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Madison’s Testimony (video): A daughter eloquently expresses the meaning of marriage equality

NOM Tour Tracker Right-wing

By Eden James

On Tuesday, Garden State Equality responded by organizing an overflowing town hall in Trenton, New Jersey, that attracted 158 people, according to Courage staffer Arisha Michelle Hatch’s hand-count (versus the 48 who showed up for the NOM rally).

The GSE town hall was quite moving, featuring same-sex couples and their children expressing what being denied marriage equality means to them personally.

Here is one touching moment that moved me to tears, quite frankly. We just got the video up last night:

If

If you have a reaction to Madison’s testimony or the experiences of the Galluccio family in being on the front lines of the battle over adoption rights and marriage equality, share it in the comments and share this post with your friends and loved ones.

UPDATE: Watch this video — a really good summary of the day, including Madison. “Lesbians Love Boies” just posted it in the comments. Thanks LLB!

32 Comments

  • 1. Rhonda  |  July 20, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Wonderful piece. This is how it should be, and what should be shown to the world.

    <3 Rhonda

  • 2. Lesbians Love Boies  |  July 21, 2010 at 12:12 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY8qg-Sc0K4

  • 3. Rhonda  |  July 21, 2010 at 12:25 am

    OT but interesting.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-r-stone/de
    Geoffrey R. Stone
    Posted: July 20, 2010 12:33 PM

    Deconstructing DOMA

    In his recent decision in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, federal judge Joseph L. Tauro held unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In reaching this result, Judge Tauro, who was appointed by Richard Nixon, addressed a subtle but important issue of constitutional law.

    The federal government provides many benefits to married couples. For example, the spouse of a federal employee is entitled to medical coverage, the spouse of an individual covered by Social Security is eligible for retirement and survivor benefits, and married couples who file joint tax returns usually pay considerably lower federal income taxes than individuals who file separately.

    Before 1996, all federal programs providing marriage benefits left the definition of "marriage" entirely to the states. If a couple was legally married under state law, then they were "married" for purposes of federal law. This was so even though States often have quite different rules about marriage. Some states, for example, recognize common law marriage, most do not. Some states allow people to marry without parental consent at age of 15, others require them to be at least 18. Some states permit individuals to terminate a marriage without any finding of fault, others do not. In all these circumstances, federal law defers to the state's definition of marriage. Indeed, from the very founding of our nation, the definition of marriage has been understood to be a state — rather than a federal — responsibility.

    In 1996, however, Congress suddenly jettisoned this deeply-rooted tradition and attempted to interpose a new federal definition of marriage.The precipitating event was a debate in Hawaii over the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Vilifying gays as "immoral" and "depraved," and condemning same-sex marriage as "perverse" and as "an attack on God's principles," members of Congress pushed through Section 3 of DOMA, which for the first time in our nation's history adopted a federal definition of marriage, confining "marriage" for federal purposes to only those legally-recognized marriages that are "between one man and one woman."

    What makes the Gill case so interesting is that it raises a question somewhat different from that posed by State laws that decline to recognize same-sex marriage. Because the states have primary authority over the institution of marriage, they can appropriately consider a broad range of factors in deciding who can marry, in what circumstances, and subject to what conditions. The federal government, on the other hand, has no such authority.

    For example, a state can lawfully enact a law prohibiting any person under the age of 18 to marry, but for Congress to enact such a law would clearly intrude on the authority of the States. Similarly, whether or not a state can constitutionally prohibit same-sex marriage, Congress plainly has no authority to do so.

    DOMA, however, does not go that far. It does not prohibit States from legalizing same-sex marriage. Rather, it refuses to defer to a State's definition of marriage, insofar as it embraces same-sex marriage, for the purpose of determining eligibility for federal benefits. DOMA therefore poses an interesting puzzle. The federal government is under no obligation to provide special benefits to married couples, but if it chooses to do so can it discriminate against some marriages and not others"? This question implicates the constitutional guarantee of "equal protection of the laws."

    For example, the government need not provide any health benefits to its employees, but if it chooses to do so it cannot constitutionally deny those benefits to particular employees because they are black, or women, or Mormon, or of Irish ancestry. The greater power – not to provide benefits at all – does not necessarily include the lesser power – to provide benefits only to some employees, but not others. This is at the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of equality.

    Of course, differential treatment of different people is not always unconstitutional. If it was, then legislation would be pretty much impossible. For example, although the government cannot deny health benefits to employees because they are black or Mormon, it presumably can deny such benefits to employees who work only part-time.

    In giving meaning to the constitutional guarantee of equality, the Supreme Court has focued on three types of situations. First, a law may discriminate against a group that, like blacks and women, has historically been discriminated against on the basis of a more or less immutable characteristic. Second, a law may discriminate between individuals with respect to a fundamental interest, such as the right to vote or the right to procreate. In these first two situations, the Court generally applies a very demanding standard of justification in deciding whether the inequality is constitutional.

