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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

RECENT MEDIA NEWS ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES (SSM) & CIVIL UNIONS:

Year 2006

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Developments:

bullet2006-JAN-18: Current status of same-sex marriage in the U.S.:
bulletFlorida: A same sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act by asking that their marriage be recognized in Florida. They lost. U.S. District Judge James Moody ruled that the government has a valid interest in banning same-sex marriage.
bulletLouisiana: A decision by a state district court to negate the constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
bulletPennsylvania: A constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage is expected to be introduced into the state House in late January.Virginia: The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee approved a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples by a vote of 11 to 3. It will shortly be debated in the state Senate. The state House passed the bill earlier in January.
bulletAlabama, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee: Voters in all four states will vote on state constitutional amendments restricting marriage. 1
bullet2006-FEB-26: Canada: Priests issue letter against Catholic teaching: Nineteen priests from the dioceses of Montreal, Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Gatineau and Gaspé in Quebec, Canada, issued a letter denouncing the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on rejecting men with a homosexual orientation for seminary training, and opposing same-sex marriage. It was published in the French language newspaper La Press with the headline "Enough is enough." The letter criticizes the Church teaching that homosexual orientation is disordered; it suggests that this leads to homophobia and is grossly outdated.

LifeSiteNews, a Roman Catholic pro-life group that opposes equality in marriage, reported that:

"Canon Lawyer Peter Vere told LifeSiteNews.com that the situation is now beyond local bishops and that the faithful should contact the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express their concerns.  Noting that the story on the dissent has made international news, Vere said, 'It's no longer just a scandal for a particular diocese.  It is a scandal for lay people who are legitimately confused by the antics of these priests, who will likely mistake silence (on the part of the bishops) for consent.' 'At this point I would encourage people to write the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because it no longer concerns priests or bishops but concerns a direct attack on the faith and morals of the Catholic Church,' Vere added." 2
bullet2006-APR public opinion polls: Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted a poll in 2006-APR among 802 registered American voters. The margin of error is ± 3.5 percentage points:
bulletWhen asked "Would you support amending the Constitution to make it unconstitutional for homosexual couples to get married anywhere in the U.S. or should each state make its own laws on homosexual marriage?" Results were:
bullet49%: Each state should make its own laws.
bullet33%: Favor amending the U.S. Constitution
bullet18%: Not sure.
bulletWhen asked whether they agreed with the statement: "Regardless of how I feel about gay people getting married, I have concerns about changing the Constitution over this issue," results were:
bullet46% strongly agreed
bullet17% somewhat agreed,
bullet11% somewhat disagreed,
bullet21% strongly disagreed.

Political independents were 62% in agreement; Roman Catholics were 69% and seniors 63%.

Support for SSM appears to be dropping even as support for civil unions is increasing. Results for a poll in 2004-MAY and 2006-APR were:

Preference 2004-MAY poll 2006-APR poll
Gay/lesbian couples should have the same right to marry as men and women do. 27% 25%
Give civil unions or other legal rights to same-sex couples 34% 40%
Give no legal regulation to gay or lesbian couples 36% 33%

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay-positive human rights group, writes:

bullet"Catholic voters are especially wary of the amendment. Majorities of Catholic voters say states should make their own marriage laws (53 percent, while only 37 percent support the amendment). When asked about the statement 'Marriage is about love and commitment. Regardless of how I personally feel about gay people getting married, I don't think it's my place to judge these people's love for and commitment to each other,' an overwhelming 80 percent agreed."
bullet"General political environment for gay issues is changing. In a similar survey done by Hart in May 2004, only 40 percent of voters said it was very important that we ensure gays and lesbians receive the same rights under law as other Americans. In this poll, 51 percent said it was very important." That is an unusually large change in 23 months. 4
bullet2006-MAY-31: State United Methodist Conference approves SSM: The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church passed nine petitions related to homosexuality. Victoria Rebeck, communications director for the Conference said: "The biggest news is that we had a good, respectful discussion of these very emotional issues and people really listened to each other." The closest vote was a real squeaker: 358 to 356. It involved a petition to change the definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two adult persons," and to delete a sentence supporting laws that define marriage as between a man and woman. The resolutions will be passed on to the 2008 General Conference. 5 More details.
bullet2006-JUN-07: US: Federal Marriage Amendment resurfaces: The Federal Marriage Amendment has reappeared in the Senate. This would have been the first step that leading to the U.S. Constitution being modified to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. If implemented, it would be the first time that a discrimination clause would appear in the Constitution.

