Phew!

Mar. 5th, 2009 09:17 pm
maradydd: (Default)
Wow, that was a really tiring three hours -- but so rewarding! Thanks to the California Channel and SFGTV for broadcasting the proceedings of the arguments. [livejournal.com profile] joedecker, the ACLU, quite a few other Twitterers and I had a rousing discussion going the entire time, and a big thanks to the folks at Twitter for providing us with such a great platform for discussion!

I'm going to go catch the last showing of Watchmen tonight, but after that, I've got a big post brewing on my take on the proceedings. A lot of the endgame arguments dealt with what constitutes an inalienable right and what doesn't; one of the Justices in fact framed it as a dispute between the right of the California people to amend their Constitution and the right of individuals to enjoy equal protection under the law.

Protip: One of these rights is inalienable and the other one isn't. Pop quiz for my readers: which is which, and why does it matter?

Discuss in the comments. I'll be back in a few hours.
maradydd: (Default)
Sorry for the late announcement, folks, but I wanted everyone to know -- the California Channel will be broadcasting (and webcasting) the oral arguments in the three Prop 8 cases, starting at 9am Pacific time. (That's about an hour from now.)

You can follow the live stream on the web, and [livejournal.com profile] joedecker and I will be Twittering the proceedings at http://twitter.com/prop8liveblog. Come join in the dialogue!

(No, I will not be LoudTwittering anything back here.)

ETA: If the Cal Channel isn't working for you, SFGTV2 will also be broadcasting. Go here and click on the SFGTV2 link. (At the moment I'm watching the Black History Month Kickoff Celebration -- uh, a month late? -- and at 9am the Prop 8 coverage starts. Shanaka Hodge is a good poet, btw.)
maradydd: (Default)
Matters of law are meant to be tried and decided within the framework of the law, not the court of public opinion.

Anyone trying to convince you otherwise has an ulterior motive.

In related news, on March 5th, 2009, from 9am to 12pm, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the matters of Strauss v. Horton, Tyler v. State of California, and City and County of San Francisco v. Horton. [livejournal.com profile] joedecker reports that The California Channel will be broadcasting the events live.

The California Channel also does streaming webcasts, so even if you can't make it to the courtroom in San Francisco, you may be able to watch the proceedings from the comfort of your own browser. They only publish their schedule a week in advance, but check the listings the first week of March to see if it'll be webcast. I plan to liveblog the proceedings here, for my own entertainment and that of anyone else who happens to enjoy my admittedly biased commentary. :)
maradydd: (Default)
By way of [livejournal.com profile] joedecker: the CA Supreme Court will hear all three petitions filed in response to Prop 8, but will not stay enforcement of the amendment.

So, not the best possible scenario, but not the worst either. The Court's order, given today, is here; no opinion is given as to why the request for stay of enforcement was denied. Conveniently, the Court has provided us with an omnibus of filings related to Prop 8 in their "high profile cases" section. Each of the three cases has a section called "Letters requesting denial of petition and request for stay"; I have not had time to read through them, though I will do so later and summarize the argument as I'm able. (It's been a busy couple of weeks over here.)

Glancing over the letters, I noticed two interesting things. First, though most of those letters are calling for a denial of certiorari and a denial of the stay, the Pacific Justice Center calls for a denial of writ on Tyler v. California and City and County of San Francisco v. Horton -- but only a denial of stay in Strauss v. Horton. (The Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence wrote one letter about all three cases. From a 30-second glance, it appears that the American Center for Law and Justice sent three separate but materially similar letters, one for each case.) The PJC's argument for denying the stay in Strauss v. Horton is a status-quo argument -- "same-sex marriage was only allowed for a couple of months, the status quo for most of the history of California has been no same-sex marriage" -- but I am curious why they did not call for a denial of certiorari as well.

Second, check out who the letter-writers are under Strauss v. Horton. Most of them are law firms or policy institutes. But one of them is under the name of a nonprofit organisation which, apparently, consists of just one woman who styles herself "Heiress Of The Almighty Eternal Creator" [sic] and purports to also be filing on behalf of said Almighty Eternal Creator (!), and one of them is under the name of just one guy. (Yes, their addresses are on the PDFs. I am going to be very, very upset if I hear about people TPing their houses or something, just FYI.)

