Friday, October 27, 2006

Mark, please get a good prenup

With his memoir The Confession now selling as well as an Ann Coulter book at Lambda Rising, New Jersey's gay ex-governor Jim McGreevey was delited with the state supreme court's decision on Wednesday essentially legalizing gay marriage (it could end up being "civil unions" instead of marriage, but it will be legally indistinguishable). In fact, he jumped right on the bandwagon and wants to make an honest man out of his beau Mark O'Donnell:

Former Gov. James E. McGreevey, who resigned in 2004 after announcing he is "a gay American," said yesterday he would like to enter into a civil union with his partner, Mark O'Donnell, once his divorce from his second wife is final.

"I would obviously look forward to having our relationship recognized," McGreevey said, reacting to yesterday's state Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. "It's a blessing to live in New Jersey."

Let us not forget that McGreevey was governor at the time the gay marriage case was filed and he ordered his Attorney General, Peter Harvey, to fight the claims made by the gay plaintiffs. That was then:

Reached on his cell phone as he was traveling in Canada to visit Morag, his daughter from his first marriage, the former governor said the court's ruling on the rights of same-sex partners "is a tremendous victory for decency" and "represents the progressive tradition of our state Supreme Court."

"It's so profoundly emotional and meaningful," McGreevey said of the ruling. "It speaks to the value of marriage and the value of committed relationships, gay or straight. It's groundbreaking and it shows a great generosity of spirit."

* * *

"The decision is courageous," said McGreevey. He reiterated previous comments that he laments opposing gay marriage while he was in politics, mainly to mask his own sexuality.

"I only wish I had had the fortitude to embrace it as governor," McGreevey said. He has written a book about his experiences and regrets.

Oh Jim, please go away now. Really.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's in an appearance?

We noticed one interesting item in the "appearances" list at the front of the New Jersey Supreme Court's "gay marriage" opinion -- Lewis v. Harris. At the top of page 2 it lists who represented the State in this appeal:
Patrick DeAlmeida, Assistant Attorney General argued the cause for respondents (Anne Milgram, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney; Mr. DeAlmeida and Mary Beth Wood, on the briefs).

Anne Milgram is the First Assistant Attorney General, i.e., she is the second in charge in the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General's right hand woman.

For a very short period of time -- in between Zulima Farber's resignation and Stuart Rabner's confirmation and swearing in -- Ms. Milgram served as Acting Attorney General. That period of time was from August 31, 2006 to September 26, 2006.

Why then does Anne Milgram's name and title as Acting Attorney General appear on the court's opinion released one month after Mr. Rabner assumed the job of Attorney General? Given that the briefs were written when Peter Harvey was Attorney General and the oral argument was held while Ms. Farber held that post, and neither of their names appear on the decision, shouldn't the current AG's name be listed? We think the answer to that question is easy: Yes.

So why doesn't it? Was the opinion written, done, signed off, and ready for filing and release to the public over a month ago when Ms. Milgram was Acting Attorney General? If so, why wasn't it released then? Why did the court wait a month to issue its decision?

That's where the heading to this post comes in: Was this an "October surprise" (as some have mentioned) meant to somehow affect an election? Or was it "confirmation assistance"? What we mean by that is this: was the decision purposefully delayed so that then-Justice Zazzali would not have to face a barrage of questions about the court's opinion -- and his support for full and immediate gay marriage -- during the senate confirmation hearing on his appointment as chief justice held last week?

Or was it just a typographical error?

We aren't big conspiracy theorists, but this one got even us wondering.


Having now read the New Jersey Supreme Court's gay marriage decision -- Lewis v. Harris -- we have a few observations on the decision:

First, we were wrong on our prediction that the decision would not be unanimous. Although there was a 4-3 split, at the end of the day the 7 justices agreed that marriage or the equivalent must be afforded to gay couples. We did think there would be an actual dissent, somewhat in line with the New York Court of Appeals decision a few months ago in which the court left decisions on defining marriage to the legislature.

