We Voted! To Approve R-71, in Case You Were Wondering

At the post office mailing our ballots!
At the post office mailing our ballots!

Today we mailed out ballots from Pennsylvania. This is us at the post office, excited to vote to approve R-71.

In Maine, we met a Californian at the No on 1 campaign office. He said he was more worried about Washington and R-71 than he was about Maine and Question 1. I listened, and I didn’t disagree out loud. Maybe I got a little scared for a day or so. But in my heart I know Washington will do the right thing.

Do the right thing, Washington! Please!

Why should you Approve R-71? Because families like ours will benefit. There will be financial benefits, like we won’t get fired if we have to take time off from work to care for one another if one of us gets sick. And like not having to pay a social worker to come to our house to evaluate Ami’s fitness to adopt the daughter she’s been caring for since before conception.

Did I mention it’s the right thing to do?

If the heartbreak we experienced at the election results in California last year when Prop 8 passed is any indication, we will be ecstatic if the voters in our state uphold our rights. Even if 49% of the people who live in Washington believe we are not entitled to the rights and responsibilities that married couples have, that 51%–that a majority–welcomes us into the adult world is edifying. No, it shouldn’t have to happen in the first place. No, people should never have to or get to vote to say whether some group or other deserves (almost) equality. But since we have to, since it’s gone the other way so very many times in our country, it will be incredibly meaningful and triumphant when it goes our way.

You hear me Washington? I didn’t say if. I said when. Make us proud. Do it for Frances.

Tomorrow we head back to Washington, D.C., where we will meet with our Representative in the House, Jay Inslee. Send us all your good gay juju at 1 p.m. EDT.

Marriage (and Other LGBT) Rights in New York and New Jersey

New Rochelle, New York: wild dogs, a goose, and cops. Not necessarily all in one incident. But that’s a synopsis of last night, which was probably the worst one of our trip. Don’t worry, we’re not writing this from the Westchester County Jail.

I would say more, but it’s not quite funny yet. Let’s have some laws, shall we?

New York

  • New York, by statute, does not issue licenses to same-sex couples. In 2004, the mayor of New Paltz, NY, Jason West, decided to preside over the marriages of about two dozen same-sex couples. He was charged with 19 violations of New York’s Domestic Relations Law. [via California Yankee] The State Attorney General ordered the marriages to stop, and in 2006, the state court decided, in Hernandez v. Robles, that it was not a violation of the state constitution to deny licenses to same-sex couples. In 2008 there was a ruling that same-sex marriages performed outside of New York were entitled to legal recognition in New York. The appeals court decided unanimously not to review the case, and to date same-sex marriages from other states (like ours) are recognized in New York. In addition, there is no domestic partner registry in New York, but same-sex partners are allowed to visit each other in the hospital and are given priority for the disposing of each other’s remains.
  • Same-sex partners who are not married are allowed to make medical decisions for one another in the case of an incapacitated partner, as a close friend. Others, like parents and adult children, are given priority. A health care proxy may be assigned to a partner if the proxy is named in writing and signed by the individual and two adult witnesses.
  • Unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, and married same-sex partners may adopt in New York. A 2002 decision in the courts affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to adopt. In 1995 a court in NY decided that same-sex co-parents could adopt each other’s biological children.
  • There is no New York law concerning issuing of new birth certificates upon sexual reassignment surgery, but in practice new certificates are granted.
  • New York hate crimes law specifically mentions sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
  • Some gender identity discrimination cases have been pursued in New York on the basis of sex, but there is no specific prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. There is protection for sexual orientation.
  • School violence is generally prohibited, but there are no specific protections for kids on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. [via HRC unless otherwise specified]

New Jersey

  • New Jersey does not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but they have civil unions which confer all of the same state rights as married couples. This was due to a 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that said it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of marriage. There is no prohibition against recognizing same-sex marriages from other states, but no affirmation of the recognition, either.
  • Civil union partners have the same rights as married couples in New Jersey concerning health care visitation, decision making, etc. Partners who have not had a civil union can name each other through health care advance directives, which must be signed and witnessed by two adults.
  • Unmarried LGBT people may adopt in New Jersey. Couples can adopt jointly, and adopt each other’s children.
  • New Jersey will issue a new birth certificate with a physician’s affidavit regarding sex change, and proof of name change.
  • Hate crimes laws in New Jersey protect people on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • You may not discriminate in New Jersey on the basis of either sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Safe schools laws in New Jersey also protect on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Not bad, New Jersey, not bad.