Most observers expected that it would fail to reach the required 67 positive votes. The Senate voted in 2004 on an identical bill; results were 50 in favor and 48 opposed. The vote in the house was 227 for and 186 against. Both were short of the two-thirds majority required for passage.

The vote this time was essentially the same. The amendment will not progress to the states. More details.

bullet2006-JUN-10: Canada: This is the third anniversary of the 2003 decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal which legalized SSM in that province. Since then, over 10,000 same-sex couples have been legally married in Canada.
bullet2006-JUN-19: Canada: Poll shows remarkable change in SSM acceptance: The Environics Research Group poll indicates that Canadians are increasingly accepting of same-sex marriage. They area also overwhelmingly opposed to reopening the matter in Parliament, as has been proposed by the ruling Conservative government. Poll results indicate that:
bullet62% of Canadian adults consider SSM to be a settled matter;
bullet27% want SSM reopened and debated once more in Parliament;
bulletOnly 38% of Conservative Party voters favored reopening the issue; 52% were opposed.
bullet59% agreed that same-sex couples should have the same right to civil marriage as opposite-sex couples. 32% are opposed. That is close to a 2 to 1 ratio.

These are truly remarkably large and rapid changes since SSM became available across Canada in 2005-OCT. 6,7 More details.

bullet2006-JUL-07: USA: NEA endorses same-sex marriage and civil unions: The National Education Association voted overwhelmingly to endorse the legalization of civil unions and same-sex marriages. The resolution modifies Section B-10 of the NEA handbook which covers "Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Discrimination." The NEA promotes the elimination of discrimination based on "...race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification ...." The amendment reads:

"The Association also believes that these factors should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally-recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage in regard to matters involving the other partner, such as medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration."

Jeralee Smith, a California teacher and past chairperson of the NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus, announced that she is considering leaving the NEA. She said:

"People who share our values, which is traditional family and a few other things, can have no integrity unless they are either active on the inside to try and change things, or they leave the union and take their money out of the union's hands.... I just think it's time for Christians to really pray about their relationship to the union and do some real soul-searching on their loyalty."

After a heated debate, the delegates decided to replace the word "tolerance" with "acceptance" in their policy statements. 8

bullet2006-JUL-07: GA: Referendum upheld: A referendum passed by 76% of the voters in 2004-NOV amended the state constitution to forbid same-sex marriage. A trial court declared it to be invalid in 2006-MAY. The reason given is that the wording violated the single-subject rule. It addressed two topics -- marriage and civil unions -- about which voters may well have different opinions. But it allowed only a single yes/no response. The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously overturned the trial court ruling, and sustained the amendment. Governor Perdue said:

"We don't do a referendum very often. But when we do a referendum such as a Constitutional amendment, I think we need be very respectful of the people's voice and listen to that. I think the Supreme Court has done that and I'm very grateful for their action and their affirmation of the people's voice in overturning the trial court's opinion."

UPI commented:

"Perdue also said that he hopes gay Georgians do not feel marginalized by the decision. He said they are free to work and live their lives here — they simply can not marry in the state of Georgia." 10.11

bullet2006-JUL-07: NY: Court says right to marry does not exist: The Court of Appeals in New York state heard arguments favoring marriage equity in 2006-MAY. In July, they handed down their ruling. They found that the state's "one-man, one-woman" definition of marriage did not violate the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. They also stated than any changes would have to be made by the legislature. Jay Weiser is a law professor at Baruch University who helped write a brief in support of gay marriage for the New York City Bar Association. He said that:

"New York's decision is a fairly narrow view of what guarantees the state constitution provides.... So far, the courts are mixed but the majority of cases have passed defense of marriage or constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriages."

