Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nato Green: Top 10 Ways Gay Marriage Harms Straight People

Great piece of satire from the huffington post

Nato Green: Top 10 Ways Gay Marriage Harms Straight People

California is abuzz over same-sex marriage, as gay marriers swarm the Golden State like so many Castro-ized killer bees in case ruddy-faced values voters kill our buzz with November's constitutional amendment. There's so much to discuss before Melissa Etheridge releases an album of wedding music; before anyone splurges on Palm Springs real estate in anticipation of the gay honeymoon boom; and before some groom is asked, "Do you take this twink...?"

Things are supposed to be legal unless someone can claim to be harmed by them. All sides in the gay marriage scrimmage fight have had the misfortune to argue in courts of law whether someone, anyone, is or is not harmed when gays wed. If our system were truly about what harms, we would promptly legalize currently illegal things that are harmless -- gay marriage, pot, and Mexicans. Then we would criminalize currently legal things that are harmful -- nuclear weapons, Hummers, and the Gypsy Kings.

Since at the moment the gay marriage foes seem quaint and creepy, and will surely lose the whole shebang sooner or later, and in America everyone deserves a fair fight, I offer my Top Ten Ways Gay Marriage Harms Straight People, to level the playing field:

1. Slippery slope to ballot measure making gay marriage mandatory.
2. Lesbian divorce court proceedings occupy all family court dockets for the next five thousand years.
3. Gay marriage robs the right of their beloved bogeyman, leaving them to sound the alarm only over intelligent design, flag pins, and anal probes.
4. Heterosexual bachelor parties finally exposed as the homoerotic, desperate feint at debauchery they've always been, because "gay bachelor party" is redundant.
5. "Bridal registries" re-named "Nuptial registries," leading registry companies to go bankrupt buying new stationary.
6. Catholic Church collapses due to mass defection of clergy to marry, and thus the "Father of the Bride" and the bride could be one person.
7. Someone could get seriously maimed when bridezilla is also a bear leather daddy.
8. Gay marriage slippery slope leads inexorably to the extinction of the human race, because gays don't breed, marriage equality entices everyone to be gay, and ipso facto within fifty years there won't be enough humans to populate the moon, defend against an invasion of killer space robots, or watch the Miley Cyrus Silver Anniversary Tour. What? They do breed? Well, never mind.
9. Christian Right ashamed of forever titillating themselves with breathless mouthing of the phrase "slippery slope" while imagining conservative columnist George Will slathered in maple syrup wearing a thong.
10. Heterosexual marriage is subjected to free market competition, driving down its value and price. Normal cost of wedding rings drops from three months' salary, to two, eventually to a barter for a menthol cigarette. Mass abandonment of marriage by straight people. Impoverished and lovesick heterosexuals forced to illegally cross the border to Mexico to have back alley straight marriages with Oaxacan migrant workers. The apocalypse ensues.

Any attorney or publicist working on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, or the Gay-Hating Pinched Scrotum League should feel free to borrow these pithy arguments for any legal brief, as the situation dictates.

House passes repeal of 1913 marriage law - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

Schuffle off to Massachusettes. It's now legal for out of state same sex couples to Marry there. We are on a roll


House passes repeal of 1913 marriage law - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

July 29, 2008 04:12 PM
By Eric Moskowitz and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff

The House today voted 118 to 35 to repeal a 1913 state law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

The measure, which the Senate passed earlier this month, will head to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick, who is expected to sign it into law. The move will clear the way for out-of-state couples to marry in Massachusetts, making it the second state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry regardless of their place of residence.

"I'm glad that we finally did it," said Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat, who described the repeal on the House floor as a "question of fairness and … a question of equality."

After the vote, Rushing said he hoped lawmakers or the governor would add an emergency preamble to the bill to speed its effect and allow for September weddings.

Unlike the Senate, which quickly voted to repeal the law on a unanimous voice vote, the House debated the bill for about 45 minutes.

Supporters of the repeal called the law archaic and rooted in racism, urging fellow lawmakers to strip it from the books in the interest of equality. Repeal opponents argued for keeping the law in deference to other states, to prevent legal tangles involving couples who would marry in Massachusetts and want rights in states where gay marriage is outlawed.

"Any marriage has three willing partners: the two willing [spouses] and an approving state," said Representative John A. Lepper, an Attleboro Republican who spoke against the repeal.

Lepper said striking the law from the books could create a legal limbo for same-sex couples from out of state. He pointed to a Rhode Island couple as an example, saying they could not now seek a divorce because their home state did not recognize their marriage. "It seems if the 1913 law is repealed we would be leading ourselves into a legal nightmare," Lepper said.

The bill has also drawn condemnation from opponents of same-sex marriage, including Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and the state's three other Catholic bishops. O'Malley and the bishops want the 1913 law kept on the books for constitutional, religious, and cultural reasons. They said eliminating the law would infringe on the rights of other states to set their own marriage laws.

Overall there was relative quiet surrounding the State House during the debate. Sponsors said that was evidence that same-sex marriage has become much less divisive in Massachusetts since it was first permitted in May 2004, following a 2003 decision by the state's Supreme Judicial Court.

“This is a true victory for equality,” said Marc Solomon, Executive Director of MassEquality, in a statement. “In repealing this law we’ve sent the message loud and clear that in Massachusetts, we respect and honor all families. We’ve ridded our state laws of the last vestige of discrimination against same-sex couples, and we once again lead the way for equality for all people.”

The 1913 law grew out of the national backlash over the interracial marriage of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, Rushing said today during the debate. At the time, 30 of 48 states banned interracial marriage, and many other states, including Massachusetts, enacted provisions that would keep interracial couples from crossing borders to marry in their jurisdiction.

The law remained on the books but fell into obscurity until gay marriage became legalized in Massachusetts, and Governor Mitt Romney cited the law as a means to prevent Massachusetts from becoming what he called "the Las Vegas of gay marriage."

Justice Dept. report concludes aides broke law - The Boston Globe

Justice Dept. report concludes aides broke law - The Boston Globe


Justice Dept. report concludes aides broke law
Finds politics dictated hiring for career jobs
IMPROPER PROCEDURES The inquiry faulted Monica Goodling (left), saying she asked career job applicants about politics and their views on abortion and gay marriage.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size – + By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post / July 29, 2008
WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a "farm system" for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.

The inquiry faulted Monica Goodling (left), saying she asked career job applicants about politics and their views on abortion and gay marriage.

IMPROPER PROCEDURES
That aide, Monica M. Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage, and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command.

An extensive report by the department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility concluded yesterday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in "misconduct," a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions. The report depicted Goodling as a central figure in politicizing employment decisions at Justice during the Bush administration.

Goodling declined to cooperate with investigators, who instead interviewed 85 witnesses and scoured documents and computer hard drives to prepare their report. Last year, she trembled as she told the House Judiciary Committee that she "crossed the line" by asking improper questions of job seekers to gauge their political leanings.

But the report and accounts from lawyers who worked alongside Goodling, 34, at the Justice Department provide a far more extensive examination of her dominance during her time as the department's White House liaison and counselor to the attorney general. One source said staff members called her "she who must be obeyed."

Thirty-four candidates told investigators that Goodling or one of her deputies raised the topic of abortion in job interviews and 21 said they discussed same-sex marriage, the report said. Another job applicant said he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, only to watch Goodling "frown" and respond, "But she's prochoice."

Goodling and her aides regularly gave candidates for career civil service jobs a form designed for political appointees that sought information on party affiliation and financial contributions. When job seekers sometimes raised objections, Goodling replied that the form was a mistake, showing that she was "aware that it was improper," the report said.

John M. Dowd, a lawyer for Goodling, said yesterday that his client deserved praise, not scorn, for her "exceptional candor" with Congress last year. "Each and every one of the core conclusions of the OIG/OPR report . . . is consistent with and indeed derived from Ms. Goodling's testimony," he said.

The 140-page report appeared to confirm the suspicions of congressional Democrats and raised fresh questions about the reputation of the Justice Department, which has been roiled since the resignations of more than a dozen top officials last year, including Goodling, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and Gonzales's chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson. The report also found that Sampson had engaged in misconduct by systematically involving politics in the hiring of immigration judges.

Investigators cited discrepancies in information provided by Goodling, Sampson, and former press aide John Nowacki. But they stopped short of concluding that the conduct rose to the level of a criminal violation.

John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that he had directed his staff to consider whether there were grounds to refer allegedly inconsistent statements for possible criminal prosecution. Attorneys for the former Justice Department officials scoffed at the idea, and independent lawyers following the case said it was likely that officials who had left the department would face only ethics inquiries in connection with breaking civil service laws.

Prop. 8 backers take fight to kindergarten

Prop. 8 backers take fight to kindergarten


Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, July 25, 2008

=(07-24) 17:53 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Backers of a November initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California plan to tell voters in the state ballot pamphlet that the constitutional amendment would protect children as young as kindergarten age from being taught in school about the virtues of gay and lesbian matrimony.

