Monday, September 29, 2008

Prop 8 California ad the Thoron's speak out

Good ad for no on prop 8.

Calif. gay marriage ban sparks 'War of the Rings'

Calif. gay marriage ban sparks 'War of the Rings'

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer

Sunday, September 28, 2008

(09-28) 12:33 PDT San Francisco (AP) --

Gettysburg. Armageddon. The War of the Rings.

Those are some of the superlatives culture warriors on both sides of the same-sex marriage divide are using to convey the urgency surrounding Proposition 8 on the Nov. 4 ballot, which would place a ban on gay marriage in the state Constitution.

To the initiative's backers, nothing less weighty than religious liberty and even the building blocks of society are at stake. To its opponents, the California Marriage Protection Amendment tests nothing more cherished than the American ideals of equality and personal freedom.

All of it is riding on whether voters in the nation's most populous state accept or reject 14 words: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Proposition 8 is one of three proposed gay marriage bans appearing on ballots around the country this November. It would amend the state Constitution to overturn the California Supreme Court decision earlier this year that legalized same-sex unions.

It will be the first time a marriage amendment goes before voters in a place where same-sex couples — thousands of them since the court's ruling took effect in mid-June — have legally wed.

"There is a sense that this is a potential tipping-point election," said Jon Matsusaka, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. "If voters here accept the concept of same-sex marriage, that will have an effect on the way people think across the country."

By Election Day, the measure's opponents and supporters expect to spend about $40 million — a large amount for a social issue initiative, according to Matsusaka. Volunteers on both sides will have spent thousands of hours getting their messages across to the state's 16.2 million registered voters.

More than 9,500 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have contributed nearly $22 million to support or oppose the measure, while institutions have kicked in another $7.8 million.

"The nation will be watching to see what happens with this, second only to the presidential campaign," predicted Tim Wildmon, president of the Mississippi-based American Family Association.

The evangelical Christian lobbying group has given $500,000 and produced a 30-minute video to back the Yes on 8 campaign.

While 27 other states have enacted similar amendments — 23 since Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage four years ago — the enormous interest engendered by the California race hinges partly on the state's size and cultural influence, and partly on the initiative's timing. Also, California does not have a residency requirement for getting married, which has allowed couples from elsewhere to come to California and tie the knot.

In Massachusetts, state lawmakers this summer repealed a long-standing ban that prohibited couples from marrying there unless their unions would be legal in their home states.

A coalition of conservative Christian groups, led by an offshoot of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, circulated petitions to put the amendment on the fall ballot even before the Supreme Court ruled on May 15 that California's ban on gay marriage violated the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

The move was a pre-emptive strike. The court was then reviewing a challenge to the state's marriage laws, including a gay marriage ban approved by more than 61 percent of California's voters eight years ago. If justices struck down Proposition 22, as the court majority ultimately did, a constitutional amendment would be the only way to reinstate it. An amendment also would prevent the state Legislature from extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Now that couples have tied the knot with the state's blessing, the novelty of California's situation presents the Protect Marriage campaign with a challenge: how to turn back the clock without appearing mean-spirited or out of touch with a mainstream that has become increasingly tolerant of gay relationships.

"In many ways, eight years has been a lifetime in terms of educating people that giving others the right to marry is not going to lead to the destruction of our country," said Craig Rimmerman, a professor of public policy and political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. "If in California the court could rule this way and then the people vote down this referendum, it would be an enormous victory for the lesbian and gay rights movement."

The Yes on 8 strategy for now involves emphasizing the court's role in upsetting the status quo while downplaying what the amendment's passage would mean for gays and lesbians. The campaign's literature and official ballot arguments both state the amendment is needed because "four activist judges in San Francisco wrongly overturned the people's vote" and that "it's not an attack on the gay lifestyle."

Frank Schubert, a veteran public relations strategist who is co-managing the Yes on 8 campaign, said the understated strategy is designed to counter the principle message of gay rights advocates, who are portraying the upcoming vote as a matter of fairness and equality.

"They want people to feel like you are a bad person if you support what has been the definition of marriage since the dawn of time," Schubert said.

By avoiding anti-gay stereotypes and religious references, gay marriage opponents will more effectively reach potential supporters who might worry that backing the measure would get them labeled as "bigots or homophobes," he said.

"The one-fourth of the electorate that doesn't know how they are going to vote, the vast majority, in their hearts they are with us," Schubert said. "We have to give them an environment where it's OK for them to follow their hearts."

Of the more than two dozen states where gay marriage bans have been on the ballot, only one has been defeated. Two years ago, Arizona voters declined to pass a constitutional amendment that also would have also prohibited the state from granting same-sex couples spousal rights through civil unions or domestic partnerships. They will vote on an amendment this November that does not include such a prohibition.

