Tuesday, April 8, 2008

General discussion of the NOLA question

What should happen next? Again, please debate vigorously, but please be respectful.


KenSherrill said...

You may want to look at this pag from the Alliance Defense Fund's website: http://www.domawatch.org/stateissues/louisiana/index.html

Anonymous said...

In spirit, the new siting idea is good. In practice, it is a very bad idea. There are a number of sites which will be restricted that this organization is not concerned about. And there are other good normative reasons to hold the conference in New Orleans. Post-Katrina, the city is in need of our business and support, is/was a majority black city and a pro-gay city. For political reasons, the city of New Orleans deserves to be visited by our dollars and not punished for what the voters of the rest of the state decided. It will only make things worse in New Orleans if we do not invest in their economy. I think we should consider local laws as well.

Anonymous said...


The above has a list of all states banning gay marriage, either constitutionally or by law. Where is the meeting in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, etc.? I don't actually know and am curious why other cities w/ DOMA are not also being targeted. Is this simply symbolic (and thus ONLY targeting New Orleans) or is this an actual attempt to be substantive (and target all offending cities/states, like the SPSA did when meeting only in cities allowing integrated hotels)?

Anonymous said...

The problem with LA isn't that it has a DOMA. It's the language of the DOMA it has. The language is really broad and we don't know how it's going to be interpreted.

If a grad student who has insurance benefits through her MA partner gets sick, would a hospital refuse to recognize her insurance? That could be considered an incident of marriage.

If a gay/lesbian couple's child comes to the conference and gets injured, would every hospital in New Orleans be trusted to recognize adoptive parental rights for both parents? Or are parental rights for both members of a same-sex couple also an incident of marriage?

Anonymous said...

I suggest a change in strategy. Rather than fighting or boycotting the conference site, we should use it as opportunity to inform and educate our colleagues. The worse we suffer, the better our case for change is.

For example, we could circulate fliers or structure venues where we can deliver messages like:

"I can't bring *my* partner to APSA because....But so nice to meet yours"

"What would you do if your wife had to go to hospital here during APSA? Gee, I can't do those things because its illegal here"

"Isn't it great to bring your family to APSA? I can't because this state won't recognize me as father/mother to my child."

Anonymous said...

I think the change in strategy idea is intriguing, but it puts a pretty heavy burden on junior people and graduate students, for whom attending APSA is professionally important.

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

Steve Sanders observes:

In the area of marriage recognition, the law has long distinguished between couples who seek recognition because they are moving to a new state permanently, and couples who seek recognition as transients who are merely passing through the state. The legal inquiry involves assessing the relative interests of the two states whose policies are in conflict. So, for example, in the case of a married Massachusetts couple moving to Louisiana, strong deference would be given to Louisiana’s policies, under the principle that a state is entitled to govern the marital status of those who make their domiciles within its borders. But in the case of a Massachusetts couple simply visiting Louisiana temporarily, certainly the dominant and better view would be that Louisiana should not deny recognition, because as between the two states, Massachusetts retains the most significant relationship to the couple, and thus Massachusetts law should govern any question about their status.

I think that debate on siting would be ill-served without a solid legal analysis on how a Louisiana court likely would assess the situation of transient same-sex couples, as opposed to resident same-sex couples. Such an analysis would require looking not only at the recent amendment and other enactments, but also the state’s legal precedents indicating how it approaches what are known as conflict-of-law issues.

In short, are we merely assuming that transient same-sex couples would be treated as harshly as newly resident same-sex couples in Louisiana, or do we have some basis for these concerns that is grounded in Louisiana law?

Anonymous said...

There is an entire side to this debate of which there is little to no representation on this blog. I can only hope that such bias is unintentional or a product of delays in posting the ideas of those who advocate keeping APSA 2012 in New Orleans.

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

I set up this site to encourage multiple perspectives. Hopefully they will come.

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

[Posting from Christopher Fettweis]

Dear Members of the APSA Council and Concerned Friends,

I am one of the Tulane University faculty members who signed the letter
urging the APSA leadership not to change the location for the 2012
conference. That letter and others have expressed the major arguments
against the site change quite eloquently. There is no need to restate them
here; I would instead like to add one brief consideration as you enter your

I merely urge you to refuse to allow this issue to be framed as a battle
between equal rights on the one hand and New Orleans on the other. The two
are, and have always been, effectively one and the same. A boycott would do
nothing to affect politics in Baton Rouge, but it would harm one of the few
allies of comprehensive human rights in the entire south.

The committee need not choose between compassion for the victims of Katrina
and compassion for those seeking equal rights, since a New Orleans
conference supports both.

Like most New Orleanians, my wife and I lost our home in the storm, along
with almost everything we owned. Today we are staking our lives and careers
on the city's resurgence - but we also consider ourselves to be proud allies
in the battle for equal rights, and will be until legalized discrimination
is everywhere ended.

Please don't add insult to our already non-trivial injury by casting the
people of the Crescent City as bigoted, "overtly hostile" Luddites. Such a
suggestion would be amusing in its manifest ignorance, were the city not in
such dire straits.

Bringing APSA to New Orleans would support both worthy causes, marriage
rights AND post-disaster urban renewal. It is hardly either/or.

