The old stay-at-home wife and bread-winner husband model of society went out the window with black and white TV. So how does any marriage gay or straight define household roles and rules? What do you do in your family?
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained exactly why marriage was long understood to be incompatible with homosexuality in just five sentences:
[Same-sex couples] wouldn’t be asking for this relief if the law of marriage was what it was a millennium ago. I mean, it wasn’t possible. Same-sex unions would not have opted into the pattern of marriage, which was a relationship, a dominant and a subordinate relationship. Yes, it was marriage between a man and a woman, but the man decided where the couple would be domiciled; it was her obligation to follow him.
There was a change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian when it wasn’t egalitarian. And same-sex unions wouldn’t — wouldn’t fit into what marriage was once.
Justice Ginsburg’s point was that, until surprisingly recently, the legal institution of marriage was defined in terms of gender roles. According to Sir William Blackstone, an eighteenth century English jurist whose works are still frequently cited today to explain the common law principles we inherited from our former colonial rulers, “[t]he very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything.” As late as 1887, fully one third of the states did not permit women to control their earnings. And married women could not even withhold consent to sex with their husband until shockingly recently.
Under the common law, “by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given herself up in this kind unto her husband,” and this consent was something “she cannot retract.” The first successful prosecution in the United States of a husband who raped his wife did not occur until the late 1970s.
So American marriage law, and the English law that it was derived from, presumed that the wife was both financially and sexual subservient to the husband. In a world where marriage is defined as a union between a dominant man and a submissive woman, each fulfilling unique gender roles, the case for marriage discrimination is clear. How can both the dominant male role and the submissive female role be carried out in a marital union if the union does not include one man and one woman? This, according to Justice Ginsburg, is why marriage was understood to exclude same-sex couples for so many centuries.
But marriage is no longer bound to antiquated gender roles. And when those gender roles are removed, the case for marriage discrimination breaks down.
On Tuesday, Arkansas lawmakers approved legislation similar to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Reform Act. What’s the big difference between Arkansas’s would-be new law and Indiana’s, you may ask? While you really are safe from discrimination if you happen to be in one of the four cities or two counties in Indiana that consider LGBT people a protected class, you aren’t safe anywhere in Arkansas! Last month Governor Hutchinson allowed legislation to become law that prohibited any local anti-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT individuals. The Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, retail giant Walmart, and democrats who have been paying remote attention to America’s reaction to Indiana’s law have all voiced concern about the bill. I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t think anyone takes trips to Arkansas, because Hutchinson has said that he will sign the bill.
Breaking news: Just kidding! Governor Hutchinson has announced that he would like the Arkansas legislature to recall the bill, and that he will not sign it in its current form
New poll comes two months after nuptials began statewide
March 26, 2015
Jim Harper, Media/Communications, 727-388-3636, firstname.lastname@example.org
A new poll shows that a vast majority of Floridians are content that same-sex couples can now marry in their state.
“Gay marriage becoming legal in Florida doesn’t seem to be doing anyone much harm,” says Public Policy Polling, a widely respected research firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Eighty-one percent of voters in the state say it’s either had a positive impact on their lives or no impact at all, with just 20% claiming that it’s affected them negatively.”
Even among Republican voters, whose party has long argued against marriage equality, more than seven in 10 said marriage equality had affected them positively or not at all.
“Florida has embraced the freedom to marry. The hollow rhetoric of prejudice continues to fall away as people across the state celebrate the weddings of their friends and family,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, one of several groups that helped overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. “Thousands of couples have already taken advantage of this new freedom in Florida, and our communities are better and stronger because of it.”
The poll of registered voters was conducted between March 19 and 22, a little more than two months after a federal appeals court decided not to intervene in lower court rulings that had invalidated Florida’s ban.
I mention this because Pam Bondi’s response to a lawsuit challenging Florida’s anti-equality laws doesn’t really raise any new arguments or give us anything we haven’t heard over and over (and over and over and over) again. She just wants the case thrown out.
She feels that if two men or two women marry each other in another state and Florida is forced to recognize those marriages it will “impose significant public harm” She raises the tired “Won’t someone please think of the children?” argument claiming that society “has a legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units” Bondi is on her third marriage currently, so she knows all about those. She also claims that Florida will suffer financially if it is forced to pay all these pensions and benefits people have been working for.
It looks like Maine’s ethics panel didn’t buy the fact that Brian Brown just happened to be the executive director for NOM in 2009 and on the committee that led the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC and that NOM just happened to provide almost two thirds of the funding for the political action committee. NOM was fined $50,250 as a result of failing to properly register as a ballot question committee. NOM thought they were getting around a law requiring them to register and disclose the names of their donors because they didn’t let donors tell them that they wanted to use the funds to influence voting on a ballot question. Investigators for the ethics panel found that NOM “intentionally set up its fundraising strategy to avoid disclosure laws” NOM plans to appeal the fine, probably because they feel like they haven’t lost enough this month. Litigation could go on for another year.
At 8:30 Wednesday morning, Montgomery County in Pennsylvania began issuing marriage licenses again. They were the first county to allow same-sex couples to marry, but a court order prevented them from doing so even after Governor Tom Corbett declined to appeal a ruling overturning Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage until today. All of the marriage licenses the county had issued before are still valid.
The same lawyer that brought us the legal challenge to South Dakota’s laws banning marriage equality has announced that there are plans to file a lawsuit challenging North Dakota’s laws. Attorney Joshua Newville has said that a case will be brought to overturn the bans within six to eight weeks.
Who would have thought a GOP politician could COMPLETELY make my day without saying something so ludicrous that I would be curled up in the fetal position holding my sides and laughing for ten minutes? (I’m looking at you, Mike Huckabee) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has announced that he will not be appealing a ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf striking down Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban. Had he appealed, I would have been forced to do actual work like finding out whether these marriage licenses they’ve been handing out will be good in three days when the couples can actually get married. Also, all these couples can get married in three days instead of wondering if they should put those deposits down yet.
They’re both rectangularish states in the northern part of the country. They both have Dakota in their name. And now, thanks to four plaintiff couples that are either unmarried or married in other locations and the Montana ACLU, they’re the only two states with gay marriage bans that aren’t being challenged by a lawsuit. The federal suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, Montana today. We would like to extend a special thanks to one of the couples, Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl of Bozeman, Montana, for completely destroying our research intern’s productivity, as he’s been drooling over that picture of them looking scrumptious in the woods for the last 45 minutes.