by YOUR HEAD DYKE IN CHARGE
This week in marriage, New Mexico and Utah declared their bans unconstitutional and Oregon’s party is just getting started. Welcome to your marriage roundup, The Redemption of Ken Mehlman Edition.
On Thursday New Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the state’s 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, making it the 17th state to get it right. The statute was found in violation of the state constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because the court could not find that prohibiting same-sex marriage is substantially related to a legitimate government interest. While detractors have cried foul over the use of the courts instead of a public vote on the matter, the judge who made the initial ruling at the district level based it on a 1972 voter-approved amendment banning discrimination “on account of the sex of any person.” Sorry, disgruntled clerks, but you had your say, and you voted against discrimination.
On Friday a federal judge in Utah ruled the state’s voter-approved ban on marriage equality unconstitutional. Similar to how things went down in New Mexico and California, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that the ban violated the rights of LGBTQ folk and found that proponents of the ban had not shown any way that marriage equality would effect opposite-sex marriages. Pretty much all the gays in Salt Lake (and I promise you, they do exist) ran as fast as they could down to the clerk’s office and started marrying up a storm. This decision will certainly be appealed, and it will definitely be something to keep an eye on, but we can’t help but feel just a little giddy watching the 2004-self-loathing-Ken-Mehlman-Bush-re-election-campaign-anti-marriage-ballot-iniatives finally start to fall.
Over in Oregon, another 2004 ballot initiative has come under legal fire. Two more couples have filed suit on equal protection grounds, bringing the total to four. The state’s Attorney General has already concluded that Oregon must recognize out-of-state marriages, and a ballot initiative to overturn the 2004 ban is already off the ground. Between the ballot initiative and the potential joining of the two federal suits, the future looks bright on the west coast.
In bonus sad-but-heartwarming news:
On Thursday a Pennsylvania Methodist minister was defrocked for performing his son’s wedding. His son is gay, of course. The Rev. Frank Schaefer married his son six years ago in Hull, MA, where gay marriage has been legal since 2004. What Schaefer calls “an act of love for [his] son” is considered illegal by the United Methodist Church, which gave Schaefer 30 days (a suspension) to decide whether he could resist toeing the line in the future. He couldn’t, saying he has been “called by God to advocate for gay people,” even though the church hierarchy subsequently stripped him of his credentials.