New York Mayor to stop same-sex marriage ceremonies and other states of unions in States of the Union

The whole article is worth reading, but the highlights are as follows:

First, Mayor West of New Paltz, NY makes clear the biggest difference between himself and Former Chief Justice Roy Moore. Namely, a respect for the rule of law.

The mayor of a college town said he would abide by a ruling that temporarily barred him from performing more same-sex marriages, but was considering his legal options.

[. . .]

“The mayor in substance ignores the oath of office that he took to uphold the law,” Bradley said.

West insisted he kept his oath to uphold the constitution.

“But in our system of constitutional government, judges have the last word,” West said in a prepared statement. “I intend to fully abide by the judge’s decision. And I am considering legal options.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country…

Those seeking to shut down San Francisco’s gay wedding spree, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, argue that an existing section of the California Constitution prohibits “administrative agencies” of the state from declaring laws unconstitutional on their own.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed briefs arguing that municipal authorities are “independently responsible” to uphold the U.S. Constitution. The justices have not indicated when they might rule in the case.

I’m curious to see how this case turns out not just in light of same-sex marriage but also with regard to the right of municipal authorities to violate laws on the basis that they view them as being unconstitutional. The same-sex marriage issue is, as I understand it, somewhat tricky because there isn’t any clear precedent on the federal level concerning same-sex marriages so the issue isn’t quite the same as a mayor banning abortion meaning that the situation as a whole is somewhat without precedent … But I’m also not a lawyer, so anyone who knows better feel free to leave a comment.

In Oregon, meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed Friday by the Defense of Marriage Coalition two days after officials in Multnomah County began sanctioning gay weddings. The group contends that county commissioners violated the state Public Meetings Law by agreeing privately among themselves to change county policy. The group also argues that Oregon law clearly defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We would rather have a debate through the democratic process, but we were not given that choice,” said Kelly Clark, an attorney for the coalition.

The coalition, organized by Republicans, appeared to get support from Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who said a debate on gay marriage was needed. In his “state of the state” address, he asked Oregonians to “step back and take a deep breath and give the process a chance to work.”

Kulongoski also noted he expects a legal opinion soon from Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers.

Disappointing news from Wisconsin and Kansas:

The proposal approved by the Wisconsin Assembly 68-27 would prohibit same-sex marriages and civil unions. It now goes to the state Senate. More approval from lawmakers and voters also would be required for it to become law.

In Kansas, the House voted 88-36 for an amendment to ban gay marriages. The amendment states that Kansas recognizes only marriages between one man and one woman and confers the legal rights associated with marriage only on such couples. It would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate and majority in the November election to become part of the constitution.

And (semi-)good news from Idaho.

The Idaho proposal, which would have banned gay marriages, failed on a 20-13 vote to come out of committee. Amendment opponents emphasized during the debate that the state had already passed a law in 1996 banning gay marriage.

Finally, a separate AP report puts things in perspective by noting that, even after legalizing same-sex marriages, life in the Netherlands goes on as usual.

Three years after Amsterdam’s mayor officiated at the Netherlands’ first gay wedding, the gay marriage rate is falling, the first divorces are being registered and the issue has disappeared from the political agenda.

While the United States is engaged in debate on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Canadians are discussing a federal law to legalize it and many European countries are adopting civil unions for gay couples.

But in the Netherlands, nobody talks about the issue anymore.

“It’s really become less of something that you need to explain,” says Anne-Marie Thus, who in 2001 married Helene Faasen. “We’re totally ordinary. We take our children to preschool every day. People know they don’t have to be afraid of us.”

[. . .]

The Dutch have watched the hoopla in the United States with some bemusement. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, who married six couples at the stroke of midnight on April 1, 2001, when the Dutch law took effect, sent a note of support to Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who set off a rush to California when he officiated same-sex ceremonies.

In contrast to Amsterdam’s boisterous gay clubs and the spring rite of the Gay Pride parade through its famed canals, Faasen and Thus, the Dutch lesbian couple, live a quiet middle-class life in a neat apartment on the city’s outskirts. They hardly seem like revolutionaries, or even trendsetters.

Faasen is a notary and Thus works part time in a home for the elderly. The couple have a 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan, and 2-year-old daughter, Myrthle. Faasen adopted the two, who are Thus’ biological children.

Their reasons for marrying were prosaic.

