Iowa Residents Petition to Impeach Judge Who Overturned Gay Marriage Ban
Associated PressFriday Jan 25, 2008
DES MOINES - Petitions calling for the impeachment ofa judge who overturned Iowa’s ban on gay marriages have beendelivered to Legislature.The petitions, with over 6,000 signatures, were handed overtoday by social conservative Bill Salier. He says thegoal is to "stop a runaway judiciary.’’Salier says Polk County Judge Robert Hanson overstepped hisauthority by legalizing gay marriage last summer. Hanson stayed hisruling while it’s under appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.Impeaching a judge takes an act of the Legislature.Critics of Hanson’s ruling are pushing lawmakers for aconstitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Democrats whocontrol both the House and Senate have taken the issue off thetable and are dismissing Salier’s effort.House Speaker Pat Murphy says they’re "not doing anything onit.’’Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Iowa Residents Petition to Impeach Judge Who Overturned Gay Marriage Ban
Posted by Michael at 4:44 PM
Gay Marriage Bills Proposed In MD
Associated PressFriday Jan 25, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md.― Measures to allow gay marriages in Maryland are being proposed Friday in the state legislature.Sponsors say the bills will repeal current gender definitions in state marriage laws, allowing same-sex couples to marry. But the bill will include a caveat that no religious officials will be required to conduct or even recognize the unions.Sponsors say they have more than 50 sponsors in the House and Senate on the bill. But many lawmakers -- and Governor Martin O’Malley -- have indicated no interest in taking up a gay marriage bill this year.Several Republicans plan to sponsor a rival proposal in coming days to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Posted by Michael at 4:42 PM
New Mexico approves domestic partnership proposal
Associated PressFriday Jan 25, 2008Gay and heterosexual couples could form domestic partnerships and enjoy the same rights and benefits as married couples under legislation approved by the House on Thursday."This is a bill about fairness and justice," said Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat. "This bill would offer basic legal protections to same-sex couples unable to marry as well opposite-sex couples, many of whom are senior citizens and people with disabilities, that choose not to marry for financial reasons."The proposal, which is part of Gov. Bill Richardson’s legislative agenda, also will recognize same-sex marriages from other states as having the legal rights as a domestic partnership in New Mexico.The House approved the measure on a mostly party-line 33-31 vote. Two Republicans supported the bill and seven Democrats opposed it.The bill goes to the Senate, where a similar domestic partnership proposal stalled last year.Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the Senate would approve the proposal.If the legislation is enacted, New Mexico will join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing domestic partnerships, according to supporters.Under the proposal, domestic partners would have a right to obtain medical coverage through their partner’s health insurance plan or a right to visit a partner in a hospital.Other benefits include the right to take family medical leave to care for a partner who is ill, the authority to make end-of-life decisions for a partner, property rights in a partner’s pension and inheritance rights.Domestic partners also would have the same responsibilities as married couples in child custody and visitation issues and paying child support.Opponents said the bill would undermine the legal framework and "sanctity" of marriage."Domestic partnerships are just another word for marriage. It is all semantics. I believe and my constituents believe that we must protect the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman," said Rep. Nora Espinoza, a Roswell Republican.Rep. James Strickler, a Farmington Republican, said, "My concern is, by accident or on purpose, if this domestic partner bill should go forward that the courts may construe for gay marriage."Espinoza said, "If this bill passes, courts will not be able to favor traditional families involving one man and one woman over a homosexual couple in matters of adoption."But supporters strongly disagreed that domestic partnerships would harm the traditions of marriage."Is this bill contrary to God, contrary to marriage? And the answer is no. Not a single married couple in this state will get divorced because of this bill. Not a single couple that is engaged ... will cancel that wedding as a result of this bill. Not a single straight person will become gay as a result of this bill," said Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, an Albuquerque Democrat.Under the legislation, couples could receive a certificate of domestic partnership by registering with a county clerk and paying a $25 fee. A couple could petition a district court to dissolve or annul a domestic partnership."I believe that a cornerstone of social justice is respect for the dignity of the human person," said Rep. Antonio Lujan, a Las Cruces Democrat. "And respect for the dignity of the human person means respect without bias or bigotry."The state of New Mexico-as an employer-already extends benefits to domestic partners of government workers. Richardson implemented that policy with an executive order soon after taking office in 2003.Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Posted by Michael at 4:40 PM
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Puerto Rico gov. allows referendum against gay marriage - USATODAY.com
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's governor said Wednesday he would not block a referendum to toughen a ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. island territory even though he believes the proposed constitutional amendment is unnecessary and divisive.
Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila told reporters he would sign the bill authorizing a May referendum if the measure gets the required two-thirds majority of votes in the island's House of Representatives. It has already passed in the Senate.
Acevedo was asked about his support after the leaders of an association of 2,300 churches, the Pentecostal Brotherhood, said the governor told them in private that he would sign the bill.
"I told them that the people need more agendas that unite them rather than divide them," Acevedo said. "But I also told them that if they have two-thirds of the legislature, well, I cannot get in the way."
A vote has not yet been scheduled in the Puerto Rico's House of Representatives.
Resolution 99, as the measure is known, would amend the Puerto Rican constitution to establish that marriage is between a man and woman and that no other types of unions could be recognized as a marriage. It would make it harder in the future to allow civil unions or grant marital rights to unmarried couples.
Critics of the proposal, including the governor, argue the amendment is unnecessary because local laws already ban same-sex marriage. Opponents say it is discriminatory.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Gay rights' coalition eyes key LI races to advance marriage agenda -- Newsday.com
BY EMERSON CLARRIDGE
5:21 PM EST, January 23, 2008
A coalition of politically active gay rights groups will gather at a Rockville Centre synagogue Wednesday night to explain its strategy to oust state lawmakers they said have blocked legislation supporting same-sex marriage.Prior to the meeting, leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization, said they plan to focus on a few key Long Island races, but they declined to name the candidates involved."The future of marriage equality could very well be decided on Long Island this November," said Marty Rouse, who grew up in Hauppauge and is now the HRC's national field director.The groups plan to meet at 7 p.m. at the Central Synagogue of Nassau County. The meeting is open to the public.The HRC and other gay rights groups hailed the June 19 passage of a bill in the state Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats. It also had the support of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, also a Democrat. The celebration was short-lived, however, because state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) did not schedule debate on the measure, and it died.Now, Bruno and other senate Republicans have been targeted by the HRC."If and when the leadership changes, the votes will be there," Rouse said.Rouse said the meeting would be an opportunity for Long Islanders to learn what they can do to propel same-sex marriage to the forefront of public discourse.Because they are unable legally to marry, same-sex couples are denied medical decision-making authority, inheritance rights and the ability to adopt children as a couple, said officials from the Empire State Pride Agenda, an advocacy group that will also have representatives at the meeting.Massachusetts is the only state to recognize same-sex unions, and it did so through a court decision.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.
Gore endorses gay marriage
Gore endorses gay marriage
01/23/2008 @ 4:11 pmFiled by Nick Juliano
In a video quietly released on his Web site last week, former Vice President Al Gore came out strongly in favor of gay marriage.
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"I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage," Gore said. "And I don’t understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians. Shouldn’t we be promoting that kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one’s partner regardless of sexual orientation?
During his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000, Gore said he supported domestic partner benefits for gays and lesbians but opposed "changing the institution of marriage as it is presently understood -- between a man and a woman."
Gore hinted that he would come around to support same-sex marriage as early as 2006, when speaking to a group of gay-rights activists, but his latest comments represent Gore's first formal endorsement of equal marriage rights.
The video was posted with little commentary to Current's Web site Jan. 17. It didn't receive much notice at the time, but Wednesday the video was picked up by Politico, Wonkette, The Huffington Post, DailyKos and others.
Plenty of supporters virtually begged Gore to enter the 2008 White House race, but the Nobel Prize, Emmy and Oscar-winning environmental activists demurred.
Gore had said he would endorse one of the Democratic contenders before the primary season is over, but some see chances of an endorsement fading.
Whether his latest video is simply an endorsement appetizer remains to be seen.
link to video
Iowa Gov. Hopes For Speedy Gay Marriage Ruling
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: January 22, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET
(Des Moines, Iowa) Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) says he hopes the state Supreme Court will soon deliver a ruling on same-sex marriage. And he said that if the court should uphold a lower court ruling that struck down Iowa's ban on gay marriage he will press the legislature to speed through a constitutional amendment.
The governor also suggested that if the court ruling comes down after the legislature adjourns he could call a special session to deal with the amendment.
"We'll do whatever it takes to protect marriage between a man and a woman," Culver told the Associated Press.
Six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in challenging a state law that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Last August Polk County Judge Robert Hanson struck down Iowa's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act ruling that it violated the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.
Hanson then stayed the ruling to allow for an appeal to the Supreme Court. The high court is expected to take up the issue this year.
On Thursday several hundred people marched outside the Iowa Capitol demanding lawmakers endorse an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. (story)
The demonstration came days after Republicans demanded that Democrats who control the legislature take up the proposed amendment. (story) House Speaker Pat Murphy (D) said he is in no rush to bring in legislation.