Welcome to America, folks. Follow the rules of civil and appellate procedure, make sure you provide proof of service to the appropriate parties and meet the filing deadlines, and you, too, can have anything from lucid, reasoned argumentation to ranting whackjobbery and wild claims about your divine nature entered into the court record as an amicus curiae letter. It's your right to do so and it's the court's responsibility to handle it.

Point being, though -- if you want to have your say before the Court, those are some mighty nice templates to follow. You'll probably want to check out the petitions in support of the petitioner, as well, to make sure you're serving the right folks. Their addresses, and the formal language you'll need to establish that you served the petitioners and respondents correctly, are at the back of each letter.

So what are you waiting for? Let's see some amicus curiae letters! I don't care if you're in California or not -- judging by the number at the top of the fax they sent in, the American Center for Law and Justice is in Virginia, and all three lawyers signing their letters state that they're not admitted to the California bar.

Today's order, by the way, also orders the following:
  • Secretary of State Bowen requested to be dismissed as a respondent; the Court granted the request.
  • "Proposition 8 Official Proponents et al" moved to intervene in all three cases; the motion was granted.
  • "Campaign for California Families" moved to intervene in all three cases; the motion was denied.
  • A number of state agencies and offices (including the Attorney General), as respondents, are ordered to show cause why the petitioners' requests should not be granted. (This is standard; these state agencies are the ones being sued. Can they say "Um, actually, we think they should be granted"? That's what I want to know.)
  • Anyone who wants to file an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief has until January 19th. Again, get cracking!
maradydd: (Default)
As some of you know, I have a rather lengthy post in the works about the history of challenges to initiative amendments in California -- that is, constitutional amendments which are proposed by a petition of the people and decided by popular vote. It's 1500 words and counting, and will probably hit 3000 by the time it's done, but I wanted to make sure that folks who want to understand the precedents coming into play with Strauss v. Horton, the ACLU's challenge to Prop 8, have a good resource for that. However, the following came up on [livejournal.com profile] theinated's journal, deep in a comment thread, and I think it's important enough to bring up here.

But first I'm going to talk about software engineering. I promise, it's relevant.

In the code-slinging trade, there's a concept called "shotgun debugging" which makes every seasoned engineer foam at the mouth. The Jargon File defines it as "the making of relatively undirected changes to software in the hope that a bug will be perturbed out of existence". "Relatively" is loosely applied here; typically the code you tweak has something to do with the problem -- if the problem is in your user interface, twiddling with interprocess communication usually isn't going to help -- but you're not sure where the exact problem is, so you poke at a bunch of different places and pray you got it right.

Don't do this. It's practically guaranteed that you will make things worse, most likely by creating new bugs that are subtler, more obscure, and will bite you in the ass for years to come. But keep the concept of shotgun debugging in mind, because we're going to talk about it again shortly.

Elsewhere, [livejournal.com profile] lather2002 wrote:
There are ways for same sex couples to have rights that allow them basically the same rights as "Married Couples".
In principle, [livejournal.com profile] lather2002 is correct. However, the institution of marriage is deeply embedded in the principles of English common law upon which our legal system is founded, and altering those principles to cover civil unions would involve a massive rewriting of the law which amounts to shotgun debugging of the very worst sort.

Looking only at statutes, we can easily find dozens of areas in which marriage plays a role: tax law, estate/inheritance law, family law, laws having to do with visitation rights (both for hospital patients and for prisoners), property law, insurance law, torts (e.g., wrongful death suits), and so on. Attempting to shotgun-debug the California code in an attempt to create parity between marriages and domestic partnerships is a fool's errand; there are just too many places where marriage is closely intertwined with statutory law to be able to do the job right. California tried to do it all in one go by providing that domestic partners are to have all the rights and responsibilities afforded to married partners, but the very bill that established this also carved out several exceptions. Establishing a domestic partnership requires different prerequisites -- among other things, the couple must live together before becoming domestic partners, which isn't required for marriage -- and it isn't possible to have a confidential domestic partnership (i.e., one that isn't a matter of public record), while it is possible to have a confidential marriage.

