N.H. governor signs civil unions law By BEVERLEY WANG, Associated Press Writer
22 minutes ago
Gay couples in New Hampshire can start applying for many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage as early as January under a law Gov. John Lynch signed Thursday establishing civil unions.
"We in New Hampshire have had a long and proud tradition taking the lead in opposing discrimination," Lynch said. "Today that tradition continues."
Couples who enter civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.
Legislators who gathered for the bill signing packed the governor's chambers and overflowed into an adjoining sitting room. They snapped photos and burst into applause as he signed it.
"I've listened and I've heard all the arguments," said Lynch, a Democrat. "I do not believe that this bill threatens marriage. I believe that this is a matter of conscience and fairness."
Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson was among those attending. Although his consecration in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church divided the worldwide Anglican Communion to which it belongs, Robinson and his longtime partner plan to take advantage of civil unions.
"This is not a radical departure," Robinson said of the bill. "This is a real confirmation of what New Hampshire has always been about: the freedom of its own citizens and fairness for everyone."
Robinson said he will not direct Episcopal priests in the state to bless same-sex unions, letting priests decide that individually. Such blessings have been another divisive issue for Episcopalians and the Anglican union.
"That authority belongs to them and I would not in any way ask them not to do that. ... Just like in marriages, every priest will have the option to bless or not to bless," Robinson said.
Massachusetts alone among the U.S. states allows gay marriage. Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, California and Washington allow either civil unions or domestic partnerships, and Oregon will join the list with New Hampshire in January. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs.
(This version CORRECTS name to Anglican Communion.)
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
N.H. governor signs civil unions law By BEVERLEY WANG, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
New Yorkers Divided On Gay Marriage
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 29, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET
(New York City) New Yorkers are about equally divided
on whether to support same-sex marriage a poll
released Tuesday shows.
The survey, by the Research Institute at Siena College
shows that 43 percent support same-sex marriage while
47 percent are opposed. With a margin of error of
plus or minus 3.9 percentage points the two sides are
A majority of Democrats, voters under 55 years old and
Jewish voters support gay marriage the poll shows.
Republicans are most strongly opposed, although a
majority of independent voters, Catholics, Protestants
and voters 55 and older also oppose such a law.
The survey was conducted May 18-25 by telephone calls
to 620 registered New York State voters.
It is the first poll on the subject of gay marriage
since Gov. Eliot Spitzer earlier this month became the
first governor in the country to introduce same-sex
Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's larges LGBT
civil rights group questioned the poll methods and
size of the sampling.
"All the polling we've done and all the other numbers
I've seen show New Yorkers to be in favor of marriage
for same-sex couples," Pride Agenda's Joe Tarver told
"The numbers are typically close but usually are about
a flip of what Siena polling shows. Our last numbers
from 2006 showed 53% of likely voters to be in favor
of marriage equality with only 38% opposed."
State Rep. Danny O'Donnell (D) is the marriage bill's
prime sponsor in the Assembly. O'Donnell, the brother
of Rosie O'Donnell is one of four openly gay
legislators in Albany.
State Republicans are vowing the measure will never
come to a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R), the most
powerful Republican in the state is vehemently opposed
to same-sex marriage. But even in the Democratically
controlled Assembly the bill is expect to have a rough
Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) has avoided taking a
position on gay marriage - saying he will leave it up
to the party caucus.
Last July the New York Court of Appeals, the state's
highest court, ruled that same-sex couples do not have
a constitutional right to marry. (story) It said that
the issue, however, could be taken up by the
Immediately after the ruling Spitzer said that he
would draft and propose legislation to legalize gay
marriage in New York State if elected governor
Friday, May 25, 2007
NJ Companies Continue To Thumb Noses At Civil Unions
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 22, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET
(Trenton, New Jersey) A growing number of companies are refusing to recognize the state's civil unions law, denying benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services said Monday that 852 same-sex couple had applied to enter civil unions in the three months since the law took effect.
The low number took some lawmakers by surprise but LGBT rights advocates say it shows a dissatisfaction with the law. Garden State Equality's Steven Goldstein said that most same-sex couples are holding out for full marriage.
Although the civil unions law gives same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as marriage it is not recognized by a growing number of companies - all with federally regulated benefit plans.
Under the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. The law allows those insurers to reject same-sex couples.
Nearly one in eight couples who have had civil unions have been turned down for company benefits Goldstein said.
Among the cases that have come to Garden State Equality, said Goldstein is one involving a woman who told her employer she and her partner had a civil union and was told by the company, "We're not going to provide benefits. We still need the word 'marriage' and you two aren't married."
Goldstein said the couple have been together 16 years and have adopted three special needs children.
"New Jersey should be celebrating such couples," said Goldstein. "Instead, civil-unioned couples across New Jersey are still being denied equal protection of the law."
Goldstein said it is time the Legislature amended the law to provide for marriage.
"For those who ask, 'So long as same-sex couples get the rights, who cares what it's called?' the New Jersey experience has answered the question once and for all," Goldstein said.
"Unless a couple's relationship is given the imprimatur of marriage, that couple may never see the rights. Marriage is the only admissions ticket to equality universally recognized in the real world. It's the only currency of commitment the real world always accepts."
Lambda Legal to File Lawsuit on Behalf of Lesbian Homeowners in Federal Court Against Self-Described 'America's #1 Home Loan Lender'
May 24, 2007
'If these two women had been able to marry in New York, this never would have happened.'
(New York, May 24, 2007) --- Today, Lambda Legal will file a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York federal court on behalf of a same-sex couple after the self described "America's #1 home loan lender" refused to add one partner to the other's existing mortgage and then threatened to foreclose on their home.
"Everyone from kids to creditors knows what it means when two people say they are married," said David S. Buckel, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal and attorney on the case. "If these two women had been able to marry in New York, this never would have happened. Instead, they were told they had 30 days to come up with almost $80,000 or else they were going to lose their home."
Adola DeWolf, 49, a teacher for juveniles in the justice system and Laura Watts 42, a college administrator, have been in a committed relationship since 2004. When they decided to move in together in 2005, Watts sold her house and moved into DeWolf's home outside of Rochester, NY. In an attempt to make sure both partners were protected in case of death, and to share the responsibility for the mortgage, they contacted DeWolf's mortgage company, Countrywide, to add Watts as a party responsible for the monthly payments. Countrywide provided instructions to the couple, including a requirement that Watts be added to the deed. After the couple followed the instructions to change the mortgage, Countrywide responded by stating that the couple had breached their agreement with the lender by changing the deed and stated that the lender did not recognize domestic partners as family. Countrywide then told the couple that they would foreclose on the house if the $80,000 balance on the mortgage were not paid in 30 days.
"We fell in love and made a commitment for life. The next step was to share the responsibility for home ownership, but Countrywide said our relationship didn't count and then threatened to take away our home," said Laura Watts.
"We spent weeks constantly scrambling to make sure that we didn't lose our home, all the time knowing that if we'd been married, it would have been so simple," said Adola DeWolf.
One of the claims in this case is under the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which requires that creditors not discriminate against applicants based on marital status.
This week Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell officially introduced Governor Spitzer's bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry.
The case is called DeWolf and Watts v. Countrywide.
David S. Buckel, Director of Lambda Legal's Marriage Project is attorney on the case along with cooperating attorneys Beau W. Buffier, James L. Garrity Jr. and David M. Sollors of Shearman & Sterling LLP
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Seeking A Bridge To Victory
By: PAUL SCHINDLER
Gustavo Archilla, 91, and Elmer Lokkins, 88, first spied each other 62 years ago in Colombus Circle
A dire weekend weather forecast that revived memories of last year - when heavy downpours drenched roughly 1,000 participants - made the 2007 Wedding March this past Saturday the smallest in the event's four-year history.