With many prominent Democrats, including Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, saying they favor granting same-sex couples legal recognition that stops short of marriage, the Yes on 8 side also is playing up the fact that gay Californians who registered as domestic partners enjoyed most of the same rights as married spouses before the Supreme Court intervened.

Like the amendment's sponsors, its opponents are crafting a campaign that addresses deeply held beliefs about marriage by relying on exalted imagery.

But instead of focusing on the role of the courts, the Equality for All coalition seeks to convince voters that Proposition 8 is "wrong for California" by framing the debate in terms of democratic values.

"Regardless of how you feel about this issue, the freedom to marry is fundamental to our society, just like the freedoms of religion and speech," reads the No on 8's official ballot argument. "Our laws should treat everyone equally."

To bolster their argument that granting marriage rights to same-sex couples enjoys broad-based support in California, they also are giving supportive religious leaders and straight couples prominent play on the campaign's Web site. Instead of rainbow flags, the campaign Web site features photos of recent newlyweds alongside brief statements about what getting married meant to them.

"I think folks regard themselves as experts on marriage. They know what marriage is, so a lot of this will be plain talk," said Steve Smith, the lead consultant for the opposition campaign. "It's almost like they want to hear it from a neighbor more than a local politician."

Recent polls have shown Proposition 8 securing nowhere near the simple majority of the vote needed to pass. Arnold Steinberg, a veteran Republican analyst, said the amendment's sponsors made a fatal strategic error in not qualifying the measure for the low turnout June election, instead of a presidential election swamped by eager Barack Obama supporters.

Although there was no way of knowing that at the time, the June election came just two weeks after the Supreme Court handed down its decision and two weeks before it became final. As it is now, the electorate will have had five months to get used to the idea of two men or two women getting married.

"The bottom line is the status quo arguments will prevail," Steinberg said. "You have had these marriages licenses granted, and it's closing the proverbial barnyard door."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Levi's joins fight to defeat marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

Levi's joins fight to defeat marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

By LISA LEFF Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 09/25/2008 03:28:23 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO—Levi Strauss & Co. is putting its famous pockets behind defeating a ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage in California.
The San Francisco-based jeans maker said Thursday it will co-chair with Pacific Gas & Electric a group trying to drum up opposition to Proposition 8 in the business community.

Chief Executive Officer John Anderson said the move is consistent with Levi's long history of supporting civil rights causes.

The company ended racial segregation of its California factories in the 1940s and was the first Fortune 500 company to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of its unmarried employees.

In July, PG&E donated $250,000 to the campaign to defeat the gay marriage ban and announced it hoped to persuade other corporations to do the same. Because PG&E is a public utility, though, taking a controversial political stand is less risky for the company than it might be for businesses with greater competition.

Levi Strauss has pledged $25,000 to Equality for All, the coalition leading the No on 8 campaign, says company spokesman B.J. Bernacki. Robert Haas, the company's chairman emeritus, has given $100,000, Bernacki said.

Two labor unions, the California Council of Service Employees and the California Teachers Association, each have given $250,000. Telecommunications company AT&T has given $25,000.

The referendum seeks to amend the state constitution to overturn the May state Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage here. The amendment's sponsors so far have raised more money in the race than its opponents, who hope that recent $100,000 contributions from actor Brad Pitt and director Steven Spielberg will motivate Hollywood celebrities and moguls to give.
Also Thursday, a Southern California-based business advocacy group came out against Proposition 8. The board of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which represents businesses in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles voted "by a significant margin" to oppose the measure, said President Stuart Waldman.

While a few board members argued against VICA taking a stand, maintaining that Proposition 8 was not a business issue, many more directors said it would cost them money and talented workers if the amendment passed, Waldman said.

"The most eloquent argument we got from an employer is they spend so much on human resources dealing with different benefits under domestic partnership rules versus married employees," he said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage call civil union commission "biased" - Breaking News From New Jersey -

Opponents of same-sex marriage call civil union commission "biased" - Breaking News From New Jersey -

Opponents of same-sex marriage call civil union commission "biased"
by Robert Schwaneberg/The Star-Ledger
Thursday September 25, 2008, 5:03 PM
A state commission that concluded civil unions are not working was denounced as "biased" today by opponents of same-sex marriage.

At a Statehouse news conference, representatives of the state's Catholic bishops, the Knights of Columbus and other groups defending traditional marriage demanded the Civil Union Review Commission be scrapped and reconstituted.

They also said the commission's report, issued in February, arrived at the pre-determined conclusion that civil unions do not grant same-sex couples the benefits of marriage by a different name.

Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said the 13-member commission had failed in its task of producing "an unbiased evaluation" of whether civil unions work.

"It's really a group advocating for a specific change in our laws," Brannigan said.

J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, who as the state's director of civil rights chairs the review commission, said, "I completely stand by the objective nature of our commission's work and the report we issued."

That report, which was unanimously endorsed by the commission, concluded civil unions are not understood and consign the same-sex couples who form them to "second-class status."

