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Nancy Goldstein: Old Married Lady

Congratulations to Nancy Goldstein of National Advocates for Pregnant Women for not only being featured in an article in the New York Times, but on the reason for the article itself:

Officially speaking, same-sex couples who live in New York State cannot be married. Nancy Goldstein and Joan Hilty, a Brooklyn couple who celebrated their third wedding anniversary on Saturday, are an unusual exception.

The two women have a pleasant Park Slope apartment, an excitable dog named Juno and a marriage certificate signed by the town clerk of Provincetown, Mass. Ms. Goldstein, 45, and Ms. Hilty, 40, were two of the gay and lesbian New Yorkers who rushed to cities and towns in Massachusetts to get married in May 2004, after it became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriages.

In the three years since then, the validity of their marriage certificate has been something of a question mark. But Ms. Goldstein and Ms. Hilty learned last week that a judge had ruled that same-sex couples from New York who married in Massachusetts from May 2004 to July 2006 have a legally recognized marriage.

“I got married,” said Ms. Goldstein, a director of an advocacy group for pregnant women. “I did not get civil-unioned. I got married.”

The judge’s ruling, issued on May 10 in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts. (Tanya Wexler and Amy Zimmerman, who were married in May 2004, were the only plaintiffs from New York City.) The court decision was a little-noticed development in one of the most contentious issues in politics, raising the population ever so slightly of New York’s legally married same-sex couples.

“It really is a cloud that’s been removed from these marriages,” said Michele Granda, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Boston group that represented the plaintiffs. “There shouldn’t be any question that those marriage licenses are worth the paper they’re printed on, and that Massachusetts fully backs the currency.”

The ruling affects only a limited number of New York’s same-sex couples: those who married in Massachusetts between May 17, 2004, when that state authorized same-sex marriages, and July 6, 2006, when New York’s highest court rejected an effort to allow gay marriage. Ms. Granda said the group knows of nearly 200 affected couples in New York, though she said the number is likely to be higher.

The lawsuit challenged a decision by Mitt Romney, then the governor, that only those gay couples who lived or intended to live in Massachusetts, or those couples whose home state did not forbid same-sex marriage, could get married in Massachusetts. Last year, a judge ruled that only Rhode Island did not prohibit same-sex marriage, noting that New York’s highest court ruled on July 6 that it was not permitted.

But lawyers for the out-of-state couples argued that those who had married in Massachusetts before the New York ruling had valid marriages.

Not that this is a total victory: there’s always the chance that there will be an appeal (though NY’s attorney general is not expected to do so, and the governor is on record as wanting to legalize same-sex marriage in New York), and even legally-married same-sex couples face roadblocks to acceptance. For example, Nancy and her wife Joan have six legal documents they keep with their marriage certificate to ensure that they will be able to make decisions about each other’s care should the occasion arise and rights to marital property; in addition, DoMA prevents them from filing federal taxes as a married couple.

But despite that, congratulations are in order for Nancy, Joan and all the rest of the couples whose marriages have been legally recognized. Mazel tov!

A Look Into the Bridal-Industrial Complex

Be afraid, soon-to-be-marrieds. There are all kinds of people out there looking to separate you from your money, using the social pressure of having The Perfect Wedding.

Basically, a reporter tagged along with Rebecca Mead, a New Yorker staff writer and the author of “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding,” to the Great Bridal Expo. Read the whole thing to see just how much of a scam weddings are, but this really jumped out at me:

Advice books warn brides not to reveal that they are shopping for a wedding, if possible, Ms. Mead said; vendors know that “if it’s wedding, you’re going to spend more.” So her suspicion is immediately aroused when the woman at East Coast Limousine asks, “Is it for a wedding?” when the question of a 22-passenger excursion in a long, white stretch limousine comes up. The wedding special is $720 for 3 ½ hours and includes an aisle runner, Champagne, bar and “horns” that play a recording of “Here Comes the Bride” when the car stops. Ever the experienced shopper, Ms. Mead asks how much the regular rental would be, if there were no wedding.

“A four-hour minimum is $576.” So you could spend $144 less and receive a half-hour more? Why not do that instead?

“You can’t,” the saleswoman replies. If it’s a wedding, you must do the wedding special. “If the bride and groom are in the car, you can’t do it. We’ve pulled in, and there is a woman in a wedding dress, and they can’t do it. The car had to leave.”

After taking a few steps away, Ms. Mead said, “This is the kind of thing that I’m really interested in — that mentality: you’re going to get the horns whether you want them or not.”

She imagines the scene: “They won’t let you in,” she repeats, picturing the bride, groom and 20 other passengers stranded on a street as the limo driver slams the door and pulls away. “That’s the one you need the videographer for.”

A friend of mine experienced this even with the very simple wedding she wanted. She wanted a dinner with about 15 people, with the actual wedding performed between courses. As she started calling around for reservations, she discovered that if she mentioned that it was for a wedding, suddenly she had to reserve an entire room rather than just a table, that there was mandatory cake, and expense upon expense upon expense. At every single restaurant she called. In the end, she just reserved a table for 15 and didn’t let on that it was for a wedding (since she wore a pink cocktail dress, it was easy enough not to give the game away by her attire).

One other very interesting point Mead makes in the article is that culturally, we’re conditioned to expect some kind of traumatic transition between single life and married life in order to accord marriage a special status and maintain that married people were changed by marriage. It used to be that just leaving your parents’ home and setting up as an “adult” was scary enough. Now, with people leaving the nest and moving in with their unmarried partners all the time, the wedding has taken on greater significance as a big source of drama that everyone has to get through in order to become a Married Person. There’s a sense that people who have easy weddings have cheated, somehow, because they get the status of being married without having gone through all the Drama. They might as well just be living in sin!

