Friday, March 12, 2004

Same-sex marriages, redux.

As reported this morning in, inter alia, the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the state's attorney general) has ordered San Francisco officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. See Lockyer v. City & County of San Francisco, No. S122923 (Mar. 11, 2004): order to show cause; Lewis v. Alfaro, No. S122865 (Mar. 11, 2004): order to show cause.

And in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the legislature voted three times yesterday to support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. As reported in the Boston Globe:
The Massachusetts Legislature voted three times yesterday to ban gay marriage and establish civil unions, but maneuvers by both opponents and supporters of gay marriage left it unclear whether the constitutional amendment would ever get to the voters. The House and Senate will resume their Constitutional Convention March 29, and other proposals may be considered then.

Meeting in a Constitutional Convention for the second time in a month, lawmakers spent nearly 10 hours debating the proposed compromise that would overturn the Supreme Judicial Court's landmark ruling establishing the right of gay couples to marry. It would also give same-sex couples rights and benefits under state law that would approximate marriage, though under a different legal designation. But the amendment cleared only three of the four votes it needed for final passage before the session recessed at about 11:40 p.m. While the margins were comfortable on all of the votes taken, many of those supporting the measure were doing so for strategic reasons rather than genuine support, in the hopes of winning a different outcome later.
The Journal of the Senate in Joint Session for Thursday, March 11, records the action.

According to the Globe (and as verified by my reading of the Journal, above), here's the text of the amendment:
It being the public policy of this Commonwealth to protect the unique relationship of marriage, only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Massachusetts.

Two persons of the same sex shall have the right to form a civil union if they meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage.

Civil unions for same sex couples are established hereunder and shall provide entirely the same benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities that are afforded to couples married under Massachusetts law. All laws applicable to marriage shall also apply to civil unions.

This Article is self-executing, but the General Court may enact laws not inconsistent with anything herein contained to carry out the purpose of this Article.
Here are some links to the federal marriage amendment debate and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's advisory opinion (majority, dissents) and original opinion from last July (majority, dissents).
posted by Tom Mayo, 8:57 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter