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MEDIA NEWS ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES & UNIONS:

Year 2001

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Year 2001 developments:

bullet2001-JAN-11: Lesbian couple asked for name change: According to Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian group, a lesbian couple in New Jersey obtained a civil union in Vermont, returned home, and asked a judge to grant them a common name. He refused, saying that a name change would give the appearance that the couple was married. They are appealing the decision with legal help from the American Civil Liberties Union. "Focus" quotes Matt Daniels, executive director of Alliance for Marriage. He estimates that about 750 out of the 1,000 civil unions that have been performed to date involve out-of-state couples. He fears that this request for a name change could lead to other actions outside of Vermont directed at making civil unions recognized throughout the U.S. 1
bullet2001-MAY-17: Australia: Archbishop favors blessing gay unions: Archbishop Peter Carnley, Anglican primate for Australia, recommended that the church consider blessing committed, monogaamous relationships. He prepared a paper for the General Synod, scheduled for later in July. He wrote that there is "no clear biblical teaching about behaviour that might be explicitly appropriate to homosexually oriented persons". He suggested that the church consider a compromise approach: to "bless a lifelong commitment simply as an acceptable form of human friendship, without inquiring into intimate private matters". Reaction was mixed:
bulletThe Right Rev Robert Forsyth, bishop of South Sydney, said: "any suggestion that the Anglican Church should bless a sexual relationship that is not fully marriage of a man and a woman is not possible if we are to remain faithful to Lord Jesus Christ and the scriptures. If it means the Christian faith has nothing to say about what you do in your bedroom - about sexual behaviour - he must be kidding. Sexual behaviour is a crucial part of human behaviour. The Christian faith has crucial things to say about work, how we earn money, how we treat other people, our sex lives."
bulletCanon Dr Peter Jensen, principal of Moore Theological College said that if Dr Carnley "is suggesting this is a good thing for us to do, he has gone beyond the border."
bulletRev Cathy Thomson, of South Australia commented: "It is clearly innovative, in asking the church whether it ought to be looking at people's intimate relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual, a little bit differently than we have in the past. It suggests the church shouldn't be asking details of how, or when, sexual expression takes place. To some extent the article is reflecting the real situation of pastoral practice, and it is testing the waters a little bit."
bulletthe Very Rev David Richardson, Dean of Melbourne, said: "In an era where so many marriages break up, any celebration of a relationship that leads to permanence is timely." 2
bullet 2001-JUN-4: Nova Scotia: Gay partnerships recognized: Nova Scotia is a maritime province on the east coast of Canada. The provincial government had been ordered by the courts to make provision for gay and lesbian relationships. On JUN-4, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to create legislation recognizing same-sex relationships. For $15 (CDN; about $10 in U.S. funds) a couple can "register a domestic partnership" at the Office of Vital Statistics. This will give them a number of rights under about 20 matrimonial laws which cover everything from pensions and wills to medical decisions, ownership of joint property, the right to request alimony, and child support. It does not give them the right to adopt children. Also, the province will not recognize union ceremonies performed in church. Couples will have to register with the government directly. Of course, nothing would prevent them from registering with the Office of Vital Statistics and then attending a commitment or union ceremony at a Unitarian Universalist, Jewish Reform or other religious institution.
bullet2001-JUL-12: USA: Constitutional amendment proposed to ban same-sex marriage: The Alliance for Marriage is "dedicated to promoting marriage and reducing the epidemic of fatherless families in America." They only  recognize heterosexual families as valid. They have proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It reads: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
bullet2001-JUL-16: World: Roman Catholic Church once blessed gay marriages: Social historian and Catholic academic Alan Bray, author of Homosexuality in Renaissance England will deliver a paper at Newman House in Dublin on JUL-21. He believes that, from the 11th to the 16th century, Catholic priests conducted a form of wedding service for male couples, who were sworn or "wedded" brothers. The couples received communion together and were often buried side-by-side. He commented: "I'm sure this will create quite a stir both in the Catholic Church and among gay people but what I'm presenting is a way for both sides to come together... It's part of its history but the Church has forgotten it. No-one will thank me for saying this but the Church could avoid the mess it is getting into if it would listen to its past...Some of these wedded brothers had platonic friendships and some had physical ones. The Church was giving its blessing to the friendship, with all the potential good there, rather than to anything else within the relationship. But sexual potential wasn't a bar to the blessing." 3
bullet2001-JUL-30: USA: Reform party adopts anti-gay policy: The national Reform Party has adopted a resolution opposing same-sex marriage.  Chairperson Jeanne Doogs of Fort Worth TX commented: "I don't want to tell people how to live their lives. But there's a strong contingent here only interested in abortion and social issues." She said "new people" who came into the party with the Buchanan candidacy threatened to leave if the party didn't take a hard line on such items as opposing abortion access, opposing hate-crimes laws, terminating immigration, returning the nation to its "Christian roots.:  Doogs said: "I think it's divisive, but I'm not leaving the party."
bullet2001-AUG-27: MA: Married lesbian couple may seek equal rights: Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian agency, reports that a lesbian couple, who are residents of Massachusetts, were married in the Netherlands and are about to ask a court in their home state to recognize their marriage. Focus appears to be referring to Cape Cod lawyers Heather Wishik and Susan Donegan. A Focus on the Family Marriage and Family Analyst Amy Desai wrote: "It signals an all-out attack on marriage...It really points out the need for states to protect themselves through defense of marriage acts...It says that, very likely, this is a political move that it is an attempt by an organized group of homosexuals to force 'gay' marriage on America."  Focus on the Family correspondent Mark Cowan said that this development raises "the specter of a well thought-out master plan to subvert marriage."
bullet2001-AUG-30: MA: Group asks court to order issuance of marriage licenses: Mary Bonauto, spokesperson for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), said that GLAD is seeking a summary judgment to grant elementary civil rights guaranteed by the state's constitution to her 14 gay and lesbian clients in committed relationships. A hearing on the motion is not expected before 2001-JAN. Matt Daniels is founder of Alliance for Marriage, a group which wants to continue restricting marriage to heterosexual couples only . He said: "Massachusetts is shaping up to be ground zero for this issue."  Bryan G. Rudnick heads a voter-initiative to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. He said: "A lot of people in the Massachusetts gay and liberal communities think our state should be the testing ground for alternative lifestyles, so we're out to find a means to build up marriage instead of deconstructing it."
bullet2001-SEP-20: WA: Washington Supreme Court OKs domestic partner benefits: The Court decided by an 8 to 1 vote that cities and counties in the state could extend health insurance benefits to its employees who were in committed relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual. Peter LaBarbera, with the conservative Culture and Family Institute, said that "Domestic partners legislation, originally promoted by homosexuals, is now being lobbied for by heterosexuals who don't want to get married, but they want to get all the benefits of marriage." Others feel that if committed couples (both married and unmarried) pay taxes, then it is fundamentally unjust for cities and counties to restrict health benefits only to married couples. 4
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2001-SEP-21: CA: Legislature passes bill giving rights to domestic partners: Governor Gray Davis (D-CA) is expected to sign a new law that grants 13 rights previously enjoyed only by married couples. Committed couples who register with the government would be allowed to file disability insurance, adopt each other's children, be considered as a spouse for state income tax, and to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their spouse. The law would apply to all homosexual couples, and to some heterosexual couples -- one partner in a heterosexual couple must be over 61. As expected, votes split largely on party lines: Democrats favored it and Republicans opposed it. Also as expected, the Family Research Council condemned the bill, saying that it threatens to undermine marriage. Others praise the bill because it is expected to motivate more couples to commit to their relationships by registering them with the government. Also, it recognized committed relationships among heterosexuals and homosexuals equally. 5

