Friday, July 28, 2006

Thank you to the couples involved with Andersen v King County

I visted the Lambda Legal web page to see what they were saying about the defeat in Washington. Lambda Legal is "a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work." They have a summary of the case, as well as the plaintiffs' declarations, and an area of photos and short bios. These are such wonderful stories showing the happiness, fear, anger and love of these 8 couples. These are ordinary (and yet remarkable!) people who just want to be able to get married to the person they love. In many ways, these people are me, so I am not surprised by their stories. I wish more people were aware of these people, their stories, and the huge numbers of us out here with stories just like theirs.

It's sad that we live in an age that despite so much technological advancement, legalized discrimination not just exists, but thrives.

Looking back to the bright side, Lambda's press release says in part:
“While this was certainly not the result we were looking for it must be put into perspective. In 1948, when the California Supreme Court became the first state Supreme Court in the nation to strike down laws banning interracial marriages (which were on the books in 30 states at the time), lawsuits challenging such laws in 14 states had been unsuccessful (in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). Despite those setbacks, people whose rights were trampled did not give up. They pressed on to change public opinion, to secure legislative repeal of those laws to win in California and ultimately, 19 years later, to win before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Pizer said.

So, we continue to hope, to educate, to fight for our rights, and to live our lives.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Adoption, Beach Trip, Denial of Civil Rights

Wow - has it been a busy week! As of Friday, July 21, I completed my first legal action. Granted, it was acting as a Petitioner In Pro Se (on my own behalf) which anyone could do, but the thing is, I did it, and actually understood what I was doing! It was for the adoption of our 17-month-month old daughter, which my partner gave birth to, and which we planned, conceived, and have raised together. Although we'd planned on going through the adoption process shortly after her birth, mixed answers at the County Courthouse for how to handle second-parent adoptions, and then law school, delayed plans for doing it ourselves. We'd hired an attorney for our son's adoption, but this time around we were hoping to save high attorney fees. Now that I've completed one year of law school, I at least got what a Petition was, along with the other documents that had to be filed, and understood the language when I spoke to someone at the courthouse. So, by doing the adoption myself, law school saved us about $1500, so far. Only another $32,500 and the year will have paid for itself! *grin* Does this count as a legal internship?

We had a wonderful trip to Long Beach, Washington with my nephew, who I haven't seen for 6 years, his family, plus my sister and her husband. It was great fun, and wonderful to see our kids all playing together. For the pictures, see my partner's blog for July 25th.

On the down side, Washington State confirmed it's discriminatory practice of denying same-sex couples the right to marry. The State Supreme Court in a 5/4 decision stated that the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), which states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, was not unconstitutional. For the opinions, click here. As a student of the law, I find the opinions fascinating, and they really reinforce that reasonable minds can differ. Along with the majority opinion, there were two consenting and three dissenting opinions published. I have not made my way through all of them, but so far, they are all well-written, well-thought out, and even where I disagreed, I could see the rationality behind the argument. That somehow both reassures me, and concerns me that something that even the majority seems to be saying is not in the best interests of the state and is discriminatory can be upheld.

I don't have the time right now to go further into this topic, but let me just add that beyond being a law student, this decision impacts me personally. My partner and I live in Washington state, and this decision both saddens and angers me. Despite being upstanding citizens, parents, neighbors, friends, employees..etc...we continue to be viewed as second class citizens in the eyes of the law. The injustice must end, and it will, but when?