A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled that a long-term gay couple on probation has the same right to associate as a married couple.
Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz issued the ruling in a case involving two Montgomery County men, Daniel Mangini and Steven Roberts, who were convicted in 2004 of dealing 100 grams of methamphetamine.
After their release from federal prison, the U.S. Probation Office declined to allow them to live together, citing a policy that forbids felons on probation from associating with other felons unless they are blood relatives or spouses.
Under the probation department rules, they were not permitted to speak, meet or e-mail during their five-year period of supervised release.
Before their arrests, Mangini and Roberts had lived together for 18 years, shared bank accounts, and helped raise a young girl.
“Defendants were in every way a family,” Katz wrote in a 10-page opinion issued Tuesday. “The Due Process Clause [of the Constitution] protects highly personal relationships of deep attachment and commitment.”
In other words, in Pennsylvania, a gay couple on probation can’t be treated ay differently than a married heterosexual couple on probation. In other words, gay meth dealers and heterosexual meth dealers are basically equal.
There are more stories like these.
There’s the lesbian couple who can’t get divorced in Oklahoma after getting married in Toronto, because to allow them to get divorce would mean recognizing their marriage in the first place.
The speaker of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives has weighed in to two Tulsa-area lesbians’ quest for a divorce, arguing the state doesn’t recognize their Canadian marriage and so can’t dissolve it.
Lance Cargill filed a motion this week in the Oklahoma Supreme Court to intervene in Cait O’Darling’s quest to divorce her wife, Stephanie, the Tulsa World reported.
Saying that Cait O’Darling is questioning the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban, Cargill, R-Harrah, argues that state lawmakers have standing to intervene in such constitutional challenges.
In this case, he hopes to uphold existing law, with the ironic consequence that the same-sex couple would stay wed.
… In November, Judge C. Michael Zacharias granted the couple a divorce, but vacated his order after discovering that Cait and S. were two women.
Layer on top of that the guy in Orange County who has to pay alimony to his lesbian ex-wife even though she’s in a domestic partnership with another woman, because domestic partnership is not marriage (neither are civil unions) and alimony only ends with marriage.
Ron Garber knew his former wife was living with another woman — and had taken her last name — when he agreed to pay her $1,250 a month in alimony.
What he didn’t know was that the two women had registered with the state as domestic partners under a law that was supposed to mirror marriage law, Garber said.
State marriage laws say that alimony ends when the former spouse remarries, and Garber reasons he should be off the hook, given that domestic partnership is akin to marriage. But an Orange County judge has decided that registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must pay.
“This is not about gay or lesbian,” Garber said. “This is about the law being fair.”
The case, which Garber intends to appeal, highlights gaps between the legal status of domestic partners and of married couples, an issue the California Supreme Court is considering as it ponders whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
Proponents of same-sex marriage typically argue that gay couples will not have the full rights of heterosexuals until they too can marry. The Orange County case, however, shows how heterosexuals can be the collateral damage of the lesser legal status of domestic partnership.
If spousal support does not end with domestic partnership, “heterosexual men are the ones whose ox is being gored more often than not,” said San Francisco family law attorney Diana Richmond.
Of course, that’s right up there with the guy who got to keep his partner’s ill-gotten gains from Enron because he’s not a legal spouse.
Michael Kopper, 41, the gay former Enron Corp. executive who became the first to plead guilty to financial crimes among the company’s top management, was sentenced Nov. 17 to three years and one month in prison.
Judge Ewing Werlein, of the U.S. District Court in Houston, also sentenced Kopper to two years probation and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine.
The sentencing came four years after Kopper, who lives in Houston, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy after he admitted that he and his domestic partner, William Dodson, stole about $16.5 million from Enron and its shareholders.
… Although authorities forced Kopper to return $8 million to the government and to relinquish his rights to another $4 million through forfeiture proceedings, Dodson has been allowed to keep $9 million in funds that Kopper helped him obtain through Enron-related scams.
The fact that U.S. and Texas laws do not recognize same-sex relationships most likely prompted authorities against going after Dodson’s financial gains in the Enron affair, financial observers have said. Federal prosecutors forced the married spouses of several Enron figures to forfeit money they obtained in schemes operated jointly with Enron executives.
And there will be more and more of these stories, right alongside stories of couples like Conrad and Atkins.