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The fight for gay equality at home and on the battlefield won encouraging court victories last week.
In a case brought by ACLU of Washington State, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton on Sept. 24 ordered the reinstatement of former Air Force flight nurse Maj. Margaret Witt, who sued for her job after being discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Witt is eager to return to duty.
By contrast, the Department of Justice on Sept. 23 filed a brief objecting to an injunction against DADT proposed by Log Cabin Republicans following their Sept. 9 victory in U.S. District Court. The question again arises of why President Obama feels he must defend a statute he opposes, when its every justification is fabricated.
In the absence of political leadership, and while Democrats mostly stay in a defense crouch, Leighton’s ruling – and the earlier one by Judge Virginia A. Phillips in the LCR case – suggest that if Congress refuses to act, the courts may resolve the issue.
On the home front, a three-judge panel of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal ruled on Sept. 22 that the state’s gay-adoption ban violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution. Gov. Charlie Crist, now running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, immediately halted enforcement of the ban. Plaintiff Martin Gill and the ACLU of Florida, which represented him and his partner, have requested that the case stop there and not be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
A blogger named Monsignor Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington reacted by accusing the Florida court of ignoring “Mother Nature” and “her plan.” The Catholic Church’s invocation of natural law is nothing but religious doctrine in pseudoscientific drag. This authoritarian organization, which has fought intellectual freedom for centuries, expects its pronouncements to trump peer-reviewed scientific journals. But the scorn and junk science do not conceal the fact that Rome and its allies are losing their war against our families.
In a 2009 interview, Martin Gill said, “Our kids came together, and in this particular case the 4-year-old was taking care of the baby. The 4-year-old knew how to feed that baby, he knew how to change that baby, and for the first month he kept trying to compete with me every time I was feeding or changing him, because he thought that was his job. That’s what happens in neglect cases.
“But the important thing there is that he had this bond with that baby. And today he still has that bond with that baby, and the thought that they would split them up so that they could get some heterosexual parents to adopt them is really heartbreaking. Along those lines … I am very confident in saying we are the best parents for these children.”
Watching that interview on YouTube, my joy mingles with anger at our having to fight. In any event, we cannot postpone our lives. On Oct. 3, my partner Patrick and I will be among the witnesses as our friends Alan and Will have their marriage formalized by their synagogue and the District of Columbia. Their 7-year-old son Samuel, whose adoption by them was made possible by a D.C. court ruling eight years before he was born, will bear their rings.
I presided over Alan and Will’s first, unofficial wedding in 1994, declaring that, “Their love is its own authority.” This time they will have a real marriage license and a real rabbi. I will help to hold up the chuppah, the traditional Jewish wedding canopy. Sam will read from a poem by Walt Whitman, who wrote, “As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.”
Here’s to defending our miracles.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.