A Paradigm Shift for Marriage

You know, I wasn’t always a big gay. For more than half of my life so far, I did not self-identify as queer.

In fact, the number of years I’ve had to think about marriage are about three to one the number of years I’ve had to think about queerness. I’ve encountered marriage as a child, as a teen, as a straight-by-default, as a closeted queer, as an out queer, as a married queer, as a Lutheran, as a Mormon, and as a person with enough Comparative Religion credits to need several paragraphs to express their spiritual perspective.

So I was very surprised to learn something about marriage while volunteering for the “No on 1” campaign in Maine.

From the 'No on 1' Campaign Headquarters
From the 'No on 1' Campaign Headquarters

You know, I wasn’t always a big gay. For more than half of my life so far, I did not self-identify as queer.

In fact, the number of years I’ve had to think about marriage are about three-to-one the number of years I’ve had to think about queerness. I’ve encountered marriage as a child, as a teen, as a straight-by-default, as a closeted queer, as an out queer, as a married queer, as a Lutheran, as a Mormon, and as a person with enough Comparative Religion credits to need several paragraphs to express their spiritual perspective.

So I was very surprised to learn something about marriage while volunteering for the “No on 1” campaign in Maine. I was calling a list of people who had expressed interest in supporting the campaign previously. I was calling to ask them to do whatever they could to get the vote out on the big day.

I placed a call to a number of an 84-year old gentleman we’ll call “John.” A younger woman answered the phone, and she told me John wasn’t available. I said, “Well, maybe I can speak with you? <smile> My name is Ami and I’m calling from the “No on 1″ campaign.”

And then the most appalling thing happened.

She said: “You don’t need to speak to me. We’re Yes on 1.” Then she hung up.

I know, I know: for a seasoned cold caller, that would be a very gentle let-down. But after a lifetime of having it insinuated, but not said to my face, it was a real shock to hear someone say: “I don’t believe you should be able to marry anyone. Ever. Because of ‘how you are.'”

Usually, I’m live-and-let-live to a fault. But this call changed my perspective for good. Having had several run-ins with religion in my childhood, I still thought of marriage in a religious framework. I hadn’t really conceived of it as a right. I hadn’t really realized that people thought they could take it away from me!

This woman’s fear and righteousness are the basis of the fight against same-sex marriage, and what they fail to see is: Marriage, although I believe it to be a spiritual endeavor, is not a religious institution. It is a civil institution. Their side struggles to ‘defend marriage,’ when really that’s like defending business licenses, or any other civil procedure. Defend land use permits! Defend parking tickets!

What do they mean when they say “Defend marriage”, then? They want to confuse the meaning of the word marriage with as much (muddily-worded and religious-laced) rhetoric as possible.  Take for instance (from the Yes on 1 website):

If Question 1 fails and LD 1020 is allowed to take effect, marriage will be redefined to be about any two consenting adults without regard to gender, the focus being only about what the adults want for themselves, and not what is best for society as a whole. [Because personal fulfillment damages society? Down with the pursuit of happiness!] The roles of husbands and wives would become irrelevant. [I know a lot of straight people that would love to define their own roles, so this is just super. In fact, the happiest, longest term marriages I can think of are based on non-gender specific, personally-fulfilling, self-identified roles. Huh.] The reliance on marriage as an important fabric of society will no longer matter, [I know there’s not a language arts pre-req for writing things on the internet, but this metaphor is so ludicrous that I’m straining to get a point at all. If anyone can locate a subject or a verb in all that circular reasoning, please email me a diagram.] and the marriage laws will not consider what is best for children. [Flat out not true…says WebMD, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association–the list grows with the years.]

