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Friday, May 8, 2009

From the Feminist Daily Newswire, two gay rights items of note:

California Supreme Court Will Not Hear Appeal in Sexual Orientation Expulsion Case

The California Supreme Court ruled last week that they will not hear an appeal in a case where a private Lutheran high school in the state expelled two students in 2005 based on suspicions that the students were lesbians. The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled in January that the school legally expelled the students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar dissented.

According to an ACLU filing with the California Supreme Court, "The opinion could be construed, to contain a wholesale exemption for any private school that in its mission statement claims to 'inculcate [its students] with a specific set of values." The ACLU also wrote that the ruling confuses "when the Unruh act applies in the private school context" and also challenges "one of the express reasons Unruh applies to 'business establishments' -- the refusal of a private school to make its facilities available to African-American students," The Recorder reported.

The lower court's ruling PDF argues that although the California Lutheran High School accepts tuition, "it is not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Act; hence it [can] legally discriminate based on perceived sexual orientation." The ruling relied heavily on a 1998 CA Supreme Court ruling that allows the Boy Scouts of America to legally exclude individuals on the basis of sexual orientation because the Boy Scouts are "not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Civil Rights Act."

Maine Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

Governor John Baldacci signed a bill yesterday that legalizes same sex marriage in Maine. The state Senate voted 21 to 13 in favor of the bill in a final vote yesterday. The state House voted 89 to 58 earlier this week in favor of the bill.

Baldacci told reporters "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions….I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.", according to the Morning Sentinel. Prior to final passage of the bill by the state Senate, it had been unclear whether Governor Baldacci would sign the bill.

The law will go into effect in September, 91 days after the state legislature adjourns. However, under Maine state law, a people's veto effort can delay the law from going into effect. According to the Bangor Daily News, more than 55,000 valid signatures are needed to place a repeal of the law on the state ballot. A recent poll showed 47.3 percent of Maine residents support the same sex marriage bill and that 49.5 percent oppose the legislation, reported the Associated Press.

Maine is the fifth state to permit same sex marriage in the United States after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont. Similar legislation is currently under consideration in New York and New Hampshire.

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