Thursday, May 29, 2008

LA Daily News: Dissenting Gay Marriage
Jurist is a Lesbian

Until my friend Peter Cashman in Southern California tipped me off to this opinion column in yesterday's LA Daily News, I had no inkling that one of the state Supreme Court justices who dissented in the ruling two weeks allowing gay marriages to begin, Carol Corrigan, is a lesbian.

From the column written by Ann Bradley:
Certainly the first line of Associate Justice Carol Corrigan's obituary will be that, as a lesbian, she wrote one of the two dissenting opinions in the landmark California Supreme Court case to ensure her own community's right to marry. Or to be clear, to use the word "marry." Make no mistake, this case is about that word: "marriage."

In her dissent in re Marriage Cases, self-proclaimed centrist Corrigan writes, "Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call their unions marriages. But I, and this court, must acknowledge that a majority of Californians hold a different view, and have explicitly said so by their vote. This court can overrule a vote of the people only if the Constitution compels us to do so. Here, the Constitution does not. Therefore, I must dissent."
Hmmm, "as a lesbian" in relation to Justice Corrigan got my Googling juices flowing and, lo and behold, there's plenty out there on the web about her sexual orientation, or, at least plenty of speculation on the matter.

Let's start with an article from the January 5, 2006, edition of the Gay & Lesbian Times of San Diego:
The California Supreme Court will rule this year that the California constitutional guarantee of equal protection requires that the state allow gay and lesbian marriages. Here are my reasons:

Just before the holidays, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Carole Corrigan to the California Supreme Court. While completely ignored by the GLBT media, Corrigan is (perhaps) the first lesbian appointed to the California Supreme Court. As the Los Angeles Times reported, she lives in Oakland with her live-in girlfriend. (You do the math.)
That LA Times story was also referenced in December 2005 by a Sacramento Bee political blogger, because of Corrigan's claim she's moderate in judicial temperament, but note what he says about locating the story that got the lesbian allegation going:
UPDATE: An emailer sends along an LA Times story from Oct. 21, which I can't find a link to online, where Corrigan describes herself as a "centrist" in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor.
Sure enough, the LA Times profile on Corrigan does not turn up either on the paper's web site or through Googling. However, the American Chronicle blog gave more details about the profile and what it actually said about her house-mate:
Carol Corrigan, as the Los Angeles Times, so coyly informs us in a sentence fragment at the end of a biographical sidebar about the soon-to-be Justice of the California Supreme Court, "[i]s unmarried and shares a house in Oakland with a female friend."
Over at the hard-right's Free Republic site, more text from the profile is posted, along with a link to the LA Times piece, but clicking on the link leads to a dead-end.

And the people behind the site, described as "an intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead," state in sexual orientation line of Corrigan's profile that she's a lesbian. The source? An October 2006 American Family Association newsletter.

Gay activist Peter Cashman in an email to me touches upon how conservatives were all over Corrigan's lesbian orientation, while mainstream gay leaders remained silent on the subject:
She was first outed (that I am aware of) when Arnie nominated for the Supreme Court.

In particular the anti-gay marriage folks and other right-wingers mentioned it widely in opposing her nomination.

In our own community there seems to have been some weird silence in the glowing endorsements from all the usual suspects like EQCA. Was this a conspiracy of silence that we had so often seen before? In so far as prominent queer folks seeking or nominated to public office 'get a pass' to stay in the closet on the basis they will 'do the right thing'.

Jackie Goldberg is an outstanding example of this. In 1994 she ran for LA City Council in the closet until she was 'outed' by the LA Times prior to election day. A group of us had already decided that the days of supporting closet cases was over. We already had a closeted gay man on Council - Joel Wachs. The voters had a right to know.

Gay media and community silence on Corrigan had a notable exception when the Gay & Lesbian Times ran its 2006 article.
Thanks, Peter, for sharing the LA Daily News column with me. It will go a long way toward raising a public discussion on the sexual orientation of Associate Justice Corrigan.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. In hindsight, knowing now that the ruling would be in favor of gay marriage anyway, it's probably best that she did dissent. In fact, she probably should have recused herself altogether.

I know that doesn't sound fair, but can you imagine that never-ending "outrage" and accusations of bias from the far right if she had voted for gay marriage? But they can't say that now.

On a different note, I admire anyone who can who can remove themselves and think objectively, especially on such a personal issue.

Anonymous said...

She's a disgusting traitor to the LGBT community. I'm sick of closet cases like this.

And to Anonymous - Should straight judges have recused themselves? Just another self-hating Lesbian. I guess "thinking objectively" means voting against our own rights.

Pitiful. You a Log Cabin Republican or what?

Anonymous said...

What a world we live in...where a straight, male Republican judge can find equality for us within the Constitution of the United States, and a lesbian judge chooses not to. It just goes to show me that one of the great gifts of this life is unpredictability.

Anonymous said...

Why should she have recused herself if married heterosexual justices -- potentially interestedin maintaining the special rights that then-existing marriage laws gave them -- did not?

Anonymous said...

Carol Corrigan believes in equality before the law and California's domestic partner policy provides that. She is smart enough and brave enough to see that the marriage-only strategy of the LGBT community has been a disaster for us, creating an entirely new body of anti-gay laws (45 state banning same-sex marriage with 17 banning civil unions and domestic partners). Until these disasterous marriage lawsuits, domestic partners and civil unions had no significant backlashes and were leading, eventually, to same-sex marriage. Now the day when federally recognized same-sex marriage is achieved has been greatly postpone because of LGBT lawyers who think they can change society with a court decision. They cannot. Decisions like Brown v Board of Ed. and Loving v Virginia were a reflection of cultural change, they did not lead it. Comparing domestic partnerships to Jim Crow laws is wrong. “Separate but equal” was invented by white supremacists in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896, US Supreme Court) to oppress African-Americans. Domestic Partners was invented by a gay man, Tom Brougham, in 1982 and advanced by lesbian and gay organizations to obtain the benefits of marriage when most lesbians and gay men viewed marriage as a discredited patriarchal institution. Indeed, the acceptance of civil unions/domestic partners is more comparable to Brown than to Plessy.

Anonymous said...

Corrigan is a lesbian. lists her partner's name (Corinne Mohrmann) as part of the household. Furthermore, Mohrmann is the director of St. Vincent’s Day Home, a non-profit center for disadvantaged children, while Corrigan is the chair of St. Vincent's Day Home board of directors (cozy, 'eh?). Real estate records (sourced via the RealQuest database) list both Corrigan and Mohrmann as having purchased the residence they share in Oakland, CA together. The RealQuest records show that the prior owner's of the home purchased it for $630,000 in 96 (or there-about) then resold the property to Corrigan and Mohrmann for a mere $170,000 -- which sounds awfully fishy. Probably worth investigating, if you ask me...

Anonymous said...

It does not matter if she is a lesbian or not.

She is not a politican, she is a lawyer and a judge and she is sworn to uphold the laws of the State of California as she interperts them to the best of her ability.

Personally, I don't understand how she could dissent in the Marriage Cases, but she had a legal basis and a good faith reason for doing so.

It is not the decision I would have made, but I respect her nevertheless.