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Years 1999 & 2000

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Year 1999 developments:

bullet1999-OCT-24: Statement by presidential candidates: The Baptist Press reported that five presidential candidates, all Republicans, have signed a pledge promising to fight against same-sex marriage. They are Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Dan Quayle and Alan Keyes. George Bush, Elizabeth Dole and John McCain have not yet signed. Democratic candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley refused to sign the pledge. Libertarian candidate Harry Browne and independent candidate Robert Smith have not yet signed it. The pledge promises to uphold "the sacred institution of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman" and to "vigilantly defend this age-old institution against any effort -- judicial or legislative -- to redefine it to include same-sex relationships." It also commits the signers to "oppose all judicial and legislative efforts to place children in homosexual households, which are motherless or fatherless by design." The Presidential Candidate Pledge on Marriage was prepared by 15 conservative Christian groups, led by Americans for Truth about Homosexuality
bullet1999-DEC-20: Vermont: The Vermont supreme court ruled in favor of equal benefits for gay and lesbian couples. They determined that Vermont's current laws are unconstitutional because they give special privileges to married heterosexuals that cannot be enjoyed by gays and lesbians. They require the legislature to proceed speedily to either:
bulletaugment the marriage act so that couples of all sexual orientations may marry, or
bulletcreate a new partnership or civil union status for gays and lesbians with privileges and responsibilities equal to those enjoyed by married couples.    More developments.

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Year 2000 developments:

bullet2000-FEB-15: National: The Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music recommends local option on same-sex union ceremonies.  Ironically, their report was released on St. Valentine's Day. It includes essays on Scripture, decision-making, church tradition, and blessings. It says, in part, "We are not ready, theologically or scientifically, to say a defining word about the life of homosexuals in the church...In the context of reverence - and humility - it seems best not to take absolutist positions on a national level." It recommends a form of local option in which area dioceses would "find their own way in the matter." They were simply unable to reach a consensus after much debate. So they shifted the decision to local congregations. More details on the battle in the Episcopal Church over homosexuality.  
bullet2000-MAR-2: Vermont: First reading was given to a Vermont legislation that would allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain "a certificate of civil union through a process that parallels the process for obtaining a marriage certificate. These couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges and responsibilities as [married] spouses." The existing family court would process any dissolution of civil unions.   More developments.
bullet2000-MAR-7: California: The California electorate approved Proposition 22. It was sponsored by state Senator William Knight (R). It states that "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized" in the state. MSNBC commented: "Supporters of Proposition 22 ran a self-described 'pro-family' campaign saying the main issue was protecting the states right to determine what constituted a marriage. Opponents, however, countered that the real motivation behind the initiative was to discriminate against homosexuals."
       Public opinion polls indicated that it would pass by a vote of about 56% to 38%. Exit polling showed that the responses were heavily influenced by the religious beliefs of the public:
Group Response
Everyone 62% in favor *
Democrats 61% against
Republicans 85% in favor
Protestants & non-Catholic Christians 70% in favor
Roman Catholics 61% in favor
Jewish almost 2 to 1 against
No religion almost 2 to 1 against
Other non-Christians 52% in favor

* Actual count with 65% of the precincts reporting.

Proposition 22 appears to apply only to marriages; it seems to have no impact the civil unions as defined in the proposed Vermont legislation.

bullet2000-MAR-17 Vermont: The Vermont House has passed a bill creating a system of civil unions whereby gays and lesbians can enter into a relationship that is identical to marriage, in everything but name.   More developments.
bullet2000-MAR-12 (approx) Europe: The European Parliament passed a resolution which recommended that same-sex unions be granted the same legal recognition as heterosexual marriages. It called on all 15 members of the European Union "to make rapid progress in the area of mutual recognition of the various forms of living together legally, but not of a conjugal character, and of legal marriages between persons of the same sex." 1,2 The vote was 265 to 125 with 33 abstentions. Some responses were: 
bulletThe Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family said that legislators "and especially Catholic parliamentarians, should not vote to support this type of legislation as it goes against the common good and the truth of man and, as a result, is in reality iniquitous. The council said the resolution was a "serious and sustained attack on the marriage-based family, a union of love and life between a man and a woman from which life naturally results...Upon this matrimonial link, a necessary good, all societies are solidly based. To deny this fundamental and elemental anthropological truth would lead to the destruction of the social fabric."
bulletKate MacLean, Labor member and head of the Scottish parliament's equal opportunities committee, said that legislators were "elected to represent everybody in their constituencies and I do not think any other organization, whether a church or other body, has any right to interfere with that."
bulletRonnie Convery, spokesman for Cardinal Thomas Winning of Scotland, stated that the church's position was clear and that the Vatican is the "supreme authority" for members of the church. Apparently referring to legislators, he said: "Sometimes you find yourself having to choose between the church's teaching and a particular policy of a particular political party.
bulletCherie Blair, wife of the British prime minister, and a Roman Catholic, told a meeting of lawyers in London that the rights experienced by unmarried heterosexual couples should be extended to same-sex couples. She allegedly stated: "The courts for some time have been indicating that legislators need to revisit this area. I do not think this issue is going to go away.3,4
bulletHuman Life International, an American pro-life groups also opposed the resolution. In a remarkable statement, HLI president Fr. Richard Welch said the resolution "will drive the Western European countries and their people to self-destruction...Fringe liberal movements...have been extraordinarily diligent and patient in their attempts to destroy faith and the family. They begin by promoting sexual freedom through a contraceptive mentality and a false promise of greater personal fulfillment and happiness. From there inevitably comes acceptance of abortion and the treatment of unborn life as subservient to pleasure and convenience. The next step, the one the EU resolution is promulgating now, is the end of marriage and the legitimizing of perverse sexual unions of every type. Finally, as all of this is contrary to God and His commandments, faith dies." He called on political leaders word-wide to "turn back this tide of death."
bullet2000-MAR-19: Canada: The federal Liberal party held a national policy conference to prepare for a federal election which is expected in 2001. The Liberal party currently holds power in Ottawa. The party's youngest members proposed expanding the Marriage Act in Canada to allow gays and lesbians to marry. Jascha Jabes, a Queen's University student from Kingston ON argued that "All we are saying is that there is a time and a place for government to step out of the way and allow for the only prerequisite for a successful marriage to be love...Not gender or sex, but love." In opposition, Tony Ceraldi argued "Without marriage, there is [sic] no children in a married state. One of these days there won't be any young Liberals left because there won't be any children if this is the state of affairs" [We are still trying to figure out what that means. He may be saying that if Canada allows gays and lesbians to marry that nobody will want to have children]. Linda Schulz said: the "foundation of the family" should receive special rights because of of its role in society. "If we give all benefits to anything,  what is there to encourage the next generation to take on that responsibility, that commitment to live 25, 50 years of marriage?" [Her point may be that if we allow gays and lesbians to marry then nobody will make a lifetime commitment within marriage. Her rationale is unclear]. 