Second, the split was interesting. The 3 justices who would have ordered full marriage for gay couples are all, essentially, tenured and will never face the appointment and confirmation process again. Under New Jersey's constitution, members of the judiciary are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate for an initial 7-year term. At the end of that term, the governor must reappoint the judge or justice (if he or she so chooses). If reappointed and then confirmed by the senate again, that judge has tenure until the mandatory retirement age of 70. Chief Justice Poritz, who turned 70 today, retired yesterday after the opinion was issued. Justice Zazzalli, who was confirmed by the senate as chief justice just two days before this decision was issue, will be 70 this coming July and will not face another confirmation hearing before then. Justice Long was recently reappointed and reconfirmed and now has her job until she turns 70 in 2012.

The four justices in the majority will all face reappointment over the next several years. Justice LaVecchia, who was sworn in to a term beginning on February 1, 2000, is up for reappointment in a few short months. Then comes Justice Albin, who will face reappointment in September 2009, Justice Wallace in September 2010 and Justice Rivera-Soto in September 2011.Was there a reason for the tenure v. non-tenure split, given the outcome? Who knows, but we thought it was interesting that the four members of the court who will face questioning from the state senate during their reconfirmations over the next few years didn't find that gay marriage was a fundamental right, something that the tenured justices would have found.

Third, the Democrat leaders in the legislature weren't too happy with the 180-day time period given by the court. Considering that New Jersey can't do a damn thing in 6-months, changing the state's entire marriage regime in that time seems a little ambitious. Snaps to Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. for telling the court what they thought about the timeframe:
"Given the fact that it took the judicial system nearly four years to come up with a 4-3 split decision, we think the determination by only four justices that the entire Legislature is obligated to respond within 180 days is unreasonable."
So there, justices!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gay marriage in New Jersey?

New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz's last day on the bench is Thursday, her 70th birthday. As a goodbye to Poritz, the New Jersey Supreme Court will be releasing its opinion in Mark Lewis, et al. v. Gwendolyn L. Harris, et al, No. A-68-05 -- the New Jersey gay marriage case.

From the front page of the New Jersey judiciary's website (right below the "pay your traffic ticket online" link!):
The following Supreme Court decision is expected to be released on Wednesday, October 25, 2006, at 3:00 p.m.: A-68-05 Mark Lewis, et al. v. Gwendolyn L. Harris, et al. Mercer County and Statewide)
According to the Supreme Court's website, the question to be decided is: "Does the New Jersey Constitution require the State to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

It has long been rumored that Chief Justice Poritz would author the main opinion in favor of granting marriage rights to gays. Whether that is the majority opinion or a dissent remains to be seen.

I guess we'll find out tomorrow.


The skinny from the Trenton streets is that Poritz was unable to get the 4 votes needed in favor of a right to gay marriage under the New Jersey Constitution and is stuck with just 3. How does it break down?

Rumor has it that newly-confirmed Chief Justice James R. Zazzali is a "no" vote and our guess is that Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. and Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto are also on the "no" side. Wallace and Rivera-Soto, although appointed by Democrats, are Repbulicans (at least in name) because they replaced Republicans on the court (New Jersey has always kept their Supreme Court at a 4-3 political split). We wouldn't describe them as conservatives, by any means, given that the New Jersey Supreme Court hasn't had a true conservative on it in many years.

With Poritz on the "yes" side is likely Justice Virginia Long, one of the court's more liberal members, and either Justice Barry T. Albin or Justice Jaynee LaVecchia. Albin was put on the court by former governor Jim McGreevey and is a Democrat. We wouldn't necessarily call him a liberal, but he's sure no conservative. LaVecchia is a Republican who was put on the bench by Governor Christie Whitman. She is best described as a moderate, probably slightly more pro-business.

So if its a 4-3 no-marriage split, our guess is that the "no" votes are Zazzali, LaVecchia, Wallace, Rivera-Soto. That leaves dissents by Poritz, Long and Albin.