To all you Yes on 1 folks in Maine, to all you Reject R-71 folks back home in Washington, to the DOMA supporters and to anyone out there that thinks same-sex marriage is ruining something or taking something away from them: I’m fighting for marriage because marriage isn’t yours to give. 

Marriage isn’t just for straight white male landowners. (Although wouldn’t that be just a bit gay!?) Marriage isn’t just for the people in power, or the people who think they know what’s “right” for everyone else. Marriage is a civil right. It’s my civil right.

No on 1, Part 2–Heads We Win, Tails You Lose

There are 13 days left until Election Day. If you had been in the No on 1 campaign office today, you would have known that. You might have noticed the big sign on the back wall that is changed every day to remind you of the imminence of your job. You might have called a volunteer to ask them to spend some time canvassing or at the office in the coming days.

You might have been worried. Yesterday (14 days out) there was a poll published [pdf of press release] that said that 48% of Mainers were for Question 1 (boo), 48% against, and 4% undecided. I’m sure somebody has a calculation on what it takes to get a percentage point of the population to vote your way. How much money. How many volunteer hours. What kind of weather on Election Day.

There are 13 days left until Election Day. If you had been in the No on 1 campaign office today, you would have known that. You might have noticed the big sign on the back wall that is changed every day to remind you of the imminence of your job. You might have called a volunteer to ask them to spend some time canvassing or at the office in the coming days.

You might have been worried. Yesterday (14 days out) there was a poll published [pdf of press release] that said that 48% of Mainers were for Question 1 (boo), 48% against, and 4% undecided. I’m sure somebody has a calculation on what it takes to get a percentage point of the population to vote your way. How much money. How many volunteer hours. What kind of weather on Election Day.

Situations like this make me strongly question if voting by the general population should decide single issues. Maybe the electorate as a whole should just stay home, and we’ll flip a coin instead.

Heads: Mainers are able to take medical leave to care for their partners or their partners’ children. More people will be able to afford health insurance. Many children who wouldn’t have before will have two legal parents to care for them.

Heads: Maybe one gay or lesbian teenager in Maine, hearing the decision that marriage is now a possibility for him or her, feels a surge of self worth, of possibility, and makes the choice to stick around.

Heads: Maine same-sex couples will file federal taxes separately. They will be denied Social Security benefits if their partners die. They will pay federal taxes on property inherited from their spouses. They will not be able to have a family business as far as taxes are concerned. They will pay taxes on “gifts” from one spouse to another. If their (closeted) service member spouses die, they will not get any veteran benefits.

Heads: Most Mainers–the straight ones–will get up on Wednesday November 4th, married or not, eat breakfast and head out for work or school. Their lives will not have changed. Their marriages will not have changed. Like 92% of Iowans, they will likely feel that there has been no change in their lives. In five years they will probably feel, like 74% of Massachusetts voters [see p. 5], that marriage equality has strengthened society.

Heads: There will be dancing, hand-holding, and lots and lots of weddings.

Tails: We will be back next year. And the next. In Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, and Wisconsin. In your SCOTUS. In front of your house.

Tails: Love is on our side. God is on our side. Tails: You still lose.

Hangin' with No on 1

I worked at a campaign for an initiative before, so nothing I saw when I arrived surprised me–except for the scale. There were computers and tables and chairs cobbled together into a makeshift set–function over fashion. There was food, sandwiches to Twizzlers. But there were probably twenty people, which is about 15 more than ever were seen at the initiative I worked for. I later found out there was a whole second room of volunteers.

On the wall were handmade and professional signs expressing Maine’s love for equality. The mood was cheerful, determined, and busy.