Thank you for your time, and good luck making what must be a difficult

Very respectfully,

Christopher J. Fettweis
US Naval War College

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

[Posting from Celeste Lay]

Dear APSA Councilmember,

As a member of the American Political Science Association, I am writing to you and other members of the APSA Council to express my views about the conflict erupting over the 2012 APSA meeting to be held in New Orleans. I am a former and returning assistant professor in the political science department at Tulane University in New Orleans.

I am strongly opposed to APSA moving the meeting outside of New Orleans on the basis of the issues raised by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender committee. New Orleans is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the United States. Voted #2 in gay-friendliness in “Travel and Leisure’s” 2007 readers’ poll, the city has a thriving homosexual community and each year (on the same weekend as the APSA annual meeting, no less) the city holds the Southern Decadence Festival to celebrate the gay community. To demonstrate the city’s support for the festival, the last three mayors of New Orleans have issued official proclamations to welcome visitors to Southern Decadence. In his 2007 declaration, Ray Nagin writes, “As mayor, I am committed to cultivating and maintaining a society that is tolerant and open to all people.” He praised the organization’s efforts to “raise the social consciousness of our region” and states that he is “proud of [their] efforts to enhance the quality of life in Louisiana.”

As an employer, the City of New Orleans has also been on the forefront of extending rights to gays and lesbians and their domestic partners. Since 1997, the City has extended health benefits to same-sex partners of municipal employees and to those partners’ children; only 49 other U.S. cities extend such benefits. In 1999, the New Orleans City Council enacted an ordinance creating a domestic partner registry; these registries exist in only about 40 cities in the United States. Domestic partner registries make it easier for employers to extend the full range of benefits to domestic partners in the absence of legal marriage. Importantly, in January 2008, these rights were upheld in a Louisiana District Court (Ralph v. City of New Orleans).

Finally, although the state of Louisiana in 2004 (along with several other states) passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the vote margin was closest in New Orleans. About 45 percent of the city voted against this ban. Further, this election was fraught with controversy because, due to a hurricane evacuation the week of the election, voting machines did not arrive to at least 59 New Orleans precincts until mid-day on Election Day. No special considerations were made to accommodate these problems.

The LGBT committee wishes to use the 2012 meeting to make a political point of blocking conventions in states that have discriminatory policies toward gays and lesbians. Although I disagree with these discriminatory policies, I believe there are other factors to consider. Logistically, given that nearly 40 states have legally defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and there are very few state-wide policies that extend benefits to domestic partners, it is unclear which cities large enough to host an APSA convention would be deemed acceptable by this group. Without a critical mass of gay-friendly states, it is unfair to deny the economic benefits of the APSA convention to gay-friendly cities located in unfriendly states. New Orleans has done all it can to advance the rights of and to welcome homosexuals. It should not be punished for state policies over which it has no control, especially when these policies have extremely little likelihood of having any impact on any individual attending the convention.

According to the LGBT committee, the “major sticking point” is the issue of medical/health benefits; the group claims that homosexuals and their partners traveling to the city would need to obtain powers of attorney in order to assure their rights. I find it hard to believe this group can point to any evidence that these rights have been abridged in New Orleans. And, in reading the policies of all the major medical facilities in New Orleans (Tulane Medical Center, LSU medical facilities, Touro Hospital, Ochsner Health Systems, and Children’s Hospital), I find no language that would lead to this conclusion. In fact, these hospitals’ privacy policies indicate that they “may release health information about [patients] to a friend or family member who is involved in [their] medical care or who helps pay for [their] care.”

Finally, given the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’s recovery depends on the return of conventions to New Orleans. This convention would help the city’s struggling hotel and restaurant sectors (and the local residents who are employed in these industries), and provide an opportunity for hundreds of people to experience New Orleans after the devastating hurricane. The political, social and economic consequences of Hurricane Katrina are still ever-present and it is important for APSA, as the largest and most influential organization of political scientists in the United States, to demonstrate support for the city in this period of crisis and recovery.

I find it beyond ironic that anyone could use the city of New Orleans as a symbol of anti-homosexual sentiment and policies. This is the same city about which Michael Marcavage, director of the right-wing group Repent America, stated, “The day Bourbon Street and the French Quarter was flooded was the day that 125,000 homosexuals were going to be celebrating sin in the streets. We’re calling [Hurricane Katrina] an act of God.” In other words, New Orleans deserved Katrina because of its liberal policies and attitudes toward homosexuals. This is the city the LGBT committee claims would be unduly intolerant of homosexuals? Not only was Marcavage wrong about the flooding (the Quarter did not flood) and the date (Southern Decadence was to be several days later), but his comments repudiated the views of the vast majority of New Orleans residents and the city’s policies regarding homosexual rights.

I hope the APSA Council makes the right decision to support New Orleans and will use this opportunity to open discussions about future site selection.


J. Celeste Lay

Assistant Professor

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

[Posting from Tulane faculty]

Professor Dianne Pinderhughes


American Political Science Association

1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20036

30 October 2007

Dear Professor Pinderhughes:

As long-standing members of American Political Science Association and as current members of the Department of Political Science at Tulane University, we wish to express our concern at the tenor of the current debate over holding the 2012 APSA annual meeting in New Orleans. We feel that those who advocate moving the meeting to another city in view of Louisiana’s constitutional amendment on marriage are misguided on several levels. There is little to no risk of any circumstances’ arising which would jeopardize the legal rights of gay and lesbian members of APSA during the conference, a fact of which we suspect those advocating the cancellation are well aware and which they are ignoring in order to make a specific political point. We would hope that, as political scientists, those advocating this action would be mindful of the multiple (and often counter-productive) levels on which such a decision can function. We would also hope that they would see that such a move would discredit both the organization and the profession as a whole.

