15th freedom to marry state. This is great news for the thousands of committed same-sex couples in Illinois who will now be able to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family, protected and supported by their marriage,” said Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, Marc Solomon.
President Barack Obama released a statement following the passage of marriage equality in Illinois. It read:
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
The National Equality Action Team (NEAT), a project chaired by Marriage Equality USA, provided support to Illinois Unites for Marriage. In the spring of 2013, NEAT volunteers in New York City and across the country had 1812 conversations with constituents in Illinois. This fall they had an additional 1900 conversations with Illinois voters which resulted in 700 calls to undecided Illinois representatives.
“I am so proud of the work MEUSA and our partners in the Illinois coalition accomplished! The dedication this summer to redoubling efforts, reevaluating strategy, and expanding our work has paid off for thousands of LGBT families in the Land of Lincoln,” stated MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva.
Among the active members of the NEAT Illinois campaign were the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Triangle, North Carolina chapter of the Human Rights Campaign.
NOW Action Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer reported, “With training and support provided by Marriage Equality USA, NOW members from all over the country were able to have conversations with Illinois voters in the districts of undecided representatives. Those Illinois voters then left messages for their representatives urging them to support the marriage equality bill.”
NEAT held phone banks for Illinois Unites for Marriage in 27 different locations. Physical phone banks for Illinois were held in 3 states and remote phone banking was done from the homes of people in 18 different states. Key leaders in the Triangle (NC) Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) set up an in-person phone bank in Raleigh with MEUSA’s assistance.
Carson Fernandez, Triangle Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, added, “Although North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibits our state from recognizing any kind of union other than heterosexual marriage, many of us doubled our efforts to help Illinois win the freedom to marry.”
Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian
By Jason Holling
This weekend Justin and I had the niece and nephew spend the night. It was a welcomed change to take our minds off the adoption process while we wait to match with a birthmother. Our niece is 2 ½ and our nephew is 5 years old. We had a great time and enjoyed going out to the Omaha Children’s Museum, making dinner at home, and then heading to church on Sunday morning. We joked this was a “daddy dry run” learning how our lives would be changing with a child. They have left to go home now and the house seems too quiet.
We quickly realized when they arrived how much work we had to get our house ready for a baby of our own. We knew we had some time, so we have been doing little things like tying up the mini-blind cords, putting in outlet covers, or putting in baby gates. But we had underestimated their ability to reach on the cupboard and grab onto things or all the fun looking buttons on stereos that were at the perfect height for little hands. We also have some more furniture that needs to go once our little one is walking around to prevent any bonks to the head during those first steps.
We also gave all our baby supplies we have been buying a dry run. We had our diaper bag in tow filled with pull-ups, snacks, and wet naps. At the children’s museum we were in full swing pulling out juice boxes and crackers so the kids could take breaks. And back at home, we had a pack-and-play for a quick bed. Justin and I practiced popping it up and trying to figure out the trick to make the sides lock together. One big event for us was the nursery got the kid’s seal of approval. When our niece walked in she said, “Oh pretty!”. She loved the monkeys on the bed and changing table.
Later that night, we made dinner at home and watched Bob the Builder before getting ready for bed. Bath time was hilarious and something we are going to enjoy with our own child in the future. Getting the tub full of bubbles, they splashed and the whole house was full of laughter. Justin and I got a bath with all the splashing! At the end they put on their pajamas and we had a hair styling station for them to get their hair dried and combed. I can’t wait in the future to end the day with Justin and our child. There is something satisfying about putting away the electronics and having a special moment together to melt away the stress of the day.
We learned some great lessons in our daddy dry run. Like what to do in church when you get a tug on your sleeve and they say “I have to go potty”. Or in the middle of the night when we had a tap on the shoulder that they were scared of a new place and wanted to come lay with us. We handled them all pretty well. And when someone asked us at church that morning “are you ready for this full time?” our answer was a resounding, “Yes, we can’t wait!”
Married Americans spend more than those in any other marital status category, across age groups. Americans who have never married spend significantly less, particularly for those younger than 50, suggesting that if the marriage rate increases, overall spending in the U.S. may increase and benefit the U.S. economy.