However, the matter gets fuzzier. In some situations, the principles of common law protect the institution of marriage in a way that isn't actually codified anywhere. A good example is the notion of privileged communication. There are certain types of communication, such as that between a lawyer and her client, a doctor and his patient, a priest and a penitent confessing to him, which are "privileged" in the sense that neither party can be compelled to disclose the contents of that communication. If a defendant admits to his lawyer that he committed the crime with which he is charged, the lawyer cannot be compelled to disclose this to a third party. Spouse-to-spouse communication is protected in exactly the same way: one spouse cannot be compelled to give evidence against the other (also known as "spousal immunity"), and in fact one spouse can prevent the other from disclosing information which was communicated privately between the two of them (also known as "marital privilege").

For what it's worth, the matter of privileged communication has a lot to do with why the right to marriage is viewed as derivative of the right to privacy -- which is expressly protected (in fact, it's inalienable) under CA constitutional law.

Some states have passed statutes which restrict privileged communication in some form; for instance, Washington state has made attorney-client privilege a one-way street from client to attorney (the client can be compelled to testify against the attorney on matters of communication that don't have to do with the client's communications). California has codified attorney-client privilege the opposite way, protecting all attorney-client communication regardless of subject, but that merely reinforces the common-law definition; it does not expand it. I can't find an example of a law which creates a new class of privileged communication. Expanding privileged communication to domestic partnerships is thus quite difficult, and privileged communication isn't the only area of common law where marriage comes into play.

Shotgun-debugging a body of statutory law is hard enough; how do you shotgun-debug hundreds of years of tradition? Under the principle of stare decisis (literally "to stand by and adhere to decisions"), which obligates judges to follow the precedents established in previous case law, you can't. Only marriage is marriage, and there is no precedent for "domestic partnership immunity"; in this respect, the court's hands are tied. Even if statutory law mandates equal treatment before the law for domestic partners, the court cannot magically create privilege where none exists. There can be no parity between marriages and domestic partnerships.

I'm going to turn back to the Jargon File, now, to address the topic of elegance: "Combining simplicity, power, and a certain ineffable grace of design." Software engineers love elegant code: it's easier to understand, easier to work with, and it's aesthetically pleasing. Linguists adhere to the principle of elegance, too: given two sets of rules which describe the exact same grammar equally well, the one with fewer rules is to be preferred, as complicated rules are difficult to apply and lead to errors.

I'm not going to pretend that law adheres to the principle of elegance -- the sheer size of the California constitution, much less the California code, is testament to that -- but in this instance, we would do well to observe it. If we wish to establish parity between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, the simplest, least confusion-causing, most elegant solution is to legalise marriage between both same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

(This is, incidentally, the fundamental flaw I see in the "then let's make everything a civil union" argument. Taking away spousal privilege is a horrible, horrible idea that would remove the protections of hundreds of years' worth of important, rights-preserving court decisions which hinge on spousal immunity or marital privilege. Please take a look at the bigger picture here; let's not cut off our noses to spite our faces.)
maradydd: (Default)
Okay, so if you're a gay person or part of a same-sex married couple in California, what happens to you?

Attorney General Jerry Brown has gone on record that he will uphold all same-sex marriages already performed. If you were married yesterday, you're still married today. City halls in at least some towns have stopped offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples as of today. I'm not sure whether, if you could talk someone into giving you one tomorrow, it would still count.

An interesting wrinkle: what happens if you paid for your marriage license already, but haven't actually gone and picked it up yet? When L. and I got married, we paid for the license online a week ahead of time, then had our ceremony at San Francisco City Hall and had it signed and dated there. San Francisco, at least, says that if Prop 8 passes, even if the results aren't determined till after November 5th, it will (probably) be effective retroactive to November 5th. So I hope everyone who was planning on entering into a same-sex marriage did so before today.

Now for the near future. [livejournal.com profile] feyandstrange shares the news that the ACLU has filed for an immediate stay of enforcement on Prop 8 (similar to what happened when San Francisco banned handguns). If the court grants the stay, then it's business as usual and you can go get your marriage license as long as all other qualifications are met (e.g., you're not already married, you're not marrying a minor, &c). The filing also requests that, if Prop 8 is determined to have passed, the Court render it null and void on the grounds that it "attempted to effect a revision of the Constitution without complying with the constitutionally mandated procedures for enactment of a revision set forth in Article XVII of the California Constitution".

