Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage

The facts that Judge Walker finds

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Marc Ambinder:

Here’s what you need to know about Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision invalidating California’s Proposition 8, a referendum passed by voters that banned same-sex marriage. The decision itself will be appealed, and Walker’s reasoning could serve as the basis for argument at the appellate level — or, the appeals court could decide to argue the case a completely different way.

What matters are the facts that Walker finds. Why? As Chris Geidner notes, "[the] judge or jury who makes the findings of fact, however, is given deference because factual determinations are aided by the direct benefit of the judge or jury at trial. On appeal, Judge Walker’s findings of fact will only be disturbed if the appellate court finds any to be clearly erroneous."

Walker, in his decision, writes that "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gays and lesbians for denial of a marriage license." He evaluates as credible witnesses the panel of experts who testified against Proposition 8, and finds fault with the credentials of several witnesses who testified against same-sex marriage, including David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values:

Blankenhorn’s testimony constitutes inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight," Walker writes. "Blankenhorn gave absolutely no explanation why manifestations of the deinstitutionalization of marriage would be exacerbated (and not, for example, ameliorated) by the presence of marriage for same-sex couples. His opinion lacks reliability, as there is simply too great an analytical gap between the data and the opinion Blankenhorn proffered.

Here are the relevant facts Walker finds: . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2010 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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Op-ed on why one person changed their mind to support gay marriage

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The opposition to gay marriage doesn’t make any sense to me: that straight couples will get divorces if gay couples are allowed to marry. Does that make sense to you? I don’t even think it’s true. Still, the fight goes on, inexplicably. In the NY Times, Tom Suozzi explains why he changed his mind:

WHEN I ran in the Democratic primary for governor against Eliot Spitzer in 2006, I vocally supported civil unions for same-sex couples but did not endorse equal marriage. I understood the need to provide equal rights for gays and lesbians, but as a practicing Catholic, I also felt that the state should not infringe on religious institutions’ right to view marriage in accordance with their own traditions. I thought civil unions for same-sex couples would address my concerns regarding both equality and religious liberty.

I was wrong.

I have listened to many well-reasoned and well-intentioned arguments both for and against same-sex marriage. And as I talked to gays and lesbians and heard their stories of pain, discrimination and love, my platitudes about civil unions began to ring hollow. I have struggled to find the solution that best serves the common good.

I now support same-sex marriage. This is a subject of great debate before the New York State Legislature (although the legislators there are a little distracted right now), and I hope that same-sex civil marriage will be approved within the month.

Under current New York State law, same-sex couples are deprived of access to the employment benefits, life and health insurance and inheritance laws that heterosexual couples have. If the state were to institute civil unions for same-sex couples, that discrimination would end, but we’d still be creating a separate and unequal system.

Civil unions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples would be an equal system, but this compromise appears unlikely at the current time. Few heterosexual couples would give up their current civil marriage for a civil union. While some states would recognize civil unions for all, others would not, causing legal problems for New York couples. Advocates of same-sex marriage don’t seem in favor of such a compromise either.

According to the last census, there are an estimated 50,000 households headed by same-sex couples in New York, many who were married in other states. Those marriages are recognized by New York courts as valid. As a result, we have same-sex marriage for some in New York (albeit performed out of state) and no marriage at all for other same-sex couples…

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2009 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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Recognizing gay rights brings rewards

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From the Center for American Progress:

Two studies released Friday by UCLA’s Williams Institute show that marriage equality in Massachusetts has resulted in "clear economic gains" for the state. Since 2004, the state has seen an increase in young, highly-educated, "creative class" professionals in same-sex relationships. "Creative class individuals in same-sex couples were 2.5 times more likely to move to Massachusetts in the three years after marriage equality than in the three years before." The second study finds that same-sex marriages "have given a significant boost to the state’s economy," with surveys showing that a typical gay or lesbian couple spends $7,400 on their weddings in Massachusetts — resulting in a cumulative $111 million economic boost.  The studies indicate "that other states allowing gay couples to marry — including Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine — will see similar economic gains." Similarly, a 2008 study by the Williams Institute found that legalizing same-sex marriage in California "could create hundreds of new jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into" the state’s economy. The fact that states could see an economic boom from marriage equality discredits Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s recent argument that same-sex marriage would be a burden on the small businesses and the economy." "Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele said. "Who pays for that? You just cost me money."

