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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Coming Out In the Jury Pool 

L.A. Vess has a column at LesbiaNation.com about her recent experience in a jury pool in South Carolina. For her, it became more than a day of reading and waiting when she and her fellow potential jurors were told the list of facts they would all be required to state about themselves: name, address, length of residence, employment, education, legal marital status and spouse's employment.

The remainder of the column discusses her reaction and response to being legally forced to declare herself single due to her being legally barred from being legally otherwise with the person she loves, and what she learned about equality, visibility and coming out.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

RAF: Ask, Tell and Be Proud 

While here in the US the continued application of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is ending military careers, keeping some of the bright and the best from enlisting in the first place, and in some cases leaving the military short-handed (such as in Arab language translators), such is not the case in the UK.

Gay men and lesbians were similarly barred from service in England's military until January 2000, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK had violated a man's human rights by discharging him because he is gay. The case was Lustig-Prean and Beckett v UK.

Well, the RAF has straightened up and is flying right (so to speak), and is taking part in this Sunday's Pride Parade and Festival in Manchester. In addition to having a float carrying eight waving RAF members, they will also have a mobile recruiting station. This is no small event, either. Manchester Pride is "ten starry days and nights of partying, parade, film, arts & entertainment, sport and debating." Perhaps the RAF's presence will mark the beginning of a true Manchester United.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Child Custody Rulings 

There have been a couple of rulings of interest this week in child custody cases.

In a Virginia case, Frederick County Judge John R. Prosser has determined that the Virginia court has jurisdiction to hear a child custody case between two women who had entered into a civil union in Vermont, although the case is already being handled in Vermont. The civil union has been dissolved in the Vermont courts, and a temporary custody decision has already been issued there.

Here in Massachusetts, the SJC in a 4-3 decision has determined that a woman (listed as B.L.) is not required to pay child support to her former partner, who had become pregnant while the pair were a couple, but who had not yet given birth at the time of their breakup. Justice Cowin wrote the opinion, with Justice Greaney penning the dissent.
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UPDATE: If the above link to the MA SJC opinion doesn't work (it seems to be intermittent), the case is T.F. vs. B.L. SJC-09104 August 25, 2004. You can get to it through the SJC site, or a legal database.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

1913 Marriage Law Still Stands After Round One 

Boston.com reports that the Superior Court Judge assigned the challenge to the 1913 marriage statute which is being used to deny marriage licenses to out of state gay couples has declined to enjoin the state from enforcing it. Judge Carol Ball did note that she felt the law does violate the spirit of Goodridge, and that she is troubled by the timing of the state's decision to enforce the long-ignored law.

The plaintiffs in the case plan to appeal, and all parties anticipate that the case will ultimately go before the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court. The decision can be found here, at GLAD's website.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Copyright Clarification Two 

Professor Geoff Hull also kindly replied to my inquiry for clarification on the question of problematic transfer of copyright. See related posts here and here. Prof. Hull's response:
Beth.

There are several cases, and the language of the statute itself, which suggest that the codified sequence takes precedence over any will. The executor or administrator of an estate are only in the picture if there is no surviving spouse, children or grandchildren. Many people, including my Copyright Law students, find it surprising that sometimes even where there is a will, there is not a way.

Geoff Hull

So there you have it. Thanks to Prof. Hull for taking the time to assist!

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Cal. Supreme Court - Gay Marriages Null & Void 

The California Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the case of whether Mayor Gavin Newson overstepped his authority in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The court states that he did, and that the resulting licenses and marriages are null and void. The official records are to be corrected to reflect this decision. The court specifically did not pass on the question of whether the statute limiting marriage to opposite sex couples is constitutional.

A detailed breakdown of the orders, as well as of the concurring and dissenting opinions, can be found here.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Matthew Limon Amicus Briefs 

Additional amicus briefs were been filed yesterday in the case of Matthew Limon, for his case pending before the Kansas Supreme Court.

