Gay old time

May 30, 2008

New York has become the latest state where gay marriages are possible. What’s that? You missed the court ruling or legislative action that did that? Well, you were just looking in the wrong places. You should have been listening to Gov. David A. Paterson, who ordered state agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriages performed in California and Massachusetts as well as Canada and other countries where the unions can legally be entered into:

The memo informed state agencies that failing to recognize gay marriages would violate the New York’s human rights law, Duggan said.

The directive follows a February ruling from a New York state appeals court. That decision says that legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York.

This is de facto legalization of gay marriage. New Yorkers merely have to go to one of those places and get married, then go back to New York and —  presto! — they are legally married. Massachusetts has a waiting period, but Canada and California don’t.

I’ve been saying for some time that the same-sex marriage issue would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court because of the Constitution’s Full Faith & Credit clause (see here, for example). As more states follow New York’s lead (or California’s, for that matter), the pressure on the court to act will increase. New York is liable to be the next state to legislatively approve same-sex unions. The more people go out of state to marry, the louder the argument will become that the state is being unfore to all the other same-sex couples who didn’t go out of state for a ceremony.

This will make the debate in Indiana heat up, but it won’t really change anything here. Indiana’s law not only forbids same-sex unions but recognition of those performed where they are legal. (New York is one of five states without that provision.) Without a constitutional amendment, we are vulnerable to what happened in Massachusetts: same-sex union courtesy of a court that threw out the state law banning them. It’s possible, but not very likely. Our courts are a little more reserved.

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One Response to “Gay old time”

  1. Harl Delos Says:

    One of the problems with same-sex marriage is same-sex annulment and same-sex divorce. As I understand it (and I’m far from an expert), most state laws will need to be changed to deal with it.

    Based on my recollection of the Dred Scott decision, I think that even states that have a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will be forced to recognize marriages performed in other states.

    Someone married in California will move to Indiana, and the party left in California will sue over marital property. The federal courts will tell Indiana that they have to recognize the rights conferred by that marriage.

    If a married person has a sex-change operation, does that invalidate the marriage? It’s probably going to vary from state to state, but I’d bet it doesn’t in most states; nobody’s ever thought about it.

    So the community fathers of a small town put together a tourism package. The county clerk issues a “Recognition of Sex Change” certificate to one half of the couple, then issues a marriage license ten minutes later to the now mixed sex couple. They get married by the judge ten minutes after that, and apply for another ROSC certificate to undo the first one.

    Package those certificates and services up with a limo ride to and from the nearest airport, a honeymoon stay in a local inn, and dining at the tonier restaurants in the area, for one package price. People from all over the midwest descend upon the county, and lots of new tourism jobs are created.

    Some people would object to it, of course, but I suspect that many people in the rural midwest are tolerant enough to say, “Hey, if they care for each other, why shouldn’t they be entitled to the same marital woes as the rest of us?” and give thanks for the new jobs. In the cities, preachers claim that man is the only creature that practices homosexuality, but in farm country, such a claim would be met with raucous laughter.


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