More generally, we would urge all concerned to place this law in the proper perspective. Supporting a city that has been through what New Orleans has experienced in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina would say far more, and far more positive things about APSA than would an abrogation of its contractual obligations for the sake of this kind of advocacy. It is important to remember that this deplorable amendment, adopted by the state of Louisiana, did not originate in New Orleans, where it passed by the smallest margin in the state, in an election that was marred by serious problems with the distribution of voting machines in the wake of the evacuation ahead of Hurricane Ivan. New Orleans has long been one of the most tolerant cities of alternative lifestyles in the United States. Abandoning the city—literally and symbolically—for the sake of a parochial agenda of this kind would only serve to wound a gay-friendly city in a country that has few, thereby undermining the broader and critically important agenda of achieving equality for gays and lesbians both within and beyond the Association. It also bears pointing out that the Louisiana Supreme Court has recently handed down a decision that affirms that the amendment does not limit the rights of gay couples, including property rights and powers of attorney, which are enshrined in state and local laws, including New Orleans’ pioneering 1998 protection against gender-identity-based discrimination and its provision of domestic-partner benefits to city employees.

We would urge the Council and the Association to weigh these facts carefully in ongoing debates over this dispute and before reaching any final decision. If such a cancellation were to take place, both we and many of our colleagues, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, would seriously re-consider our participation in future APSA events, and perhaps even our status as members.


Mark I. Vail
Assistant Professor

Gary Brooks

Visiting Associate Professor

Brian Brox

Assistant Professor

Mary Clark

Associate Professor

Christopher Fettweis

Assistant Professor

Tom Langston

Professor and Chair

J. Celeste Lay

Assistant Professor

Casey Kane Love

Professor of Practice

Anthony Pereira


Gary Remer

Associate Professor

Jeffrey Stacey

Assistant Professor

Ray Taras


Martyn Thompson

Associate Professor

cc: Peter Katzenstein


Michael Brintnall

Executive Director

Robert Hauck

Deputy Director

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

From me -- keep in mind that you do not need my permission or my intervention to post things to this blog! This is an open space.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana Statue allows any APSA attendee to designate visitors during hospital stays.

See Title 40, Louisiana Code:
RS40§2005. Hospital visitation

A. Any person eighteen years or older may designate those individuals who will not be denied access to visit him during any stay in any hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility within the state of Louisiana.

B. Nothing contained herein shall prohibit hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities from restricting visits to standard designated hours, from restricting visits as the patient's medical condition may require, or from enforcing an injunction barring an individual from entering the premises.

Acts 1995, No. 1200, §1, eff. June 29, 1995.

Dr. Leonard Ray (LSU) said...

Note: According to the Attorney General and the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana, the amendment to the Louisiana Constitution denying the "incidents of marriage" to same sex couples should not be read as interfering with the ability of same sex couples to designate partners for hospital visitation or as decision makers persuant to living wills.

In its ruling upholding the enactment of the amendment to the State constitution, The Louisiana Supreme Court endorsed an interpretation of the amendment which greatly restricts its impact.

Note this specific wording from the majority opinion:

"the amendment would not prohibit an unmarried couple (either a same-sex couple or opposite-sex couple) from contracting to be co-owners of certain specific property they purchase together or from contracting with each other to designate each other his/her agent for making critical life or medical decisions for him/her in cases of medical emergencies where he/she might not be conscious or contracting as to one’s power of attorney; nor does this amendment prohibit an unmarried couple from making wills leaving their estates to one another. "
See Louisiana Supreme Court opinion 04ca2477 Footnote 31, page 31. Emphasis added.
Link to entire opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

I don't understand how this debate could have gotten to the point that some APSA members are being told that it would be "dangerous" to attend a conference in New Orleans. Clearly the medical issue is a red herring, as the State Supreme Court has made it's position on this point quite clear.

Anonymous said...

May 6, 2008

I am a new member of the Tulane Political Science department who joined after my department letter was written, and I’d like to register my personal views. Of the background documents provided, I was most impressed with two paragraphs on page 2 of Julie Novkov's letter. As she mentions, "siting in New Orleans could provide an unparalleled opportunity to focus our scholarly attention on broad and intersectional concrete questions of justice and the duties of states to their denizens." I could not agree more. Similar to the limits on same sex partners, the core concept orienting reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is exclusion. Priorities are too often set by narrow elites interested in opportunities for profit and a less diverse population. APSA should join the fight against this type of exclusion.

Before I cast a vote on the proposals, let me make clear that my preferred outcome would be a 2012 Meeting in New Orleans with the explicit purpose of analyzing (we are scholars) and changing (we are citizens) the forms of exclusion that come together in my new city and elsewhere.

An APSA conference focused on exclusion, the active effort to deny rights to fellow citizens, would achieve a powerful platform in New Orleans. I wish to underline my comment by noting that several proposals that appear to be on the table move in this direction and deserve mention. First, the legal assistance proposed by Dan Reiter seems reasonable and essential if a conference is to be held in New Orleans. Second, I fully support Julie Novkov's implication that any APSA held in New Orleans should foreground the rights of same-sex partners AND the rights of people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to rebuild their city according to popular demands. She also highlights the need to redress any institutional distortions that result from holding APSA in New Orleans, such as lower attendance by certain members of APSA. Finally, a conference held in New Orleans should be preceded by alliances and support to local groups working to overturn the limits on rights of same-sex partners and groups working to defend the rights of Gulf Coast residents.

