11/6/2009 Gay marriage

√ Fact Checker here.

Dukies from New York and New Jersey who support gay marriage -- as all people of good will should -- may want to contact their representatives in state government as critical votes are coming up.

In New York state, the Senate will take up gay marriage on Tuesday. The bill has repeatedly passed the heavily Democratic State Assembly by a huge margin, but the GOP majority in the State Senate was able to table it for many years. The Senate became 32-30 Democratic this year, and this first vote is going to be a squeeker.

Governor Paterson is a strong supporter. The regular session of the legislature ended in turmoil on budget issues and dirty politics, and the Senate never got to gay marriage. Paterson is using a parliamentary maneuver to include gay marriage in a special session he has just called for Tuesday to deal with budget matters.

In New Jersey, you may recall the State Supreme Court's unanimous declaration that the state Constitution guaranteed gays and lesbians all the rights and privileges of marriage. But then there was a 4-3 decision to leave the remedy to the legislature, which passed civil unions within the 120 day time frame allowed.

Now the legislature is going to revisit the issue, with full marriage on the front burner. It's critical in November and December, because in January a Republican governor comes into power, and this Neanderthal says he will not sign gay marriage into law.

Another front to watch: the NJ Supreme Court retained jurisdiction in this matter. That is, the Court said it too would revisit the issue if the plaintiffs did not find the legislature's remedy satisfactory. And the court promised to hear the case directly, without first having to go through lower courts.

Indeed the plaintiffs find the remedy of civil unions inadequate, but they apparently waited until after this year's elections to return to Court. They are likely to move immediately not only because of discontent, but because 4 of the 7 justices will be retiring in the next four years, with their replacements chosen by the aforementioned newly elected Cave Man, subject to confirmation by the comfortably Democratic Senate.

Many people are undoubtedly disheartened by the Maine vote on Tuesday, using a unique provision of the constitution to allow a public referendum that can overturn legislative action.

Fact Checker's view is not one of despair, but of celebration: just a decade ago, on December 20, 1999, the Vermont legislature approved civil unions and Governor Howard Dean signed it into law. That was a revolution then. Today even the people who want to "preserve" marriage for heteros accept civil unions.

Who would have thought the center of debate would have shifted so much in ten years. Just watch what happens in the decade ahead!

Thank you for reading Fact Checker.
To hell with Carolina!!

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