Much of the criticism at the news conference was directed at Vespa-Papaleo and Steven Goldstein, the commission's vice-chairman. Both are openly gay; Goldstein also chairs Garden State Equality, which is campaigning to legalize same-sex marriage.

"Yes, I'm on the commission, but so is a representative of the Attorney General's Office, which opposed marriage equality in the courts," Goldstein said. "They tell half the story."

Demetrios Stratis, who chairs the legal arm of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said, "At the minimum, don't you think the chair and vice-chair should be the neutral parties?"

In addition to Vespa-Papaleo and Goldstein, the commission includes representatives of the Attorney General's Office and the departments of Human Services, Banking & Insurance, Health & Senior Services, and Children & Families. It has seven public members: five appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine and one each appointed by Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden). Goldstein was appointed by Roberts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage Proposed for D.C. | The Hoya

Same-Sex Marriage Proposed for D.C. | The Hoya

By Anna Salinas | Sep 23 2008
Same-sex marriage could be legalized in D.C. as early as this coming spring if Democrats gain more Congressional seats in November, according to activists and insiders at City Hall.

City Council members David Catania (I-At Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) are reportedly set to present a same-sex marriage bill to the rest of the Council in January of next year.

“We want a sense of consensus within the various stake-holders,” Graham said. “This is the right thing to do.” He added that he thinks voters are ready for the bill.

Though the proposal has already gained open support from D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and 10 of the 13 Council members, according to the Washington Blade, there is still a possibility that Congress will overturn the bill if it passes through the Council. The likelihood of Congress’ approval depends on the extent to which the Democrats can expand their majority in the House and Senate in November and also on whether or not California defeats Proposition Eight, which seeks to reverse the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“It’s a great thing for D.C. to have equality for all couples,” Adam Feiler (SFS ’09), president of the GU College Democrats, said.

Nevertheless, he noted that the issue of Congressional approval is likely to pose a serious challenge.
D.C. election laws hold that citizens can overturn a bill, even after it has been approved by the Council, if they attain enough signatures to place an initiative on the ballot.

A recent report by the Williams Institute estimates that there are 3,359 same-sex couples in D.C., and states that if marriages were legalized, 1,680 said they would marry in the first three years.

This is not the first time the District has considered recognizing the right of same-sex couples.

1n 1995, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that gay marriages could not be performed in D.C.

In April 2005, former D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti told The Washington Post that “validly married same-sex couples” may file joint tax returns in the District, though the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prohibits same-sex couples from filling joint federal income taxes.

The article also reported that former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams was warned at the time by leading Senate Republicans that any new legislation recognizing the rights of same-sex couples would put the District’s budget, which requires Congressional approval every year, in jeopardy.

“The symbolism of a city standing up and saying, ‘We want marriage equality,’ is significant in lot of ways,” GUPride Freshman Representative Tyler Bilbo (COL ’12) said.

“It certainly could have influenced this,” he said, referring to San Francisco’s legalization of same-sex marriage by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004. “It instilled a lot of hope among the gay and lesbian community.”

Bilbo said he would like to see GUPride collaborate with local activists from the LGBTQ groups in D.C. if the bill gains momentum once it is officially presented next year.

“It’s a modern issue, and it’s something people think about,” GU College Republicans President Ellen Dargie (COL ’10) said.

She added that the College Republicans will not be doing any work for the bill nor against the bill. “I think that’s up to the Council and up to the people,” she said.

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw donate big to stop California's marriage initiative | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw donate big to stop California's marriage initiative | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw donate big to stop California's marriage initiative
As it now stands, backers of California's Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage, have the fundraising lead, nearly $18 million to the foes' $12.4 million.

But that could change. Hollywood is starting to play a big role in the effort to defeat the initiative. Director-producer Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, announced today that they would put in $100,000 to kill the initiative.

The donation matches a $100,000 No-on-8 contribution announced last week by actor Brad Pitt.

Proponents of the initiative include many of the nation's most prominent conservative Christian individuals and organizations, including Focus on Family and the American Family Assn., a group based in Tupelo, Miss., that singles out the entertainment industry as being at the root of many of the nation's woes.

In a statement, Spielberg and Capshaw denounced the initiative: "By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. Such discrimination has NO place in California's constitution, or any other."

Bruce Cohen, producer of the film "American Beauty" and a Los Angeles finance committee co-chair for the No-on-8 campaign, said the Spielberg-Capshaw donation affirmed "their unwavering commitment to equality in such a significant a way."

The donation comes as the No-on-8 campaign begins airing the first ad of the campaign. The spot features a gray-haired heterosexual couple, Sam and Julia Thoron, explaining that they raised three children, all now adults. Their daughter, Liz Thoron, is a lesbian.

Soft music plays and a family picture appears. "My wife and I never treated our children different, we never loved them any differently, and the law shouldn't treat them differently either," Sam Thoron, 69, says.

