Officials in Washington, D.C. declare e-marriage invalid

Reed-Walkup says he and his husband are exploring legal options, will withdraw complaint against DMN over announcement for now

John Wright  |  wright@dallasvoice.com

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday, Nov. 26 from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter stated that thecouple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage.

The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup said Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was taken away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Need a condom? There’s an app for that

Just in time for World AIDS Day, iCondom has been released in two U.S. cities, with more slated to come on line soon. The app will be available free for 48 hours from the iTunes Store.

First launched in France — in Paris and Marseilles — on Oct. 18, the iCondom app lets users find condom dispensers and free condom sources closest to their location, 24/7. The U.S. launch takes place jointly with the release of an improved version 1.1,  with better mapping functionalities, the app’s creators say. The U.S. version now available only covers New York City and Washington, D.C., “but should grow rapidly based on the users’ contributions,” according to a press release.

iCondom geolocates 200-plus locations in New York City where free condoms, lubricants and female condoms can be found, including bars, restaurants, barber shops, hospitals, clubs, medical centers, associations and beauty salons. In D.C., the app geolocates 140-plus places to get covered. iCondom users can add locations, rate the locations and comment on dispensers or places so other users have up-to-date information.

Creators called the app “an innovative tool to reinforce safe-sex messages and speak more directly to the youth by using their favorite communications tool: smart phones.”

—  admin

UPDATE: Gay Dallas couple considers legal action after D.C. court declares Skype wedding invalid

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C., Instant Tea confirmed Monday afternoon.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter, shown below, states that the couple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage. The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup told Instant Tea on Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was take away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

—  John Wright

Gay couple files complaint against Dallas Morning News for not printing wedding announcement

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

Paper’s CEO says policy based on state’s ban on same-sex marriage

John Wright  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

A gay couple has filed a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their same-sex wedding announcement.

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, who were legally married in Washington, D.C., in October, filed the complaint on Friday, Nov. 19. The couple’s wedding has made international news in recent weeks because it was held in Dallas but officiated from D.C via teleconference.

Reed- Walkup, a board member for the national LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, said he’s been trying for several weeks to get The Morning News to publish their paid announcement in its “Weddings” section.

But the newspaper has refused because of a policy that says same-sex wedding announcements can only be published in a separate section called “Commitments.” The policy is based on the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legally recognized by the state of Texas.

The couple filed the complaint under a 2002 city ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. Reed-Walkup says he believes wedding announcements, which are paid advertisements, are a public accommodation.

“Our ultimate goal is for the newspaper to realize that this is discrimination and change their policy,” Reed-Walkup said. “They [the city] may agree with the newspaper that because of the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas, they have every justification to not publish it in the ‘Weddings’ section. At least we can say that we tried, and take it from there.”

James M. Moroney III, publisher and CEO of The Morning News, said he didn’t want to discuss specifics of the complaint because he had not seen a copy of it.

Moroney said The DMN’s policy was enacted several years ago as a way to allow same-sex couples to announce things like civil unions. As more states have legalized same-sex marriage, the newspaper has started to receive requests to publish the announcements as weddings.

“We’ve just so far said that we’re thinking about it,” Moroney said.  “Certainly if the state of Texas recognized the marriage of same-sex couples, we would put it in the paper. … This is the community and state we represent and live in, and we’re dealing with that.”

Moroney added that it’s not “a closed subject” and stressed that he believes the Morning News does a good job of reporting on LGBT issues.

“What troubles me a little bit is that some folks jump to this next level and say the newspaper is homophobic,” he said. “That really is an unfair accusation if they would only take the time to read the paper every day.”

Beverly Davis, director of the city’s Fair Housing Office, confirmed this week that her office received the couple’s complaint and is reviewing it. The Fair Housing Office investigates complaints under the ordinance before turning them over to the City Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution. Each violation of the ordinance is punishable by a $500 fine.

“We’re having to consult with our attorney’s office on whether or not we have jurisdiction in this particular case,” Davis said. “Whenever we get a complaint, we go the extra mile to examine it. I imagine it will probably be next week sometime before I have a decision.”

In addition to the question of whether wedding announcements are a public accommodation, Davis noted that the ordinance doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on “marital status.”

The city once dismissed a complaint against a landlord who refused to allow a lesbian couple to live together in his apartment complex. The city determined that the landlord had not violated the ordinance because the policy was based on “marital status” and not sexual orientation.

But Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal in Dallas, said that because Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and marital status are effectively the same.

“That’s really an old dodge to try to avoid the real issue,” Upton said.

Upton said he believes wedding announcements are public accommodations, because they’re paid commercial advertisements offered as a service. He also said it’s ironic that someone’s wedding announcement wouldn’t be published based on marital status.

Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage in no way prohibits the newspaper from publishing the announcement, Upton said. And he questioned whether the Morning News investigates announcements of heterosexual marriages performed outside the state to confirm that they’re legally recognized in Texas.

“Just because the state of Texas doesn’t recognize it doesn’t mean they’re not married,” Upton said.

Gay Couple’s Complaint Against DMN

—  John Wright

Query • 08.13.10

If same-sex marriage were legally recognized in your state, would you marry your partner?

………………………………………..

Thomas Combs — “After 12 years, yes probably so. Its a long time to be waiting.”

Ray Lipsch — “Yes. Absolutely. Will probably go to Washington, D.C. or California soon regardless.”