"If the gay marriage ruling is not overturned, teachers will be required to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage," supporters of Proposition 8 said in ballot arguments that went on public display this week at the secretary of state's office.

It's all nonsense and scare tactics, opponents of the measure said Thursday. Steve Smith, strategist for the No on 8 campaign, said opponents of the measure will decide by next week whether to sue, which is the only way a ballot argument can be changed before the election.

The argument represents an attempt by opponents of same-sex marriage to open a new front in the Prop. 8 campaign, although the interplay between gay rights and educational standards in California has surfaced before. Religious conservatives have sued in federal court to overturn a state law that took effect this year prohibiting public schools from discriminating because of sexual orientation or identity.

Prop. 8 would reverse a May 15 ruling by the state Supreme Court that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage. The initiative would amend the state Constitution to declare that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Neither the ruling nor the ballot measure mentions education. But Yes on 8 campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said Thursday that the court decision would make instruction on same-sex marriage mandatory under a state law that requires public schools to offer comprehensive health education programs from kindergarten through high school.

Quoting the law, she said those programs must provide instruction on "the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage." That means students at every grade level must now be taught that same-sex marriage is the same as opposite-sex marriage, Kerns said.

In the ballot arguments, Prop. 8 supporters declared, "We should not accept a court decision that results in public schools teaching our kids that gay marriage is okay. That is an issue for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn't be forced on us against our will."

The text of the education law, however, doesn't specify that health education programs at every grade level must include marriage, or that same-sex marriage must be discussed at all. State law also allows parents to remove children from any health class that violates the parents' religious beliefs.

An opponent of Prop. 8, attorney Shannon Minter, who represented same-sex couples in the state Supreme Court case, said California law requires only that students be taught at some point before high school graduation about the legal and financial aspects of marriage.

The state Department of Education recommends that marriage be discussed in high school, but each school district designs its own program, with parental input, said Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"This is a pure fabrication," he said of the Yes on 8 ballot argument. "They are trying to inflame people by making up these falsehoods about kids."

The Yes on 8 argument steers clear of moral and religious issues - it asserts, in fact, that the ballot measure "is not an attack on the gay lifestyle" - and instead condemns "the outrageous decision of four activist Supreme Court judges who overturned the will of the people."

That was a reference to a 2000 ballot measure, passed with 61 percent of the vote but struck down by the court. Drafted as a statute rather than a constitutional amendment, the 2000 initiative reaffirmed the state's previous ban on same-sex marriage.

"While gays have the right to their private lives, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else," the Prop. 8 supporters say.

The No on 8 argument also seeks to defuse religious and political controversies over gay rights and presents the issue as one of fairness and freedom from government intrusion.

"The government has no business telling people who can and cannot get married," opponents of the measure declare. "Regardless of how anyone feels about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, people should not be singled out for unfair treatment under the laws of our state."

The ballot pamphlet also includes a cost assessment of the measure by the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal analyst, Elizabeth Hill. She said Prop. 8 could cost state and local governments several tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue from same-sex weddings over the next few years but would have little financial effect on governments in the long run.


Read the ballot arguments
The Nov. 4 ballot pamphlet, which will be distributed to all registered voters, is on the California secretary of state's Web site:

links.sfgate.com/ZEHH


E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.

Gay marriage foes challenge ballot wording

Gay marriage foes challenge ballot wording

by By Jessica Garrison - Jul. 28, 2008 07:15 PM
Los Angeles Times
Supporters of Proposition 8, the proposed California constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, said they would file suit Tuesday to block a change made by state Attorney General Jerry Brown to the language of the measure's ballot title and summary.

Petitions circulated to qualify the initiative for the ballot said it would amend the state constitution "to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Last week, in a move applauded by same-sex marriage proponents, Brown's office changed the language on the ballot title and summary of Prop. 8 to say that the measure seeks to "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry."

Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for the Protect Marriage coalition, called the new language "inherently argumentative" and said it could "prejudice voters against the initiative."

Proponents of the measure said they want voters to see ballot language similar to what was on the petitions that qualified the measure.

"This is a complete about face from the ballot title that was assigned" when the measure was being circulated for signatures to get on the petition, Kern said.

On the other side, Steve Smith, campaign manager for No on Proposition 8, applauded the language change.

"What Proposition 8 would do is eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, which is exactly what the attorney general put in the title of the measure," he said. "It will be very difficult for them to win the case."

Political analysts on both sides suggest that the language change would make passage of the initiative more difficult, noting that voters might be more reluctant to pass something that makes clear it is taking away existing rights.

The dust-up reflects the battle that is being waged over the question of same-sex marriage in California, the most closely watched social issue on the fall ballot. And it has raised suspicion in some quarters that Brown, a possible candidate for governor in 2010, was influenced by politics.

"He is delivering something ... that is very important to the gay community, and that is a title and summary that is more likely to lead you to vote No,' " Republican political analyst Tony Quinn said.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a darling of the gay and lesbian community since he began marrying gay couples four years ago, is also exploring a run for governor.

Quinn added that the language change is "highly unusual."

Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for Brown, denied that there was any political motivation for the move.

Instead, he said, the changes to the language were necessary because of the turn of events that have taken place since the petitions were circulated: namely that the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and thousands of gay couples have since wed.

"The title and summary accurately reflect the measure," he said.

Lacy noted that language in titles and summaries often changes between the time a measure is circulated for signatures and when it appears on the ballot.

In another change, the revised language predicts a loss to state and local governments of tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenues over the next few years if the measure passes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Richer or poorer -- chicagotribune.com

ok more reasons for full marriage equality on the federal level even divorce in not equal for same-sex couples.


Richer or poorer -- chicagotribune.com

July 27, 2008
Because federal law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, the government doesn't extend many standard divorce benefits to same-sex couples. Gay couples thus face financial consequences that heterosexual couples don't. Among them:

•Federal law allows a pension to be divided during a divorce without triggering early-withdrawal penalties. Divorcing gay couples must pay the penalties.

•Court-ordered alimony payments can be deducted from federal income taxes in straight divorces, but not in same-sex divorces.

•Court-ordered transfers of money or assets to a gay spouse may be subject to taxes.



•Court-ordered property transfers from joint ownership to one gay spouse often trigger capital-gains taxes.

Out-of-state money floods to Prop. 8

Ok everyone lets keep that money coming to fight against Prop 8. Speical thanks to Bruce Bastian for donating $1 million dollars. Make your donations to one of the major gay organizations or to the umbrella group equalityforall.com


Out-of-state money floods to Prop. 8


07-27) 19:14 PDT -- When Bruce Bastian of Utah stood up Saturday night at a San Francisco dinner and wrote a $1 million check for the campaign against Proposition 8, he made it clearer than ever that November's ballot fight over a ban on same-sex marriage won't be a California-only affair.

Supporters of the effort to ban same-sex marriage already have taken in more than $1.2 million from out-of-state contributors for the fall campaign. And even before Bastian, a co-founder of the WordPerfect software company, opened his checkbook, gay and lesbian rights groups and their supporters from around the country had put more than $1.3 million into the fight against the ballot initiative.

"This is a campaign that's important to the entire country, not just California," said Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, sponsor of the fundraising dinner that brought more than 750 people to the St. Francis Hotel on Saturday. "The result will have effects across the United States."

Those national concerns are echoed from the backers of the same-sex marriage ban.

When the state Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22's ban on same-sex unions, it opened the way for "nationwide legal chaos" and allowed gay rights groups "to force their radical redefinition of marriage upon the nation," according to a statement from the California Family Council, one of the supporters of Prop. 8.

The outside money is arriving in supersized chunks. Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs group headed by James Dobson, has given more than $400,000 to the Prop. 8 campaign. The American Family Association, out of Tupelo, Miss., has contributed $500,000. The Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic men's organization headquartered in New Haven, Conn., has put $250,000 into the campaign.

The opponents also have cast a national net for donors. The Human Rights Campaign, which works for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights out of its Washington headquarters, has raised more than $570,000 for the fight against Prop. 8. Another Washington group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, has given $200,000. David Maltz, a Cleveland businessman, has donated $500,000 to the anti-Prop. 8 effort.

With more than three months to go before election day, the outside money on both sides of the ballot battle will just keep coming.

Concerns about that money is what persuaded Bastian to get involved.

Bastian grew up in a conservative, Mormon family in Twin Falls, Idaho. He went on a mission for the church and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Mormon-sponsored Brigham Young University. But he has been at odds with the church's view on homosexuality since coming out as a gay man.

The Mormon church has spoken strongly in favor of Prop. 8. In a June 20 letter, the church's top leaders called on California Mormons to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time."

That means something, Bastian said at Saturday night's dinner.

"One thing I learned as a Mormon was that preaching costs money," Bastian said. "The Mormons will raise a lot of money to support Proposition 8 in November."