Progressive Family Values Conference at Yale

Ed: “Family Values” rhetoric is a major tool used by the right to gain votes and score morality points. But it’s the progressive left that actually takes steps to help families. Two weeks ago, a the Progressive Family Values Conference took place at Yale, where progressive thinkers came together to discuss these issues and strategize ways to incorporate our values into policy. The following is a commentary from one NYU Law student who attended the conference. It’s interesting stuff, so read on! And now, on to Colin:

A guest post by Colin Parent, NYU 3L, and former president of the NYU Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society

On April 21st, the Yale Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society, with the Yale Women Faculty Forum co-sponsored a conference on Progressive Family Values.

The American Constitution Society (ACS) is a relatively new organization of progressive law students and lawyers. Among their varied actives is a series of conferences for students and lawyers designed to develop a progressive vision of law and policy in America.

This most recent conference was premised on an understanding that the term “family values” has taken on a traditionalist connotation, popularly considered a reference to a certain social conservative ideology. But progressives also have values relevant to ensuring successful families. The function of families, from giving care to dependents to providing a fulfilling home life are all functions progressives have an interest in advancing.

With this in mind, among the conference’s stated goals were to push back against “progressive shyness” with respect to speaking about family values. But the conference was about more than just terminology or progressive rhetoric. Instead, the assembly aimed to encourage serious thought and conversation over how Americans can structure their laws and policies to protect their progressive family values.

Read More…Read More…

More Double Standards

What’s our double standard this time? Multiple marriages: okay for men, something for women to be ashamed of.

WHEN Judith Giuliani recently revealed that she had been married not twice but three times, her disclosure caused a stir. In all the public accounts about her relationship with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, why had it never come out that she had an earlier, four-year marriage before she wed Bruce Nathan, long assumed to be her first husband?

Asked in an interview with Barbara Walters on “20/20” that was broadcast Friday whether she had deliberately hidden the first marriage “because it might look bad that you had now three husbands,” Mrs. Giuliani said Mr. Giuliani, now a Republican presidential candidate, always knew. But she acknowledged that his run for national office required her to go public.

“And when I was asked, we discussed it,” she said. “That was my decision.”

Note that this is the third marriage for each of them. Yet only Judith felt it necessary to downplay that fact. And only Judith was being asked whether it “might look bad” that she had been thrice-married. The concern was that conservative voters would not accept a thrice-married First Lady, not that they would not accept a thrice-married President.

A more relevant question would be the role that Judith played in the very public and very ugly breakup of Rudy’s second marriage, in which Rudy let his wife (the mother of his children) know he was leaving her by squiring Judith in front of reporters and making a statement to the press. On Mother’s Day.

But it’s fascinating that Judith wouldn’t have told anyone about her first marriage had the issue not been forced by Rudy’s presidential ambitions. And she’s not the only woman who feels necessary to downplay the number of marriages she has had even as divorce and remarriage becomes more common:

Although third unions are losing shock value, some of the multiple married say they are still fearful of negative attitudes. You can always blame the first divorce on the ex, some experts noted, but by the second and third breakup it gets harder to point fingers.

“Something must be wrong with you,” Constance Ahrons, a family therapist in San Diego who researches and writes books on divorce and remarriage, said of an attitude still seen today. “We haven’t gotten over that for second and third marriages.”

For her third wedding, Donna Leeds surrounded herself with 100 friends, relatives and clients and had the big celebration she had missed out on in her first two marriages.

The third time was not the charm, however, and six years later Ms. Leeds ended up divorced, again. “I stayed with him for six years because I was embarrassed of having been married three times and not making it work,” she said.

That’s very telling. Women are expected to carry the emotional burden of a marriage, and if it doesn’t work out, there’s a suspicion that she failed at making it work. Even when the marriage breaks up due to the husband’s infidelity, blame is often cast on the wife — I mean, how many times have you heard some guy explaining away his indiscretions by referencing his wife’s coldness, or nagging, or unwillingness to give him head, or what have you?

One marriage breaking up can be blamed on bad luck, but absent being widowed, when a woman goes through multiple husbands, a lot of people feel that there’s something about her that’s not quite right in terms of her womanhood — that the failure of the marriages means that she’s not doing the kinds of things a woman should be doing to keep a marriage together. Like looking pretty or being nice or being loving or what have you.

That’s not to say, of course, that men who are married three times or more aren’t looked at funny. It’s just that the focus tends to be on what they actually *did* to contribute to the end of the marriages, rather than what they *didn’t* do, or what they *should have* done. So when, say, a Rudy Giuliani leaves his second wife for his mistress and lets her know via press conference, or Newt Gingrich leaves his second wife for his mistress and lets her know via divorce papers served to the hospital room where she was recovering from cancer, the focus is on their actions. Whereas their second wives are left wondering if things would have been different if only they’d been younger, or more attractive, or flattered them more.

And even when a woman doesn’t have a history of divorce in her own past, she can be affected by a partner’s previous divorces:

Part of her shame was the double standard she said divorced women have experienced. In fact, some divorce lawyers said third wives have fared worse than first wives in divorce settlements in the past, especially if the woman herself has had previous marriages, because it was assumed that a third marriage was worth less than the first.

“It’s O.K. if the man goes out and gets married three or four times,” Ms. Kendrick said. “For the woman, it almost makes her look like she’s sleeping around.”

Wasn’t that something that the oxytocin people say about multiple marriages (not to mention serial monogamy)? That it’s just the same as sleeping around? It’s all part of the idea that women get used up a little more with each man they have a relationship with? It’s definitely an exception to the usual idea that marriage confers some kind of magical protection against the depletion of the pussy. I guess it doesn’t count, though, unless the pussy is delivered to one’s husband hermetically sealed. Once some other man’s been in there, the magic is gone.