I've not read the opinion, so I have no insights or additional thoughts, but for your reading pleasure, I offer today's New Jersey opinion, introduced with these words:
Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to samesex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.
Who knows what the effect of this will be? Will it energize the Religious Right as the Massachusetts decision in Goodridge arguably did? I don't know. Still, at the end of the day, it was the right decision and I'm so proud of them.
Born in circumstances of abject poverty in a country halfway around the world, Dennis Castle lost his mother the day he was born.Much of the next 32 years would be consumed by the search for his father.That search ended three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago Saturday I received an email from a woman I’d never heard of before.It asked, cryptically, if I was the “Brogan” who served aboard the submarine USS Grayback from 1972 – 1976.If I was, would I please call her immediately as it was a matter of some urgency.Her phone number was included.
Well, of course, my name is Brogan and I did serve aboard the Grayback during those years, but that information is easily discovered by anyone with an Internet connection – my life isn’t lived quietly in the closet – so I did not call her back but instead wrote back to ask what her interest in me was.
The woman’s name was Amanda (oddly enough the same name as my youngest daughter), and she said that her husband, Dennis had been told by the woman that raised him that his father’s name was Brogan.Thus began a tale that would occupy every waking moment for all of us for the next couple of weeks.
At first we parried – hesitating to give away too much personal information. I had no memory of an encounter that would lead to a son. I suggested a DNA test. Soon, our wariness waned, and the story – and the apparent truth of if – began to emerge.Dennis’ mother had worked in a bar in the Philippines during the time that I was there. While working there, she met a US sailor and became pregnant. Dennis was born nine months after an extended stay I had had in the city of his birth. Her closest friend was Anna (in another odd coincidence, this is also my mother’s name).Anna was with his mother the day Dennis was born.With no one else to look after him, Anna took in Dennis and raised him as her own.Later, she too met a US sailor, married him and emigrated to the United States bringing Dennis with her.
As Dennis grew older he became more and more curious about his parents, especially about the father whom he’d never met.He plied his step-mother for information: Who was he? What did he do?What did he look like?She told him all that she knew:
His name was either David or Dennis Brogan, he was from a northern suburb of Denver Colorado, he was on the US Navy boxing team, he was quite young and he was very blond.Oh yes, he loved pistachio nuts.
Well, of course, this was fantastical for me.All of those things were true.We exchanged many photographs, we spoke at length on the phone.I shared the photographs of Dennis and his four daughters (my grandchildren!) with my mother and my spouse.My family and I could see my father’s eyes and my facial structure in his face.He and Amanda saw his same direct look, his same smile and his same penchant for silliness in me.
His long search was over.He had found the person he knew to be his father.Finally, after all these years, he felt that he belonged.We both cried as we spoke on the phone. He called me “Mom.”I had a son.
The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming.How much more proof did we need?
In a blow that still has us all reeling, the DNA evidence returned a negative result.Dennis has, once again, lost his parent. And I, too, am heart-broken.
For your reading "pleasure" I offer a paper I just wrote for one of my classes in law school (Sex Equality). Our professor, Catharine MacKinnon asked us to write based on personal experience, so I did. :) It's not much of a legal paper, but some of my readers may enjoy it, nonetheless.
Am I A Woman?
To some, my transition from male to female is incomprehensible, if not impossible.To others, it is unnatural and immoral.To a great many, it is unsettling and vaguely threatening. Why is it seemingly impossible for some people, including some courts, to accept me as a woman? What about my transition threatens the social hierarchy?Does blurring the lines of sex or gender (as transsexuals arguably do1) work toward the deconstruction of the pattern of male dominance in our culture? Some men may see my transition as threatening to their very identity: can it be true that there is so little that distinguishes men from women; does the power structure rest only on this? At the same time, some women – especially some feminists – see my transition as an encroachment by the male patriarchy into the already restricted domain of women. These thoughts and questions have caused me to reflect upon my transition and how my own identity as a woman came about.