Frances says No On 1!
Frances says No on 1!

One thing I’ve noticed about New Englanders: they like their pizza.

Everywhere we’ve been, even in smaller towns, pizza shops have been ubiquitous. On Mandy’s recommendation, today we sampled Portland, Maine’s pizza at the Flatbread Company.

Maybe you think you know pepperoni. I thought I knew pepperoni. But the homemade (!), nitrite-free pepperoni at Flatbread was specatcular enough to forgive them some serious pizza faux pas. Like cutting it in rectangles, and serving it with a knife and fork.

Then, after stopping for coffee–guess where–at Dunkin’ Donuts, we went to the No on 1 campaign office. It was in the same building as the Social Security office, the nice man on the phone told us when we called to ask about volunteering. Which turned out to be a very important piece of information, since my iPhone steered me to a whole different town when given the address. When I searched for the Social Security office, I found what I was looking for.

I worked at a campaign for an initiative before, so nothing I saw when I arrived surprised me–except for the scale. There were computers and tables and chairs cobbled together into a makeshift set–function over fashion. There was food, sandwiches to Twizzlers. But there were probably twenty people, which is about 15 more than ever were seen at the initiative I worked for. I later found out there was a whole second room of volunteers.

On the wall were handmade and professional signs expressing Maine’s love for equality. The mood was cheerful, determined, and busy.

After some diaper duty, we got to work calling town clerks all over Maine to ask about voting hours. And if there would be a chair at the polling place, should No on 1 send out an observer.

Many of the places I called were hand-counting their ballots. Most of the people who answered the phone had a sense of humor. When I asked if they were counting by machine, one town clerk employee said, “This is Fayette.” She laughed. “We’re counting by hand.” Another corrected me when I asked if she was the Town Clerk. “I am the City Clerk.”

Frances was popular at the campaign office. One volunteer even babysat her while we called people. We ran out of clerks to call just as we realized we had to get back to home sweet travel trailer. We were out of diapers, it seemed.

We packed up and chatted with some of the other volunteers. We were not the only out-of-towners. In fact, we weren’t even the ones from farthest away. We met volunteers from California, North Carolina, and Eugene–and those were only the ones we spoke to. A couple of them were emissaries from Equality California. It felt a little like a family reunion, only made up completely by people we’d never met. It made me happy to see evidence that people are mobilizing–quite literally–to get this work done.

We felt a like slacker volunteers, leaving so soon after we began our day, midway through the afternoon. But we’ll be back tomorrow.

Travel New England, The Marriage Equality Promised Land

We should have arrived yesterday in Maine. It would have been much later than we thought, as usual. We took the route through Massachusetts to get there, so I thought we’d stop off in Northampton to sample a little lesbian culture before we headed east again.

That was before we realized we’d left Frances’s stroller at an abandoned gas station in Bennington. Detour to Holyoke to buy another Snap-n-Go, which we assembled in the entryway to Babies R Us.

Back on I-90, the dominant highway of our trip, it began to snow. Hard. It wasn’t sticking, but it was enough to slow traffic to a halt. It was dark; we were tired. We called my aunt in Auburn, Massachusetts, and stopped there for the night.

Welcome to Maine!
Welcome to Maine!

We should have arrived yesterday in Maine.

It would have been much later than we planned, as usual. We took the route through Massachusetts to get there, so I thought we’d stop off in Northampton to sample a little lesbian culture before we headed east again.

That was before we realized we’d left Frances’s stroller at an abandoned gas station in Bennington. Detour to Holyoke to buy another Snap-n-Go, which we assembled in the entryway to Babies R Us.

Back on I-90, the dominant highway of our trip, it began to snow. Hard. It wasn’t sticking, but it was enough to slow traffic to a halt. It was dark; we were tired. We called my aunt in Auburn, Massachusetts, and stopped there for the night.

