What’s Brewing: Key Prop 8 decision coming; marriage ban advances in Ind.; Gaga hatefest

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The California Supreme Court is set to consider today whether it believes Prop 8 supporters have legal standing to defend the same-sex marriage ban in federal court, after state officials refused to do so. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently reviewing the case, has asked the California Supreme Court for an opinion on the matter. And the decision about standing could determine whether the Prop 8 case applies only to California or affects same-sex marriage throughout the country. In other words, this is kinda big.

2. If and when same-sex marriage bans are ultimately declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana apparently wants to be one of the states that was on the wrong side of history. Indiana’s newly Republican-dominated House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. The good news is the amendment can’t actually appear on the ballot until 2014 because it must first be approved by two separately elected legislatures. But in case it hadn’t dawned on you yet, those tea party nuts were lying to your face when they said they only care about fiscal issues.

3. Some gays are turning against Lady Gaga and rejecting their own so-called anthem, “Born This Way,” according to various media reports including this one. But the most amusing critique we’ve seen thus far comes from the Zeitgeisty Report, which suggests that Gaga HATES gay people: “Take for instance the very first part of the song where Gaga comes right out and accuses gay people of having paws instead of hands or feet. Yep, Lady Gaga officially thinks gay people are animals.”

—  John Wright

Iowa House votes to overturn same-sex marriage


The Iowa House voted 62-37 today to pass a resolution that would place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot.

The resolution now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block it. Even if it passes the Senate, the resolution would have to pass again in the next session of the Legislature before being placed on the ballot in 2013.

The proposed constitutional amendment would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“The actions of the Iowa House have the potential to place families at risk,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “The people of Iowa deserve better from their representatives. Iowa has a proud tradition of protecting the liberties of all of its citizens and we call upon the Senate to restore that tradition.”

Watch video from Monday’s public hearing on the bill above.

—  John Wright

Marriage amendment introduced in Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a unanimous ruling in 2009. Now, state legislators are seeking to overturn that decision by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions, domestic partnerships and any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. The Iowa Independent reports that 56 of the 60 Republicans in the Iowa House — where the GOP has a 60-40 majority — have signed on as co-sponsors. However, Democrats still have a majority in the Iowa Senate, and Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block the amendment.

The statewide LGBT group One Iowa reports:

DES MOINES – An amendment that seeks to exclude gay couples from marriage was introduced in the Iowa Statehouse today. The bill (House Joint Resolution 6) seeks to amend the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay and lesbian couples from the freedom to marry. If passed through the legislature in two consecutive General Assemblies, the issue could be on the ballot as soon as 2013.

“Amending the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay couples will harm thousands of Iowa families,” said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. “Marriage says ‘we’re a family’ like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the Constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns. Iowans expect their elected officials to focus on issues that matter to everyone, like creating jobs, providing educational opportunities, and improving healthcare. Going backward on equal rights sends the wrong message.”

HJR6 goes beyond marriage, and would ban civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.

“This bill intends to forever strip basic protections from loving and committed gay couples,” Jenison said.  “It goes against Iowa’s cherished tradition of protecting equal rights for all.  Now is the time for Iowans to come together and send a clear message to their legislators that discrimination has no place in Iowa’s Constitution. Our legislators should continue to uphold Iowa’s long-held value of equal rights for all.”

—  John Wright

Ill. House OKs civil unions; Senate vote today

The Illinois House voted 61-52 on Tuesday to grant gay couples some of the same rights as married heterosexual spouses, including hospital visitation, health-care decision-making and the disposal of a loved one’s remains. From Fox Illinois:

House sponsor Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, likened Senate Bill 1716 to past landmark fights for equality in granting women the right to vote and allowing interracial couples to marry.

We have a chance today to make Illinois a more fair state, a more just state and a state which treats all of its citizens equally under the law,” he said.

Harris and state Rep. Deb Mell, D-Chicago, are the only two openly gay lawmakers in the legislature. Earlier this year, Mell announced her engagement to her partner while on the House floor.

“After six years of building a life together, committing our lives to each other – we have a strong faith in God and family – and after all that we are still not considered family,” Mell said. “And I assure you we are a family, and we deserve the same rights that you enjoy.”

The bill is expected to win approval from the Senate today before being signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. It would take effect July 1, and Illinois would become the sixth state to offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.

—  John Wright

NYC clerk to give gays info on where they can legally marry

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Gay couples can’t legally marry in New York, so the City Council has voted to require the clerk to tell them where they can go to get hitched.

The council approved a measure Wednesday, Aug. 25 that requires the clerk to provide that information to same-sex couples registering domestic partnerships. The information also would be posted online and in the city’s marriage offices.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says the law helps couples know where they can legally wed.

She says it also sends a message to New York state lawmakers that the city wants gay couples to be recognized and will do everything in its power to do so.

—  John Wright

7 gay couples sue Montana over equal protection

The ACLU of Montana may have found a way to force states like Texas that have outlawed same-sex marriage to provide rights to gay and lesbian couples.

Although a decision has not been reached in the Prop 8 trial in California, the defense’s inability to produce any evidence or credible witnesses in that case may have emboldened the ACLU to sue on behalf of seven Montana couples.

The couples in the Montana suit aren’t pursuing the right to marry. They simply want the state to provide their families with the same protections opposite-sex couples enjoy.

The lawsuit claims Montana violates its own state constitutional guarantees of rights like privacy, equal protection and due process. The suit seeks equal rights through domestic partnerships.

By this suit, Plaintiffs do not seek the opportunity to marry nor do they seek the designation of “marriage” for their relationships. … Plaintiffs simply seek the same opportunity to obtain the statutory protections and obligations that are offered by the State to different-sex couples and their families through the legal status of marriage.

One of the plaintiffs describes her experience of being denied access to her former partner’s remains and her employer denying bereavement leave.

On their eighth anniversary, Christmas Day in 1996, Mary’s former partner was killed in a tragic accident on Lone Peak, involving an avalanche control explosive. Although Mary and her former partner had, like Stacey and Mary have, taken legally available steps to try to protect their relationship, Mary found herself powerless in a number of essential ways following her former partner’s death.

Grief-stricken after the accident, Mary was denied access to her former partner’s remains, as the coroner explained that she had no legal relationship to her partner. Big Sky Ski Resort refused to give Mary bereavement leave. Because Mary’s former partner did not leave a will and the state law that protects spouses in the event of intestacy could not apply, the family of Mary’s former partner was able to take almost all of the partner’s possessions, including half of the balance of a mutual fund account to which the couple had jointly contributed. The family also received the partner’s Worker’s Compensation Death benefits — money that by law goes to spouses, but not to the domestic partners of committed, intimate, same-sex couples. In addition, the family, unlike Mary, was able to seek damages against the ski resort through a wrongful death suit, a legal recourse that was not available to Mary even though she had been in a committed, intimate relationship with her partner for eight years.

The Texas law goes even farther than the Montana anti-gay law. The Texas amendment prohibits anything “similar to or identical marriage.” But doesn’t that actually make all marriage illegal in Texas?

—  David Taffet