Prop 8’s finished — or at least, oral arguments in the appeals court are all done. Now a ruling on California’s marriage ban could come at any minute. A couple in Hawaii sues for marriage; Scotland may reform its marriage laws; Australian legislators are moving towards equality but the battle’s still far from over.
This week’s Marriage News Watch is here:
Following is the text version of Matt Baume’s report:
How exciting was that Prop 8 hearing last week? It was about as exciting as hearings can be, which is to say, kind of. The real excitement, though, is that with these arguments out of the way, we get a ruling on California’s marriage ban any day now.
If you missed AFER’s thrilling live-tweets from the courthouse, don’t worry: we’ve collected some of the moments from the trial. Here’s just a few of our favorites: The first is Charles Cooper, lead counsel for the Prop 8 Proponents, admitting that marriage equality wouldn’t hurt any heterosexual couples. And the second is Ted Olson making it clear that the Prop 8 Proponents’ claims about intimidation and harassment are pure speculation, not based on any actual evidence.
“But I do not believe and we have never maintained and we have disavowed the notion that any individual marriage is going to be negatively affected.”
“There is no affidavit or any specific evidence of any harm to any witness. There is no affidavit from any witness that said the witness was intimidated or feared or his safety. … And the facts that the proponents put forward are not in the form of evidence. The are the ultimate definition of conjecture. Witnesses might be concerned about their safety. There is no actual factual evidence of any of that.”
It’s been more than a year since the Federal District Court found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, and since then the Proponents have been keeping the courts busy with all kinds of stall tactics — from objecting to videotapes to trying to get the judge’s ruling thrown out after he disclosed that he was gay. Now that that’s all done, we’ll be getting a ruling soon. And then we’ll be even closer to full federal marriage equality.
In other news, a lesbian couple in Hawaii has filed suit against the state, saying that the impending civil unions law is insufficient. Like the case against Prop 8, this case argues that marriage discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. The couple’s first court date is in March of 2012.
Continuing west, the Australian Labor party has added marriage equality to the official party platform. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard may undermine their work by allowing what’s called a conscience vote. In that situation, legislators are not bound to vote along party platform, so Labor politicians could still vote against marriage. That’s in spite of a recent survey showing that the party would gain five percentage points in elections by supporting equality.
But if a marriage equality bill did come up, other parties could opt for a conscience vote as well, which would likely result in additional votes for our side. It’s become a complicated chess game of politics, and the result is that the future is murky for thousands of Australian LGBTs who are waiting to wed.