No more than 200 turned out May 19 for the annual grassroots gathering organized by Marriage Equality New York (MENY), which this year began with a rally in Foley Square just above City Hall that was followed by a wind-swept, at times wet trudge over the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza near Borough Hall.
Those who turned out were fortified not only by small umbrellas arrayed in the six colors of the rainbow, by which marchers organized themselves, but more importantly by the encouraging words from the two legislators carrying Governor Eliot Spitzer's marriage equality bill in Albany - Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell and Senator Tom Duane, both out gay Manhattan Democrats.
O'Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side, told the crowd that in the weeks since he assumed sponsorship of the bill the governor announced at the end of April, he had identified 52 colleagues willing to sign on as co-sponsors and another 20 or so who are prepared to vote aye when the measure comes to the floor. In the 150-member chamber, 76 votes are needed for passage. (On Wednesday, an O'Donnell spokesperson said the total number of sponsors had risen this week to 55, with as many as 78 expressing willingness to support the bill in a floor vote. See sidebar, p. 7)
In the immediate wake of Spitzer's introduction of his program bill, O'Donnell said that the biggest misconception he must overcome among his colleagues is the fear that marriage equality would in some unexplained fashion compel communities of faith to perform wedding ceremonies against their will. He closed his relatively brief remarks in Foley Square Saturday by quoting Thomas Jefferson, with an observation that examined the church/ state separation issue from precisely the opposite perspective: "Our civil liberties have no dependence on religious opinion."
Across the East River, in Cadman Plaza, O'Donnell's Senate counterpart, Duane, didn't wade into the numbers game, instead choosing the part of cheerleader.
"I believe in the marriage vernacular," he told a crowd that had dissipated after 45 minutes of a chilly, damp trek. "It's raining. We're having good luck and we're having good luck in the Legislature... We're going to have marriage in New York State very, very, very, very, very soon."
It's probably not a coincidence that it was O'Donnell and not Duane who was engaged in handicapping his colleagues' likely intentions. With the Senate in Republican hands, even by the slimmest of margins, no vote on marriage equality is in the offing there, at least for this session. In contrast, there is a very good chance that the Assembly could vote before the June 21 recess, and O'Donnell's job between now and then is to convince his Democratic colleagues, who number a lopsided 108 out of 150 in total, that he has built a sufficiently cushy majority to put his party's caucus behind it by bringing it to the floor.
For some grassroots activists on hand Saturday, action cannot come fast enough.
Gustavo Archilla was heading home from voice lessons at Carnegie Hall when he met his lover Elmer Lokkins in Columbus Circle. The year was 1945, and Archilla, a native of Puerto Rico by then living in New York, worked in what was at that time a thriving shipping industry here. Lokkins, raised in Sunnyside, Washington, had just come out of the service, where he had spent time in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Australia, and was in New York hoping to gain late admission to Columbia University. He was listening to a man giving a speech in Columbus Circle when he was approached by someone whom he immediately came to think of as his "beautiful Spanish don."
The couple has been together for the more than six decades since - Archilla is 91 and Lokkins turned 88 on Sunday - and today live in their home of the past half-century in Morningside Gardens near Columbia. For most of that life together, legal marriage was probably not conceivable, and in its place they enjoyed a full life, the support and love of family and friends, and most importantly, each other.
"After 62 years, it's wonderful to have a partner who gives you a kiss every time he walks by you," Archilla said with evident emotion about Lokkins on Saturday.
Still, the world keeps changing and in 2003 Canada brought something new into their life. They married across the bridge in Niagara Falls that year.
Speaking to the audience in Cadman Plaza on Saturday, Archilla said, "Canada made it possible for us. I hope everywhere else it will soon be possible. Maybe while we are still alive, though there is not much time left."
Other couples are, relatively speaking, just starting their journey.
Allison Lucey and Amanda Smith, who live on the Upper East Side, have been together for three-and-a-half years. Asked whether they had registered as domestic partners, the couple explained they had not; instead, they said, they are engaged. They plan to be married in August 2008. In New York, if that is possible. In New Jersey, if things proceed from civil unions to marriage equality there faster there than here. Or, if neither state delivers by then, they will marry in Canada.
Regarding the prospect of a New York wedding, Lucey said, "We stay hopeful, with cautious optimism."
Lucey, who works in sports marketing, grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her partner was raised just across the George Washington Bridge, in Bergen County, New Jersey. Asked about the support they get from family and straight friends for their plans to marry, the couple said the enthusiasm is uniform - in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Lucey said that the strongest booster each of them has is their own sister; in Smith's case a twin.
Jeffrey Friedman and Andrew Zwerin have been together for 22 years, but it ought to be mentioned in the same breath that the couple met while at JFK High School in Bellmore, Long Island. Today, after many years living in Brooklyn Heights, they are back on the Island, in Rockville Center, where they are raising their son Joshua Zwerin, who is almost four.
Zwerin works at HBO; his partner is a stay-at-home dad, and the two have been active for some time in the marriage equality movement. Several years ago, they participated in the Wedding Party commitment ceremony held in the park opposite the Plaza Hotel on the morning of the LGBT Pride March. And they traveled to Albany on May 1 to join the Empire State Pride Agenda in its annual Equality & Justice legislative lobbying day.
The couple noted that their state senator is Dean Skelos, the second-ranking Republican, who voted against the gay civil rights law when it was enacted in 2002, but said their neighbors have been very friendly and supportive - though they conceded they don't recall the Welcome Wagon arriving that very first day.
Gene Guzman turned up in Foley Square by himself on Saturday, but he was carrying the picture he said he will go back home 10 blocks to retrieve it he realizes he's forgotten it. Guzman and Augustine Medina spent 30 years together as a couple before Medina died of liver disease four years ago. They met as teenagers in Chicago - where Guzman grew up and Medina moved after his early years in Puerto Rico - and immediately began hitting the burgeoning Windy City gay scene in the early 1970s. Guzman recalls them getting their "heads busted" during those exploits.
Together in Chicago for five years, Guzman and Medina moved to New York, where both worked in the gourmet food industry. Like Lucey and Smith, they were never drawn to register as domestic partners with the city; instead they drew up wills, healthcare proxies, and powers of attorney to protect their union and their property. For much of their time in New York, the couple lived in Brooklyn Heights, though they bought a condo, in Guzman's name, in Hell's Kitchen not long before Medina died.
Guzman said with the loss of his longtime partner came diminished household income, with none of the survivor benefits that might have come from marriage. At 53, he said he dates occasionally but has not yet been moved to think about a new relationship.
Medina, who had been ill for three-and-a-half years, was buried in Chicago, next to his brother, also a gay man, who predeceased him, having succumbed to AIDS.
Guzman said he remains close to Medina's family and when he visits Chicago, his late partner's nieces and nephews often suggest that they hang out in the gay clubs on the city's near north side. As he talked about his younger family members, Guzman pointed toward several younger marchers nearby on the Brooklyn Bridge.
"I'm out here for these younger kids," he said, as he toyed with the photo in his jacket pocket.
SF Chronicle uncritically reported discredited, anti-gay "research" on same-sex parenting
Summary: In a clarification addressing an article on a new campaign encouraging same-sex parents to adopt foster children, the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged that Family Research Institute director Paul Cameron, whom it had suggested was an expert on gay issues in its article, had been expelled from the American Psychological Association and that the institute has been "named a hate group." But the clarification did not address Cameron's discredited claim, reported in the article, that gays "are more likely to molest children of their same sex"; nor did it note that Cameron's "research" has been widely discredited.
In a May 22 post on the Americablog weblog, John Aravosis noted that, in a May 21 article on the San Francisco Department of Human Services' new campaign to encourage same-sex couples to adopt foster children, the San Francisco Chronicle cited "the leader of a known hate group" -- Family Research Institute director Paul Cameron -- as an expert on issues pertaining to the gay community, "without identifying him as such." Later that day, the Chronicle attached the following clarification to the online version of its article:
CLARIFICATION: In an article about San Francisco's campaign to get more gays and lesbians to adopt foster children -- as well as an opposing evangelical campaign to get more Christian families to adopt -- the Chronicle quoted Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute. The article should have noted that Cameron, who believes gays make unfit parents and self-published dozens of articles he said were based on his research, was expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 when he refused to subject his work to peer review. The article also should have reported that his Family Research Institute was named a hate group in 2006 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Yet, the clarification did not address reporter Ilene Lelchuk's uncritical reporting of Cameron's discredited assertion that gays and lesbians "are more likely to molest children of their same sex." Nor did either the article or the clarification note that Cameron's "research" on gay parenting has been widely discredited.
From the May 21 Chronicle article:
The campaign, which will include a billboard in the Castro featuring two dads with their teen daughter, is perhaps the first of its kind and sure to be controversial. It comes just two weeks after the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family began its drive to recruit more Christians as adoptive parents, partly -- the group said -- to keep foster children out of homosexual hands.
Focus on the Family's objection to same-sex parents is grounded in interpretation of biblical scripture and research by Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado. Cameron says gays and lesbians are unfit parents, are more likely to molest children of their same sex, switch partners frequently, have shorter life expectancies and cause their children embarrassment and social difficulties.
"Any child that can be adopted into a married-mother-and-father family, that's the gold standard," Cameron said. "An orphanage would be the second choice, and then a single woman."
According to Dr. Gregory Herek -- psychological researcher and University of California-Davis professor -- "[m]ost of the Cameron group's academic publications in the past 15 years have been based on a survey study conducted in 1983 and 1984." Herek analyzed the "group's sampling techniques, survey methodology, and interpretation of results" and found "at least six serious errors in their study. The presence of even one of these flaws would be sufficient to cast serious doubts on the legitimacy of any study's results. In combination, they make the data virtually meaningless."
Among Cameron's studies that apparently relied on this flawed data was Cameron's 1986 "Child molestation and homosexuality" study, in which Cameron concluded that homosexuals were more likely to sexually abuse children than were heterosexuals. Herek identified several other errors, false assertions, and flawed analysis relating to Cameron's research on this topic:
In a 1985 article published in Psychological Reports, Cameron purported to review published data to answer the question, "Do those who commit homosexual acts disproportionately incorporate children into their sexual practices?" (p. 1227). He concluded that "at least one-third of the sexual attacks upon youth are homosexual" (p. 1228) and that "those who are bi- to homosexual are proportionately much more apt to molest youth" than are heterosexuals (p. 1231).
Cameron's claims hinge on the fallacious assumption that all male-male molestations are committed by homosexuals. Moreover, a careful reading of Cameron's paper reveals several false statements about the literature he claimed to have reviewed.
For example, he cited the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) study mentioned previously as evidencing a 3:2 ratio of "heterosexual" (i.e., female victim) to "homosexual" (i.e., male victim) molestations, and he noted that "54% of all the molestations in this study were performed by bisexual or homosexual practitioners" (p. 1231). However, Groth and Birnbaum reported that none of the men in their sample had an exclusively homosexual adult sexual orientation, and that none of the 22 bisexual men were more attracted to adult males than to adult females. The "54%" statistic reported by Cameron doesn't appear anywhere in the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) article, nor does Cameron explain its derivation.
It is also noteworthy that, although Cameron assumed that the perpetrators of male-male molestations were all homosexual, he assumed that not all male-female molestations were committed by heterosexuals. He incorporated a "bisexual correction" into his data manipulations to increase further his estimate of the risk posed to children by homosexual/bisexual men.
In the latter half of his paper, Cameron considered whether "homosexual teachers have more frequent sexual interaction with their pupils" (p. 1231). Based on 30 instances of sexual contact between a teacher and pupil reported in ten different sources published between 1920 and 1982, Cameron concluded that "a pupil would appear about 90 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by a homosexual practitioner" (p.1232); the ratio rose to 100 times when Cameron added his bisexual correction.
This ratio is meaningless because no data were obtained concerning the actual sexual orientation of the teachers involved; as before, Cameron assumed that male-male contacts were perpetrated by homosexuals. Furthermore, Cameron's rationale for selecting particular sources appears to have been completely arbitrary. He described no systematic method for reviewing the literature, and apparently never reviewed the voluminous literature on the sexual development of children and adolescents. His final choice of sources appears to have slanted his findings toward what Cameron described as "the relative absence in the scientific literature of heterosexual teacher-pupil sexual events coupled with persistent, albeit infrequent, homosexual teacher-pupil sexual interactions" (p. 1232).
A subsequent paper by Cameron and others (Cameron, Proctor, Coburn, Forde, Larson, & Cameron, 1986) described data collected in a door-to-door survey in seven U.S. cities and towns, and generally repeated the conclusions reached in Cameron (1985). Even Cameron himself admitted that his conclusions in this study are "based upon small numbers of data points" (Cameron, 2005, p. 230). As before, male-male sexual assaults were referred to as "homosexual" molestations (e.g., Abstract, p.327) and the perpetrators' sexual orientation apparently was not assessed. This study also suffers from fatal methodological problems, which are detailed elsewhere on this site.
In yet another article published in Psychological Reports, Cameron claimed to have reviewed data about foster parents in Illinois and found that 34% were perpetrated by a foster parent against a child of the same sex, that is, female-female or male-male (Cameron, 2005). Not only did Cameron again make the fallacious claim that all male-male molestations are committed by homosexuals, he also made the same claim about female-female molestations. Once again, he had no data about the actual sexual orientations of the molesters.
Various bodies of research have also found that homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. For instance, Dr. Kurt Freund, Dr. Robin Wilson, and Doug Rienzo published several studies which found, in Wilson's words, "that androphilic (i.e. a preference for male adults) men had" no "greater relative erotic interest in children than did their gynephilic (i.e. a preference for female adults) peers." Herek, Freund et al.'s 1989 study, titled "Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and erotic age preference," also concluded: "Findings indicate that homosexual males who preferred mature partners responded no more to male children than heterosexual males who preferred mature partners responded to female children." Additionally, a 1994 study by researchers from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the Children's Hospital in Denver found that "the children in the group studied were unlikely to have been molested by identifiably gay or lesbian people." As RA Dershewitz further explained of the study in the July 19, 1994, edition of Journal Watch (subscription required), a news service of the New England Journal of Medicine:
Researchers reviewed the charts of 352 children who attended a sexual abuse clinic at a children's hospital. Eighty-three cases were excluded because sexual abuse was ruled out or because the offender was a minor (none were identified as gay or lesbian) or could not be identified. The offender was gay or lesbian in only two of the remaining 269 cases. A lesbian woman abused one of the 219 girls and one possibly homosexual male was accused of abusing one of the 50 boys. Most offenders were heterosexual partners of a close relative, primarily fathers.
The American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Colorado Psychological Association also argued in an amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court that "there is no evidence of any positive correlation between homosexual orientation and child molestation."
Furthermore, as Media Matters for America noted, a July 2002 USA Today report cited numerous experts in psychotherapy, psychiatry, and child sex abuse who rejected the claim that statistics showing "male pedophiles are more likely to molest boys than girls" represent evidence that gay men are more likely to abuse children than straight men. For example, the article quoted David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, as saying that pedophilia is "kind of a separate sexual orientation" from homosexuality, and that pedophiles "often ... have no attraction to adults whatsoever." The article also reported that the "largest study on priests' sexuality," which was conducted by psychotherapist Richard Sipe, found "no tie between sexual abuse and homosexuality."