To amend the Iowa Constitution simple majorities are needed in both the House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies and then it must be approved by a simple majority of voters in the following general election.
If a resolution were approved this year and in the 2009 or 2010 session, it could be placed before voters in November 2010.
In a separate case on Friday the Supreme Court ruled that co-adoptions by same-sex parents were legal. (story)
The case involved a lesbian couple who had split up. While they were together one partner had adopted as a co-parent the children of her partner. When the relationship ended the birth mother asked a court if the other woman had visitation rights and could be compelled to pay child support.
A lower court ruled that co-adoptions by same-sex couples were illegal and threw out the case. The Supreme Court disagreed and ordered the lower court to revisit the case.
Posted by Michael at 7:46 AM
A Moratorium on Weddings
By ALISON LEIGH COWAN
Published: January 14, 2005
NEW HAVEN, Jan. 13 - In a protest against the Episcopal Church's refusal to allow same-sex marriages, the leaders of a church in the stately East Rock section of this city have announced that they will perform no marriage ceremonies at all.
The decision, conveyed on Thursday in a letter from the priest to the 115 families of St. Thomas's Episcopal Church, is a novel challenge to the social and religious barriers to marriage between homosexuals.
Click above link to read story
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A Comparison Between Gay And Heterosexual Couples Finds Equal Level Of Commitment And Relationship Satisfaction
A Comparison Between Gay And Heterosexual Couples Finds Equal Level Of Commitment And Relationship Satisfaction
22 Jan 2008 Same-sex couples are just as committed in their romantic relationships as heterosexual couples, say researchers who have studied the quality of adult relationships and healthy development. Their finding disputes the stereotype that couples in same-sex relationships are not as committed as their heterosexual counterparts and are therefore not as psychologically healthy. These results are from two studies featured in the January issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association. This issue includes a special section that examines sexual orientation across the lifespan. Both studies compared same-sex couples with opposite-sex couples on a number of developmental and relationship factors. The first study examined whether committed same-sex couples differ from engaged and married opposite-sex couples in how well they interacted and how satisfied they were with their partners. Evidence has shown that positive interactions improve the quality of relationships in ways that foster healthy adult development. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign compared 30 committed gay male and 30 committed lesbian couples with 50 engaged heterosexual couples and 40 older married heterosexual couples, as well as with dating heterosexual couples. All the partners responded to a questionnaire that documented how positively they interacted with one another on a day to day basis. The couples were also observed during a laboratory task and were monitored for distress by skin conductance and heart rate. Results showed that same-sex relationships were similar to those of opposite-sex couples in many ways. All had positive views of their relationships but those in the more committed relationships (gay and straight) resolved conflict better than the heterosexual dating couples. And lesbian couples worked together especially harmoniously during the laboratory tasks. The notion that committed same-sex relationships are "atypical, psychologically immature, or malevolent contexts of development was not supported by our findings," said lead author Glenn I. Roisman, PhD. "Compared with married individuals, committed gay males and lesbians were not less satisfied with their relationships." Furthermore, said Roisman, "Gay males and lesbians in this study were generally not different from their committed heterosexual counterparts on how well they interacted with one another, although some evidence emerged the lesbian couples were especially effective at resolving conflict." In the second study, researchers from the University of Washington, San Diego State University and the University of Vermont wanted to examine how sexual orientation and legal status affected relationship quality. To do so, they followed 65 male and 138 female same-sex couples with civil unions, 23 male and 61 female same-sex couples not in civil unions and 55 heterosexual married couples over a three-year period. One member of each heterosexual couple was a sibling to a member of a civil union couple. Both partners in all of the couples answered questions regarding their demographics, status of their relationship, number of children, sexual behavior, frequency of contact with their parents with and without their partners and perceived social support. Partners in same-sex relationships also answered questions regarding disclosure of their sexual orientation to their family, peers and work associates. The researchers found that same-sex couples were similar to heterosexual couples on most relationships variables, and that the legalized status of a relationship did not seem to be the overriding factor affecting same-sex relationships. Despite the legal status of their relationships, the civil union couples showed no differences on any of the relationship measures from the same-sex couples who were in committed relationships but not in civil unions. "This may be because those couples in Vermont who sought out the legal protection of a civil union might have legalized their relationship more for symbolic value than for commitment reasons, which did not affect their day-to-day interactions," said lead author Kimberly F. Balsam, PhD. However, the same sex-couples who were not in civil unions were more likely to have ended their relationships compared to those couples in same-sex civil unions or heterosexual marriages. This suggests that the protections afforded by a legalized relationship may impact same-sex relationships, something the study's authors plan to follow up on in future research, said Balsam. The findings also showed that same-sex couples, regardless of civil union status, were more satisfied with their relationships compared to married heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples reported more positive feelings toward their partners and less conflict than heterosexual married couples, said the authors. They theorized that there may be societal pressures and norms, as well as the presence of legal status as a couple, which may contribute to heterosexual couples staying together even when they are not happy. Alternatively, most long-term same-sex couples have to stay together by their own will and hard work since they don't have society's forces on their side, Balsam added. This was the first study to follow same-sex couples in legalized unions over a period of time. This type of design allows the researchers to monitor changes in the relationships and compare them with changes experienced by both same-sex couples not in civil unions and heterosexual couples. All the couples were comparable with respect to race/ethnicity and age at the time of the study. ----------------------------
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.----------------------------
STUDY: Adult Romantic Relationships as Contexts of Human Development: A Multimethod Comparison of Same-Sex Couples with Opposite-Sex Dating, Engaged, and Married Dyads," Glenn I. Roisman, PhD, Eric Clausell, MA, Ashley Holland, MA, Keren Fortuna, MA, and Chryle Elieff, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Developmental Psychology, Vol. 44, No. 1. Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/dev44191.pdf
STUDY: "Three-Year Follow-Up of Same-Sex Couples Who Had Civil Unions in Vermont, Same-Sex Couples Not in Civil Unions, and Heterosexual Married Couples," Kimberly F. Balsam, PhD and Theodore P. Beauchaine, PhD, University of Washington; Esther D. Rothblum, PhD, San Diego State University; Sondra E. Solomon, PhD, University of Vermont; Developmental Psychology, Vol. 44, No. 1. Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/dev441102.pdf
The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare. Source: Pam Willenz American Psychological Association
Posted by Michael at 12:12 PM
Argentine gay couple defies country's civil union ban
Braces for legal battleBUENOS AIRES (AP) Jan 21, 2:28 PM
Two leaders of Argentina's leading homosexual rights organization were married Monday in Madrid in defiance of their country's ban on gay marriage.Cesar Cigliutti and Marcelo Suntheim said they would demand legal recognition of their marriage in Argentina."We came to Spain because there is a marriage law here that allows the union of homosexuals and in Argentina there isn't," Cigliutti, president of the Argentine Homosexual Community, told The Associated Press from Madrid. The newlyweds celebrated with friends Monday before a honeymoon in Egypt.The Madrid wedding was made possible by Suntheim's dual citizenship in Argentina and Germany _ allowing him to marry within the European Union. They chose Spain for its cultural similarities to Argentina.Although Argentina does not recognize gay marriage, the Buenos Aires legislature approved a law in 2002 permitting same-sex civil unions, granting gay couples in the Argentine capital economic and family rights similar to those of heterosexual couples.Similar laws are also in place in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro and a small city in the province of Cordoba. Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has legalized gay civil unions nationwide.Buenos Aires has undergone a gay tourism boom in the past five years, rivaling Rio de Janeiro as the unofficial "gay capital" of South America. The continent's first luxury gay hotel opened in the city in late October.APIMGBut past attempts by homosexuals to marry in Argentina have been rejected by the judicial system in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.Cigliutti said he and Suntheim, secretary of the Argentine Homosexual Community, will have to fight for recognition in court."It's not going to be easy ... but we're already married, Spain recognizes us," said Cigliutti. "We want Argentina to recognize us as well."Same-sex civil unions have recently been recognized by Mexico City, the Mexican state of Coahuila and Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state.
Posted by Michael at 9:03 AM
Monday, January 21, 2008
"Cuban law may recognise same-sex partners, say officials"
BY GEMMA PRITCHARD, PinkNews.co.uk
The Cuban Communist Party is considering granting legal recognition to same-sex unions, as health officials prepare to authorise sex-change operations, the director of the Cenesex sex education centre in Cuba has said.
The proposed change to Cuban family law would put members of same-sex unions on a par with heterosexual couples, psychologist Mariela Castro, pictured, who is the daughter of acting President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel, told EFE.
Cenesex, which was founded in 1989 as a department of the Public Health Ministry, approached Cuba's parliament two years ago with a proposal to overhaul the 1975 Family Code to recognise the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals. But it is the Communist Party that will decide whether the proposal becomes law.
"We are receiving suggestions and debating adjusting the proposal so it is more flexible and has more chance of being approved," Mariela Castro told EFE.