So, this could go one of several ways, depending on whether the Court grants the stay and whether Prop 8 actually received a majority of votes. I think it's likely that they will grant the stay, given that two of the petitioners in the ACLU filing are a couple who have been planning to get married for a while, but one of them has a parent who has been too ill to travel for their wedding. I'm not a lawyer, but that strikes me as cause for immediate injunctive relief.

The worst-case scenario is the one where the Court grants neither the stay of enforcement nor the petition to nullify Prop 8 if it passes. That could happen. If it does, then we have to go to federal court to get this reversed, and that's going to be harder. Addressing this in federal court will either mean getting SCOTUS to consider same-sex couples a suspect class -- which thus far they've been unwilling to do -- or coming up with an argument that doesn't rely on the Equal Protection clause. The Full Faith and Credit clause won't work, because the Defense of Marriage Act specifically provides that states need not recognise same-sex marriages performed in other states (though this is a fine opportunity for a couple who's moved from Massachusetts or Connecticut to California to mount that argument against DOMA). I had this vague, crack-addled idea about using the Commerce Clause with respect to couples who traveled to California to get married, went back home, and found their California marriages invalidated, but if Brown doesn't invalidate existing marriages, then that point is moot. It's going to take hard work and a lot of research to get this before SCOTUS, if it comes to that.

That said, working this from the state angle first gives us the opportunity to stall for time; it will take several months at minimum for this to go through the courts, and while I don't think it's likely that we'll see a change in the makeup of the SCOTUS any time soon, we can still use that time to think of how to address this if it does have to go to federal court.

As a side note, one aspect of this filing that I find kind of shitty: the respondents named in the petition are the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, his Deputy Director who handles the forms for marriage licenses and certificates, and the Attorney General, all in their official capacities. The petitioners are asking that the respondents be held responsible for court and attorneys' fees. I hope this means that the Department of Public Health and the Attorney General's office have to shell out, because this is so not these people's fault personally.

[livejournal.com profile] rebbyribs (and my parents, incidentally) ask, "How does the State of California determine the sex (or gender?) of a couple getting married? If Prop 8 is applied, do intersex people lose the right to marry?" This is probably based on what's on whatever form of ID you present when you apply for your marriage license. Intersexed persons generally get put into one bucket or the other at birth (and the issue of whether this is at all fair or right is a whole 'nother can of worms); those who end up identifying as the gender other than the one on their birth certificate have to go through the same giant hassle that transfolk do.

Anyway. For the next few days, keep reading the news, hold your head high, and don't give up the ship. The ACLU knew this was a possibility; nobody puts together a 64-page brief in one day, especially when there are eight different groups of counsel in three different cities involved. (If I'm wrong on that, then holy shit these people are machines.) Now is a great time to learn more about your legal process, how it works, and your rights as a citizen, and to educate your friends and family. We've spent the last several months of our lives passionately involved in the electoral process, which is a central aspect of American citizenship. We have the opportunity now to move that fire and momentum into the judicial process and just keep the train a'rollin'.

We're making history here, folks. Today, Prop 8 feels like a defeat. In ten years, it will be a footnote.

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This work by Meredith L. Patterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
maradydd: (Default)
I'll say this for the No on 8 crowd -- we don't waste our time. Three lawsuits were filed today with the California Supreme Court, seeking orders blocking enforcement of Prop 8 and aimed at striking it down, and the count isn't even done yet!

"But, Meredith," I hear you say, "this is a constitutional amendment -- aren't the Supreme Court's hands tied?" Actually, due to the approach the plaintiffs are taking, the CA Supreme Court does have the ability to consider this. The legal reasoning behind the lawsuits is interesting, and if you live in California, it's worth your time to understand it.

Probably only of interest to those in California )

Next up: what's happening right now, what the next few months mean to you, and what the hell is going on with existing marriages.

Mad props to [livejournal.com profile] songblaze for research assistance and getting me thinking about it from this angle.