Posted to the web on Wednesday May 23, 2007 at 12:05
Posted by Michael at 8:22 AM
Gay flamingos pick up chick
Mon May 21, 12:03 PM ET
A pair of gay flamingos have adopted an abandoned chick, becoming parents after being together for six years, a British conservation organisation said Monday.
Carlos and Fernando had been desperate to start a family, even chasing other flamingos from their nests to take over their eggs at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge near Bristol.
But their egg-sitting prowess made them the top choice for taking an unhatched egg under their wings when one of the Greater Flamingo nests was abandoned.
The couple, together for six years, can feed chicks by producing milk in their throats.
"Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other flamingos' eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves," said WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn.
"They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them so last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents."
Gay flamingos are not uncommon, she added.
"If there aren't enough females or they don't hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males," she said.
Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
BILL TO MAKE SAME—SEX MARRIAGE LEGAL INTRODUCED IN ALBANY
ALBANY, NY— - Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, D-Manhattan, introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The bill, Assembly 8590, was introduced on Monday May 21, 2007.
The marriage equality legislation has 53 sponsors and cosponsors well above the 24 that signed on to a bill last year offered by Assemblyman Richard Gottfriend, another Manhattan Democrat. Buffalo Assemblymember Sam Hoyt is the only legislature from Western New York to cosponsor the legislation.
The Empire State Pride Agenda, in a release, states that they count 69 Assembly members in favor of the bill, up from 35 but still short of the 76 needed for passage.
A "marriage equality bill" hasn't been introduced in the Senate, but Senator Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, is expected to introduce a Senate version in the near future.
"We thank each of the 53 Assemblymembers from across the state who cosponsored the bill. We now ask all 53 to work with Assemblymember O'Donnell, our community, and our allies in the labor, business and religious communities to get the votes this bill needs to pass the Assembly and then urge Speaker Silver to bring the bill to the floor for a vote this year," said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle. —Staff
Gay Marriage Protest Bridges Country
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 20, 2007 - 11:00 am ET
(New York City) Several thousand people rallied for same-sex marriage rights on opposite sides of the country over the weekend, crossing the country's two most famous bridges.
In New York hundreds of people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge while in San Francisco about an equal number made their way across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Equal marriage legislation has been introduced in the legislatures of both states. In addition a lawsuit seeking marriage rights is before the California Supreme Court.
"If we could combine the California Legislature with New York's Governor Elliot Switzer, who has introduced legislation in support of marriage equality, we would have marriage equality now, and fulfill this quest for basic fairness for all families," said Pamela Brown, a spokesperson for Marriage Equality USA.
The organization, along with Marriage Equality New York, sponsored the twin marches.
In New York, same-sex couples, politicians and gay marriage supporters marched from Foley Square, near City Hall across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn.
It ended with a picnic and festival in Cadman Plaza.
"We aren't here in favor of mandatory gay marriage. We are neither advocating that people become gay or become married. We are saying that there's a certain dignity this country aspires to,” said state Rep. Anthony Weiner.
In April New York State Gov. Elliott Spitzer became the first governor in the country to introduce same-sex marriage legislation. (story)
Last July the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry. (story) It said that the issue, however, could be taken up by the Legislature.
But Spitzer's bill already has run into a roadblock.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R) has said he will not let the legislation come to a vote.
In San Francisco marchers gathered at Crissy Field, marched across the Golden Gate Bridge and then return to Crissy Field for wedding cake and entertainment. The march was led by 4-year old Abigail Hasting-Tharp who has two mothers hoping to marry.
Legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in California is being fought on two fronts - in the legislature and in court.
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act was introduced in the Assembly at the start of the current session by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).
The bill is identical to a one passed last year in both the Assembly and Senate but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor has said if the measure passes again he will again veto it.
Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year in three cases wrapped together on the issue of the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage.
Last month attorneys for same-sex couples filed briefs in the case, urging the court to strike down as unconstitutional the law that bars same-sex couples from marriage.
The brief was filed jointly by Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of 15 same-sex couples and California LGBT rights group Equality California.
The attorneys argue that California state law barring same-sex couples from marriage discriminates based on sexual orientation and sex and violates the fundamental right to marry.
The brief cites the California Constitution's guarantees of privacy, intimate association, and due process.
May 22, 2007
New Yorkers March For Same-Sex Marriage Bill
May 19, 2007
Supporters of same-sex marriage rights rallied Saturday -- calling on the state to legalize gay marriage.
Advocates held a march across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
"We aren't here in favor of mandatory gay marriage. We are neither advocating that people become gay or become married. We are saying that there's a certain dignity this country aspires to,” said Representative Anthony Weiner.
Politicians, as well as couples looking to marry, were emboldened by the recent actions of Governor Eliot Spitzer. Last month, he proposed giving same-sex couples the same marriage rights as straight couples.
Currently, Massachusetts is the only state to allow gay marriage. Other states, like New Jersey, permit civil unions.
For one couple of five years, marriage in New York can't come soon enough.
"We don't want to be married in another state; we don't want to be married in another country,” said Gair Morris, same-sex marriage advocate. “New York is the greatest city in the world and the greatest state and this is where we want to be married."
Supporters admit they have a long way to go and that same-sex marriage isn't likely to happen in New York this year because Joe Bruno, who runs the Republican-controlled State Senate, is opposed to it and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has yet to take a position.
But Assembly members are planning to introduce the bill on Monday.
"Whatever's happening on the national scene, I believe we have to be audacious, I believe we have to demand marriage equality and build this movement strongly,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Bill de Blasio. “I will be with you 100 percent."
"Let's bring marriage equality now,” said Weiner. “It starts with you, it starts in New York, it starts in Albany. And soon, with God’s help, when our grandkids are raised up, they'll look back and say, 'marriage equality -- but of course, what was the big deal.'"
Spitzer's bill would require marriage licenses be issued regardless of gender, but would not compel religious institutions to perform same-sex marriages.
Top News • NY1 Living
Legal Status Brings Security to Some Same-Sex Marriages
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
Published: May 22, 2007
Officially speaking, same-sex couples who live in New York State cannot be married. Nancy Goldstein and Joan Hilty, a Brooklyn couple who celebrated their third wedding anniversary on Saturday, are an unusual exception.
The two women have a pleasant Park Slope apartment, an excitable dog named Juno and a marriage certificate signed by the town clerk of Provincetown, Mass. Ms. Goldstein, 45, and Ms. Hilty, 40, were two of the gay and lesbian New Yorkers who rushed to cities and towns in Massachusetts to get married in May 2004, after it became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriages.
In the three years since then, the validity of their marriage certificate has been something of a question mark. But Ms. Goldstein and Ms. Hilty learned last week that a judge had ruled that same-sex couples from New York who married in Massachusetts from May 2004 to July 2006 have a legally recognized marriage.
“I got married,” said Ms. Goldstein, a director of an advocacy group for pregnant women. “I did not get civil-unioned. I got married.”
The judge’s ruling, issued on May 10 in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts. (Tanya Wexler and Amy Zimmerman, who were married in May 2004, were the only plaintiffs from New York City.) The court decision was a little-noticed development in one of the most contentious issues in politics, raising the population ever so slightly of New York’s legally married same-sex couples.
“It really is a cloud that’s been removed from these marriages,” said Michele Granda, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Boston group that represented the plaintiffs. “There shouldn’t be any question that those marriage licenses are worth the paper they’re printed on, and that Massachusetts fully backs the currency.”
The ruling affects only a limited number of New York’s same-sex couples: those who married in Massachusetts between May 17, 2004, when that state authorized same-sex marriages, and July 6, 2006, when New York’s highest court rejected an effort to allow gay marriage. Ms. Granda said the group knows of nearly 200 affected couples in New York, though she said the number is likely to be higher.