“With marriage, you have a whole range of legal issues settled right in one go,” Faasen says, scooping up Myrthle. “Child care, life insurance, health insurance, pension, inheritance. Otherwise you’re left taking care of those things bit by bit, where it’s possible.”

[. . .]

Thus, who was raised Catholic, said the fact of her marriage itself has helped win over religious people.

“Especially for religious people, marriage makes a statement that ‘this is someone I love and will grow old with’,” she said.

“When you’re just ‘partners’ or ‘living together’ they think … you know, every day a new lover.’ With marriage, the commitment is real, and they believe it.”

From the same article, a glimpse of America’s future after it has, inevitably I believe, allowed same-sex marriages:

Marten van Mourik, a law professor at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, says the declining rate of same-sex unions vindicated his opposition to the change in the law and shows it was unnecessary since civil unions were already legal.

“You don’t change an institution with such a long history from one day to the next just to satisfy the whim of one group of people,” he says. “Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman intended to produce children. You can’t get around that.”

But he concedes there is no political support for reversing the law, even though the government is now led by the Christian Democrats, which had opposed the legislation.

I find it amazing that Mr. van Mourik honestly believes that the falling same-sex marriage rates are a sign that legalizing same-sex marriage is entirely unnecessary. If the number continues to fall relative to the population over the course of the next five or six years, he might have a point, but unless that happens he’s failing to recognize a basic fact of life: when something has been prohibited for whatever reason, there’s always an uptick in its use shortly after it’s finally allowed. Think of how much water you drink when you’re thirsty or the opening weekend returns for a hot new movie or the spike in alcohol consumption following the end of prohibition.

The same-sex couples who were waiting to be married did so as soon as it was legal, and now that that store of couples has married itself out the rates are falling back to what I suspect will establish themselves as normal levels. A similar phenomenon will happen in America’s future; we’re not going to see 1,500 same-sex marriages in Multnomah County every week, but that doesn’t mean that same-sex couples don’t want to be married or won’t be getting married.

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3 Responses to New York Mayor to stop same-sex marriage ceremonies and other states of unions in States of the Union

  1. 1
    Simon says:

    “Those seeking to shut down San Francisco’s gay wedding spree argue that an existing section of the California Constitution prohibits “administrative agencies” of the state from declaring laws unconstitutional on their own.”

    The County of San Francisco is not an administrative agency. It is a unit of local government. The DMV, say, would be an administrative agency.

    “I find it amazing that Mr. van Mourik honestly believes that the falling same-sex marriage rates are a sign that legalizing same-sex marriage is entirely unnecessary.”

    I do also. Injustice is injustice, whether a lot of people are inconvenienced or a few. I presume that black-white intermarriage rates in the US are pretty low, but even if they’re very low and falling, that doesn’t mean that anti-miscegenation laws were right.

  2. 2
    Dylan says:

    For reference, about 2% of the marriages in the Netherlands are currently same-sex marriages, according to http://www.cbs.nl/en/figures/statline/index.htm while about 1% of US partnered households are same-sex unmarried couples, according to the 2000 census (http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-5.pdf)

  3. As a lawyer I find the california constitutional question an interesting one.
    Here’s a quote from JFK during the 1960 WVa primary.
    “.. so when any man stands on the steps of the capitol and takes the oath of office as president, he is swearing to uphold the separation of church and state….and if he breaks his oath, he is not only committing a crime against the constitution, for which Congress can impeach him -and should impeach him -but he is committing a sin against god.”
    the making of the president 1960, p. 108.
    I think this says something about the SFCA situation, although it could also be applied to clinton or ashcroft.
    A county might or might not be an administrative agency; it would take a california expert to sort that one out. The california constitution is right when it says agencies don’t decide constitutional questions. But it is dead on wrong, imo, when it says agencies should not refrain from unconstitutional behavior. That, to me, violates the supremacy clause, and therefor that part of the california constitution is void.
    The mayor has standing to raise that issue, even though his equal protection argument is, i’m pretty sure, based on the state constitution, not the federal one. So it’s my position that the mayor is not prohibited from finding the state statute banning gay mariage to be unconstitutional, and choosing to disregard it.
    This is an argument, not a prediction of how the court will rule. It is what I would say in an amicus brief if I did one, but I’m unlikely to – just lazy and shiftless I guess. And easily distracted by shiny objects.