NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS
FOR 2004 - JANUARY to MARCH
In the following, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."
News of 2004-JAN:
||2003-JAN-8: ID: U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds firing of employee: Rich Peterson had
worked for Hewlett-Packard in Boise, ID for 21 years. The company
diversity program supported by posters in the workplace which showed
gays and lesbians at work. Peterson made some posters of his own which used
Bible verses which, in most English translations of the Bible, appear to condemn all homosexual behavior.
Chris Troupis, said: "In response, he was confronted by a supervisor
who told him he needed to take the Scripture down" Peterson
offered to remove his posters if the company removed theirs. He was
fired. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the
termination of his employment,
calling his portrayal of the Scripture verses "demeaning and degrading."
Troupis commented: "Either
the (court is saying that) Scripture itself is offensive and hurtful and
therefore can be prohibited, or (that it) can, if somebody puts up a
Scripture, figure out what's in their head and...can be the thought
police." [It seems obvious from the Court's comment that they
consider the former to be the case, but only if the passages are
displayed in the workplace. The court apparently considers certain
verses in the Bible to be demeaning and degrading
by today's ethical standards. These might include passages that
treat women as property, advocate genocide, require the stoning of
non-virgin brides to death, call Jews the children of Satan, etc.] Mat
Staver, of the Fundamentalist Christian group Liberty Counsel,
said that the ruling is an outrage. He said. "The law is that
individual employees have the right to be free of religious
discrimination in the workplace. You can't be fired simply because you
put up a Bible verse." Peterson expects to appeal his case to the
U.S. Supreme Court. 1 More details.
||2004-JAN-13: Gay couple wins complaint against an Atlanta golf
club: Lawrie Demorest and Russell Tippins have each paid $40,000 to
join the Druid Hills Country Club, and continue to pay $475 a
month each to continue their memberships. They are a same-sex couple.
Opposite-sex couples have full run of the club, including free green
fees. But neither Lawrie nor Russell can join their spouses except as
guests. After repeatedly asking the club to change its "family-only"
policies, they filed a complaint Atlanta's Human Relations Committee.
The committee ruled that the club is in violation of the city's
anti-discrimination ordinance because they refuse to allow domestic
partners the same rights as member spouses. Shirley Franklin, Atlanta's
mayor, has 30 days in which to react to the ruling. She may pull the
club's city licenses unless they comply with the law. This is believed
to be the first ruling enforcing equal rights for gay couples in a
||2004-FEB-12: CA: In time for Valentine's Day, gays and lesbians
are marrying in San Francisco: Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San
Francisco, CA, ordered that marriage licenses be issued to gay and
lesbian couples. He reasoned that this was legal because the state
constitution prohibits discrimination on personal matters. Many hundreds
of gay and lesbian couples applied for and received the very first
marriage licenses ever issued in the U.S. to same-sex couples. The
license office was hopelessly overloaded. Some couples were assigned
numbers and told to come back the next day. Eighty-seven couples were
married on the first day alone. The county clerk had not expected to
start issuing licenses until the week of FEB-22. However, the timetable
was moved forward when the Campaign for California Families announced that they would file a lawsuit against the city. The Campaign opposes the recognition of same-sex marriages. The action
by the city appears to be unconstitutional, because the citizens of
California passed proposition 31 in 2000-MAR. It reads "Only marriage
between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Randy Thomasson, the Campaign's executive director called the
marriages a "sham." He said: "These unlawful certificates are
not worth the paper they are printed on." 3 More details.
||2004-MAR-11: CA: Court suspends same-sex marriages: Mabel
Teng, city assessor for San Francisco, ordered that the issuing of same-sex marriage
licenses be stopped on 2004-MAR-11. This was in response to an interim
stay by the California Supreme Court which ordered the city to
performing such marriages. The stay will continue while several lawsuits on
SSM are processed by the court -- probably until 2004-MAY or JUNE. More details.
||2004-MAR-11: MA: Massachusetts legislators approve resolutions
which may lead to SSM ban: Legislators from the Massachusetts House and
Senate met in a constitutional convention during February to write a
state constitutional amendment which would ban SSM. They were unable to reach
an agreement on a path forward. They met again in March, and approved
three resolutions which start the process towards a constitutional
amendment which would single same-sex couples out as a group, and deny
them the right to marry. The measure would be voted upon by the public
in 2006. SSM would be prohibited, but civil unions would be created for
same-sex couples that would give them the 400 or so benefits give by the
state to married couples. However, they would receive none of the 1,000
or so federal benefits given automatically to married couples. 5 More details.
||2004-MAR-20: WA: United Methodist Church pastor acquitted at
trial: Karen Dammann was acquitted by a vote of 11 to 0, with
two abstentions. She had been charged with living in a partnered,
covenanted homosexual relationship. The denomination allows homosexuals
to be ordained, but requires them to remain single and celibate. Karen
married her long term partner, Meredith Savage, in mid March. More details.
- Stuart Shepard, "Court Upholds Firing over Bible Verses,"
Family News in Focus, 2004-JAN-8, at: http://www.family.org/.
- Ann Rostow, "Gays win bias complaint against golf club,"
PlanetOut News & Politics, 2004-JAN-13, at: http://www.planetout.com/
- Oliver Poole, "Gay
couples marry as city defies law," news.telegraph.co.uk,
2004-FEB-14, at: http://news.telegraph.co.uk/
- "California court halts same-sex
marriages," CNN.com, 2004-MAR-12, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
- Gary Tuchman, et al', "Massachusetts advances same-sex
marriage ban. Proposed amendment would provide for civil unions," CNN.com, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
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Copyright � 2004 by the Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-JAN-9
Latest update: 2004-JAN-22
Compiler: B.A. Robinson