The citizens of New Orleans are under attack from local elites and national allies who would like to remodel the city along exclusive lines. If an inclusive city is to emerge, it will require alliances with groups like APSA, whose national prestige and resources can be brought to bear on local struggles.

If these things are impossible within the context of the realities of New Orleans and APSA decision-making and institutional structures, I would support proposal 2, to ban conferences in jurisdictions that severely restrict the recognition of all domestic relationships. My preference, as mentioned, would be a 2012 meeting in New Orleans that seeks to analyze and change all forms of exclusion.

Aaron Schneider
Assistant Professor
Political Science Department
Tulane University

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

Posting from Don Rosenthal:

To: President Dianne Pinderhughes
Executive Director Michael Brintnall
Members of the APSA Executive Council
From: The Committee on the Status of Lesbians,
Gays, Bisexuals and the Transgendered (LGBT)
in the Profession
Members: Jay Barth, Hendrix College
Cynthia Burack, Ohio State University
Valerie Lehr, St. Lawrence University
Donald Rosenthal, Emeritus, State
University of New York at Buffalo
Angelia Wilson. University of Manchester
Subject: Statement on APSA’s Siting Policy
and the New Orleans Decision
Date: May 5, 2008

The LGBT Status Committee wishes to go on record with the following statement:

The LGBT Status Committee calls upon the American Political Science Association to support the principle that the Association not hold conferences in any state that, by law, acts to severely restrict the human rights of any group of its members. Currently, eighteen states have enacted broad anti-gay constitutional amendments that seek to void legal recognition of domestic partnerships recognized in other jurisdictions. Such amendments put human rights in jeopardy.

We recognize that there are contending interests and aspirations at stake in the proposed siting of New Orleans in 2012. Should the APSA Executive Council proceed to support holding the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, we call upon the Council to make the following commitments:

1) to research and provide information to all members on queer-friendly hospitals and health-care emergency services, insurance agents and attorneys familiar with protecting the rights of the LGBT citizens of New Orleans;
2) to communicate to local and state officials the non-discrimination policies of the American Political Science Association and the Association’s expectations of the proper treatment of LGBT members and their families who attend the meeting;
3) to provide venues for promoting communication among members about the human rights implications of the state of Louisiana’s relationship policies; such vehicles should include PS and the monthly e-Newsletter distributed by the Association;
4) to commit other organizational resources to providing opportunities for discussing the siting policies of the Association and the New Orleans decision within the Association at future Annual Meetings leading up to and including the 2012 meeting; these would include making available panels or forums to discuss the issues;
5) to insure that the Sexuality and Politics Section’s panel allocation for the 2013 Annual Meeting will not be based on attendance at Section panels in 2012;
6) to accommodate the Sexuality and Politics Section by extending the period for assessing the number of members of the Section by at least one year.

Anonymous said...

This just in from CA: Supreme Court overturns same-sex marriage ban.

Julie Novkov said...

To Dr. Ray's point, I will repost part of a note that I recently sent to the Perestroika list:

I acknowledge and respect New Orleans’ long history of often extraordinary tolerance for LGBT folks, which extends to current ordinances protecting individuals against discrimination and the annual Southern Decadence celebration. But even New Orleans parish voted in favor of banning not only marriage but all incidences of it. And that leads to much uncertainty.

We simply do not know how this is going to be applied on the ground. The cases are just starting to come out of the states that have this language.

The footnote from the 2005 case is indeed a ray of hope for folks in non-marital relationships in Louisiana. If I were an attorney advising a Louisiana client, I would push this as far as I could take it, and feel reasonably good about my chances. However, I note the following four concerns.

1. It's a dictum, not the holding. The question has not been fully briefed and addressed directly.

2. The footnote is not only a dictum, it does not rely upon precedent. Instead, it relies on the state brief author’s position. While it's certainly great to see a state attorney making this argument in a brief, the state is not bound to maintain this position in a case that raises the point directly. (The state was defending itself against a claim that the
amendment deals with multiple subjects in making this argument.)

3. The case does not address the choice-of-law issue at all, nor does it bring in the question of how DOMA legislation barring recognition of marriages contracted in other jurisdictions may or may not interact with the constitutional amendment. So if I were a lawyer not seeking to press a test case, but rather a lawyer seeking to advise a client to protect her/his interests, I'd say that in light of this, the safest course of action would be to have contracts drawn up in Louisiana.

4. The footnote refers only to private contractual rights, not to publicly acknowledged/sanctioned familial relationships like adoption.

The law is quite unsettled in this area, and I think it is simply too
early to predict which way things will go in states that have the
extremely restrictive amendments. I like to think that most states will
realize that refusing to allow visitation, respect private contracts, or acknowledge legal adoptions is just way over the line. But I am just not sure.

This places what I think is a really significant burden on colleagues who want to ensure that their relationships will be respected. The footnote implies that any couple that has not made formal legal arrangements under
Louisiana law may not have basic rights respected, as the recognition of such rights without contracts would be an incidence of marriage.

Would we really want some of our members to have to carry with them at all times a complete file of contracts establishing every right relating to familial intimacy, access, and decision-making authority that they might
need to rely upon in an emergency? And then to hope that any state agent they may run across will enforce the policy of respecting these arrangements?

