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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mass. SJC to Hear 1913 Law Challenge 

The out-of-state couples who lost their lower court challenge to the 1913 Massachusetts law which bans issuance of marriage licenses to out-of-state couples whose marriage would not be allowed in their home state have been granted a direct appeal to the state's high court. Final briefs are due at the Supreme Judicial Court by May 27. No oral argument date has been set.

Governor Romney, meanwhile, has been courting national support for an expected presidential run in 2008. Part of his challenge has been trying to reinforce the idea that he opposes both gay marriage and civil unions, although for political reasons he supported the "compromise" amendment which would ban same-sex marriage but establish civil unions. Last year Gov. Romney exhausted all his possible means (and tried some that probably weren't actually within his power) to prevent the Goodridge decision from coming into effect on May 18.

Part of his recent speech in South Carolina to a Republican group included a discussion of Goodridge and this statement regarding gay families: "Some are actually having children born to them."

Yes, Governor. Gay couples are having children. Gay couples have been having children for decades. Gay people can legally adopt their partners children in Massachusetts. Gay individuals and couples can foster and adopt children in Massachusetts. Gay couples can legally marry in Massachusetts. And these people, their friends, relatives, and other supporters of their rights all vote.

Right now you are our governor. It would be nice if you remembered that we are equal citizens of your state.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

No Massachusetts Con-Con Until the Fall 

Boston.com reports today that State House insiders have stated that Senate President Robert E. Travaglini will not call a constitutional convention until the fall. The main purpose of the con-con would be to hold a second vote on the proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage but establish civil unions. Travaglini reportedly wants the legislature to spend the spring and summer focusing on more pressing issues.

In related news, the American Constitution Society of NESL will be hosting Sen. Pres. Travaglini on Wednesday, April 20 to speak to the NESL community. The event will be from 3:30-4:30, in the Cherry Room. I hope everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to hear from the senate president, to ask questions and to make your positions known on the issue of the proposed amendment, which Travaglini co-sponsored.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

NYC to Appeal to NY High Court 

New York City will be requesting the Court of Appeals to take a direct appeal of Hernandez v. Robles, last week's lower court case which cleared the way for same sex marriage in New York City. If the state's high court accepts the direct appeal of this case which turns solely on a state constitutional question, a decision could be reached within one or two months. That decision would be binding statewide.

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Friday, February 04, 2005

NY Court: Marriage Licenses for Gay Couples 

A lower court in New York has held that the state's Domestic Relations Law violates the state constitution by barring gay couples from marrying, and has enjoined the City Clerk of NYC from refusing to issue licenses to otherwise qualified couples. Enforcement of the order has been stayed for 30 days.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

HRC on State of the Union 2005 

The Human Rights Campaign sent Pres. Bush a letter containing some suggested statements for his then upcoming State of the Union address.

Sadly, but as expected, he did not heed their advice. The HRC has now issued a response to the speech. In the HRC's view, the bad news was the renewed call for a constitutional ban on marriage for gay couples; the good news was the call to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act; the concern is that the government will continue to bar full dissemination of information regarding HIV.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

US District Court, CT: Solomon Amendment Unconstitutional 

From How Appealing comes the news that on Monday the US District Court for the District of Connecticut decided in Burt v. Rumsfeld that the Solomon Amendment, as applied to Yale Law School, is unconstitutional. Judge Janet Hall included in her decision in this case brought by faculty members of Yale Law School that the application of the Solomon Amendment violated the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights, by compelled speech and association. From the decision:
Accordingly, the Solomon Amendment is hereby declared unconstitutional as applied, and the defendant is enjoined from enforcing it against Yale University based upon Yale Law School’s Non-Discrimination Policy. The Clerk is ordered to close the case.

The decision can be found in two parts on LegalAffairs.org, here and here. In addition to the bottom line of the holding, the decision is extremely detailed and informative about the Solomon Amendment, the history of Department of Defense and Congressional activities regarding military recruitment, and the First Amendment.

Additionally, here is a message published today from the Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of Yale Law School regarding military recruitment at YLS in light of this decision. Bottom line:
I am gratified by Judge Hall's judgment, which seems to me clearly correct. I believe that her ruling brings us closer to the day when all members of our community have an equal opportunity to serve in our Nation's armed forces. This Thursday, February 3, 2005, the Spring 2005 Interviewing Program will begin. In light of the District Court's opinion and injunction which parallel the Third Circuit's ruling, I am notifying military recruiters that the Yale Law School will enforce its nondiscrimination policy during the Spring 2005 Interviewing Program without exception.

Go, Yale!

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Southwestern Univ. Law Review Symposium 

Oh, to live in L.A. I did for a short while, but now I'm firmly in Boston, 3,000 miles away from this week's symposium at Southwestern University School of Law: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Issues and the Civil Rights Agenda.

The symposium takes place this Friday, February 4 - full brochure here - and is cosponsored by the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the Native American Law Student Association and OUTLaw.

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