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Friday, April 30, 2004

Michigan Healthcare Legislation 

365Gay.com reports that the Michigan House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate a package of bills which would allow healthcare providers to refuse to treat or provide prescriptions if they have religious objections to the patient or procedure. The bills also allow health insurers to refuse to cover specific benefits or services for religious objections, and do not require healthcare providers to give referrals to providers who would be willing to provide the care being refused. Similar bills are pending in Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

The bills' sponsors assert that their only goal is to prevent healthcare providers who have moral objections to abortion or birth control from being forced to render these services. Others are concerned that the legislation would allow providers to refuse to treat or provide certain services to gay patients because of their own views on homosexuality.

The Human Rights Campaign has issued this press release.

The text, history and legislative analyses of the bills in question can be viewed from the Michigan Legislature website.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Gay Hate-Crimes Statute Near Approval in Canada 

The Canadian Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill on April 28, 2004, to include homosexuals as a protected group in Canadian Hate-Crimes law. The proposal had passed in the House of Commons last fall, after extended debate. Some conservatives argued that the measure would infringe on freedom of religion, and some liberals argued that it might infringe upon free speech guarantees. Some were concerned that the bill might be used against religious leaders who speak out against homosexuality from the pulpit.

Supporters pointed out the frequency of assaults on gays and lesbians, especially on males who challenge gender stereotypes. The bill was backed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Professional Police Association.

The measure will become law when it has received royal assent, a formality.


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"Lesbian Grannies" 

I've seen a few articles in the past week publicizing the Rainbow Ride, an event designed to raise awareness around LGBT relationship and marriage equality. Most of the articles I've seen emphasize that the couple's status as lesbian grandmothers (a New Zealand article added local flavor with lesbian "nanas" instead), but don't go into much detail on the story behind the grannies.

Granted, Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone play up the grandma angle deliberately. As they mention in their Rainbow Ride page, "When we ride into towns and cities, we hope people will come out to see the bike-riding grandmas, listen to what we have to say about our family and the harm caused to all LGBT families because the law treats us as second-class citizens in our own country. Perhaps they will be motivated to get involved in the struggle for equality or will at least consider the possibility that the opposition is spreading lies about LGBT families."

The pair are also the founders and owners of Rainbow Law, an organization dedicated to relationship and estate planning for GLBT couples. Carrie has a law degree and Elisia is an R.N. and paralegal. In addition to providing a wealth of guidelines and suggestions on their website, they also offer document packages that you can use to assist in your own legal planning, and they appear at speaking engagements and awareness raising events such as the current Rainbow Ride from San Francisco to Washington, DC.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Report on Anti-Gay Groups in Massachusetts 

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force last month published their report "Anti-Gay Groups Active In Massachusetts: A Closer Look." The report is composed of several parts, and includes a helpful Bookmarks section (click the Bookmarks tab on the left side of the PDF screen) which will allow you to go directly to a section of interest. Do note, however, that the bookmarks are not complete, and some are not active.

The reports include analysis of positions presented and actions taken by the groups, as well as financial information and website addresses for the individual groups and members of coalition organizations.

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Censorship of a Candidate - Update 

PlanetOut reports that the ACLU was in court before Superior Court Judge Dwight Cranford in Wilson County, NC yesterday to present their motion for a temporary restraining order, in order to allow Jarred Gamwell to display his campaign posters in the halls of James Hunt High in Wilson. Forty minutes of arguments later, the judge denied the motion without comment.

On the positive side, Gamwell notes that he's received much support from his fellow students. People who have never spoken to him before have approached him to applaud his efforts and for speaking out.

The Charlotte Observer also reports on the hearing, and adds a few additional bits of information. Another candidate's poster which exclaimed "It's Miller Time!" was not removed despite the apparent reference to alcohol consumption. I mentioned in my earlier post that Gamwell had been warned not to alter the text of his pre-approved campaign speech yesterday. Apparently the principal was still nervous about political statements during the political campaign speech. All the speeches were cancelled.

WRAL.com has another article on the issue, which includes a photo of the candidate and his poster.

The elections are today.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Censorship of a Candidate 

The folks over at Fool's Blog were kind enough to send me a note about this article discussing how Principal Bill Williamson at James Hunt High in Wilson, NC ordered the taking down of certain campaign posters promoting junior Jarred Gamwell for student council president. The Fool's Blog post on the topic can be found here.

