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Friday, 9 July 2010

Legal celebrations! :)

Well, unexpected and well worth celebrating. After celebrating what the UK Supreme Court did for gay asylum seekers, we see another court in the US give a wonderful surprise by declaring DOMA unconstitutional. Not once, but twice..

Both judges came to their decision through summary judgment (which is legal speak for the judge picking up the case and saying “this is such utter bullshit I don’t even have to listen to you to make my decision!”)

This judgments AREN’T saying that all states have to allow same sex marriage (sadly).

But they are saying that the Federal government can’t refuse to accept couples that have been married under state law. So, for example, if a gay couple has been married in Massachusetts, the federal government has no business turning round and saying “no, they’re not really married.” I understand this is a 10th Amendment issue (don’t ask me, American law is not my thing but I understand this is the Amendment that says “unless it‘s expressly states to be the Federal government‘s decision, it‘s the state‘s decision.”). So the federal government cannot treat a legal same-sex marriage from a state that legalises same-sex marriage as anything less than a marriage and cannot force the state itself to treat same-sex marriages as less than opposite-sex marriage. It cannot force the state to discriminate.

Of interest as well in the fuller details of the case is the many other things the judges didn’t accept such as refusing to accept that banning same-sex marriage benefits children, that allowing same-sex marriage serves as a disincentive to marry, etc.

‘Tis a step in the right direction, yes yes it is :)

In other legal victory news, the island of Sark (that is one of the semi-autonomous British dependent islands around the British Isles) has finally bought a clue and equalised the age of consent for gay and bisexual men to 16 to bring it in line with heterosexuals, lesbians and bisexual women. This follows Guernsey doing the same in March and the Isle of Mann catching up in 2006 (but then, the Isle of Mann still had sodomy laws in place in 1992). Well, islands, welcome to the 21st century. Took you long enough.

Sadly other British dependencies – Bermuda, Alderney and Gibraltar – still seem to be maintaining separate age of consent for gay and bisexual men.