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NOM's form letters: Even a zombie sheep should take pause

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 15-40Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher's National Organization For Marriage group has prepared a form letter that they're encouraging folks to send to NY Gov. David Paterson in protest of his directive about the recognition of out-of-state same-sex unions. And while we know this is going to come as a great shock, we have to inform you that the "pro-family" group's words are more the product of an overactive imagination than was the fan letter that we wrote to Big Bird in 1985:

Dear Governor Paterson,

As a New Yorker who respects our legal system, I was dismayed to read that you would unilaterally adopt a policy recognizing same-sex marriages from other states. Even if technically legal, your decision smacks of the hubris that has brought trouble for prior administrations.

Our governor needs to respect the law, not look for loopholes. New York marriage law is well-settled, as clearly and repeatedly decided by our legislature and courts. Your decision to recognize the gay marriages of foreigners makes our own marriage laws worth nothing more than the price of a plane ticket.

If New York is to recognize same-sex marriage, that decision must come from the legislature or the people, and not from a single person, however powerful, who wants to impose his own will on the whole state.

Alright, first off, Paterson didn't "look for loopholes." He observed the law that's currently in place in the Empire State and brought gay couples up to a place where they are more equally protected by it. He didn't have to turn to some antiquated measure (like Massachusetts did when it banned out-of-state same-sex unions) or find some convenient wording. He, like the appellate court before him, only had to put reason over rhetoric.

Secondly: New York marriage law is not "well-settled." Marriage equality legislation is supported by the governor and has passed the Assembly. Yes, after winning in lower courts, we New Yorkers lost an important high court battle a few years back (in a very unjust ruling with a strong dissent). But what the court said is that the legislature has to decide on the issue, and they most certainly are. By most accounts, we are still lacking necessary support in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, that one obstacle of anywhere from a handful to a small percentage of votes, has not settled this matter. We're clearly headed towards marriage equality, whether it takes six months or six years!

Third: The statement, "Your decision to recognize the gay marriages of foreigners makes our own marriage laws worth nothing more than the price of a plane ticket," is offensive not only to the gays you are hoping to target, but also ANY New Yorker who (a) chose to have a destination wedding and (b) expected that non-NY union to be recognized when they got back home. It is the SAME DAMN THING! New York state has no anti-gay DOMA law, and has a long-standing "marriage recognition rule" stipulating the recognition of marriages from other states, even when the couple wouldn't be eligible to get married under New York law. By applying this to gay couples, Paterson is staying consistent.

Lastly, it is a gross oversimplification to act as if Paterson's directive was the work of a single, powerful person. For one, there was the aforementioned appellate court ruling that determined the same thing. But beyond that, there have been a whole host of people who have shaped NY marriage policy to get it to the state in which Paterson inherited it. Again, all he is doing is applying the exact same sort of recognition to gay couples that's already applied to heteros. No tyranny. No fiat. Just a reasonable correction of an error.

But hey, why should we expect a group who tries to make their hostility towards marriage sound like they are truly "for" the concept to encourage reasoned analysis of the facts at hand?

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Your thoughts

JH, just as you are glad about Gov. Paterson's decision. These people are too.
This is from a blog by ROBIN TYLER who was one of the plaintiffs in the California case.
Here is link for those who want to read all

But this is pertineent to New York.
The e-mails began pouring in. My friend Jan, a lesbian who lives on Fire Island, New York, wrote that she and Edrie, her partner of 49 years, were coming to Los Angeles to get married. They wanted to get married at the same time as two other long-term older couples -- Marilyn and Jean of Los Angeles and another couple, Carlotta and Ann who live in Cherry Grove, N.Y. They know that as a result of lawsuits Lambda Legal and the ACLU brought in New York, marriages of same-sex couples validly entered in other jurisdictions are being honored in New York. So, New York couples who marry in California will be considered married in New York.

None of these six women, most in their 70s, some in their 80s, had ever dreamed that in their lifetimes it would be possible for them to get married. As Diane says: "Marriage is a universally understood word defining a unique and distinct loving relationship between two people."

And I have to say... time may be of the essence in some of these plans.

CONGRATS to ALL NEW YORKERS who want to come.

Posted by: LOrion | Jun 4, 2008 6:49:39 PM

"Even if technically legal, your decision smacks of the hubris that has brought trouble for prior administrations.

Our governor needs to respect the law, not look for loopholes."

Ummm... is it just me or does "tecnically legal" mean that it is the law? And that the governor needs to respect it?

And would it not truly be hubris for the governor to ignore the decisions by the court and refuse to administer the changes?

What Maggie is saying is that she doesn't care what the law says. She doesn't think the word of the law is important. She thinks that not passing laws to instill local gay marriage sets up the rule of law, but that not passing laws to bar out-of-state marriage can be ignored and her own presumptions used instead.

Posted by: | Jun 4, 2008 7:30:22 PM

Maggie Gallagher with her money from Bush. 3 words, Oink oink oink.

Posted by: johnozed | Jun 5, 2008 3:17:52 PM

Ironic that someone so physically unattractive as Maggie Gallagher is the leader of a so-called "pro-marriage" group. God, who'd want to get with THAT?! Yuck.

Posted by: stojef | Jun 5, 2008 6:59:41 PM

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