New York Court Ruling “Pathetic” and Inhumane

Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive, like me, is incredulous over the New York Supreme Court ruling that says legal discrimination against GLBT Americans in the marriage arena is justified. For myself, I am still heartsick, seriously depressed and outraged. Rothschild, for his part, sounds equally incensed about the “pathetic” decision and the “backward and irrational” reasons the judges gave for approving the second-class-citizen status imposed on queer people and their families:

The main argument was that heterosexual marriage is better for the kids.

Here are the exact words: “Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like.”

Since when do state supreme court justices rely on intuition?

And the logic of the court’s decision is to accord lesser rights to divorced parents or those who have lost a spouse, since, as a consequence, their kid “will not have, before his or her eyes, every day” that living model of idealized masculinity and femininity. And what, pray tell, are these models?

There are crude gender stereotypes lurking between the lines of this decision.

What’s more, doctors who deal with kids all the time have rebutted the court’s central claim. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual,” the group stated in February 2002.

In fact, it is in the interests of the child, the pediatricians said, that same-sex couples be accorded legal equality. “Children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognized,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said. It supports “the right of every child and family to the financial, psychologic, and legal security that results from having legally recognized parents who are committed to each other and the welfare of their children.”

New York’s highest court has fundamentally misread what a child really needs. Not a set of Ken and Barbie doll mom and dad, but loving, caring parents who are a constant, trustworthy presence.

This is not a chromosomal issue.

To reduce it to that is to mistake genitals for parental skills.

But hey, for the anti-GLBT set, it’s all about the genitals, isn’t it? The “lifestyle” they accuse us of flaunting, in their minds, has nothing to do with family and love and commitment — naturally, they believe us incapable of such things. No, to them, being gay is all about sex: the acts committed by immoral, promiscuous men in strange places and “mannish” women who do unspeakable things with each other when they should, um, girl up, marry some nice guy and fake it in the bedroom. I mean, how dare lesbians and bi women want sex and relationships that actually would fulfill them and give them joy and give their life meaning?

Interesting: Last time I looked at my life, it was about working and paying bills and raising kids and doing chores. Same for most of the GLBT families I know. Do I know promiscuous gays? Sure, but I know many more promiscuous hets. Of course, sluttishness doesn’t keep hets from being permitted to wed under law. And as we all know, heterosexuals so respect the sanctity of marriage.

Just ask Britney of the 55-hour marriage. Or Christie Brinkley, who is ending her fourth marriage. Or devout Christian Jessica Simpson, who couldn’t wait to unhitch herself from her Nick. Or Tori Spelling, who let someone else tell her first husband that Spelling was leaving him for an actor who was leaving his wife and kids (including a newly adopted baby) for the noTORIous star. Or Kristy Swanson and Lloyd Eisler, who met on TV’s “Skating with Celebrities,” motivating him to skate away from his pregnant wife. Or hets who marry for green cards or money. Or those who marry as part of reality-television shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.”

And then there are those who marry and sleep around on the spouse or, worse, emotionally and/or physically abuse the person they vowed to cherish until death. Or the bigoted assholes in Massachusetts who want to repeal marriage equality in the state and tear asunder at least 8,000 legal marriages in one fell swoop (without concern for those couples and their children). That sure as hell is not “family values.” If marriage needs protection, it isn’t from queers, it’s from heterosexuals.

Given the unfathomably ridiculous argument presented by the New York court, the justices may as well have used discredited quackshrink Paul Cameron’s bogus statistics — after all, the Religious Wrong still uses those dubious figures in its quest to keep christofascist heterosupremacists on top, even though Cameron’s work has been slammed by nearly every major medical organization in the nation. The “kids need to see a male and a woman every day” is the same sort of bullshit Cameron still shovels from his current role as founder of the vile Family Research Institute. These dubious arguments and muddled logic are useless and — to we the second-class — dangerous. Imagine the peril when jurists spout such obviously hateful and unsupportable claptrap to protect bigotry and un-American values… I can’t breathe.

I know, I know. Change takes time, even when the change is long overdue and even if the process is unbearably agonizing and the lack of equality unacceptable. Strides have been made here and there, but the law remains intractable and the people screaming loudest about their so-called patriotism while shouting their un-American, unjust, inhumane filth and causing so much harm and suffering to American families — the millions of gay and lesbian couples who are raising children in a hideous country where they are maligned and marginalized by the very law… Well, obviously these “patriotic” fundies don’t know the first thing about what equality is. So my hope level is low right now — in negative numbers, if that’s possible. But when I consider that I may never be equal under law in my lifetime, it makes me want to die. Right now.