Written by LeisureGuy

18 May 2009 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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Good news: Congress won’t intervene in DC’s gay marriage bill

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From Edward Epstein in Congressional Quarterly:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Congress won’t try to block a District of Columbia City Council vote to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in the country.

The council voted 12-1 for the measure on Tuesday, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has said he will sign it. A handful of states are allowing same-sex marriages, including Maine, where Democratic Gov. John Baldacci signed such a bill into law Wednesday. At the same time, many other states have moved to block such marriages.

Under the District of Columbia charter, Congress can block any action of the City Council and mayor within 30 days. Some conservative House Republicans said they want the House to take such a step in the case of the same-sex marriage measure.

But at a press conference, Pelosi, a Californian whose state Supreme Court is considering a case aimed at overturning a voter-passed initiative banning same-sex marriage, said the House won’t hold such a vote.

“I don’t think the Congress should intervene there in terms of their recognition of marriages in the states that allow them,” she said.

But Pelosi also said she won’t press Congress to repeal the section of the 1996 federal law (PL 104-199) known as the Defense of Marriage Act that bans gay marriage.

She said the House is moving on issues involving the rights of gays and lesbians, pointing to last week’s passage of a bill (HR 1913) that would expand hate crimes law to include sexual orientation. And she said Congress may eventually look at the Defense Department’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans homosexuals from openly serving in the military. But she said same-sex marriage isn’t on the agenda, because she doesn’t think Congress would approve legislation legalizing it…

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 May 2009 at 11:34 am

Good news: Gay marriages now legal in Maine

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It’s a juggernaut. From ThinkProgress’s Ali Frick:

Hours after the Maine state senate approved a marriage equality bill today, Gov. John Baldacci (D) signed the law, making Maine the fifth state to allow legal same-sex marriage. In a statement, Baldacci said he “weighed [his] decision carefully” and “did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.” He realized, he explained, that civil unions were not sufficient:

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.

Baldacci also noted that “does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs,” nor does it require churches to perform gay weddings.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 May 2009 at 10:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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The Iowa Supreme Court’s Decision

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Interesting FindLaw article by Joanna Grossman, a professor of law at Hofstra University, and Linda McClain, a professor of law and Paul M. Siskind Research Scholar at Boston University. It begins:

Last October, Connecticut became the third state to authorize same-sex marriage, through the ruling of its high court in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health. Massachusetts and California had preceded Connecticut with similar rulings that paved the way for same-sex couples to marry on exactly the same terms as opposite-sex couples.

But the three-state endorsement of same-sex marriage proved only temporary, as California re-banned same-sex marriage in November via Proposition 8, a voter referendum amending the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage within the state. Though Prop 8 is currently under challenge, it is likely to be upheld by the California Supreme Court. If so, that ruling will mean same-sex marriage is dead in California for at least the near future, until a pro-same-sex-marriage proposition can again be put on the ballot.

Iowa has now added to the number of states embracing marriage equality. This once again made the count three, a count that lasted only five days because the Vermont legislature – even as this column was being written – passed a marriage equality law, overriding the state governor’s prior veto. (Joanna Grossman will consider the Vermont bill in more detail in a later column.) The state’s highest court issued a unanimous ruling last week in which it struck down a 1998 state law banning same-sex marriage. The court, in Varnum v. Brien, concluded that the ban was a form of unconstitutional sexual-orientation discrimination.

In this column, we will analyze the court’s opinion, paying particular attention to its emphasis on what it means to be an "Iowan" and its treatment of religious justifications for traditional definitions of marriage – the "unspoken" reasons for opposing redefining marriage.

Varnum v. Brien: The Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling and Its Equal Protection Analysis

Amid a flurry of similar enactments, the Iowa legislature amended the Iowa Code’s definition of marriage in 1998 to make clear that marriage was restricted to unions between "a male and a female." And, as happened in many other states, a number of same-sex couples sought marriage licenses anyway, and filed suit when they were refused, claiming that the ban on same-sex marriage violates the Iowa constitution’s guarantees of liberty and equality.

