Friday, September 22, 2006

Prattle

So, have you been watching Celebrity Duets?

Besides the fact that Lucy Lawless is HOT, HOT, HOT, she can sing, too! Off the show so far are Chris Jericho (yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus), Carly Patterson (an Olympic gold medalist), and Lea Thompson.

Tonight, two more will go and that will leave the final three for next week. My prediction is that tonight's farewells will be given by Hal Sparks and Cheech Marin.

Judged by successful composer David Foster, Marie Osmond and Little Richard, the show is a really lame attempt to imitate American Idol, however, it's like a train wreck -- you just can't NOT look!

The up side is that they've had a lot of big talent singing duets with these non-musical types. Michael Bolton, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Anita Pointer, Richard Marx, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, LeAnn Womack, James Ingram, Peter Frampton, and Kenny Loggins are just some of the stars that have made their appearances on this show. Leave it to Simon Cowell to remind us of the enormous talents of some of these folks that haven't seen the limelight in the past decade or so.

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And, while on the subject of the boob tube, LOGO began showing the series Queer as Folk last night, with two shows back to back each Thursday night at 10:00. However, with commercial interruption, bleeping of the "f" bomb, and complete cutting of the sex scenes, what's the point in even trying to watch it? In Episode 1, Brian picks up a young man named Justin. It's Justin's first ever sexual encounter and it's that encounter that begins the ongoing relationship with the two men. However, with Brian's tutelage cut out, the dynamics of the relationship are completely lost.

Big BOOOOO to LOGO. They just reminded me of one of the reasons why I don't tune to their channel to start with. What's the point in a "gay" network if it's going to be afraid to BE gay?

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Speaking of being afraid...

We met with my lawyer and the NY City members of the ACLU yesterday to discuss some strategy on how or even IF an appeal will be filed in our lawsuit for marriage equality. I sent this email out to some friends and acquaintences in the GLBT community regarding that meeting. Please feel free to comment openly.

Lisa and I met with Art and Sharon from the NYCLU (NYC) yesterday. This meeting was requested in part by Art and in part by Jeff (my lawyer) so that we could discuss the pros and cons of going forward with an appeal on our case.

As you know, Judge Galloway ruled against us, hiding behind the Hernandez decision and seemingly parroting that ruling. For your edification, I have attached a copy of the ruling if you’d like to read it. MartinezDecision.doc

Particularly noteworthy is the quote on page 6 of the ruling that says “As the defendants correctly note in their papers the legislative history accompanying the statute adding sexual orientation as a protected class clearly indicates that the Legislature expressly did not intend to create any right to marry. Furthermore, as recently held by the Court of Appeals, current New York policy does not authorize or recognize same-sex marriage. This policy is not on its face in violation of the Human Rights Law. “[T]he Domestic Relations Law is facially neutral; individuals who seek marriage licenses are not queried concerning their sexual orientation and are not precluded from marrying if they are not heterosexual. Regardless of sexual orientation, any person can marry a person of the opposite sex.” Id.
(Graffeo, J., concurring); see Hoy v Mercado, 266 AD2d 803, 804.”

Two things come to mind when I read this – first off, we weren’t asking for the right to marry, as we’d already been legally married in Canada. That said, Judge Galloway’s ruling seems to lean more toward the issue of being able to marry, rather than the issue of recognizing a legal marriage conducted outside the jurisdiction of NY State.

Secondly, he quotes a ruling that specifically says that under NY law, homosexuals are not discriminated against because they are free to marry a member of the opposite gender.

Continuing on that page and the next, Judge Galloway addresses the issue of comity (the recognition of legal acts performed in other jurisdictions). Under Federal Law, recognition of foreign marriages is not mandated and is written as a voluntary recognition of the legitimacy of those marriages. Typically those marriages are recognized unless they specifically violate US law (as in marriage to close relatives, etc.). Judge Galloway also quotes the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, specifically “[n]o State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial
proceeding of any other State, territory, possession or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

On its face value, DOMA only addresses states, territories and possessions, not other countries (that is, unless the Federal government sees Canada as a possession or territory of its own). Therefore, in my opinion, DOMA doesn’t apply here. And, even if it did, DOMA’s constitutionality has yet to be challenged in the Supreme Court of the US, as it clearly violates the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US constitution.

Judge Galloway also incorrectly states that same-sex marriages are not to be recognized, pursuant to the Hernandez ruling. The Hernandez ruling, in and of itself, only addresses the issue of allowing same-sex couples to marry under the state constitution, not the recognition of marriages entered into outside the jurisdiction of NY State. Only a dissenting judge addressed the issue of comity in recognizing relationships legitimized in other jurisdictions.

