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Houston Voice, No. 1207, December 12, 2003
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Houston Voice, No. 1207, December 12, 2003 - File 010. 2003-12-12. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. February 21, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2489/show/2469.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2003-12-12). Houston Voice, No. 1207, December 12, 2003 - File 010. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2489/show/2469

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, No. 1207, December 12, 2003 - File 010, 2003-12-12, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed February 21, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2489/show/2469.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, No. 1207, December 12, 2003
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date December 12, 2003
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 010
Transcript HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com DECEMBER 12, 2003 9 national nevus Gays in Congress deal with marriage backlash MARRIAGE, continued from Page 1 fits provided through Vermont's civil unions law, or about to be enacted through California's super domestic partners law, are nice stepping stones that help some gay cou pies now. But, the ultimate goal is for same- sex couples to be able to get married in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Wolfson, a gay rights attorney, said he's concerned that incorrect information surfacing in the news media is misleading rank and file gays and their straight supporters into thinking a civil union is equal to civil marriage in all respects except its name. Confusion over the difference between civil marriage and civil unions. Wolfson said, could hurt efforts to achieve full marriage rights. "Gay people should not enter into a discussion of bargaining against ourselves," he said. A newly formed coalition of African American gays raised the issue of civil unions versus marriage rights this week in announcing plans to launch a $100,000 media campaign promoting same-sex marriage in the black community. "Civil unions is separate and unequal," said Keith Boykin, co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. Boykin, a White House special assistant in the Clinton administration, compared civil unions to the past U.S. policies of racial segregation, which labeled mandatory all-black school districts as "separate but equal." "Our whole notion is you don't go half a loaf for civil rights," said Mandy Carter, one of the African-American gay civil rights leaders who joined Boykin in forming the black coalition. "We don't want to settle for domestic partnership or civil unions, not that they're not important," Carter said. "But if we're going to go out and advocate, what we want is full marriage equality" Unions don't offer full rights The concept of civil unions first surfaced in Vermont in 1999, when the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state's marriage law excluding marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples Rep Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said she applauds gays striving for full marriage rights. (Photo by Michael Wise) violated the Vermont Constitution. The court ruling gave the legislature the option of changing the law to allow same-sex marriages or legal "unions" that offered the same rights or benefits provided by the state for heterosexual married couples. The state legislature, faced with a highly controversial issue, chose the civil unions option, backed by the state's governor at the time, Howard Dean, now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. The same-sex marriage versus civil unions issue surfaced once again this year when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling nearly identical to Vermont's high court. However, some legal experts have said that the Massachusetts ruling requires the legislature to open up the state's marriage law to full, same-sex marriage, with no legal wiggle room to form civil unions. Others have disagreed. If the legislature fails to act by a court- imposed deadline of May 15,2004, a number of legal analysts, including gay rights attorneys, say the court itself may declare same- sex marriage to be legal in Massachusetts and order the state to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Before the Massachusetts ruling, civil unions became a hot topic in the Democratic presidential election campaign, as six of the nine Democrats running for president said they support civil unions over gay marriage. Three candidates lagging in the polls — former Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York — have declared their support for same-sex marriage. The six leading candidates, including Dean, have argued that civil unions provide all the legal benefits conferred by marriage. Dean, who signed Vermont's civil union law as governor, has said he also favors a federal law providing federal marital benefits and rights to those joined in civil unions. Gay rights attorneys concede that legalizing same-sex marriage in any state, including Massachusetts, would not provide with the many rights and benefits associated with marriage to gay couples that come from the federal government, including tax deductions, immigration rights and Social Security survivor benefits. The federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed and President Clinton signed in 1996, bars same-sex couples from receiving any federal marital benefits, though activists have questioned the statute's constitutionality. Marriage can lead to DOMA challenge Why, then, do most of the nation's gay rights groups claim same-sex marriage is preferable to civil unions? Wolfson and attorneys with Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, a gay litigation group, .say legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts and other states will open the way for legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA. Experts in constitutional law have said it remains unclear whether a section of the U.S. Constitution known as the full faith and credit clause requires states to legally honor marriages issued in other states. Most legal observers say the question will be tested in the courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court making the final decision. But without legalizing same-sex marriage in one or more states, this issue could never be tested and the possibility of obtaining full federal marriage benefits and rights for gay couples could never be achieved without passage of legislation, activists argue. Extra-legal benefits? David Buckel, an attorney with Lambda Legal, said legalizing same-sex marriage in states would have benefits that go beyond just the legal issues. "The key issue is gay people, not the government, should make the choice between civil unions or marriage," Buckel said. "As long as the government takes the choice away from gay people, we are second-class citizens. The official message from our rulers is that we are unworthy" Added Buckel, "Our position is that any choice available to a different-sex couple should be available to a same-sex couple. We would be making a terrible mistake to allow the government to take marriage off that list of choices." Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first open lesbian to serve in Congress, called 2003 "a tremendous year in the debate and discussion on civil marriage for gays." Baldwin said she agrees with gay rights leaders that marriage is far preferable to civil unions for gay men and lesbians, and she supports efforts by gays in Massachusetts and other states to secure marriage equality in the courts. But she said she and other gay rights advocates in Congress must now face a backlash against same-sex marriage and gay civil rights in general orchestrated by anti-gay groups. "I think the struggle for full civil marriage rights is a very important one," Baldwin said. "That having been said, I in no way discourage efforts to protect our families in the meantime" through civil unions or domestic partner laws, Baldwin said. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), another openly gay member of Congress, said he also supports legalization of same-sex marriage and predicts the Massachusetts high court will decree legalized same-sex marriage next May Like other observers, Frank said he believes the Massachusetts legislature will choose not to act, with conservative lawmakers working instead for a voter referendum to amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Frank said that by 2006, voters will view the issue as non-threatening and most likely will vote against a referendum to repeal marriage rights for gays. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), the third openly gay member of Congress, has no official position on same-sex marriage or civil unions, according to his press secretary. 7T5* j David Buckel, a gay rights attorney for Lambda Legal Defense, said gay activists need to keep demanding that the government treats all of its citizens equally. (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal) Neena Moorjani. Moorjani said Kolbe opposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and joined Frank and Baldwin in issuing a joint letter to all House members urging opposition to such an amendment. Kolbe did, however, vote for DOMA, angering a number of activists and leading the Arizona Republican to come out in anticipation that activists would identify him in retaliation. Gay groups unified in support of marriage rights While sometimes disagreeing over strategies and issues, all of the major national gay civil rights groups are unified in their support for legalizing same-sex marriage, according to Wolfson, who said he confers with the groups frequently Among them are the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political group; the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization; Lambda Legal; the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays; Log Cabin Republicans; and the National Stonewall Democrats. Log Cabin Republicans spokesperson Mark Mead and National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Dave Noble said same-sex marriage enjoys widespread support from their member groups. Martin Ornelas-Quintero, executive director of LLEGO, said his group's diverse membership appears solidly behind the concept of same-sex marriage, lining up behind LLEGO's efforts to lobby mainline Hispanic groups in support of equal marriage rights for gays. Ornelas-Quintero said the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 33 Hispanic advocacy groups in the United States, came out against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage following a LLEGO lobbying campaign. Craig Howell, member and former president of the D.C. Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, said GLAA also supports same- sex marriage. Howell said GLAA is pleased that the national groups view marriage as far preferable to civil unions or domestic partnership laws.
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