Bastian, who lives in Orem, Utah, felt he had to level the financial playing field.

"You can't change people's minds. They have to change them for themselves," he said. "If people are shown the truth and have fear taken out of the equation, I believe they will stand up for what's good and fair."

Until the mid-1990s, Bastian was chairman of WordPerfect, a software company he founded with Alan Ashton, his faculty adviser, after he graduated from BYU. Since merging the company with Novell in 1994, he's spent much of his time working with arts groups in Utah and for gay rights.

He decided to make his $1 million contribution in the middle of the campaign dinner as a none-too-subtle challenge to others to step up and contribute to the anti-Prop. 8 effort.

"I know there are people waiting in the wings and I wanted to nudge them, to inspire them," he said.

Bastian has worked closely with the Human Rights Campaign, raising money for a number of its causes, said Joe Solmonese, president of the group. He even has an annual fundraiser for the group at his home in Orem, which Bastian described as the reddest of red counties, with a higher percentage of Mormons than Salt Lake City.

"He's always been there to help, even though he lives in what's probably going to be the last state in America to benefit from marriage equality," Solmonese said.

E-mail John Wildermuth at jwildermuth@sfchronicle.com.

Title for Calif. gay marriage ban changed

Title for Calif. gay marriage ban changed

07-26) 15:11 PDT Sacramento, CA (AP) --

When Californians get their ballot pamphlets in the mail, they'll see a new description of the proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Proposition 8 on the November ballot had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman.

But the Secretary of State's office says that description was changed to reflect a May 15 California Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The ballot title and summary now describe the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.

The revised language also says California could lose several tens of millions of dollars in sales taxes if same-sex marriage were banned.

Critics of the measure say the change accurately shows the initiative would take away a current right of Californians.

___

Big Labor Move For Gay Marriage

GayCityNews - Big Labor Move For Gay Marriage

Big Labor Move For Gay Marriage
By: DUNCAN OSBORNE
07/24/2008
Email to a friendPost a CommentPrinter-friendlyA California labor group that represents 1,200 union locals and 2.1 million union members in that state voted unanimously on July 23 to oppose Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that would amend that state's constitution to bar same-sex marriages and could nullify the marriages that gay men and lesbians entered into starting on June 16.


"It's huge from a number of perspectives," said Steve Smith, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a consulting firm, and the campaign manager of Equality for All, the coalition that opposes Proposition 8. "What you've got is somewhere between a million-and-a-half and two million households that are now going to be contacted about Proposition 8 by their unions and told why they should vote no... Needless to say, we are more than little excited."

The resolution from the California Labor Federation said the group will "put forth energy and resources to educate and mobilize its members to vote against Proposition 8, and encourage its twenty-three member Central Labor Councils to do the same."

Additionally, the voter guides and slate cards that the federation distributes to members will recommend a no vote on the proposition.

"I understand the power of the state labor federation," said Smith who once served as California's labor secretary. "I suspect this is the first time that any state federation has ever engaged in one of these battles."

When it comes to convincing voters, having union members talking to friends and colleagues is very powerful as those are some of the sources that voters trust the most.

"The most persuasive are friends, family," said D. Sunshine Hillygus, the author, along with Todd G. Shields, of "The Persuadable Voter: Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns" and a professor of government at Harvard University, in an interview earlier this year.

In 2004 exit polls, 28 percent of California voters said they had a union member in their household and 17 percent said they belonged to a union.

The resolution was introduced by members of Pride at Work, an LGBT union group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the union umbrella organization, at the federation's biennial meeting.

"This is a major step toward beating the anti-gay and anti-union attack on marriage equality," said Hans Johnson, president of Progressive Victory, a consulting firm, and an officer of Pride at Work.

In 2006, the federation passed a resolution that supported the "rights of all California workers to access the full and equal rights of civil marriage." The 340,000-member California Teachers Association officially opposed the marriage initiative on June 7.

The stance this year is in contrast to labor's position in 2000 when California voters passed a law barring same-sex unions by a margin of 61 to 39 percent. Only a handful of labor groups in California's 58 counties took a stand on the 2000 initiative on their slate cards.

California's highest court struck down that 2000 law in a May ruling that also required the state to let gay men and lesbians wed.

"Working men and women in California have essentially said through their organization that they will not stand any longer for one group of Californians being treated differently under the law," Smith said. "Come November, all Californians are going to affirm that sentiment and we are going to defeat Proposition 8."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Antillean-court-finds-for-samesex-couple

Latest News - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

Published: Monday 21 July 2008 09:42 UTC
Last updated: Monday 21 July 2008 09:42 UTC
The Court of First Instance of the Netherlands Antilles has ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the same rights and obligations in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba as they do in the Netherlands. The court in Willemstad added that all marriages entered into in the Kingdom of the Netherlands have identical legal weight and must be treated equally.

The case was brought by a woman who wanted to include her partner and one of her children in her health insurance policy. The government-run Office of Health Insurance in CuraƧao turned down her request on the grounds that the partner and child were not members of her family since "a marriage of people of the same sex is not socially accepted."

The court has ordered the insurance office to revise its standpoint and pay the couple all damages in the case. A civil court will decide the extent of the damages.

Field Poll: Ban on gay marriage getting more opposition than support | Inland News | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

Field Poll: Ban on gay marriage getting more opposition than support | Inland News | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California


By JIM MILLER and DAVID OLSON
The Press-Enterprise

A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is trailing in a new poll of Californians likely to vote in the November election.

The nonpartisan Field Poll released today found that 51 percent of likely voters oppose Prop. 8, while 42 percent are in favor.

"I have friends who are gay and I just feel they have the same rights I have," said Riverside poll respondent Ralph Satterberg, 57, a wildfire-management chief who described himself as a liberal Democrat. He said the proposed amendment "is just wrong."

Story continues below

Poll respondent Elena Frankovich, of Apple Valley, said gay and lesbian couples should have hospital visitation and other rights but not the right to marry.

"They should be allowed to do what they want to behind closed doors, but not have public recognition," said Frankovich, 57, a retired nurse who said she is a conservative Republican.

Opposition to Prop. 8 is highest in the San Francisco Bay Area, while support for the measure is greatest in the Central Valley. Likely voters in the survey area that includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties are almost evenly split.

The poll highlights a continuing deep rift on the issue two months after the California Supreme Court's May decision to overturn the 2000 law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples began marrying June 17.

Republican voters, those who live in the state's inland areas, and those who are older, Protestant or men are more likely to support Prop. 8.

Democrats and independent voters, coastal residents, women, baby boomers and people under 30 are more likely to oppose the initiative.

"It's a huge difference, almost mirror images of one another," poll director Mark DiCamillo said of the split. "It's become magnified over the last 10 years."

Only 7 percent of voters are undecided, according to the poll. Inland respondents interviewed Thursday said their minds are made up.

Poll respondent Bud Faulkner, a born-again Christian from Moreno Valley, said he believes homosexual behavior is unnatural and should not be condoned.

"Marriage has been between a man and a woman for thousands of years," said Faulkner, 41, a truck driver. "To change that definition would send the wrong signal to the world and to our kids."

Voter Hesitation

Likely voters' preferences on Prop. 8 are the same as in Field Poll survey in May. That poll found that, for the first time in three decades, more people supported marriage for same-sex couples.

DiCamillo said today's findings could reflect more than just people's opinions about gay marriage.

Prop. 22, approved by voters in March 2000, changed state law to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. But Prop. 8 would amend the state constitution.

The May survey indicated that most voters were hesitant to change the state constitution on the issue. A majority also opposed changing the U.S. Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, the poll found.

"I think there's a greater hurdle involved when you attempt to change the constitution," DiCamillo said.

Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the yes-on-Prop. 8 campaign, said she thinks support for the initiative and opposition to same-sex marriage is significantly higher than the poll has found.

In March 2000, 61 percent of voters backed Prop. 22. Earlier Field Polls showed support for that initiative in the low 50s.

"We believe the Field Poll understates support for our side by 7 to 10 points," Kerns said.

Steve Smith, the no-on-Prop. 8 campaign's senior consultant, said today's poll and the May findings mean most people are unwilling to limit marriage rights.

"From a campaign manager's perspective, trying to get to a yes vote when you're already 10 points behind is really difficult," he said.

$10 Million Raised

Both sides are preparing for a costly fall campaign. Almost $10 million has been raised this year so far, with opposition committees collecting about $2 million more than supporters, state reports show.

Annie Meairs, 46, married her partner of eight years, Ginny Jorgenson, 63, on June 17. Meairs, who is from Pedley, said she thinks more Californians support same-sex marriage today than in 2000 because gays and lesbians are more visible.

"Straight people have seen we're just like they are, that I want the same things in life that my straight neighbors do. It's less of a big deal," said Meairs, a home health care manager.

