Gay libelous no more? A federal judge has ruled that being thought to be gay can no longer be considered a bad thing.
Courts in other jurisdictions may still be divided on whether such a description is defamatory, Gertner wrote in her 23-page opinion. But in light of the Massachusetts supreme judicial court's November decision in favor of same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last summer striking down sodomy laws, that claim no longer holds water with her.
The decision contributes "to the recognition that nothing is wrong with being gay, and [society] should get over it," said Laurence II. Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor. Vickie L. Henry, cochair of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, agreed. "It is a victory for our community," she said. "The standards [applied to] our community have evolved and are evolving. Her decision makes absolute sense."
Whether Gertner's verdict could be applied outside of gay friendly urban areas is still in question, say some legal experts. Homophobia in rural America could lead other courts to "come down differently on this issue," said Mark Mason, chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Same Gender Marriage Task Force. While Gertner acknowledged the persistence of homophobia, site quoted from the Massachusetts ruling to make her point: "Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect."
Paul Martinek, editor in chief of Lawyers Weekly USA, said Gertner is known as a liberal judge and that she was "obviously trying to make new law in this case." But until an appeals court adopts her reasoning, Martinek said, "it's just one judge issuing an interesting, novel opinion, and other judges will look at it and decide for themselves whether or not they agree with it."
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|Title Annotation:||Courts; Nancy Gertner|
|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Date:||Jul 6, 2004|
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