Jarred is apparently a successful student who participates in other activities, and he is also openly gay. The posters in question stated "Queer Eye for Hunt High!" and "Gay Guys Know Everything!" The principal felt the messages were disruptive and irrelevant. When I was in high school, these sorts of campaign posters were quite often jingo-ish and had pop culture references, cutesy rhymes and emphasized some characteristic or activity of the candidate, so these don't seem that out of the ordinary. The ACLU agrees, and has written a letter to the principal on the matter.

The school district's attorney stated in his response to the ACLU that "There are North Carolina Statutes that make certain acts in a homosexual relationship criminal in nature." As TalkLeft pointed out in this post, such statutes would be unconstitutional under the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas.

Jarred wanted to address the action in his campaign speech, but has been told by the principal that he must stick to the text he submitted prior to the incident. The censorship continues. Stay tuned...

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Love, Marriage & International Intrigue 

The NESL OUTLaws are proud co-sponsors of "Love, Marriage & International Intrigue: A Forum on Immigration Dangers for Same-Sex Binational Couples," being held this Sunday, May 2 at Northeastern University's Cargill Hall from 2:00-4:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public. From the press release (hyperlinks added):

GLAD lawyers and immigration experts will inform binational same-sex couples of the law and the risks that marriage will impose on their relationships and on the immigration status of the non-citizen spouse. Translators will be available for lots of question & answer time.

The Issue
Binational same-sex couples cannot solve their immigration problems by getting married. In fact, getting married could make matters worse. After May 17th, many lesbian and gay couples are planning to get married in Massachusetts. Many binational same-sex couples mistakenly hope that marrying will help them resolve immigration problems by allowing the U.S. citizen partner to sponsor the non-citizen partner for citizenship and protect him or her from deportation. However, despite the compelling need for federal immigration benefits and protections for same-sex spouses, the federal 'Defense Of Marriage Act' (DOMA) will prevent legally married same-sex couples from receiving any marriage-based immigration benefits. Moreover, getting married may actually cause immigration problems for same-sex couples, depending on their situation.

Find out more about the potential legal dangers related to immigration and marriage for same-sex couples at: http://www.glad.org/Publications/CivilRightProject/Binational_Couples_Warning.shtml

Co-sponsors for this event include GLAD, MLGBA, QAPA, MASALA, MAP for Health, HOPE Inc., Northeastern University International Student and Scholar Institute, Harvard University International Office, Project 10 East, Boston College International Human Rights Program, Latin American Health Institute, New England School of Laws OUTLaws, Somos Latinos, Human Rights Campaign, and the Freedom to Marry Coalition.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
617-426-1350; 800-455-GLAD
www.glad.org


I hope anyone in the area with an interest in immigration law, particularly with regard to same-sex couples, will be able to attend.

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Nothing Personal, Not Anti-Gay 

Does it make you feel better that so many of the people and groups working so hard to undermine the existence of GLBT individuals go to such lengths to assure you that it's nothing personal?

A posting today on QueerDay points to a pair of articles on the Australian Prime Minister's plan to ban same sex marriage in Australia and to ban recognition of such marriages from other countries: this article from ninemsn.com discusses the announcement and some reactions, while this article from The Mercury focuses on opposition response. According to the ninemsn.com story:

“This is not directed at gay people. It's directed at reaffirming a bedrock understanding of our society." Mr. Howard said the existing law did not contain the formal definition that marriage was between a man and a woman. "I just believe it. There are certain institutions that we understand to have a certain meaning and why not say so?" he said.

Queerday also pointed to an article from The Lynchburg News & Advance, discussing the recent enactment of Virginia's new "Marriage Affirmation Act." The new law states:

A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.

The Virginia General Assembly's lone openly gay member interprets this law as interfering in the ability of gay couples even to enter into private contracts aimed at protecting their mutually agreed rights in their own relationship. From the article:

On a personal level, Ebbin said he has been treated well by his colleagues, some of whom told him they had to vote for the bill to prevent repercussions from the Republican caucus and conservative voters.

But it’s hard not to take it personally.


It was nice of his colleagues to assure him that they only voted to strip him of his private contractual rights because of anticipated pressure from others, wasn't it?