The survey of 672 likely voters was conducted for The Press-Enterprise and other California media subscribers. It took place July 8- 14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Reach Jim Miller at 916-445-9973 or jmiller@PE.com

Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or dolson@PE.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Marriage Debate, Divorce Church From State

This is an excellent article. This is the way marriage is performed in most countries around the world. You must be married civily in order for it to be a legal marriage.


North Country Gazette » In Marriage Debate, Divorce Church From State

INSIDE THE FIRST AMENDMENT

By Charles C. Haynes

First Amendment Center



Suddenly this summer, the reality of same-sex couples lining up to get married in California has led some religious leaders to rethink their government role.



In a letter last month, Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California directed his clergy to “encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service and then being blessed in The Episcopal Church.”



The bishop’s missive illustrates what a tangled web we have woven when clergy intone “by the power invested in me by the state.”



Because the Episcopal Church doesn’t sanction same-sex marriage – but gives the option of blessing the union – the bishop appears to be seeking a way to bless all couples while distancing the church from legal arrangements sanctioned by the state.



“There are a lot of benefits in getting out of the legal marriage business,” the Very Rev. Brian Baker told The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee in reaction to the bishop’s letter. “This way the clergy and the couple can focus on the spiritual blessings the church has to offer and not the political stuff.”



On the theological flip side, many conservative clergy worry that as agents of the state they will be pressured to perform same-sex marriages – or, in some other way, coerced into recognizing same-sex relationships in contradiction of church doctrine.



Maybe the bishop is on the right track: Separate secular from sacred by drawing a bright line between civil arrangements and the sacrament of marriage. Each state would limit itself to defining marriage as civil benefits for committed couples (as mandated by state law) – and each religious group would be free to define marriage according to the tenets of its faith.



The practice of dubbing clergy agents of the state is a vestige of history in Europe and some American Colonies when the established church determined who could be married. Disestablishment in America ended church monopoly over marriage – but left in place the dual role of clergy as religious leaders and state actors in the marriage arena.



Ending this church-state entanglement wouldn’t end the gay-marriage debate. But it might serve to reframe the issue by focusing on civic arguments for and against extending government benefits to same-sex couples. In my view, it isn’t the business of government to preserve the “sanctity of marriage.” Nor is it the business of government to dictate the meaning of marriage to any religious community.



At the same time, no religious group should be allowed to impose a religious definition of marriage on the rest of society. Various faiths in the United States define the sacrament of marriage in various ways. The establishment clause of the First Amendment should bar government officials from making public policy solely on the basis of a theological conviction about what constitutes “marriage.”



Of course, even if Americans agreed to separate civil and religious marriage, the patchwork of state solutions to the marriage conundrum would persist for some time.



Where civil same-sex marriage is prohibited, sacred ceremonies by religious groups that support gay marriage would still receive no legal recognition. And where same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal, those civil arrangements would still not be recognized by religious groups opposed to gay marriage. But at least decisions about civil arrangements in marriage would be determined without church dictating to state – and without state interfering with the religious freedom of churches, synagogues, mosques or temples.



When I first floated this idea four years ago (on the cusp of the Massachusetts decision legalizing gay marriage), I thought the cleanest break would be to call state arrangements “civil unions” and religious ceremonies “marriage.” Now I’m not so sure that’s workable.



Removing the much-contested term “marriage” from the same-sex marriage debate would have obvious political advantages. But it might not go down well with the millions of religiously unaffiliated or nonreligious Americans who are likely to prefer being “married” to “civil unioned.”



It’s probably best to stay with “marriage,” but separate the civil from the religious by ending the role of clergy as agents of government. After all, for people of faith, marriage in a house of worship should be by the power invested by God – not by the state. 7-17-08



Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. Web: firstamendmentcenter.org. E-mail: chaynes@freedomforum.org.

The Associated Press: Census won't recognize gay marriages in 2010 count

The Associated Press: Census won't recognize gay marriages in 2010 count

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER – 4 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Same-sex marriage is legal in two states, but not a single one will show up in the 2010 census.

The Census Bureau says the federal Defense of Marriage Act bars the agency from recognizing gay marriages in the nation's 10-year count, even though the marriages are legal in Massachusetts and California.

The agency's director, Steven Murdock, said in an interview Thursday that the 1996 federal law "has that effect, in terms of being a federal agency. We are restricted by it."

The Census Bureau does not ask people about their sexual orientation, but it does ask about their relationships to the head of the household. Many gay couples are listed in census figures as unmarried, same-sex partners, though it is an imperfect tally of all gay couples.

Murdock said the bureau will strive to count same-sex couples in the 2010 census, just as it has in the past. But those people who say they are married will be reclassified as unmarried, same-sex partners.

Same-sex couples with no children will not be classified as families, according the bureau's policy. Those with children who are related to the head of the household will be classified as families.

Gay rights advocates complained that the Census Bureau is depriving them of a hard-fought legal recognition.

"To completely whitewash us out of existence is hurtful, discriminatory and shameful," said Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA, a California-based group that advocates for same-sex marriage. "It's like the federal government is trying to say that we don't exist."

McKay said an accurate count of same-sex married couples would help policymakers determine the costs of providing benefits.

McKay, 38, said she plans to marry her partner of 12 years on Sept. 1, now that they are legally able to marry in California. She said they consider themselves "an old married couple," even if the government doesn't.

"This is a very sweet moment in our life. It really is an absolutely joyous time," McKay said. "The notion that the federal government is going to come in and erase our existence is un-American."

The Census Bureau is required by the Constitution to conduct a comprehensive count of the nation's residents every 10 years. Every question is either mandated by federal law or used to administer a federal program, Murdock said.

Same-sex marriage was not an issue in the 2000 census because it wasn't legal in any state. The Census Bureau's policy on same-sex marriages was first reported in the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.

The bureau relies almost entirely on people's responses to classify them by race, ethnicity, age and income. But not marital status — at least not in 2010.

"It really should be what you say you are, not what I perceive you to be," Murdock said. But, the agency director added, "We have some limitations. This particular act limits us in regards to this issue."

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > State -- Calif. high court denies marriage ban challenge

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > State -- Calif. high court denies marriage ban challenge

By Lisa Leff
ASSOCIATED PRESS

2:22 p.m. July 16, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to take up a case by gay rights advocates that sought to keep a same-sex marriage ban off the November ballot.
The justices' unanimous decision to reject the petition means that barring further legal action, voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would again limit marriage in California to a union between a man and a woman.


If it passes, the amendment, known as Proposition 8, would overrule the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state as of June 16.
“This was a frivolous lawsuit. It was a desperate attempt to try to keep the voter initiative off the ballot in November,” said Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund representing the measure's sponsors.

The court did not give a reason for deciding not to accept the case.

Equality California filed a petition last month arguing that the signature petitions used to put the proposal on the ballot, printed up before the court struck down the state's marriage laws, were misleading because they stated that the initiative would have no legal or financial effect.

The gay rights group also claimed that Proposition 8 would so drastically alter the promise of equality written into the California Constitution that it was improper to put it before voters as an amendment.

Equality California and other gay rights groups issued a statement Wednesday saying they were confident that the initiative, similar to gay marriage bans enacted in 26 other states, will fail.

“We're disappointed, but this ruling does not affect the campaign against Prop. 8 in any way,” the groups said. “We have been focused on continuing the election and moving forward.”

Law.com - Division Emerges Among Foes of Calif. Same-Sex Marriages

Law.com - Division Emerges Among Foes of Calif. Same-Sex Marriages

Mike McKee
07-16-2008

A united front by conservative forces against same-sex marriage in California is showing signs of cracking -- or of having been an illusion all along.

Last week, the proponents of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples, asked the California Supreme Court to prevent another conservative group -- the Campaign for California Families -- from intervening in a suit that could determine whether that issue stays on the November ballot.

In a short brief filed Thursday, Folsom, Calif., lawyer Andrew Pugno, counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, argued that rather than back Prop 8, the CCF actively campaigned against it for years in favor of another amendment that would have sharply curtailed all gay rights.

"Only now that the act has qualified for the ballot as Proposition 8 do proposed intervenors support it," Pugno wrote. "Against this backdrop, there is significant concern that the presence of [the CCF] in this action will substantially interfere with real parties' ability to effectively defend Proposition 8."

In an interview Monday, Pugno referred to the CCF as "extremists" who want to go beyond the issue of marriage and "strip away gay rights" of any kind.

Mathew Staver, founder and president of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which represents the CCF, said Monday he was "disappointed and confused" by Pugno's motion. But he said his group is determined to back Prop 8.

"People in the past may have had different opinions as to the different approaches," he said, "but I don't think those opinions are anything that divides anyone now."

Although Pugno and Staver insist there is no rift, their opponents see an ideological schism in the conservative position. The CCF and Pugno's clients, ProtectMarriage.com, had seemed bosom buddies until last week, even presenting the most conservative positions as a tandem during the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage arguments in March.

"There appears to be some disagreement between the two groups," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit to challenge Prop 8.

