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Gays, Gay / LGBT rights, Homosexuality > Gay marriage





John Branch

Editorial cartoon

The San Antonio Express-News





















Rob Tornoe



15 May 2012


Rob Tornoe

is the owner/editor of Punchline Magazine

and a cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer,

The Press of Atlantic City and WHYY.

He writes about the media and the cartoon industry

for Editor & Publisher.

















Randy Jones



21 May 2012


Randy Jones has done illustrations for such publications

as Newsweek, Barron’s, Interiors, and The International Herald Tribune.

















Dwayne Booth



12 May 2012


Mr. Fish (aka Dwayne Booth) is a cartoonist and freelance writer

whose work can most regularly be seen on Harpers.org and Truthdig.com.

















The Guardian        18 May 2004

















Photo strip: Circa 1900, 35 × 27mm. Provenance: US


Most of these images were taken when male partnerships were illegal.

Approximately 120 years ago, this couple held opposite edges of a sign.

They posed for that photo in a very different world than the one we live in today.


'Not married but willing to be!': men in love from the 1850s – in pictures

Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s–1950s.

A new book collects photographs of male romance over the course of a century

– with many images taken secretively so the lovers didn’t get caught


Fri 16 Oct 2020    06.00 BST


















North America edition        28 February 2004


















Graeme MacKay


The Hamilton Spectator






















Illustration: Vivienne Flesher


Finding Love Again, This Time With a Man

SundayReview | Opinion        NYT        By HARRIS WOFFORD        APRIL 23, 2016


















Phyllis Siegel, right kissed her wife, Connie Kopelov,

after exchanging vows at the city clerk’s office

in Manhattan in 2011.


Photograph: Michael Appleton for The New York Times


Connie Kopelov,

of First Same-Sex Couple Legally Married in New York, Dies at 90

By MIKE McPHATE        NYT        MAY 31, 2016

























same-sex couples        USA

















Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships        USA










married lesbians        USA










extend marital rights to gay and lesbian couples        USA










UK > First Gay Marriages Take Place in England and Wales        27 March 2014













exchange vows        USA










British House of Commons

Approves Gay Marriage        USA        5 February 2013










Defense of Marriage Act    DOMA        USA        1996











Ireland > Gay / same-sex marriage        UK / USA













Ireland > Ireland says yes to same-sex marriage - in pictures        UK        May 2015










gay marriage        UK
























same-sex union / gay marriage        USA

































































































































USA > The 1st Legally Married Same-Sex Couple

'Wanted To Lead By Example'        USA


Tanya McCloskey

and Marcia Kadish

didn't set out to make headlines

when they got married

on May 17, 2004.




Their legal marriage

— and the hundreds of others performed

for same-sex couples

across the state that day

— were the result of a ruling

from the Massachusetts Supreme Court,

which had declared in November 2003

that same-sex couples had the legal right

to marry in the state.


It took 11 more years

before McCloskey and Kadish's marriage

was federally recognized.


On June 26, 2015,

the U.S. Supreme Court

ruled that marriage

was a civil right for all Americans,

legalizing same-sex marriage




























USA > Julie Goodridge and Hillary Goodridge

were the face of the movement

to legalize same-sex marriage

in Massachusetts.


They got married

on May 17, 2004,

just hours after that state

became the first in America

to allow same-sex marriage.        USA



















equal marriage        UK


























marriage equality        USA












marriage license        USA










opponents of gay marriage        USA        2013










California’s Proposition 8










Boston Globe > Big Picture > Same-sex marriage        USA        August 4, 2010










cartoons > Cagle > Gay marriage in New York        2011        USA










cartoons > Cagle > Gay marriage in California        USA


















Marriage means everything':

New York couple's long struggle for gay rights    G    26 June 2015





'Marriage means everything': New York couple's long struggle for gay rights        Video        G        26 June 2015


When Governor Andrew Cuomo

signed the Marriage Equality Act into law

just six months into his first term in 2011,

New York became the first of just a handful of states

to make same-sex marriage legal through legislation,

not the courts.


Integral to that reality

were Kitty and her then fiancee Cheryle,

the first lesbian New York couple to wed.


They were married just after midnight

in front of Niagara Falls

a month after the law was signed.


They had been together over a decade

by the time they decided to lobby for marriage equality

in their own backyard


















Gay Weddings Held in Parts of Alabama        NYT        9 February 2015





Gay Weddings Held in Parts of Alabama        Video        The New York Times        9 February 2015


Same-sex couples wed in Birmingham on the first day

that Alabama issued same-sex marriage licenses.


Produced by: AP

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1M7mpU9

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video






















wed        USA










USA > gay wedding        UK










gay wedding industry        USA










pink wedding










same-sex civil partnership ceremonies

in England and Wales        UK










images from the UK's first civil partnerships

for same-sex couples        UK        December 19 2005










husband        USA

















gay partnership





heterosexual couples





same-sex partners





homosexual couples





gay father        UK






rainbow flag        USA






queer rap        UK






bigotry        USA






 ‘motherless’ parenting        USA





















Cake decorations at a gay wedding.


Photograph: Hector Mato/AFP/Getty


The Guardian        web frontpage        2 July 2004















Supreme Court Ruling

Makes Same-Sex Marriage

a Right Nationwide


JUNE 26, 2015

The New York Times



WASHINGTON — In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” Justice Kennedy said, adding that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off jubilation and tearful embraces across the country, the first same-sex marriages in several states, and resistance — or at least stalling — in others. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.

The court’s four more liberal justices joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Each member of the court’s conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn.

In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage.

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

In a second dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia mocked the soaring language of Justice Kennedy, who has become the nation’s most important judicial champion of gay rights.

“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Justice Scalia wrote of his colleague’s work. “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”

Thousands, including parents, babies and dogs, flocked to the Supreme Court after its ruling on same-sex marriage. Supporters spoke about how they thought the ruling helped maintain and support families. By Channon Hodge on Publish Date June 26, 2015. Photo by Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser, via Associated Press.

As Justice Kennedy finished announcing his opinion from the bench on Friday, several lawyers seated in the bar section of the court’s gallery wiped away tears, while others grinned and exchanged embraces.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010, was on hand for the decision, and many of the justices’ clerks took seats in the chamber, which was nearly full as the ruling was announced. The decision made same-sex marriage a reality in the 13 states that had continued to ban it.

Outside the Supreme Court, the police allowed hundreds of people waving rainbow flags and holding signs to advance onto the court plaza as those present for the decision streamed down the steps. “Love has won,” the crowd chanted as courtroom witnesses threw up their arms in victory.

In remarks in the Rose Garden, President Obama welcomed the decision, saying it “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts.”

