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Patrick
What It Means (Legally) To Be Male 
5th-May-2011 11:36 pm
patrickwonders

There has been a substantial push by the Republicans in the Minnesota legislature to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage (which is already against Minnesota state law). Now, it's no secret that I am absolutely for marriage equality. But, this whole thing has gotten me thinking more about the legal status of being male or being female.

It is 2011. I have given up hope that anyone in my lifetime will invent a good way to package plastic wrap for home use. But, it has been illegal since 1920 to keep women from voting. It has been illegal since 1964 to discriminate in hiring on the basis of sex. It has been decades (not enough, but decades) since women needed their husband's permission to open a bank account. Since 1998, it has been illegal for me to sexually harrass people of either sex.

If I walked into the DMV today and told them that my driver's license has been wrong about my sex for all of these years, what would happen? They certainly wouldn't change it without my birth certificate. If I alleged that that was wrong or alleged that I could not find it, where would I be? Who gave the DMV the right to define what sex I am?

Why does it make any difference to the government (especially those espousing small government and personal freedom) that I am male?

The only answers I have are that if I am (legally) male:

  1. I can be drafted into combat posts.
  2. I can be penalized for entering women's restrooms (maybe?).
  3. I am not allowed to marry a male.

I can see the political expedience of the first. I can see the convenience of the second. I've got nothing for the third.

Comments 
6th-May-2011 05:12 am (UTC)
Great insight into the intersection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans issues.

If you didn't know already, there is a lot of animosity these days between these four groups (I could expound on that if you want). I recently watched "Stonewall Uprising", and the cultural amnesia LGBT folks have regarding the fact they used to work together on things is most disheartening.
6th-May-2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
Although I could very well be proven wrong in a handful of states, it's generally my understanding is that there is no legal punishment for entering the bathroom of the opposite gender: only social punishment.

Of course, you can certainly be legally punished if you harass or threaten somebody in there, but that's a totally different thing altogether.
6th-May-2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
I am sure it would get me kicked out of the mall. Now, whether a court would say they can't enforce such distinctions or would say that it is okay for the private sector to make those distinctions... It could go either way. But, I bet the court would side with mall.
6th-May-2011 12:37 pm (UTC) - nothing on any of them
I've got nothing on any of them. I understand the custom of them, perhaps, but really no sound logic to speak of, when I honestly think about it.
6th-May-2011 08:04 pm (UTC) - Re: nothing on any of them
Yes. #1 for me is in the category of "given that this has been historically true, I see how it would be hard to motivate Congress to change it."

#2 for me is in the category of... "Let's, by fiat, just avoid a potentially (or at least perceived to be) sizable source of nuisance." It is a "separate but equal" situation (though rarely equal) without much damage except where it reinforces the "men and women are legally different" thing.
6th-May-2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
There's some legal implications w/r/t custody, but I think those are fairly bogus also.

The irony is that it's mostly unconstitutional for the state to care about your sex.
6th-May-2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
I thought custody was supposed to bebrutally based on "best interests of the child" and "who has been the primary caretaker". For a newborn, maybe mother could be considered "de facto primary caretaker". But, is there more to it? In MN?
6th-May-2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
What I'm primarily thinking of is the issue that was a problem in my recent pro bono case - that unmarried fathers have no rights to custody or visitation whatsoever until they are adjudicated the child's father, even if acknowledged by the mother as the child's father in a legally binding document (in MN, a "Recognition of Parentage" form). They do have obligations to pay child support (as I understand it - haven't had to litigate that issue yet).

Obviously, the time period involved in adjudicating custody can give the mother an unmerited advantage, since during that time she can establish herself as the primary caregiver/home. Also, a lot of guys don't have the $400 filing fee just lying around (plus motion fees, etc.)



Edited at 2011-05-06 08:20 pm (UTC)
6th-May-2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
I love this post.
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