In Poughkeepsie, NY this past weekend, members of the Christian Coalition splinter group Truthful Witness were also careful to clarify their good intentions. As the Poughkeepsie Journal reports:

The group is not an anti-gay campaign, Garrison said. Its message, she said, is homosexuality is an unhealthy and unnatural lifestyle and Jesus Christ can set anyone free from any sin.

Perhaps Truthful Witness should get together with Pastor Leonard, who was mentioned in a Boston.com report on the demonstrators outside the MA constitutional convention in March:

"Would I be standing here with a sign like this if I didn't love you?" - Pastor Leonard of Lawrence, referring to his sign which read, "Homosexuals are possessed by demons."

While former US Appeals Court Judge and former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork didn't address his specific feelings toward gays during his comments to a group of lawyers and judges following a Red Mass in Connecticut, he took another approach to justifying his opinion that the MA SJC's Goodridge decision was "judicial sin" (quotes from Boston.com):

"Many of our courts are guilty of that judicial sin, that is willingness, even eagerness, to reach results announcing principles that have no plausible relation to any constitution," Bork said.

"If decisions like those I've been discussing are the waves of the future, our culture will slide into chaos and self-government will be a shrunken remnant of what we once aspired to."


I don't want to end on such a down note, placing the blame for an impending fall of civilization on the GLBT community and anyone who supports them, I will instead reference a USA Today article by a straight man whose ex-wife has recently married her girlfriend of 5 years in Oregon. Daniel Glick, a former Newsweek correspondent, poses these thoughts:

I think it's fair to say that my kids don't understand what the fuss about gay marriage is all about, even now that their mom is married. I have to admit that I'm also baffled by those who oppose same-sex marriages.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., predicted that if gay marriages were legal, the country would see a veritable wildfire of gay couples trying to publicly and legally cement lifelong vows of commitment.

What, I wondered, could possibly be wrong with that? Why does he believe that granting my ex-wife another shot at marriage is so bad?


What, indeed?

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Gay Panic - Heat of Passion Defense 

With the Gwen Araujo case in the headlines these past few weeks, there has been much discussion in the news about the heat of passion defense being used by heterosexual males whose murder victims were gay or transgendered. See PlanetOut.com's listing of Araujo articles for background information.

The Curmudgeonly Clerk and Uncivil Litigator both have lengthy posts (and some comment postings) in which they discuss the Araujo case as well as others. Included in the discussion are societal definitions of masculinity, the ideological power of male dominance, battered women's syndrome, analysis of the heat of passion defense and how it has applied or been rejected in various cases. I should note that Curmudgeonly Clerk modifies his statements slightly through an update towards the end of his post, so be sure to read it through.

I'd be interested in seeing thoughts on the issue from TalkLeft, but was unable to come up with anything on their site.

Thanks to Chris St. Pierre at Cogitation for the pointer to UCL and CC's conversation. It would also be interesting to see a follow up post on whether Chris has updated his position after he starts the year at Cincinnati Law.

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Vermont AG Recognizes Transgender Rights 

Boston.com and Advocate report that Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell on Friday released an opinion that the town of Hardwick violated the state's employment law by discriminating against and ultimately firing transgendered police officer Anthony Barreto-Neto. The town recently settled a civil suit with the officer for $90,000. Town officials, however, continue to deny that any discrimination occurred.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and Middlebury attorney Beth Robinson represented the officer. GLAD's Jennifer Levi stated that she hopes the combination of the AG's opinion and the large monetary settlement will send a message regarding transgendered rights in Vermont's employment law.

I was unable to locate the text of the opinion, but hopefully it will be posted soon to the AG's website. I'll add a link once it is.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

Year End OUTLaws Meeting 

The OUTLaws had our year-end meeting this week. Of interest:

-The executive board is in place for the 2004-2005 academic year. Casey Smith and Spencer Jenkins are the Co-Chairs, Chris Reamer is Treasurer, Beth Henderson is Secretary, and Prof. Salter is continuing as advisor.

-We agreed to roll out this shiny new blog. Please let us know of any comments or suggestions!

-OUTLaws will be filling a table at the upcoming MA Lesbian and Gay Bar Association 19th Annual Dinner. Mary Bonauto, Esq. will be the keynote speaker

-Beth Henderson agreed to be a contact person for anyone interested in representing NESL OUTLaws in Boston's Pride Day parade on June 12. Please contact me ASAP at the address under Contributors on the sidebar if you're interested.