“Today,” he said, “we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.”

Justice Kennedy was the author of all three of the Supreme Court’s previous gay rights landmarks. The latest decision came exactly two years after his majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples, and exactly 12 years after his majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down laws making gay sex a crime.

In all of those decisions, Justice Kennedy embraced a vision of a living Constitution, one that evolves with societal changes.

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,” he wrote on Friday. “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”

This drew a withering response from Justice Scalia, a proponent of reading the Constitution according to the original understanding of those who adopted it. His dissent was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

“They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment,” Justice Scalia wrote of the majority, “a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”

“These justices know,” Justice Scalia said, “that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry.”

Justice Kennedy rooted the ruling in a fundamental right to marriage. Of special importance to couples, he said, is raising children.

“Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers,” he wrote, “their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority opinion.

In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority opinion was “an act of will, not legal judgment.”

“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs,” he wrote. “Just who do we think we are?”

The majority and dissenting opinions took differing views about whether the decision would harm religious liberty. Justice Kennedy said the First Amendment “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” He said both sides should engage in “an open and searching debate.”

Chief Justice Roberts responded that “people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in his dissent, saw a broader threat from the majority opinion. “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” Justice Alito wrote. “In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

Gay rights advocates had constructed a careful litigation and public relations strategy to build momentum and bring the issue to the Supreme Court when it appeared ready to rule in their favor. As in earlier civil rights cases, the court had responded cautiously and methodically, laying judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.

It waited for scores of lower courts to strike down bans on same-sex marriages before addressing the issue, and Justice Kennedy took the unusual step of listing those decisions in an appendix to his opinion.

Chief Justice Roberts said that only 11 states and the District of Columbia had embraced the right to same-sex marriage democratically, at voting booths and in legislatures. The rest of the 37 states that allow such unions did so because of court rulings. Gay rights advocates, the chief justice wrote, would have been better off with a victory achieved through the political process, particularly “when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”

In his own dissent, Justice Scalia took a similar view, saying that the majority’s assertiveness represented a “threat to American democracy.”

But Justice Kennedy rejected that idea. “It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process,” he wrote. “The issue before the court here is the legal question whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Later in the opinion, Justice Kennedy answered the question. “The Constitution,” he wrote, “grants them that right.”



Correction: June 26, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated the time period since Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down laws making gay sex a crime. It is 12 years, not 10.

Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on June 27, 2015,
on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline:
‘Equal Dignity’.

Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide,
JUNE 26, 2015,






In Maine and Maryland,

Victories at the Ballot Box

for Same-Sex Marriage


November 7, 2012
The New York Times


Voters in Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage on an election night that jubilant gay rights advocates called a historic turning point, the first time that marriage for gay men and lesbians has been approved at the ballot box.

While six states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage through court decisions or legislative decisions, voters had rejected it more than 30 times in a row.

Results for the other two states voting on same-sex marriage, Minnesota and Washington, were still coming in late Tuesday, but rights groups said that the victories in two states and possibly more were an important sign that public opinion was shifting in their direction.

“We have made history for marriage equality by winning our first victory at the ballot box,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, which raised millions of dollars for the races in the four states.

Matt McTighe, the campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said, “A lot of families in Maine just became more stable and secure.”

At a victory party in Baltimore, supporters of Maryland’s referendum danced and cheered as balloons filled the air. “I’m so elated right now,” said Mary Bruce Leigh, 32. “This is the civil rights issue of our time, and we have succeeded in Maryland.”

In what appeared to be a close race in Minnesota, voters were asked to adopt a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman. While the state already has a law barring same-sex marriage, conservatives hoped to prevent a future Legislature or court decision from reversing it.

In Washington State, supporters of a referendum authorizing same-sex marriage appeared to have an edge in pre-election polls, but final results were not expected until later this week because ballots were still being mailed in as late as Tuesday.

Laurie Carlsson, 33, stood on a freeway overpass with a sign urging drivers to honk for the referendum.

“Seattleites do not use their horns — ever — but today they’re honking,” Ms. Carlsson said as a deafening roar erupted. “It’s making me giddy.”

It has been a constant theme of opponents of same-sex marriage that whenever it has been put before voters it has lost. In 30 states, voters have limited marriage to a man and a woman through constitutional amendments, and same-sex marriage has also been blocked in referendums like those in California in 2008 and Maine in 2009.

This year, the legislatures in Washington and Maryland approved same-sex marriage, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force referendums. In Maine, since their loss in 2009, gay rights advocates have been cultivating public opinion in one-on-one conversations, and this year sponsored their successful repeat election.

In the final week of the campaign, the opponents of marriage rights, mainly financed by the National Organization for Marriage and the Roman Catholic Church, mounted a barrage of advertising and telephone appeals in all four states, trying to convince undecided voters that “redefining marriage” would force schools to “teach gay marriage” and require businesses and churches to violate religious principles.

Rights groups have denounced those messages as misleading scare tactics and say they do not seek to redefine marriage but to end discrimination.

For many weeks, reflecting their more than threefold advantage in fund-raising nationwide, advocates of same-sex marriage have unleashed advertisements of their own in which community members say that gay and lesbian friends deserve the same chance to love and marry that others enjoy.

Pre-election polling in Washington State indicated that a slight majority of voters supported the referendum. “We have weathered their waves of attacks and not lost any ground,” said Zach Silk, the campaign manager of Washington United for Marriage, in an interview before the voting began.

Frank Schubert, who managed the campaigns to ban same-sex marriage in all four states, disputed the notion that Tuesday’s ballots were a major turning point. “The votes are very close everywhere,” he said.


Isolde Raftery contributed reporting from Seattle,

and Emmarie Huetteman from Baltimore.

    In Maine and Maryland, Victories at the Ballot Box for Same-Sex Marriage,
    NYT, 7.11.2012,






Colorado Rejects Same-Sex Civil Unions


May 14, 2012
The New York Times


DENVER — A bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado was defeated on Monday night during a special legislative session called by Gov. John W. Hickenlooper to debate the issue.

The legislation was voted down by Republican lawmakers on a 5-to-4 vote along party lines after more than two hours of emotional testimony in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, where it was assigned Monday by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

“We saw this bill die even though a majority of members of the Senate and a majority of members of the House and the governor, as well as a vast majority of Coloradans, want to see this become law,” said Representative Mark Ferrandino of Denver, one of four openly gay state legislators and a sponsor of the bill. “It is very unfortunate. Families across Colorado are going to have to wait longer for equal rights in our state.”

Supporters had come tantalizingly close to passing the legislation this year after several Republicans decided to break party ranks and back it.