"If Proposition 8 passes, our gay daughter and thousands of our fellow Californians will lose the right to marry," says Julia Thoron, 68.

Frank Schubert, manager of the Yes-on-8 campaign, called the ad "a blatant appeal to sympathy and emotion."

"I'm not surprised that they're using a heterosexual couple," Schubert said. "I don't think they want to show gay couples. I think they want to make gay marriage as, quote, normal, as possible. They want people to think gay marriage is completely normal, when it was created out of whole cloth by four judges."

California is one of three states with a marriage measure on its November ballot. Arizona and Florida are the others. Proposition 8 would create a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and woman. It would reverse a California Supreme Court decision issued this year that legalized same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage hurts families? There's no evidence : Speak Your Piece : Redding Record Searchlight

Gay marriage hurts families? There's no evidence : Speak Your Piece : Redding Record Searchlight

Donald Yost
Sunday, September 21, 2008

James Wilson, in his Monday piece stating his opposition to legalized same-sex marriage, comments, "None of this is opinion; let readers fire up search engines and see for themselves." So, I researched the Internet for confirmation or denial of his statements. Wilson wrote, "Repeated studies show that heterosexual marriage becomes less frequent and shorter lived in the wake of legalized marriage." An Internet search reveals how inaccurate the predicted "death" of heterosexual marriages by Focus on the Family board Chairman James Dobson really is. Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz incorrectly asserted that gay marriage helped to kill heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia.

According to a May 20, 2004, article on by M.V. Badgett, associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst: "In Denmark, for example, the marriage rate had been declining for a half century, but turned around in the early 1980s. After the 1989 passage of the registered-partner law (No Scandinavian country has legalized same sex marriage in place, yet. Legalization will begin in Norway on January 1, 2009) the marriage rate continued to climb; Danish heterosexual marriage rates are the highest they've been since the early 1970s. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before partner laws were passed.

"Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged."

What about conditions in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since May 17, 2004? The commonwealth has had the lowest divorce rate of any state in the union: Compare 2.2 for every 1,000 residents each year in Massachusetts, 3.8 for the national average. The divorce rate in Massachusetts declined in the first two years of legalized same-sex marriage. (Divorce Rates by State, 1990-2005 —

Wilson asserted that same-sex marriage causes more children to be raised out of wedlock. Badgett states: "[T]he nine countries with partnership laws had higher rates of unmarried cohabitation than other European and North American countries before passage of the partner-registration laws. … The fact that rates of cohabitation and non-marital births (in Scandinavia) either slowed down or completely stopped rising after the passage of partnership laws shows that the laws had no effect on heterosexual behavior."

Wilson writes that Thomas Elias displays prejudice "of the most incredible and unreasoning type" because of his position that "legalized gay marriage detracts from the rights of traditionally married couples or that any harm comes from the practice." I have not been convinced by Wilson. There is no documentation of his statements that start, "Repeated studies show." Proposition 8 is a vindictive effort to take rights away from a minority group. A no vote on proposition 8 will ensure that that minority will be able to retain those rights.

Donald Yost is a volunteer field leader of Equality California and a member of Shasta County PFLAG (Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

Why Calif. marriage matters here - Southern Voice Atlanta

Why Calif. marriage matters here - Southern Voice Atlanta

Marriage vote called gay 'Gettysburg'

Sep. 19, 2008

Evan Wolfson, one of the nation’s leading advocates for equal marriage rights for gays, compares the decision by California voters in November over whether same-sex marriage should remain legal in that state to the Battle of Gettysburg.

“I often use the historical lesson of the Civil War,” said Wolfson, the executive director of Freedom to Marry.

“The Civil War didn’t end with the Battle of Gettysburg,” he said. “It took another year and a half of bloody fighting and great uncertainty. But when we look in retrospect, with the eyes of history, we can see that Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War. California is Gettysburg.”

Officials with other advocacy organizations that support or oppose same-sex marriage don’t use comparisons as dramatic as the Civil War, but nearly all have said they couldn’t overemphasize the profound implications the California marriage vote is likely to have on advancing or curtailing same-sex marriage, as well as gay rights in general, throughout the nation.

Proposition 8, the center of all the attention, is an initiative on the California election ballot Nov. 4 that asks voters whether or not to amend the state constitution so that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

If approved, the amendment would overturn a decision earlier this year by the California Supreme Court that held that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry under the state’s constitution.

The court ruling opened the way for thousands of same-sex couples who reside in the state to marry over the past several months in California. Since state law allows non-residents to marry, an unknown number of same-sex couples from other states also have tied the marital knot in California.

Nan Hunter, a Georgetown University law professor and nationally recognized gay rights attorney, said a defeat of Proposition 8 would mean voters in the nation’s most populous state are endorsing the right of lesbians and gay men to marry.