I don’t know if I should describe the varieties of minor troubles and inconveniences that we regularly endure on this trip. I guess I’ll mention the two that happened yesterday, not including the lost stroller, which technically happened the day before. One was during a stop for coffee at a Dunkin’ Donuts. They had a drive through, which looked like we could fit under it. But at the entryway to the drive through we saw the sign–9 feet of clearance. We weren’t sure, but it was definitely cutting it close. And we also saw that the drive through and the entrance were the only two ways out. Which meant, you guessed it, turning the car and trailer all the way around in a small parking lot. Let’s just say that as I did so I blocked the drive through long enough to get a middle finger flipped at me from a teenager who must have really needed a donut.

The other time was at a rest stop/truck stop right on the highway–the kind they have on toll roads so you don’t have to get off and back on. Usually these places are very carefully laid out. Trucks and cars with trailers go in one way, cars the other. This one had a sign directing only the trucks. So we took it, wondering if we were going the right way. We came around the back of the building to a place where several trucks were parked in a line. In the dark, it looked like your standard bank of pull-through spots, so I picked an opening between two trucks. Only to find there was a truck in front of me, too. We were in a truck dormitory. There I was for the second time in a day, backing the trailer out of a tight spot while blocking traffic and nearly jackknifing the thing. This time instead of getting the finger from a grumpy, donutless teen, I got guided out by a trucker, who at least tried not to laugh at us.

There’s a learning curve associated with this type of travel. One I’m still climbing.

So tomorrow, after we sleep in my friend Mandy’s driveway in Portland, Maine, we volunteer at No On 1. I’m looking forward to connecting with some local queers, and to doing something to help make Maine part of the Promised Land. Technically we didn’t have to come here–it is out of the way, and we’re not married here. But not to do so seemed remiss.

Yes, this trip is about how painfully, ridiculously dumb it is to be married in one state and not another. It’s about a whole-country approach to marriage equality. But there are real families in Maine whose lives are going to be greatly impacted by the outcome of November 3rd’s election. And this, too, is important. This, too, deserves our attention.

For the next couple of days, we’re yours, Maine. We will do what we can to help make Maine the first state to approve marriage equality at the polls. And I have a suspicion that Mainers will come through.

Trailer Life, Volume III

If you’re thinking about taking your RV to New York City, don’t. There’s only one RV park anywhere nearby, and it’s a parking lot on the Jersey side of New York Harbor. When I say parking lot, this is not a poetic interpretation of a relatively plain RV park. This place had half the charm of your average rest stop. It was next to a marina and an empty, overgrown lot, and the RVs were so close to each other that you and your neighbor could reach out and shake each other’s hands. Public transportation was very close, and it was damned close to the city. The City. But still.

Welcome to Vermont!
Welcome to Vermont!

If you’re thinking about taking your RV to New York City, don’t. There’s only one RV park anywhere nearby, and it’s a parking lot on the Jersey side of New York Harbor. When I say parking lot, this is not a poetic interpretation of a relatively plain RV park. This place had half the charm of your average rest stop. It was next to a marina and an empty, overgrown lot, and the RVs were so close to each other that you and your neighbor could reach out and shake each other’s hands. Public transportation was very close, and it was damned close to the city. The City. But still.

The experience also illustrated how crippled we are without an Internet connection. Liberty Harbor RV Park did not have wireless. Hence our long absence from the blog.

We did have Internet last night at the Quality Inn in Albany–hard won Internet. We were pretty road-weary after a stop at the outlet mall to get Frances some warmer clothes, and were having trouble locating an RV park that wasn’t closed for the winter. So we decided to use Hotels.com to get a room for the night. Luxurious two-star hotel style.

The Hotels.com app was working poorly with my Edge connection (really, AT&T?), so I called. After touting the Internet connection and the price, the operator talked me into a night at the Red Roof Inn. So when I got there and found that the Internet required an additional fee–times two, for two computers, I was pretty upset. I called and got my money back; we checked out, and the helpful phone operators of Priceline.com found us the Quality Inn. I don’t have much to complain about there, except that the pool gave Frances a rash. But I guess that could have happened anywhere. I guess. And the nurse line says it doesn’t require treatment.

