Wedding update: T-minus 3 months

I just wanted to cross-ref to a post I wrote on our wedding blog last week, about some of the planning progress we’ve made so far. At the time of that writing, we were about a hundred days out from our wedding, but as of today — let me check my handy-dandy countdown clock on my computer desktop — it’s T-minus 3 months, or 92 days!

Here you go: wedding progress at thomandjeff.com.

Moving forward from Prop 8

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage, while recognizing the validity of the marriages performed prior to its passage, from June through Election Day 2008. This is basically what most people expected, so I’m not too surprised, but a half-victory is still disappointing. The decision as well as a news release summarizing the opinions are available on the court website (PDF).

The court saw Prop 8 as merely withholding the designation of marriage from same-sex couples and leaving the substantive rights intact in the form of domestic partnership, and the majority felt that doing so neither threatens equal protection nor rises to the level of a constitutional revision, which requires a higher threshold to enact than an amendment.

Prop 8 decision protest

Only Justice Carlos R. Moreno, the lone dissenter, seems to get what our side has been saying all along:

In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons.

So what are the silver linings? First, that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages performed last year are recognized. Second, that a movement is afoot to educate and persuade the public, and bring marriage equality back to the ballot. The tide has turned; time and momentum are on our side. And third, that domestic partnership, while not at risk during this case, still exists. Yes, it is a “separate but equal” institution — it’s impossible to imbue the status of domestic partnership with the aura of marriage — but it’s an important part of California family law.

Just partnered

Thom and I became registered domestic partners on February 13, 2009, and have been planning a wedding ceremony for this September, which from the outset we said we would have regardless of the Prop 8 decision. Prop 8 does not diminish the personal meaning of our relationship. Regardless of what the state recognizes, we will do what countless other couples, gay and straight, have done: stand before our community of family and friends, and pledge our life and love to each other.

Vermont legalizes gay marriage

Two pieces of news today on the marriage-rights front! First, the Vermont legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass its same-sex marriage bill, which takes effect September 1. (Perfect for a fall foliage wedding!) Aside: I’ve never been there, but I always did have a soft spot for the state ever since I did my fifth-grade state report on Vermont.

Also, the D.C. council has passed an initial, unanimous vote to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. (The resolution may have other hurdles ahead of it, namely congressional oversight.)

Back to Iowa, I love what Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said, in recounting his daughter’s words to conservatives against gay marriage (video):

And my daughter Kate, after listening for about twenty minutes, said to them: “You guys don’t understand. You’ve already lost. My generation doesn’t care.” I think I learned something from my daughter that day, when she said that. And Ive talked with other people about it and that’s what I see, Senator McKinley. I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other, and want state law to recognize that. Is that so wrong? I don’t think that’s so wrong. As a matter of fact, last Friday night, I hugged my wife. You know I’ve been married for thirty-seven years. I hugged my wife. I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the state recognize their love for each other.

It’s not that the tide is turning. It has turned. Come on, California!

Taxes are taxing

Yay, I’m done with my taxes. I had started my federal return a while ago, and today went back to it and filed electronically. Then I filed my California return electronically as well. The state return was convenient, especially since I didn’t have any differing federal vs. state adjustments to reconcile, but some of the state e-file instructions were confusing. If I had followed the “enter amount from line X from Form 1040” kind of instructions blindly without also reading some of the regular form instructions on their site, I would’ve over-reported a big subtraction to my income.

My first inkling something was wrong was when it said that I qualified for a renter’s credit (which I normally don’t qualify for) and that I was expecting a full refund of all my state tax withholding! I wish! But I went back a few pages, saw what was going on, and changed some of the numbers. I’m getting a small refund. Good enough.

Next year’s process for this tax year will be interesting. Thom and I became registered domestic partners this year, and in California RDPs must file with the same status as married couples. OK, fine. But of course the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex couples, so we will both have to file as single there and also create a draft “married” tax return on which to base our state taxes. Fun!