The bill had cleared a number of committees and the full State Senate, but lawmakers reached an impasse last week and the bill was never brought to the House floor for a full vote before the legislative session concluded.

Supporters accused Republicans of stalling to prevent debate on the bill, while Republicans argued that Democrats had waited until the end of the session before pushing the bill through to force a political showdown.

The stalemate, which also resulted in dozens of other bills being left on the calendar, prompted the call for a special session by Mr. Hickenlooper, who described civil unions as “a fundamental question of fairness and civil rights” in a letter to legislators.

But if the special session breathed fresh life back into the legislation, it was short-lived.

On Monday, despite the urgings of civil-union supporters who rallied at the Capitol in Denver, the House speaker, Frank McNulty, a Republican from Highlands Ranch, assigned the bill to the state affairs committee, which was dominated by opponents of the legislation.

In a statement, Mr. McNulty accused Mr. Hickenlooper and Democrats of “pushing a last-minute, divisive attack on our traditional views on marriage” for their short-term political gain.

In voting against the bill, Representative Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, said he was especially torn, because he has a gay son. “This is a situation that is very close to my heart,” he said. “But it’s very difficult because I also represent 75,000 people in southwest Colorado. What you are asking me to do here is to invalidate the vote of six years ago.”

Mr. Coram was referring to a 2006 amendment approved by the state’s voters that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The debate over civil unions in Colorado comes as North Carolina voters last Tuesday approved an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, partnerships and civil unions. The next day, President Obama said that he now supported same-sex marriage.

    Colorado Rejects Same-Sex Civil Unions, NYT, 14.5.2012,






Colorado Rejects

Same-Sex Civil Unions


May 14, 2012
The New York Times


DENVER — A bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado was defeated on Monday night during a special legislative session called by Gov. John W. Hickenlooper to debate the issue.

The legislation was voted down by Republican lawmakers on a 5-to-4 vote along party lines after more than two hours of emotional testimony in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, where it was assigned Monday by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

“We saw this bill die even though a majority of members of the Senate and a majority of members of the House and the governor, as well as a vast majority of Coloradans, want to see this become law,” said Representative Mark Ferrandino of Denver, one of four openly gay state legislators and a sponsor of the bill. “It is very unfortunate. Families across Colorado are going to have to wait longer for equal rights in our state.”

Supporters had come tantalizingly close to passing the legislation this year after several Republicans decided to break party ranks and back it.

The bill had cleared a number of committees and the full State Senate, but lawmakers reached an impasse last week and the bill was never brought to the House floor for a full vote before the legislative session concluded.

Supporters accused Republicans of stalling to prevent debate on the bill, while Republicans argued that Democrats had waited until the end of the session before pushing the bill through to force a political showdown.

The stalemate, which also resulted in dozens of other bills being left on the calendar, prompted the call for a special session by Mr. Hickenlooper, who described civil unions as “a fundamental question of fairness and civil rights” in a letter to legislators.

But if the special session breathed fresh life back into the legislation, it was short-lived.

On Monday, despite the urgings of civil-union supporters who rallied at the Capitol in Denver, the House speaker, Frank McNulty, a Republican from Highlands Ranch, assigned the bill to the state affairs committee, which was dominated by opponents of the legislation.

In a statement, Mr. McNulty accused Mr. Hickenlooper and Democrats of “pushing a last-minute, divisive attack on our traditional views on marriage” for their short-term political gain.

In voting against the bill, Representative Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, said he was especially torn, because he has a gay son. “This is a situation that is very close to my heart,” he said. “But it’s very difficult because I also represent 75,000 people in southwest Colorado. What you are asking me to do here is to invalidate the vote of six years ago.”

Mr. Coram was referring to a 2006 amendment approved by the state’s voters that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The debate over civil unions in Colorado comes as North Carolina voters last Tuesday approved an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, partnerships and civil unions. The next day, President Obama said that he now supported same-sex marriage.

    Colorado Rejects Same-Sex Civil Unions, NYT, 14.5.2012,






After Obama’s Decision on Marriage,

a Call to Pastors


May 13, 2012
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — About two hours after declaring his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama gathered eight or so African-American ministers on a conference call to explain himself. He had struggled with the decision, he said, but had come to believe it was the right one.

The ministers, though, were not all as enthusiastic. A vocal few made it clear that the president’s stand on gay marriage might make it difficult for them to support his re-election.

“They were wrestling with their ability to get over his theological position,” said the Rev. Delman Coates, the pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., who was on the call.

In the end, Mr. Coates, who supports civil marriages for gay men and lesbians, said that most of the pastors, regardless of their views on this issue, agreed to “work aggressively” on behalf of the president’s campaign. But not everyone. “Gay marriage is contrary to their understanding of Scripture,” Mr. Coates said. “There are people who are really wrestling with this.”

In the hours following Mr. Obama’s politically charged announcement on Wednesday, the president and his team embarked on a quiet campaign to contain the possible damage among religious leaders and voters. He also reached out to one or more of the five spiritual leaders he calls regularly for religious guidance, and his aides contacted other religious figures who have been supportive in the past.

The damage-control effort underscored the anxiety among Mr. Obama’s advisers about the consequences of the president’s revised position just months before what is expected to be a tight re-election vote. While hailed by liberals and gay-rights leaders for making a historic breakthrough, Mr. Obama recognized that much of the country is uncomfortable with or opposed to same-sex marriage, including many in his own political coalition.

The issue of religious freedom has become a delicate one for Mr. Obama, especially after the recent furor over an administration mandate that religiously affiliated organizations offer health insurance covering contraceptives. After complaints from Catholic leaders that the mandate undercut their faith, Mr. Obama offered a compromise that would maintain coverage for contraception while not requiring religious organizations to pay for it, but critics remained dissatisfied.

In taking on same-sex marriage, Mr. Obama made a point of couching his views in religious terms. “We’re both practicing Christians,” the president said of his wife and himself in the ABC News interview in which he discussed his new views. “And obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others.”

He added that what he thought about was “not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf but it’s also the golden rule, you know? Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

After the interview, Mr. Obama hit the phones. Among those he called was one of the religious leaders he considers a touchstone, the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, the pastor of a conservative megachurch in Florida.

“Some of the faith communities are going to be afraid that this is an attack against religious liberty,” Mr. Hunter remembered telling the president.

“Absolutely not,” Mr. Obama insisted. “That’s not where we’re going, and that’s not what I want.”

Even some of Mr. Obama’s friends in the religious community warned that he risked alienating followers, particularly African-Americans who have been more skeptical of the idea than other Democratic constituencies.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, another religious adviser to Mr. Obama and the president and chief executive of Sojourners, a left-leaning evangelical organization, said that he had fielded calls since the announcement from pastors across the country, including African-American and Hispanic ministers. Religious leaders, he said, are deeply divided, with some seeing it as the government forcing clergy to accept a definition of marriage that they consider anathema to their teachings.

