With a one-vote majority, California's Supreme Court overturned a law banning same-sex marriage yesterday (PDF of decision). The case is a consolidation of appeals to the same court's ruling in 2004 that San Francisco had illegally granted marriage licenses to same sex couples. In that decision they had expressly stated that they were not ruling on the constitutionality of the law, but only one whether or not the law had been broken. In this case they examine the constitutionality of the law and find that the law violates basic constitutional rights: the right to form a legally recognized family with a partner one loves, and the right to equal protection under the law.
The CA decision refers back to a much earlier decision - Perez v. Sharp in 1948 - in which the court found that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional. This was 19 years before Loving v. Virginia, the U. S. Supreme Court case that did the same thing nationwide. (Mildred Loving, whose marriage to Richard Loving was at the center of that case, died on May 2.)
Kenji Yoshino, a Yale Law professor writing for Slate today, points out that one strength of yesterday's decision is that it is based not only on liberty (the right to form marriages based on love and choice) but also on equality (the right to be treated equally by the law regardless of sexual orientation), and points out that because of that, this decision goes beyond the right to marry and makes it clear that any California law that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation is equally in trouble. That's the good news.
Today is International Sex Workers' Rights Day. Here are two events listed on the Bound, Not Gagged blog:
In North Carolina: SWOP East (Sex Worker Outreach Project East) will host a free movie night to celebrate International Sex Worker Rights Day on March 3rd. Join the Triangle’s only sex workers’ rights organization, as we stand in solidarity with sex workers and allies around the world, to call for full recognition of the human rights of sex workers.
When: Monday March 3, 7:00 PM
Where: Bull City Headquarters (BCHQ), 723 N. Mangum St., Durham, NC
Celebrate Sex Worker Rights with subversive movies, delicious cupcakes, and spirited discussion about the films and our condom project Pledging Action!
Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, and Annette Nicholls
Those are the names of the five women, sex workers each one, who were murdered in 2006. I vividly remember attending the vigil here in New York in December of 2006 when their names were read among the many names of sex workers who had been killed that year.
Yesterday Stephen Wright was convicted of their murders. He will be sentenced today. He faces life in prison.
Thanks to Feministing I learned about Condom Awareness Week before the week was quite over. In any case, as a result of that post I surfed over to the Advocates for Youth condom campaign page where they've got lots of great "e-cards" promoting condom use. This is one of my favorites, but click here to see the whole page. Send one to someone you love!
In fact, what a great way to start that safer sex conversation you've been meaning to have!
Also, click here for their "Rights. Respect. Responsibility." Condom Art Contest, whose mission is:
to normalize discussion about safer sex, to provide science-based information about the effectiveness of condoms, and to increase partner communication about using condoms for those who are sexually active.
Certainly that's a mission we support here!
And here is a page of links to stories by teens about buying condoms, using them, and about the need for self-protection.
Via two of my favorite blogs yesterday I learned about some kids who really put the lie to the assumption that teens are too immature to handle clear conversation about sex.
First, from Jessica at Feministing I learned about two 8th grade girls who, to protest their school's teaching abstinence only sex ed wore t-shirts that had condoms pinned to them, and the words "Safe Sex or No Sex" written across the front. They were suspended for two days for causing a distraction and dressing inappropriately.
...if I’m not mistaken, we’re still waiting for the first fine for an NYPD Blue male ass. And you couldn’t go five minutes in the first few seasons without seeing one of those.The FCC's "indecency" rules prohibit certain images including those that depict sexual or excretory acts or organs from being broadcast between certain hours of the day (basically daytime and primetime hours). So it would seem that, at least according to the FCC, men's asses just aren't sexy.
I'm leaving the excretory inferences alone for now.
The headline as she reports it from the Ascribe Livewire:
Teen Pregnancy and Poverty: 30-Year-Study Confirms That Living in Economically-Depressed Neighborhoods, Not Teen Motherhood, Perpetuates Poverty
Can you feel the tidal wave of support building for all kinds of "End economic depression in neighborhoods where teens live" programs? In fact since Furstenburg reports that young women who become teen mothers are often already poor, maybe the government can use all the abstinance-only money that states keep rejecting to fund some education/housing/jobs programs to rebuild neighborhoods and reduce poverty and increase opportunity. That might be a better way of reducing teen pregnancy rates.
These two pictures accompany an article in this morning's Times on the presidential candidates' use of their opposition to NCLB (which stands for No Child Left Behind, not No Cheerleader left behind") as a way of rallying supporters.
Maybe it's just that my brain is still a bit addled from the end of the semester, and I'm only through my first cup of coffee this morning, but it seemed like an odd selection of images to me. Take a look. Then feel free to discuss in the comments whether or not these images matter at all.
This one is captioned "Students at Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, listening to former president Bill Clinton."
How to kill the Matthew Shepard Act without really trying:
The Matthew Shepard Act passed the House of Representatives pretty easily, but it was in trouble at the Senate. The Senate's solution? Insert it into a Pentagon funding bill. (Yes, they really did this.) That got enough Republican suport to allow the bill to pass in the Senate. Here's the catch: Now, the combined bill can't get past the House. Two reasons: Conservative Republicans don't like the hate crimes provision and liberal Democrats don't like the military spending bill:
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was widely supported by Democrats and some moderate Senate Republicans. But because it was attached to a major defense policy bill that would have authorized more money for the Iraq war, many anti-war Democrats said they would oppose it.
''We don't have the votes,'' said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conference negotiations on the defense bill were ongoing. ''We're about 40 votes short, not four or six.''
So, they dropped the hate crimes provision in order to pass the spending bill.
Perversely, today I'm headed down to DC. Fortunately I'll be with teachers and union leadership folks and not with politicians.
Debbie Nathan has another great Sex Angst Roundup. This one spotlights stories on the impact of early teen sexual activity, the decline in teens' visits to online porn sites, the continuing legal struggles over 2257, the continuing debacle that is abstinence-only sex ed, the issues posed by child porn that doesn't include real children, and the unhelpful ways we attempt to deal with sex offenders while not really making kids safer.
Meanwhile, Tristan Taormino attended the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and wrote about her experience in the Village Voice. One strong reaction: There are lots of studies of sexual dysfunction but not nearly enough about sexual diversity. Below is her list of the top 5 research projects she'd love to see (anybody out there looking for a dissertation topic?):