Court Upholds Recognition of Gay Marriages in Narrow Ruling

November 19, 2009

by Danny Hakim | New York Times

New York State’s highest court rejected unanimously a challenge on Thursday by opponents of same-sex marriage to policies that recognize such unions performed in other states, though the decision gave gay advocates a small victory because it was narrowly written and applied to a relatively small number of people.

In their majority ruling, four of the seven members of the court said they were making their decision on narrow grounds involving the specifics of each case, and not settling the broader question of whether same-sex marriages performed in other states should be recognized. Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr., writing for the majority, expressed “hope that the Legislature will address this controversy.”

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Seven Tips For Dissolving Gay Unions

November 18, 2009

by Tara Siegel Bernard | New York Times

In a previous post, we talked about the problems that same-sex couples may face if they decide to untie their various legal knots — whether they’re married, part of a civil union or in a registered domestic partnership.

When a heterosexual married couple splits, they have access to divorce court and are entitled to the tax-free division of their property. With gay couples, that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on where they live, they may not have access to divorce court. Even if they do, they may face higher costs because their unions aren’t recognized by the federal government.

So we asked several experts on same-sex issues what gay couples need to think about before legally partnering, and what they’ll probably need to consider should they decide to split.

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Changing Your Name After Marriage When You’re Gay

November 17, 2009

by Jennifer Saranow Schultz | New York Times

While changing a name after marriage can often be a struggle for heterosexual women and men, it’s a lot harder if you’re gay.

Couples who live in states that don’t allow or recognize same-sex marriage or its equivalents (civil unions, for instance) generally can’t just rely on a marriage certificate as proof of a name change and instead have to go through the in-court name change process. This means they will have to pay a $100 to $400 fee to file a petition at court, publish a notice in a local newspaper and get a court order officially changing their name and that they can use to change everything else (just one more area where being gay can cost you more).

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Anything He Can Do, She Can Do

November 17, 2009

by Michael Winerip | New York Times

Photo of Sara Davis Buechner by Yana Paskova

In September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.

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What’s Good for the Kids

November 9, 2009

by Lisa Belkin | New York Times

NYT 11-5-09

It has been apparent for a while now that we live in child-centric times. We approach parenting with a single-mindedness that baffles our own parents, and certainly their parents, who thought children should be seen and not heard. We think it’s just fine to put our kids ahead of our careers, our relationships, our social lives, and even if we aren’t doing so, everyone around us seems to be.

We demand that public policy — on health care, or education, or stimulus money — consider the needs of children as surely as it does the needs of doctors, teachers and businesses. (I am not saying that public policy makers always respond, mind you, but “what about the children?” is certainly a rallying cry.) We devour research on how to build our children’s self-esteem, to keep them from being bullied and to expand their intellects.

It is striking, then, how comparatively rarely children are mentioned as an argument in favor of gay marriage. The issue is framed as a debate over equality and justice, of personal freedom and the relation of church and state, not about what is good for kids.

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Gay Marriage Lawsuit

October 29, 2009

Letter to the Editor | New York Times
by Evan Wolfson, Executive Director, Freedom to Marry

Re “In Battle Over Gay Marriage, Timing May Be Key,” by Adam Liptak (Sidebar column, Oct. 27):

The pivotal exchange in one of the lawsuits now challenging the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage shows that the opponents of gay people’s freedom to marry still can’t give a real answer to the key question posed in yet another court by yet another judge: “What would be the harm of permitting gay men and lesbians to marry?”

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Gay Advocates Encouraged by Hate Crimes Bill

October 28, 2009

by Bao Ong | New York Times

As gay and immigrant rights advocates congregated in Jackson Heights, Queens, last week to educate citizens about their rights, Karina Claudio-Betancourt, a community organizer, peered at her BlackBerry and announced that the Senate had passed a measure to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability in the definition of hate crimes under federal law.

The news of the bill’s passage — President Obama plans to sign it on Wednesday — could not have come at a better time, the advocates said.

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Focus of Gay-Marriage Fight Is Maine

October 28, 2009

by Abby Goodnough | New York Times

Less than a week before Maine voters decide whether to repeal the state’s new same-sex marriage law, donations and volunteers are pouring in to sway what both sides call a nationally significant fight.

Supporters of the marriage law, which the Legislature approved in May, have far more money and ground troops than opponents, who have been led by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet most polls show the two sides neck and neck, suggesting that gay couples here, as in California last year, could lose the right to marry just six months after they gained it.

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Justices Uphold Ban on Releasing Names on a Petition

October 21, 2009

by William Yardley | New York Times

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an order preventing Washington State from releasing the names of more than 120,000 people who signed petitions seeking a voter referendum on whether to give same-sex couples most of the same rights as married couples.

The 8-to-1 decision, with Justice John Paul Stevens dissenting, upheld a recent ruling in Federal District Court in Washington that was overturned last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Top State Court Hears Cases on Gay Marriage

October 14, 2009

by Nicholas Confessore | New York Times

Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for New York Times

Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for New York Times

New York’s highest court heard arguments in two cases on Tuesday that could have profound effects on the battle over same-sex marriage.

The cases, which the court, the New York State Court of Appeals, is considering jointly, concern relatively narrow executive and administrative orders in recent years that extended benefits like health insurance to same-sex spouses of government employees who married in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal, and, in one county, required local officials to treat same-sex couples as married.

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