The National Association of Social Workers and the Kansas Association of Social Workers have filed a brief, in which they oppose the state's assertion that the disparate sentencing for same-sex underage contact is justified because teenagers could easily be swayed into becoming gay based on a single contact. From the ACLU's press release:
In its brief, the 153,000 member organization of professional social workers debunks the state’s claims that the length of Limon’s sentence is justified because young people who engage in same-sex intimacy are so impressionable that they may be swayed into becoming gay. The NASW points to social science evidence that same-sex attractions surface much earlier in life – well before puberty – and that one gay sexual experience can’t make someone “turn” gay.

My question is why is it that being gay is apparently viewed by the prosecution as being such an abhorrent state of existence that a person should be jailed for 17 years on the outside chance that someone could be influenced by them? It will be a relief when the arguments no longer have to be aimed at pointing out the flaws in the supporting data (that teens can be influenced or "recruited" into becoming gay), but can instead be aimed at the flaws in the more basic underlying assumption: that being gay is bad, so teens must be protected from realizing they are gay.

The American Public Health Association and the Kansas Public Health Association also filed a brief in the case, but I've not yet been able to locate any information about the content of that brief.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Washington State: Gay Marriage Legal (sort of) 

Boston.com reports that King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing has issued his decision in the marriage cases argued before him, stating that to deny gay couples the right to marry is a denial of substantive due process. His decision will not go into effect at the present time, however, as it has been stayed until the Washington Supreme Court can hear the case.

The opinion is a good read. He clearly knew this would be a widely circulated document, particularly for a lower level court. From the opinion:
There are, of course, political ramifications to this wedlock deadlock and neither folly nor sense of duty could blind one to that circumstance. The social issue before the Court is one about which people of the highest intellect, the deepest morality and the broadest public vision maintain divergent opinions, strongly held in good faith and all worthy of great respect. Resolving their disagreement is, to be frank, a matter too big to be addressed to a lone individual and this author would naturally like nothing better than to stop at this point and, with a warm and sincere pat on the back, to send all parties off to the State Supreme Court or the State legislature or both. Regrettably or not, such an abdication of responsibility is not an option. As this case and this debate pass by this way station, some impressions and conclusions must be recorded.

This is a 26-page decision, and worth every minute you take to read it.


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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Chicago Tribune | Unforeseen side effect of gay marriage 

Steve Chapman has written an interesting article on the Marriage Protection Act, passed in the US House recently.
Chicago Tribune | Unforeseen side effect of gay marriage

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Copyright Clarification 

I posted last week about a Rolling Stone article which raised questions about the ability to specify to whom you would like to transfer your copyrights. For further clarification, I sent e-mail to the two attorneys quoted in the article. I just received this reply from Nashville attorney Linda Edell Howard:
Dear Beth,

Thank you for your interest in this issue.

U.S. Copyright Law discriminates against anyone who wants to direct where their copyright rights flow after death - Here's the bottom line: If I'm a songwriter and wish to bequeath my copyrights to my mother, then I am able to do just that up to a point. The U.S. Copyright Law gives authors and certain statutory heirs the right to terminate some transfers, so had I sold my copyrights to Sony and wanted mom to have whatever was left, my husband and children would be able to exercise those termination rights (35-40 years from the date of the grant) and override my wishes that my mom get them. The law gives spouse/children the right to exercise these termination rights to obliterate the deceased author's wishes if they were different. It impacts more on homosexuals and unmarried creators than most others because they have no "spouse" and would probably have family members wishing to challenge.

It is a very complicated set of rules based on Section 304 and 203 of the U.S. copyright laws.

I hope this helps.

I think this does help a bit. It sounds like you can transfer your rights to whoever you wish, but the persons in the designated line of succession per copyright law have some level of option to terminate transfers, including ones you may have made. The section on termination of transfers is Title 17, Chapter 2, Section 203. If anyone out there cares to dig into case law to see if this has come up, let me know!

Thanks to Ms. Howard for taking time from her weekend to send further enlightenment!


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