Lisa Dub Windsor — “Personally, it’s not for me but I support any of my fellow LGBT friends who want to do it.”

Molli Jones — “I don’t have a partner, but to know I can marry her is a wonderful feeling!”

Andrew S. Dial — “The same day!”

Kissiah Aiken — “If I was asked, yes.”

………………………………………..

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.


—  Kevin Thomas

Texas Sen. Cornyn involved in effort to overturn same-sex marriage in D.C.

cornyn_dickhead
I’m not sure who deserves credit for this masterpiece, but I found it at http://refinish69.blogspot.com.

Not surprisingly, our junior U.S. senator joined an effort late last night to tack an amendment onto health care reform legislation that would require the District of Columbia to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage. Chris Geidner at Law Dork reports that the amendment, introduced by Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, was defeated in the wee hours by a roll call vote of 36-59. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who once equated gays to “box turtles,” was one of the backers of the amendment. Bennett’s proposal was one of many “poison pill” measures that Republicans tried to attach to the reconciliation package, in an effort to force the House to vote on health care reform again. While Bennett’s amendment failed, DCist notes that it’s probably not the last time we’ll see an effort in Congress to reverse marriage equality in D.C. And if and when it comes up again, I’m sure Cornyn will be among those leading the charge.

—  John Wright

Advice to Catholic Church on treatment of gays: Glass houses

pope

Is it me or does the Catholic Church have no business doing any criticizing of the LGBT community? Here are some headlines I found today:

The BBC reports today that during the past decade, “the Holy Office received details of 3,000 Catholic priests reported by their Bishops to Rome for sexual misconduct or, even worse, crimes.”

The Vatican minimizes the importance by saying that only 10 percent of these cases, or 300 priests, involve pediophelia.

Brazil:

Sex scandal embroils Catholic Church in Brazil

Three priests being investigated.

Ireland:

Irish Cardinal Apologizes for Sex Abuse Scandal

This scandal involves abuse of as many as 15,000 children, according to an AP report.

Germany:

Pope meets with German bishop amid sex scandal

From various German Catholic schools and an all-boys choir once led by the pope’s brother, 170 former students from  have come forward.

Austria:

Vienna Boys Choir admits possible sexual abuses

Abuse of boys ages 10 to 14 goes back decades and involves priests, although the chior is not offically affiliated with the church.

That’s just from today’s news.

Yet, when Mexico City began allowing same-sex couples to marry last week, where did the biggest criticism come from? The Catholic Church.

When Washington, D.C. insisted that agencies funded by the government treat all couples married in that city equally, where did the loudest protests come from? The Catholic Church.

As Vera Carp said, “Glass houses.”

For more news about religion and how if affects the LGBT community, see tomorrow’s Spirituality section of the Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Same-sex marriage begins in Mexico City today

SiAll three North American capitals now allow same sex marriage.

Ottawa became the first when same-sex marriage became Canadian law several years ago.

Washington, D.C. was next when same-sex marriages began on Wednesday.

Mexico City, which passed it’s same-sex marriage law before D.C., became the third and final North American capital when their law came into effect today.

One of the first couples to marry were Sandra Ponce and her partner of 36 years, Reyna Barrera, 70, who had a breast removed two months ago because of cancer.

—  David Taffet

Couples lining up for marriage licenses in D.C.

The new law allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in Washington, D.C., went into effect today, and couples began lining up as early as 5 a.m. Go here to read the full story.

—  admin

Marriage news from Maryland

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today issued an opinion that his state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in locations where such marriages are legal.

Gansler’s 45-page opinion comes after  nearly a year of research, and concludes that Maryland’s Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — could “likely apply the principle that a marriage is valid in the place of celebration is valid in Maryland.”

Of course the man known as Maryland’s most conservative lawmaker, Delegate Don Dwyer, had already threatened to impeach Gansler if the AG came down in favor of recognition legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and Dwyer today posted a message on his Facebook page saying he will work to impeach Gansler, “not because he disagrees with [me] on the topic of same sex marriage, but because he has overstepped his constitutional bounds and violated his oath of office.”

(Just another shining example of the kind of “play by my rules or I will take my toys and go home” politics that are currently crippling our government at every level.)

And Maryland Sen. Norman Stone, worried that Maryland couples will go to Washington, D.C. to get married then come home to Maryland and insist their marriages be recognized, has introduced legislation to keep the state from recognizing “foreign” same-sex marriages (those performed in some jurisdiction where they are legal).

Said Stone: If people “strongly believe in same-sex marriages, they should go live in those states” that allow it.

(Sound familiar? Rick Perry telling LGBT military veterans to go somewhere else if they didn’t like Texas’ laws banning same-sex marriage?)

After reading several articles online and seeing lots of statements from LGBT organizations about Gansler’s opinion, I found this interesting tidbit in an Associated Press story: A Maryland Democratic lawmaker named Henry Heller is introducing legislation to make it illegal there for first cousins (of opposite genders, I assume) to get married.

Heller said allowing first cousins to marry is too dangerous because of the increased likelihood they will pass on genetic disorders to their children. He calls it “genetic roulette.” But Heller’s bill has no problem with first cousins who are over 65 or infertile marrying, and included an exception for such couples in the bill.

Heller said says he wants to bring Maryland “into the enlightened world of other states such as West Virginia and Arkansas” that already prohibit unions of first cousins.

—  admin