Creative Commons License
This work by Meredith L. Patterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
maradydd: (Default)
I only say "stop holding your breath" because this one's not going to be decided on the basis of the preliminary count, and probably won't be decided on the basis of the semi-final count either. As I type this, there's a spread of some 350,000 votes. If I understand things correctly, this does not yet include absentee, mail-in or early votes yet. Over 100,000 early votes were cast in San Francisco County; over 250,000 early votes were cast in Alameda County. I don't know what the numbers are like across the state, but I can only assume they're also quite high.

Thus, the question comes down to one of whether more early and absentee voters supported or opposed Prop 8. My guess -- and bear in mind this is only a guess -- is that more early voters opposed it, as the Obama campaign put out a concerted effort to get people to vote early and Obama supporters were more likely to oppose Prop 8.

I'll follow up on this after I've had some sleep, but at this point, I need to pass out for a little while.
maradydd: (Default)
I banged together some charting code and am tracking vote counts in high-population counties (ie, the ones that can make a difference for Prop 8) here. The bars on the charts get darker as more precincts come in.

Keep your fingers crossed, folks, but don't hold your breath; I think LA and San Diego killed this one.
maradydd: (Default)
Having sort of liveblogged the Presidential race, I think I will now turn to California Prop 8.

Things aren't looking too good early in the returns; it's 51% yes, 46% no with 18% of precincts reporting. CNN has a nice map and county-by-county results.

Looking at the latter, I see that the counties that are pretty much all reported -- right now that's Amador, Lassen, Modoc, Sierra, Stanislaus, Trinity and Tuolumne -- are rather tiny. They're also staunchly voting yes, to the tune of 60-70%, which I suspect is where the early rush is coming from. None of them have cracked 100,000 voters yet, and the only one with a remote chance of doing so is Stanislaus. Fresno County will break 100,000 and is also solidly in the Yes camp, but they're 42% reported.

San Francisco has only just started to roll in, and this is a passionate issue in our city of three-quarters of a million people. 75% say "hell no!" already, with Marin right behind at 73% no. Alameda is 62% no at only 10% of precincts reported. San Mateo and Santa Clara are weaker but I'm going to call them for the No camp, and their large populations -- also nowhere near fully reported -- are going to make a big difference. Smaller allies are our winemaking friends in Sonoma and the ultra-liberals of Santa Cruz, the latter of whom haven't reported much either but are likely to turn out in droves.

No, the real threat to marriage equality in California is coming from Los Angeles, Orange County, and of all places San Diego. WTF, San Diego? When I visited you, I went to a pretty damn good goth night at a lesbian bar.

Still, the margins in LA and SD are much narrower than they are in the north. This is a good sign.

As I've typed this, the percentages have held steady at 54-46 in favour. We'll see how that goes as the evening rolls on.

10:22 pm: 27% of precincts reporting and the numbers have slipped to 53-37 in favour. San Francisco at 63% reported, with a whopping 78-22 against. Orange County has me worried; some 350,000 ballots in and only 11% of precincts reported so far. Santa Clara's looking good, still a weak 55% no but around 310,000 ballots so far, 29% reported. The margin in Los Angeles is only 6 points at 10% reported. Alameda and Contra Costa may end up being our secret weapon; they're at 10% and 12% reported respectively, with very high populations, and 62% and 54% no respectively.

Maybe some charts will make this easier.

11:04 pm: 32% of precincts reporting, and we're at 52.6% for, 47.4% against. San Francisco is 98% reported, with 174,225 No votes. I'm adding San Bernardino County to the axis of evil, with 104,356 yeses (69%) and only 19% reported. Boo, hiss.

Wrote code to display graphs, discovered too late that pygooglecharts doesn't support labels for bar graphs. WTF. About to rewrite it using PyCha, sorry 'bout that.

12:03 am: Fuck PyCha, here's the state of the high-population counties using matplotlib. Red means people who voted No, green means people who voted Yes.



San Francisco's over and done with. Santa Cruz has just barely gotten started reporting. The race has narrowed in San Diego. Contra Costa is still early in reporting, at about 20%. San Diego, Los Angeles, Alameda and Orange County are all around a third of the way done.

I'll see if I can tweak the chart program I wrote so that bars get darker in proportion to how complete reporting is. No promises though.