Mr. Wallis said that it was clear to him that the president’s decision was a matter of personal conscience, not public policy. But he said that some religious leaders wanted to hear Mr. Obama say that explicitly. “We hope the president will reach out to people who disagree with him on this,” Mr. Wallis said. “The more conservative churches need to know, need to be reassured that their religious liberty is going to be respected here.”

Mr. Obama has reached out to Mr. Wallis, Mr. Hunter and three other ministers for telephone prayer sessions and discussions about the intersection of religion and public policy.

Mr. Wallis would not say whether he heard from Mr. Obama as Mr. Hunter did. The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, another of the five and the senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, said he did not. “He doesn’t need to talk with me about that,” Mr. Caldwell said.

The other two pastors, Bishop T. D. Jakes, a nationally known preaching powerhouse who fills stadiums and draws 30,000 worshipers to his church in Dallas, and the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., did not respond to messages Friday.

Mr. Obama began reaching out within hours of his announcement on Wednesday. At 4:30 p.m., he convened the African-American ministers on the call.

“It was very clear to me that he had arrived at this conclusion after much reflection, introspection and dialogue with family and staff and close friends,” said Mr. Coates, who remains confident that the undecided pastors on the call will ultimately back the president in November. “There are more public policy issues that we agree upon than this issue of private morality in which there’s some difference.”

That is a calculation the White House is counting on. The president’s strategists hope that any loss of support among black and independent moderates will be more than made up by proponents of gay marriage. But Mr. Obama’s aides declined to comment and opted not to send anyone to the Sunday talk shows for fear of elevating it further.

Religious conservative leaders said the president’s decision changed the calculus of the election. “I think the president this past week took six or seven states he carried in 2008 and put them in play with this one ill-conceived position that he’s taken,” Gary Bauer, the former presidential candidate, said on the CNN program “State of the Union.” On the same program, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “I’ve gotten calls from pastors across the nation, white and black pastors, who have said, ‘You know what? I’m not sitting on the sidelines anymore.’ ”

Establishment Republicans, though, were eager to shift the subject. “For those people that this is their issue, they have a clear choice,” Reince Preibus, the party chairman, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But I happen to believe that, at the end of the day, however, this election is still going to be about the economy.”

Mr. Obama’s efforts to mollify religious leaders came after a tumultuous week as he lagged behind Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in advocating same-sex marriage. A senior administration official who asked not to be named said the White House contacted religious and Congressional leaders and Democratic candidates only after the president’s announcement.

Among those contacted was Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant magazine and a young evangelical leader, but he was on vacation. By contrast, the office of Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York, said he had not heard from the president after publicly calling his decision “deeply saddening.”

Mr. Hunter’s cellphone buzzed shortly after the Wednesday interview. “I’m not at all surprised he didn’t call me before because I would have tried to talk him out of it,” Mr. Hunter said.

“My interpretation of Scriptures, I can’t arrive at the same conclusion,” he said. “He totally understood that. One of the reasons he called was to make sure our relationship would be fine, and of course it would be.”

    After Obama’s Decision on Marriage, a Call to Pastors, NYT, 13.5.2012,






Obama Says Same-Sex Marriage

Should Be Legal


May 9, 2012
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Before President Obama left the White House on Tuesday morning to fly to an event in Albany, several aides intercepted him in the Oval Office. Within minutes it was decided: the president would endorse same-sex marriage on Wednesday, completing a wrenching personal transformation on the issue.

As described by several aides, that quick decision and his subsequent announcement in a hastily scheduled network television interview were thrust on the White House by 48 hours of frenzied will-he-or-won’t-he speculation after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. all but forced the president’s hand by embracing the idea of same-sex unions in a Sunday talk show interview.

Advisers say now that Mr. Obama had intended since early this year to define his position sometime before Democrats nominate him for re-election in September. Yet many of the president’s allies believed he would not do so, trusting instead in his strong support from gay voters for having ended a ban on openly gay people in the military and disavowing a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Such caution was understandable, the allies said, given the unpredictable fallout the president would face by taking a clear stand on one of the most contentious and politically charged social issues of the day, before what is likely to be a close election. Mr. Obama’s closest advisers say only the timing was in question. Mr. Biden’s unexpected remarks undoubtedly accelerated the timetable.

Initially Mr. Obama and his aides expected that the moment would be Monday, when the president was scheduled to be on “The View,” the ABC daytime talk show, which is popular with women. Certainly, they thought, he would be asked his position on same-sex marriage by one of the show’s hosts, who include Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg.

Yet the pressure had become too great to wait until then, his aides told him; on Monday, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, was pummeled with questions from skeptical reporters about Mr. Obama’s stance. After the Tuesday morning meeting, Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director, contacted ABC and offered a wide-ranging interview with the president for the following day.

And so it was that Mr. Obama on Wednesday afternoon sat down in the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts and made news, after nearly two years of saying that his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving.”

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama said.

Long a proponent of civil unions, Mr. Obama said his views had changed in part because of prodding by friends who are gay and by conversations with his wife and daughters.

“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”

Mr. Obama also invoked his Christian faith in explaining his decision.

“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated,” he said. “And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”

Reaction to Mr. Obama’s announcement was largely predictable — including immediate opposition from his presumptive Republican rival, Mitt Romney — yet people on both sides of the issue pointed to the historical significance of a president endorsing marriage between people of the same sex. It was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which the Obama administration last year decided not to enforce in the courts.

While Mr. Obama’s announcement was significant from a symbolic standpoint, more important as a practical matter were Mr. Obama’s decision not to enforce the marriage act and his successful push in 2010 to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that prohibited openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military. For that reason, gay rights groups had been largely enthusiastic about his re-election campaign while being pragmatically resigned to his not publicly supporting same-sex marriage before the election.

Mr. Obama’s announcement has little substantive impact — as an aide said, “It’s not like we’re trying to pass legislation.”

But the political impact is a wild card, even Obama advisers acknowledged, and it came one day after voters in North Carolina — the site of the Democratic Party’s nominating convention — supported a ban on same-sex marriage. But while the president has now injected a volatile social issue into the campaign debate, both sides say the election still is all but certain to turn on the economy.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing at a pace that surprises even pollsters as older generations of voters who tend to be strongly opposed are supplanted by younger ones who are just as strongly in favor. Same-sex couples are featured in some of the most popular shows on television.

