Friday, July 07, 2006

NY Times: "For Gay Rights Movement, a Key Setback"

Thursday's court ruling against gay marriage in New York
came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups.

When Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in November 2003, gay rights advocates imagined a chain reaction that would shake marriage laws until same-sex couples across the nation had the legal right to wed.

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Graphic: State Laws on Same-Sex Marriage
Ruling | Excerpts
Right to Gay Marriage Rejected (July 7, 2006)
Spitzer Signals Gay Marriage Support (July 7, 2006)
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James Estrin/The New York Times
A lawyer, Susan L. Sommer, greeted Jo-Ann Shain, facing camera, and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy, at St. Bartholomew's Church Thursday.
Nowhere did gay marriage seem like a natural fit more than New York, where the Stonewall uprising of 1969 provided inspiration for the gay rights movement and where a history of spirited progressivism had led some gay couples to envision their own weddings someday.

Yesterday's court ruling against gay marriage was more than a legal rebuke, then — it came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups. Leaders said they were stunned by both the rejection and the decision's language, which they saw as expressing more concern for the children of heterosexual couples than for the children of gay couples. They also took exception to the ruling's description of homosexuality as a preference rather than an orientation.

"I never would have dreamed that New York's highest court would be so callous and insulting to gay people — not in New York — to have a legal decision that treats us as if we are alien beings," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The New York ruling came the same day that the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated a ban on gay marriage.

The New York decision thrusts several challenges before gay activists: Do they continue waging legal battles when more courts seem skeptical about forcing gay marriage on the public? Should the cause turn toward more modest goals like supporting civil unions and domestic-partner benefits, like the law that Connecticut passed last year?

For now, at least, so-called marriage equality is the fight that both sides want to wage, and opponents are predicting that New York will be remembered as the beginning of the end of gay marriage.

"When people look back and write the history of this issue, they will view the New York decision as the Gettysburg in this big contest," said Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation.

The rest here.

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