    In Gill, the court might have invoked either or both of these arguments, for sexual orientation is arguably analogous to race and gender, and marriage is arguably a fundamental interest. Judge Tauro, however, found it unnecessary to address those questions.

    Instead, he analyzed DOMA as if it fell into the third situation, which consists of laws that neither implicate a fundamental interest nor discriminate against a group that is analogous to blacks and women. In this third situation, the Supreme Court generally finds a law constitutional if it rationally furthers a legitimate government interest. This would be the case, for example, if the government denied health benefits to part-time employees.

    In Gill, Judge Tauro held that DOMA's discrimination against legally-married same-sex couples failed to satisfy even this more deferential standard. In enacting Section 3, members of Congress argued that the denial of equal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally-married under state law encourages "responsible procreation," promotes "heterosexual marriage," and preserves "morality." But whatever one thinks of these interests when offered in defense of a State's decision not to recognize same-sex marriage, they carry much less weight when advanced by Congress to justify discrimination against couples who are already legally married. And this is especially true in a realm in which Congress traditionally has no business meddling in the first place.

    Moreover, the Supreme Court has long recognized that the government can never lawfully treat one group of people worse than others because the majority deems that group "immoral," "depraved," unworthy, or sinful according to "God's principles." Such animus is not a constitutionally legitimate basis for government action. Yet this seems to be precisely what motivated Section 3 of DOMA.

    Indeed, if we acknowledge, as we must, that Congress had never before second-guessed a state's definition of marriage, and that the interests said to justify Section 3 have traditionally been understood to be within the exclusive domain of the States, it is difficult not to wonder what was really going on in Congress when it enacted DOMA.

    After all, if Congress was truly serious about its purported justifications for DOMA, then it would have re-defined "marriage" to exclude other "depraved" or "immoral" unions. For example, it might have held that convicted mass murderers, child molesters, rapists, and adulterers cannot "marry" for purposes of receiving marriage benefits under federal law. But Congress apparently saw no reason to second-guess the states in their decisions to allow such persons to marry. It was only on the issue of sexual orientation that Congress saw fit to intervene.

    In such circumstances, it is hard not to conclude that Section 3 of DOMA was designed, not to promote a constitutionally legitimate federal interest, but to enforce a distinctive animus against homosexuals. And it was precisely for this reason that Judge Tauro, following two major Supreme Court precedents invalidating other laws that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, rightly declared this congressional travesty unconstitutional.

  • 4. celdd  |  July 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

    What is the deadline for the US to appeal this decision?

    Googling, I haven’t been able to find it. The GLAD FAQs say the rulilnlgl is typically stayed for 14 days (tomorrow), but doesn’t say when to expect an appeal decision by the government.

  • 5. Alan E.  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:12 am

    I believe there is a 2 week moratorium after the decision was officially made before the ruling becomes a part of law. Not sure about the time to appeal though.

  • 6. Rhonda  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:16 am

    I believe it is also 2 weeks, 14 days

  • 7. New  |  July 21, 2010 at 5:54 am

    GLAD's site says government can appeal within 60 days the MA decision.

  • 8. Lesbians Love Boies  |  July 21, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Quote from the article below: Miriam Sharpfried, a 19-year-old college student whose parents are both women, said the state sanctions discrimination by not allowing gay couples to marry, which makes it especially hard for their children in school.

    "The state doesn’t recognize us as a family, so how can my peers recognize us as a family?" she said.
    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/07/nj_gay_m

  • 9. Ann S.  |  July 21, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Subscribing. Also, hi to Louis.

  • 10. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 21, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Subscribing.
    Don’t understand who’s that Louis / Lewis everybody is saying hi to, but I’ve yet to read some of the posts and comments to catch up…

  • 11. JonT  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:16 am

    (Subskripsie)

  • 12. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan)  |  July 21, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Now this is a family. The Galuccios are proof that it is what is in your heart that makes you a parent, not the organs below your waist. These children are already showing how well-adjusted they are, and it is because they know they are loved and allowed to be children.

  • 13. Ronnie  |  July 21, 2010 at 3:50 am

    My mom was in tears when Madison & her family were talking…they need to see more of this…<3…Ronnie

  • 14. Bolt  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

    “We must become the change we want to see.” This is excellent advice. With the courts poised to grant us equality under the law, I can let my anger towards the opponents of marriage equality go. Their shenanigans are powerless in certain places.

    We must concentrate our resources on the regions in the U.S. that are powerless, and afraid, to fight back, such as NC, and Florida. The religious reich in those places are rude, and aggressive. The republican U.S. senate candidate, Marco Rubio, is a raging religious lunatic hell bent on god, and absolute power.

  • 15. Ғĕłỹҳ  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Don't count North Carolina as powerless please! It so happens that NC is one of the very few states that has managed to keep DOMA out of our constitution! We have been the model for healthcare compassion and have just recently successfully lobbied for increase funding for HIV persons in need.