The proposal was voted upon. The vote was so close (468 to 365 in opposition to the measure) that an exact count had to be made. 
bullet2000-MAR-29: USA: The Central Conference of American Rabbis overwhelmingly approved a resolution giving rabbis the option of presiding at gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies. The CCAR is the largest rabbinical group within American Judaism.
bullet2000-MAR-28: England: Two clergy negotiated a compromise between the British government and religious leaders over new regulations concerning the teaching of human sexuality in English schools. One negotiator was the Bishop of Blackburn, Alan Chesters. He heads the Church of England's Board of Education. The other was a Roman Catholic colleague. The new guidelines would stress the importance of stable relationships. It would give a central place to the "importance of marriage for family life." However, it would also make room for other "stable and loving relationships." The enabling legislation was at least temporarily stalled by the House of Lords. Lord Longford commented: "Putting stable relationships outside marriage -- almost on the same footing as marriage -- would be wicked, wicked. If I voted for the government amendment. I would be betraying my own soul and betraying our children for generations to come." Some have called for Chesters' resignation.
bullet2000-APR-19: Vermont: The state Senate gave preliminary approval to  their version of the civil union bill on APR-17. On APR-19, the senate defeated a Vermont state constitutional amendment that would have stated that one of the central purposes of marriage is procreation. The civil union bill passed 19 to 11 on APR-19. It was very similar to House bill H. 847. The main difference is over the effective date. The Senate version calls for JUL-1; the House version specifies SEP-1. The House approved the senate bill. The bill creates a system of civil unions for gays and lesbians which parallels the system of marriage for heterosexual couples. The law would grant about 300 state benefits of marriage, including medical decision making, tax breaks and inheritance. They would receive all of the benefits of married couples. The rights, privileges, and obligations of married couples are unchanged by this bill. No other state in the U.S. has conferred more than a handful of benefits to gay and lesbian couples. One interesting feature of the bill is that it mentions no residency requirements. A gay or lesbian couple on vacation would apparently be able to visit Vermont, enter into a civil union, return to their state of origin and ask that their status be recognized.
bullet2000-APR-26: Vermont: Governor Howard Dean (D) signed the civil union bill into law. Gays and lesbians will be able to obtain their civil union certificates on 2000-JUL-1. This is the third major change in the legal recognition of partnerships by the government. In the 19th century, African-Americans throughout the U.S. were allowed to marry for the first time. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the miscegenation laws of 16 states and mixed-race couples throughout the U.S. were allowed to marry for the first time. Now, Vermont has changed its laws to allow gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions, which are equivalent to marriage in all but the name. 
bullet2000-MAY-21: New York: The state Democratic committee has decided to study the issue of lesbian/gay marriages. Lawrence Moss, chairperson of the party's reform caucus said: "We believe it's a fundamental rights issue. We believe the time for it has come." State Senate Republican spokesman John McArdle said a civil-union bill "is not something we'd advocate."
bullet2000-AUG-17: Southern Voice reported that in at least four states, same-sex unions or marriages are being actively discussed by Democrats:
bulletNew York: State Senator Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) plans to introduce a civil union bill when his legislature reconvenes.
bulletRhode Island: State Representative Michael Pisaturo (D-Cranston) plans to re-introduce a measure to legalize gay marriage.
bulletCalifornia: Assemblywoman Carol Migden (D-San Francisco) plans to expand the rights of gay and lesbian families, perhaps by promoting a civil union bill.
bulletNew Hampshire: State Senator Rick Trombly (D-Boscawen) is working on a civil union bill. 
bullet2000-DEC-19: Netherlands: Gay and lesbian couples, who are either citizens of the Netherlands or who have residency permits, can marry and adopt with the full privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. This is the first country in recent history to have legalized gay and lesbian marriages. More details.

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  1. "Dilemma for Scottish Lawmakers: Obey Church or Party," at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/
  2. "Special Report: Laws recognizing homosexual unions," at: http://www.zenit.org/english/archive/0003/
  3. "Tony Blair's better half had better shut up before she really gets herself in trouble with the Church over gay issue," at: http://www.dailycatholic.org/issue/2000Mar/mar22dc3.htm
  4. "England: Support for gay rights: Prime Minister joined by his wife," at: http://us.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/

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Site navigation: Home page > Homosexuality > Same sex marriage > News > here

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Copyright 2001 to 2002 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-JUN-1
Author: B.A. Robinson

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