The trial judge granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on equal protection and due process grounds, a ruling that was stayed pending the future ruling by the state’s highest court, though not before one couple apparently managed to squeeze a marriage license out of the county recorder…

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 April 2009 at 8:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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Iowa will keep gay marriage

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Without the support of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, efforts to amend the Iowa Constitution cannot move forward in the Senate. The video shows Senator Gronstal’s response to Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton on April 6, 2009, the first day the Senate met after the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to allow same sex couples to marry.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 April 2009 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

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The opinion in the Iowa gay-marriage decision

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From Peterr [sic] at Firedoglake:

If you are deciding a Very Big Case, your judicial opinion is going to get a lot of attention and it behooves you to write it well.

If you want to know what a very well-written opinion looks like, let me point you to the work of Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady in Varnum v Brien [pdf], which struck down Iowa’s prohibition on same-sex marriage (internal citations omitted and emphasis added):

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes poignantly said, “It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.” This concept is evident in our past cases.

In the first reported case of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Iowa, In re Ralph, we refused to treat a human being as property to enforce a contract for slavery and held our laws must extend equal protection to persons of all races and conditions. This decision was seventeen years before the United States Supreme Court infamously decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, which upheld the rights of a slave owner to treat a person as property. Similarly, in Clark v. Board of Directors, and Coger v. North West. Union Packet Co., we struck blows to the concept of segregation long before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Iowa was also the first state in the nation to admit a woman to the practice of law, doing so in 1869. Her admission occurred three years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the State of Illinois decision to deny women admission to the practice of law, see Bradwell v. Illinois, and twenty five years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the refusal of the Commonwealth of Virginia to admit women into the practice of law, see Ex parte Lockwood. In each of those instances, our state approached a fork in the road toward fulfillment of our constitution’s ideals and reaffirmed the absolute equality of all” persons before the law as “the very foundation principle of our government.” See Coger.

So, today, this court again faces an important issue that hinges on our definition of equal protection. This issue comes to us with the same importance as our landmark cases of the past. The same-sex-marriage debate waged in this case is part of a strong national dialogue centered on a fundamental, deep-seated, traditional institution that has excluded, by state action, a particular class of Iowans. This class of people asks a simple and direct question: How can a state premised on the constitutional principle of equal protection justify exclusion of a class of Iowans from civil marriage?

Some judicial opinions are impenetrable, even to other judges. This is not one of those opinions. By the end of it, the answer to that question above is inescapable: it can’t:

Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because …

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 9:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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The Vatican against the UN

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ThinkProgress:

The Vatican is drawing criticism from gay rights groups and newspapers editorials after Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, told a French Catholic news service that the Vatican opposes “a proposed U.N. resolution calling on governments worldwide to de-criminalise homosexuality.” Migliore claimed that the resolution “would create new and implacable discriminations” against opponents of same-sex marriage. Critics call that position “grotesque“:

A strongly worded editorial in Italy’s mainstream La Stampa newspaper said the Vatican’s reasoning was “grotesque”.

Pointing out that homosexuality was still punishable by death in some Islamic countries, the editorial said what the Vatican really feared was a “chain reaction in favour of legally recognised homosexual unions in countries, like Italy, where there is currently no legislation”.

Franco Grillini, founder and honorary president of Arcigay, Italy’s leading gay rights group, said the Vatican’s reasoning smacked of “total idiocy and madness”.

Every single country in the European Union has signed the resolution, which was written by France. France is due to submit the draft declaration at the UN General Assembly on Dec. 10, the sixtieth anniversary of the UN declaration of human rights.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2008 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Religion

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What’s the problem with gay marriage?

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Really, the whole objection to gay marriage makes little sense—defending “traditional” marriage is all very well, except that “traditional” marriage differs depending on when and where you look at it. Among those parties most opposed to gay marriage in the recent California referendum was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons, who for years and years avocated and practiced polygamy and only gave it up because it was the price of admitting Utah into the Union. And these people defend “traditional” marriage? Please.

Brian Mustanski has a good post for the common-sense case in favor of recognizing same-sex marriages. It begins:

Between the popular vote to take away the marriage rights of same sex couples in California, passing of same-sex marriage bans in several states, and President elect Baraka Obama including full civil unions for LGBT couples as part of this civil rights platform, there has been a lot of recent attention on same sex relationships.  Opponents of marriage rights for same sex couples generally argue that it redefines marriage away from its current and “traditional” form and that children are best raised by two opposite sex parents. Advocates for allowing same sex couples the right to marry argue that marriage confers over a thousand rights that they are currently denied, like the ability to inherit property, visit a sick partner in the hospital, and provide citizenship for non-citizen spouses. See the U.S. General Accounting Office’s report for the full list the 1,049 rights. Advocates also argue that children do just as well when raised by same-sex parents and that marriage provides a number of psychological and health benefits that they are currently denied.