12:35 am: New chart. Bars get darker in proportion to how complete the reporting is.



This isn't looking good, folks. The margin is dropping -- 52.3% for, 47.7% against -- but counting in large, friendly counties is mostly complete. Santa Clara is really our only big friendly that's going to keep on contributing. Sonoma (not on the chart, I'll add it next round) is also fairly large and at a respectable 66% against, but it's 69% in and I don't think it'll have quite enough oomph to carry us through. Stick a fork in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo and Marin. Santa Cruz had lower turnout than I expected, and Los Angeles and San Diego are still rolling in.

I mean, we could get lucky -- there may be key districts in LA that haven't come in yet -- but I think LA and San Diego killed this one for us.

12:58 am: Holding steady at 52.3% for, 47.7% against, 63% of precincts reported.



With basically only Santa Clara and Contra Costa left to fight off the LA/OC/SD juggernaut, I think we have to call this one finished. Dammit. Southern California just has too many people.

1:33 am: 72% reporting. 52.2% for, 47.8% against.



Marin, Orange County, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Cruz are now 100% reported. Sacramento and Sonoma are near-finished as makes no odds.

WTF is up with the low voter turnout in San Francisco? In 1996 we had 421,094 registered voters and I'm sure the number was higher this year. How did we only have 231,357 votes cast on Prop 8?

2:00 am: 80% reporting, 52-48 exactly.



Contra Costa, Sacramento and Sonoma Counties are 100% reported now. Wonder what's taking so long in Santa Clara.

2:13 am: 82% reporting, 51.8%-48.2%.



Los Angeles just narrowed to a 2% gap, with 10% of precincts left to go. San Bernardino, San Diego and Santa Clara are still taking forever. Can we hope for some kind of last-minute hail-Mary upset? I need a Red Bull.

2:48 am: 84% reporting, still 51.8%-48.2%.



They're just about finished in Los Angeles, but San Diego and Santa Clara are just barely inching along, and San Bernardino hasn't moved in forever.

[livejournal.com profile] feyandstrange suggests that San Francisco absentee and mail-in ballots may not have been counted yet. Not sure whether that's the case or not; can anyone shed some light on that? They almost definitely have not been counted yet; see her quote from SFGov.org.

3:49 am: 87% reporting, still 51.8%-48.2%.



LA County finishes its count at almost a dead even tie. 1,317,125 votes for, 1,296,319 against. That's 50.4% to 49.6%. Santa Clara County is still inching toward a close, but with reports of a predicted 80 to 85% voter turnout and polling places that still had long lines at 8 pm (thanks [livejournal.com profile] feyandstrange!), no wonder it's taking so long. I can't stay awake clear through noon, folks, I have to sleep sometime.

No forward motion at all in San Bernardino. Srsly, WTF?

Do early voters also count as absentee voters? [livejournal.com profile] ephermata suggests they probably do, since they don't vote at their usual polling place. For that matter, my Occasional Housemate probably counts as an absentee voter, since she went to City Hall rather than taking the bus all the way out to the inner Sunset (where she's registered).

4:02 am: No chart this time, just news: Over 250,000 early or absentee ballots cast in Alameda County, and 100,000 early ballots cast in San Francisco. Sweet jumping fuck, this proposition is going to be decided by the absentee voters.

4:31 am: 91% reporting, still 51.8% for, 48.2% against.



San Diego and Santa Clara are both past the 3/4 mark. We're looking at a gap of 350,674 votes statewide. So now it's a question of what early voter turnout was like across the state, and whether early voters were likely to be for or against Prop 8.

Caffeine isn't helping anymore, and I'm supposed to be at work in seven hours. I'm wrapping this post here, folks. I'll do a summary in a new entry, and then I'm going to bed.

This one definitely isn't over till the final final count goes through.
maradydd: (Default)
The following is a response to this post about California's Proposition 8. I left it as a comment there, but comments are moderated, and somehow I don't think it will get posted. Thus, y'all get to read it here.

Amy writes:
"After legalizing same-sex marriage 5 short years ago HIV/AIDS has increased in Massachusetts with more than 40,000 being infected each year."
I don't know what Amy's source on this figure is, but I did some research, and this claim is not only wrong, it's wrong on several orders. The first same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was performed on May 17, 2004. Since then, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS -- "prevalence" meaning "how many people have it" -- has increased, but the rate of increase has fallen off sharply.

