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The Kansas State Legislature has reversed the decision
March 15, 2002 11:59 PM   Subscribe

The Kansas State Legislature has reversed the decision that the state's supreme court made last week about a different kind of reversal. They've let evolution back in the schools, but they aren't quite ready for transexual marriages -- at least not when the widow(er?) would walk away with millions.
posted by milkman (12 comments total)

 
I obviously disagree with this decision- and what's with the son? His dad married who he wanted to marry, get used to it you money-grubbing punk. Jeez, doesn't anyone respect the sanctity of the marriage vow anymore?

The Kansas court claims transgenders would have to specifically be allowed by law to marry- yet the article states that Kansas law apparently bars same-sex marriage but doesn't specifically address transsexuals; always thought the courts weren't supposed to actually create new legislation.... The loophole for this conservative court was to say "transgender or not, s/he was a man originally" and therefore declare it an invalid same-sex marriage.

So regardless of that, here's a hypothetical for 'em to ponder: what happens if two (a male-> female and a female-> male) transsexuals marry each other in Kansas? This would ensure that one's a man and one's a women whether you consider them before or after their operations (who's who would be the only thing in dispute).
posted by hincandenza at 12:50 AM on March 16, 2002


In college I once took a course in anthropology. My professor argued that we should get rid of sex as a legal category, because there is a number of people around whose sex is ambiguous (and this is even before any sex-change operations). I don't know if I necessarily agree with him, but I think it's a point worth considering, after all, we are all supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law, right?
posted by epimorph at 1:51 AM on March 16, 2002


I think it's interesting just how complicated this situation is. As I see it, it breaks down like this:

1. The state supreme court no doubt technically did their job, correctly interpreting the intentions behind Kansas's notoriously conservative laws. Indeed hicandenza, the court is not legislating; in the absence of a law on this specific subject, they are falling back on how they think the spirit of the state's marriage laws applies to this situation. Since same-sex marriages aren't allowed in Kansas, it does seem pretty reasonable to suppose that other types of non-traditional marriages are not to be allowed either.

2. Whether they are technically supposed to or not, appeals and supreme courts sometimes interpret a law based more on the spirit of the age and place in which they find themselves, than on the lawmaker's intentions. Those of us who think transsexual marriage should be legal in Kansas might have wished that the supreme court had done so in this case. Were they, in their hearts, staying true to the intent of the law, or were they thinking "let's keep those weirdos out of Kansas"?

3. The issue of legally defining gender. Whether or not a government entity is empowered to make such a determination. If so, on what basis? If not, what to do about the strange ramifications that would have in other areas (ERA, rape laws, public bathrooms, etc)? While I think transsexual marriages should be legal, I don't think that being surgically transformed into a woman (or man) is the same thing as being born a woman (or man). I don't think we should have restrictions against same-sex marriages, but since we do (in Kansas), I'm not sure I really agree that this marriage is not a violation of that restriction.

4. The specific case in question is about a disinherited son who wants money. Whether or not his father knew about his wife's transgendered status is a separate question from whether or not he would have wanted to leave her his money if he had known, and that is a separate question from whether or not Kansas state law allows transgendered marriages.

Personally, I would like to see two things happen. First, in this case, I would like the wife to prove that the husband wanted her to have the money, period. Second, I would like the Kansas legislature to move into the 1980s and let people marry whoever they want. The first may or may not happen, depending on the details of the case; the second is unfortunately just plain not going to happen in the near future. There just aren't enough sexually progressive-minded people in Kansas to make it worthwhile for a coalition of representatives to really push the issue.
posted by bingo at 3:01 AM on March 16, 2002


I'm a little confused as to this situation. So, J'Noel is legally male in Kansas, according to what the court and l;egislature says. That means J'Noel could marry a woman? Either way, it seems to me that you're going to get same-sex marriage from one point of view or another. And what to do about the intersexed? Are we going to have to have chromosomal tests to indicate whether one is male or female? What if one is XXY?

I think the state gets itself into this trouble by being in the business of marriage in the first place. If the point is to protect property, for crying out loud, let making wills be cheap. If the point is to protect children, then give legal protection to parents, whatever their marital status. Shee.

(Which reminds me -- If the old man wanted J'Noel to inherit, why didn't he just write her into a will? Anyone with any appreciable amount of property, no matter their age, should get a will. Quite inconsiderate of the man to leave such a mess; I suppose that's the motive for not having a will in such a person -- you're sure to be remembered by your relatives if you make the death financially and legally painful as well.)
posted by meep at 5:49 AM on March 16, 2002


The thing I find odd is that this 80-year-old with $2.5 million didn't have a will, which would have made this whole argument void.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:52 AM on March 16, 2002


Here's a pretty detailed
account of the situation before the ruling. Keep in mind that the PitchWeekly is hardly a paragon of journalistic integrity -- they kind of fall of the edge into pseudo-literary true crime sort of reporting -- but there's a lot of interesting information in there nonetheless.

Kansas law states that -- in absence of a will -- half of the estate goes to the spouse and half to the children. So the son would have made out pretty well nonetheless.

Also, it seems like the guy was pretty weird about money to begin with. And the case gets complicated by a half-signed prenuptual agreement and some vague promises that got made while they were engaged -- but the court has chosen not to rule based on those issues because they are too ambiguous.

It's worth pointing out that these people were not stupid and she was independantly quite comfortable financially (she taught business and finance at universities).

What's also interesting is that they were married by a Kansas Supreme Court justice in the first place -- and in order to have that happen, wouldn't they have had to deal with birth certificates, etc? So is it safe to presume that the judge in question knew about the sex-reassignment when he performed the marriage.
posted by milkman at 6:38 AM on March 16, 2002


This is Kansas you're talking about. Stop trying to make sense of it. Just look and marvel.
posted by pracowity at 7:28 AM on March 16, 2002


I've spent too much of my life there to be able to dismiss it so easily.
posted by milkman at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2002


Keep in mind that the PitchWeekly is hardly a paragon of journalistic integrity

And yet, they've endorsed you . . .
posted by yerfatma at 8:43 AM on March 16, 2002


Yes. And they have quite a large readership.
Is it cynical to take advantage of that endorsement?

I didn't say there's nothing of value, i'm just saying they're not gonna win any pulitzers. Cummon it's a midwest 'alternative weekly'.
posted by milkman at 9:00 AM on March 16, 2002


His attorneys believe any remaining questions will be resolved within six months, though they do not know how much will be left after expenses. heh heh heh.
posted by dchase at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2002


Doesn't this essentially make Kansas the first state to endorse gay marriage (for an admittedly small group of people)?

Ignoring sex changes, there are indeed a significant group of people who are born neither male nor female. It used to be that almost all those who were born like that were medically pushed towards one identity or another, but that is no longer the case.

As far as I'm concerned government should be out of the marriage business. Religious organizations should be the only organizations endorsing marriages. Government should endorse any civil union that two people want to get into for legal purposes, whether for romantic reasons or not (i.e., a brother and sister should be able to have a civil union if they want to take care of one another. A civil union should not imply anything but a legal connection between 2 individuals)
posted by gspira at 2:40 PM on March 16, 2002


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