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ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID
11 July 2006
The e-mail from Shelly and
Ellen showed up in my mailbox two days ago:
This makes me sick to my stomach. It's hard
to believe that these judges believe that we should be treated as second class citizens.
(New York City) The Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State, ruled Thursday
that the state "Constitution does not compel the recognition of marriages between
members of the same sex."
In its ruling the court said that "Whether such marriages should be recognized is a
question to be addressed by the Legislature."
"First, the Legislature could rationally decide that, for the welfare of children, it
is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in
"Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children;
homosexual intercourse does not."
Shortly after I heard from Shelly and Ellen, I
heard from Jason Hungerford, one of "the Jasons," a wonderful couple who were
part of the group which sought to get a ruling from the New York Court of Appeals:
Today the NY Court of Appeals (the state's
highest court) ruled 4-2 that the "New York Constitution does not compel recognition
of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized
is a question to be addressed by the Legislature."
To read the entire 70-page ruling, including the beautiful dissent by Chief Judge Kaye go here.
This was our final step in the judicial branch. Any future legal right to marriage is now
left in the hands of our state legislature.
Jason continued in his blog...
I'm beyond disappointed with today's ruling.
I'm angry, and frankly, a bit surprised that the court ruled this way. It essentially
amounts to court-sanctioned state-sponsored discrimination, in a state that prides itself
in embracing equality for all and for posessing progressive attitudes and for having a
long history of demonstrating ultimate fairness and common sense justice. Today's ruling
goes against all of that.
The court, which is supposed to be the protector of civil rights and personal liberties,
has instead, left our rights under the Constitution vulnerable to a mere vote by a few
hundred legislators. My rights should not be left up to a vote.... [emphasis
This fight was not just one of principle or a
bunch of activists doing what activists do. Quite the opposite, especially for those
plaintiffs in the Ithaca 50. We're normal, ordinary, every day citizens who each day are
denied basic rights that most people just don't even think about. We are taxed unfairly,
we are treated differently in hospitals and medical offices, many of us fear for our
children's safety, or fear our home could be taken away should one of our partners die.
These are just a few things. There are literally hundreds of rights on the state level, in
addition to thousands of rights on the federal level that are routinely denied to us.
Today, the court said that that was OK. Today, the court said that it is up to the
legislature to make things right for us. Today, they said equality and basic fairness in
New York is subject to debate and a vote by a bunch of mostly out-of-touch people in
There are all sorts of arguments which can be
made against the court's ruling, but I've made them all here many times. However,
the one that I have not brought out before is one that was brought home to me recently by
Ellen and Shelly, who attend demonstrations and are constantly brought into contact with
In this area there has been a large immigration
of people from Russia. When we went to the Valentine's Day demonstration in
Woodland this year, it was the Russian men, hate etched in their faces, who were there to
protest, who had to be ejected by the police. This ethnic group is becoming a
stronger and stronger presence at gay events in this area and have snarled at gay people,
"In our country we would kill people like you in your sleep."
Every time a governing body says that the
rights of a group of people is open to negotiation it trivializes and
marginalizes that group and it gives people like the Russian men the power to think that
doing violence to anybody who belongs to the group is somehow OK with society.
While my friends are living their lives like
every other married couple, there are people out there who believe that they would be
better off dead, that the world would be better off if they were all killed, and the
government, by its refusal to uphold their rights as American citizens, are tacitly giving
them permission to hold those feelings.
But nobody in a position to effect any sort of
change seems to care about that.