“Culturally and politically, the impact is enormous,” she said. “California has a tradition of being the trend setter in the United States. Of any single development on this issue, legalizing it in California is the biggest single development short of a federal ruling that would render [same-sex marriage] legal nationwide.”

Other States to Follow?

Wolfson said a victory for gays on Proposition 8 in California also would have the immediate effect of boosting efforts to pass same-sex marriage bills in state legislatures in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and possibly Iowa.

“Assuming we hold California and seize the opportunities that shimmer within reach elsewhere, by this time next year, 25 percent of the American people will live in a state where gay people can marry,” he said.

Other gay rights advocates weren’t as bold as Wolfson in predicting that five or six more states might soon legalize same-sex marriage.

But they joined Wolfson in predicting that a victory for gays in the California marriage fight would have dramatic and beneficial effects on efforts to pass non-discrimination legislation for gays and transgender people at the state and federal level.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said a victory in California would improve chances of passing non-marriage related gay rights legislation in the U.S. Congress as well as in state legislatures.

Solmonese noted that gay rights opponents haven’t been able to make same-sex marriage a “wedge issue” in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. That development, he said, indicates public support for equal rights for gay people has discouraged efforts to demonize gays in election campaigns.

'Armageddon for the Right'

Officials with two of the nation’s largest conservative groups opposing same-sex marriage — the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family — did not respond to requests by the Blade for comment on the California marriage debate.

Literature published by the two groups on their web sites call same-sex marriage a threat to the family and a trend that would likely weaken the institution of marriage.

“Homosexual marriage is an empty pretense that lacks the fundamental sexual complementariness of male and female,” writes Timothy Dailey, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, in an essay on the group’s web site. “And like all counterfeits, it cheapens and degrades the real thing.”

Citing what he describes as studies of worldwide cultures spanning thousands of years, Dailey writes that “virtually no society has ceased to regulate sexuality within marriage as traditionally defined and survived.”

Gay rights groups have disputed such assertions, pointing to what they say are scientifically sound studies showing that children raised by same-sex parents show no developmental differences from children raised by opposite-sex parents in heterosexual marriages.

Patrick Sammon, president of Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay group and one of the leaders of a coalition of Republicans opposed to Proposition 8, said views such as those promoted by Family Research Council have been discredited in most Republican circles.

“Their claim that same-sex marriage will hurt the family is absurd,” said Sammon, who described the studies cited by Family Research Council as “junk science.”

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. based libertarian think tank, said deeply held views opposing same-sex marriage by groups such as the Family Research Council and other conservative religious groups are being played out in the debate over the California marriage initiative.

Boaz agrees that a victory for same-sex marriage in California would result in a dramatic boost in gay rights efforts throughout the country. But he said a loss, while representing a major setback, would not be as devastating for the gay rights movement as would a defeat for the conservative religious groups who oppose same-sex marriage.

“If they can’t win in California, I am sure that in their rallies they are saying we stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord,” Boaz said. “And if they lose at Armageddon, that’s a very big deal for them.”

Cayman Islands ban marriage

GLT » World News Briefs

The Caribbean’s Cayman Islands banned gay marriage Sept. 5.
Lawmakers voted for the measure unanimously.
The bill amended the Marriage Law to define marriage as “the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.”
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts told local media the traditional definition of marriage is an aspect of the islands’ heritage and culture that Caymanians have no interest in changing

Lawmakers See Progress Toward Gay Marriage Equality - September 15, 2008 - The New York Sun

Lawmakers See Progress Toward Gay Marriage Equality - September 15, 2008 - The New York Sun

By BENJAMIN SARLIN, Special to the Sun | September 15, 2008

City lawmakers are raising their voices in support of gay marriage, joining hundreds of New Yorkers yesterday in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to boost awareness about the issue.

The marchers wore stickers bearing an equal sign, and the crowd cheered as lawmakers talked up the prospect of legal gay marriage in New York State. Speakers at the event included Comptroller William Thompson Jr., Manhattan's president, Scott Stringer, and the city's first gay City Council speaker, Christine Quinn.

"I don't think we are that far away," Mr. Thompson said at a rally in City Hall Park before the march.

Earlier this year, Governor Paterson ordered that New York recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Organizers of yesterday's event read a statement from the governor, in which he wrote: "The right to marry should be supported and protected equally."

The Assembly has passed a bill that would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples, but it has stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Speakers yesterday spoke of the efforts under way to unseat the Republican majority in the Senate this year, which they said could prove decisive in legalizing gay marriage in New York.

"There's nothing more important we could do for marriage equality than to win back the New York State Senate," Ms. Quinn said.

Same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts and California.

Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban - San Jose Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO—The Episcopal bishops of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area are opposing a November ballot initiative to overturn the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
The Right Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Episcopal bishop of California, and the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, are scheduled to join other faith leaders and gay couples Wednesday in speaking out against Proposition 8.