The principal needs of Cuban homosexuals "are related to the right to their recognition as consensual couples, as non-matrimonial couples, but that authorities recognise their property and inheritance rights in those non-legalized unions," she said."That is their principal interest. They are not interested in marriage, they are not interested in adoption, because in Cuba there are hardly any children to adopt."
She added that besides legal recognition, gays, lesbians and transsexuals in Cuba want respect: "Let no one feel the right to humiliate them, nor harm them, nor exclude or reject them, that we strengthen within the family this ethic of accepting everyone and of not being discriminated against for sexual orientation."
The Public Health Ministry in Cuba is currently in the process of approving regulations that would allow sex-change operations.
Mariela Castro said that a team of Cuban physicians is already in training to perform such procedures.
In an interview with EFE last August, the 45-year-old psychologist said her struggle for the equality of the sexes and gay rights would "enrich the Cuban Revolution."
But she added that the task is not an easy one in a "patriarchal" society where many remember the UMAP labour camps where homosexuals and the ideologically suspect were interned in the late 1960s
Posted by Michael at 2:43 PM
UVM Hosts Heated Same Sex Marriage Forum
Burlington, Vermont - January 19, 2008
The issue of same-sex marriage is reemerging as a hot button issue this year. A state legislative commission is expected to present its findings and recommendations on the issue to the legislature later this spring. Saturday, a group that opposes same sex unions, held an open forum at the University of Vermont.
More than a hundred people filled the seats of a UVM ballroom for a lively and very heated forum about the legality of same sex marriage.
Within an an hour, many of those seats were empty. Some had turned their backs on the panelists, and others were expressing outrage.
The panelists displayed graphs and studies that support traditional marriage between a man and a woman. They say science proves that children raised by a mother and father do better in school and end up leading a happier life than children who are not. "We get our strongest children, when they grow up in intact married families. The data is now overwhelming," said Dr. Patrick Fagan with the Family Research Council.
"There are some studies that conclude that there are no differences in the outcomes of children raised by same sex couples as opposed to married mother, father couples. Those studies are subject to serious challenge in terms of their methodology," said Monte Stewart with the Marriage Law Foundation.
But much of the crowd was not convinced. "The presentation was completely one sided. The research presented was clearly flawed and skewed to make a point," said Beth Freeman, a Vermont Law School Student.
"They're trying to link two things together. On one hand, they're trying to say intact families do the best and on the other hand, if you were to expand the privileges of family to two people of the same gender, it would somehow change marriage. I can't quite make sense of it," said Larry Rudiger, a UVM Faculty Member.
The forum was sponsored by the Vermont Marriage Advisory Council, a Rutland based group that was created earlier this month. The group accuses the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection, The legislative group that's taken up the issue of same-sex marriage in Vermont, of being biased in favor of gay marriage. They hope forums like these will convince all Vermonters that more open and balanced discussion is needed on the topic of same sex marriage before the commission makes any recommendations.
Gay Relationships - Straight Marriages: Comparison Wars
January 19, 2008
John Cloud, a writer for the Times Magazine, recently penned an article about gay relationships. Mr. Cloud, himself an openly gay man, first tells of the breakup of his own seven year relationship the year before, then delves into what he calls the existing "academic research on relationships" to fill out his theme that gays and lesbians may be somehow "different" from straights in their relationship dynamics.
read full story click link above
Posted by Michael at 12:49 PM
INDY Gay-wed ban won't get hearing IndyStar.com
By Mary Beth Schneider
January 18, 2008
A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Indiana likely was dealt a fatal blow today when a key lawmaker said he would not give the issue a hearing.
Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who is chairman of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, said today that the most urgent issue facing the state is property taxes, not same-sex marriage, which already is banned by Indiana law.
“I’m not planning on having a hearing,” Pelath said. “The short session (of the legislature) was designed to deal with emergencies. We have a very serious problem with the property tax system, and we don’t have any gay marriages in Indiana.”The Senate committee plans to debate the amendment Thursday, but Eric Miller, who has pushed for passage of the amendment as founder of the conservative group Advance America, called that “disingenuous.”The legislature, he said, is dealing with plenty of issues besides property tax reform and has the time to debate and vote on this amendment before its March 14 deadline.“There are hundreds of bills being reviewed by a variety of committees,” he said. “Property taxes are the most important thing, but I’d view the marriage amendment as very important as well.”The bill is called House Joint Resolution 8 in the Democrat-controlled House; it is Senate Joint Resolution 7 in the Republican-controlled Senate.Turner said he is exploring options to try to get the bill a vote by the full House. But House rules state that a bill may not be called back from committee. The only route to a vote by the full House, apparently, is approval by a committee. To become part of Indiana’s Constitution, the proposed amendment must pass two separately elected legislatures and then be approved by voters statewide.The proposed amendment, which declares that marriage in Indiana is defined only as the union between one man and one woman, overwhelmingly passed the Indiana Senate and House in 2005.A new legislature was elected in November 2006, and it voted on the amendment in 2007. While the Senate approved it 39-10, the House Rules committee deadlocked 5-5, and the amendment was dead for the year.If it does not pass this year, the process must begin anew, and the earliest it could be on the ballot for voters to have the final say is 2012.The amendment died last year after encountering resistance from representatives of Indiana businesses who were concerned it would jeopardize their ability to recruit employees and offer domestic partner benefits. Since then, the Senate had been reluctant to take the lead.“There is little use to move it forward if the House is simply going to block further consideration,” said Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, before the session started earlier this month.Today, Hershman, who is sponsoring the amendment in the Senate, said that despite the House’s lack of action, he’s glad the proposal will get a Senate hearing.“The Senate has endorsed this amendment three times in very strong bipartisan fashion,” he said. “I’d anticipate a similar outcome this time. As to the House, I can’t speculate (on what will happen.)”Walter Botich, legislative chairman of Indiana Equality, a gay rights organization, said he wasn’t surprised that the Senate would give the bill a hearing, but he agrees with Pelath: “There are better things for the state to be worrying about.”He said public support for the issue has been dwindling, and Pelath agreed.“This is an issue that jumped the shark,” Pelath said, using a common phrase for an idea that has come and gone.A November poll for The Indianapolis Star and WTHR (Channel 13) showed that 49 percent of Hoosiers support the amendment, down from 56 percent in 2005.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Puerto Rico amendment would block same-sex unions
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rican lawmakers are expected to soon take up a proposal that would block any attempt to permit same-sex marriages in the U.S. island territory. Resolution 99, which would authorize a public referendum on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, has passed in the Senate and will be taken up in the House of Representatives during the legislative session that begins Monday. The measure, which does not require the signature of the governor, is expected to pass although the date of the vote remains undetermined. Critics say the proposal would also prevent Puerto Rican lawmakers from adopting any measures to allow civil unions between men and women or to grant them the same legal status as married couples. Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila last week criticized the proposal as unnecessary, because local laws already establish that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Posted by Michael at 6:09 PM
The Jewish Chronicle
Gay marriage is ‘coming closer’ in Israel
By Nathan Jeffay Tel Aviv
In what is being heralded as a “first step towards civil marriage” in Israel, same-sex and mixed-faith couples are being offered partnership cards.The cards are being issued by Tel Aviv-based pressure group New Family to allow couples who cannot wed through religious channels to sign legal documents confirming their partnership. A wallet-sized card is then issued, which either partner can later nullify. Four-hundred couples have signed up in the first fortnight. “There are couples who have been together for 30 years, and unable to get any recognition until now, who are delighted,” New Family chair Irit Rosenblum told the JC. “It gives them social recognition.”In practical terms, it is claimed the cards will make it easier for such couples to access their rights in areas including inheritance, tax and fiscal law. New Family has sent letters to every municipality asking for official recognition of the cards, and has so far received three responses — all positive — from Tel Aviv, Lod and Mevasseret Zion. Although it anticipates opposition in religious areas, “it is too soon to know”, Ms Rosenblum says.Although the scheme might appear a gimmick, “this is a real revolution, an alternative to religious marriage. This is the first step to show that society here in Israel accepts the new family, which is not using the existing institutions for recognising partnerships. It will be the first step towards civil marriage.”Among the first recipients of the partnership cards were Lior and Sharon Brand from Ramat Gan. Mr Brand refers to the process as their “marriage” and the couple followed the signing with a “wedding” in the Judean Desert.“I do not practise any religion and — even though we would have been accepted — getting married under the rabbinate was out of the question,” he explained. “This way we could do it as we wanted.” With only religious marriage available in Israel, thousands of couples unable to wed through a synagogue or mosque are deprived of legal recognition for their relationship. As well as same-sex couples, the system excludes mixed-faith couples and those whose union is forbidden by religious law, such as divorcees or converts who want to marry a Cohen. It also applies to many Russian and Ethiopian immigrants who are considered Jewish by the Law of Return but not by halachah. For heterosexual couples affected, the only answer until now has been to travel to Cyprus for a civil ceremony
Posted by Michael at 6:04 PM
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Chemistry.com National Survey Says 74% of America's singles endorse gay civil unions
DALLAS -- A national survey released today by Chemistry.com, the fastest growing relationship site*, reveals that Americans are broad-minded when it comes to love. Chemistry.com commissioned the survey to continue to host the dialogue with single Americans and gain additional insight into current attitudes and behaviors around dating and relationships.