Art by Bethann Shannon, South Street Cafe, Bennington
Art by Bethann Shannon, South Street Cafe, Bennington

Currently I’m writing this from the South Street Cafe in Bennington, Vermont, surrounded by Mexican-inspired pop art canvases of multiple sizes and shapes. It’s pleasant, and the homemade bread is amazing. We ran into a couple from San Francisco and their five-month-old son, Henry. We talked babies, breastfeeding, and marriage equality. Nobody here has looked twice at us except to admire Frances in her outlet mall finery.

Something I’ve been thinking about: what legal marriage means as far as how we’re seen. At the Quality Inn there was a group of junior high school cheerleaders in town for a competition. Maybe because of their age, the parents of the girls seemed standoffish and stiff around us. I don’t know where they were from–maybe there aren’t many queer families there. We certainly didn’t go out of our way to come out, but it’s hard to miss that we’re a family. I kept thinking, but we’re married here. And we were–New York recognizes marriages legal in other states. But it doesn’t have marriage equality for its own state’s residents. Yet. More on that later.

Maybe a group of pre-teens decked out in short skirts and their overly-protective parents would have been just as standoffish here in Bennington, Vermont where Bob can marry Bill and Ruby can marry Ami. But I think I doubt it. My theory is that once something is the law of the land, people can more naturally accept it. I don’t have any evidence, but it’s my mission to collect at least some anecdotes while we’re here in Vermont.

But it’s cold here, and most of the RV parks are closed. The ones that aren’t are shutting off their water. So I’m not sure how long we’ll be here.

So far, Vermont, so good. And hey, nice leaves.

Still Married

We’re staying in Albany, NY tonight and we are officially married.

We’ve been through New Jersey, a vegetable oil spill (in the trailer kitchen after bumpy road), milky spills, some puppy spills–but now we’re all tucked in. And Ruby and I are married.

Hi everyone! We’re staying in Albany, NY tonight and we are officially married.

We’ve been through New Jersey, a vegetable oil spill (in the trailer kitchen after bumpy road), milky spills, some puppy spills–but now we’re all tucked in. And Ruby and I are married.

It’s hard to write about what marriage is. Regardless of a legal debate or a political battle.

Marriage is a many-colored flag. Marriage is certainly not a settled thing. And yet, its the language of settledness. It has a specific emotional gravity.

Yesterday, I walked into a travel plaza and saw an ice cream booth. I thought, If I get that and don’t get one for Ruby, she’ll be mad. But I could get her some and she’d be surprised and happy.

You won’t get the right flavor.

I know, I know. It’s chocolate yes, but only milk chocolate. No soft chunks, those are gross. Not usually fruity, though. Fruity is anti-climactic. Toffee and caramel are good, but only in thin ribbons. Mint chocolate chip. No, chocolate rule. Rocky Road. Marshmallow rule? Peach. No. Vanilla. No. Birthday Cake? Interesting dilemma, texture rule? Reeses mash? Peanut Butter trumps. Yes. Reeses mash. And I love that flavor.

I’m not sure there’s a rhetorical path here, but that’s marriage. That’s it, folks! And, it’s pretty awesome.

In fact, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I gave myself to someone, and I really dig her. She knows all the stuff I don’t. And she’s so cute. I love getting to hang out with her, and be married with her–it’s like Magnum PI married Angelina Jolie, and they had like a quiet, happy marriage in Portland, OR for 50 years.

We’re the best. 🙂

Marriage (and Other LGBT) Equality in Washington, D.C.

Taxation Without Representation: that’s the slogan you see on D.C. license plates. I found that to be kind of exciting. Usually license plates say things like “First in Flight,” and “The Show-Me State.” To complain on a license plate is sassy and in-your-face. This is something to like about D.C.