The measure, which would amend the state constitution to limit marriage to unions between a man and woman, is also being opposed by individual churches and clergy through a group called California Faith for Equality.

Their work is designed to counter the huge organizational and financial push the amendment is receiving from leaders of the Roman Catholic and Mormon faiths.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Field Poll: Opposition grows to initiative that would ban gay marriage | Politics | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

This is the trend we want to see.

Field Poll: Opposition grows to initiative that would ban gay marriage | Politics | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

Sacramento Bureau

A ballot initiative that would end same-sex marriage in California continues to face significant opposition among likely voters, a new poll indicates.

A Field Poll survey released today found that 38 percent of likely voters support Prop. 8. In July, 42 percent of those surveyed backed the measure.

Fifty-five percent of likely voters oppose Prop. 8, an increase from 51 percent who opposed it in July. The percentage of undecided voters remains at 7 percent.

Story continues below

The shifting numbers in today's poll seem to reflect, in part, the effects of changes made to the measure's ballot title and summary by Attorney General Jerry Brown earlier this summer.

Prop. 8's title initially was "Limit on Marriage." Its summary described the initiative as providing that only marriages between a man and a woman would be "valid or recognized in California."

Brown's office changed the title to "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." Officials said the wording better described what the initiative would do, although proponents alleged that the new description was biased and unsuccessfully tried to block it in court.

The wording change has increased opposition to the measure among voters who do not follow the issue closely, poll Director Mark DiCamillo said.

" 'Eliminates the right' -- those three words, no matter what you say after that, most people support preserving rights. Those words have a negative drag for those voters," he said.

Constitutional Change

If a majority of voters approve, Prop. 8 would define marriage as being between a man and a woman in the state constitution. The initiative would nullify a May ruling by the California Supreme Court that overturned a 2000 gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.

Thousands of gay couples have gotten married in the state since the court ruling.

The initiative, one of a dozen on the fall ballot, is emerging as the most contentious.

Lawn signs for and against Prop. 8 already dot the state, and both sides have raised millions of dollars, including a $100,000 contribution Wednesday by actor Brad Pitt to Prop. 8 opponents.

"We're encouraged by the (Field Poll) numbers but the campaign isn't over," said Dale Kelly Bankhead, the statewide campaign manager for Prop. 8 opponents. "There's a solid group of people on either side of the issue. We're approaching this as if it's a dead heat."

It's been less than a decade since 61 percent of voters backed Prop. 22, another gay-marriage ban. Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for Prop. 8 supporters, said the campaign this year will be much closer.

"Certainly, the attitudes of Californians on same-sex marriage have softened a bit. An element of political correctness has crept in," she said.

Support for the initiative continues to be strongest among Republicans, voters living in inland areas, and evangelical Christians. Opposition is greatest among Democrats, coastal residents, and people who are non-Christian or have no religious preference.

Inland Residents' Views

"They should be able to marry who they want to," said Beverly Erck, 72, of Redlands, a poll respondent. "I don't think that being gay or homosexual is a voluntary thing. No one would put themselves through that by choice."

Another respondent, David Jelaca, of La Quinta, said he supports domestic partner rights for gays, but not the right to marry. He is not surprised that large numbers of people support letting gays marry.

"A lot of things that used to be mainstream are no longer mainstream. A lot of those things that used to be out of left field are no longer so out there," Jelaca, 34, said.

Some respondents said they have yet to decide how to vote.

"I believe there should be something for partners who are of same-sex choice," said Cindy Grath-Smock, of Winchester. "But I don't like the use of the word 'marriage.' "

Today's poll was produced for The Press-Enterprise and other California media subscribers. The poll reflects the answers of a random sample of 830 likely voters from Sept. 5 through Sunday. The findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Reach Jim Miller at 916-445-9973 or

Study sees more N.H. interest in gay marriage

New Hampshire Business Review

A newly released study finds that same-sex couples in New Hampshire are more eager to be married than enter into a civil union.

The report compiles data from the 11 states that recognize same-sex couples through marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships or other legal statuses. It also indicates that same-sex couples prefer marriage over non-marital alternatives.

According to the study, by UCLA’s Williams Institute, there are an estimated 4,345 same-sex couples in New Hampshire, where civil unions have been available since January. In the first six months that civil unions were available, only 422 same-sex couples registered for civil unions in New Hampshire, according to the study, which adds that researchers project that if marriage were opened to gay and lesbian partners in New Hampshire, 2,172 couples would marry in the first three years.

In Massachusetts, according to the study, 37 percent of gay and lesbian couples were married within the first year that marriage was available, but only one in 10 gay couples registered a civil union or domestic partnership in the first year after the introduction of those statuses.

“Marriage clearly gets the most enthusiastic response from same-sex couples, as we're seeing in California,” said M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. ”It may be that less New Hampshire couples are registering for civil unions because they are waiting for the state to extend marriage to same-sex couples.”