Yet opponents include white working-class voters, among whom Mr. Obama has long had weak support, and many African-Americans, led by influential ministers in their churches, whose support is critical to Mr. Obama in swing states like Virginia and North Carolina. Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, one of the first openly gay members of Congress, said he told the White House months ago that it should not worry about the politics.

“This country is moving, and what’s interesting is every time somebody does something that’s supportive of our rights, it turns out to be (a) popular and (b) not very controversial,” he said in a telephone interview.

Many Americans already assumed Mr. Obama supported same-sex marriage, Mr. Frank said, adding, “Politically, it’s kind of a nonevent.”

Obama strategists had rejected the idea of announcing the president’s support during a fund-raiser or at a speech to a gay rights group, because, as one Democrat close to the White House put it, that would “look like pandering.”

Then last Friday, Mr. Biden taped his interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” shown on Sunday morning. Afterward, Mr. Biden’s aides circulated a transcript around the West Wing, with the gay marriage remarks highlighted in yellow. A flurry of e-mails ensued about how Mr. Biden’s office should explain it once the interview was broadcast.

The news media attention escalated on Monday when Mr. Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, acknowledged in a television interview that he also supported same-sex marriage. Editorialists, columnists and bloggers criticized Mr. Obama as appearing calculating by his continued ambivalence.

An administration official, who like others did not want to be named discussing internal White House deliberations, said that until this week, the one certainty was for Mr. Obama to take his stand before September to avoid a convention fight. “It’s not helpful to go down there and have a big conflagration about including this in the platform,” the official said.

But several events loomed that would also force attention on the issue, leaving Mr. Obama vulnerable to continued criticism.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama is to visit the Los Angeles home of the actor George Clooney for a campaign fund-raiser expected to raise about $12 million, much of it from Hollywood people active in the gay rights cause.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to give the commencement address next week at Barnard College in New York City, where he will receive a medal along with Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a leading advocate for same-sex unions. Mr. Wolfson, who had written that he would “whisper in the president’s ear” to support same-sex marriage, said in an interview on Wednesday, “I’m going to shout, ‘Thank you!’ ”

Also on Monday, Mr. Obama is to speak at a campaign fund-raiser for gay rights supporters. And on June 6, he is to return to Los Angeles to speak at a gala benefiting the gay, bisexual and transgender community.


Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting.



This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 10, 2012

An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported

that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s office

did not flag his comments

about gay marriage in a transcript

of his “Meet the Press” remarks

that was circulated in the West Wing on Friday.

The comments were highlighted in yellow.

    Obama Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal, NYT, 9.5.2012,






Gay Marriage Effort

Attracts a Novel Group of Donors


March 23, 2012
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — On a warm Friday afternoon three years ago, Rob Reiner, the director, arrived for lunch at the Beverly Hills estate of David Geffen, the entertainment mogul. Mr. Reiner and his political adviser, Chad H. Griffin, had spent six months drafting an ambitious legal campaign aimed at persuading the United States Supreme Court to establish a constitutional right of same-sex marriage.

Mr. Reiner, joined by Mr. Griffin and Mr. Reiner’s wife, Michele, told Mr. Geffen they would need $3 million to challenge Proposition 8, a California voter initiative approved the previous November banning same-sex marriage. He informed Mr. Geffen that they had recruited two renowned lawyers, David Boies, a Democrat, and Theodore B. Olson, a Republican, to argue the case.

“Our feeling is not to go state by state,” Mr. Reiner said. “Our strategy is to make this wind up in the United States Supreme Court and have this a settled issue for all time.”

Mr. Geffen asked few questions as they sat in the dining room off his screening room, with a sweeping view down his sculptured estate. He agreed before the dessert arrived to raise the money. “I said I’d give them half the money and raise the other half,” Mr. Geffen recalled. Mr. Geffen wrote a check for $1.5 million and asked Steve Bing, a friend and producer, to make up the rest.

That lunch was a milestone in the dramatic evolution of a behind-the-scenes fund-raising network whose goal is to legalize same-sex marriage from coast to coast. This emerging group of donors is not quite like any other fund-raising network that has supported gay-related issues over the past 40 years. They come from Hollywood, yes, but also from Wall Street and Washington and the corporate world; there are Republicans as well as Democrats; and perhaps most strikingly, longtime gay organizers said, there has been an influx of contributions from straight donors unlike anything they have seen before.

Mr. Griffin, who this month was named president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay advocacy group, recalled being at a September 2010 fund-raiser for the Proposition 8 legal fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, organized by, among others, Wall Street financiers and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

“I knew literally no one in the room,” said Mr. Griffin, whose fund-raising activities on behalf of the Obama campaign helped earn him a seat at President Obama’s table at the state dinner at the White House last week. “It was a very bizarre moment for me. It was really a turning point.”

Money does not always translate into political success, of course. While the network has bankrolled the legal case that led two courts to throw out Proposition 8 and also helped power a same-sex marriage bill to law in New York State, tough battles may lie ahead with marriage initiatives on five state ballots this year: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington.

And opponents say that while they might be outmatched financially — the National Organization for Marriage said it had an annual budget of about $20 million, and estimates that the combined money being spent in support of same-sex marriage is many times that — they have a more saleable message. Brian S. Brown, the president of the organization, said voters had opposed same-sex marriage in the 30 times the question has been on a ballot since 2000.

“We know what we have to do to win,” he said. “We have shown we did not need to match them dollar for dollar. I would love to. But we’ve won without doing that.”

The seed money collected at the Geffen home — part of millions of dollars that have flown into campaigns to finance court battles, initiative efforts and the campaigns of sympathetic state lawmakers — was an early indicator of the changing donor network. Mr. Geffen is gay; Mr. Bing is straight. Mr. Bing is known as a big contributor to political causes, but associates said this was only the second time he had ever made a major contribution to a gay-related cause.

The Republican support for the effort largely began after Mr. Olson, a solicitor general under President George W. Bush, lent it his name. It accelerated with the fund-raising role of Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and of Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, who announced he is gay 18 months ago and has since helped raise close to $3 million by fishing in waters where gay organizers had rarely gone before.

As surprising — and encouraging — to organizers of the movement are the Wall Street names added to their roster. Prominent among them is Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager who is straight and chairman of the conservative Manhattan Institute. He has donated more than $8 million to various same-sex marriage efforts, in states including California, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Oregon, much of it since 2007.

“It’s become something that gradually people like myself weren’t afraid to fund, weren’t afraid to speak out on,” Mr. Singer said in an interview. “I’m somebody who is philosophically very conservative, and on this issue I thought that this really was important on the basis of liberty and actual family stability.”

The New York fund-raiser was sponsored by Mr. Singer and Mr. Mehlman, among others, and drew a crowd that included Henry R. Kravis, a private equity investor; Daniel S. Loeb, a hedge fund manager; Lewis M. Eisenberg, a former finance chairman for the Republican National Committee; and Steve Schmidt, who managed the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator John McCain.