"They realize the tide of history is against them," he said. "They are becoming more desperate and shrill, and under those circumstances, divisions tend to emerge."

CCF wants to intervene in the suit, filed June 20 by civil rights groups, and accuses conservatives of misstating the initiative's purpose. The lawsuit alleges that Prop 8, in reality, seeks a constitutional revision that would require legislative approval.

In their June 30 intervention motion, attorneys for the CCF said the group's backers want "to protect their interests as longtime proponents of a marriage amendment to the California Constitution."

But Pugno told the high court that the CCF had fought efforts to get Prop 8 on the ballot. He attached an August 2005 letter sent out by the campaign and others that urged voters to oppose the amendment that would become Prop 8.

In that letter, the campaign called the proposed proposition a "flawed amendment" that "will forever permit homosexual 'marriage' by another name in California by allowing all the rights of marriage to go to gay couples." The letter urged voters instead to support the campaign's own separate amendment that would limit marriage to a man and a woman, eliminate domestic partnerships and many gay rights already provided by companies and other organizations.

Called the Voters' Right to Protect Marriage Initiative, it failed to get enough signatures to make the ballot.

Pugno made it clear Monday that his group didn't appreciate the CCF's earlier actions and doesn't want it involved in the legal fight for Prop 8. He called the group a "very small and vocal faction," and said the opposition to the campaign's intervention "illustrates the point that while the extremists may want to strip away gay rights, that all we are doing is focusing on restoring traditional marriage."

Pugno said that attacking gay rights is a gambit that's "unlikely to succeed in California."

Stephen Bomse, the Heller Ehrman partner who is working with civil rights groups to legally block Prop 8, said he "chuckled" when he saw Pugno's opposition to the campaign's intervention.

He wouldn't comment further on the dispute, however, saying he and the other legal groups that joined the suit -- NCLR, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union -- are focused on the merits of the case.

"We filed our own separate opposition," Bomse added, "that had nothing to do with whatever little internecine skirmish is going on between [the conservative groups]."

The case is Bennett v. Bowen, S164520.

Mass. Senate votes to let out-of-state gays marry - Boston.com

Mass. Senate votes to let out-of-state gays marry - Boston.com


By Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press Writer / July 15, 2008
BOSTON—Gay couples from across the country are one step closer to a Massachusetts wedding.

The state Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a 1913 law used to bar out-of-state gay couples from marrying here. The law prohibits couples from obtaining marriage licenses if they couldn't legally wed in their home states.

The House is expected to vote on the repeal later this week. Gov. Deval Patrick, whose 18-year-old daughter announced publicly last month she is a lesbian, would have 10 days to sign it.

Michael Thorne, 55, and James Theberge, 50, say they're hoping for an August wedding in Provincetown.

The Maine couple have been together for 25 years, have two children, and wanted to get married four years ago after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriages. They were blocked when then-Gov. Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to enforce the little-known law and deny licenses to out-of-state gay couples,

"If Gov. Patrick signs the bill, we'll be at the Provincetown City Hall (in August)," said Thorne, who called Maine's domestic partnership law a poor substitute.

Patrick, a Democrat and the state's first black governor, said the 95-year-old statute also carries a racist taint.

The law dates to a time when the majority of states outlawed interracial marriages. Critics said the law was designed to smooth relations with those states. Massachusetts has allowed interracial marriages since 1843.

Dianne Wilkerson, the Massachusetts Senate's lone black member, said the vote was long overdue. She called the law "evil."

"This is one of the most pernicious statutes on our books," said Wilkerson, D-Boston. "This bill puts the final nail in the coffin of those dark days."

The bill passed on a voice vote.

Opponents of gay marriage said the 1913 statute is needed to ensure Massachusetts respects the marriage laws of other states. They said it will also help prevent same-sex couples from entering into marriages and then returning to states that have already passed laws or amended their constitutions to bar gay marriages.

"The Massachusetts Senate has no right to infringe on the internal issues of how other states define marriage, but that's exactly what they voted today to do," said Kris Mineau of Massachusetts Family Institute.

The law was rarely enforced until Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2003 that the state could no longer bar gay couples from marrying.

Romney, then eyeing a run for president, ordered city and town clerks to enforce the statute, although some town clerks balked.

Eight gay couples from surrounding states challenged the 1913 law in court and in 2006 the same court that allowed gay marriage refused to toss out the law.

Mark Pearsall and Paul Trubey of Lebanon, Conn. were among the plaintiffs. The two married on May 21, 2004, just before Romney closed the door on out-of-state gay couples.

While they remain married in Massachusetts, the best Pearsall, a 41-year-old teacher, and Trubey, a 45-year-old goat dairy farmer, can do in Connecticut is a civil union.

Pearsall still welcomes the chance that Massachusetts might open its door to other marriage-minded gay couples from other states. He said the couple cherishes their Massachusetts marriage.

"When we got married it was really a powerful thing for both of us and for our families," he said. "The civil union, by comparison, it was nothing. It was just a legal document."

But Anne Stanback, president of the Connecticut gay rights group Love Makes a Family, said she doubts many Connecticut couples will opt to travel across the border to marry in Massachusetts.

Connecticut has a civil unions law, and the state's Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a lawsuit that could make marriage legal in that state.

"What's hard for couples here is that even if they went to Massachusetts to get married, it still wouldn't be recognized in our state," she said. "It will take us passing a marriage law in Connecticut or getting a Supreme Court ruling in our favor to have those marriages recognized here."

Gay marriage foes like Mineau said activists are deliberately portraying the law as racist to speed its repeal.

"Legislators were pressured unscrupulously by same-sex marriage activists to dismantle this law or be branded racists," he said.

But advocates say the segregation-era law was clearly intended to abet discrimination.

Wilkerson said the law was adopted a time of racial tension including a national scandal over black heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson's marriage to Lucille Cameron, who was white.

The law makes no explicit racial reference, but outlaws marriages by couples from other jurisdictions if the nuptials "would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction."

It allows a city and town clerk to "satisfy himself, by requiring affidavits or otherwise, that such person is not prohibited from intermarrying by the laws of the jurisdiction where he or she resides."

The law collected dust for decades. Heterosexual couples from out-of-state were rarely, if ever, challenged. Issues such as whether they were cousins could make their marriages illegal in Massachusetts.

Repealing the law could also have economic benefits.

An analysis released by the state Office of Housing and Economic Development found repealing the law would draw thousands of couples to Massachusetts, boosting the economy by $111 million, creating 330 jobs and generating $5 million in taxes and fees over three years.

The study assumes New York would provide the largest number of gay couples -- more than 21,000 couples -- with New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine bringing the total to more than 30,000 in the first three years after the ban was lifted.

Another factor driving the repeal effort in Massachusetts is California's recent embrace of same-sex marriage.

California has no residency requirement to obtain a marriage license.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Paul J. Zak: Gay Marriage is Natural - Politics on The Huffington Post

Paul J. Zak: Gay Marriage is Natural - Politics on The Huffington Post

Co-Written by Ken Grimes

The California Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriage was greeted with both joy, and indifference. Joy from the gay community, where some couples had waited over quarter of a century to officially affirm their bonds. And indifference from much of the rest of California, including the anti-gay-marriage lobby.

But, is there any science that can help shed light on gay marriage? We are wary that past scientific 'contributions' have added at least as much heat as light to the debate. Now, lets provide new insights into the brain mechanisms that support same-sex relationships.

Much of the anti-gay-marriage argument rests on two commonly held assumptions: Life-long exclusive mate-bonding for purposes of rearing joint offspring is natural, and homosexuality is unnatural.

Both assumptions have little basis in fact.

Homosexual acts have, in fact, now been widely documented across a range of mammal species (that's right -- we're 'outing' mammals!), including our closest relatives, apes and monkeys.

Research published this week in the journal Public Library of Science ONE showed that one reason that male homosexuality has survived (even though gay men produce fewer offspring than straight men) that the 'gay gene' must be somehow beneficial to women, or it would have been eliminated from the gene pool.

Meanwhile, there seems to be nothing particularly 'natural' about marriage. Only about 3% of mammal species are monogamous -- meaning they cohabitate -- and few of these species mate for life. And nearly each partner in these 'animal marriages' engage in extra-pair mating. Lifelong sexual loyalty in nature is, it turns out, a vanishingly rare commodity.

It turns out that both marriage and homosexuality are, in fact, both common for our species. As research at Center for Neuroeconomics Studies in California has shown, human attachment behaviors depend on the same 'bonding' molecule called oxytocin, also found in other mammals. When the human brain releases oxytocin, we immediately begin to care about those around us: family, friends, and even complete strangers. This effect is so unfocused, that we also care about nonhumans, too, including dogs, cats or stranded whales. We name our cars, and cry when we sell our houses.

Oxytocin is also the basis for virtuous behaviors towards strangers. Researchers in my lab have shown that in humans, oxytocin promotes trustworthiness, generosity, and empathy. These virtues make the free societies we live in possible -- without oxytocin we would need Big Brother monitoring every human interaction to eliminate crime, cruelty, and selfishness.