I don't have an answer that's going to make everyone happy. But I would
also appreciate any guidance on what I could possibly say to a lesbian or gay colleague who says to me, “I'm afraid to go to New Orleans because I don't know if my parental/partner rights will be respected.” I know that in the current uncertainty of the legal climate, I could not say to that
person definitively that all would be fine if a crisis happened.

Anonymous said...

The 40th Anniversary of Southern Decadence will coincide with APSA 2012. Queer folks from all over the world will be in New Orleans for the celebration. I would love to attend APSA and Southern Decadence concurrently. Is this relevant? I think so.

A gay-friendly APSA in New Orleans (something I would very much like to see) is in reach. There are people in New Orleans with full-time jobs organizing international LGBT events--surely there are resources to address the fears about the Amendment.

Anonymous said...

There is an article in today's Chronicle of Higher Education on this issue. The content is not free, so I hesitate to post it.

Anonymous said...

The APSA will look ridiculous if it pulls out of New Orleans. Furthermore, because it will rightfully be seen as an advocacy group (and a ridiculous one at that) it will lose its credibility to serve as a professional association and to issue reports concerning those things about which it might actually have some expertise.

Anonymous said...

The American Economic Association managed to hold its 2008 annual conference in New Orleans without incident.

It's almost as if New Orleans welcomed them, and looked out for the basic human rights of all of the members of the association.


Anonymous said...

The above comment about the AEA conference is spot on. One has to wonder if the concerns about "incidents" or even whether New Orleans would provide a welcoming environment (which it surely would) are really the issue.

Anonymous said...

Two points:
1) The onus should be on those who want to move the meeting to show that their fears have some merit. As pointed out by others, there have been numerous conventions in New Orleans since this amendment passed -- is there ANY evidence that any of the hypothetical scenarios have happened? Is it really reasonable to move a meeting and break a contract because someone can invent a scenario in which their rights MIGHT be violated when there is no evidence that such rights have ever been violated?

2) In practice, there is no distinction between constitutional amendments and statutes. Currently, 27 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Seventeen others have statutes that either define marriage as between a man and a woman and/or refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages from other states. In the scenarios presented by those who want to move the meeting, these 17states could just as easily discriminate as those with amendments. The distinction only makes sense because it serves the political purposes of those who advocate moving the meeting. They realize that APSA likely would not limit itself to sites in the few remaining states, so they have chosen to make a distinction between amendments and statutes.

States with constitutional amendments (that would now be off-limits) include the following cities: New Orleans, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Denver, Portland, St. Louis and many others. If state statutes were included, the following cities would be off-limits: Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Baltimore, Miami, Seattle, and many others.

If APSA chooses to move the meeting from New Orleans, they should be prepared to refuse to hold meetings in any state that has ANY disciminatory statutes or amendments. I guess attendees will become well-acquainted with San Francisco (pending the CA outcome), New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston. This presents a serious disadvantage to scholars in the South, the Midwest and the North-central regions of the country.

Dr. Leonard Ray (LSU) said...

The issues of hospital visitation and participation in medical care decision making for same sex couples are very real concerns. However, constitutional DOMA notwithstanding, nothing I have seen suggests that these problems are greater in New Orleans than elsewhere. In fact, we may need to worry more about our meeting in 2009!

According to The Human Rights Campaign's 2008 Healthcare Equality Report (http://www.hrc.org/issues/hei.asp)
The 2 New Orleans area hospitals participating in the survey both have policies to protect the visitation and decisionmaking rights of same sex partners. This is about all they have in the way of gay friendly policy- but it covers the essentials for visitors.

But note that the press conference announcing this 2008 report also featured a hospital horror story about a gay man who was forced to drive home to retrieve papers to prove his relationship with his hospitalized partner. This anecdote was from Washington D.C.- where APSA will be held in 2009.

Here is the full text of the Washington DC anecdote:
"In one example cited by the HRC, attorney Kenneth Johnson described his struggle to verify his relationship with his partner, James Massey, in 2006 when Massey was rushed unconscious to Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Johnson said he had to travel back to his home in Virginia to fetch legal documents before the hospital allowed him to join in medical decision-making for Massey, who had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died the next day. The two men had registered as domestic partners in California and had an adopted son."
(Full text of news item: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2008/05/13/1)

The 2007 HRC report gives a couple of anecdotes of hospital visitation problems, some of which have been mentioned already in this debate. Here is a geographic breakdown of the complete set of hospital horror stories in the 2007 report:

Bakersfield, CA, 2007: Denial of visitation, consultation in care for minor child.
Baltimore MD, 2000: Denial of visitation.
Miami FL, 2007: Denial of visitation, Delay in retrieving documentation of relationship.
Cuyahoga OH, 2004: Denial of visitation.
Madison TN, 2000: repeated verification of paperwork to ensure visitation.

The 2007 edition of the Healthcare Equality Report also noted that the threat to visitation rights from DOMA amendments had not materialized.
"Unfortunately, more than half of all states have ratified state constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples, causing confusion over the fundamental rights of GLBT families. So far, no state has interpreted its amendment as a block against hospital visitation rights for GLBT patients."

This suggests that the issues at stake are much more widespread than the 19 states with constitutional DOMAs in place.

Finally, here is the one anecdote I have been able to dredge up about a same sex couple in the ER in New Orleans. It is hardly a horror story.
I quote it in full.