Was I always a woman “inside”,2 or did I become one at some point in time?Was it the first time I was raped by a man? Was it later, when I felt the need to express my identity by looking and sounding like a woman? When I began living “full time” as a woman?When I changed my name, driver’s license and passport to reflect the female gender? When I first accepted employment as a woman, at 80% of my previous earnings level? When I conformed my body to a “natal” woman’s body?These possibilities beg the fundamental question:What is a woman?
I ask this question, not intending to rehash the determination of gender from the various medico-legal perspectives.The intermediate appellate court in In Re Gardiner fully analyzed the relevant factors,3 in my opinion, when it addressed the legal question of determining gender.Unfortunately, the Kansas Supreme Court reverted to a mechanical you-are-what-you-were-anatomically-born-as test, grounded in the ability to reproduce. In re Estate of Gardiner, 273 Kan. 191, 2002 (“A male-to-female post-operative transsexual does not fit the definition of a female. The male organs have been removed, but the ability to "produce ova and bear offspring" does not and never did exist”).This is the regrettable outcome of every case since the New Jersey court in M.T. v. J.T.4 first held out hope to transgendered people that the law would recognize the gender they knew themselves to be.See, e.g., Littleton v. Prange, 9 S.W.3d 223 (Tex. App. 1999).5
Here, my approach to the question is, necessarily, far more personal than legal, as womanhood was neither my birthright, nor something I could merely decide or declare, but instead something I had to take steps to achieve. How did I know what to do? Certainly, I knew intuitively that becoming a woman was a matter of letting show that part of myself that needed to be expressed as a woman and letting go of my constructed male persona.
With this post, I hope to begin regular posting once again. To all of you who missed me and expressed that through comments and emails, I thank you. Even my daughter chastised me earlier today that I should post more often than "once in a blue moon". OK. Things have settled down a little bit, so I'll try. My goal is a minimum of one post per week. I'll do more, if/when I can.
This isn't actually a substantive post -- so everything I said in my previous post stands. This is, instead, just me expressing outrage. Read this whole article.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today criticized U.S. House leadership for placing its political interests above the interests of congressional pages, as demonstrated by the growing scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, who is under FBI investigation for salacious e-mail exchanges with at least one teenage page.
Statement from Matt Foreman, Executive Director National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
“Given similar past sordid situations in the page program perpetrated by male members of Congress against female pages, it’s absurd to blame the Foley spectacle on his being gay, closeted or otherwise. Given the fact that the current Republican leadership in the House has never hesitated to attack gay people, it’s even more absurd for people like Newt Gingrich to say the reason they didn't take prompt action was because they didn’t want to be accused of ‘gay bashing.’ Cut me a break.
“What’s clear is that the House leadership elevated holding onto a seat above the interests of young people in the page system. And they want to talk about ‘moral values’? Please.”
Conservative leaders on the Foley scandal:
When asked on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace why top Republican House leaders said nothing despite knowing for months that Rep. Mark Foley had sent inappropriate e-mails to at least one teenage page, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remarked: “I think, had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, as quoted in an Oct. 3 story on CNSNews.com: “[The House GOP leadership] discounted or downplayed earlier reports concerning Foley’s behavior — probably because they did not want to appear ‘homophobic.’ The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children.”
I'm sorry about that extended hiatus. I wish I could report that it's over. The truth is the past 5 or 6 weeks have been remarkable. There is so much to report (culminating in this past 10 days which have been unprecedented in my lifetime -- and my readers all know that's saying a lot). Hopefully, I'll fill you all in soon. But, frankly, I'm just so very busy that blogging simply hasn't been on my list.
I have decided to start a blog. The first question is, what do I have to say? I have such deep, insightful thoughts when I am in the middle of doing something else, or laying awake in bed, and yet no recollection of them when I am sitting at the keyboard. I am certain this happens to everyone… we are all brilliant in our own heads. But now I want to shine in the cyberworld. I want to be a blogger on issues of importance and perhaps more importantly, I want my readers to be impressed with my intelligence and wit.
Check it out. I will return -- probably within the next two weeks.