"We're constantly looking at how people view love and companionship in order to better serve our millions of members," said Mandy Ginsberg, general manager of Chemistry.com. "Our mission is to help each person find the type of relationship they're looking for."
The survey, conducted by Gfk Roper Public Affairs, reveals Americans' true beliefs on controversial topics ranging from pre-martial sex to same sex relationships, demonstrating that Americans have a progressive and open-minded perspective on modern day relationships.
Highlights from the survey include:
Americans views on divorce: 84% of Americans agree that people who have been divorced have just as much a right to find a romantic relationship as singles
Insight into relationship intimacy while dating: a large majority of Americans, 84%, agrees that there is nothing wrong with premarital sex between two consenting adults in a relationship.
Attitudes towards same-sex relationships: 72% of singles agree that gay people fall in love the same way straight people do while about eight in ten (79%) single Americans believe that gay people should have the right to find a meaningful relationship and (74%) singles endorse the idea of gay marriage or civil unions.
"Chemistry.com prides itself with an open, non-judgmental approach, which has struck a chord with many Americans," Ginsberg continued. "We believe that people want to be associated with a brand that supports their own personal values, and we welcome anyone to 'come as you are' to Chemistry."
Launched by Match.com in February 2006, Chemistry.com was created to bring together independent-thinking, confident, diverse singles that are serious about finding a meaningful relationship. Based on the research of renowned biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, Chemistry.com uses a proprietary test to predict which two people are most likely to experience a life-changing jolt of chemistry. This unique approach, combined with its "come as you are" philosophy and private matching technique, makes Chemistry.com the ideal place to find the relationship that is right for each individual, whether it's marriage, romance, a partnership or a long-term commitment. Chemistry.com is an operating business of IAC (NASDAQ:IACI).
Gfk Roper conducted the survey on behalf of Chemistry.com from November 30 to December 3, 2007 among a national random sample 1,004 U.S. adults age 18 and older. All interviews were conducted by telephone. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 3 percentage points.
Posted by Michael at 6:07 PM
By: ANTHONY M. BROWN
According to the Catholic Church, I'm more dangerous than al-Qaeda. My daughter belongs in a madrasa and I commit acts of social terrorism every time I introduce my husband Gary as my "husband Gary." Pope Benedict XVI believes that gay people are a greater threat to the family than global violence or nuclear proliferation.
In his January 1, 2008 World Peace Day address, the pontiff stated that deviation from the "one man, one woman" family structure was against the moral norm, and prioritized it in his speech as a more dire concern than the conflict in the Middle East or global warming.I guess that makes me a marriage terrorist.I never understood why Catholics hate gays. I know that statement is a generalization. My in-laws have loved Gary and me for the last 19 years, Gary much longer, and have been Catholic the whole time. The Spanish Inquisition, a tolerantly permissive attitude toward the Nazis, and the child molestation scandal cover-up aside, the Catholic Church has done a lot of good for the world.It's ironic, though, that the people in the Church hierarchy who are so critical of our families and who have made it their mission to see that we cannot marry, have all pledged to live outside the "family," on whose behalf they so loudly protest, and are all "married to God." Whatever the reason, the church's message against gay people takes it toll.Over the holidays we went to western Pennsylvania to visit Gary's family. I stopped going to Catholic Mass with his parents after the church voiced its support for a federal marriage amendment, but Gary continues to go with them when we are at their home.It is an hour that reminds him of his past. It is an hour that he can spend with his mom and dad while they are still here on this earth.As he walked into the service on December 29, 2007, he saw the blue brochures everywhere. They said, "The institution of marriage is under attack and the time has come for Pennsylvanians to take action." They used the words "THREAT" and "DANGER" and asked, "Do you really care about marriage?""Do you care enough to really do something?"Anyone who didn't realize what was really going on would, of course, answer, "Yes!"Unfortunately, the brochures seek support for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution making it impossible for any same-sex couples to marry there, as well as barring recognition of any legally performed same-sex marriage, like Gary's and mine from Canada.The political truth of the matter is that they already tried this in late 2004. It didn't work because some key Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced different versions of the amendment in the House and Senate. A politically-engineered argument over the differences in language was used to delay and essentially kill the initiative.In Pennsylvania, two successive legislative sessions must pass the amendment before it can go to the people for a vote. In the '06 elections, the state House of Representatives went Democratic and there is little to no chance that the current majority caucus would allow it to be introduced again.So, again, why are the Catholics doing this?If there isn't the political agenda of getting conservative voters to the polls in a swing state for a presidential election, I simply must believe that they "aren't really that into us."So, why do I keep caring about what they are up to?Gary was shaken by the church's blatantly anti-gay message. He walked out of the Mass during the sermon when the priest launched into his hate speech. He wrote an email about his experience and sent it to his database. He has received more than 100 replies from all over the world. Friends forwarded the email to their friends and so on.Each respondent had their own story of when, why, and how they felt betrayed by their own church and left it.We are adults. Wounds are processed in a different way. When a 13-year-old sits in that church and hears their words of intolerance and cannot understand why they are "different," he or she just might believe the church. Last week a 14-year-old British girl hung herself because she could no longer take the schoolyard taunting about her being lesbian. An 11-year-old boy killed himself the year before in Sussex England because of gay-related hate bullying.And yet the Church maintains that there is no connection to its stance of anti-gay bigotry. When a Church lends its implicit seal of approval to marginalizing and denigrating others, there can be no Christian reason.Anthony M. Brown s helped prepare the brief for the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy case while interning at Lambda Legal in the summer of 2002. He is the executive director of The Wedding Party and currently heads the Nontraditional Family and Estates Law division of McKenna, Siracusano & Chianese. He can be reached at Brown@msclaw.net.
Posted by Michael at 5:56 PM
Majority favors legalized unions -- baltimoresun.com
By Laura Smitherman Sun reporter
January 17, 2008
As the General Assembly gears up for a debate on the rights of gay couples, a solid majority of Maryland voters supports some form of legalized same-sex unions, according to a recent Sun poll.Nineteen percent of likely voters said they support gay marriage, and 39 percent said they back civil unions, meaning that nearly three out of five believe the state should formally recognize same-sex relationships. Maryland law bans same-sex marriage.Thirty-one percent of those polled said they disagree with granting either form of same-sex unions, but only half of those opponents said a constitutional amendment is needed to ban them. Eleven percent said they were not sure or declined to answer the question.
"This is a state that is much more open-minded to a legal arrangement between two people of the same sex, whether they call it marriage or civil unions," said Steve Raabe, president of Annapolis-based OpinionWorks, the polling firm that conducted the survey for The Sun. "It's not a state characterized by a large evangelical constituency but rather a more liberal electorate."But consensus on same-sex unions in Annapolis might be out of reach this year. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat who courted gay voters during his campaign, has said he prefers civil unions, while gay-rights activists are pushing for a marriage bill with an exception to make it clear that no religious institutions or clergy would be compelled to perform or recognize those marriages.Leaders in the Democratic-controlled State House are also split, with House Speaker Michael E. Busch endorsing civil unions and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller opposing both civil unions and same-sex marriage.Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers advocate a constitutional ban, arguing that such a measure is needed to protect the institution of marriage.That diversity of opinion was mirrored by respondents to the Sun poll who said in follow-up interviews that their convictions were forged through religious, cultural and personal experience.Aleshia Williams, 28, a lesbian who lives in Baltimore, said she believes that O'Malley stopped short of embracing gay marriage for political reasons and that the issue should be a matter of civil rights, not religion."We should be able to do what we want. We're not hurting anybody by getting married," Williams said. "Why not just let us live our lives? Why do they think they can play God?"Support for gay marriage is strongest in Baltimore and in the Washington suburbs, according to the poll. Support for gay marriage was highest among voters who are younger than 35, with 37 percent favoring the idea. Just 13 percent of those older than 65 support gay marriage. Whites are more likely to support gay marriage, while blacks are more likely to say that same-sex unions should be illegal.The statewide poll of 904 voters was conducted by telephone Jan. 6-9. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.Religion also played a strong role in voters' attitudes. Seventy percent of those who identified themselves as Jewish supported gay marriage or civil unions, while 10 percent opposed both concepts. Evangelical Christians were most opposed to gay unions, with 45 percent saying the state should not recognize any same-sex relationships. Opposition was equally strong from those who attend religious services of any faith at least weekly.David Shafer, 63, of Frederick said the debate should be framed in religious as well as moral terms. He advocates a constitutional ban. "Gay marriage is one of the many steps denigrating our society," he said. "I just feel that it's wrong."A slim minority of poll respondents, about one in six, want to change the state constitution, but that number could increase significantly with a high-profile campaign similar to those launched in other states, Raabe said.Maryland law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A lawsuit seeking to overturn that statute failed last year, effectively moving debate over the issue to the State House.Only Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage. Nine other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont, offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.Approval of civil unions, often viewed by voters as a compromise, was spread fairly evenly across racial, age and gender lines, poll results showed.Curtis Potter, 80, of Columbia favors civil unions as a way to grant gay couples rights conferred in marriage, while respecting religious objections. He said his opinion has been shaped by his childhood on a North Carolina farm, where he saw "a lot of prejudice," and by his experience as a manager in the federal government and of his own business, where he saw "society and co-workers lash out at gay people for being unacceptable.""It's time for our legislatures on the state and national level to really come up with laws that grant total equality," he said. "But when you think of marriage, right away you think of what God intended and our collective moral compass, and I think we need to abide by that."Lawmakers said that it is too early to determine whether a consensus will form behind any one proposal. At the same time, some legislators plan to file bills that would confer rights piecemeal to gay couples, such as those concerning property ownership and medical decision-making. Legislators, including Miller, have supported increasing rights for same-sex couples in the past."Where we end up in this larger debate remains to be seen, but if we don't ask right off for what we want then we're never going to get it," said Del. Heather R. Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat, explaining why she and others are seeking gay marriage and not a separate legal institution such as civil unions.Foes of gay marriage also plan to push their cause this year. Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel County Republican and one of the General Assembly's most outspoken critics of gay rights, said it is time for the legislature to vote on all of the proposals so that constituents know where their representatives stand. He plans to sponsor a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions."Win, lose or draw, this debate needs to happen," he email@example.com
Posted by Michael at 5:54 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Parish Votes to Defy Ban on Gay Marriage
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: January 14, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET
(Toronto, Ontario) One of the oldest Anglican parishes in North America has become the first to approve holding weddings for same-sex couples. The vote by parishioners of Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity poses a direct challenge to the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, which tonight begins its annual synod in Winnipeg.