The study also shows that same-sex couples who marry or register are more likely to be female couples than male couples, and same-sex couples tend to be younger than existing different-sex married couples, she said.

This study , well as findings from the first study on the cost impact of differential taxation between domestic partner and spousal health benefits for both employers and employees, can be accessed at – JEFF FEINGOLD/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

Star Trek Star George Takei Marries Brad Altman

Star Trek Star George Takei Marries Brad Altman

September 17, 2008

Keywords: Star Trek, George Takei, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, same-sex marriage, gay, lesbian, LGBT, Prop. 8, November election

George Takei and longtime partner Brad Altman have joined Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi as celebrity same-sex couples who took advantage of California's legalization of same-sex marriage, People magazine reports. Takei and Altman wed on Sunday in a Buddhist ceremony in downtown Los Angeles. A Scottish bagpiper led Takei, 71, and Altman, 54, to the reception on the grounds of the Japanese American National Museum. On the way, the couple, along with their maid of honor and best man (Takei's former "Star Trek" co-stars Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig), flashed the "live long and prosper" hand sign to photographers and friends, according to the article.

"All I can remember is what the priest said," Takei told People after the ceremony. "That this moment will never happen again. It's something to savor."

Same-sex marriage is a fiercely debated issue in California. In November, the state's voters will decide on Proposition 8, which, if passed, would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage

Calif. Utilities Giant Sued for Funding $250K against Gay 'Marriage' Ban|

Calif. Utilities Giant Sued for Funding $250K against Gay 'Marriage' Ban|

By Lawrence Jones
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Sep. 17 2008 12:11 PM EDT
E-mail Print RSS More on Topic The Pacific Justice Institute, which specializes in
"It is outrageous that a mammoth utility used my money to undermine the values of families in my community," remarked Dacus, who is based in Sacramento, in a statement Monday.

The complaint contends that the PG&E contribution to "No on Proposition 8 Campaign" is unlawful and should be investigated by the Commission. It also requests that the "Commission take all appropriate actions to remedy this matter, including fines, available under the law."

"Proposition 8 has no relevance to the supply and distribution of energy services to its customers," the complaint states.

"As a corporation which has been given near monopoly status (CA Public Utilities Code section 451, et seq.), its use of money extracted from customers to influence an item appearing on the ballot that does not promote the welfare of customers relative to energy is an abuse of trust."

Proposition 8, known as the "California Marriage Protection Act," would amend the California Constitution to define marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman. If passed, the ballot measure would essentially reverse the May 15 Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Around 1.2 millions voters approved the petition to place the controversial issue before Californians. Prop. 8 will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Traditional marriage supporters are hoping for a similar outcome in 2000 when over 61 percent of Californians passed Proposition 22, which affirmed marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman.

The vice president of PG&E Nancy McFadden, stated that the company was "proud to join No on 8 and Equality California to protect the freedom to marry for all Californians," according to PJI.

Dacus said people like McFadden can write personal checks to the campaign, "but not on my

Brad Pitt donates money to support gay marriage

The Associated Press: Brad Pitt donates money to support gay marriage

Brad Pitt donates money to support gay marriage
11 hours ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brad Pitt has donated $100,000 to fight California's November ballot initiative that would overturn the state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

It's the first time voters will be asked to decide the issue in either California or Massachusetts — the states where gays have won the right to wed.

"Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8," Pitt said Wednesday.

Trevor Neilson, Pitt's political and philanthropic adviser, told The Associated Press that Pitt was surprised that his colleagues in the entertainment industry had not donated more money to support the battle against Proposition 8.

Earlier in the week, Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced they donated $2 million to help fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Ethiopia.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Albany G.O.P. Leader Is Guest of Gay Group -

See end quote by Teresa Saywood

Albany G.O.P. Leader Is Guest of Gay Group -

Dean G. Skelos, the State Senate majority leader and the Albany Legislature’s top Republican, reiterated his opposition to gay marriage on Tuesday night but attended a fund-raiser for a prominent Republican gay and lesbian group as he sought to broaden his party’s appeal for the fall elections.

Mr. Skelos, of Long Island, said he would take up and pass legislation aimed at preventing bullying of gay and lesbian students in schools. The predominantly Democratic Assembly has passed such legislation for several years, but it has long been stalled in the Senate. This month, New York City put similar rules in place for its schools.

“I appreciate your inviting me,” Mr. Skelos said during the event, a fund-raiser for a political action committee associated with the Log Cabin Republicans, which was held at a private residence in Manhattan.

“Sometimes the media will say, ‘What are you doing here?’ You’re Republicans and I’m proud of you for being Republicans and I’m proud of being a Republican and standing here with each and every one of you,” he added.