First of all, according to the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services' epidemiology department, whose 2007 report you can read for free, as of November 1, 2007 there were only 16,866 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts.

How could there be 40,000 new cases a year if the total number of cases in the state is less than half that?

The report also examines the trends in HIV infection. As you can see in the chart (the right-hand one on the first page), the number of newly diagnosed HIV infections dropped sharply between 2004 and 2005 and again in 2006. If you look at the first page of the data tables, you'll see that in 2003 the total number of cases was 14,992 and in 2004 it was 15,633. That's an increase of 641 cases. In 2005 the number was 16,217 -- an increase of 584 cases. In 2006 the number was 16,621 -- an increase of 404 cases. For the first ten months of 2007 it was 16,866 -- an increase of 245 cases.

What we can see from this is that the rate of new infections in Massachusetts has not only fallen since the introduction of gay marriage, it has fallen more quickly. 57 fewer people got infected in 2004 than in 2003. 180 fewer people got infected in 2005 than in 2004. And 159 fewer people got infected in the first ten months of 2007 than in all of 2005. If we project that trend out to the end of 2007, that would be 190 fewer new infections.

I'm sorry, Amy, but your argument doesn't hold up.
maradydd: (Default)
Same-sex marriage has only been legal in California for a very short while. [livejournal.com profile] tenacious_snail has a no-punches-pulled account of what it was like before, from the perspective of a daughter of a same-sex marriage:

I flew in to town and pretended that the woman who taught me how to do yard work, taught me to throw a ball, taught me to ski was my aunt. Someone who held my hand while I cried at a play. And who our law said wasn't my "real mom"-- that title got reserved for someone who walked out when I was an infant, but that I was still inherit from if she'd died in Louisiana without a will. She was 87 pounds, lying in that hospital bed, and when I saw her, I had a strong, visceral response and feared that she'd die of this disease. I fainted and hit my head on my way down, which caused *me* to go to the ER as well.

Over the next year, I visited about 4 times-- my real aunt, my stepmom's nephew and I each visited, so that my mom and stepmom would have someone else there for the difficult period that followed each treatment of chemotherapy. Because my mom and stepmom were not legally related, because same-sex marriage was not legal, my mom was not legally entitled to any sort of time off from work to care for her spouse of nearly 30 years.


California's Proposition 8, if it passes, will perpetuate a terrible effect on families. To a child, "family" is the people who take care of you as you grow up and teach you, by example, how to be an adult. The people who go out of their way to make sure that you're fed and cared for, who tuck you in at night, who help you with your homework and show you what responsibility and right action mean. That the law protects this relationship only when a particular combination of genders is involved is patently absurd and unjust.

[livejournal.com profile] tenacious_snail could have been raised by either her mother or her stepmother acting as a single parent, and few people would have complained. Why, then, is it such a remarkable matter when two women or two men do the same thing together? The cries of "immorality!" from benighted Prop 8 supporters completely ignore the fact that, working together, a lesbian couple raised a daughter with immense love for and loyalty toward her family, so much so that she was present for her stepmother's final days and death and all the bureaucracy that comes afterward. If that's not family values, I don't know what is.

Absolutely, let us protect families. Absolutely, let us protect children. Let us live under a set of laws which recognise the loving, caring relationships which really exist. Let us give all loving families the right to care for their members without obstruction, rather than reserving that right to heterosexual couples alone.

If you are in California, please vote NO on Proposition 8 tomorrow. If you know anyone in California, please encourage them to vote NO on Proposition 8 tomorrow. If you know anyone who is leaning toward voting yes, please point them at tenacious_snail's story, and ask them, point-blank and honestly, how they would have felt if they had been in the same situation -- whether they think that her mother should have been denied the right to care for her stepmother during her last days. It might not change their minds this time around -- but you can plant the seed of understanding, of recognition that "family" is not defined by X and Y.

ETA: If you're in Florida, please vote NO on 2, and if you're in Arizona, please vote NO on 102. Same reasoning applies. Thanks.

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maradydd

September 2010

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