The resolution says that the parish will "continue to exercise its conscience and bless same-sex unions and marry same-sex couples."
Holy Trinity, in the heart of Toronto, has a long tradition of rocking the Anglican boat. It was one of the first to reach out to the homeless. In the 1960s it became a refuge for American draft dodgers and in the late '60s welcomed gay groups to meet in the church.
In 2003, shortly after same-sex marriage became legal in Ontario Ted Scott the retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada blessed the union of gay activists Alison Kemper and Joyce Barnett following their marriage at Toronto city hall.
While three dioceses have voted to allow priests to conduct blessing ceremonies over the past 12 months, Holy Trinity goes far beyond that by endorsing gay marriage. And, unlike the four, Holy Trinity does not seek the permission of its bishop.
The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal all voted to approve blessing ceremonies. So far only the bishop of Niagara has given his approval. (story) In 2002 the diocese of New Westminster, in British Columbia, became the first to give the OK to same-sex blessings.
When the Anglican Church general synod begins Monday night it will have a resolution to consider that basically would allow individual congregations to decide for themselves whether or not to bless gay marriages, but not to perform actual wedding ceremonies.
A conservative group of parishes across the country has warned that if the measure passes they will break away.
Last week the leader of Canada's Anglicans sent a letter to his primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion explaining the developments around the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the letter Archbishop Fred Hiltz said that "It is important to note that the Anglican Church of Canada has not altered its doctrine of marriage as outlined in our prayer books and canons (church laws)."
Hiltz, however, put the situation in context, writing that Canadian Anglicans "live in a country where the federal government in 2005 approved legislation that allows the marriage of same-gender couples."
The issue of gays in the worldwide Church has grown increasingly more intense since the ordination of Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Conservatives in the Church, primarily in Africa, have threatened a schism if the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada do not bar gay clergy and promise to refrain from gay union blessings.
Same-sex marriage ban may not make ballot - 01/14/2008 - MiamiHerald.com
BY GARY FINEOUT
TALLAHASSEE -- A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida may not make it to voters this year, after organizers -- who proclaimed a month ago they had gotten it on the November ballot -- found out Monday they haven't collected enough signatures after all.
A counting glitch -- which has the state pointing fingers at Miami-Dade County -- has resulted in Florida4Marriage.org falling 22,000 voter signatures short of the 611,000 needed to place the amendment on the ballot.
The group has a tight deadline -- Feb. 1 -- to get the signatures to state election officials.
A month ago, backers of the amendment declared they had met their goal and began attacking groups that had formed to fight the amendment. On Monday, the leader of the effort said he had little time to figure out what happened, but said he would push volunteers to start gathering petitions again.
''There's a real temptation in pointing fingers, but we're interested in getting the job done,'' said John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and chairman of Florida4Marriage.org. ``We will immediately jump into action. I'm confident if every petition is counted that is submitted prior to Feb. 1 then we should have no problem.''
While Florida4Marriage.org has relied on volunteers, it may face tough going, because campaign finance records show that the group is broke. The organization had received financial help from the Republican Party of Florida, but since Gov. Charlie Crist came into office, the party has stopped giving the group money.
State law already bans same-sex marriage, but Stemberger and other supporters contend a constitutional amendment is needed to keep the law protected from a legal challenge. Opposition groups have organized and raised money to try to defeat the amendment, which would need approval from 60 percent of voters.
To get on the ballot, organizers must get 611,000 signatures, including a certain amount in half of Florida's 25 congressional districts. State officials ordered a new count of all petition signatures last week after acknowledging a glitch in the state's $23 million database system that is supposed to tally the information electronically.
Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kurt Browning, said the new count showed that Miami-Dade had somehow ''double-counted'' 27,000 petition signatures for the amendment that had been turned in before Jan. 1, 2007, when the new system went online.
But Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Lester Sola said the error happened on the state's end, saying that for months his office had warned the state the numbers its system was showing were in error. Sola even sent a letter on Dec. 21 to Browning saying the number of signatures from Miami-Dade were being ``recounted.''
''The bottom line is that their system doubled the number of petitions that some counties were submitting,'' Sola said.
Ivey, however, insisted that the problem happened because the Miami-Dade system ''uploaded'' an incorrect number into the state computer.
''The numbers in the system were incorrect because their vendor uploaded more signatures than they verified,'' Ivey said.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Third effort begins for Indiana marriage ban -- Queer Lesbian Gay News -- Gay.com
published Thursday, January 10, 2008
A Republican in the Indiana Senate has filed a third resolution calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state. The previous two such resolutions failed to make it to the House.
Sen. Brandt Hershman, one of the resolution's sponsors, has been urging the House to take up the issue early this year, the Associated Press reported. Toward that end, fellow Republican Eric Turner has said he plans to file a matching resolution in the Democrat-controlled House.
House Speaker Patrick Bauer, a Democrat, told the AP that while he is willing to introduce the resolution in committee for consideration, he doesn't feel it is necessary, given an existing state statute that bans same-sex marriage.
To amend the Indiana constitution, a resolution must pass two consecutive separately elected general assemblies before the measure can be placed on a statewide ballot. (The Advocate)
Posted by Michael at 1:39 PM
Domestic partnerships defined -- baltimoresun.com
By Laura Smitherman
January 11, 2008
A Maryland legislative committee yesterday approved regulations that define domestic partnerships, despite the opposition of Republicans and conservative groups who said that classifying relationships between people who aren't married under state law could have far-reaching cultural and legal implications.A joint House-Senate panel approved by a 12-4 vote the emergency regulations proposed by the Maryland Insurance Administration. The agency drafted the regulations in response to legislation approved last year that requires insurance companies to offer coverage to domestic partners if employers or individuals request it.The hearing represented the opening salvo of a debate expected this year in the General Assembly over same-sex marriage. While the regulations don't specify that domestic partners be of the same sex, a broader debate is expected during this 90-day session on the rights of such couples.Gay-rights advocates plan to push for legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The advocates are moving their fight to the Assembly after Maryland's Court of Appeals upheld a statute in September defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman."What everyone is trying to tap dance around is the whole marriage question," said Sen. David R. Brinkley, the minority leader from Frederick County. "This is a way to contravene the decision of the courts in the fall."Mary Ellen Russell, associate director of education and family life for the Maryland Catholic Conference, testified at the hearing that it is the full legislature's role to define domestic partnerships, not a committee's.Insurance Commissioner Ralph S. Tyler testified yesterday that the domestic-partner regulations provide clarity for insurance companies and consumers. The emergency regulations lapse after six months, but Tyler said he would promulgate final regulations before then.Tyler said that the law would have the biggest impact on individual insurance policies and small-business plans because most large public and private employers already provide domestic partner coverage.Domestic partners were defined as unmarried people at least 18 years old who have been in a committed relationship for more than six months and who share a common residence.
Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun
Posted by Michael at 1:37 PM
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Albany church panel: Is gay marriage different? --NY
Capital-area council sponsors a discussion about what makes a marriage a marriage
By MARC PARRY, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008
ALBANY -- The Rev. Ellen Tatreau belongs to a denomination that considers homosexuality "un-Christian."
But as pastor of Albany's Emmanuel Baptist Church, Tatreau welcomes homosexuals.
The pastor took her support a step further six months ago when, for the first time, she performed a marriagelike "service of commitment" for a lesbian couple. Eight people attended.