-We've got lots of great ideas for the coming year and beyond, so stay tuned!

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Youth and Visibility 

Continuing on the themes of visibility and supporting queer youth, in Prof. Salter's post today, a couple of hopeful notes from the headlines.

PlanetOut.com reported late yesterday that Time Magazine has named Evan Wolfson as one of the "World's 100 Most Influential People." Wolfson is executive director of Freedom to Marry, a lobbying group for same-sex marriage, and previously worked for Lambda Legal Defense Fund. The National Law Journal named Wolfson one of the "100 most influential lawyers in America" in 2000. You can see an introduction to the article and the selections for each category (Wolfson is among the "Heroes and Icons") here, but to read the profile for each person, you'll have to buy the special issue or subscribe ($4.95 according to the prompt).

On the youth front, Advocate.com reports that yesterday John Kerry issued this statement in support of the National Day of Silence:

"I want to recognize the efforts of the youth across America who are participating in the National Day of Silence. Too many LGBT students are skipping school because they feel unsafe. Too many LGBT students are threatened or attacked for being gay. We cannot and must not forget the lessons of Matthew Shepard's tragic death. We need an America where every child--gay or straight--feels safe."

The National Day of Silence is "a project of the a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in collaboration with the United States Student Association (USSA), is a student-led day of action where those who support making anti-LGBT bias unacceptable in schools take a day-long vow of silence to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment -- in effect, the silencing -- experienced by LGBT students and their allies."

Robert Aldrich, the Police Chief of South Hampton, NH is doing his part as well. Bay Windows today profiles the openly gay police chief (one of two nationally) who will be leading a workshop on GLBT issues at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Policein LA later this year. Aldrich is also active in the Gay Officers Action League of New England. Leading the workshop with Aldrich will be Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole.

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It is not just about gay marriage 

Gay marriage is in the headlines and forefront of activism at the moment, and has significance not only to committed couples who seek the status, but also is important to all of our community in breaking down barriers to understanding and participation in the wider community. Other fronts still need action, however.

Activism on other fronts can be promoted through the political process. Perhaps we should examine and participate in drafting the official platforms for the Democratic and Republican parties. The Socialist Party platform has a statement that could be used to compare the positions of the mainstream parties:
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The Socialist Party supports specific legal actions to reinforce the rights of queer people, for example:

Federal Queer Bill of Rights, guaranteeing full parental rights, including the right to adoption or provide foster care; equal treatment in housing, employment and the provision of social services; and legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Repeal of Discriminatory Laws, such as employment discrimination statutes and immigration restrictions. However, no matter how important these laws may be to making our lives more tolerable, they still only address the effects of homophobia and not the cause; as such, they can only be part of the solution. As with combating racism and sexism, the struggle must be to change people's attitudes, and this must start with education.

Specifically, we call for:

1. Educating Children in our schools on queer concerns and on the equal validity of same sex and opposite sex attractions; let the cycle of homophobia be broken with this generation.

2. Supporting and defending our queer youth. We strongly endorse social services specifically designed to help queer adolescents, such as queer youth support groups and gay/straight alliances within schools. We have to encourage the realization of their self worth and remove the barriers to their self-expression. If their families reject them, we must provide them with love as well as support.

3. Removing the shroud of secrecy that has for too long hidden the achievements of both historical and contemporary queer people.

4. Including positive role models in mass media. We should be as visible on prime time as we are on Pride Day.

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from http://sp-usa.org/queer/queercom.html

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Bill to Repeal 1913 Marriage Law 

Boston.com reports that today Rep. Robert P. Spellane of Worcester will introduce a bill to repeal the little used but recently revived 1913 law banning couples from marrying in Massachusetts if such a marriage would not be allowed in their home state (see earlier post here.

According to the Boston.com report, Gov. Romney is planning on instituting new procedures which will require applicants to review a printed list of all states and their respective rules and regulations regarding marriage qualifications, after which the couple will need to verify that they are eligible in their homestate.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Marriage and Gender Definition 

Yesterday's San Jose Mercury News has an article addressing concerns of married transgendered persons, and how existing and potential same-sex marriage bans could affect their status.

From the article:

If these marriages are called into question, some wonder whether the larger gay and lesbian community will fight equally as hard for the rights of transsexuals to marry.

