Thursday, June 7, 2012

Same sex marriage: some history til now

The Washington Post gives some background to recent events.

"In 1970, in a case that made national news, Baker and McConnell applied for a marriage license in Minnesota.
"Baker and McConnell were denied when they applied to marry in Minnesota in 1970. They challenged that decision in court. They lost.

“The institution of marriage as a union [of] man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis,” wrote the Minnesota Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to step in.
"But after the AIDS epidemic, there was a shift: Instead of keeping the law away, gay couples wanted the law on their side. “This request for marriage is, in effect, sort of asking the government to regulate our relationships, or at least give gay people the opportunity to be regulated by the government,” Ball said.

"Then, in Hawaii, a lesbian named Ninia Baehr had an ear infection. She lacked health insurance and — as medical bills piled up — she called a local gay rights group to see if she could obtain insurance through her partner.

"They asked if she’d like to get married, instead. When the state of Hawaii refused her request for a marriage license, Baehr and others filed suit. Their case brought a landmark victory in 1993: State courts declared that Hawaii had no constitutional basis for denying marriage licenses to gay couples.

"Then the case led to one loss after another. Hawaii amended its constitution and defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. And, around the country, some religious and conservative groups began to mobilize against a threat they hadn’t taken seriously before.
"The result was the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton. It defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between one man and one woman. The Obama administration has now stopped defending that law in court.

"For those advocating same-sex marriage, the next big win came in Massachusetts in 2003, when the state Supreme Court legalized marriages between gay couples.

"Now, six states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to marry. Two states, Washington and Maryland, have gay marriage laws that have not taken effect. And five others give gay couples the rights of marriage without the name, allowing “civil unions” instead.

"But, in 39 states, gay marriage has been specifically prohibited through laws or constitutional amendments.

"Baker and McConnell, the men who made the promise in Oklahoma, still live in Minnesota, well past retirement age. They now avoid the media: When a Washington Post reporter called McConnell this week, he declined to comment.

"They have seen up-close that making same-sex marriage thinkable is not the same as making it real. Gay marriage is still illegal in Minnesota. And this November, voters will consider writing that ban into their state constitution."

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