"The first time was really a profound experience," Tatreau said. "Because I knew that the families of this couple were really struggling with this and did not see it as anything that should be sanctioned by the church."
The pastor shared the story Tuesday following a forum billed around this theme: "The Spirituality of Marriage: Is Gay Marriage Different?"
The Capital Area Council of Churches sponsored the discussion in a brick-walled hall at First Lutheran Church. A small crowd gathered over lunch to hear two pastors address a subject that has polarized government bodies around the United States and faith communities around the world.
The Roman Catholic Church has weighed in on the debate over legal recognition for gay unions with a declaration that "no ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman."
Homosexuality rattled the U.S. Episcopal Church following the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop. A 2005 "equal marriage rights for all" resolution made the United Church of Christ the first mainline Christian denomination to support gay unions.
Stepping into this theological war zone, moderator Kitt Jackson stressed on Tuesday that the Council of Churches, a fellowship of over 85 faith communities, does not take a position on gay marriage. Whether such a thing should exist was not the topic of the talk, she said.
"It's meant to be a theological discussion of what makes a marriage a marriage," she said of the talk. "We did not want it to be a confrontational argument."
Tatreau began with a historical overview of marriage from the ancient Israelites to the United States.
The Israelites' society was patriarchal, their marriages geared toward procreation, perpetuating the man's name and maintaining and expanding his property, Tatreau said. She reminded the audience of Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines.
"Throughout most of Western history, marriage was not a mere personal matter concerning only a husband and wife, but was, rather, the business of their two families that brought them together," Tatreau said.
Marriage was an economic and political arrangement "with little regard for anything resembling affection of romantic love," she said.
Tatreau, whose church is on State Street, can perform same-sex commitment ceremonies because her American Baptist denomination -- more liberal than the larger Southern Baptist Convention -- has local autonomy. She has presided over two more since the first one six months ago.
The forum's other panelist, the Rev. Karha Us, has performed about 125 same-sex "holy union" ceremonies. The former co-pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Hudson Valley, Us and her partner of nearly 20 years drove to Vermont to join in a civil union.
They moved to Herkimer and are turning a farm into a retreat center for clergy.
"We're waiting for the day when we will be able to have a marriage," she said.
Marc Parry can be reached at 454-5057 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Vermont group to oppose gay marriage: Times Argus Online
New Vermont group to oppose gay marriageJanuary 8, 2008
By Daniel Barlow Vermont Press Bureau
MONTPELIER – After spending months boycotting legislative hearings on expanding marriage rights to same-sex couples, opponents of are now ramping up their efforts against gay marriage.Several prominent opponents of gay marriage will announce at a Statehouse press conference Tuesday morning the formation of the Vermont Marriage Advisory Council, a group that will hold hearings on the benefits of traditional marriage.Stephen Cable of Rutland, the founder of the conservative group Vermont Renewal, said the formation of this traditional marriage council is in response to what he says is the pro-gay marriage leanings of the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection."The council will be holding forums to delegate information on the social goods that come with the institution of marriage," Cable said Monday afternoon. "After that, the council will open up the microphone to hear from Vermonters."Cable would not reveal the makeup of the commission – that detail is expected to be announced at the press conference today – but he did say that its membership includes a "broad-cross section of Vermont," including doctors and business leaders.The traditional marriage group Take It to the People will also become more active in the debate this year. Craig Bensen of Cambridge, a member of the group, said he plans to launch an effort called Let Vermont Vote – a push to put a nonbinding referendum on gay marriage before the state's voters in November.Placing the question on the statewide ballot would require a vote of the Vermont Legislature in this new session. If lawmakers really want to know how Vermont feels about this issue, they should support that effort, he said."Voters have never had the opportunity to weigh in on this debate," Bensen said. "All the decisions regarding same-sex couples have come from legislators and court justices."The news comes months after both groups vowed to tell their supporters to not attend the hearings held by the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection, the group formed by the Democratic leaders of the Vermont House and Senate last summer."I'll probably consult with the other members of the commission about this, but I think we'll be focused on completing the public hearings we have scheduled," responded Tom Little, the chair of the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection. "I have always encouraged one and all to come to these hearings."Cable and Bensen told reporters last year that members of the commission are biased in favor of gay marriage. At hearings across Vermont this fall and winter, the commission heard overwhelming support for gay marriage – but few, and sometimes no, voices for the status quo.Cable said he decided to boost his efforts to stop gay marriage in Vermont after watching members of the commission question Monte Stewart, the president of Utah-based Marriage Law Foundation, during a hearing at the Vermont Law School last year with other attorneys on the legal framework for civil unions and gay marriage.Stewart was the only attorney speaking that day who opposed gay marriage and he faced some tough questions – and outright disagreements – from members of the commission."That really set the tone for this council forming," Cable said.Stewart will return to Vermont this month for a forum organized by Cable. He will be joined by Dr. Patrick Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, who also opposed gay marriage, at the Jan. 19 event, which will be held at the University of Vermont in Burlington.Beth Robinson, an attorney with the Vermont Freedom to Marry Taskforce, whose courtroom arguments led to the civil union legislation, said she was disappointed with this latest development in the gay marriage debate."The Legislature created a good process to discuss gay marriage, but they opted not to take part in it," she said. "It's not too late either. There are plenty of opportunities to still be heard in that process."The Vermont Marriage Advisory Council announcement will be made in the Cedar Creek Room today at 9:30 a.m. Meanwhile, the Family Recognition and Protection Commission will hold at least three more gay marriage hearings before issuing its report in April.Meetings will be held in Bennington on Jan. 12 from 1-4 p.m. at the Mount Anthony Middle School; Feb. 2 in Rutland from 1-4 p.m. at the Godnick Adult Center and finally on Feb. 11 from 5-8:30 p.m. at the Williston Central School.On the Web: LetVermontVote.org and VTMarriage.org
Posted by Michael at 4:44 PM
Taking Stock of This Gay Election Politics Advocate.com
Taking Stock of This Gay Election
Clinton, Edwards, and Obama all reached out to the community in different ways, leaving gay activists to choose which candidate's approach will produce results for LGBT equality.
By Kerry Eleveld
An Advocate.com exclusive posted January 8, 2008
The primary season has begun and, by my count, gay media got a total of 30 minutes of interview time with the top three Democratic presidential candidates – that’s 15 minutes with Hillary Clinton, and 15 minutes with Barack Obama. (The closest we got to John Edwards was an email exchange with his wife. Truth be told, I was grateful for the time she gave us given her health and schedule demands).
The aforementioned interviews were with The Advocate, and while I don’t mean to be egocentric, after speaking with various gay journalists/bloggers – including those from the hometowns of Obama, Edwards, and Clinton – to my knowledge, those treasured 30 minutes were the only one-on-one interviews conducted by gay outlets with the candidates.
The “glass half empty” view is: Once again, the LGBT community has been marginalized and relegated to minimal access. And here’s the “glass half full”: The two Democratic front-runners competed for our votes in a way never before seen. Heck, all the Democratic candidates made their pitch for our votes at the HRC debate that, while not perfect, was certainly historic.
Of course, the interviews with Sens. Clinton and Obama came about in different ways. The Clinton campaign agreed to schedule her interview, which took place in person, last summer; while the Obama campaign scheduled a “phoner” with us on the heels of the Donnie McClurkin setback he was grappling with in South Carolina – when the gay community became outraged that the lead singer for his statewide gospel tour was essentially an anti-gay ex-gay.
But the different reasons for these interviews, and even the fact that we never managed to secure one with Edwards, don’t necessarily prove that any of these candidates is more pro-gay or sympathetic to our issues than any other (though Sen. Clinton deserves credit for being the first to give us time).
Instead, the access they gave may more accurately reflect how familiar the candidates were with our community and the limitations of our press, how comfortable they were with the uncharted territory of openly courting LGBT votes just four years after gays became the pariah of politics, and the choices they made to get their message out in a changing media environment where blogs offer a somewhat insurgent, under-the-radar way to reach activists beyond appearing in a national gay publication.
Sen. Obama made a telling comment at the very end of my interview with him last October. Dismayed over the level of attention the community gave to the McClurkin imbroglio, he said, “It is interesting to me and obviously speaks to the greater outreach that we have to do, that [my record on LGBT issues] isn’t a greater source of interest and pride on the part of the LGBT community.”
He seemed genuinely disheartened that people didn’t know more about his stance for full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (Edwards also supports full repeal, while Clinton supports partial repeal), or the fact that he sponsored a gay nondiscrimination bill in the Illinois state legislature, or that he regularly addresses AIDS and homophobia in black and religious venues that are not particularly gay friendly.
When he spoke about HIV/AIDS to evangelical leader Rick Warren’s congregation at Saddleback Church in California, Obama said, “Like no other illness, AIDS tests our ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes – to empathize with the plight of our fellow man. While most would agree that the AIDS orphan or the transfusion victim or the wronged wife contracted the disease through no fault of their own, it has too often been easy for some to point to the unfaithful husband or the promiscuous youth or the gay man and say ‘This is your fault. You have sinned.’ I don't think that's a satisfactory response. My faith reminds me that we all are sinners.”