Married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. As shown in the accompanying graph, across all age groups, those who are married spend more than those of other marital statuses.
Gallup asked Americans to report how much money they spent the prior day, excluding payments for normal household bills and major purchases such as homes or cars. The figure gives an estimate of discretionary spending. The current analysis is based on January through September 2013 Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 130,000 U.S. adults.
These results suggest that if more Americans are married, and fewer are single/never married, overall spending might increase. Similarly, if more Americans are in domestic partnerships and fewer are single, that too would appear to be related to higher spending.
The Relevance of Income
Married Americans spend more than the average American in part because they have higher-than-average incomes. Single Americans spend less, at least in part because they have lower-than-average incomes. Those in domestic partnerships spend almost as much as those who are married but have lower average incomes, similar to single Americans’ incomes, suggesting that domestic partners in some sense overspend what would be predicted from their incomes alone. This hypothesis is supported by additional research showing that those in domestic partnerships have a relatively high rate of spending when income and other demographic factors are controlled for.
The U.S. marriage rate has declined in recent years, but recent Gallup analysis shows that it is possible that the marriage rate in the United States will go up in the future, based on a pent-up demand for marriage. Based on the spending habits of married Americans compared with their single counterparts who have never married, such a change could be expected to give a boost to the economy, if those marriages come from the ranks of those who are single/never married. Similarly, an increase in the percentage of Americans living in domestic partnerships as opposed to being single would have an apparently positive impact on the economy. If, however, Americans in the future become less likely to jump from single status to marriage and more likely to move into domestic partnerships, the impact on the economy would be less significant.
Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian
Marriage equality advocates in California, Oregon and Washington now have the opportunity to make a real difference in making the freedom to marry a reality in Hawaii. On Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) is having a national “Night of Action” for Hawaii in which volunteers can phone bank from home and other locations.
NEAT is a nearly 50-member action-oriented coalition of national, regional, state, and local organizations chaired by Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA).
Tracy Hollister, MEUSA Program Manager explained: “Just as loving, committed couples’ genders should not restrict their freedom to marry; neither should their state of residence. The rest of the country, particularly National Equality Action Team partners and volunteers on the West Coast, who are in a better position to phone bank for Hawaii, stands with Hawaii in their historic bid for marriage equality.”
“We are excited that fair-minded people on the West Coast and around the country can easily make a difference simply by going to www.theneat.org and signing up,” said MEUSA Board Member Brendan Brawner. “Even in New York, the ‘City That Never Sleeps,’ we will have an in-person luau phone bank party happening live in Times Square at 10:30 p.m. ET on October 24.”
Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director, concluded: “Since 1991, Hawaii has been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights for LGBT families. Today, MEUSA takes another important step as an early member of the Hawaii United for Marriage coalition by organizing supporters across the country to take action in support of our friends and family in the Aloha State.”
By Jason Holling
This weekend Justin and I had his niece and nephew spending the day with us. We went to the Omaha Children’s Museum and then had lunch before coming home to play. With the adoption we are at the ready with car seats and about any baby supplies you can name off just in case we match with a birthmother and she is due quickly. So, with our car seat and booster seat in the car, we picked them up and ventured around town for a day of fun.
We made our way around town with the diaper bag strapped on looking like official daddies getting ready for when we are fortunate to adopt and start our own family. While they are not our children, I must say that his niece and nephew are adorable and you can definitely tell the family resemblance with Justin. They both have blond hair and always sporting a huge smile like their uncle. One of the things that attracted me 9 years ago to Justin was his huge smile. After the museum, we pulled up to a table at a local restaurant by our house and Justin got the booster seat while I grabbed the coloring books, crayons, and spill-proof cups. We made a well-synchronized couple getting the kids situated in the restaurant and food ordered. I think it was our daddy instincts kicking in for when we do adopt a child of our own.
