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Religious Tolerance logo

NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS

FOR THE YEAR 2000, OCT TO DEC

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News of 2000-OCT:

bullet2000-OCT-5: USA: V-P candidate Dick Cheney supports gay relationships: 
The only vice-presidential debate of the year 2000 campaign was held in Danville, KY on the campus of Centre College. Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney (R-WY), and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) were the principals at a live debate. In response to a question on lesbian and gay relationships,  Secretary Cheney said that "people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard... I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area... I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into." 1

Margorie Williams of the Washington Post commented: "Both Cheney and his Democratic counterpart, Joe Lieberman, gave answers strikingly more compassionate, more uncertain and thinking-out-loud, than they had in the past, marking a signal moment--a tipping point--in America's gradual acceptance of homosexuality....It took several days for the anger of the Republican right to boil over at his apostasy... But it was already clear, or should have been, that Cheney's answer to that question was the biggest news of the vice presidential debate. George W. Bush's reassertion, during Wednesday's [OCT-11] presidential debate, of his party's hard line on a range of laws affecting gays and lesbians did nothing to change the symbolic importance of his running mate's answer." 2 More details. 

bullet2000-OCT-9: USA: Dr. Laura Schlessinger apologizes to gays and lesbians: 
According to PlanetOut News Staff: "Moved by the [Jewish] atonement holiday the talk host took out an ad to say she's sorry for her anti-gay statements, but many think she has an apology deficit disorder." Dr. Laura took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety titled "A Heartfelt Message From Dr. Laura Schlessinger" It read in part: "On the Day of Atonement, Jews are commanded to seek forgiveness from people we have hurt. I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community." More details
bullet2000-OCT-26: USA: Jimmy Carter's beliefs about homosexuality: According to ReligionToday, in an interview with Baptist Press, Carter said that he believes that homosexuality is a sin. He favors homosexual ordinations: If they were "demonstrating the essence of Christianity, I would not object to the individual being ordained...Adultery is a more serious sin than homosexuality....Homosexuals have a perfect right to profess to be Christians, accept Christ as Savior, and I wouldn't have a problem if they worshiped side by side with me. Jesus never singled out homosexuals to be condemned. When the Southern Baptist Convention started singling out homosexuals as a special form or degree of sinfulness, I didn't agree with it. Now, that target has shifted to the subjugation of women." He also favors laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He does not support homosexual marriages. ...Carter said he is pro-life. "I have never believed that Christ would approve of abortion. When I was governor and president, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I had to administer the [abortion] law, but I did everything I possibly could to discourage abortion."

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News of 2000-NOV:

bullet2000-NOV-7: Arizona: Chaplain exits closet: According to CitzenLink:
Rev. Charles Coppinger, Chaplain of the Arizona Legislature sent a letter to each legislator saying that he believes that God created him as a gay man. He said: "I want God's gay and lesbian children to know of God's unconditional love and acceptance of them as well. We cannot find any condemnation in scripture for committed monogamous same-sex relationships." Senator David Petersen responded: "Charlie, you put us in a real tough position. And I would like to know if this is an issue that you're personally struggling with, or you're committed to? To me, there's a difference."  Coppinger replied that he is no longer struggling with his sexual orientation.
bullet2000-NOV-18: Caribbean: Anti-gay laws to be lifted: According to the London Sunday Times: Britain has been trying to honor its obligations to the European Convention on Human Rights by persuading five of its territories in the Caribbean to repeal their anti-gay laws. The territories are Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Monserrat, and Turks & Caicos Islands. Penalties for consensual same-sex behavior ranges from a fine in the Caymans to life imprisonment in the Turks & Caicos. The laws have been rarely enforced in recent years. None of the territories were willing to repeal their laws, so a British Order-in-Council will be invoked to nullify the laws. This is expected before Christmas.
bullet2000-NOV-27: New Zealand: Equal property rights to all couples: According to Newsroom: "All couples in New Zealand soon may have the same property rights regardless of their marital status after Parliament voted to include same-sex and de facto couples in the new Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill." Couples who have been living together for three or more years, and who later split up, will share "equally in the subsequent division of property, assets, and liabilities, although the law would give judges the power to award lump-sum payments and alter the distribution of property by taking into account a partnerís future earning power. Partners also would be entitled to any claims over a deceased estate." This includes heterosexual married couples, same-sex couples, and heterosexual unmarried couples. 4
bullet2000-NOV-28: USA: Survey of homophobia among high school students: A survey released by "Who's Who Among American High School Students" found that most top high school students believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to be teachers, Boy Scout or Girl Guide leaders, and sport coaches. However, 39% admitted that they still had some prejudice against homosexuals.