"I'm scared this will divide the LGBT community as opposed to bring it together,'' Taylor, 36, said of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The major groups advocating for same-sex marriages, meanwhile, say it's all one battle.

"When we look at transgenders, we see that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has all kinds of unintended consequences,'' said Jim De La Hunt, policy director for Marriage Equality California, a non-profit, grass-roots group advocating for the freedom of all people to marry.


For helpful information on transgender rights and legal issues, see the National Center for Lesbian Rights' Transgender Law Project page.


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The Courts, The Legislature and The People 

When the Massachusetts SJC issued the Goodridge opinion and set the stage for the upcoming issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, opponents of the decision cried foul. The court was accused of attempting to usurp the role of the legislature and of imposing its will on the people.

Now that the issue of gay marriage is working its way through the courts in California, there seems to be a different opinion of the role of the courts. A California assembly committee has approved a bill which would define marriage as being between "two persons." Opponents now say the legislature should not be taking up the issue, but should be decided by the courts, so as not to offend the will of the people." From Advocate.com:

Opponents of the bill said it would contradict the will of the voters, who passed Proposition 22 in 2000, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "This is something that should be decided in the courts before it ever comes here," said Assemblywoman Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), who voted against the measure. "I think it trivializes the will of the people."

For an insightful article on the California initiative process, check out this entry from California Justice William W. Bedsworth's blog, A Criminal Waste of Space.

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Outlaws Elections 

There will be an Outlaws general meeting this afternoon, which will include elections for next year's executive board. The meeting will be in Room 310, from 4:15 - 5:50 pm.

I'm sorry to see that three events of interest are occurring at the same time today. In addition to the Outlaws meeting, the re-start meeting of the Women's Law Caucus is in Room 306 from 5-6 pm, while the CSO is presenting a panel of speakers from the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers in the Cherry Room from 4-6 pm.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Draft Talk 

AFP via Yahoo! News reports that Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today suggested that reinstating the draft may be necessary to support the ongoing action in Iraq. Sen. Hagel justified the concept in part as a means of spreading the deployment burden to all segments of society. It should be noted that Charles Moskos, one of the designers of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, stated last year that the policy is not compatible with an active draft system.


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Bill of Address 

A single state Representative, Emile J. Goguen (D) of Fitchburg is sponsoring and filing a "bill of address" tomorrow. The bill is the first step in a process designed to remove from the SJC the four justices who issued the Goodridge opinion. While the lawmaker acknowledges that the bill has little chance of passing (it would have to be passed by both the house and senate, and the acted upon by the Governor and Governor's Council), he stated that he hopes the action will pressure the justices into reconsidering or nullifying the ruling.

The idea of the bill of address was brought to Rep. Goguen by members of Article 8 Alliance, a group formed in response to the Goodridge decision.

The most recent removal of an SJC justice was in 1803. An attempt in 1922 failed. The most recent removal of a judge by a bill of address was in 1973 (a municipal court judge), but this was after the judge had already been disbarred and removed by the SJC.

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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Worcester Clerk Won't Question Couples 

Worcester City Clerk David J. Rushford has announced that his office, like Provincetown, will not question couples applying for marriage licenses as to whether same-sex marriage is illegal in their homestate. Rushford points out that the 1913 law that bans licenses from being issued to a couple of such a marriage would be illegal in their home state has never been enforced. For example, clerks do not question couples from Rhode Island if they are first cousins (MA has no law against first cousins marrying, while RI does) or if couples from Nebraska are both at least 19 years old (MA requires 18, while Nebraska requires 19). Rushford stated:

"We don't ask for ID, we don't ask for birth certificates, divorce papers, or death certificates, and this is the practice throughout the Commonwealth," Rushford said. "My assertion is that if someone comes here to apply for a marriage license and their residence is listed as Connecticut, for example, I have no reason to question that.

"I don't feel as though I should all of a sudden be challenging people on marriage licenses, as we have never challenged people in the past."

