An Interesting Condundrum

Now, I find this interesting:

A gay man charged with helping his lover loot a wealthy school district has asked a judge to rule that state law protecting spouses from having to testify against each other also applies to same-sex partners.

Stephen Signorelli, fighting charges that he stole at least $219,000 from the Roslyn, New York, school district, is seeking to bar testimony by his longtime companion, Frank Tassone, the district’s former superintendent.

In a motion filed before a judge in Nassau County, Signorelli sought to bar such an appearance, saying he and Tassone deserved the same protection as a heterosexual couple.

"Mr. Tassone and I have been loving partners for 33 years," Signorelli said in an affidavit, adding that the two had participated in "a solemn religious ceremony" conducted while they were on a Caribbean cruise, "to memorialize our relationship and love for one another."

The two also registered as domestic partners in New York City, where they live, in 2002.

Pretty much everyone who reads the Whatever knows that I’m all for same sex marriage; having said that, in my "I am not a lawyer" way, I would be very surprised if a judge would allow this. For better or for worse, I suspect having a domestic partnership in New York City doesn’t translate to an extension of marriage-like rights in other jurisdictions. I’m not sure whether the judge in question is a county, state or federal judge, but I am reasonably sure Nassau county is not in New York City. One would also need reasonably ask if an unmarried heterosexual couple in the same situation would enjoy spousal protection; I doubt it.

(And what would really be interesting would be if a same-sex couple, married in Massachusetts, would be able to argue for spousal protections outside of that commonwealth; that would put the federal Defense of Marriage Act right in the cross-hairs.)

If I were the judge, I would deny the request; unless New York law has some quirk I don’t know about (which is entirely possible as I don’t live in New York and — once again — I’m not a lawyer), it’s pretty clear the law doesn’t allow unmarried couples to enjoy spousal privileges (not including NYC’s domestic partner laws, the problems surrounding which I’ve already noted). One could certainly advance the idea that same-sex partners should be able to marry, but there’s a difference between saying same-sex partners should be able to marry, and that they already enjoy certain spousal protections.

This does make me glad, however, that the person to whom I’ve bound my life will not be made to testify against me in any future embezzlement cases. Not that I have any embezzlement planned, mind you. Even so.

Naturally, I am curious to hear your thoughts on this matter (the proposed advancing of spousal protections, that is, not any future embezzlement on my part). Lawyers — particularly ones who know New York law — are especially invited to chime in.


Geek-Related Activities

Just to catch you all up on the nerdly events as they transpire in my life:

1. The Ghost Brigades will be a featured alternate selection of the Science Fiction Book Club for March, 2006, so those of you in the SFBC, that’s something to look forward to. The SFBC has been pretty good to me — Old Man’s War made it on the club’s Bestseller list last year — so I’m happy to continue the association.  

2. I’ve gotten my programming schedule for the Synthetic Confusion convention in January, so I guess that means I’m going. I’ll post my full schedule a little closer to the convention date, but I will note that I’m scheduled to give a reading, and I’ll most likely read the first chapter of The Android’s Dream, which, you may recall, is the one which begins "Dirk Moeller didn’t know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident, but he was willing to try." Trust me, you don’t want to miss this.

3. Speaking of conventions, I’m going to be "Nifty Guest" at the 2006 edition of Penguicon. This means that while I don’t ascend to Guest of Honor status, I am nevertheless held in enough esteem that I get an additional ribbon, and also free soda (although as I understand it everyone gets free soda. Never mind). Regardless, I do think this is indeed fairly nifty, and naturally you may expect to see me there as well.

4. I’ve also decided — just now — that I will indeed be attending Boskone. Because as I understand it, there is no better time to visit Boston than mid-February. And I for one am willing to believe it.

5. Back to book news: I’ve been informed by people who know such things that the Russian version of Old Man’s War is slated for June, 2006. Because I know you’ve all been waiting. Personally I can’t wait to see what my name looks like in Cyrillic.

That’s the extent of my geekiness right now.

Political Rant, Boiled Way Down

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong here, but: A major reason the Bush administration is finally allowing Jose Padilla the Constitutional rights it’s been systematically depriving him of for the last three years is because it doesn’t want to discuss how it tortured people to get the information used to implicate him? Holy mother of God in Manolo Blahnik pumps —

[Insert standard Bush administration rant; really, by this time you folks can pretty much guess what I’m going to say here, can’t you? And aren’t you still logy from Thanksgiving and not in a mood to read me fulminate for 1,200 words? Exactly. Wait, here’s the exit ramp]

— and that’s why this entire administration needs to be dunked in clarified butter and served to the hungry, hungry lobsters.  

Thank you for reading. 

Because Lack of Competence Should Never Be a Barrier

Former FEMA head Mike Brown is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm. This is like Joseph Hazelwood opening up an oil tanker driving school. What really gets me is this quote:

Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what’s going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.

It’s evident that Brown knows how to appear unaware of how serious a situation is; what’s not in evidence is that he knows how to avoid the same, or can teach that skill to others. Nevertheless, Brown says he’s already gotten interest from firms. You’ll know who they are when their spokespeople appear glassy-eyed and sweaty after their next corporate disaster, claiming the now is not the time to place blame, and then blaming the victims of the disaster five seconds later. Yes, yes, that’s certainly a skill to have.