So, all that said, here’s the purpose behind this correspondence to you. I would like to hear your thoughts on pursuing an appeal of this decision based on the meeting I had yesterday with the NYC folks. Listed below are their thoughts on the “risks” of appealing the decision – I have added my own dissenting thoughts as well. I ask for your comments on the NYCLU concerns, as well as my own dissenting thoughts – your HONEST reply will be appreciated.

1. It could create “bad law.” Galloway’s ruling, while woefully ignorant and totally off base, doesn’t necessarily create law. It merely creates a ruling that MCC didn’t violate any laws in denying health care benefits to my spouse, based on my marital status. However, an appeals court ruling could set a precedent for the state in all further cases involving the recognition of same-sex marriages entered into in other jurisdictions (Massachusetts, Canada, etc.). The higher the court’s level, the more that court’s ruling is used by lower court judges that are unable/unwilling to “rock the boat” and rule based on law rather than public or personal opinion. This, I believe, creates a “Catch-22” type of situation because the Hernandez decision, as well as Judge Galloway’s ruling, also creates “bad law.”

2. An appeal could go forward with the “theme” that MCC did not provide me with the same compensation as it did a married heterosexual and that would violate NYS Human Rights laws. Benefits are part of any compensation package and the NYCLU folks believe that the case is stronger going at it from this angle.
My own feeling is that if we appeal in this manner, then it makes the case about money rather than basic civil rights. While it started out with wanting the health insurance benefits for Lisa because of financial considerations, it was never really about the money. As I told the NYC folks yesterday, that amount of money (roughly $1,400) is minutiae compared to the “big picture.”

3. The current political climate is such that this might not be a good time for an “all or nothing” approach. The recent filing of a suit against Alan Hevesi to stop the practice of recognizing same-sex relationships for the purposes of state retirement benefits illustrates the power behind private organizations that fund these sorts of suits. It is this very issue that makes me feel very strongly that we must press forward with an appeal precisely because of these well-funded organizations. The longer we sit back and wring our hands deciding what course to take, the more time we give these organizations to muddy the waters all over the country and, as they spread their cancer throughout the nation, more “bad law” is created.

I also strongly feel that Judge Galloway’s decision is based less on law and more on the current political climate in an election year. An appeal would not reach any court before this year’s elections in November and, therefore, would be less likely to be subject to perceived voter influence.

When Jeff pressed the NYCLU for a response on whether they were “with us” if we decided to pursue the appeal, Mr. Eisenberg responded that he would have to see our legal arguments, first. While he hasn’t presented one legal argument for NOT pursuing the appeal, presenting theory and some presumption only.

It should be noted that the local ACLU legal team believes that the appeal should go forward, even though the state folks do not.

I expressed to these people the thought that, while we currently have the “domestic partner” benefit, four years from now when that contract expires, there are no guarantees that the “domestic partner” benefit will continue to be offered. It is, therefore, imperative that we work toward forcing recognition of our marriages.

While ultimately this is “our” case (Lisa’s and mine), this case is about all of us in many ways. However, Lisa and I both strongly feel that this isn’t just about us. Rather, it’s about an entire community of people in and around Monroe County and New York State (as well as throughout the country). And, since it’s our (collective) case, we want to hear from all of you. We would like this decision to be made by all of us based on all of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs regarding this case.


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Finally, we've decided selfish time is in order for the weekend. We're going to go down to Hemlock Lake and go to the 1812 Store (one of my favorite places) and then take the trip 20 miles east of there to go to the Naples Grape Festival. This is something I used to love to do back when the kids were still at home, but I was never really able to enjoy it because other than myself, nobody else was interested in the artsy-craftsy things on display. If there aren't any rides that go fast and far enough to make you puke, it's no fun, I guess.

Anyway, the selfish part is that we're not telling anyone we're going -- we're going alone. No Michelle and the kids. No Aunt Wanda. No Mary. Just Pat and Lisa enjoying time together -- something we've not been able to do all summer long.

Of course, we'll go tomorrow because Pat doesn't go anywhere on Sundays during football season, other than the north end of the couch, recliner up, knitting in hand.

Selfish bitch that I am...

2 comments:

SassyFemme said...

Enjoy your time away together! There's nothing selfish about some time away with the one you love.

We're also watching Celebrity Duets. I agree about who might be going tonight, will see shortly.

Very tough decision facing you re: the case. I admire you for going so far, and standing for what you believe is right.

Jenn said...

OH my GAWD! "Homosexuals aren't discriminated against...because they're free to marry someone of the opposite gender..."

That's ludicrous. It's asshat ludicrous.

I kind of got hung up on that part of the post. Good for you fighting the good fight.

And I hope you have lovely 'selfish' time.