I’m not a historian, but a quick read of the history of marriage makes it clear that it has evolved and changed throughout history and that the current version is a relatively recent phenomenon. That our current version of marriage is not “traditional” invalidates that argument against expanding it to include same sex couples, in my opinion. This leaves the real merits of the debate to center on positive and negative effects of marriage on same sex couples and their children. Fortunately, social scientists have been studying same sex couples and their children and their research provides much relevant information. …

Continue reading. I really like the line “If you’re opposed to same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex.” That seems the sensible approach to me: stop being a busy body and tend to your own life.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2008 at 7:51 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Religion

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Things are getting better in some areas

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For example, gay marriage is now legal in another state: Connecticut. From the NY Times:

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, reversing a lower court decision that had concluded that the civil unions legalized in the state three years ago offered the same rights and benefits as marriage.

With the 4-to-3 ruling, Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. California legalized gay marriage in May 2008, and Massachusetts in 2004.

“Today is really a great day for equality in Connecticut,” said Bennett Klein, senior lawyer at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which argued the case before the Supreme Court. “Today’s decision really fulfills the hopes and dreams of gay and lesbian couples in Connecticut to live as full and equal citizens.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage called for continued steps for a constitutional ban on the practice. “It’s an outrage, but it’s not unexpected,” said Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut. “We thought all along that the court would usurp the democratic process and force same-sex marriage on Connecticut.”

In his majority opinion, Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote that the court found that the “segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm,” in light of “the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody.”

The court also found that “the state had failed to provide sufficient justification for excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage.” …

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 October 2008 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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Good news from Florida

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Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald:

… The proposal on the November ballot to enshrine in the state Constitution a definition that marriage is between a man and a woman falls short of the 60 percent approval threshold.

Voters support Amendment 2 by 55-41 percent, with Republicans favoring it 76-21 percent while Democrats oppose it 51-45 percent.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2008 at 8:32 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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Bad arguments against gay marriage

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Interesting article by Vikram David Amar, professor of law at the University of California, Davis School of Law, and Alan Brownstein, a Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

Amar is a 1988 graduate of the Yale Law School, and a former clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun. He is a co-author, along with William Cohen and Jonathan Varat, of a major constitutional law casebook, and a co-author of several volumes of the Wright & Miller treatise on federal practice and procedure. Before teaching, Professor Amar spent a few years at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Brownstein holds the Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality.

The article begins:

Some critics of the state Supreme Court rulings in Massachusetts and California that recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry have suggested that these cases create a conflict between religious believers and proponents of religious liberty, on one side, and gay men and lesbians and supporters of gay rights, on the other.

Their argument is more practical than normative. The rulings’ critics maintain that recognizing same-sex marriages will inevitably lead the state to interfere with and burden the religious liberty of faith communities that hold traditional beliefs deeming homosexual conduct immoral. For example, the critics fear that religious employers may be forced to violate the tenets of their faith if they are required by state law to extend health and retirement benefits to the same-sex spouses of their employees, just as they are for opposite-sex spouses.

We think this new attempt to characterize the debate about same-sex marriage as a “God versus Gays” battle is grounded on mistaken, or at least carelessly-considered, legal assumptions. Indeed, in important respects, protecting the right of gay men and lesbians to marry may help to reaffirm and reinforce religious freedom in our legal system far more than it will interfere with the free exercise of religion – for reasons we explain later in this column.

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Written by LeisureGuy

1 August 2008 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Religion

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Tangible benefits of gay marriage

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This is sort of entertaining: Massachusetts is all in a lather that California will reap all the money involved in gay marriages (weddings, receptions, catering, honeymoons, and so on), so they have changed state law to allow non-resident gays to marry in Massachusetts. Sort of a free-market solution. The politicos were, of course, quick to say that the reason was NOT the money involved—very like what they say when they vote in line with the large contributions they get from lobbyists and businesses. It’s just a coincidence. Nothing to see here, move along.