"Being by his side

by Rob

Earlier this year, Bill and I went to New Orleans for an annual weeklong get-together with friends from college. We all went to a restaurant for lunch. Bill is highly allergic to shellfish and it was made very clear to the waitress he could not have any food prepared with shellfish. Unfortunately, he had a severe reaction to a pasta dish with sauce we later found out contained crawfish. The restaurant was not prepared to react, so we rushed to a drug store to purchase some Benadryl.

When Bill started to get worse, we then rushed to the hospital, but when we arrived at the emergency room, we couldn’t figure out how to check in. At this point, Bill was having difficulty breathing. At the intake counter, I explained the situation to one of the employees and she told us to wait in the lobby, where a couple dozen of folks were already waiting. I, of course, was not happy with this. Bill's hands were shaking and I reiterated the urgency of the situation with the intake person. She motioned the nurse on duty who took us in to ask questions.

Luckily, the nurse, Bret, was a gay male who immediately calmed us down and began the preliminary evaluation. Bill took off his shirt and was covered from head to toe with large red hives. Bret told me that New Orleans is very gay friendly and that I could take care of the paperwork and sign on his behalf, while Bill was rushed into the ER for treatment.

It was obvious that the intake representative was uncomfortable with our relationship, but I was as smooth and professional as I could be in order to make sure all was in order. When I finished, Bret came back to take me into the ER where Bill was hooked up to two IVs. During the two hours we were there, Bret came back to check on us and tell us where to go during our visit. I was so impressed with his help and professionalism that I wrote to the hospital, complimenting his efforts.

The idea of not being able to act on Bill's behalf and be there by his side – during the worst scenario we have ever encountered and in a city with which we were unfamiliar – would have been devastating. Chances are I would have had to be arrested if I was not allowed to stay with him and be there for him.

Having the "rights" to act on his medical needs and be there for him during such an emergency should be rights afforded to anyone in a similar situation.

As a lesson learned, we have been trying to educate ourselves on preparing the necessary powers of attorney, wills, medical directives, etc., but find there are not many attorneys in our area who have the experience or desire to help two gay men prepare such documents. Either way, we will be better prepared next time we travel.

Jan. 8, 2003"
(from Human Rights Campaign http://www.hrc.org/issues/3889.htm)

Anonymous said...

There is an article in today's Times-Picayune on this issue:


One minor point: The California university that doesn't want to be be named is Chapman, in Orange County, according to the Chronicle article. A real profile in courage.

Anonymous said...

In 2000, 61 percent of Californians voted to prohibit gay marriage. They probably did in Orange County as well. "Profiles in courage," sure, when you're voting to feel morally superior to people in what's perceived to be a morally benighted part of the country. The city, whose leaders have expressed support for gays (including Mayor Nagin) has been ignored by the federal government, now it gets to be punished by the APSA for something it cannot do much about. But don't let me stop the self-congratulatory festivities.

Dr. Leonard Ray said...

In reply to Dr. Novkov,

As an adoptive parent myself, I am very sympathetic to the concerns APSA attendees might have about whether their parental rights in a second parent adoption will be respected. However, even though adoption and marriage are both "publicly acknowledged/sanctioned familial relationships," adoption is a separate issue from marriage. A refusal to recognize an out of state marriage would not invalidate an adoption decree. Adoption decrees are accorded full faith and credit without regard to the state policy on domestic partnership/ same sex marriage. The cases on this point are starting to come in, and they are quite reassuring.

Here is a recent cases from Louisiana:
"Palazzola v. Mire
Angela Palazzola and June Mire had been in a committed relationship for 17 years when they had a child through artificial insemination. Living in California at the time, the couple elected to complete a second parent adoption to secure the parental rights of Palazzola, the non-biological mother. After moving to Louisiana, the couple separated, and Mire cut off all contact between Palazzola and the
child. Palazzola filed suit for contact with the child and Mire attempted to have the adoption judgment from California declared void. The Louisiana Court ruled in favor of Palazzola, holding that the California adoption judgment must be respected under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution."
(From National Center for Lesbian Rights, http://www.nclrights.org/site/DocServer/spring2007.pdf?docID=1361)

And here is a federal appellate case (though not in Louisiana's circuit) which reinforces this interpretation of the application of Full Faith and Credit in the matter of adoption decrees. (Here we have an Oklahoma statute in play rather than a constitutional amendment.)

"Defendant-Appellant Dr. Mike Crutcher, sued in his official capacity as the Commissioner of Health (hereinafter referred to as "Oklahoma State Department of Health (`OSDH')") appeals a district court judgment that a state law barring recognition of adoptions by same-sex couples already finalized in another state is unconstitutional. OSDH also appeals the district court's order requiring it to issue a revised birth certificate for E.D., a plaintiff-Appellee who was born in Oklahoma but adopted in California by a same-sex couple. We hold that final adoption orders by a state court of competent jurisdiction are judgments that must be given full faith and credit under the constitution by every other state in the nation. Because the Oklahoma statute at issue categorically rejects a class of out-of-state adoption decrees, it violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause. We therefore affirm the order and judgment of the district court declaring the statute unconstitutional and directing the issuance of a new birth certificate for E. D."
(from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circs/10th/066213.html)

As I read these cases, it seems that the courts are applying Full Faith and Credit to out of state adoptions without regard to the sex of the parents. So I don't think there is any reason to fear that same sex couples will be stripped of their parental rights over adopted children during their stay at APSA.

