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More reactions to NY marriage ruling

[My original post on today’s ruling is here.]

Howard Dean’s statement:

“As Democrats, we believe that every American has a right to equal protection under the law and to live in dignity. And we must respect the right of every family to live in dignity with equal rights, responsibilities and protections under the law. Today’s decision by the New York Court of Appeals, which relies on outdated and bigoted notions about families, is deeply disappointing, but it does not end the effort to achieve this goal.”

“As that essential process moves forward, it is up to the State legislature to act to protect the equal rights of every New Yorker and for the debate on how to ensure those rights to proceed without the rancor and divisiveness that too often surrounds this issue.”

That’s nice to have a statement of public support out there, but then I think: “Howard, what is the goal?” Is he calling for marriage equality or is it still “leave it to the states?” [And what, pray tell, is the position if the NY legislature fails to do the right thing?]

The latter approach is why we’ve got rulings like today’s in NY, yet full equality determined by the high court in Massachusetts, and amendments barring gays and lesbians from civil marriage in other states. How will this all be reconciled? What is the Dem equality plan? Since this ruling blows away the “activist judges” meme, what comment does the party have on that as it affects the civil rights of a minority population?

It would be more helpful, given the climate, if the Dems would use these opportunities to be specific regarding what the party believes in as well as what it is going to do regarding marriage equality along with the vague, feel-good statements everyone needs to hear from those in leadership positions.

***

In contrast to the lack of clarity that you see above, you get this definitive response from Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council:

“Today, the high courts in New York and Georgia fulfilled their duty by upholding state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud today’s rulings, which recognize the right of the legislature and the people to regulate marriage for the good of children and society.

“The New York court reasonably concluded that the legislature has a legitimate interest in promoting responsible procreation and can ‘rationally’ believe that children need both a mother and a father. The court’s well-reasoned ruling is a shining example for other courts across the nation. As we await rulings in several other states, we can only hope that other courts will exercise similar judicial restraint and avoid substituting their own social policy preferences for those of the legislatures and the people.

“We also affirm the Georgia Supreme Court for its decision upholding the validity of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage, which was approved with 76 percent of the vote in a 2004 referendum. The unbroken success of such amendments makes clear that there is a popular consensus that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman. However, the only sure way to protect the country against more rogue decisions like the one in Massachusetts in 2003 — including ones at the federal level — is through passage of a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

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Meanwhile, perhaps Howard might take a look at the reaction of Equality Ohio, working for fairness in a state that has an onerous marriage amendment that has rendered its taxpaying gay and lesbian citizens second-class citizens. Is it fine that they are left legally adrift?

Equality Ohio expresses disappointment in the decision by the New York State Court of Appeals to deny equal rights and protections to all New York families. “We are very disappointed in today’s decision and offer our support to the families in New York State who now continue to wait for their relationships to have the legal protections they deserve,” said Lynne Bowman, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “The court opinion made it clear that the role of the legislature is to bring state laws in line with what most New Yorkers believe, that discrimination against same-sex couples and their children is wrong. We look forward to seeing the legislature protect all New York families equally.”

Equality Ohio commends the hard work of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA). Their efforts at educating New Yorkers about same-sex couples and their families has helped create a climate where a majority of the state’s voters support equal access to the right of marriage. The work in the Legislature has now taken on new significance and ESPA will continue toward the ultimate goal of marriage equality despite this decision.

Equality Ohio looks forward to continuing the education process on the impact of recognition of same-sex relationships in Ohio. Just this week the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report on how state-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples harms the children in their care. As the fair-minded people who live in Ohio continue to learn about their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender neighbors, we will continue to see support grow for equal recognition of their loving and committed relationships.

The support may grow, but the amendment is in place, no thanks to Dems, who hid from the issue in 2004 while the fundies worked to make it pass.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding