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Religious Tolerance logo


Year 2003

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Year 2003 developments:

bullet2003-MAY-28: Texas DOMA bill signed into law: Governor Rick Perry signed the Defense of Marriage Act (HB 38) into law. He said: "Like the vast majority of Texans, I believe that marriage represents a sacred union between a man and a woman. With passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, Texas now joins more than 30 states in reinforcing that basic belief." Texas became the 37th state to pass a DOMA law. The legislation prevents the state from recognizing civil unions or marriages that have been solemnized in other states or countries. Subchapter C, Chapter 6, of the Family Code, was amended by adding Section 6.204. It says:
bulleta) In this section, "civil union" means any relationship status other than marriage that:
(1) is intended as an alternative to marriage or applies primarily to cohabitating persons; and
(2) grants to the parties of the relationship legal protections, benefits, or responsibilities granted to the spouses of a marriage.
bulletb) A marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state.
bulletc) The state or an agency or political subdivision of the state may not give effect to a:
(1) public act, record, or judicial proceeding that creates, recognizes, or validates a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction; or
(2) right or claim to any legal protection, benefit, or responsibility asserted as a result of a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction.
bullet 2003-MAR-4: Massachusetts: The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in the case which seeks the expansion of marriage in the state to include same-sex couples. The ruling is expected during 2003-summer. More details.
bullet2003-MAY-1: British Columbia, Canada: The appeal court agreed with earlier decisions by senior courts in Ontario and Quebec. They gave the government until 2004-JUL-12 to rewrite the laws to allow same-sex marriage. More details.
bullet2003-JUN-10: Ontario, Canada: The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered the Government of Ontario to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to register their marriages. A gay couple, Michel Leshner, 55, and Michael Stark, 45, were married by an Ontario Superior Court judge in Toronto ON at 14:52 hrs ET. This is the first time in the Western Hemisphere that a same-sex couple has been able to obtain a marriage license and be legally married. They are the first same-sex couple in the world to be married in this way as the result of a court ruling, rather than a legislative change.
bullet2003-JUN-12: Canada: The Justice Committee of the House of Commons recommended that the federal marriage acts be modified to allow all couples -- whether opposite sex or same-sex -- to be married anywhere in the country. The committee chairperson broke a tie vote by supporting the measure.
bullet2003-JUN-17: Canada: The Federal Government has decided to not appeal the JUN-10 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal. They will be drafting legislation to be submitted to Parliament which will legalize same-sex marriage across Canada. This will make Canada the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, the first two being the Netherlands and Belgium. More details.

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bullet2003-JUN-29: Britain: The government has issued a report recommending that a system of civil unions be created. They have the agreement of all three major parties. More details.
bullet2003-JUL-8: British Columbia, Canada: The province's Court of Appeal issued a supplementary ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in the province immediately. A gay couple, Tom Graff and Anthony Porcino, immediately obtained marriage licenses and were married by a United Church minister. More details
bullet2003-JUL-14: Massachusetts: The state Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling at any time in the case of Goodridge et al v. Department of Public Health. Many believe that the court will declare same-sex marriages legal in that state, making Massachusetts the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.
bullet2003-JUL-29: Vatican mounts campaign against same-sex marriage: Pope John Paul II has been actively condemning same-sex marriages in recent months. This stand was reinforced in 2003-JAN with the issuance by the Vatican of guidelines on church teachings on abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, which the church expects Roman Catholic legislators to follow. These guidelines will be reinforced on JUL-31 with the release of a document by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called: "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons." It allegedly outlines how legislators and the rest of the public should deal with same-sex marriage and civil unions. The Associated Press suggests that the battle over same-sex marriage is merely a symptom of the church's gradually diminishing influence in Europe. Another sign is that the Vatican request that the new constitution for the European Union include explicit mention of Europe's Christian roots was ignored. On JUL-27, the Pope expressed sadness that the church's message was being diluted in Europe. He decried the spread of a "vague and little-demanding religious sentiment, which could become agnosticism and practical atheism." 2
bullet2003-JUL-31: World: Vatican releases anti-same-sex marriage document: The Vatican's "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document titled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons." It had been approved by Pope John Paul II on MAR-28, and circulated among the church's bishops on JUN-3. However, it was only made public on 2003-JUL-31.

The anonymous author stresses that there is really nothing new in the document. Rather it is a reiteration of principles and doctrine that have been taught in the past: that same-sex relationships involve sexual acts which go against the Church's view of natural moral law. "They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved'....Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts 'as a serious depravity'....homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered....The homosexual inclination is ...'objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity'....Catholics must 'witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons'." Child adoption by a same-sex couple is seen as a form of child abuse. "When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral." In Canada, where same-sex marriages were recently legalized in two provinces, and where the government has written legislation to make them available throughout the country, the document was not well received, either by politicians who resented the intrusive nature of the proposals, and homosexual groups who objected to its denigration of same-sex loving, committed couples. One Roman Catholic bishop in Western Canada appeared to imply that it is likely that Prime Minister Jean Chrtien -- who is a Roman Catholic -- may spend eternity in Hell because of the proposed legislation prepared by his party. 3 More details.

bullet2003-AUG-14: USA: Poll indicates opposition to SSM: The Washington Post released a poll which showed that nearly 60% of American adults oppose granting gay men and lesbians the right to form civil unions that would provide some of the rights and legal protections of marriage. Only 37% are supportive. This represents a 12% drop in support since a Gallup Poll in 2003-MAY. Among Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians, over 80% would oppose the blessing of gay unions at their church. 67% said that they would leave their church if it started to do so. 4,5
bullet2003-OCT-1: DC/USA: Conservative Christians meet to oppose SSM: Leaders of many fundamentalist Christian and social conservative groups met at the Family Research Council's (FRC) headquarters to coordinate the fight to deny same-sex couples the right to marry in the U.S. Present were Tony Perkins of the FRC, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Bill Bennett of Empower America, Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation, Gary Bauer of American Values, Jerry Falwell, and Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America. They announced at a press conference on OCT 2 that they have defined the week of OCT-12 to 18 as "Marriage Protection Week." The FRC also showed their Marriage Protection Pledge, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman. It is being sent to every state federal elected official. 6
bullet2003-OCT-8: AZ: Court rejects SSM: The Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of two gay men in a committed relationshiop, Harold Standhardt and Tod Keltner. They sought permission to marry in the state. They argued that the marriage law in Arizona "impermissibly infringes on their right to marry each other, which, they contend, is guaranteed as a fundamental liberty interest by the due process provisions of both the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 2, Section 4, of the Arizona Constitution, and assured as a fundamental privacy right explicitly granted by Article 2, Section 8, of the Arizona Constitution." The court ruled that: "Recognizing a right to marry someone of the same sex would not expand the established right to marry, but would redefine the legal meaning of 'marriage'." 7
bullet2003-NOV-18: Massachusetts Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage:  The Massachusetts Supreme Court became the third senior state court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. Courts in Alaska and Hawaii had earlier done this, but had their decisions eventually overturned by constitutional amendments. Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote for the majority: "Barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts constitution." Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) promises to try to amend the constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. More details. 8
bullet2003-DEC-16: President Bush criticized for his stand on marriage: President Bush made a statement on marriage during an interview on the ABC Primetime program. The Family Research Council criticized President Bush the next day in their Washington Update newsletter. The President said that he would "support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman...[T]he position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state or at the state level." This would seem to imply that the President and his administration favors the creation of civil unions (similar to those in Vermont) or family partnerships (similar to those in California) if that is the will of legislators in individual states. The Family Research Council regards civil unions and family partnerships as marriage "counterfeit institutions...that threaten to devalue the real thing." 9

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  1. Ken Connor, "Don't mess with marriage in Texas." Washington Update, 2003-MAY-29, Family Research Council.
  2. Victor Simpson, "Vatican seeks to stop move toward same-sex unions," Associated Press, 2003_JUL-28, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  3. "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2003-JUN-3. Released 2003-JUL-31. See: http://www.vatican.va/
  4. "New Poll: Majority of Americans are Defenders of Marriage," Family Research Council, Washington Update, 2003-AUG-14.
  5. Richard Mornin & Alan Cooperman, "Poll shows strong disapproval of religious sanctioning of same-sex relationships," Washington Post, 2003-AUG-14, at: http://www.ajc.com/
  6. "Pro-Family groups unite nationally for marriage," Massachusetts family Institute, MFI E-Alert 10/03, 2003-OCT-3.
  7. Standhardt & Jeanes v. Arizona, Opinion of the Court of Appeals, 2003-OCT-8, at: http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/SA/SA030150.pdf You may need software to read these PDF files. It can be obtained free from:
  8. Tim Harper, "U.S. court lifts gay-marriage ban," The Toronto Star, 2003-NOV-19, Page A3.
  9. "President Bush's Remarks on Marriage Troubling," Washington Update, Family Research Council, 2003-DEC-17.

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Copyright 1999 to 2003 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-DEC-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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