Thursday, May 29, 2008

Equality Day on Both Coasts

California is staggering ahead toward June 17th same-sex marriages and New York will recognize SSMs solemnized elsewhere (other states and nations where these are legal).

Party A

In California, the state notified the 58 county clerks by email to prepare to issue licenses same-sex couples as well as different-sex ones on June 17th. That is the final day the state Supreme Court has to stay its order to begin. They are extremely unlikely to do that. The plea is that there is likely to be a amendment on the ballot to forbid SSMs.

In dolorous news from Sacramento to those who would hinder homosexuals, the new license forms will use Party A and Party B instead of Groom and Bride. While such wording accurately reflects the civil-contract nature of marriage in America, it does distress the theocratic sorts and anti-gay types. Expect winger radio and TV talking heads to rend their garments in anguish, as they did over Massachusetts doing the same.

It's a change but not a revolution. For one, Riverside county assessor, clerk and recorder Larry W. Ward is looking at his larger picture. according to the New York Times. "In addition to changing forms, Mr. Ward said, 'we are looking at our civil ceremonies to make them more generic.'"

Additional scrambling
will likely involve extra hours and staff to take care of an expected rush.

Comity Connection

Over in New York, the state is suddenly serious about outside SSM recognition. Two weeks ago, relatively new Gov. David Paterson leapfrogged Massachusetts, which still lags in cleaning up laws and regulations. He has ordered the state agencies to do what is necessary to recognize and accommodate legal SSMs conducted out state and out of the country.

His legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed told them that such couples "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union." The New York Times reports, "The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses."

Three days after his order, Paterson addressed GLBT leaders in a videotape. He showed surprising directness by calling it "a strong step toward marriage equality." He seems to expect full SSM in New York, as well as not shying from politically loaded terms.

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