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of The Empire State Pride Agenda, a New York state gay-positive civil liberties group, said:

"This community has never been handed anything for free. I know that winning marriage will be a long battle ... and the gay community has the stamina to win gay marriage in New York."

Glen Lavy, of the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay legal group, said:

"I don't have a crystal ball. You don't know what the rule is going to be, but I did not think the court was going to reverse the decision because of how strong the lower court decisions were. We keep hearing from the opponents to redefine marriage that they have a clear legal trend moving their way. But really what we have is a clear trend moving the other way. We only have one clear court that is an outlier - and that's Massachusetts." 11

bullet2006-JUL-26: WA: State supreme court finds DOMA to be constitutional: The court decided by a vote of  6 to 3 that the state's Defense of Marriage Act does not violate the Washington State Constitution. This decision overturns trial court decisions in King and Thurston Superior Courts in this case. Justice Barbara Madsen wrote:

"...the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the State's legitimate interest in procreation and the well-being of children...[Our] decision is not based on an independent determination of what we believe that law should be. A judge's role when deciding a case...is to measure the challenged law against the constitution and the cases that have applied the constitution. Personal views must not interfere with the judge's responsibility to decide cases as a judge and not as a legislator." 11,12

bullet2006-JUL-24: USA: Summary of SSM activities during July: Cheryl Weinstein of the Washington Times (not to be confused with the Washington Post) wrote that between JUL-06 and 14, "...a federal appeals court, four state supreme courts and a state superior courts issued rulings against homosexual plaintiffs..." who had hoped to be allowed to marry and thus legally protect each other and their children. With the Washington state Supreme Court decision above, this number of adverse decisions is increased by one.

Brian Fahling, a lawyer with the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy in Tupelo, MS, a conservative Christian legal defense group, said:

"The early success of homosexuals using the courts to force their radical agenda on an unwilling nation appears to be turning on them."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights organization, said:

"We knew the fight for marriage would never be easy nor quick, but the country is on a clear trajectory toward equality, and we must never give up until we reach that point."

Of the six recent rulings, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' affirmation of Nebraska's marriage amendment has been most reassuring to conservative lawyers.

The Nebraska amendment, passed in 2000, defined marriage as the union of opposite-sex couples and outlawed recognition of homosexual unions.

On July 14, three judges of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the anti-SSM amendment to Nebraska's constitution. They ruled that it and other state marriage laws "...are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States."

Elsewhere, a superior court in Connecticut upheld state marriage laws, while the supreme courts of Georgia and Tennessee upheld the validity of marriage amendments. 13

bullet2006-AUG-18: USA: President approves pension tax law: The Federal Pension Protection Act became law. One part of the law allows the retirement plan benefits of a person who has died to be transferred to their domestic partner's Individual Retirement Account (IRA) without tax charges. A second part allows same-sex couples to remove money from their retirement funds in the event of a medical or financial emergency. Previously only married couples benefited from these provisions.

Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign said:

"Today marks an important day for fairness under the law in America....In a challenging political climate, we persevered and helped to secure critical federal protections that will make difficult times for domestic partners a little easier." 14

Covenant News reported this news item as two tax provisions that give "...special benefits to sodomites and fornicators."

bullet2006-AUG-24: South Africa: Cabinet approves same-sex marriage bill: The cabinet has given the green light to a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the country. If the bill becomes law, it would make South Africa the first country in Africa to give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. South Africa would be the fifth country in the world to attain marriage equality, after Holland, Belgium, Spain and Canada.
bullet2006-AUG-30: AB: Same-sex marriage bill defeated in Legislature: Conservative Member of the Alberta Legislature, Ted Morton, introduced Bill 208 which would have:
bulletAllowed marriage commissioners in the province to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
bulletGranted parents the right to prevent their children from hearing discussions in public schools on same-sex relationships.
bulletPermit teachers to refuse to teach the curriculum topics about same-sex relationships.