Because the oxytocin attachment system is a blunt instrument, it is not surprising that we see long-term same-sex partners. Our highly evolved, inherently flexible, human attachment system allows us to have a morality -- a love beyond the self -- that far exceeds anything found in our mammal relatives. So, long-term attachment between genders and within a gender should be viewed as natural as the care and affection we quite easily show to those around us.

Paul J. Zak is Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA. His new book is Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy, published by Princeton University Press. Ken Grimes is a writer based in London, UK.

SJC ruling clarifies extent of same-sex marriage benefits - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

SJC ruling clarifies extent of same-sex marriage benefits - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

By David Abel, Globe Staff

The state Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that marriage benefits for same-sex couples don't extend back to a time before the justices legalized gay marriage in the state.

The ruling, released today, was part of a malpractice case brought by Michelle Charron and Cynthia Kalish, who had lived as a couple for more than a decade before marrying in 2004, when the court legalized same-sex marriage.

Charron was diagnosed with breast cancer the year before they were married. She died in 2006. Kalish, who sought compensation for the loss of marital companionship, contended that the couple would have married earlier had it been legal.

But the court ruled that allowing Kalish to sue would spark other lawsuits. The justices also said that allowing Kalish to sue would weaken the legal rights of married couples.

“The circumstances of this case are moving, a vivid reminder of the constitutional mandate of equality under the law, and the costs imposed when society falls short of that mandate,” Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall wrote in a concurring opinion. “But the relief the plaintiff seeks … would erase the bright line between civil marriage and other forms of relationship that has heretofore been carefully preserved by the Legislature and our prior decisions."

Marshall added: “Granting such relief would create in effect a common-law or de facto quasi marital status that would promote litigation, permit judges to select from among marital benefits to which quasi marital couples might or might not be entitled, create uncertainty in the private as well as the public sphere about who is (or was) quasi married and for what purpose, and undercut the Legislature's role in defining the qualifications and characteristics of civil marriage.”

Kathy Jo Cook, a Boston attorney who represented Charron, said she was “sad” about the ruling.

“We’re sad the SJC refused to extend the basic protections of marriage to this same-sex family, but we’re pleased that the court stands by its decision in Goodridge, that it made clear that this is a tragic set of circumstances, and the reminder of equality under the law," she said.

Separation of church, state - and marriage? - BostonHerald.com

Separation of church, state - and marriage? - BostonHerald.com

By Jennifer Garza / McClatchy Newspapers | Thursday, July 10, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Lifestyle
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Some clergy think churches should divorce themselves from the wedding business.

The controversy about same-sex marriage - along with a growing sense that many couples who marry in churches never return - has prompted Golden State faith leaders to say it’s time to reconsider how couples tie the knot.

After the California Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in May, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California began encouraging all couples to marry outside the church.

“I urge you to encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service, and then being blessed in the Episcopal Church,” Bishop Marc Handley Andrus wrote his clergy last month.

This model is used by many European countries, according to John Witte, director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta. He said that approach has been practiced in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia and elsewhere for many years.

“In those countries, the civil ceremony is sufficient,” he said.

The Very Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, supports the bishop’s proposal.

Being a part of couple’s special day is an honor, Baker said. But like other clergy, he believes weddings have become too trying in recent years.

“There are a lot of benefits in getting out of the legal marriage business,” he said. “This way the clergy and the couple can focus on the spiritual blessings the church has to offer and not the political stuff.”

The proposal has intrigued church members. “I’d like to learn more. Is a blessing the same as a wedding?” asked Kim Lake of Sacramento.

George Raya is a member of Integrity, the Episcopal Church’s support group for gays and lesbians.

“To me, it’s (the church’s) way of getting around treating us equally,” said Raya. “As soon as we can get married, they want us to get blessed? A lot of us would like to get married in church.”

The Episcopal Church does not allow same-sex marriages.

Many couples still dream of the big church wedding - the steeple, the organ music, the flowers on the altar.

Despite the rise in destination weddings - overlooking the ocean, or in a foothills winery, or in Hawaii - nearly half of all ceremonies take place at a house of worship, according to the Conde Nast American Wedding Study 2006.

Stephanie Franks was willing to wait - and pay for her dream church wedding. Last month, she married Christopher Malenab in a traditional Catholic ceremony at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps the region’s most popular sanctuary for weddings.

The downtown Sacramento church is booked for most of the year and charges $2,300 per wedding, a cost that includes the use of the sanctuary as well as fees for the organist and the wedding coordinator.

“I grew up practicing my faith,” said Franks, two days before her ceremony. “To me, getting married in a church is important for religious reasons.”

But that is not true for all couples, said Baker and other clergy. Many come for the wedding and the pictures by the stained-glass windows but never return to the church.

“They want to get married, so they pick a church but don’t go after the ceremony,” said Baker. “We never see them again.”

To combat so-called drive-by weddings, several Sacramento churches signed a “wedding covenant” several years ago, said the Rev. Rick Cole, pastor of Capital Christian Center in Sacramento.

“Basically, we agreed that couples would have to undergo a certain amount of premarital counseling,” Cole said.

He officiates 15 church weddings a year, most of them members. “We wouldn’t marry someone just looking for a church.”

Cole said he had not heard of the proposal by Episcopal Church leaders. “But I think people should have a choice. If they want a civil marriage, that’s fine. But a lot of people want church weddings.”

The idea of a secular marriage followed by a religious ceremony is something church leaders of various faiths have been discussing since the ruling on gay marriage, said Kent Carlson of Oak Hills Church in Folsom, Calif. He finds the idea “interesting,” but said, “I’m still thinking about it.”

Carlson said many pastors are concerned about working as agents of the state, something they do during wedding ceremonies when they say, for example, “by the power vested in me.”

“This makes some ministers uncomfortable because we’re performing a civil function,” said Carlson. “Most of us are pastors first.”

The Rev. Scot Sorensen of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento is familiar with how the issues of church, state and marriage are handled in other countries.

“Two ceremonies - one civil and one faith - might have some merits to consider,” Sorensen said.

He doesn’t turn couples away who want to marry at his church, even if he knows the couple will likely not return.

“We know they’re probably looking for a pretty building,” he said. “But I think something is stirring them inside to want to be married in a church.”

Leonard Link: How Far Does N.Y. Marriage Recognition Reach?

Leonard Link: How Far Does N.Y. Marriage Recognition Reach?

How Far Does N.Y. Marriage Recognition Reach?
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed suit on behalf of a same-sex couple who married in Canada in 2006 and who seek spousal benefits from a public employer in western New York State.

Jeanne Kornowicz, a school psychologist in the Cheektowaga Central School District in Erie County, applied to her employer to add her spouse, Joy Higgins, to her insurance coverage after the New York Appellate Division, 4th Department, ruled in Martinez v. County of Monroe, 850 N.Y.S.2d 740 (February 1, 2008), that a same-sex marriage contracted in Canada would be recognized in New York, and that a New York public employer, in that case Monroe Community College, would be obligated to recognize the marriage for employee benefits purposes in order to avoid liability for unlawful discrimination under the state’s Human Rights Law.

Erie County is in the 4th Department, whose appellate ruling creates a statewide precedent unless contradicted by another Department of the Appellate Division or reversed by the Court of Appeals. Monroe County officials stated when the ruling came out that they would appeal it, but the Court of Appeals rejected their first attempt to appeal as premature because the Monroe County Supreme Court had not yet entered a final order in the case. It is possible, in light of Governor Paterson’s subsequent order to state agencies to comply with the marriage recognition rule announced in the Martinez case, that Monroe County officials will decide not to appeal, but that’s not clear at present.

The Cheektowaga school district quickly endorsed Ms. Kornowicz’s request, acknowledging its legal obligation to recognize her marriage, and passed it on to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Western New York, the insurance company that provides group health insurance coverage to employees of the school district under a group insurance contract. Blue Cross said their contract did not obligate them to cover a same-sex spouse, that if the district wanted such coverage, they needed to purchase a “domestic partnership rider” for their policy, and persisted in their refusal to treat Ms. Higgins as Ms. Kornowicz’s “spouse” despite repeated requests from the school district, leading to this lawsuit, Kornowicz & Higgins v. Healthnow New York Inc. (filed in NY Supreme Court, Erie County, July 8, 2008). Copies of the complaint are available from the NYCLU’s website. The plaintiffs are not suing the school district. They are suing the insurance company as “third party beneficiaries” under the school district’s contract with the insurer.

