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California Upholds Proposition 8 Gay Marriage Ban, Leaves 18,000 Same-Sex Marriages Intact
by Kathy Drasky (kathy [at]
Tuesday May 26th, 2009 3:52 PM
Complicated State Ruling Adds to Federal Frustrations for Same-Sex Couples
San Francisco, CA—May 26, 2009—The California Supreme Court issued its ruling on the validity of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative today and upheld a voter-mandated ban on same-sex marriage. The 6-1 decision will allow the state constitution to define marriage as only that between a man and a woman.

In an effort not to have the Court’s 2008 decision permitting same-sex marriage undermined, the justices agreed to let the more than 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California between June and November last year remain intact.

“This ruling only further underscores the need for same-sex marriage to be recognized at the federal level,” said Mickey Lim, vice president and co-founder of Out4Immigration, a grassroots organization that works closely with same-sex marriage groups for recognition of same-sex binational couple rights tied to federal immigration policies.

“We see same-sex binational couples torn apart every day due to lack of federal protections for gay and lesbian relationships. While it is good news that the 18,000 California couples will be protected by the state, these couples, like all other gay and lesbian couples in this country remain legal strangers in the eyes of the U.S. government.”

The Human Rights Watch estimates there are nearly 40,000 same-sex binational couples in the United States. These are couples in which one partner is an American citizen or permanent resident and the other is from another country. Although opposite-sex binational couples can keep their relationships intact through federally recognized marriage and spousal immigration policies – same-sex binational couples are cruelly shut out from both options. When the foreign partner’s visa runs out, these couples have no options to remain in the country legally.

“It will take the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for same-sex couples to have full equal protection under U.S. law and access to all 1,138 federal rights currently only available to opposite-sex married couples,” said Lim. “One of these rights is immigration rights, and the right of a gay or lesbian American to sponsor a foreign partner for immigration purposes.”

A bill in Congress, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would add three words to existing immigration law, “or permanent partner”, wherever the word spouse appears and give same-sex binational couples the right to stay together legally in the United States. However, these couples’ relationships, along with same-sex couples legally married in California in 2008, or in the five other states currently recognizing same-sex marriage would continue to be shut out from full federal recognition of their relationships.

# # #
For more information:
California High Court Upholds Marriage Ban:
The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024):
The Uniting American Families Act (S.424):
Human Rights Watch Report: Family Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples under US Law:

Out4Immigration is a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination same-sex binational couples face under current US immigration law and the difficulties they encounter in keeping their families together legally in this country. For more information, visit

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Mary
Thursday May 28th, 2009 1:28 AM
Marriage is Murder:

on the discursive limits of matrimony

So, what is wrong with gay marriage?

In order to answer that question we must first understand what this thing called marriage is. Marriage is essentially a financial and legal contract that allocates the movement of property, power and privilege from one person to another. Historically it has been a way of consolidating family power amongst and between men, through women. In more recent times marriage in the United States has functioned to solidify the American middle class. Marriage does this through concentrating wealth and power through family lines and inheritance (both in terms of money and power). Because of marriage's ability to discipline class structures it is now, and always has been a primary structure of a capitalist economy. In reality most people marry within their own socioeconomic class. Marriage, earlier through miscegenation laws, and currently through racist "values" also contains wealth through racist ideologies of matrimony. Because of these realities there has been a long history of critique of the institution of marriage launched by feminists of color, white feminists, and queer people among others.

What about gay marriage? Isn't gay marriage going to change all of this?

NO. The current push towards gay marriage is, in fact, not going to subvert the systems of domination we all live through. Ironically, the gay marriage movement is standing on these same legacies of brutality for their slice of the wedding cake. Take for example the "Freedom to Marry" stickers created by the freedom to marry organization. Not only are these stickers falsely equating the intervention of the State into ones life (marriage) with "freedom" (when was the last time the State helped you to become more "free"?) they are trying to work this idea through horrifying star-spangled stickers. Instead of critiquing the ways US imperialism has rendered most transgender people, queer people, people or color etc. as expendable through its countless wars here and abroad, the Freedom To Marry stickers simply disguise these histories and reproduce this red-white-and-blue national theme for every married gay and guilt filled liberal to wear with PRIDE.

If straight people can marry, why should gay people not have the same privilege?

What we are calling for is an abolishment of State sanctioned coupling in either the hetero or homo incarnation. We are against any institution that perpetuates the further exploitation of some people for the benefit of others. Why do the fundamental necessities marriage may provide for some (like healthcare) have to be wedded to the State sanctioned ritual of terror known as marriage?

Won`t gay marriage help couples stay together where one person is not a US citizen?

The way immigration is being used by the gay marriage movement is not only un-thought-out but also relies on racist notions of the "white man saving his brown lover". Although it is true that because of the US policies on immigration some lesbian and gay couples may be split, gay marriage does not at all question these systems that allow some people into the country( white) while excluding others (people of color). Where are the gay marriage "activists" when the INS is actively raiding and deporting whole families ?(such as it is currently doing just blocks away from the Castro in San Francisco's Mission District). Also missing from the picture of immigration that gay marriage advocates are painting is the reality that there are queer couples in the US where neither person is a US citizen. How will gay marriage help them stay in the US if that is what they want to do? Gay marriage will not challenge "citizenship" but simply place some bodies within its grasp while holding others out.

I agree with your argument, but isn't gay marriage a step in the right direction?

This liberal model of "progression" is one of the primary ways many of us are ideologically trapped into a reformist way of thinking. To understand how gay marriage, like voting, will never lead to liberation we can look to the histories of many "social justice movements" that only address oppressions on a level of the symptomatic. Gay marriage and voting are symbolic gestures that reinforce structures while claiming to reconfigure them. This scheme will undoubtedly become apparent with "marriage equality" advocates. As they have positioned gay marriage as the last great civil rights battle, will they continue to fight after the Honeymoon?

Won't gay marriage help get health care to more people?

It may help some people get healthcare but for the vast majority of Americans with NO healthcare it will do nothing. And within the rhetoric of the gay marriage movement working towards healthcare for all (people and animals) is nowhere to be found. This argument also relies on the false assumption that one person would already have healthcare.

So if you are against gay marriage then you are allying with the Christian Right and the GOP!

NO. This is amongst the most troubling aspect of this current epidemic of gay marriage. The way the marriage movement is framing any critique of their precious institution is either you are one of us (gay married) or you are one of them (homophobe). This helps to silence the much needed debate and public discourse around such issues. It seems as if everyone has been shamed into submission and subsequent silence by the marriage movement. Even in allegedly "progressive" circles any mention of the implicit links between marriage, misogyny, and racism in the U.S. gets shutdown by a "gay married". Ironically, if you look at the rhetoric of the freedom to marry movement and the Republican Party their similarities are frighteningly apparent. In their ideal world we would all be monogamously coupled, instead of rethinking the practice of "coupling". They want us working our jobs not working towards collective and self-determination, remembering anniversaries not the murder of trans-people, buying wedding rings not smashing capitalism. The vision of the future the republicans and the gay marriage movement has offered will render most of us already in the margins of the picture (trans-people, sex workers, queers of color, HIV positive people, non-monogamous people etc) as the new enemy of the régime of married normalcy they hope to usher in.

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