The lawsuit challenged a decision by Mitt Romney, then the governor, that only those gay couples who lived or intended to live in Massachusetts, or those couples whose home state did not forbid same-sex marriage, could get married in Massachusetts. Last year, a judge ruled that only Rhode Island did not prohibit same-sex marriage, noting that New York’s highest court ruled on July 6 that it was not permitted.
But lawyers for the out-of-state couples argued that those who had married in Massachusetts before the New York ruling had valid marriages.
Andrew M. Cuomo, the attorney general of New York, has not said whether he would challenge the ruling, but he was not expected to do so. Jeffrey Lerner, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said New York law requires the state to recognize marriages validly performed in other states.
Scores of other same-sex couples in New York have been married in Canada since 2003, when the Ontario Court of Appeal extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. Brendan Fay, a Queens man who runs a group called the Civil Marriage Trail Project, has helped coordinate marriages in Canada for dozens of gay and lesbian New Yorkers. He helped organize a wedding scheduled for tonight at a Toronto hotel between two Manhattan women: Edie Windsor, 75, and Thea Spyer, 77, who have been together for four decades.
For those New York couples married in Massachusetts, the recent ruling represented a symbolic victory, but also a kind of delayed confirmation. Some said they already considered themselves married after receiving their marriage licenses in Massachusetts three years ago. They have since exchanged rings and vows, celebrated anniversaries and grown accustomed to referring to their partners as their spouses.
“We had held ourselves out as a married couple anyway,” said Vincent Maniscalco, 45, who married Edward DeBonis, 54, at the city hall in Somerville, Mass., in 2004. The couple, who co-own a legal search firm, live in Averill Park, N.Y. “This was sort of a reaffirmation and a clarification,” Mr. Maniscalco said.
Michael Adams, 45, remembers driving 200 miles with his partner one night in late May three years ago, from Queens to North Attleborough, Mass. They checked into a Holiday Inn, went the next morning to the town hall, asked a judge to waive the three-day waiting period for marriage license applications and then drove across the state, license in hand, to the home of the minister who married them at a park where two streams join together.
“The whole day was unbelievable,” said Mr. Adams, who now lives with his husband, Fred Davie, 51, in Brooklyn. “It was really having to work hard to make this happen. As far as we were concerned, we were married.”
Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed a bill that would make New York the second state to allow gay marriage; a handful of others, including Connecticut and New Jersey, have civil unions. But he faces opposition in the Republican-led Senate.
Even for the New York couples who married in Massachusetts, questions remain about the extent of the benefits and protections — like health insurance, pensions and property — their new status gives them. New York’s same-sex couples who married out of state frequently find themselves navigating often-murky legal terrain.
Mr. Adams said he and his husband mark themselves as single when filling out their state income tax returns, but they each attach a statement explaining that they were married in Massachusetts. Now they will mark themselves as married and send in a joint return. However, they will not be able to do so on federal tax forms: the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Ms. Goldstein and Ms. Hilty keep their original marriage certificate close at hand rather than framed at home. “We had to bring this and flash it to the car rental people in Puerto Rico to get the married couple’s rate,” Ms. Goldstein explained, holding the certificate.
After their marriage, Ms. Goldstein went to a legal clinic for gays and lesbians to get assistance in filling out several legal forms. One was a notarized statement from Ms. Hilty giving Ms. Goldstein first preference to visit her at a hospital; another named Ms. Goldstein as Ms. Hilty’s health care proxy.
The ruling gave their Provincetown certificate more of a legal sheen, but as a practical matter it did not have an immediate impact on their marriage. Their anniversary — a low-key dinner at the Grocery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn — felt just as real as before.
Ms. Goldstein and members of some of the other couples said they now felt less vulnerable about their legal status. “These are some of the things that I hope will be less necessary in New York with this recent ruling,” Ms. Goldstein said of the six legal forms she keeps with her marriage certificate.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Opposition to Gay Marriage May Be Waning
by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Boston Contributor
Thursday May 17, 2007
Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston
Legislative support for a proposed ban on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is waning on Beacon Hill, as supporters of marriage equality intensify efforts to prevent the three-year-old right to marry from being put up to popular vote, and opponents either reconsidering their positions or contemplating new jobs outside of the legislature.
Marriage equality proponents say they may be within three to four votes of killing a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts constitution, according to a Boston Globe article. The amendment would ban same-sex marriage and would further bar civil unions or domestic partnerships if voters in 2008 were to approve the measure.
But seeing the amendment go forward to the ballot would also likely prove a major distraction from business nationally, especially for the Democratic Party, according to the Globe. In 2004, Massachusetts found itself at the center of a social and political controversy when same-sex marriage was first legalized in the state. A 2008 ballot initiative to amend the state constitution and bar further marriages between same-sex couples would thrust Massachusetts into the same controversy for the second presidential election in a row.
State Rep. Brian P. Wallace, D-South Boston, is reportedly in the running for a job at the Massachusetts Sports and Entertainment Commission. Wallace supports the proposed constitutional amendment, and his possible departure from the legislative ranks is seen as an opportunity by marriage equality supporters to strengthen their cause because were he to leave for the new position, it would probably be before the next constitutional convention, currently scheduled for June 14.
Four other state lawmakers who support the amendment may be reconsidering their positions, leading to very guarded optimism among supporters of continued marriage equality. Marc Solomon, campaign director for MassEquality, said, "There are legislators who are listening closely and are receptive to us, their constituents, to the married couples that are meeting with them, and are giving serious consideration to whether it makes sense to advance this to the ballot." According to the Globe, neither Solomon nor other sources would identify those lawmakers.
But concerns among leading Democrats that the Commonwealth could find itself replaying 2004’s election cycle, when the issue of same-sex marriage hobbled Democratic nominee John Kerry, has prompted Gov. Patrick Deval, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, and Senate President Therese Murray to intensify their efforts to win over colleagues who may be open to reconsidering their positions, and to solidify a common Democratic stance.
National names are also set to become involved, with Howard Dean offering his services and marriage equality proponents saying they have contacted John Kerry, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and members of the House.
Those opposed to marriage equality are also girding themselves for the fray. Kris Mineau, president of the anti-marriage Massachusetts Family Institute, denied that the proposed ban was losing ground, according to the Globe article, and said of lobbying efforts to preserve marriage equality, "This is a huge amount of money and a huge effort for one express purpose: to prevent the people from voting on the definition of marriage." Mineau cited the slogan that has become commonplace among marriage foes, saying, "If we are going to change the definition of marriage, only people can make that decision."
Only 50 out of the state’s 200 lawmakers need to vote for the proposed amendment for a second time to advance it to the ballot in 2008. At its first vote in January, the amendment advanced with an eight-vote margin. Now, according to the Globe, sources indicate that the margin may have dwindled to the point that only 52 lawmakers are committed to the amendment’s advancement. That barely extant margin is enough, however, to place family rights for gay and lesbian Massachusetts residents up to a vote.
It is the question of those rights that proponents of marriage equality have focused on. MassEquality has begun a campaign built on that argument and funded for $750,000 to deliver the message that marriage equality is a civil rights issue. The MassEquality media efforts include television spots showing three couples who have been able to marry since 2004. "We have never voted to restrict individual rights in this state, let alone sought to amend the constitution to take rights away," said Solomon. "We hope this campaign makes people aware of how unfair and dangerous this ballot measure is to everyone, not just committed gay and lesbian families."
But the civil rights argument may not be compelling enough to change enough minds top secure marriage for all Massachusetts families. Rep. Paul Kujawski, a Democrat from a conservative district who voted in favor of the amendment at the last constitutional convention, said, "I am listening to everybody. But if the vote were tomorrow, my vote would still be the same."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.
Copyright © 2003-2007
EDGE Publications, Inc. / All Rights Reserved
NY Couples Celebrate Gay Marriage Ruling
By COLLEEN LONG
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 17, 2007; 7:38 AM
NEW YORK -- Michael Adams and his partner, Fred Davie, waited three years to find out whether their marriage in Massachusetts was legal. On Wednesday, they got an answer: Their wedding rings can stay on.
A judge ruled that marriages of gay couples from New York who wed in Massachusetts before last July are valid because New York had not explicitly banned same-sex marriages until then.
"We've been in limbo," Adams said. "To learn that the marriage we cherish so much is legal, and recognized in Massachusetts and New York _ well, we can't wait to get together to pop open a bottle of champagne."
Massachusetts became the first state in the country to allow gay marriage in May 2004, but couples are barred from marrying in the state if their marriages would be prohibited in their home states.
Adams and Davie, from New York City, wed in Lowell, Mass., in 2004. The New York Court of Appeals ruled on July 6, 2006, that New York law limits marriage to unions between a man and a woman.
The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders had asked for clarification of the status of New York couples who married in Massachusetts before that ruling.
In a May 10 decision, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly found that those marriages are legally valid, saying that same-sex marriages became "prohibited" in New York only on July 6, 2006.
"We've come such a long way," said Adams, 45. "We know that we have a legally recognized marriage, and it's going to open up new opportunities for us to be treated fairly, to get benefits we deserve as a couple."
It was unclear exactly how many New York couples married in Massachusetts during the two-year period, but GLAD said it was "in the hundreds." The group had previously said 173 New York couples were affected.
After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, hundreds of couples from other states went there to get married. But former Gov. Mitt Romney directed municipal clerks not to give licenses to out-of-state couples, citing a 1913 law that bars couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriages would be prohibited in their home states.
Eight couples from six states challenged the law.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in March 2006 that Massachusetts could use the 1913 law to bar gay couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont from marrying in the state because they had an "express prohibition" against same-sex marriage. The high court said it was unclear whether gay marriage was specifically banned in New York and Rhode Island, and sent that part of the case back to Connolly.
Connolly ruled in September that gay couples from Rhode Island have the right to marry in Massachusetts because gay marriage is not expressly prohibited there.
Gay rights groups praised Connolly's most recent ruling.
But Michael Long, who heads New York's small but politically influential Conservative Party, predicted Connolly's ruling wouldn't hold up in New York.
"It's wishful thinking by some homosexual couples that the interpretation of a particular judge will change their status," Long said. "The law in the state of New York is very clear _ marriage is between a man and a woman."
Long said the issue could wind up back in New York courts if the gay couples affected seek to press for marriage rights in their home state.
Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this report.
© 2007 The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
R.I. lawmakers to debate gay marriage today
May 16, 2007 07:41 AM EDT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- House lawmakers are expected to debate three bills today touching on same-sex unions. One bill before the House Judiciary Committee would permit gay couples to get married in Rhode Island.
Another would set up civil unions for same-sax partners. The third proposal would also create a civil union system but define marriage as a partnership between a man and a woman. Gay marriage advocates have tried without success since 1997 to legalize gay marriage in the Ocean State.
But Rhode Island couples can get wed in Massachusetts, where a court legalized same-sex unions several years ago. Earlier this year, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said the state government should recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts.
May 16, 2007
Some Gay New Yorkers Gain in Ruling on Marriages
By PAM BELLUCK
BOSTON, May 15 — A little-noticed resolution to a case involving same-sex couples from New York will allow dozens of them to be considered legally married in Massachusetts, and apparently in their home state as well.
The matter, resolved in a Boston courtroom last week, had its roots in a 2004 decision by Mitt Romney, then the governor. Soon after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage by court order in May of that year, Mr. Romney, invoking a 1913 law, proclaimed that same-sex couples from out of state could not marry here unless they intended to move to Massachusetts or their home state did not prohibit their marriage.
Out-of-state couples challenged the decision, but Judge Thomas E. Connolly of the Suffolk County Superior Court here ruled last year that Rhode Island was the only state that did not explicitly bar same-sex couples from marrying.
In his ruling, Judge Connolly noted that in New York, where one of the plaintiff couples lived, the Court of Appeals, that state’s highest judicial body, had ruled that same-sex marriage was not allowed.
But lawyers for the plaintiffs saw an opening. The New York decision had been issued on July 6, 2006, more than two years after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. What about those New York couples who had married in Massachusetts before July 2006?
“Those couples should be able to be legally married,” said Michele Granda, a lawyer for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, who represented the plaintiffs.
It turned out that the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, the defendant in the lawsuit, did not object to that interpretation. In an interview Tuesday, Attorney General Martha Coakley said, “We agreed that for the period between May 17, 2004, when same-sex marriage was legalized, to July 6, 2006, marriages of couples from New York are fully valid and did not and do not violate our general laws.”
Judge Connolly signed off on that agreement last Thursday. It is not clear how many couples are affected, but Carisa Cunningham, spokeswoman for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said that “it’s certainly in the dozens.”
Those marriages are also expected to be considered legal in New York. John Milgrim, a spokesman for the office of that state’s attorney general, said, “Since 2004 it has been the position of the attorney general’s office that New York law presumptively requires the recognition of marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.”
The decision is welcome news for Tanya Wexler and Amy Zimmerman, a couple from New York City who were married in May 2004 and were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“It just lifts the cloud over our license,” said Ms. Wexler, 36, a filmmaker.
Ms. Zimmerman, 34, a stay-at-home mother to the couple’s four children, said: “For the last three years, we’ve been saying, ‘Well, we got married in Massachusetts; it’s kind of valid.’ Now it feels really different to us. We can say, ‘Yes, we were married in Massachusetts, and we’re married.’ ”
Vincent Maniscalco, 46, and Edward DeBonis, 55, of Averill Park, N.Y., near Albany, were also married in Massachusetts in May 2004 and are similarly cheered to learn of their newly official status.
“Now we hope that this will help move along the equal marriage bill here in New York,” Mr. Maniscalco said.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Coakley to fight for gay marriage
Vows challenge if amendment OK'd
By Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff | May 12, 2007
CAMBRIDGE -- Attorney General Martha Coakley said last night that if Massachusetts voters were to approve a ban on same-sex marriages, she would back any efforts to challenge the measure on constitutional grounds.
A constitutional ban could go on the ballot in November 2008 if it receives a second vote of approval from the Legislature.
"I think we can easily anticipate that if the proposed amendment was successful, there would be protracted, hard-fought litigation about the constitutionality of such a provision," she said in a speech at the annual dinner of the Massachusetts Lesbian & Gay Bar Association. "If that battle is necessary, you have my support."
She said she has asked lawyers in her office's civil rights division to be ready to respond, if necessary.
The remarks, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, were the strongest Coakley has made on same-sex marriage since becoming attorney general in January.
Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing whether to put the proposed ban on the ballot. On Wednesday, the House and Senate met in a Constitutional Convention but recessed until next month without taking a vote on the amendment.
After a 2003 decision by the state's highest court, Massachusetts became the only state in the nation to sanction same-sex marriage. In May 2004, those marriages became legal.
In her speech, Coakley said that despite warnings by opponents of the decision, "the sky has not fallen, life goes on."
"The institution of marriage is alive and well in the Commonwealth," she said, adding that more than 8,500 same-sex couples have married in the state. "It has been made more inclusive. I think a seamless integration of an ancient institution with the modern but welcome recognition of the reality of the diversity of sexual orientation has made our state stronger."
Lisa Barstow, an opponent of same-sex marriage and spokeswoman for the group voteonmarriage.org, which is advocating for the ban, disagreed with Coakley and asserted that same-sex marriage has set the state back.
She cited the decision by Catholic Charities in Boston to close its adoption service last year because the church does not condone same-sex adoption of children. "That is one clear example," Barstow said. "And who pays the price? Children."