This actually poses an interesting issue in contracts law. Blue Cross’s obligations are based on its contract with the school district to provide health insurance, so the question would be whether contract provisions drafted long ago under which Blue Cross agreed to provide coverage for spouses of school district employees at specified rates can be construed to apply to same-sex couples who are recognized as legally married under state law. Blue Cross might argue that at the time the contract was made, it only contemplated that different-sex couples could be considered married, and that its services were priced accordingly. Thus, it would be arguing, presumably, that requiring it to provide insurance coverage for a same-sex spouse without the school district agreeing to modify the contract (presumably for additional compensation to Blue Cross) would be imposing a performance burden that was not part of the bargain struck by the parties, and that had same-sex spouses been contemplated, the coverage might have been priced differently.

Will a New York court find that the changing social and legal context for the contract requires a broad interpretation of its terms to include a contingency that was not anticipated by the parties when the contract was made? On the other hand, once a marriage is recognized under New York law, it is just a plain old marriage, not a “same sex marriage” or “different sex marriage,” so unless the Blue Cross contract contains a specific definition of marriage that is expressly limited to different-sex couples, one could argue that the terms “marriage” or “spouse” or “husband” or “wife” used in the insurance contract should be construed to have whatever meaning they now have under state law, which would certainly encompass legally-married same-sex couples.

This case illustrates the importance of terminology in discussing this issue. As Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, has been arguing throughout the current struggle over the right to marry for same-sex couples, we should not be using terms like “same-sex marriage” or “gay marriage” to described the goal of this movement. Rather, we should be careful to note that what same-sex couples are seeking is, plain and simple, marriage, and refer to our Issue as opening up marriage to same-sex couples, or providing a right for same-sex couples to marry. The resulting marriage is a marriage, no different from a legal perspective from the marriage of a different-sex couple.

But this again brings up the interesting question of contract law: what does the word “marriage” mean when it is used in a contract? Is it limited to the meaning it had when the contract was drafted, or is the contract effectively “amended” as a matter of law when the legal meaning of the term changes to encompass factual situations different from those pertaining when the contract was made?

The Rhode Island Supreme Court faced an analogous question, at least as it construed the issue before it, in its recent ruling in Chambers v. Ormiston, 935 A.2d 956 (R.I. 2007), that the Family Court in that state does not have jurisdiction to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple that was legally married in Massachusetts, because the word “marriage” used in the Family Court statute in 1961 referred only to marriages involving different-sex couples. The Family Court Act gives that court exclusive jurisdiction to grant a “divorce from the bonds of marriage.” The Court ruled that the meaning of a word used in a statute is fixed at the time of the statute’s enactment, and is not subject to modernizing interpretation by subsequent events, and cited dictionary definitions of marriage from that period in support of its interpretation. This, of course, depended on the Court’s view that a “marriage” involving a same-sex couple is legally different from a marriage involving a different-sex couple. Certainly that is not true as a matter of California or Massachusetts or Canadian law, however. These marriages, whether between same-sex or different-sex couples, all carry the same legal status under the laws of these jurisdictions. While opponents of marriage for same-sex couples almost always throw quotation marks around the word when they use it in their written arguments in these cases, the quotation marks are not justified as a matter of law. And that is what should count, as a matter of statutory interpretation, one might think.

As a contracts law teacher, I am aware of the difficulties inherent in the use of language to express agreements and obligations. Words, after all, are merely social conventions we have adopted to express ideas, and they may take on different meanings over time. What should that mean for the obligations created by contracts? Must their meanings be frozen at the time they were made? There are certainly good arguments to made in support of that contention, based on reliance and the underlying policy of contract law that contracts are voluntary obligations. A large body of consumer protection law has grown around the contention that people should not be saddled with obligations that were not known to them – or at least reasonably knowable to them – at the time they enter into contracts to purchase goods or services. Should the insurance company here be able to make the same argument? -- That when they sold a group insurance policy to Cheektowaga Central School District, they were undertaking a specifically defined and known obligation in exchange for agreed-upon compensation, and that requiring them to accept this “additional” obligation goes beyond the terms of their contractual duty? They are happy to provide the benefit, or so the complaint indicates, provided the school district is willing to purchase the "domestic partnership rider" that they use with employers who have agreed to provide health insurance coverage to same-sex partners of their employees.

From an actuarial point of view, Blue Cross may be correct to claim that the cost of providing this coverage differs from the cost of covering only different-sex spouses. One would have to see their experience data over the time they have been selling these "domestic partnership riders" to see whether it justifies an additional charge. Certainly it seems possible that when one broadens the eligibility for marriage to include same-sex couples, then the proportion of a given workforce that will be married and will seek the benefit may increase, although one suspects that the increase is slight, to judge by studies about the costs of adding domestic partnership benefits that have been mentioned from time to time in the employee benefits literature. It would be interesting to see whether the cost of insuring same-sex spouses is different from the cost of insuring different-sex spouses on an average unit basis...

The complaint filed by the NYCLU does not discuss any of these contract law issues. Rather, it claims first that Blue Cross breached its contract because the contract provides that a "spouse" can be added for dependent coverage and New York law requires recognition of the marriage, and second, that Blue Cross violates the Human Rights Law (Section 296 of the N.Y. Executive Law) because its failure to provide the plaintiffs with spousal health care coverage is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a form of discrimination expressly outlawed in that statute.

The Martinez court had found that Monroe Community College’s failure to recognize the Martinez marriage in this context violated the Human Rights Law. There is this difference, however. In Martinez, the suit was against the public employer, and it seems clear in light of that ruling that the employer is bound to recognize the marriage. But it is not settled that a contractor of the employer is obligated to recognize the marriage. This lawsuit seeks to take the issue one step further beyond Martinez, asserting that a private company that sells services to a public employer must treat the same-sex couple as married or be found in violation of the Human Rights Law. That is an additional step.

Of course, the New York State Insurance Department could facilitate matters by adopting a rule that insurers in New York State must provide equal treatment to all marriages recognized under New York State law, and presumably such a rule would be a logical outgrowth of Governor Paterson’s mandate to the state agencies to comply with the trend in the New York marriage recognition case law. Any attempt to adopt such rule would predictably be met by protests from the insurance industry and its friends in the state legislature.

Same-sex marriage issue contentious for legislators

Same-sex marriage issue contentious for legislators


Jul. 13, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The debate over a constitutional same-sex marriage ban was one of the most contentious issues of this legislative session. It shadowed the entire session, as supporters struggled to get it through each chamber and as Senate President Tim Bee refused to schedule a vote until the state budget was completed.

On the final day of the session, supporters pushed the measure to a vote, again. This time opponents led by openly gay Democratic Sens. Paula Aboud and Ken Cheuvront staged an unsuccessful filibuster. The referendum on the marriage amendment, which would add language to the state Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, passed with the minimum 16 votes needed and goes before voters in November.

Republic reporter Amanda J. Crawford recently discussed the referendum with senators on both sides of the issue. Sen. Aboud, 58, is a lesbian who has been in a committed relationship with her partner for more than eight years. She sees the fight over same-sex marriage as a civil-rights issue.

Sen. Linda Gray, 59, a leading proponent of the referendum, has been married to her second husband for 25 years. She believes banning gay marriage is an important issue for Arizona and society.

SEN. PAULA ABOUD

Question: How do you feel about the marriage amendment being on the fall ballot?

Answer: This is an initiative that people have already voted on, number one . . . This country disallowed Blacks from voting then disallowed interracial marriage . . . There is a lot of history around marriage in this country, and it is about the civil rights of individuals.

Q: How do you think history will look back on this issue?

A: The same way it looks at interracial marriage.

Q: Will it pass?

I think it will fail . . . They want no recognition, no equality for the lesbian/gay community . . . I don't think anybody should be voting on anybody's civil rights.

Q: On the floor of the Senate during debate on this measure, you talked a lot about your relationship and how this measure affected you personally. Why?

This piece of legislation affects me personally, and these people know me . . . I'm here to say this is how it affects me. What the heck are you all afraid of? My relationship with my partner in no way impacts their lives. They have worked with me for three years . . . Nothing about my relationship with my partner in the last three years has impacted their lives. So that is the question: What are you afraid of?

Q: What do you think they are afraid of?

A: It's the fear of the unknown. (Same-sex) marriage is legal in California. (Same-sex) marriage is legal in Massachusetts. And nothing is happening to frighten anybody. All that is happening is people who want to are going to churches and getting married.

Q: Do you think it was important to have gay legislators present during this debate?

A: The people who provided the greatest passion and eloquence on this issue were people personally affected by it. It is important that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community be involved in the Legislature and the process to expand the consciousness of legislators. I know personally some legislators are changing their opinion on this issue for having known gay legislators, particularly in the area of denial of rights - particularly when they recognize that we pay the same taxes and are denied the same benefits. When people step aside from their religions and they look at that, they know if they are honest with themselves, they know that is wrong.

Q: Some opponents portray the marriage amendment as divisive. Do you agree?

A: This is an issue that the fundamentalists have used to foment hate. And it will continue to foment divisiveness and disharmony in Arizona.

SEN. LINDA GRAY

Question: How do you feel about the marriage amendment being on the fall ballot?