For the second time, Liberal and New Democratic Party MLAs blocked the bill from proceeding. It is now dead, at least for the current legislative session. 15

bullet2006-OCT-07/08: South Africa: Catholic Cardinal says constitution is anti-life: Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, president of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishop's Conference described South Africa's constitution as "fiercely anti-life" because it permits the sale of contraception products, allows abortion access and permits loving, committed same-sex couples to marry. Denigrating the relationships of loving, committed same-sex couples and of infertile couples, he said that the constitution is: "... against nature. It is against what marriage was intended for - to have children. That kind of activity cannot bring life. There is no way we can give a person the right to do something that is morally wrong." Denigrating the beliefs of Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Humanists, and others, he said that: "Human beings cannot function without a deity." He believes that people have not challenged the constitution on these matters because such an action may be seen as unpatriotic, undemocratic and/or racist. 16
bullet2006-OCT-25: New Jersey: Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage: The state supreme court gave the legislature two options: to pass legislation that allows same-sex couples to marry, or create a system of domestic partnerships with the same state rights as marriage. Although generally ignored by the media, the magnitude of this court decision was immense. The seven justices voted unanimously unanimously that equal rights must be granted to same-sex couples. By a 7 to 0 vote, the court determined that the state could no longer grant special rights to committed opposite-sex couples while denying those same rights to committed same-sex couples.

The 4 to 3 split widely reported among the justices was on a different matter: whether it:

"was the Court's right or the responsibility of the legislature to define these equal partnerships as marriages. [The majority] ... decided that the Court had the responsibility to mandate equality, but that the legislature had the responsibility to name it." 17

More details.

bullet2006-NOV-07: USA: Amendments to state constitutions to ban SSM: Associated with the mid-term elections, there were constitutional amendments and/or initiatives on the ballot affecting same-sex couples in:
bulletArizona: For the first time in the U.S., a ban against SSM failed by a vote of 51% against and 49% for.
bulletColorado: A ban against SSM passed 56 to 44%; A domestic partnership initiative failed 53 to 47%.
bulletIdaho: A ban against SSM passed 63 to 37%
bulletSouth Carolina: A ban against SSM passed 78 to 22%.
bulletSouth Dakota: A ban against SSM passed narrowly, 52% to 48%.
bulletTennessee: A ban against SSM passed 81 to 19%.
bulletVirginia: A ban against SSM passed 57 to 43%.
bulletWisconsin: A ban against SSM passed 59 to 41%.

Percentages are reported as of the evening of 2006-NOV-08, typically with 98% of precincts reporting.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said: "What we're seeing is that fear-mongering around same-sex marriage is fizzling out." 18

It is worth noting that in 1958, in a most ironically named case "Loving v. Virginia," an inter-racial married couple was convicted of a felony under Virginia's law in 1958 for the crime of being married to each other. They were exiled from their home state for 25 years, which was cut short when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ruling and allowed all loving, committed inter-racial couples to marry. At the time, about 70% of American adults favored a ban on inter-racial marriages -- not unlike today's ratio on same-sex couples. 19

bullet2006-NOV-21: Israel: Country must register same-sex marriages: According to LifeSiteNews.com:

"In a decision sure to cause unrest in the Holy Land, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled today that homosexual 'marriages' obtained in Canada must be registered by Israeli authorities.  The justices ruled 6-1 in the precedent setting case launched by homosexual activist couples who 'married' in Toronto, Canada." More details.

LifeSiteNews, a pro-Catholic group, does not recognize that same-sex marriages are really marriages. So they enclose the word "marriage" in quotation marks.

bullet2007-DEC-07: Canada: Motion to reopen SSM to debate failed: Parliament voted on a motion to reopen the debate on SSM to debate which had originally been approved during 2005-JUL. Since then, over 12,000 same-sex couples had married. The motion was rejected 175 to 123. A minority of 13 Liberal MPs voted against the motion, and neatly cancelled out the 13 Conservative MPs who voted in favor.

