Archive for the ‘Legislative Updates’ Category

Possible Changes in Marriage Equality Options

September 5, 2009

The coming six months could lead to dramatic reversals — for better or worse — in the realm of marriage equality and domestic partnership laws in Maine, Washington State, Washington D.C. and California.

In Maine, the recently-opened marriage door could slam shut again.  A referendum on the legislative enactment of marriage is on the November ballot, and marriages are on hold until then.  If the voters reject the legislation, Maine residents will revert to marriage-equivalent civil unions, and not full marriage equality.  Similar battles are being fought now in Washington State, where the referendum on the recently-enacted domestic partnership law is likely to be on the ballot in November as well.  There are challenges to the signature count for the referendum, but unless it is thrown out the November vote will be decisive.  As with Maine, if the voters reject the new law Washington residents will still have marriage-equivalent domestic partnership as an option.  In Washington, D.C., there is a push to legalize full marriage, not just marriage-equivalent registration, but Congress has a say over D.C.’s law so this will be a steep mountain to climb.

In California, an initiative to repeal the anti-marriage Proposition 8 might be on the November 2010 ballot, or maybe not until 2012.  Meanwhile, an independent group (represented by Ted Olson & David Boies) has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8 on federal constitutional groups.  A full scale trial on the issues is scheduled for January, and it could well become the “Scopes Trial” of the marriage equality movement.

Good News & Bad

August 7, 2009

A warm “thanks” to Art Leonard of New York Law School for his Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, a monthly publication that highlights the major legal events affecting the LGBT community.  The Summer 2009 issue ( covers the good news coming from Wisconsin, where the state legislature has extended a broad range of legal protections to registered domestic partners, including family leave, intestacy rights, powers of attorney coverage and exemption from certain transfer taxes — without calling it marriage.

The bad news this month comes from Louisiana, where a Court of Appeal rejected a parentage petition filed by a non-biological mother, on the grounds that she couldn’t establish that the biological parent was unfit.  In other words, being the partner when the couple decided to have the child and raising them together isn’t sufficient to establish parentage.   The lesson from Louisiana is clear: if you want to be a legal parent, move to a state where you can obtain a second-parent adoption!