    Where we lack in Anti-NOMmery we will make up in rock solid progress in ENDA, UAFA and grassroots education. Focus your resources where they belong, in the courts, in education and in your lives and your families! That is where we will win.

    Felyx – NOM lost before it even started!

  • 16. Harriet Forman  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:20 am

    How could Anyone object? Beautiful.

  • 17. VRAlbany  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:22 am

    This was a fantastic event that was organized. I think it’s one of the best ways used so far to counter NOM’s agenda.
    Bravo, Trenton! And bravo to the great families that have taken it upon themselves to stand up and show the world how loving they are and that there is nothing to fear about them!

  • 18. Mackenzie  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Do we have any info for the event today in Annapolis yet?

  • 19. Alan E.  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Is it just me, or does her dad look like William H Macy from the side?

  • 20. ceevee  |  July 21, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Try reading “An American Family”, written by Jon and Michael Gallulccio to see exactly what they had to go through to create their family. It’s a nicely written book!

  • 21. PamC  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    They can talk all they want about us trying to silence them, but testimony like Madison’s has been silenced for years. We are not second-class; there is no back of the bus that will hold all of us; our families deserve the dignity of recognition and respect. Period.

  • 22. Em  |  July 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Where does that guy get off offering to take their children and place them in a “normal” home in that sincere tone of voice like it’s actually a very generous and reasonable offer???
    Would he give up his kids at the urging of an atheist who insisted that it was healthier for children to be raised outside the influences of a dogmatic religion that teaches them to treat their peers with disdain and unfounded judgment? Because it’s essentially the same as what he’s telling those men: “Your very lives are going to ensure that your children turn out warped, you’d better let me take them to someone less deviant.”

    Those children are precious (like all children) and I find it hard to believe that anyone could look at that family and feel anything other than grateful that those children, who needed love and support and a stable home more than anything in the world, were given such a blessing in the form of their daddies.
    I can only hope that in my lifetime (hopefully before I’m too old for it to help me and my partner) love will ultimately win out and we will be granted our long-overdue rights to love and live exactly as we are.

  • 23. Richard A. Walter (s  |  July 21, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Amen on that one, Em!

  • 24. JonT  |  July 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    @Em: Yeah, the gall.

    And who was the douchebag who said something to the effect of: '…29% of all children placed with gay foster parents are sexually molested…'.

    WTF? Who's ass did he pull that statistic from? Is there no honor or honesty with these people? Truth is just a piece of tinfoil to be molded as the hate dictates?

    Pissed me off, I have to say.

  • 25. Daddy  |  July 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Eden, Thank you for a wonderful article. For the record, I am the proudest person in the world! Much love and keep on sharing, Jon (Daddy) Galluccio
    …and for all the wonderful comments, I am grateful for each and everyone of you, well maybe not the one that thinks I look like William H. Macy but on another site I was told to have Paul McCartney do a paternity test…I guess I need a haircut! so OK, thanks to you too!

  • 26. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan)  |  July 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Actually, I find William H. Macy to be a very handsome young man. Also, I watched the other video that told the story of you and Michael standing up to adopt Adam and Madison. I take it that since your oldest daughter was sixteen at the time this started, you have one adult daughter and two wonderful teenager young adults in your family. You are both blessed, and your family is also. Your children are obviously not only healthy but happy. Congratulations.

  • 27. Lesbians Love Boies  |  July 22, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Thank you Jon and family for being an inspiration to us all. I found your story very comforting and heartwarming. You are what a real family is all about.

  • 28. Ronnie  |  July 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Yes Jon, Thank you. My Mother and i were there & she was in tears during your family’s testimony. You and I met briefly outside the pizza place when I took your family’s photo for Freedom Fighters for Equality. I posted the photos from the day on the Garden State Equality & FF4E Facebook page. It was an honor to meet you and your amazing family. I wish we could have had more time to talk. Maybe some time soon at another GSE event.

    Again thank you…..<3…Ronnie

  • 29. Alan E.  |  July 22, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    What about David Caruso? Can you pose with your hands on your hips sometime after you say a witty one-liner?

  • 30. Lesbians Love Boies  |  July 28, 2010 at 1:50 am

    We Know This Could Be Shocking, But Kids from Gay Parents Are Normal

    Over and over we see evidence that kids raised by gay parents turn out just the same as kids raised by straight parents. They're fine, physically, mentally, whether raised by two men or two women. But people are still so scared of something that is different from themselves.

    Read More Here: http://www.queersighted.com/2010/07/28/we-know-th

  • 31. Show us what really happe&hellip  |  August 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    […] most affected you during NOM’s tour. Was it the man with the “noose” sign? Was it a family that really wanted simply to be a family but were being told they are not good enough? Was it the photos of the podium isolated by a sea of […]

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