Those who believe marriage should be legally restricted to a man and a woman have demonstrated broad support for their position. For example, the Massa chusetts Family Institute has collected tens of thousands of signatures in support of the amend ment to ban same-sex marriage. Barstow said yesterday that number is up to 170,000. "These are the citizens of Massachusetts that she has been elected to serve," she said, referring to Coakley.
Throughout her speech, Coakley received several standing ovations from the hundreds of lawyers in attendance.
Alan Minuskin, a professor at Boston College Law School, called her remarks "wonderful."
Coakley's support of same-sex marriage remains important even if the amendment fails, he said. "There's always a threat of backlash," creating new challenges to same-sex marriage.
He noted that the college's law school -- rooted in Catholic Jesuit tradition -- has had a policy forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1982. There is no similar policy in the undergraduate school, he said.
Coakley said supporters of same-sex marriage must rally to fend off the challenge. "We must do everything we can to avoid this. . . . We want our future to progress, not regress. And it is why we want to try and ensure that when the Legislature reconvenes, it rejects this antigay, antimarriage amendment. It can and should do it on the merits and end this debate once and for all."
She spoke of the state's "proud tradition of championing and expand ing civil rights," calling it a travesty for the state constitution to be used to erode rights.
"We cannot allow hate to occupy any legal space in Massachusetts. We cannot legislate hate away, but we can hold those accountable who act upon it, and that's why it is important to develop and implement effective civil rights programs in our schools."
Megan Woolhouse can be reached at email@example.com.
May 12, 2007
Governor Elliot Spitzer's Same Sex Marriage Hoax
Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_kimberly_070506_governor_eliot_spitz.htm
By Kimberly Wilder & Ian Wilder
The whole drama about Governor Eliot Spitzer introducing same-sex marriage legislation, and the legislature failing to pass it, is a hoax. Waiting for the legislature is just stalling. Spitzer, right now, today, with nothing else happening, could make same-sex marriage legal in New York. All he has to do is sign an executive order to have the New York State Department of Health change wording on some forms.
Governor Eliot Spitzer doesn't need the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage in NY. The NY constitution is gender neutral so there is no constitutional bar to same-sex marriage. There is no state law that currently bars same-sex marriage either. Let me repeat that, there is no law on the books in NY state that prevents same-sex marriage.
In Informal Opinion 1 issued by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office, it states again and again that New York State law "does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage" and that it "does not expressly bar marriage of same sex couples." The rather cowardly Attorney General's opinion refused to comment on the constitutionality of interpreting this law to bar same-sex marriage. Spitzer's 2004 opinion can be found at http://www.oag.state.ny.us/lawyers/opinions/2004/informal/2004_1.pdf
Imagine if this opinion had been issued forty years ago refusing to comment on the constitutionality of a Jim Crow law? What would we have thought? As Green Party New Paltz Mayor Jason West told CNN in response to the call for him to be enjoined from solemnizing same-sex marriages: "Separate but equal didn't work for blacks and whites, and it doesn't work for gays and straight people."
The only thing that prevents same-sex marriage in New York is the New York State Department of Health. The Department of Health has insisted that a marriage license can only be issued to a male and female couple, even though same-sex marriage is not expressly prohibited under New York law. The Department of Health is under the direct control of the governor. Today, with an executive order, Governor Eliot Spitzer can change the Department of Health rules and allow for same-sex marriage in New York. There is no need to wait for the State Assembly or the State Senate.
So all this talk about introducing same-sex marriage legislation is just a political feint. Spitzer looks like he was trying to keep a campaign promise without having to actually do it. The worst part is that organizations like Empire State Pride Agenda are taking part in this fraud by lauding Spitzer's non-action instead of exposing it.
"I do not think there is a realistic shot that it gets passed, but I will submit it because it is a statement of principle that I believe in and I want to begin that dynamic," said the governor, a Democrat. "The bills that I talked of last week are the ones that I absolutely believe we can pass."
During his gubernatorial campaign last year, Spitzer voiced support for gay rights and pledged that he would propose same-sex marriage legislation. Gay rights advocates lauded his commitment, and endorsed his candidacy. Now that he is governor, they are commending his follow-through.
Ian Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said, "The moment Eliot Spitzer introduces his marriage equality legislation, he will have secured his place in the American gay rights movement as the first governor in the country to do so."
Governor Eliot Spitzer's moment is now.
Because right now, at this very moment, Eliot Spitzer himself, can change the situation and legalize same-sex marriage in New York, with just a signature.
In the lead-up to this election, Eliot Spitzer made it clear that one of the issues he was running on was legalizing same-sex marriage. Groups like Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed him based on that stand, and told their constituents to vote for him based on that stand. Eliot Spitzer won, in what his colleagues asserted was a landslide. So, Governor Eliot Spitzer has the mandate and he has the power.
Why then is Governor Eliot Spitzer playing the game of pretending that he must rely on the legislature? Why are groups like Empire State Pride not calling Governor Eliot Spitzer out and demanding that he actually, truly follow through on his promise now?
Governor Eliot Spitzer said that when he went to Albany, he would change things on Day One. Though, this game he is playing is the same kind of game his Democrat colleagues have played for years. Democrats in the New York State Assembly constantly put up bills with not enough support and not enough consensus. When these bills go nowhere in the State Senate, the Assembly Democrats take credit for their vision, and blame the Republican State Senate for their defeat. But, in the end, the public is left with nothing.
Now, Governor Eliot Spitzer is playing a similar game. He is claiming that he is a visionary for putting forward a no-win piece of legislation. Spitzer should just do the right thing now and sign same-sex marriage into existence.
No one should be waiting around for Governor Eliot Spitzer to do the right thing. It is time to start laying groundwork for a progressive challenger in 2010. With the game Spitzer is playing his proposed same-sex marriage law will not even be passed by then. And, he probably knows that all too well.
posted by thomas c jackson @ 10:40:00 AM 1 comments
At Saturday, May 12, 2007 3:29:00 PM, Gay said...
I didn't read most of your post because in the first paragraph, you show your ignorance of the law.
The Court of Appeals said that the New York State Constitution does not provide for same sex marriage. That decision is horribly wrong, but it's the law now. The Governor cannot legalize marriage with an executive order. If he could, Alan (not Ian) Van Capelle and the Pride Agenda, and Sean Patrick Maloney, the Governor's gay First Deputy would have already pushed that through.
You're whacking the wrong guy. You're complaining about a Governor who increased funding to LGBT organizations to record levels, changed the Civil Service Department's policy to ensure full recognition by Executive Branch agencies of all valid gay marriages (from other jurisdictions), and introduced the first program bill for marriage in the country. His Administration has hired members of the gay community to high ranking posts in record numbers, and opened the doors of the Second Floor to the LGBT community more than any Governor in New York history.
You have the law wrong, and you're speaking out against our community's most powerful political ally. Try getting Shelly Silver, Andrew Cuomo, and Tom DiNapoli to do something-- anything-- for marriage. They've been silent on the issue; not even offering a public position. Before tearing down the Governor who continues to work actively and publicly to help our community, take on those who work against us, or stand by in silence
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Lawmakers pull gay marriage bill days before high court case
May 11, 2007
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The leaders of the legislature's Judiciary Committee announced Friday they want to pull the same-sex marriage bill from consideration this session.
The move comes on the eve of Monday's landmark state Supreme Court hearing on whether the constitutional rights of Connecticut's gay and lesbian couples are being violated by not being allowed to enter into marriage. Connecticut does allow civil unions.
Lawmakers said they don't have enough votes at this point in the session to pass the legislation, even though they said the count is close.
"We're going to pass marriage, that's absolutely happening. It's just not happening this year," said Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee.
Last month, the committee approved the bill on a 27-15 vote, but its fate in the House of Representatives was uncertain.
