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Same-Sex Unions: Victories in Oregon, NY, Setback in Florida

Oregon U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman swept aside an order he made in the last days of 2007 which halted the state's domestic partner law from going into effect on behalf of "pro-family" groups who claimed that county elections clerks had improperly disqualified signatures.

FrazziniThe AP reports: "The referendum drive fell 96 signatures short of the 55,179 needed to refer a law passed by the legislature to the ballot. Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Austin Nimocks had argued that a signature on a petition should be given the same weight as a signature on a ballot, and that elections officials should have made more of an effort to contact voters whose signatures were disqualified. But Mosman, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, said signatures on a petition amounted to, 'a call for an election, not a substitution for an election.'

This means that Oregon's broad domestic partner law, which gives same-sex couples who register as domestic partners a huge number of benefits available to married couples including joint filing of income taxes, inheritance and medical rights, and other state benefits.

Said Jeanne Frazzini of Basic Rights Oregon (pictured): "We won this case on the merits. But the real winners today are the thousands of caring, committed couples who will have access to the rights and responsibilities of domestic partnership."

Same-sex couples were expected to be in line on Monday morning in order to register as domestic partners and applications were quickly made available online.

NystatehouseIn NEW YORK, an appellate court ruled that the state must recognize legally valid same-sex partnerships and civil unions from out-of-state and abroad.

The NYT reports: "Even though gay couples may not legally marry in New York, the appellate court in Rochester held that a gay couple’s 2004 marriage in Canada must be respected under the state’s longstanding 'marriage recognition rule,' and that an employer’s denial of health benefits had discriminated against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation. 'The Legislature may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad,' a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in rejecting a 2006 lower court decision. 'Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York.'"

The ruling makes it mandatory statewide for employers to recognize out-of-state legal same-sex unions.

FloridaIn FLORIDA, the group pushing for a ballot initiative on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state managed to turn in the required amount of signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Last month, news broke that the group had fallen just short of the required signatures, but in a last-minute push the group got more than 92,000 signatures over the past two weeks.

This means, come November, that Florida voters will be able to decide whether or not to amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Judge upholds gay rights law [ap]
State Court Recognizes Gay Marriages From Elsewhere [tr]
Florida to vote on gay marriage ban amendment [orlando sentinel]

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Comments

  1. I'm glad that NY made this decision. Maybe it will get Massachusetts to throw out that dated law keeping out of state gay couples from marrying here. Good job New York!! Now let's enlighten the Homophobes in Florida. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: www.OUTTAKEonline.com

    Posted by: Charlotte | Feb 4, 2008 9:36:37 AM


  2. I'm glad that NY made this decision. Maybe it will get Massachusetts to throw out that dated law keeping out of state gay couples from marrying here. Good job New York!! Now let's enlighten the Homophobes in Florida. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: www.OUTTAKEonline.com

    Posted by: Charlotte | Feb 4, 2008 9:37:30 AM


  3. Odd behavior coming from a state that was so quick to elect a closet-case as Governor. I guess the message to Floridians is "we love you guys, just make sure you keep it hidden, ok? Good, thanks!"

    Posted by: Lewis Masters | Feb 4, 2008 9:57:21 AM


  4. We have a lot of work to do over the next ten months here in the Sunshine State. Once again we will be trying to push back the Anita Bryant styled, pitchfork and torch wielding bigots who can't get enough of targeting, attacking and scapegoating our families.

    The only bright spots in this latest shameful and divisive assault are that we have some very broad and powerful coalitions formed to fight back. Between the Fairness for ALL Families Campaign (of which I am a part) and the Florda Red and Blue Campaign (a very large, well funded and bipartisan group) we will be well organized in our effort to educate and motivate the people of Florida to stand up for fairness and justice. Additionally, Florida now requires a super-majority of 60% of the ballots cast in order to amend the State Constitution.

    It's a damned shame that law abiding, civic minded, community supporting, gay and unmarried straight people/partners/parents, who want nothing more than to be treated fairly and equally, have to take time away from their busy lives, their jobs and their families just to fight against the ignorance-based fear, bigotry and tyranny of the majority.

    Turn, turn, turn.

    When will we ever learn, when will we EVER learn?

    Posted by: ZEKE | Feb 4, 2008 10:45:56 AM


  5. "This means that Oregon's broad domestic partner law, which gives same-sex couples who register as domestic partners a huge number of benefits available to married couples including joint filing of income taxes, inheritance and medical rights, and other state benefits."

    Is there something wrong with this sentence?? It trails off i.e. "This means...what?"

    Posted by: Scott A | Feb 4, 2008 12:09:30 PM


  6. With the inclusion of Oregon, we now have a solid wall from the Mexican to Canadian border on the West Coast.

    At the very least, it means same-sex couples can travel throughout that region without fear of being shut out of the emergency room in a crisis or suddenly find themselves without health insurance because they crossed the state line.

    If the Democrats seize control of Nevada in 2010 (certainly possible given their huge 2-1 majority in the House, the GOP's tenuous one seat hold on the State Senate, and Gov. Gibbons' dismal approval rating), expect to see movement there. It was the Democrats taking over the Oregon Legislature in 2006 that made this law possible.

    Tennessee and Florida are losing propositions at the moment. But gay rights is a war of attrition. We're going to lose some battles. However, if we "stay the course", we're going to take back America from the religious right -- one state at a time.

    Posted by: John | Feb 4, 2008 12:58:00 PM


  7. I live in Miami Beach and unfortunately cannot move away now. Florida is one of the most represive, backward and ultraconservative states. Do not get fooled that "Miami-Dade and Broward County is a gay haven". It is not, it is represive, oppinionated and antigay to the core. Yes, you can live here as long as you do not act gay. Same as in other antigay counties in the USA. The Winter Party and the White Party are TOLERATED because they bring dollars to the cities. I state TOLERATED and that is it. No selfconscious gay should come to South Florida. If you do and walk around holding hands or embracing your lover expect to be insulted or attacked. The atmosphere of tolerance of the 80's and early 90's is gone and gone for good. Please stay away for your health and own good.

    Posted by: Oscar | Feb 4, 2008 12:59:09 PM


  8. Oscar,

    I lived in Central Florida for a couple months. Believe me, I know exactly what you mean. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.

    Tourists have an extremely rosy (and false) picture of Florida because of the Miami Beach and Mickey Mouse PR machine. But outside of those little resort areas, it's as 'Deep South' as any of the neighbors.

    I'm out West nowadays, and I gotta say, even Nevada (which is not considered 'gay friendly' in this part of the country) would kick Florida's behind when it comes to embracing gay rights. The Nevada sodomy law was repealed in 1993, and gay workers have had labor protections since 1999. This is just a much more laid back part of the country, in general.

    Posted by: John | Feb 4, 2008 1:55:51 PM


  9. Nice that my home state (Oregon) has made a step forward for civil rights, but I won't be moving there till Portland has jobs that offer a living wage.

    Posted by: Wheezy | Feb 9, 2008 4:09:09 PM


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