But while we were getting situated at the restaurant and eating, we noticed the familiar stares from other people eating around us. People were really watching us and trying to figure out what was going on with this these two guys with adorable children sitting at the middle table in the room. Were we friends, brothers, or a gay couple? I think as they saw matching rings, they started to realize we were not just friends giving mom a day off from the kids. While they are not our children, what they saw was a non-traditional family out enjoying lunch and showing care and love to two children who were having a great time. We looked like any other heterosexual family in the restaurant, just in this case two guys. We were talking about what his nephew was learning in school, coloring pictures for the refrigerator, practicing writing his name, and even singing the ABC’s at the table.
It’s something we had not considered before we decided to try to adopt. As a gay couple without children, we tend to “blend” in with society and don’t have to constantly announce we are gay. People think nothing of two guys out shopping or having dinner together. Even though both of us came out years ago, we still get asked, “are you brothers” more often then I care to count. People see two tall guys with brown hair and assume we are related. Many times when we do not want to deal with explaining it or making a scene, we just tell them no we are not brothers and change the subject to the weather. Soon we are going to have a child running up to us yelling “Daddy and Papa look at this!”. It’s going to be very obvious we are a gay couple with a wonderful, beautiful and smart child together and will be constantly coming “out” where we use to just blend in. In the future that we have to tell people we are a couple and not just pass it off as we do not want to confuse our child. Someone asking if we are friends and us not correcting them we think would be too confusing for a child. Our child needs to see their daddies are a committed couple that loves them more then anything in the world.
We have always found people in Omaha are very accepting of our relationship and decision to adopt. When we get the looks with the kids, I think they are processing the new definition of family. The gay stereotype is a one of a guy in leather or out dancing all night to a heavy techno beat. And in this case they see a regular couple with two children having a wonderful time singing their ABC’s. We also think gay parents are a bit of a minority in the Omaha area and they are excited to see their city being progressive and accepting of this new family. This is one area I think media has helped show positive images of gay fathers with The New Normal and Modern Family.
While they may watch and try to figure us out, I can’t help but think it’s done with the best intentions as they can’t dispute the care and love at the table in front of them. They can’t deny the fact that this non-traditional family is not really that different from their own family. And so our adoption journey continues on and we don’t mind coming out a few more times if it helps change some people’s view of a non-traditional family.
Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.
By: Jason Holling
Lately, Justin and I have been asked repeatedly about when will we get married. Since the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this summer, people assumed we would tie the knot and get married right away. One week in August our lawyer, financial adviser, and numerous friends all commented that we should considered getting married and move to the neighboring state of Iowa where gay marriage is recognized. While Justin and I have been together over 9 years, we want nothing more then to show our love and commitment to each other while taking advantage of financial and other protections currently realized by heterosexual married couples. But unfortunately 10 miles separate us from Iowa where gay couples are allowed to marry and the border of Nebraska where we live.
There are several reasons we don’t just move right now across the bridge and tie the knot. But that may be a real possibility depending how the laws change in the upcoming years. Also, in many ways Justin and I are “married” in our eyes as well as our friends and families eyes. We live together, we have rings already, and we even argue sometimes like a married couple! We talked several nights ago about getting married and both of us definitely want to. As we watch the laws take shape over the next year and seeing where our state goes, it will drive our decision on marriage when the time is right. We can only hope that Nebraska can make a change and recognize marriages from another state as a first step towards marriage equality.
I want to make sure Justin and our future child is taken care of if I should pass away. And being married and living in a state that recognizes gay marriage is one way to do that. I always knew the facts that it was difficult to leave money and assets to Justin if I should pass away. That meeting with our lawyer really hit home when I could see the impact of our state not recognizing gay marriages. I really thought hard that night when I got home from the lawyer and realized that because we were not able to be married, in the eyes of the law Justin and I were no more than friends even though we love each other and supported each other for over 9 years. Leaving the house to him is taxed the same as me leaving a gift to a friend versus someone I love and am trying to adopt a child with. Then our financial adviser showed us retirement plans and the difference if we continued to live in a state that did not recognize gay marriage was almost $750,000 in retirement. That’s a huge amount of money just for living 10 miles across the river and having our state deny us the same financial protections as our married heterosexual counterparts.
