August 5, 2010

Judge Overturns Gay Marriage Ban in California

Posted in Marriage tagged at 10:25 am by demetriagraves

There’s been big news recently on the subject of gay marriage in California. To give you some history on this subject, on November 8, 2008, California voters passed a ban on gay marriage as Proposition 8. This ban came five months after the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Now the pendulum has swung the other way with a federal judge overturning California’s same-sex marriage ban in a landmark case that could eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if gays have a constitutional right to marry in America. The details of this story from AP are below.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights. Despite the favorable ruling for same-sex couples, gay marriage will not be allowed to resume. That’s because the judge said he wants to decide whether his order should be suspended while the proponents pursue their appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments by Aug. 6 on the issue.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples,” the judge wrote in a 136-page ruling that laid out in precise detail why the ban does not align with the Constitution.
The judge found that the gay marriage ban violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
“Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge ruled.
Supporters of Proposition 8 argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing.
Both sides previously said an appeal was certain if Walker did not rule in their favor. The case would go first to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then the Supreme Court if the high court justices agree to review it.
Walker heard 13 days of testimony and arguments since January during the first trial in federal court to examine if states can prohibit gays from getting married. The ruling puts Walker at the forefront of the gay marriage debate. The longtime federal judge was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
The verdict was the second in a federal gay marriage case to come down in recent weeks. A federal judge in Massachusetts decided last month the states legally married gay couples had been wrongly denied the federal financial benefits of marriage because of a law preventing the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex unions.
The plaintiffs in the California case presented 18 witnesses. Academic experts testified about topics ranging from the fitness of gay parents and religious views on homosexuality to the historical meaning of marriage and the political influence of the gay rights movement.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson delivered the closing argument for opponents of the ban. He told Judge Walker that tradition or fears of harm to heterosexual unions were legally insufficient grounds to discriminate against gay couples.
Olson teamed up with David Boies to argue the case, bringing together the two litigators best known for representing George W. Bush and Al Gore in the disputed 2000 election.
Defense lawyers called just two witnesses, claiming they did not need to present expert testimony because U.S. Supreme Court precedent was on their side. The attorneys also said gay marriage was an experiment with unknown social consequences that should be left to voters to accept or reject.
Former U.S. Justice Department lawyer Charles Cooper, who represented the religious and conservative groups that sponsored the ban, said cultures around the world, previous courts and Congress all accepted the “common sense belief that children do best when they are raised by their own mother and father.”
In an unusual move, the original defendants, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, refused to support Proposition 8 in court.
That left the work of defending the law to Protect Marriage, the group that successfully sponsored the ballot measure that passed with 52 percent of the vote after the most expensive political campaign on a social issue in U.S. history.
Currently, same-sex couples can only legally wed in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

March 15, 2010

What “The Bachelor” Couple, and Every Couple, Needs to Know Before Getting Married

Posted in Marriage tagged at 12:01 am by demetriagraves

With previous “Bachelor” couple, Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney, recently marrying in Los Angeles and with “The Bachelor’s” newest couple, Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi, gleefully affirming their love for each other and their plans for marriage, fans of the reality show cannot help but get excited for these couples’ future prospects. But, are these couples really ready for marriage? What should they know about each other before officially tying the knot? I thought that it would be timely to review some unique considerations “The Bachelor” celebrity couples should discuss and what every couple should talk about before saying “I do.”

In addition to having a $50,000 engagement ring and an elaborate, televised wedding, “The Bachelor” couples, like any celebrity couple, have unique issues in their marriages. For example, how should the couple handle book deals? Future gigs and contracts? Without any prenuptial agreements, earnings obtained during the marriage belong to the community. So, if Jake Pavelka earns money from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ after he marries Vienna, she will most likely be entitled to part of it under California State Law. In other words, joint property applies to celebrity couples just as much as it does to any other couple. If one party does not want their earnings to be divided jointly, they and their spouse must draw up a prenuptial agreement before the wedding day.

In addition to ironing out any differences in contracts and income, “The Bachelor” couples should also invest some time learning about each other in three crucial areas. By avoiding an honest discussion of these areas, marital strife is likely to cut anyone’s, especially Jake’s and Vienna’s, honeymoon short. Specifically, all couples should discuss these three important areas to avoid marital strife:

How has each party handled their finances in the past, and how do they plan to handle them once married? Will incomes be pooled into a join account once married? This includes discussing areas such as anticipated expenses, savings, spending habits, etc.

What are the couple’s expectations of each other? Who will be in charge of cleaning the house or paying for the maid? How much time will each party be busy with “extracurricular” activities and thus away from the home?

What does the couple’s “dream” family look like? How many children will they have (if any) and when? Will both parents work full time when raising children, or will one parent (or both) be responsible for the day-to-day aspects of child rearing?

By discussing these critical questions, Jake and Vienna, and all other couples, will set themselves up for a successful marriage and stable financial future. Discussing expectations is key to creating a successful long-term relationship as it means that everyone is informed of their role, which results in eliminating, as much as possible, any potential resentment later. By making sure each potential spouse is on the same page in regards to their future marriage, any couple, celebrity or not, can prepare themselves for a fulfilling marriage.