Equal protection of property laws

The city of San Francisco this weekend issued marriage licenses to hundreds of gay and lesbian couples. Commentators, pundits, moralists, ethicists and everyday folks may hold their own opinions about the private lives of these same-sex couples, but whether they should be allowed to marry is a matter of public policy, and it’s just as much about financial and legal matters as it is about love, sex and family.

The non-marriage civil union has been proposed as a possibly palatable alternative to marriage, but equal treatment is the law of the land and the battle over racial segregation already established that separate and different is inherently unequal.

Legally married couples have rights (e.g., the federal homeowner capital gains tax break) and responsibilities (e.g., joint repayment of debt) that the law doesn’t apply to unmarried couples. Some of those rights and responsibilities involve the ownership of property. How are these couples supposed to manage their property ownership without burdensome legal hurdles if they can’t marry each other? –Marcie Geffner

The geeks are watching

Two interesting bits of news hit the search engine highway yesterday: Google added 1 billion Web pages to its Web index and Yahoo! dropped Google’s search results to make way for its own new search page. A little competition never hurt anyone. Google now spans some 4.2 billion Web pages. That’s a whole lot of filtering and ranking to calculate when a simple word like “home” is keyed in. Incidentally, a search for “home” on Google lists NASA as the most relevant Web page, followed by Lycos, Microsoft and Netscape. NASA? Ok, so Google may not be perfect and some search results can be puzzling. But Yahoo!’s bold move yesterday may have opened a new chapter in a race for relevancy.

We’re still waiting for Yahoo!’s next move in the home listings arena. –Jessica Swesey

Stop in the name of sanity

This is a lawsuit that we might get behind. An affordable housing project in San Rafael, Calif., for mentally disturbed people was rejected by the City Council because of resistance by the local neighbors. They came up with a host of objections to the project. Nobody complained about the threat of crazy people, but it is easy to read between the lines.

Now the non-profit sponsor of the project is threatening to sue the city. What troubles us is the lack of honesty about what disturbed the neighbors – hiding behind a host of environmental concerns evades the true concern. The rawness of the anxiety is what the community should debate. And then, is it willing to create housing for all of its citizens, or not?

Face it, the project was only 14 units in a city of 56,000 people. We are certain that this Marin County community has plenty of folks suffering from mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.

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