Factoid: As an example of the non-recognition, health insurance premiums for partners are federally taxed (where they otherwise wouldn’t be for married spouses); at least California doesn’t tax this, since tax treatment of registered domestic partners is basically equal to that of spouses.

Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, I’m going to enjoy anticipating my refunds and stimulating the economy.

Marriage equality in Iowa

Yesterday when I saw a tweet about the Supreme Court getting ready to rule on same-sex marriage, I thought it was talking about California and I was like, already?! Well, it’s Iowa, and they say yes! The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld a county judge’s ruling that the state law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional. Gay couples can apply for marriage licenses in Iowa beginning April 27. (Links: Des Moines Register coverage; Iowa Supreme Court opinion [summary, full].)

[Correction: I previously wrote April 24, but that happens to be a designated furlough day for the court system in Iowa, so the first day for license applications will be the next business day, Monday, April 27.]

Iowa

In California we’re still waiting for our Supreme Court to decide on the challenge to Prop 8. It has ninety days from oral arguments (held March 5) to issue its decision, which means the deadline is now about sixty days out. I’m still hoping they do the right thing and restore marriage equality in our state.

(Photo: When Thom and I drove across the country to move out West in 2006, we hardly stopped in Iowa if at all. This is a photo I took of a welcome sign on the freeway past the state line. Who would’ve known that it would soon be a Midwestern beacon of equality?)

Marriage déjà vu

Yesterday morning the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case challenging Prop 8, the voter initiative that amended the constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage rights in the state. Thom and I went to Civic Center in San Francisco to watch the hearing on a giant screen arranged by the marriage-equality organizations. (We ran into Julie there; here’s her pic of us and her whole set.) I didn’t feel like the hearing shed much new light on the case, since most of the arguments were ones we’ve heard before, but it was good to get a feel, slight though it was, for the justices’ thinking by way of their questions.

Gathered outside there were a lot of people on both sides of the debate, and though both crowds got loud especially after the hearing concluded and the attorneys emerged from the court building to make public remarks, the event was more or less peaceful.

Prop 8 hearing

Just last year at around this time, on March 4, 2008, I remember watching the webcast of the case that eventually led to the recognition of same-sex marriage rights a few months later. I’m trying to remain optimistic. This time around I guess I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, or rather, something in the middle. The buzz I’ve been reading is that the court may uphold Prop 8 as a legal amendment to the state constitution, but also uphold (rightfully so, I believe) the validity of the same-sex marriages entered into between June and November 2008.

The court must give its decision within ninety days. Whichever way it goes, we have to keep fighting for our rights.

Valentine’s Day weekend

If you followed my Twitter or Facebook status a couple weeks ago, you know this news: Thom and I are engaged. We’ve talked about this amongst ourselves for a while, so it was kind of planned — no one surprised anyone with a ring in the champagne or got down on one knee — but still special and romantic. We plan to have a wedding in the Bay Area sometime this fall. Although we are already registered domestic partners, there is nothing like a ceremony with our friends and family present. We’ll have it regardless of the outcome of the Prop 8 court challenge, and if the ban is overturned, which we hope will be the case, then we’ll get legally married!

Our Valentine’s Day weekend was spent on a little road trip down the Central Coast. On Saturday we went to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, about a four-hour drive from here in Daly City. That night we had dinner in Carmel at Citronelle, where we popped the question. (We said yes!) We stayed the night at the Hyatt Regency Monterey and the next day visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a lovely getaway (though the drive back on Sunday was stormy and harrowing).

My photos from Hearst Castle are up on Flickr, and soon I’ll add the aquarium photos to the set.

Hearst Castle - Neptune Pool

And so the wedding planning begins!

Join the impact

Fight the H8 in Your StateTomorrow, Saturday, November 15, simultaneous protests will take place all over the country to speak out against marriage inequality, especially Proposition 8, which eliminated the right to same-sex marriage here in California. The events start at 10:30 a.m. Pacific (1:30 p.m. Eastern). We’re going to the one in San Francisco at City Hall (Facebook page).

Go to Join the Impact to find a protest near you!