This is perfectly consistent with his message of bridging communities gay and straight, red and blue, black and white. But a big part of why many gays and lesbians don’t know Obama’s record here is because it wasn’t readily available. It required digging and a beat reporter covering his campaign at the national level – resources that are the province of mainstream magazines and big-city dailies. This is where a publication like The Advocate, viewed by many as essentially mainstream media, doesn’t actually have the same reporting capacity as those other outlets. Instead, the LGBT community and gay journalists were left to put together information piecemeal from sightings by bloggers at campaign events and the slow trickle of gay mentions that flow from the straight press.
The need to prevent this information vacuum is something the Hillary Clinton campaign seemed to understand from the start. The Clintons have worked with the gay community and courted its press and voters since Bill’s ’92 campaign, where they successfully reaped the benefits of seeking the gay vote without suffering any real drawbacks (at least until Bill got into office and tripped over his pledge to lift the ban on gays in the military). Perhaps prior experience made Hillary’s campaign more comfortable with their ability to control messaging and how a cover story on her in a national gay publication would play.
Meanwhile, the Obama and Edwards’s campaigns seemed more comfortable working the fringes of blogs and local LGBT pubs.
“One thing I will say for Edwards is that he’s been very proactive in working with bloggers, gay bloggers, in terms of outreach,” says Pam Spaulding, the blogger who created Pam’s House Blend. “His campaign contacted me early on with all of his complete responses to the HRC questionnaire and wanted that spread around. He obviously didn’t feel like he had anything to hide, even though he said he was not prepared to endorse full marriage equality. I think that that level of commitment to open communication has worked well for him.”
Spaulding, who is based in North Carolina, Edwards’s home state, says the Clinton campaign’s outreach to her has been “hit and miss,” while she’s had very little contact with the Obama folks.
Spaulding credits Edwards’s blog outreach to a greater comfort level for some candidates with what she calls a “glass ceiling” on how far blog news travels.
“If you do an interview with a blogger, it’s not going to go anywhere, by and large, unless it’s one of the big ones,” she says. “There’s a legitimacy that we don’t have, and everything that gets said in print – in The Advocate or Time magazine – it’s going to get spread wide; it’s going to get picked up by the cable networks, it’s going to become a story if they do an offhand quote that could be interpreted as a weakness or a weak point. So I think they’re very cautious, particularly with LGBT issues and speaking with the LGBT media.”
Time is also precious for candidates leading the pack, and doing interviews at the local level becomes a near impossibility. But history is one of the best gauges of how a candidate will behave when he or she becomes president, and it’s worth noting that Obama was very accessible to the LGBT press during his eight years in the Illinois state legislature.
“He always was open, certainly with our newspaper,” says Gary Barlow, editor of one of Chicago’s gay weeklies, the Chicago Free Press. “He didn’t avoid phone calls and stuff like that. We talked on occasion. When we called, he responded. I think that says something about a person.” Barlow adds that Obama's campaign has paid close attention to the newspaper and been communicative throughout the race.
Though the Illinois Human Rights Act did not pass until 2005, when Obama had already graduated to the U.S. Senate, he did sponsor a bill to outlaw workplace discrimination that included both sexual orientation and gender identity while he was still a state senator. Barlow says Obama also lobbied other legislators to vote for the pro-gay bills being considered. “When we’re talking about an African-American legislator in the state legislature, to have someone of his stature lobbying his peers was important,” says Barlow.
As a U.S. Senator, Clinton wasn’t quite as accessible to the local gay press, but she did do outreach with the LGBT community by speaking at events like an HIV/AIDS fundraiser for Gay Men’s Health Crisis and meeting with a group of about 45 LGBT leaders in October of 2006.
Clinton, true to her reputation, is extremely pragmatic if not cautious. On DOMA, for instance, instead of advocating for full repeal like Obama and Edwards, she staked out a position of partial repeal when answering the Human Rights Campaign candidate questionnaire last year. Clinton would leave in place the section of DOMA that allows states to self-determine the question of marriage without being obligated to recognize the marriage laws of other states. She would, however, reverse the section that does not allow the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned gay marriages. This goes part of the way to satisfying gay activists while not leaving her belly up to Republican attacks in a general election that she wants to force other states to embrace the marriage laws of a state like Massachusetts.
While that type of calculation angers gay activists, it can also produce results. HRC president Joe Solmonese credits a phone call Hillary Clinton placed to him before the second Federal Marriage Amendment vote in 2006 with potentially helping to shelve the FMA for the foreseeable future.
Before the vote, Clinton suggested to Solmonese that HRC conduct nationwide polling about the issue, which ultimately showed that although support for marriage equality had risen about 13 points since 2004, voters of every stripe were "enraged" that Congress was debating the issue rather than the Iraq war and gas prices.
Based on that data, HRC advised Democratic congressional leaders to direct their floor debates at the GOP’s focus on marriage to the exclusion of more pressing issues. By the time the vote was taken, two Republican senators switched their stances from 2004 and voted against the amendment. Losing those votes shifted the momentum of the FMA, making it less likely to be resurrected any time in the near future.
“She’s a real strategist,” Solmonese told me during a 2006 interview. Of course, that is one of the biggest criticisms levied against Clinton – that she’s too focused on polling and perhaps not guided enough by her heart. LGBT people relentlessly question whether Hillary would abandon gays and lesbians the way Bill did as president when he signed DOMA into law and agreed to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a compromise.
But Sen. Clinton’s prudence – or what some deem as cunning – may be the very thing that keeps her from running a replay of her husband’s missteps on gay issues. Bill is the great “feel-good” politician, which is exactly how he got into what became the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debacle of his presidency. Campaigning at a gay fund-raiser in 1992, he reportedly pledged to lift the ban on gays serving in the military.
Hillary Clinton, by virtue of who she’s not, is the least likely of politicians to take a position on something that isn't thoroughly vetted. In contrast to her more free-flowing husband, she approaches every policy decision and political stance with great care. People may not like her maneuvering, but she has little chance of making promises she can’t deliver on – to gays and lesbians or anybody else.
As Susan Webster, an LGBT Clinton supporter in Iowa, said prior to the caucus, “Hillary gets criticized for being calculating and cold and then she gets called a politician … I want someone who is very thoughtful, very calculated, very strategic, and a politician. It’s a political job – the last guy we elected sounded like he was fun to have a beer with, and look where we are.”
Ironically, Obama’s biggest liability in the eyes of many in the community – his faith and whether his religious views might weaken his support for gay issues – also appears to be a strength. Few people are better positioned to confront homophobia in the church and in black communities. The McClurkin incident was clearly a low point for Obama with the community, but he does have a history of speaking truth to power and, in that sense, exhibits the trademarks of the uniter he claims to be.
As he told The Advocate while trying to douse the McClurkin fire: “Part of the reason that we have had a faith outreach in our campaign is precisely because I don’t think the LGBT community or the Democratic Party is served by being hermetically sealed from the faith community and not in dialogue with a substantial portion of the electorate, even though we may disagree with them.”
John Edwards, for his part, has been quite candid about his “journey” with understanding gay issues, saying all along that same-sex marriage “is the single hardest social issue for me personally” because of his religious background – a sentiment that much of straight America shares, whether we like it or not. While Spaulding questions whether Edwards is using religion as a “fig leaf” for what may be a more politically motivated stance, “at least he’s been honest about his limitations [on marriage] publicly,” she says.
He has also logged some firsts on the campaign trail: he was the first candidate to release a list of gay supporters, the first to really trumpet his support for a bill to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” (though Clinton went on record for repeal as early as 1999), and the first to have a spouse – and a daughter, for that matter – publicly endorse gay marriage. Say what you will about Elizabeth serving as a surrogate for John on the issue of marriage, she may have done more to raise the profile of marriage equality in mainstream America through his candidacy than any other campaign.
The question for LGBT voters seems not to be which of these candidates is more supportive of gay issues – they have all conducted more LGBT outreach than previous politicians in their shoes. It’s more a matter of which candidate one believes will achieve the best results – the strategist, the bridge-builder, or the journeyer.
Kerry Eleveld is news editor of The Advocate
Posted by Michael at 4:41 PM
NAACP Chair Opposing Fla. Same-Sex-Marriage Ban
By Yoji Cole
© DiversityInc 2007 ® All rights reserved. No article on this site can be reproduced by any means, print, electronic or any other, without prior written permission of the publisher.
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond is joining a coalition of groups in Florida that oppose the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, a measure that could ban same-sex marriage and protections that both straight, unmarried couples and gay and lesbian couples now enjoy, they say. A federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage has not passed, and increasingly, Americans support same-sex marriage or civil unions.
How does your state measure up on same-sex marriage?
Why is Florida taking on this issue now? Putting an amendment on the November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage in Florida is expected to motivate increased voter turnout for a hotly contested presidential election that will again place Florida in the center of national politics.
The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment "defines and preserves marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife [and] prohibits any other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof from being valid or recognized as marriage," according to Florida4Marriage, an organization campaigning in support of the amendment.