According to Equal Marriage Canada, a gay-positive group:

bulletThe spread between equal marriage supporters and opponents more than doubled compared to the vote on C-38 in 2005-JUN -- the bill that legalized SSM.
bulletThe percentage of MPs who voted for marriage equality increased in each party.
bulletNo MPs who voted for bill C-38 voted in favor of the motion. 21

Various commentators had predicted a spread of 30 to 40 votes. The actual spread was 52! Some observers speculate that a dozen or more Liberals who are religious and/or social conservatives had been expected to vote for the motion, but actually voted against it for two reasons:

bulletIt respected the approximately 12,000 existing same-sex marriages made since SSM became legal on 2005-JUN-20, and
bulletIt accepted the concept of civil unions for same-sex couples which would have given them some or all of the benefits of marriage. More info.

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References:

  1. "Marriage victories across the nation," E-Alert, Massachusetts Family Institute, 2006-JAN-18.
  2. John-Henry Westen, "Quebec Priests Bash Church on Homosexuality - Real Problem is the Bishops, LifeSiteNews Publishes All Names of Rebellious Priests," LifeSiteNews, 2006-FEB-27.
  3. John-Henry Westen, "Quebec Priests Bash Church on Homosexuality - Real Problem is the Bishops, LifeSiteNews Publishes All Names of Rebellious Priests," LifeSiteNews, 2006-FEB-27.
  4. "HRC poll shows marriage amendment not priority for voters," 2006-MAY-09, at: http://www.gayalliance.org/
  5. "United Methodists approve ordaining gay clergy, marriage," Associated Press, 2006-JUN-02, at: http://www.in-forum.com/
  6. "Canadians for Equal Marriage June 2006," Press Release, Environics Research Group, at: http://erg.environics.net/
  7. "Environics Poll: Opposition to equal marriage falls sharply; Canadians are more than 2 to 1 against re-opening," Canadians for Equal Marriage, 2006-JUN-19, at: http://www.equal-marriage.ca/
  8. "NEA endorses gay marriage," UPI, 2006-JUL-07, at: http://www.religionandspiritualityforum.com
  9. "Georgia upholds gay marriage ban," UPI, 2006-JUL-07, at: http://www.religionandspiritualityforum.com/
  10. Ron Scherer, "Two states say 'no' to gay marriage," Christian Science Monitor, 2006-JUL-07, at: http://www.csmonitor.com/
  11. "Washington Supreme Court Rules Defense of Marriage Act Does Not Violate State Constitution," Court press release, 2006-JUL-26, at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/
  12. "Andersen v. King Co., Nos. 75934-1, 75956-1 (Wash. July 26, 2006)," 2006-JUL-26, at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/
  13. "Marriage backers hail month of rulings ; Six courts rejected bids to legalize same-sex unions..." Rominger Legal, 2006-JUL-24, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  14. "Bush Approves Pension Tax Law with Benefits for Same-Sex Couples," Feminist Daily News Wire, 2006-AUG-18, at: http://www.feminist.org/
  15. "Freedom-of-conscience bill killed," Today's Family News, Focus on the Family Canada, 2006-AUG-30.
  16. "Constitution is anti-life, says cardinal," Independent Online, 2006-OCT-09, at: http://www.iol.co.za/
  17. J.S. Spong, "Three cheers for the New Jersey Supreme Court," A new Christianity for a New World newsletter, 2006-NOV-01.
  18. David Crary, "Rejected: Arizona gay marriage ban, South Dakota abortion ban," Cincinnati Post, 2006-NOV-08, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  19. "America Votes 2006," CNN.com, 2006-NOV-08, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  20. John-Henry Westen, "Israel Must Register Homosexual 'Marriages' Performed Abroad Rules High Court. Canada's Gay 'Marriage' Law Strikes Again," LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-NOV-21, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  21. "Harper's motion to re-open equal marriage defeated! Prime Minster says the issue is settled," Canadians for Equal Marriage, 2006-DEC-07, at: http://www.equal-marriage.ca/

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Copyright © 2006 & 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JAN-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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