Taxation Without Representation: that’s the slogan you see on D.C. license plates. I found that kind of exciting. Usually license plates say things like “First in Flight,” and “The Show-Me State.” To complain on a license plate… this is something to like about D.C.

Indeed, D.C. has the raw end of the deal. The population of the city, nearly 600,000, is greater than the population of our least populous state, Wyoming. Yet Wyoming has two U.S. senators and a representative, while D.C. is limited to a non-voting delegate in the House. In 1964 they had their first Electoral College representation in a presidential election. They had to fight to get, in 1973, a mayor and a city council.

And the battle wages on. According to Wikipedia:

In 1980, District voters approved the call of a constitutional convention to draft a proposed state constitution, just as U.S. territories had done prior to their admission as states. The proposed constitution was ratified by District voters in 1982 for a new state to be called “New Columbia”. However, the necessary authorization from the Congress has never been granted.

Pursuant to that proposed state constitution, the District still selects members of a shadow congressional delegation, consisting of two shadow Senators and a shadow Representative, to lobby the Congress to grant statehood. These positions are not officially recognized by the Congress. Additionally, until May 2008, the Congress prohibited the District from spending any funds on lobbying for voting representation or statehood.

I just became pro-New Columbian. I believe the U.S. is too invested in the roundness of the number 50. Time to give it up, folks. We could have three rows of 17 stars in the new flag.

Washington, D.C.

  • D.C. has had domestic partnership since 1992. As of 2008, D.C. has recognized same-sex marriages from other states as domestic partnerships in D.C. On May 6, 2009, Mayor Fenty signed a bill passed by the D.C. City Council that recognizes marriages from other jurisdictions (like ours!) as marriages in D.C. In July, after a congressional review (as all D.C. law is subject to), it became law. [via Gay and Lesbian Activists’ Alliance] Last Tuesday a bill, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, was introduced in the City Council. It has enough votes to pass. If congress takes no action to block it within 30 (congressional) days after the mayor signs it, it will become law. [via Huffington Post]
  • Domestic partners in D.C. are able to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions for incapacitated partners. (DP in D.C. is not limited to same-sex couples–even related people can become DPs in D.C.) [via Wikipedia]
  • Same sex couples and single LGBT people may adopt in D.C. [via PBS] Second parent adoption has been tested in appellate court, and the law has been interpreted to permit it. [via NGLTF]
  • “Upon receipt of a certified copy of an order of the Court indicating that the sex of an individual born in the District has changed by surgical procedure and that such individual’s name has been changed, the certificate of birth of such individual shall be amended as prescribed by regulation.” [via Janisweb.com]
  • Hate crimes laws in D.C. address both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Non-discrimination laws in D.C. address both sexual orientation and gender identity. [via NGLTF]
  • Safe schools laws in D.C. protect students on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. [via GLSEN]

See, there’s another argument for D.C. to become a state–I would have had to visit one site instead of six to get all that info.

Gooooo, New Columbia!

Marriage (and Other LGBT) Equality in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware

Catching up again on the states we missed. We saw this license plate outside of a FedEx Kinko’s in Woodbridge, VA. The guy who helped us there was family. Not sure if this was his car, or what the intention behind it was, but as we were on our way to the National Equality March, it seemed like a great omen.

We’re now in Pennsylvania, where we’ve made it out of the trailer and are soaking up the home lovin’ at my cousin’s place. The coffee is good here, and we get to do our laundry without quarters and not worry about whether the fridge is popping open on the road. And oh, yeah, unlike at the Prince William Forest Travel Trailer Village, the Internet works here. It’s pretty good living.

We're Trying!
We're Trying!

Catching up again on the states we missed. We saw this license plate outside of a FedEx Kinko’s in Woodbridge, VA. The guy who helped us there was family. Not sure if this was his car, or what the intention behind it was, but as we were on our way to the National Equality March, it seemed like a great omen.