Also, "The amendment does not prohibit the state or local government from passing laws which confer rights to unmarried persons as long as the laws are not designed to treat unmarried relationships as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof," reports Florida4Marriage.
Fairness for All Families, a statewide coalition of groups who oppose the measure, says the amendment's language is deceptive and too broad. The amendment will affect unmarried straight couples, such as senior couples who have chosen to remain unmarried after being widowed, they say.
"What they included is language that says 'substantial equivalent,' and that's not defined, so it is intended to go well beyond blocking marriage for same-sex couples," says Nadine Smith, a board member of Fairness for All Families. "It takes away any legal protection for unmarried couples, gay or straight … Advocates for seniors talk with authority and passion of the impact of stripping away legal benefits for seniors who chose not to remarry after they're widowed."
It is hoped that Bond will influence NAACP members to vote down the amendment, added Smith. "His voice is an important and powerful voice in opposition to this harmful amendment. He's someone who speaks with wisdom and authority on the kind of harmful impact of singling people out and making it harder on people to take care of their loved ones."
Bond was not available for comment and the NAACP did not provide a statement.
Ireland to recognise UK civil partnerships- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
Ireland to recognise UK civil partnerships- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
7th January 2008 14:20Tony GrewThe Republic of Ireland will recognise same-sex marriages, civil unions and civil partnerships from other countries when it legalises same-sex unions later this year. The Irish Times reports that "civil unions or weddings will have the same legal recognition as new civil partnerships in Ireland, as long as they meet a number of conditions."The UK already recognises same-sex unions and marriages from nearly 20 countries, including Canada, the US and France. At present Irish citizens are entering into partnerships in the UK, Canada and other nations. Last month Ireland's Minister of Justice rejected the possibility of a referendum to allow gay marriage.Labour Minister Brian Lenihan said civil partnership was easier to achieve, because gay marriage would require a constitutional change that would split the country.Speaking at the annual meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, he said he was keen to guarantee equality to gay people."This government, as our agreed programme reflects, is committed to full equality of opportunity for all in our society. "In particular, we are committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples" he said."I believe equality for same-sex couples can be achieved through a diversity of legal arrangements."I am very keen that in the interests to your community we should proceed now to bring in a law that will give recognition and protection to same sex couples who are involved in loving stable relationships."The Minister said that the expected law should allow couples to formalise their relationships, undertake mutual rights and obligations, obtain legal protection and legal benefits for their relationships.In 2007 the Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern said that legislation would be approved during the lifetime of his government.According to Leninan, it is now expected to be introduced by March 2008.GLEN welcomed the Minister's words, but added that only through marriage it was possible to achieve real equality and that they would continue to ask for it.GLEN's Chair Kieran Rose said that his organisation expected "principled, equality-based and comprehensive" legislation.Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.Both discrimination and incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation are illegal.
Posted by Michael at 4:28 PM
Advocate turns to blacks to make a case for gays - The Boston Globe
By John C. Drake, Globe Staff January 6, 2008
As a plaintiff, he won over the state's highest court.
As an advocate, he helped persuade the Legislature.
Now, as chairman of the state's leading gay rights organization, David Wilson says he is determined to make the case to his own community.
MassEquality, a gay marriage advocacy coalition, has launched a statewide push to increase support for its cause among black residents of Massachusetts. The effort is a priority for Wilson, an African-American who was named the group's chairman in October.
He knows it will be a challenge.
Many black people in Massachusetts and across the country have reacted unsympathetically to the gay rights movement, especially to efforts by gay rights advocates to link the fight for marriage rights to the civil rights movement.
Gay rights advocates say with the battle against a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in the state now behind them, they are beginning a concerted effort to speak directly to the black community, hoping the approach can change some minds in the Bay State and serve as a national model for outreach to minorities.
"We have defeated the amendment, and clearly we need to educate the broader community about equal marriage," Wilson said. "We have a lot of work to do, because this is just a step forward in this equal-marriage fight across the country. If we get it right here in Massachusetts, we can expect to use this model elsewhere."
For Wilson, who was among the plaintiffs in the landmark SJC case that made gay marriage legal in Massachusetts and one of the first gay men to be married, the effort is personal.
"Having grown up in Boston and experiencing all of the discrimination as a young boy growing up in the '60s, and now as a gay man, it was a high priority for me to reach out to my own community," he said in a recent interview.
But his experience has made him realize how difficult it is to find gay, black advocates to speak publicly, and to find receptive audiences in black communities.
"I had many one-on-one discussions, but when I tried to call for more of a group meeting, it was very difficult," he said. "First of all they had to identify as a gay or lesbian couple to come to the meeting and potentially be outed by the community and the church. It was pretty impossible to talk to people as a group."
When the Legislature blocked a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on June 14, Wilson noticed that among the excited throng gathered outside the State House, there were very few black supporters.
"There were people of color in that audience, but not the numbers that should be there," he said. "With that number, we should have something similar in the audience."
An August 2007 national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 27 percent of black respondents favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry, compared with 36 percent of the general population. Community leaders and gay-rights advocates say support for same-sex marriage among black churchgoers tends to be lower nationally.
While there have been numerous Massachusetts polls on gay marriage, several pollsters in the state said they either did not gather racial data or the number of black respondents was too small to draw conclusions.
In October, soon after Wilson took office, MassEquality rolled out a plan to distribute among its supporters a pamphlet geared to black residents. It includes statements and stories from black, gay couples and prominent black supporters of gay rights. It also presents the contention that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, not a religious one.
Even its title, "Jumping the Broom," invokes the way family bonds triumphed over racist legal barriers in black history. During slavery, black couples who could not legally marry would symbolically jump over a broom to symbolize their bond. It is a custom still practiced in many black weddings today. The pamphlet was developed by the National Black Justice Coalition, a gay rights group, for use during Maryland's same-sex marriage battle. It was customized for a Bay State audience.
"It's really going to take this narrow focus of community forums, community by community, and turning it into a message that individuals and groups of individuals can take out and teach on their own," Wilson said, describing MassEquality's plan to send supporters out to lead small-group meetings. "It will be run by people in the community, straight and gay parents who want to help their children and families understand the value of equal marriage for all, not just for white gay and lesbian couples."
The effort's initial steps have sputtered, as evidenced by two sparsely attended forums in Worcester and Boston in October, and a train-the-trainer session at the Harriet Tubman House in the South End, which was canceled in mid-November after organizers arrived to find the doors locked.
Al Toney, the Worcester diversity consultant who was hired by MassEquality to organize the effort, said it was a scheduling mix-up. The session is being rescheduled for later this month.
But Toney, who is black and gay, said cultural and religious opposition to gay rights also has blocked some of his initial efforts to speak to churches. One black pastor in Worcester was reluctant to allow him into his church to speak to congregants, but agreed to accept some of MassEquality's materials, place them in the church's foyer, and announce that they were available at the end of a Sunday service, he said.
"People went back and got the books, but there was such a clamor and uproar from some of the people within his church that he had to remove the books and flier," said Toney, who declined to identify the pastor for fear of damaging a relationship with a religious leader who had at least spoken with him. "We know it's a very tough sell, especially within the black community and the religious community, to even have these discussions," he said.
The Rev. J. Anthony Lloyd, pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church, the largest majority-black congregation in Boston's western suburbs, said MassEquality probably will continue to face opposition.
He said MassEquality has not yet approached him. "I'd tell them 'Thank you very much, but no thank you,' " Lloyd said. "This isn't just the issue of somebody's arguing about their civil rights, but this is also a religious issue that goes to the very core and foundation of who our church is and what our church is about."
Lloyd said that since gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, he has declined two requests from same-sex couples to perform their ceremonies.
The opposition to MassEquality's effort in the black community is not just based on faith. Even supporters of the group's cause question the timing of the effort, more than five years after MassEquality was founded.
The Rev. Irene Monroe, a Cambridge minister who is black and a lesbian, has spoken against the refusal of some conservative black clergy to support same-sex marriage. She agreed to appear on a panel during the Worcester forum. But she called the effort by MassEquality a token gesture.
She said MassEquality should have been speaking to the black community all along, tying same-sex marriage to the need to strengthen family bonds.
"If the discourse was centered around saving the black family, you would have gotten a lot of black ministers and black people coming on board," Monroe said. "The tension around class and race is so sharp here in this community, this issue is one more way in which it happens. To think of us as an afterthought is not a perception, it's a reality."
Wilson said MassEquality did not launch a concerted outreach effort to the black community until six years after it was founded because officials did not think there was adequate time to have in-depth conversations while it was embroiled in legal fights and lobbying efforts.
"We actually did, from the very beginning of MassEquality, reach out to blacks and communities of color, but the take rate was pretty limited, mostly because of the cultural and religious barriers," Wilson said.
"Clearly if there were going to be other initiatives brought from the back burner to the front, this was going to be one of them for me," he said. "It will require a lot of work, which we're now wiling to do."
John Drake can be reached at email@example.com.
Posted by Michael at 4:11 PM