Lawlor said a significant number of legislators have told him and Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, the other committee co-chairman, that they personally favor same-sex marriage, but feel the state won't be ready for it until another year or two.
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who signed the civil unions bill into law in 2005, has said she would veto a gay marriage bill. Rell said she believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
Monday's court case, Kerrigan & Mock et al v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, stems from a lawsuit filed two-and-a-half years ago by eight gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses. The case questions whether those couples' rights to due process and equal protection under Connecticut's constitution have been violated.
The hearing will also shine the spotlight on Connecticut's civil union law, which grants same-sex couples the same state rights and privileges as married couples, except for being allowed to actually marry. A similar case is before the California high court.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose office is defending the state on Monday, said if the justices rule in the plaintiffs favor, that could have national implications for states that have passed or are considering passing civil union-like legislation.
"The national ramifications would result from a decision to strike down the current legal structure and determine there is a state constitutional right to marriage between members of the same sex," he said. "If the court rules the other way and upholds the current body of law, there really will be very little impact nationally."
Earlier this week, Oregon was the latest in a growing list of states to offer gay couples at least some benefits of marriage. The Oregon legislation creates "domestic partnerships" for homosexual couples, allowing them to enter into contractual relationships. The New Hampshire legislature, meanwhile, recently passed a civil unions bill and Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign it.
So far, only Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry. Connecticut, Vermont, California, New Jersey, Maine and Washington have laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of the New York-based Freedom to Marry organization and author of the book "Why Marriage Matters," said civil unions or domestic partnerships are simply a new legal status created to give and withhold rights to people.
"The question that these courts are going to look at is, why is the state creating two lines at the clerk's office and sending some families around back when the state has acknowledged that these families exist and are worthy of protection," he said.
Blumenthal said his office will argue on Monday that the state had a "rational basis" for using two different names for the same rights and benefits accorded to straight and gay couples in Connecticut.
The state Supreme Court is not expected to announce its decision until later this year. Lawlor said he wouldn't be surprised if the justices decline to rule on the matter and send it back to the legislature to decide what to do since it didn't explain the reasoning for two separate systems.
"If you're going to discriminate, you have to have a compelling reason," said Lawlor, who supports same-sex marriage.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Gay Name Change Bill Advances In Calif.
Posted: May 7, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET
(Sacramento, California) The California Assembly on Monday passed legislation that would give all married spouses and domestic partners, regardless of their gender, equal opportunity to change their family name when they marry or register as domestic partners.
Lawmakers approved the Name Equality Act 45-20 along party lines.
State law makes it difficult for a husband to take his wife's last name upon marriage, forcing couples to request a name change in court. Similarly, domestic partners have faced costly and lengthy court proceedings in order to change their last names after registering with the state, said Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco).
Ma said the bill would remove gender bias from both marriage and domestic partnership applications, allowing each spouse or partner, regardless of their gender, the same opportunity to select a new name.
The legislation is supported by Equality California -the state's larges LGBT civil rights organization - and the three California affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"No couple should have to go through an expensive and time-consuming court process in order to have their family name legally recognized and honored," said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors.
Seven states, including Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota currently recognize a husband's right to take his wife's last name upon marriage. While Massachusetts allows same-sex couples who are legally married to change their surnames, California would become the first state to allow domestic partners to change their names if the proposed bill becomes law.
"AB 102 is about equality, flexibility and getting with the times," said Assemblymember Ma.
"Couples should not be penalized for being in love or wanting to be in a committed, loving relationship."
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Amid grins and tears, two gay-rights bills become law
By David Steves
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2007
SALEM - Gov. Ted Kulongoski did Wednesday what Oregonians in committed, gay relationships hope to do in eight months:
Put pen to paper and make it official.
In the governor's case, the signing involved two new, landmark laws that grant the right to same-sex domestic partnerships and ensure protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The stroke of Kulongoski's pens made Oregon the seventh state to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships and the 18th to extend anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians.
In January, when the domestic partnership law takes effect, Tim Smith and Kent Kullby plan to be among the same-sex couples applying for a "Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership."
The Eugene couple have been together for 15 years, and spent many of them trying to secure legal recognition for their union. They were the first pair to enter Eugene's domestic partnership registry and in 2004 among the 3,200 same-sex couples to get married when Multnomah County briefly allowed it. The couples were later told their unions weren't legally valid.
And even if the third time is the charm when it comes to moving from symbolic to legally meaningful validation of their union, Smith and Kullby said they don't expect it to be the final chapter.
"We believe in our lifetime we'll be able to get full-on married again," Smith said.
They were among the more than 200 people who gathered on the grounds of the Capitol for all the pomp and ceremony of a bill signing that Kulongoski said represented one of the rare instances when such an act extends beyond the usual "transactional" nature of law-making and serves as a transformational event.
"House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2 are two pieces of legislation that will literally transform our state from one of exclusion to one of complete inclusion," he told the cheering crowd.
Kulongoski's staff had arranged a table outside the building's eastern entrance. The governor sat in a high-backed, leather chair and used seven pens, each resting in its own leather case, to sign the bill.
Advocates and beneficiaries of the bills hugged, wiped tears and beamed big grins throughout what many called a historic moment in Oregon.
The event ended with a choral rendition of "America" by the Portland Gay Men's Chorus.
Many of the speakers and dignitaries recognized at the signing had labored in the gay-rights movement years or decades earlier. Among them were former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who led the fight to oppose anti-gay-rights initiatives in the 1990s; Gail Shibley, Oregon's first openly gay legislator; and Terry Bean, a Portland businessman and philanthropist whose gay-rights activism dates back to the 1970s, when he lived in the Eugene area and persuaded the Eugene City Council to pass an ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Bean said the signing of SB 2 and HB 2007 signaled more than the enactment of statutory protection for gays, lesbians and their rights as couples and parents.
"More importantly, I think, is the powerful message to the scared gay kid in Klamath Falls and that frightened young lesbian in Prineville that their state values them and they can be whatever they want to be," he said, "that they can be open and they can be honest about who they are."
Eugene gay-rights activist and writer Sally Sheklow said participating in Wednesday's ceremony and witnessing the signing into law of the two most important bills passed on her movement's behalf exceeded what she ever hoped for when she got involved back in the 1970s. Sheklow recalled canvassing in Eugene during an earlier gay-rights campaign.
"It was like the aliens from Mars were going door to door trying to convince people we were human," she said. "And now, this law that people have been dreaming about has finally arrived."
It's possible either or both laws could be sidetracked by campaigns to gather signatures for a referendum vote. It requires 55,179 valid signatures within 90 days of the Legislature's adjournment for such a vote on the 2008 general election ballot. One group that opposed the two bills, the Oregon Family Council, has said it has no plans for such an effort. But a lower-profile conservative Christian organization, the Lake Oswego-based Restore America, has indicated in e-mails that it wants to petition for a statewide vote to defeat both laws.
Its director, David Crowe, did not return phone calls Wednesday
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Lawmakers recess Constitutional Convention without gay marriage vote
(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
Cathey Goodfellow was one of nearly 400 demonstrators outside the State House today as the Legislature delayed a vote on gay marriage.
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff
State lawmakers today met in a Constitutional Convention but recessed before voting whether to put an amendment banning same sex marriage on the November 2008 ballot.
Senate President Therese Murray rescheduled the convention for June 14, but it was unclear whether a vote will take place on that date.
Gay rights advocates -- with Murray, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and Governor Deval Patrick -- have been lobbying legislators to switch their votes and defeat the amendment, which was approved in January with the support of 62 legislators, 12 more than necessary.
They say they still have to change at least eight legislators' minds.
The measure must be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute -- which led the petition drive to put the amendment on the ballot, said he didn't expect a vote to be taken yesterday, but is hoping for one in June.
"The lines are clearly drawn," said Mineau. "We're confident our votes will hold."