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Justice Cordy Commencement Speaker 

According to the NESL News page, this year's commencement speaker will be The Honorable Robert J. Cordy, associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Of note to Outlaws, Justice Cordy was one of the dissenting justices in the Goodridge case. The "Unofficial Synopsis Prepared by the Reporter of Decisions," at the start of the posted decision summarizes Justice Cordy's dissent as follows:

Justice Cordy, with whom Justice Spina and Justice Sosman joined, dissented on the ground that the marriage statute, as historically interpreted to mean the union of one man and one woman, does not violate the Massachusetts Constitution because "the Legislature could rationally conclude that it furthers the legitimate State purpose of ensuring, promoting, and supporting an optimal social structure for the bearing and raising of children." Justice Cordy stated that the court's conclusions to the contrary are unsupportable in light of "the presumption of constitutional validity and significant deference afforded to legislative enactments, and the 'undesirability of the judiciary substituting its notion of correct policy for that of a popularly elected legislature' responsible for making it.' Further, Justice Cordy stated that "[w]hile 'the Massachusetts Constitution protects matters of personal liberty against government intrusion at least as zealously and often more so than does the Federal Constitution,' this case is not about government intrusions into matters of personal liberty," but "about whether the State must endorse and support [the choices of same-sex couples] by changing the institution of civil marriage to make its benefits, obligations, and responsibilities applicable to them." Justice Cordy concluded that, although the plaintiffs had made a powerful case for the extension of the benefits and burdens of civil marriage to same-sex couples, the issue "is one deeply rooted in social policy" and 'that decision must be made by the Legislature, not the court."

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Guest Speaker Lawrence Friedman 

On Tuesday, April 6 the NESL Outlaws hosted a presentation and discussion by Prof. Lawrence Friedman, who is currently a visiting faculty member at Boston College Law and who is joining the NESL faculty in the fall.

The official description was: "This informative and lively program will focus on constitutional issues raised by cases such as Lawrence v. Texas, Baker v. State and Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, and the intersection of state and federal law pertaining to the issues of same-sex marriage and individual liberties."

It indeed was both informative and lively, and Prof. Friedman took us through a history of the evolving relationship between state constitutions and the US constitution, the history of individual liberties and protections through two threads of criminal and civil cases, and the various strategies and rationales presented by the parties and judges/justices involved in many decisions. About half of the hour was dedicated to Q&A, and he successfully fielded questions to a range of issues.

I posted recently on an open forum on same sex marriage, and stated that the anti-gay marriage speaker did not present any legal arguments but instead relied on emotional and religous statements to support his case. One of the students at yesterday's discussion asked Professor Friedman if he could possibly explain to us exactly what some of the legal arguments are that are used by the anti-gay marriage advocates. He confirmed our suspicions with his response that it is often difficult to pin them down on what exactly is the legal basis for their arguments. He further mentioned that this is one reason they often turn to constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage. Such an amendment would remove the need to support the position with convincing legal arguments.

Prof. Friedman will be teaching Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law next year.

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Open Forum on Same Sex Marriage 

On Thursday, March 25, the NESL ACLU and NESL Republican Club co-sponsored an Open Forum on Same Sex Marriage. There was quite a crowd for this event in the Cherry Room, with all seats filled, people sitting on the floor and standing by the walls, and flowing into the hallway. The Republican club speaker was a former chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, while the ACLU speaker was with the Mass. Gay and Lesbian Bar Association. They each spoke for 10 minutes, followed by questions from the audience. Unfortunately I was only able to catch the pre-question portion, as I had to get to a 6:00 class.

Also unfortunately, the Republican speaker's presentation was primarily based on no legal authority, and referenced religious foundations and unsourced statements such as: teenaged boys need tough love, and unless there's a man in the house no one will be there to provide it; men are genetically programmed to care only for their own biological children; women need to be supported by a man in order to stay home and provide full time nurturing for the children, as women are better at that sort of thing and should do so; if there is same sex marriage, religious groups will be forced to provide ceremonies and recognize these relationships; same sex marriage should not be allowed because children who come from families which do not have both a mother and a father, who are married to each other, are violent and tend to use drugs and commit crimes.

A straight friend of mine commented that she was embarrassed for the Republican Club that they were not able to find a more appropriate speaker, who would address the issues from a legal standpoint or at least provide some backing references for his statements. The only sources he did provide were quotes from gay rights and other social activists from the very early 70's, in support of his statements that gay men and lesbians who are seeking the right to marry are actually seeking to destroy and eliminate the institution of marriage. The ACLU speaker addressed many of the first speaker's misstatements, and moved into a discussion of the legal situation.

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