Anonymous said...

RE: "profile in courage"

Just to be clear, that comment was meant to be sarcastic. The Chapman department threatened to boycott a New Orleans APSA, and then wanted that threat to be kept secret.

That is hardly courageous.

Mediocre Intersectionality Scholar said...

Posting from Joseph Carens:

Dear APSA Council Members:

In responding to the solicitation of views regarding the siting of APSA meetings, I wish to begin by registering my strong objections to the stipulation that “member feedback will be kept confidential.” Of course, feedback should be kept confidential if the member requests it. But we should also have the option of having our views known publicly. In any deliberative process, it makes sense to pay particular attention to the opinions of others whose judgment and character one knows and respects. I would like to know the views of my colleagues on this matter if they wish to express them. So, I would urge the Council to modify its procedures to permit people to make their identities known if they choose to do so and, in addition, to open this matter up to public deliberation within the APSA as a whole, rather than leaving it as a matter to be discussed only within the Council, though I recognize that this raises additional issues. If the Council does make the communication process more transparent, I would like my own identity to be known to whoever reads my submission, within the Council or more broadly.

I wish to register my strong support for Proposal 2 and for a decision to move the 2012 annual meeting from New Orleans. I have read all of the materials distributed by the APSA on this matter.

At the level of principle, this seems to me to be an easy call. We should not hold our meetings in jurisdictions that discriminate on the basis of “gender, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, physical handicap, disability or religion” (to quote the categories used in the APSA’s own contractual language). Laws that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships contracted in other jurisdictions are discriminatory. There is apparently some concern about whether a commitment to holding our meetings in a non-discriminatory jurisdiction violates the APSA’s constitutional commitment to policy neutrality, but given the various other overt commitments of the organization to non-discrimination in its policies and practices, I find it hard to take this concern seriously. In any event, organizational precedent matters here. As an organization, we have already refused to locate our meetings in states that refused to ratify the ERA (while that was still a live option) and in states that refused to support a holiday in honour of Martin Luther King, Jr. (before that national holiday was established). It is not plausible to claim that it would be more difficult to justify refusing to locate our meetings in states that refuse to recognize the domestic legal rights that some of our members enjoy in other jurisdictions.

Some of the submissions argue that these discriminatory laws may have no actual effect on APSA members at the conference. Even if that were true, it would not justify locating the meeting in a state that practices legal discrimination. But I think the claims about likely effects are insufficient and unpersuasive. When it comes to questions about the possible impact of formally discriminatory rules, I think it is always wise to give more weight to the concerns of those who would be affected by the discrimination than the reassurances of those who would not. And even if those who might be affected disagree among themselves about the degree of risk, (as some submissions argue by noting the gay and lesbian organizations willing to meet in New Orleans), it should be sufficient if some reasonable members of our association object to facing that risk. That threshold has clearly been passed.

I confess that I did not find a principled argument against Proposal 2 as a policy for future siting decisions, especially given the precedents within the organization regarding the ERA and the MLK holiday, which were not discussed in the Brintnall memo explaining the past history of siting decisions. It would be illuminating if the executive director could recall for the membership how these decisions were reconciled with the constitutional provision discussed in section 9 and whether it seems more or less difficult to reconcile the proposed siting restriction with the constitution than it was to reconcile the earlier ones (which I also supported).

All of the public arguments against Proposal 2 seem to consist in claims about costs and inconveniences for the Association on the one hand -- and marginal costs and inconveniences at that – and uncertainties about how laws would be interpreted and applied on the other. Take the latter first. There is irony, to say the least, in the suggestion that, as an Association, we can confidently predict the practical legal implications of footnote 31 in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision, even though it turns out that we have no certainty about the legal implications of the contractual language chosen by the Association to ensure that its members would be protected against the introduction of discriminatory legislation. (Footnote 31 says that the anti-gay marriage law does not impair anyone’s contractual or property rights, and the Brintnall memo implies that this provides some reason to believe that the interests of GLBT members and their partners and children will be adequately protected. The contractual language is the Association’s escape clause which, we are now told, may not provide a viable escape route.) There is also a deep conflict between the emphasis on the importance of making siting decisions many years in advance and the suggestion in Proposal 1 that we can gain a nuanced appreciation of local practices, since this requires the Association not only to assess local practices now but also to project their development several years in the future. Of course, laws can change over the course of several years as well. That was the rationale behind the introduction of the escape clause which we are now told may be ineffective. Perhaps we could hope that, in the future, the Association lawyers could find more effective language to address this contingency, at the very least specifying some of the sorts of legislation that would be unacceptable to us and would enable us to cancel future contracts without penalty. We may not be able to anticipate all of the unacceptable forms of legislation that might make us want to cancel, but, in the current context, we can certainly anticipate some.

As to the costs and inconveniences of restricting our siting options to locations that do not discriminate, it is one thing to say that we should not demand perfection, quite another to suggest that we should tolerate overt discrimination, no matter how widespread that discrimination may be. The submissions by various APSA members make clear why they have legitimate concerns about their safety and their fundamental interests in jurisdictions that deny recognition of their domestic and family relationships. Those concerns should trump the worries about slightly higher costs, regional balance, and so on.