“I try to look for places where there is both a financial and political angle,” Mr. Mehlman said. “So the fact that we were able to get prominent Republicans and businesspeople, some of whom were involved before but others who are new, helped in the effort both financially and politically.”

This is on top of a network of wealthy gay men and women who have a history of giving money to philanthropic causes and in recent years have shifted much of their effort to same-sex marriage.

Tim Gill, a billionaire software developer from Colorado, who is gay, has assembled a network that has been likened to a gay version of Emily’s List, which supports female candidates. Mr. Gill’s foundations have distributed over $235 million to gay-related causes, with much going to promote same-sex marriage, his advisers said.

“My husband and I are legally married in some states but obviously not married in others, so that’s a pretty big focus,” Mr. Gill said.

David Bohnett, a co-founder of GeoCities and a gay philanthropist here, has donated more than $4 million over the past 10 years to candidates and organizations supporting same-sex marriage, his advisers said.

And this week, Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates same-sex marriage, announced on Thursday a $3 million fund-raising campaign aimed at winning the five ballot initiatives and pushing the New Jersey Legislature to override the veto by Gov. Chris Christie of a same-sex bill, said Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry.

The first $250,000 is coming from Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook, and his fiancé, Sean Eldridge. “Chris and I certainly prioritize in our contributing,” Mr. Eldridge said. “Marriage is a top priority.”

Mr. Brown said the same-sex-marriage cause had been greatly helped by people like Mr. Hughes. “A couple of billionaires go a long way,” he said. But Mr. Wolfson said the “vast majority” of donations came from small donors.

The broadening of the coalition also reflects a concerted effort by backers of same-sex marriage to put straight and Republican supporters out front. “Prominent straight people from entertainment were crucial,” said Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar-winning screenwriter who wrote “8,” a play re-enacting the courtroom challenge to Proposition 8. “We wanted people who were not the usual suspects.”

A reading of Mr. Black’s play here, which raised more than $2 million, was notable for the participation of screen idol-type American actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who historically would have steered clear of this kind of production. Norman Lear, the television producer, wrote a $100,000 check even before Mr. Geffen had made his commitment. “It was the right moment and the right way to go,” he said.


Ian Lovett contributed reporting from Los Angeles,

and Kitty Bennett from St. Petersburg, Fla.

    Gay Marriage Effort Attracts a Novel Group of Donors, NYT, 23.3.2012,






Gay Marriage: A Milestone


June 26, 2011
The New York Times


New York State has made a powerful and principled choice by giving all couples the right to wed and enjoy the legal rights of marriage. It is a proud moment for New Yorkers, thousands of whom took to the streets on Sunday to celebrate this step forward. But this moment does not erase the bigotry against gays and lesbians enshrined in the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows any state to refuse to recognize another state’s unions.

Though there was unnecessary secrecy in the negotiations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a determined effort to achieve marriage equality in New York. He shares credit with the four Republican state senators who bucked their party and threats from conservatives to do what they knew was right. State Senators James Alesi, Roy McDonald, Mark Grisanti and Stephen Saland, all from upstate districts, deserve the support of their communities. They showed the kind of strength that is extremely hard to find in today’s politics.

In drafting a compromise, however, Senator Saland and other Republicans insisted on language that carves out exceptions for religious institutions and not-for-profit corporations affiliated with those religious entities. That provision allows those tax-exempt entities to refuse to marry a same-sex couple or to allow the use of their buildings or services for weddings or wedding parties. There was simply no need for these exemptions, since churches are protected under both the federal Constitution and New York law from being required to marry anyone against their beliefs. Equally troubling, an “inseverability clause” in the act appears to make it impossible for any court to invalidate part of the law without invalidating the whole law — raising questions about what happens to couples during an appeal.

While some civil rights advocates are optimistic that these provisions are relatively minor, we are deeply troubled by their discriminatory intent. The whole purpose of this law should be to expand civil rights without shedding other protections in the process.

The marriage equality law was such a powerful finale to this year’s legislative session that a few other important measures may be relegated to the footnotes. Lawmakers passed a limited ethics bill for legislators and statewide elected officials, a modest expansion of rent regulations for millions of New York City residents, an important five-year tuition plan for the state’s universities — all moves in the right direction.

The one big misstep is a property-tax cap of about 2 percent a year that will severely hurt schools and services in poorer communities.

This legislative session will be remembered for New York’s acceptance of same-sex marriage, a milestone in the national fight for this fundamental freedom. Five other states, along with the District of Columbia, allow same-sex couples to marry. But more than three dozen states define marriage as between a man and a woman. For gays and lesbians, the battle for freedom from discrimination continues.

    Gay Marriage: A Milestone, NYT, 26.6.2010,






New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage,

Becoming Largest State to Pass Law


June 24, 2011
The New York Times


ALBANY — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born.

The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a packed but hushed Senate chamber. Four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.

With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong.

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July.

Passage of same-sex marriage here followed a daunting run of defeats in other states where voters barred same-sex marriage by legislative action, constitutional amendment or referendum. Just five states currently permit same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

At around 10:30 p.m., moments after the vote was announced, Mr. Cuomo strode onto the Senate floor to wave at cheering supporters who had crowded into the galleries to watch. Trailed by two of his daughters, the governor greeted lawmakers, and paused to single out those Republicans who had defied the majority of their party to support the marriage bill.

“How do you feel?” he asked Senator James S. Alesi, a suburban Rochester Republican who voted against the measure in 2009 and was the first to break party ranks this year. “Feels good, doesn’t it?”

The approval of same-sex marriage represented a reversal of fortune for gay-rights advocates, who just two years ago suffered a humiliating defeat when a same-sex marriage bill was easily rejected by the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. This year, with the Senate controlled by Republicans, the odds against passage of same-sex marriage appeared long.

But the unexpected victory had a clear champion: Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who pledged last year to support same-sex marriage but whose early months in office were dominated by intense battles with lawmakers and some labor unions over spending cuts.

Mr. Cuomo made same-sex marriage one of his top priorities for the year and deployed his top aide to coordinate the efforts of a half-dozen local gay-rights organizations whose feuding and disorganization had in part been blamed for the defeat two years ago.

The new coalition of same-sex marriage supporters brought in one of Mr. Cuomo’s trusted campaign operatives to supervise a $3 million television and radio campaign aimed at persuading several Republican and Democratic senators to drop their opposition.

