poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Monday, June 07, 2004

Last-ditch Mass. marriage suit expected to failAnn Rostow, PlanetOut Network

In the days leading up to May 17, opponents of same-sex marriage filed a number of last-minute court motions in a final effort to evade the first legal gay marriages in Massachusetts. One such motion was a federal lawsuit, filed against the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, all seven justices of that court, as well as the state Department of Public Health, the state health commissioner and the city clerks throughout the state.

The suit attempted to make the offbeat claim that the court's pro-marriage ruling, along with the state government's acquiescence to legalizing same-sex marriage, effectively usurped the Massachusetts government in a manner that violated the federal Constitution. The claim was based on a little-used constitutional provision that pledges that the U.S. government will protect states from "invasion," and defend them "against domestic violence." The official plaintiff, an anti-gay activist named Robert Largess with dubious standing to sue, asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the state clerks while the underlying legal issues were addressed.

The federal suit was filed after marriage opponents exhausted their efforts on a state court basis. Not surprisingly, the suit was quickly dismissed by Judge Joseph Tauro, at which point the petitioners appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Like the lower court, the First Circuit declined to issue a restraining order against the clerks, but agreed to hear arguments on June 7. Mr. Largess and company then asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency restraining order. On Friday, May 14, the full court declined.

Nearly a month since the onset of same-sex marriages, Monday's promised hearing before the First Circuit is something of a nonevent. Legal analysts found the original lawsuit a stretch, and its main purpose -- to wangle a delay in the start of same-sex marriages -- has already become a lost cause. Since no individual plaintiff has even made a successful constitutional claim based on Article IV, section 4 of the Constitution (known as "the Republican guarantee clause") it's not likely that Mr. Largess will be the first.


Recall Effort Fails in Gay Marriage Issue
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - A recall petition drive has failed against two county commissioners who approved gay marriage licenses in March.

Chairwoman Diane Linn and fellow commissioner Lisa Naito both said they were relieved the petition drive led by the Christian Coalition missed the Monday deadline to submit the 37,000 signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot.

"It would have been costly and time-consuming," Linn said of a recall vote, estimating it would have cost taxpayers at least $300,000.

John Belgarde, executive director of the Christian Coalition, said about 35,000 signatures were gathered.


Germany to allow same-sex marriages
Ben Aris in Berlin
The Guardian

Germany's justice minister has vowed to introduce legislation to permit same-sex marriages before the end of the summer, overriding the objections of the country's powerful conservative lobby.

Brigitte Zypries said the government would bypass the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament where conservatives hold the majority, to grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Ms Zypries, a member of the ruling Social Democratic party, said: "Gay and lesbian couples are a social reality in Germany. Therefore we will grant them, as far as is compatible with constitutional rights of marriage and family, the same rights as [heterosexual] couples."

Gay couples have been able to register their relationships since 2001, but the new laws will grant them almost all of the same rights as married heterosexuals. In addition to tax benefits, gay and lesbian couples will inherit pensions and property from their partners if they die. They will also be entitled to alimony and property if they get divorced and be barred from testifying against their partners in trials.


Quebec Declares War! Homophobia is the Target
by Ric Kasini Kadour

     In a move that in the U.S. would be considered a great leap in understanding and support for lgbtqs, representatives of Fondation Émergence, which receives funding from several levels of the Canadian government from local to federal, proclaimed June 2nd to be the second annual National Day Against Homophobia.

     The theme of this year's campaign is Declaration of War on Homophobia. Posters show either a man or a woman dressed in camouflage making a fist and holding a rose.

     "This day is a privileged movement for students to talk about the facts of homosexuality, for employers to establish programs at work, for the media to present stories and reports on homophobia, for public officials to proclaim the first Wednesday in June a Day Against Homophobia, for individuals and organizations to take the initiative, for a symbolic gesture," the group explains.

      During a press conference at Sky Bar in Montreal's gay village, the group outlined a media and poster campaign, along with a day of events to include a round table of community activists, journalists, and academics, a dinner in honor of Senator Laurier La Pierre and a 'Solidarity Cocktail Party' later in the evening.


Inside the gay museum
London's mayoral candidates agree on one thing: the need for an institution that chronicles our homosexual past. Its proposer, Peter Tatchell, explains what he'd put in it
The Guardian

Cardinal John Henry Newman is buried in the cemetery adjacent to the country house of the Oratory Fathers at Rednal Hill. Much to the horror of the Catholic establishment, which has tried to suppress all knowledge of Newman's homosexuality, he lies in the same grave as his lifelong male partner, Ambrose St John. Inseparable in death as in life, the two men have a joint memorial stone that is inscribed: "Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem" (From shadow and images into truth). Their epitaph sums up why a lesbian and gay museum is a timely idea: it would help bring the hidden history of queer Britain out of the shadows and into the light.

I first had the idea for a gay museum in 1972, when I was a 20-year-old activist in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). During those early struggles for queer human rights, it suddenly dawned on me that we were fighting a great liberation struggle handicapped by an almost total lack of knowledge of our own past. Our minds were colonised by a straight version of history, where we queers were invisible.

The battles of those who went before us, like the 19th-century gay rights pioneer Edward Carpenter, were unknown. Even the homosexual law reform campaigns of the 1960s, led by Allan Horsfall and Antony Grey, were (and still are) largely undocumented. Our existence was erased from the historical record. Apart from Oscar Wilde, the only queers who came to public attention were mass murderers, spies, child abusers and men entrapped by the police in public toilets.

Unlike other communities, we had no families, and no stories of tragedies and triumphs to pass from generation to generation. Queers were a people without any sense of a collective past. We were expunged from all official records - except the criminal ones, which documented grisly accounts of trials, imprisonment and executions for the "abominable crime of buggery".


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