Same Sex Marriage Update – The Week in Review

I don’t want to write about a whole week of legal fighting on this topic, because bigotry bores me today.

Instead, I suggest we celebrate Uruguay, which just became the third country in the Americas and the twetfth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

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But, in reality, I have to report how crappy some people are. Roger Gorley, a gay man living in Missouri, was not only denied permission to stay at the bedside of his hospitalized partner in on Tuesday, he was arrested when he refused, at the request of a family member of his hospitalized partner, to leave. The hospital said that it had to control disruptive situations that might adversely impact patient care. It sounds as though the disruption occurred because of a bigoted family member rather than a person who was spouse in all but the legal sense. Gorley has power of attorney for his partner and written authority to make health care decisions for him. Two years ago, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring hospitals to treat same-sex partners as spouses for purposes of medical care. Steven wrote in detail about this yesterday.

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What’s with florists these days? Gay and atheist money must not spend as well as straight, Christian money or something. In a discriminatory move that many flower shops in Cranston, RI can relate to, Arlene’s Flowers in Washington state refused to sell or arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding, telling its longtime customer that it was “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” The Washington attorney general has filed a consumer protection action against the florist.

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The Church of England won’t publicly bless the marriage of same-sex couples, but the Church in Wales may want to take a more enlightened approach. It has called for a new report to “map the way ahead.” Despite the Church of England’s report issued just this week, the Archbishop of Wales questioned whether “We, as a church, need to have a discussion as to whether we want to continue having this special status in law as far as marriage is concerned.”

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The French same-sex marriage law is a step closer to reality. It passed one chamber of the legislature back in February, and now the other chamber has passed the first part of it. The bill has been laden with numerous amendments in order to make it less palatable, so passage is not assured. It is, however, hopeful.

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Treating same-sex marriages differently from opposite sex marriages has all sorts of repercussions. Dan Winslow is a Republican candidate in the special election to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s recently vacated Senate seat. He has asked the Federal Election Commission whether gay couples can donate to his campaign with a single check, as heterosexual married couples are allowed to do. Treating some marriages differently than others has effects that reach further than the hospital room. Massachusetts, where the election is taking place, has legalized same-sex marriage. If the FEC decides that its definition of “spouse” is determined by the Defense of Marriage Act, married gay couples would not be able to donate to a campaign through a single check. That could limit donations and potentially affect the disclosure of contributors. The freedom of speech – and campaign contributions are speech, according to the Supreme Court in its infamous Citizens United decision – of these couples is affected by the law.

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Got a legal question? Email me at anne@aramink.com. I’m a lawyer, but there’s only a 2% chance I’m licensed in your state. Whether I answer your question or not, sending me an email or reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I’m on Twitter as @aramink, and you can see my regular blog at www.aramink.com, where I write book reviews, ruminate on Life, the Universe, and Everything, and occasionally – frequently – rant about Stuff.

About Anne

Civil rights activist Anne Orsi is one of the spokespeople for the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and is the primary organizer of Reason in the Rock, a conference on science, secularism and skepticism. Got a question? Email her at anne@aramink.com. She's a lawyer but may not be licensed in your state. Sending her an email or reading her blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship. Find Anne on Twitter as @aramink, and read her regular blog at www.aramink.com.


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