Alex Blaze

Friday Update

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 06, 2007 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Weekly Reader
Tags: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alaska, California, Chinese gays and lesbians, Deval Patrick, HIV/AIDS, julia child, Los Angeles, marriage, Mary Cheney, Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire, New Jersey, partner benefits, referendums

Here are some headlines that we didn't cover this week:

  • Mary Cheney's having a boy. (The Washington Post)

  • Just a pinch of prejudice... An upcoming biography shows Julia Child's changing attitudes towards gays and lesbians. (Boston Magazine)

  • Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick decided to recognize 26 out-of-state same-sex marriages that Mitt Romney refused to. (Boston Herald)

  • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles has sued the state to force it to implement a law passed four years ago to provide medical treatment to the poor and uninsured with HIV. (LA Times)

  • Alaska's non-binding referendum to end benefits to same-sex partners of state employees passed. Why do they need such a law there when they already have a constitutional amendment to ban marriage? I don't know, but Alaska! (Anchorage Daily-News)

  • A bill for civil unions passed the New Hampshire house. (Union-Leader)

  • China will have its first gay TV show, broadcast on the web, called Connecting Homosexuals. I was once an extra in a Chinese made-for-TV movie, but they haven't asked me on this show. Yet. (365gay)


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Why do they need such a law there when they already have a constitutional amendment to ban marriage? I don't know, but Alaska!

An interesting note about the Alaskan affair. I followed it last year. The Alaskan Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional amendment defining marriage (basically SJR-7's first sentence) did not disallow any governmental unit from handing out benefits to whoever it wanted to (including gays). This got the governor and leading fundies all in a feather and they tried to propose an amendment much like SJR-7's second sentence. But I guess nothing came of it.

Now isn't that just special?? Shows you the manipulations that crowd will go through about these amendments.

I'm just going to post this here about Alaska and you can take from there as it concerns the interpretation of the second sentence of SJR-7 (though we all know the truth about that).

They claim aren't out to deny benefits... or are they? The Alaskan campaign and vote proves their intentions for the rest of America.

Focus on the Family through one of its associated family planning councils, the Alaska Family Council has been specifically lobbying for a constitutional amendment to deny benefits to domestic partners, including gay domestic partners. This is over and above the 1998 vote which instituted a constitutional amendment which simply defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Alaska.

The recent vote was for an advisory, a non-binding directive that the legislature so put a constitutional amendment on the November 2008 ballot banning the benefits. The recent vote on the advisory was 56,372 or 53.36% Yes (for such an amendment) and 49,274 or 46.64% No (in 1998 68+% voted for the amendment). So it appears that there are not 2/3rds of Alaskans in favor of such a proposal; although this was the only statewide vote on any question or elective office (about 23 percent of registered voters turned out - Anchorage Daily News - adn.com). Two-thirds of the House members and the Senate members would have to approve the measure for it to go before Alaskan voters.

The resolution for the new Alaskan amendment reads:

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 9

Proposing an amendment to the section of the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to marriage.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:

* Section 1. Article I, sec. 25, Constitution of the State of Alaska, is amended to read:

Section 25. Marriage and related limitations. To be valid or recognized in this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman. No other union is similarly situated to a marriage between a man and a woman and, therefore, a marriage between a man and a woman is the only union that shall be valid or recognized in this State and to which the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage shall be extended or assigned.

* Sec. 2. The amendment proposed by this resolution shall be placed before the voters of the state at the next general election in conformity with art. XIII, sec. 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the election laws of the state.

That text in Sec 1 in bold is in addition to the 1998 amendment, which is that text in Sec 1 not in bold.

The Anchorage Daily News - adn.com has this to say about the chances of HJR-9:

There's not even a proposed amendment moving through the Senate this year. Last year, a like measure cleared two Senate committees but none in the House. This year, it's House Joint Resolution 9, which has passed one House panel.

"Nothing is going to happen in the Senate. I don't think they have the votes to get it out of the House," said state Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would hear the measure.

Thus perhaps also showing that as they have elsewhere the republican party is using such legislation as a campaign tool. ADN.com further reports that the primary backer of the measure, St. Rep. John Coghill says his measure would, as written, bar even private employers from providing benefits to partners of gay and lesbian employees. But he said there's room to negotiate that.

Sound familiar? While a vote defining marriage as one man, one woman, does not limit rights as currently constituted; the new Alaskan amendment (HJR-9) would specifically deny rights which the Alaskan Supreme Court has determined exist under the Alaskan Constitution. All in the name of "the sanctity of marriage."