For Senate Republicans, even bringing the measure to the floor was a freighted decision. Most of the Republicans firmly oppose same-sex marriage on moral grounds, and many of them also had political concerns, fearing that allowing same-sex marriage to pass on their watch would embitter conservative voters and cost the Republicans their one-seat majority in the Senate.

Leaders of the state’s Conservative Party, whose support many Republican lawmakers depend on to win election, warned that they would oppose in legislative elections next year any Republican senator who voted for same-sex marriage.

But after days of contentious discussion capped by a marathon nine-hour closed-door debate on Friday, Republicans came to a fateful decision: The full Senate would be allowed to vote on the bill, the majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, said Friday afternoon, and each member would be left to vote according to his or her conscience.

“The days of just bottling up things, and using these as excuses not to have votes — as far as I’m concerned as leader, it’s over with,” said Mr. Skelos, a Long Island Republican who voted against the bill.

Just before the marriage vote, lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly approved a broad package of major legislation that constituted the remainder of their agenda for the year. The bills included a cap on local property tax increases and a strengthening of New York’s rent regulation laws, as well as a five-year tuition increase at the State University of New York and the City University of New York.

But Republican lawmakers spent much of the week negotiating changes to the marriage bill to protect religious institutions, especially those that oppose same-sex weddings. On Friday, the Assembly and the Senate approved those changes. But they were not enough to satisfy the measure’s staunchest opponents. In a joint statement, New York’s Catholic bishops assailed the vote.

“The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled,” the bishops said.

Besides Mr. Alesi and Mr. Grisanti, the four Republicans who voted for the measure included Senators Stephen M. Saland from the Hudson Valley area and Roy J. McDonald of the capital region.

Just one lawmaker rose to speak against the bill: Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx, the only Democratic senator to cast a no vote. Mr. Díaz, saying he was offended by the two-minute restrictions set on speeches, repeatedly interrupted the presiding officer who tried to limit the senator’s remarks, shouting, “You don’t want to hear me.”

“God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage, a long time ago,” Mr. Díaz said.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States is a relatively recent goal of the gay-rights movement, but over the last few years, gay-rights organizers have placed it at the center of their agenda, steering money and muscle into dozens of state capitals in an often uphill effort to persuade lawmakers.

In New York, passage of the bill reflects rapidly evolving sentiment about same-sex unions. In 2004, according to a Quinnipiac poll, 37 percent of the state’s residents supported allowing same-sex couples to wed. This year, 58 percent of them did. Advocates moved aggressively this year to capitalize on that shift, flooding the district offices of wavering lawmakers with phone calls, e-mails and signed postcards from constituents who favored same-sex marriage, sometimes in bundles that numbered in the thousands.

Dozens more states have laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Many of them were approved in the past few years, as same-sex marriage moved to the front line of the culture war and politicians deployed the issue as a tool for energizing their base.

But New York could be a shift: It is now by far the largest state to grant legal recognition to same-sex weddings, and one that is home to a large, visible and politically influential gay community. Supporters of the measure described the victory in New York as especially symbolic — and poignant — because of its rich place in the history of gay rights: the movement’s foundational moment, in June 1969, was a riot against police inside the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the West Village.

In Albany, there was elation after the vote. But leading up to it, there were moments of tension and frustration. At one point, Senator Kevin S. Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, erupted when he and other supporters learned they would not be allowed to make a floor speech.

“This is not right,” he yelled, before storming from the chamber.

During a brief recess during the voting, Senator Shirley L. Huntley, a Queens Democrat who had only recently come out in support of same sex marriage, strode from her seat to the back of the Senate chamber to congratulate Daniel J. O’Donnell, an openly gay Manhattan lawmaker who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly.

They hugged, and Assemblyman O’Donnell, standing with his longtime partner, began to tear up.

“We’re going to invite you to our wedding,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “Now we have to figure out how to pay for one.”


Danny Hakim and Thomas Kaplan

contributed reporting from Albany,

and Adriane Quinlan from New York.

    New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Becoming Largest State to Pass Law,
    NYT, 24.6.2011,






Marriage Is a Constitutional Right


August 4, 2010
The New York Times


Until Wednesday, the thousands of same-sex couples who have married did so because a state judge or Legislature allowed them to. The nation’s most fundamental guarantees of freedom, set out in the Constitution, were not part of the equation. That has changed with the historic decision by a federal judge in California, Vaughn Walker, that said his state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the 14th Amendment’s rights to equal protection and due process of law.

The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults.

As the case heads toward appeals at the circuit level and probably the Supreme Court, Judge Walker’s opinion will provide a firm legal foundation that will be difficult for appellate judges to assail.

The case was brought by two gay couples who said California’s Proposition 8, which passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, discriminated against them by prohibiting same-sex marriage and relegating them to domestic partnerships. The judge easily dismissed the idea that discrimination is permissible if a majority of voters approve it; the referendum’s outcome was “irrelevant,” he said, quoting a 1943 case, because “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote.”

He then dismantled, brick by crumbling brick, the weak case made by supporters of Proposition 8 and laid out the facts presented in testimony. The two witnesses called by the supporters (the state having bowed out of the case) had no credibility, he said, and presented no evidence that same-sex marriage harmed society or the institution of marriage.

Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in their ability to form successful marital unions and raise children, he said. Though procreation is not a necessary goal of marriage, children of same-sex couples will benefit from the stability provided by marriage, as will the state and society. Domestic partnerships confer a second-class status. The discrimination inherent in that second-class status is harmful to gay men and lesbians. These findings of fact will be highly significant as the case winds its way through years of appeals.

One of Judge Walker’s strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades. All marriages are now unions of equals, he wrote, and there is no reason to restrict that equality to straight couples. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage “exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage,” he wrote. “That time has passed.”

To justify the proposition’s inherent discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, he wrote, there would have to be a compelling state interest in banning same-sex marriage. But no rational basis for discrimination was presented at the two-and-a-half-week trial in January, he said. The real reason for Proposition 8, he wrote, is a moral view “that there is something wrong with same-sex couples,” and that is not a permissible reason for legislation.

“Moral disapproval alone,” he wrote, in words that could someday help change history, “is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.”

The ideological odd couple who led the case — Ted Olson and David Boies, who fought against each other in the Supreme Court battle over the 2000 election — were criticized by some supporters of same-sex marriage for moving too quickly to the federal courts. Certainly, there is no guarantee that the current Supreme Court would uphold Judge Walker’s ruling. But there are times when legal opinions help lead public opinions.

Just as they did for racial equality in previous decades, the moment has arrived for the federal courts to bestow full equality to millions of gay men and lesbians.