Answer: I am glad that the people will have the chance to vote on whether they think we need a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as defined as between one man and one woman.

Q: How do you think history will look back at this issue?

A: How have we looked back at marriage from time beginning? History has always been in support of marriage between one man and one woman. Polygamy was not acceptable. That's why we have in our statute that it is defined as between one man and one woman. Recently, though, the courts, in California and New Jersey, have begun to have a different definition of what marriage should be. That is why, because of the California ruling, once they began to offer marriage between two women or two men, then other states may have to recognize that marriage. That's why we made a constitutional amendment.

Q: Will the marriage amendment pass in Arizona?

A: I believe the marriage amendment will pass, according to some of the surveys that are happening. They are showing at least 61 percent in support.

Q: What did you think about Sen. Aboud's comments on the Senate floor about this being about people being afraid of relationships like hers?

A: I don't understand why she thinks we are afraid of her or her relationship. I have worked well with her. It is her private decision to have a partner and she is free in America to have that freedom to have that relationship. But as far as definition of marriage as one man and one woman, I think that's what we should have.

Q: Supporters of same-sex marriage have compared the issue to interracial marriage. Do you see a parallel there?

A: I don't think that is the same thing. From time beginning, when countries came together there has been interracial marriage. History talks about, and more so Biblical history talks about, that (gay relationships) not being allowed, that it is a taboo, a sin. It goes way back in history as not being culturally acceptable.

Q: You brought up Biblical history. Would this amendment put religious beliefs and beliefs from the Bible into our Constitution?

A: Religious beliefs have always been a part of our Constitution . . . America was founded on religious beliefs to begin with.

Q: Do you think that this will be a divisive issue for Arizonans as the campaign moves forward?

A: I don't see it as divisive . . . I don't think it has to be hateful at all.

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U.S. Census Bureau won't count same-sex marriages - San Jose Mercury News

U.S. Census Bureau won't count same-sex marriages - San Jose Mercury News


By Mike Swift
Mercury News
Article Launched: 07/12/2008 01:30:47 AM PDT




Tens of thousands of same-sex couples are expected to marry legally in California by 2010, if a constitutional ban on gay marriage doesn't pass at the polls in November.

But no matter what the voters decide, the official government count of the number of married same-sex couples in California is not in doubt. It will be zero.

The U.S. Census Bureau, reacting to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other mandates, plans to edit the 2010 census responses of same-sex couples who marry legally in California, Massachusetts or any other state. They will be reported as "unmarried partners," rather than married spouses, in census tabulations - a policy that will likely draw the ire of gay rights groups.

The Census Bureau followed the same procedure for the 2000 census, and it does not plan to change in 2010 even though courts in Massachusetts and now California have ruled gay men and lesbians can marry lawfully.

"This has been a question we've been looking at for quite a long time," said Martin O'Connell, chief of the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. "It's not something the bureau could arbitrarily or casually decide to change on a whim, because our data is used by virtually every federal agency."

The Census Bureau is not falsifying people's responses, O'Connell said, because the bureau will retain people's original census responses.

"We're not destroying data; we are keeping that data," O'Connell said. "We are just
showing the data published in a way that is consistent with the way every other agency publishes their data."
The Census Bureau does not ask about sexual orientation, but it does ask people to describe their relationships to others in their household. If a respondent refers to a person of the same gender as their "husband/wife" on the 2010 census form, the Census Bureau will automatically assign them to the "unmarried partner" category. Legally married same-sex couples will be indistinguishable in census data from those who chose "unmarried partner" to describe their relationship.

Researcher's view

Critics say the census plan will mask the records of legal, same-sex, married couples and therefore degrade the quality of the government's demographic data.

"I just think it's bad form for the census to change a legal response to an incorrect response," said Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles law school that studies gay-related public policy issues. "That goes against everything the census stands for."

Gates, a prominent demographer who was consulted by Census Bureau officials about counting legally married same-sex couples, said one result is that the census will undercount marriages in states with gay marriage. And because the bureau defines a "family" as two or more people related by birth, adoption or marriage, it also will remove many same-sex married couples from being counted as families.

"It's a systematic hiding not only of married gay couples, but gay couples as families, which I would argue is a fundamentally political decision," Gates said.

One recently married couple called the policy "frustrating."

"It's just another layer of the hurdles we have to jump, as far as our relationship being recognized," said Jim Winstead of Hollister, who recently married his partner, Rodney Naccarato-Winstead. The couple have an 18-month-old son.

Gay rights groups, learning of the policy this week, were also critical.

"To have the federal government disappear your marriage I'm sure will be painful and upsetting," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "It really is something out of Orwell. It's shameful."

A spokeswoman for ProtectMarriage.com, campaigning in favor of the constitutional ban, declined to discuss the census issue in detail, but said it illuminates how the legalization of gay marriage potentially could dictate policy changes on government.

"One of our campaign cornerstones will be the fact that if the initiative doesn't pass that public schools will be forced to teach the difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage," said Jennifer Kerns.

Bureau's reasoning

A census technical note that explains the bureau's rationale on counting same-sex partners for the 2000 census notes that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act "instructs all federal agencies only to recognize opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of enacting any agency programs."

O'Connell said the Census Bureau has been unable to find any federal agency that collects data on same-sex married couples. Changing the policy before the 2010 census also would be a huge and difficult logistical issue.

"The last thing anyone wants is to use the 2010 census as a trial run," O'Connell said.

Gates said, however, that the limitations on access to people's original responses will make it very difficult for private researchers to analyze raw data and back out the number of same-sex spouses in California or other states.

"It's an official closet," Gates said, "that the government has built."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gay-Marriage Opponents To Boycott McDonald's - washingtonpost.com

Gay-Marriage Opponents To Boycott McDonald's - washingtonpost.com

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 4, 2008; D01



A group that opposes same-sex marriage has called for a boycott of McDonald's, saying the fast-food giant has refused "to stay neutral in the cultural war over homosexuality."

The American Family Association (AFA) launched the boycott yesterday because McDonald's joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce several months ago and placed an executive on the group's board of directors, in addition to donating to the chamber.

The association asked McDonald's to remove itself from the chamber but the burger-maker declined, leading to the boycott. "We're saying that there are people who support AFA who don't appreciate their dollars from the hamburgers they bought being put into an organization that's going to fight against the values they believe in," Tim Wildmon, the association's president, said yesterday.

"Hatred has no place in our culture," McDonald's USA spokesman Bill Whitman said. "That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment."

In March, the association ended a two-year boycott of Ford after the automaker largely stopped advertising its Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in the gay media. The association also has boycotted retailer Target for substituting "holiday" for "Christmas" in its advertising and the Walt Disney Co. for its "embrace of the homosexual lifestyle."

Corporations increasingly are courting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender markets for their buying power and trendsetting value. This translates into corporate sponsorships of events, such as gay pride festivals, and advertising targeted at nonheterosexual consumers.

As a result, faith-based groups such as the AFA are following the example practiced for years by the secular left, which has targeted corporations for their policies on environmental, workplace and human-rights issues.

The AFA "exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values," the group's Web site reads. The organization, based in Tupelo, Miss., has 2.8 million people on its e-mail alert system and sends its monthly magazine to 170,000 people, Wildmon said.

Wildmon said his group wants McDonald's to give up its membership in the chamber, which is located in Dupont Circle, next year and to remove its logo from the chamber's Web site. "I think the request we're making is more than fair," Wildmon said.

A call to chamber president Justin G. Nelson was not returned.

Wildmon said that his group would not object if McDonald's gave money to a group that, for instance, assisted gay HIV/AIDS patients. "You wouldn't hear from us," he said. "That would be classified as humanitarian aid." The AFA has planned no on-site protests, Wildmon said.

In a May 29 letter to Wildmon, McDonald's global chief diversity officer Pat Harris wrote: "McDonald's is associated with countless local and national affinity groups. . . . We have a well-established and proud heritage of associating with individuals and organizations that share the belief that every person has the right to live and work in a community free of discrimination."

On its new Web site, BoycottMcDonalds.com, AFA says the boycott is not about McDonald's hiring or serving gay patrons or its treatment of gay employees. Instead, the boycott is motivated by McDonald's throwing "the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage."

Ascertaining the impact of such boycotts can be tricky. Ford's monthly sales slumped at times during the AFA boycott, but so did those of General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota. The boycott coincided with an industry-wide slide in sales of SUVs and trucks, Ford's core products. "It is so difficult to sort out what cause and effect is today with the number of variables that are in play," said David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.

Ford, which has sold its Jaguar and Land Rover lines, said gay-oriented ads constituted a small slice of its marketing budget. When cuts were made, mainstream-market advertising was reduced, while niche advertising was all but eliminated.

In a March statement, the company said: "Ford will continue to market its products widely to attract as many customers as possible and make charitable contributions to strengthen communities to the extent business conditions allow. Difficult business conditions in recent years have reduced our overall spending across the board."