Wednesday Morning Thoughts:

We'll know what the outcome is in about 4 hours, but thinking about it more last night we have just a few more things to share:

1) By no means are we predicting a 4-3 "no marriage" split. We talked with our people in Trenton and that was the general consensus on why it was taking so long -- Poritz was trying to win another vote (although the opinion might have been delayed so as not to be a center piece to Zazzali's confirmation hearing). This morning's news from New Jersey 101.5 noted that it was the "consensus" from both sides of the political aisle that the court would rule in favor of gay marriage. This is an activist court. It has been for 30+ years.

2) We do not see this as a unanimous opinion. It could be 4-3 yes, 4-3 no, 6-2 yes, etc. It won't be 7-0 either way.

3) Fox News (and the AP) reported the story this morning as a "headline" during Fox and Friends. The Fox anchor noted that since New Jersey doesn't have a residency requirement for marriage, like Massachusetts, gay couples will "flock" to New Jersey to get married. I'd be interested to see what a flock of gays looks like. ;-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Silent protest?

This is silly and just goes to show you that college students have too much time on their hands:

Students at the nation's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hearing-impaired promised Friday to keep the campus shut down in a protest over its incoming president.

Gallaudet University students have blocked access to campus buildings since Wednesday, and the incoming president has refused to step aside.

Why do they want the new president to go?

The protests began last spring when Jane K. Fernandes, the university's provost, was appointed president by the board of trustees. She is scheduled to take over for President I. King Jordan in January.

Fernandes has said some people do not consider her"deaf enough"to be president. She was born deaf but grew up speaking and did not learn American Sign Language, the preferred method of communicating at Gallaudet, until she was 23.

Not deaf enough? Come on. Who makes that call? Are there people who are too deaf to be Gallaudet's president?

I guess things could be worse -- the Gallaudet students could also be handing out root beer like these idiots.

Anyway, how do you say "Hell no, we won't go" in sign language?

"Perfecting the Art of Fart Projection"


Say you're stuck on a plane next to a chatty neighbor, and you want nothing more than to be left alone. Thanks to [Michelle and Brian] Watters, you can just open up your hardback copy of "How to Murder a Complete Stranger . . . and Get Away With It" and odds are you'll get your wish.

The Ottawa couple is selling individual self-help book jackets sporting comical titles — and they're hoping readers with an active funny bone will help themselves, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

Among their eccentric offerings are "How to Overcome Nymphomania" (sure to get you some dates), "Do-It Yourself Vasectomy" (for the medical enthusiast with an independent streak) and "The Nutritional Benefits of Nose-Picking" (a must-read for any aspiring culinary artist) — to name a few.

Let's not forget "How to Make Your Mother a Porn Star" and "Perfecting the Art of Fart Projection."

I like it. Michelle and Brian need a website!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What About Brian?....BRIAN! What About Joey?

I so rarely get involved with matters of television, but hear me out on this one. I usually have stellar ideas on how to fix wayward shows (Saturday Night Live, Ally McBeal, Friends, and don't even get me started on Lost). Anywho, so have we heard of the cheesefest What About Brian? I didnt think so. Seeing how it stands to be cancelled in about T minus 2 weeks. I haven't seen it either, of course. But I am sure it is as not-cute and as hellishly enfuriating as a pile of cats. So, how am I devising we fix What About Bri? Brian needs to be gay. Now, I am not one of those types who needs "the gay" in every piece of entertainment. In fact, more often than not I think the token gay is usually forced and annoying (see the ridiculous (but occasionally delicious) gay subliminal subplot regarding Julian McMahon on Nip/Tuck).

So, Brian needs to be gay. Look at his hair. Not a huge leap. And his love interest? None other than Joey Lawrence. It fits, right? Come on. If he doesn't speak, Blossom's brother is good-looking? Or am I just in a cheesey 29year old funk? Would Joey ever ask me to dance? In his oh-so-tight pants! Oh well. Not gonna happen. What About B? will be cancelled.

Told you so, Brianne.

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