Finally, with respect to New Orleans, if we accept Proposal 2 as the appropriate policy going forward, then the only question about New Orleans is whether there are sufficient countervailing considerations to make us keep the convention there even though we would not hold it there in the future (unless Louisiana changed its laws).

First, let me express my frustration with the uncertainty about the projected outcome of a legal battle over the contract. We knew this was the sort of issue that we cared about as an association when we signed the contract in 2003. If the legal language is not sufficient to protect the Association against claims for violation of contract, despite the fact that we knew in 2003 that states were passing anti-gay legislation and we were concerned about the effects of such legislation upon our members, then either our lawyers or our Association’s administration or both did not act effectively. Could we not have foreseen the kinds of legal challenges that are now said to call into question our capacity to get out of this contract and could we not have protected ourselves against them?

Second, leaving side the past, the two arguments that I see against cancelling New Orleans are that the Association may face some (as yet undetermined) level of costs for moving the meeting and that moving the meeting will undermine the people in New Orleans who have already suffered from Hurricane Katrina. The calculation of costs and the suggestion that it might actually come to a full legal battle seem to me a bit disingenuous. The hotels are members of chains. Neither the chains nor the APSA has an interest in extreme confrontation. There is bound to be room for negotiation which will depend in part on calculations about the likely outcome of an actual legal conflict. This is all the more reason to move as quickly as possible in cancelling the contract. With respect to the costs for the people of New Orleans, I am persuaded by the arguments that suggest that there are better ways to show solidarity with the victims of Katrina. Alternative sites to New Orleans would still be subject to the objective II E in the draft policy that requires the Association to pay attention to the ways in which our meeting can contribute to economic development in cities with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged ethnic/racial minorities.

In sum, neither of these considerations is sufficient to justify our holding a meeting in New Orleans in 2012 if we would not hold it there subsequently, given the current state legislation.


Joseph H. Carens
Professor of Political Science
University of Toronto

Chris Fettweis said...

An anonymous contributor a few posts up makes a very good point.

The burden of proof must be on those who suggest that the safety or rights of would be compromised if the conference were held in New Orleans. This could be done simply, in theory, with a single - one - instance of legal discrimination against gay people in the Crescent City since the state constitution was (abhorently)amended.

In the absence of such proof - and there will be an absence - we ought to be clear about what this proposal is, and what it is not:

It is an abstract statement of political preference (one about which, I must emphasize, the people of New Orleans, myself included, do not disagree); it is not a practical issue of individual safety or health.

Please at least extend to the struggling people of New Orleans, for whom many of you obviously have such little regard, that one bit of intellectual honesty.

New Orleans and APSA are on the same side in the struggle for marriage equity, and will be until there are equal rights for all.

Dr. Leonard Ray said...

Apparently the Modern Language Association debated this issue in 2005, and decided not to adopt a boycott on states with restrictive legislation.

From their minutes:
"The third motion (labeled Motion 2005-3) was submitted by Clara Orban. It read as follows:
be it moved that the executive Council refrain from selecting convention cities that are in states that have passed laws or amended their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage.
on behalf of the DAoC, Suzanne Pucci presented the motion to the assembly for discussion and a vote. When the chair opened the floor for discussion of the motion, questions were raised about the effect of the motion on states that might have banned same-sex marriage but offered other options such as civil unions, about the lack of a provision in the motion for cities with liberal attitudes that happen to be in states targeted by the motion (e.g., New Orleans), and about the restrictions the motion would place on convention sites for the association. Speakers also questioned the boycott strategy embodied in the motion and asked whether a different approach -holding conventions in states that had enacted bans on same-sex marriage and engaging in outreach activities—would be more effective. one speaker noted that the motion would not have the desired effect on states, since it was local businesses that would suffer the economic consequences of the boycott the motion called for.
Luca Somigli proposed to amend the motion by add-ing the following phrase at the end: “with the exception of municipalities that have passed legislation opposing discrimination based on sexual preference.” This motion was seconded, and the chair called for discussion of the proposed amendment. Speakers who endorsed the amendment said that it provided a needed corrective to the restrictiveness of the original motion. One speaker opposed the amendment because the exemption for cities would lessen the economic consequences that the motion sought to create in states that had enacted bans on same-sex marriage. At the conclusion of the discussion, the chair asked the assembly to vote on the amendment. It was approved by a vote of 65 yes and 22 no. After brief further discussion of the amended motion, the chair asked the assembly to vote. The amended motion was defeated by a vote of 33 yes and 57 no."

from Modern Language Association http://www.mla.org/pdf/mla_del_assembly_2005.pdf

Does anyone with contacts in the MLA know the background to this decision?

Anonymous said...

With respect to Dr. Carens's post, there may be those in the APSA who would encourage the hotels to seek damages against the association, and even assist them in doing so.

Anonymous said...

As a thought experiment, consider who might work in these "national chain" hotels in New Orleans...

Anonymous said...

Why is it improperly political to criticize the discriminatory constitution but not improperly political to invoke the need to support New Orleans in arguing about siting decisions?

Anonymous said...

I see no comments on this blog (or documents on the APSA site, for that matter) that suggest that it is improper to criticize the DOMA in Louisiana. In fact, I suspect that it would be hard to find anyone in the APSA who feels that it is improper to criticize anything. The merits of criticism and the DOMA (which everyone in this discussion agrees is deplorable) are not at issue here.

Anonymous said...

One can't help wondering if anyone will advocate boycotting San Francisco if California voters approve a DOMA this fall.