    Marriage Is a Constitutional Right, NYT, 4.8.2010,






In Same-Sex Ruling,

an Eye on the Supreme Court


August 4, 2010
The New York Times


A federal judge’s forceful opinion Wednesday in favor of same-sex marriage is only the beginning of a process that is likely to go all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The ultimate outcome of the California case cannot be predicted, but appeals court judges and the justices at the highest court in the land could find themselves boxed in by the careful logic and structure of Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s opinion, legal experts said.

In his ruling, Judge Walker found that California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage irrationally discriminates against gay men and women.

To opponents of same-sex marriage, the ruling was a travesty that usurped the will of millions of California voters. Brian S. Brown, the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, called it "a horrendous decision" that "launched the first salvo in a major culture war over same-sex marriage and the proper purview of the courts."

But Andrew Koppelman, a professor at Northwestern Law School, said "if the Supreme Court does not want to uphold same-sex marriage, its job has been made harder by this decision."

The reason, he said, is that while appeals courts often overturn lower-court judges on their findings of law -- such as the proper level of scrutiny to apply to Proposition 8 -- findings of fact are traditionally given greater deference.

“They are supposed to take as true facts found by the district court, unless they are clearly erroneous," he said. "This opinion shows why district courts matter, even though the Supreme Court has the last word."

And to that end, Judge Walker’s 136-page opinion lays a rich factual record, with extensive quotation of expert testimony from the lengthy trial. The 2008 initiative campaign to ban same-sex marriages was suffused, the judge said, with moral comparisons of these unions and heterosexual marriage, with the clear implication that "denial of marriage to same-sex couples protects children" and that "the ideal child-rearing environment" requires marriage between a man and a woman.

Judge Walker wrote, however, that the Supreme Court has stated that government cannot enforce moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose. The judge suggested that the defendants shifted their arguments for the courtroom, with a focus on "statistically optimal" child-rearing households and by arguing that they were abiding by the will of California voters.

California’s law, he wrote, demanded discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. "Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians," he wrote, including the notion that "gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals" and "gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society."

In his ruling, Judge Walker took a conservative approach to his findings of law, said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Judge Walker laid the factual groundwork that might have allowed him to invoke the tough "strict scrutiny" test to Proposition 8 -- a test that most laws flunk.

"His decision does not depend on the higher court finding strict scrutiny," he said, a legal finding that a higher court might well overturn. Instead, he subjected the law to a lower standard that many laws can pass, but that this one, in his opinion, does not.

"He finds it doesn’t even meet rational basis review" for the legal distinction between same-sex marriage and heterosexual unions, Professor Chemerinsky said.

Even some of those who applauded the opinion, however, said the path ahead for it is not clear or easy. Associate Professor Doug NeJaime at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles said while Judge Walker’s ruling he found "a great opinion," he was skeptical of the strategy to take a marriage case through the federal courts. Despite Judge Walker’s efforts to set a factual foundation and the traditions of deference, he said, the Supreme Court is not completely constrained by lower court findings of fact.

"We’ve seen time and time again that the Supreme Court can do whatever it wants" with the factual record, and "I don’t see five justices on the Supreme Court taking Judge Walker’s findings of fact to the place that he takes them."

Professor NeJaime suggested the case might turn on the Court’s traditional swing vote, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has shaped decisions that strike down laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians. The rational basis test used by Judge Walker is in line with the standard used by Justice Kennedy in such cases as Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a state sodomy law. By structuring an opinion that allows the Court to use the lower level of scrutiny, Judge Walker "is speaking to Justice Kennedy," he said.

Professor Jesse H. Choper, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it is too soon to tell which way Justice Kennedy might come down on the issue of same-sex marriage. "I have no way of predicting how he’d come down on this and I don’t think he does, either, at this point."

Ultimately, Professor NeJaime said, even the four more liberal justices on the Court might shy away from a sweeping decision that could overturn same-sex marriage bans across the country. "The Supreme Court rarely likes to get too far ahead of things," he said.

Reverend Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., and a leading supporter of Proposition 8, agreed.

"Given the present makeup of the Supreme Court at this time, ’one woman, one man’ will stand," he said.

And that is why Professor Chemerinsky said "this is a huge victory for the supporters of marriage equality -- but it’s not the last word."

    In Same-Sex Ruling, an Eye on the Supreme Court, NYT, 4.8.2010,






Redefining Marriage


July 9, 2010
The New York Times

For 14 years, as states, courts and many Americans began to change their minds on the subject, the federal government has clung to its official definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. On Thursday, a federal judge in Massachusetts finally stood up and said there was never a rational basis for that definition. Though we are a little wary of one path Judge Joseph L. Tauro took to declare the definition unconstitutional, the outcome he reached is long overdue.

The definition is contained in the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. At the time, there was no legal same-sex marriage in the United States, but now five states and the District of Columbia issue licenses to all couples. Because of the federal law, thousands of couples in those states cannot receive the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples, including Social Security survivor payments and spousal burials in national military cemeteries.

There were two cases that came before Judge Tauro on this subject, allowing him to arrive at the same conclusion in two different ways. In one case, brought by Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general, the judge said the marriage act exceeded Congress’s powers and infringed on the state’s right to regulate marriage. This does not appear to be a legitimate basis for overturning the act. Many of the biggest federal social programs — including the new health care law — deal with marriages and families, as the Yale law professor Jack Balkin noted on Thursday, and states should not be given the right to supersede them.

The judge made a better argument in the other case, brought by a gay rights group, that the marriage definition violates the equal-protection provisions of the Constitution. There is no rational basis for discriminating against same-sex couples, he ruled, discrediting the reasons stated by lawmakers in 1996, including the encouragement of “responsible procreation” and traditional notions of marriage and morality. In this argument, he was helped by the Obama administration’s obligatory but half-hearted defense of the law, which since last year no longer supports Congress’s stated reasons.

Courts should generally give Congress wide deference in writing laws, but should not be afraid to examine them when challenged, to make sure they serve a legitimate purpose. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed and signed as an election-year wedge issue, and the brief debate leading up to it was full of bigoted attacks against homosexuality as “depraved” and “immoral.” One congressman said gay marriage would “devalue the love between a man and a woman.” Laws passed on this kind of basis deserve to be upended, and we hope Judge Tauro’s equal-protection opinion, which, for now, applies only to Massachusetts, is upheld on appeal.

Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court actually predicted this moment would arrive when he dissented from the court’s 2003 decision to strike down antisodomy laws. That decision left laws prohibiting same-sex marriage “on pretty shaky grounds,” he warned, since it undercut the traditional moral basis for opposing homosexuality. The Justice Department cited those words when it abandoned its defense of the law as related to procreation, which, in turn, helped lead to Thursday’s decision. The process of justice can take years, but in this case it seems to be moving in the right direction.

Redefining Marriage,










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