So while wedding bells may not be in the immediate future, Justin and I both are keeping an eye on where marriage equality takes us in Nebraska over the next year. Once we do match with a birthmother and adopt our child, we will have the decision to make to ensure we are not only protecting each other, but our child too. It’s amazing that 10 miles can separate a committed loving family from so many basic rights that people take for granted every day.
Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.
By: Jason Howe
Sometimes the question pounces from the most unexpected directions.
I was sitting in our daughters’ playpen, reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” for the third time that day. That’s when our nanny sprung it on me: “Are you the father and Adrián is the mother?” she asked. She’d worked for us for nearly a year and should have known better, but then again, we’re her first exposure to a same-sex headed family. While I couldn’t help laughing a little, I patiently explained that, no, our twin daughters had two daddies but that we both do “mommy” things, too: things like changing diapers, making sure they don’t starve, wiping tears, and, you know, generally acting as if we love them.
But what about the man at the antiques shop who asked outright “where’s the mommy” even though he saw us both together with the girls and surely, in a city like Los Angeles, already knew the answer? Or the well-intentioned Lufthansa flight attendant who asked me, baby in lap, about my wife, even though my husband and other daughter were sitting right across the aisle in 26g? It seems that even the most liberal of people don’t realize the rigidity of their assumptions about family and gender roles until they see two men pushing a stroller together. Who does the girls’ pony tails and soothes boo-boos? Who is the strong, stalwart presence protecting the family from harm?
I hate to break it to the “every child needs a mommy and a daddy” camp, but we both are. And you know what? So are mommies and daddies in countless heterosexual families. Lots of straight mommies know how to change carburetors and lots of straight daddies bake a killer chocolate chip cookie.
Of all the arguments in the once-mighty arsenal of opponents of marriage equality, one of the most durable – and galling – has been “what about the children?”; the idea that allowing two men or two women to wed would somehow deprive children of a mother or a father. While other arguments – that marriage for same-sex couples would lead to man-hamster marriage, dissolve heterosexual marriages, or would lead John Deere to paint tractors in a sassy rainbow instead of green – have gradually been ridiculed into obscurity, “what about the children” made it all the way to oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
Children also featured prominently in the opening brief filed by proponents of Prop 8:
Proposition 8 thus plainly bears a close and direct relationship to society’s interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who brought them into the world in stable and enduring family units.
The US Council of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief in Windsor v. United States, the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that:
“the People of California could reasonably conclude that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that Proposition 8 encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.”
As if California didn’t already allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt. As if my daughters – born via a surrogate – would exist if my husband and I hadn’t planned and desired them into being. And as if every reputable study hadn’t found same-sex parents just as – if not more – capable than their heterosexual counterparts.
“It has always struck me as a illogical argument that scapegoats gay people for the fact that many heterosexuals already have children outside of marriage,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal. “And, if having children outside of marriage is such a bad thing, then why not allow same-sex couples to have their children within a marriage? Aren’t those really the only children that will be affected by whether same-sex couples are allowed to marry or not?”
Indeed, as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in Prop 8 oral arguments, those children are the only ones suffering a palpable legal harm from the inability of their parents to marry. And those claims that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would somehow be like peeing in the big pool of matrimony, thereby making marriage less special and discouraging heteros from marrying? While a simple roll of the eyes or even a guffaw are response enough, a study published last week by two Oregon researchers examined marriage rates in all 50 states over a 20-year period. You can likely guess the conclusion they reached: “Such claims do not appear credible in the face of the existing evidence, and we conclude that rates of opposite sex marriages are not affected by legalization of same sex civil unions or same sex marriages.”
As we count down the final days to a ruling, keep in mind a win could take several permutations. “We will have to see what the Court actually rules,” said Davidson, “but there is no question that wins in both cases will be historic and lead to more weddings and more same-sex couples and their children being protected against tragedies and hardships in the same ways as married different-sex couples are.”
But something else is also beyond question – while a loss at the Supreme Court may prolong the battle for the full protection and inclusion of same-sex families, any victory for backers of Prop 8 and DOMA will be a pyrrhic one. One by one, their arguments have been exposed as falsehoods and have no power as American society moves towards full acceptance of LGBT rights. Their arsenal is empty.
By Jason Howe