We’re now in Pennsylvania, where we’ve made it out of the trailer and are soaking up the home lovin’ at my cousin’s place. The coffee is good here, and we get to do our laundry without quarters and not worry about whether the fridge is popping open on the road. And oh, yeah, unlike at the Prince William Forest Travel Trailer Village, the Internet works here. It’s pretty good living.

Maryland

  • Maryland law states, “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state.” In 2006, a trial court ruled in Deane & Polyak v. Conaway that the law was a violation of the state constitution. On appeal in 2007, the verdict was overturned. On July 1, 2008, a domestic partnership law went into effect in Maryland. By affidavit, signed by a notary, Maryland residents may declare themselves domestic partners. (Equality Maryland has one you can print out here.) Two other forms of proof are also required. This entitles couples to 11 protections, including hospital visitation, sharing of nursing home rooms, funeral planning rights, and state property tax exemptions similar to those allowed spouses and children.
  • Domestic partners may make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner, and may visit a partner in the hospital.
  • Any adult in Maryland may adopt, and Maryland law prohibits adoption agencies from denying applications based on sexual orientation. There is no prohibition against same-sex couples jointly adopting or adopting each other’s children, but no cases have been tried to test this.
  • After sex reassignment surgery, a Maryland resident may amend his or her birth certificate. A case tried in 2003 upheld the right of the courts to declare sex change.
  • Both gender identity and sexual orientation are covered under Maryland’s hate crimes laws.
  • The law in Maryland protects residents against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
  • There are reporting laws in the schools for gender identity and sexual orientation harassment and intimidation. Maryland law also states that students have the right to a safe school environment regardless of sexual orientation. These are the limits of current safe schools laws in the state. [via HRC]

Virginia

  • At the National Equality March, Ami and I met a woman wearing a wedding dress. She told us, with a sneer, “My wife and I moved to Virginia, and she went back to being my roommate.” In 2006 a ballot measure adding a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions to the Virginia State Constitution, 57.1% to 42.9%. [via Ballotopedia] The Constitution says, “That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.” Harsh, Virginia.
  • Any adult in Virginia may adopt. There is no prohibition against same-sex couples jointly adopting or adopting each other’s children, but no cases have been tried to test this.
  • Adults in Virginia may designate another person to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. This must be in the form of a written advance directive witnessed by two others, or orally in the presence of a doctor and two witnesses. Virginia law states that hospitals must allow anyone to visit a patient, even same-sex partners.
  • Virginia will issue a new birth certificate upon presentation of “acceptable evidence” of sex reassignment, including a physician’s affidavit.
  • There are no laws specifying increased penalty for hate crimes against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • There are no protections in Virginia against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • There are no safe schools laws in Virginia. [via HRC unless otherwise noted]

Delaware

  • Delaware law states, “A marriage is prohibited and void … between persons of the same gender. … A marriage obtained or recognized outside the state between persons prohibited by subsection (a) of this section shall not constitute a legal or valid marriage within the state.”
  • In Delaware, a same-sex partner may make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner if nobody else the law designates, such as a parent, adult child, etc., is available–as “an adult who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient.” A person may also name a same-sex partner in an advance health care directive. It must be in writing, signed, dated, and witnessed by two or more people.
  • In Delaware any adult may adopt. There is no prohibition against same-sex couples adopting, but no case has been heard in the state to affirm or deny this right. There have been cases in which same-sex couples were allowed to adopt each other’s children.
  • After sex reassignment surgery and a name change, a Delaware birth certificate may be amended and reissued. A court order must verify the surgery and name change.
  • Hate crimes laws in Delaware addresses sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
  • Non-discrimination law in Delaware does not address gender identity. However, a 2009 executive order issued by Governor Markell prohibits discrimination in employment for executive branch state employees on the basis of gender identity or expression. Delaware law prohibits discrimination based on sexual identity.
  • Delaware safe schools laws protect the physical welfare of students generally, but does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity. [via HRC]