Unless my number is up, that isn’t going to happen, unfortunately. The only thing to do, I guess, is to continue the struggle (and work like hell to expatriate; I can’t love a land that treats me and people like me so unfairly).

The problem must be me: I simply cannot live with inequality, with the denial of dignity, with lesser legal status, with clevelry disguised hate, with a paucity of joy and real freedom. Too frickin’ bad for me and for all those who are queer and want to marry and want to ensure equal protection under law for themselves — and especially for their kids. Why can’t lawmakers and jurists understand the suffering they allow to continue? Why must we suffer? The New York ruling doesn’t explain that to my satisfaction. In fact, none of the justifications bigots offer for institutionalized discrimination does. None of it makes any sense, not any sense at all.

A recent Connecticut decision has me praying for the end of time too. In this case, a state Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that gay and lesbian couples have not been harmed by the state’s decision to legalize same-sex civil unions rather than grant full marriage rights to GLBT people.

Excuse me? Is this joker gay? If not, how in hell does she know what causes us harm?

From AP via the Stamford Advocate:

“Civil union and marriage in Connecticut now share the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law,” Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman in New Haven wrote. “The Connecticut Constitution requires that there be equal protection and due process of law, not that there be equivalent nomenclature for such protection and process.”

Um, judge lady: Ever heard of an old US Supreme Court ruling that said separate but equal is not equal? Guess we can expect Brown v. Board of Education to be thrown upon the trash heap of history too.

Connecticut became the second state in the nation, after Vermont, to allow civil unions. In 2005, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed, and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed into law, a bill legalizing civil unions but defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Eight couples sued the state, claiming civil unions are an inferior status and violate their constitutional rights to equal protection, due process and free expression and association. The plaintiffs sought a court injunction compelling the state to grant each couple a marriage license rather than a civil union license, which the judge denied.

Ben Klein, senior attorney for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the organization that represented the couples, said Jenkins Pittman is misguided in her belief there is no difference between civil unions and marriage.

“Not many married couples would trade in their marriage for a civil union,” Klein said. “The legislature set up civil unions to deny the benefits of marriage. Marriage is the most respected institution and (state legislators) did not want gay couples to get access to marriage.”

Plaintiffs Barbara Levine-Ritterman and her partner, Robin Levine-Ritterman, have been together 17 years. The New Haven couple have two children.

“Obviously, it’s not the decision we hoped for, but we know it’s one step in a long journey. I’m not surprised but I’m not pleased,” Barbara Levine-Ritterman said. “I’m proud that the legislature enacted civil unions, but it’s a halfway step.”

Jenkins Pittman, who noted how the legislature took “the courageous and historic step” of passing civil unions legislation, said lawmakers created an identical set of rights for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. She said the plaintiffs’ claims that civil unions are a form of separate-but-equal segregation that aren’t recognized in other jurisdictions don’t rise to the “level of legal harm” required to rule in their favor.

She also dismissed claims that the term “civil unions” is inherently offensive.

Again, how in hell does she know? Judge Jenkins Pittman may not be offended, but millions of us are. And harmed. The quality of our lives (and for some, the quantity of the time spent here) is diminshed as a direct result of the inequality. If the judge is to be believed, our suffering doesn’t matter; the suffering of our children is of no importance.

The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court; I pray it will be successful and that it will reinforce that real equality under law (which includes semantics, yes, it does) is supposed to be an American guarantee. I feel very little hope, though.

Tears are starting to flow really hard now, which means I had better stop this and wash my face. Time to start writing letters…

Keep the faith, Massachusetts.

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One thought on “New York Court Ruling “Pathetic” and Inhumane

  1. One of my best friends in life (he’s no longer with us) had a inconcievable struggle during the period his life partner became critical, and then passed. This was in 1991. When it was near Manuel’s end, Todd had to coerce and beg to be able to remain by his side. (Only close family was to be allowed to see him, and sadly, Manuel’s family were not supportive of his chosen lifestyle.) They had been together 10 years.

    If had they been married, there would be no question of Todd’s presence. Todd used to call me crying over the situation, it was heartbreaking.

    It is unfortunate that this issue is tied hand in hand with the neo-conservative fear that allowing marriage within the Gay and Lesbian sector threatens polygamy, and other alterations of their percieved notion of legal unions. Examples widely waved, the multiple partnerships existing in parts of Europe, adding to the fears and providing fuel to the fire they burn.

    The Bible Belt is a formidable section of the country, a fact inescapable. My daughter attends school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, visiting her always reminds me of the way it felt in Dallas in the ’70’s. A step back in time.

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