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News of 2000-DEC:

bullet2000-DEC-5: Canada: Lesbian couple may marry: There appears to be an ambiguity in Ontario's marriage act which may allow gays or lesbians to marry. Section 5 defines an alternative processes by which a couple can marry without first obtaining a marriage license: They may have the banns read at a church at which at least one of them is a member. The banns are a series of announcements made during the service on three successive weeks that the couple plans to marry. Members of the congregation are asked whether there is any legal reason why they should not (e.g. one of the couple is currently married to someone else, or the couple are too closely related). After the third reading of the banns, the couple can get married and have their union registered with the government. The marriage act defines this process as being available to "any person who is of the age  of majority." Two male gays are certainly "persons." A high court in Britain ruled many decades ago that women in Canada are also persons. Thus, two lesbians would appear to qualify under Section 5. Gail Donnelly and Barbara McDowall attend the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto ON. They will have their banns read during 2001-JAN. A precise wedding date has not been set. The legality of this route is in dispute. The provincial and federal governments cannot decide who has authority in this case. 5
bullet2000-DEC-6: UK: Age of consent bill passes: The age of consent for same-sex sexual activities had been 18 years. This was out of line with the law in most other European Union countries. Three times, the government tried to lower the age to 16 years. Each time, the bill was defeated in the House of Lords, an appointed body of English aristocrats. On the fourth try, the House of Commons speaker, Michael Martin, invoked the Parliament Act to bypass the House of Lords and send the Sexual Offences Act directly to the Queen for royal assent. It is now law.
bullet2000-DEC-7: USA: Civil unions in United Methodist Church: According to ReligionToday, Pastor Gregory Dell of the Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago IL has found a method of conducting same-sex unions while staying within church rules. The denomination has a ban on same-sex unions. He has the couple exchange vows at a ceremony outside the church. Then they return to the church to celebrate their unions at a second service.
bullet2000-DEC-10: Canada: Banns read for a gay and lesbian couple: Rev. Brent Hawkes, minister of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto, ON,  announced the banns of marriage for two couples, one gay (Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell) and one lesbian (Anne Vautour and Elaine Vantour). He said: "Today...we are making history. Today we are exercising our freedom of religion. We are exercising our freedom to marry." A double wedding is scheduled for JAN-14.
bullet2000-DEC-16: Canada: Supreme Court rules on custom inspections: The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of the Customs Act. All nine justices criticized Canada Customs for years of "excessive and unnecessary prejudice" against gay and lesbian erotica.  However, they did overturn one section that called on the importers to defend suspect materials. Under the new rules, if an importer complains, customs agents are given 30 days to justify seizures in court. Otherwise, the material must be released. 6
bullet2000-DEC-19: Netherlands: Gay marriage approved: According to Reuters: The Dutch upper house of parliament passed two bills that had been previously approved by the lower house in 2000-SEP. Effective 2001-APR, marriage and adoption in the Netherlands will be open to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. This is the first country in recent history to have legalized gay and lesbian marriages. The bills were strongly opposed by a number of Christian religious parties. Onno Hoes, a spokesperson for COC, a group promoting equality for gays and lesbians said: "We're the first country in the world where there is no distinction made [in marriage] on the basis of gender." The Senate statement said: "As far as possible, homosexual marriage will have the same consequence as heterosexual marriage." Among other things, this means that spousal support obligations would also apply to same-sex marriages.

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References: 

  1. V-P debate transcript at: http://www.debates.org/transcripts/textfiles/ 
  2. Margorie Williams, "When Cheney broke ranks," Washington Post, 2000-OCT-13, Page A39. Online at: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ 
  3. "'Dr. Laura's' Yom Kippur Apology," PlanetOut News & Politics, at: http://www.planetout.com/pno/news/
  4. "New Zealand moves close to granting property rights to same-sex couples," Newsroom, at: http://www.newsroom.com/Article_show.asp?ArticleID=975402663 
  5. Siobhan Roberts, "Loophole may allow gay marriages," National Post, 2000-DEC-5, Pages A1 & A2
  6. Tonda MacCharles, "Customs can stop gay erotica: Top court," Toronto Star, 2000-DEC-16, Page A13

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Copyright © 2000 & 2001 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-JUL-20
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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