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2001-OCT-15: Australia: Transsexual marriage declared valid: A marriage between a woman and a female-to-male transsexual was declared valid by the Family Court. The cases was opposed by the Federal Attorney-General who argued that the word "man" in the Australian Marriage Act should be the meaning that the word had in 1961 when the act was passed -- whether a person was a male at birth. "Kevin" was born a girl with female genitalia and chromosomes. But he had always viewed himself as a male; he wore boy's clothes and played with boy's toys. He underwent hormone tretments in 1995 and had sexual reassignment surgery in 1998. He has not had surgery to construct male genitalia. He was issued a new birth certificate which listed him as a male. He and his partner then married. But the government disputed the validity of the Certificate of Marriage. Thirty-nine witnesses testified on Kevin's behalf. Justice Chisholm referred to the witnesses, and said: "They see him and think of him as a man, doing what men do. They do not see him as a woman pretending to be a man. They do not pretend that he is a man, while believing he is not...They are describing what they see in Kevin. And what they see is a man." 6,7

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References:

  1. Mark Cowan, "Name-change effort targets traditional marriage," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0014416.html 
  2. Leonie Lamont, "Archbishop stirs up Anglicans with suggestion not to peer into bedrooms," 2001-MAY-17, at: http://www.smh.com.au/news/0105/
  3. "Gay marriages 'were blessed' in past by Church," Irish Independent, 2001-JUL-16, at: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories
  4. Stuart Shepard, "Court upholds domestic partner benefits," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/
  5. CultureFacts, Volume 4, #32, Family Research Council, 2001-SEP-21.
  6. "Cindy Wockner, "Transsexual marriage is valid," The Daily Telegraph, at: http://www.dailytelegraph.news.com.au/
  7. Full text of the Family Court decision is at: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/judge/

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Copyright 1999 to 2002 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-SEP-4
Author: B.A. Robinson

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