Wonder when, say, Kansas will follow suit. The article by Pam Belluck and Katie Zezima in the NY Times:

Massachusetts may have been the first state to legalize same-sex marriage for its residents, but when California last month invited out-of-state gay and lesbian couples to get married, the potential economic benefits did not go unnoticed here. Now Massachusetts wants to extend the same invitation.

On Tuesday, the State Senate voted to repeal a 1913 law that prevents Massachusetts from marrying out-of-state couples if their marriages would not be legal in their home states. The repeal, which passed with no objections on a voice vote, is expected to pass the House later this week. Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and a supporter of same-sex marriage whose 18-year-old daughter recently disclosed publicly that she is a lesbian, has said he will sign the repeal.

The repeal of the out-of-state marriage ban would come more than four years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay men and lesbians to marry, and same-sex marriage advocates said the timing was carefully calculated to catch the prevailing political — and economic — winds.

State officials said they expected a multimillion-dollar benefit in weddings and tourism, especially from people who live in New York. A just-released study commissioned by the State of Massachusetts concludes that in the next three years about 32,200 couples would travel here to get married, creating 330 permanent jobs and adding $111 million to the economy, not including spending by wedding guests and tourist activities the weddings might generate.

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 July 2008 at 10:45 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government

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Gay marriages with children work well

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The happy couple, Squawk and Milo

The happy couple, Squawk and Milo

Certainly for penguins:

Two penguins native to Antarctica met one spring day in 1998 in a tank at the Central Park Zoo in midtown Manhattan. They perched atop stones and took turns diving in and out of the clear water below. They entwined necks, called to each other and mated. They then built a nest together to prepare for an egg. But no egg was forthcoming: Roy and Silo were both male.

Robert Gramzay, a keeper at the zoo, watched the chinstrap penguin pair roll a rock into their nest and sit on it, according to newspaper reports. Gramzay found an egg from another pair of penguins that was having difficulty hatching it and slipped it into Roy and Silo’s nest. Roy and Silo took turns warming the egg with their blubbery underbellies until, after 34 days, a female chick pecked her way into the world. Roy and Silo kept the gray, fuzzy chick warm and regurgitated food into her tiny black beak.

Like most animal species, penguins tend to pair with the opposite sex, for the obvious reason. But researchers are finding that same-sex couplings are surprisingly widespread in the animal kingdom. Roy and Silo belong to one of as many as 1,500 species of wild and captive animals that have been observed engaging in homosexual activity. Researchers have seen such same-sex goings-on in both male and female, old and young, and social and solitary creatures and on branches of the evolutionary tree ranging from insects to mammals.

Unlike most humans, however, individual animals generally cannot be classified as gay or straight: an animal that engages in a same-sex flirtation or partnership does not necessarily shun heterosexual encounters. Rather many species seem to have ingrained homosexual tendencies that are a regular part of their society. That is, there are probably no strictly gay critters, just bisexual ones. “Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England.

Nevertheless, the study of homosexual activity in diverse species may elucidate the evolutionary origins of such behavior. Researchers are now revealing, for example, …

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2008 at 10:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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Gay marriage

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When political candidates are asked about gay marriage, I think it would behoove them to point out the bivalent meaning of “marriage” in our country. “Marriage” refers both to a religious ceremony—the ceremony of wedding—and to a civil state, registered with the county. This is unlike other religious ceremonies: there is no state analogue to baptism, for example, though I suppose the death certificate issued by the state might be a form of last rites. Christening, maybe: the state’s birth certificate usually wants a name for the infant, but it wants the name independent of whether the baby is christened (or even Christian).

A political candidate has no business speaking about the religious side of marriage. On the government side—the civil marriage—there seems to be no reason at all not to allow gay marriage. Civil marriages can be made outside any religious ceremony at all, and indeed the person officiating need not be even a government official: when the Wife and I were married, it was a friend who officiated, though she did have to fill out appropriate forms with the state, before and following the marriage.

Since this sort of marriage occurs completely outside a religious context, the state can recognize it free of religious control and doctrine—and, IMHO, it should. The state, OTOH, has no business or role in telling religions what they can or must do.

So let religions forbid (if they want) gay marriage ceremonies within their churches, but let the state do its business as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2007 at 8:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Religion

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