Daily archives: July 7th, 2009

D.C. Law Recognizing Out-of-Jurisdiction Marriages By Same-Sex Couples Takes Effect

From our friends at the Human Rights Campaign:

D.C. joins other jurisdictions across the nation on the historic road to marriage equality.

Washington, D.C.– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following statement after a new D.C. law recognizing marriages by same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions became effective today.

“Today, same-sex couples in D.C. who have married elsewhere, or who choose to marry in one of the growing number of jurisdictions that provide marriage equality, will have their relationships fully recognized,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This law is an important and historic step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal rights under D.C. law for same-sex couples. Congratulations to the D.C. Council, Mayor Fenty and the many advocates of equality in our community who have worked hard for, and continue to pursue, marriage equality in D.C.”

On May 5, 2009, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly passed legislation that expressly recognizes marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, including foreign countries. The bill was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty the next day and transmitted to Congress for review. Opponents of marriage equality attempted to stop the legislation from taking effect by proposing a referendum. However, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled last month that the proposed referendum would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act and therefore was not a proper subject matter for the referendum process. A D.C. Superior Court judge upheld this ruling and denied opponents’ request for a preliminary injunction to stay the legislation. The law took effect today, at the conclusion of the 30 day Congressional review period.

Under the new law, a same-sex couple living in D.C. who is legally married elsewhere – for example, in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Canada – will be recognized as married in D.C. and will receive the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage under D.C. law. D.C. law continues to provide for domestic partnerships for same-sex and different-sex couples. Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in D.C. itself, although their marriages from other jurisdictions are now recognized.

Six states recognize marriage for same-sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (effective September 1, 2009), Maine (scheduled to become effective September 2009, pending possible referendum) and New Hampshire (effective January 1, 2010). Outside the United States, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden recognize marriage for same-sex couples.

New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction, and the legislature is considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in New York. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality for same-sex couples. The 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed in California before the passage of Proposition 8 remain valid.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and responsibilities anywhere in the United States. To learn more about state by state legislation, visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Pittsburgh Launches Anti-Violence Program Reminiscent of CeaseFireChicago

The city of Pittsburgh is launching an anti-violence program.  Reading about it, it reminds me of Cease Fire Chicagco, with a twist.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The program is based on the work of David Kennedy, a professor in the anthropology department at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It involves “call-in sessions” that bring gang members face-to-face with relatives, community leaders and law enforcement officials who tell them of the pain they cause and offer to help them escape the street life — or threaten to crack down on the whole group if one member commits another act of violence.

So far, Pittsburgh hasn’t held any such sessions. But city Councilman Ricky Burgess thinks one can happen as soon as the fall.

And more from the same article:

“There’s a nearly 15-year history now of the kind of work that Pittsburgh is undertaking,” Mr. Kennedy said last week. “There have been many, many cities that have done this. Everyone who has been serious about sticking to the core elements has been successful.”

Boston, the first city to undertake the program, demonstrates the limits of such success. After posting a two-thirds decline in youth homicides in the late 1990s, the murder rate started to climb again as police and community groups lost their focus on gang violence.

The process pioneered by Mr. Kennedy is complicated and labor intensive. Organizers must create a list of a city’s most violent groups. They then identify group members who are already under probation or parole and compel them to attend a first call-in session, often in a courtroom.

At the session, relatives of homicide victims talk about their anguish over the death of a loved one, while clergy members or other community leaders describe how violence is harming a community.

And I like this anecdote from North Carolina:

[Police Chief James Fealy of High Point, N.C.] cites as an example one man with an extensive criminal record who was threatened with hefty consequences if he didn’t stop selling drugs. Three months after the call-in session, officers caught the man smoking marijuana. But he was only charged with possession.

“We didn’t tell him he couldn’t smoke dope. He wasn’t dealing drugs,” Chief Fealy said.

Planners in some cities have to be ready to adjust tactics as the situation on the ground changes.

Imagine that: NOT arresting someone for smoking pot.  What a concept!

I like this concept Pittsburgh is considering because it dares to look at things differently.  Endless incarceration is not the best path to a crime-free society.  Incarceration is a simplistic and inadequate solution.

The solution that works actually takes more work than that.  Any real solution is going to be “complicated and labor intensive,” and that’s the only solution to violence that will last.