The appearance of a Senate majority leader was unusual. Mr. Skelos took over as majority leader this summer from Joseph L. Bruno, who in his 14 years in the post appeared at only one prominent event held by a gay group — a 2006 lobbying event held by the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Jeff Cook, the legislative advisor to the Log Cabin Republicans of New York State, said, “We do think this is significant, that the majority leader wants to reach out to the gay community.” The group worked closely with Senate Republicans on the bullying law and has long pushed lawmakers to approve gay marriage.

“Our job is to move Republicans in that direction,” Mr. Cook said. “We know that’s the right side of history.”

Edward F. Cox, the state chairman of the McCain-Palin campaign, also attended the event.

“They are part of the Republican Party here and they’re part of what we’ll need to win the state,” Mr. Cox said in an interview before the event.

The Senate is the Republican Party’s last statewide power base, but the party has only a one-seat edge. Both parties are scrambling to find allies and cash for what will be a hard-fought sprint over the next two months. The Log Cabin Republicans committed themselves to spending $60,000 on Republican candidates for the Senate and $15,000 on those for the Assembly.

Senate Republicans have been seen by many Democratic lawmakers as the greatest obstacle to passing legislation of interest to gay and lesbian groups, particularly since the Assembly passed a bill that would legalize gay marriage and Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, has emerged as a forceful advocate for gay rights.

Senator Thomas K. Duane, a Manhattan Democrat and one of a relatively few openly gay or lesbian lawmakers, said, “I do not understand why the Log Cabin people would continue to invest with the Senate Republicans,” adding that the party has been “holding back progress” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Senate Republicans, he said, had “impeded progress” and taken years to pass bills related to hate crimes and discrimination.

“How many groups give money to Republicans at election time because hope springs eternal?” he added.

But Patrick Sammon, the president of the national Log Cabin Republicans, said his group could play a major role in tipping the balance on marriage votes across the country by persuading even a few Republicans to change their minds.

“The reason we don’t have a constitutional amendment vote on the ballot in Massachusetts to repeal marriage,” he said, “is because a third of Republicans voted against” that amendment. The repeal amendment lost by five votes, he said, adding that seven Republicans voted against it.

“The progress we’ve seen around the country is where Republicans provide the margin of victory,” he said.

The contrast of views even among Republicans in Albany was on display. Several Assembly members who last year had voted in support of gay marriage were reiterating that support on Tuesday night while Mr. Skelos and Senator John J. Flanagan looked on.

“You can’t do it halfway,” said Assemblyman Joel M. Miller, a Poughkeepsie Republican, adding, “Gay marriage is absolutely right in America and everywhere else, and I’m proud to stand for it.”

Mr. Skelos voted against antidiscrimination legislation based on sexual orientation in the past but in favor of a hate-crimes law. He said in an interview that he had not changed his opposition to gay marriage, but said that “we agree on many other issues.”

One of the most compelling speakers at the event, attended by more than 100 people, was Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward, an upstate Republican who emerged as an unlikely champion of gay marriage during the Assembly vote last year. In the most talked-about speech during the dramatic vote, Ms. Sayward, an observant Catholic, described her son’s struggle to come to grips with his gay identity, and how it shaped her views.

On Tuesday night, she called the vote for marriage “a very Republican and conservative one,” and added, “We believe that government should stay out of people’s lives and let them live in quiet dignity.”

Coming from one of the state’s most conservative areas, she said that one of her Republican colleagues told her after the vote that she would never be elected again.

“I stand here to tell you I am running unopposed,” she told the audience.

Evangelical pastor: Straight couples should refuse to sign Calif. licenses | 365 Gay News

Evangelical pastor: Straight couples should refuse to sign Calif. licenses | 365 Gay News

Sacramento, California) An evangelical pastor is advising couples not to sign California’s gender-neutral marriage licenses as a protest.

Send / ShareAdd CommentAfter the California Supreme Court struck down the ban on gay marriage in May, the state amended its marriage licenses, replacing “Bride” and ‘Groom” with “Party A” and “Party B.”

Following a wedding, the license must be signed and sent to the state for registration.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the first couple to follow the advice of Pastor Doug Bird of the Abundant Life Fellowship is Bird’s own daughter.

Rachel Bird married Gideon Codding last month, but they have not signed the license nor sent it in to be registered.

Rev. Bird has called on other churches to follow hid daughter’s lead.

“I would encourage you to refuse to sign marriage licenses with ‘Party A’ and ‘Party B,’” Bird said in a letter to area churches. “If ever there was a time for the people of the United States to stand up and let their voices be heard – this is that time.”

Bird tells The Bee that he has received positive reactions from other clergy. A state spokesperson told the paper that as far as he knows, no other married couple has refused to sign their license.

Unless a marriage is registered, partners are unable to take advantage of rights accorded to married couples - including a bride taking her husband’s name.

In the case of Bird and Codding, Rachel Bird is unable to be added to Codding’s medical benefits.

Bird told The Bee that the decision not to register their marriage was “personal – not religious.”

“We just feel that our rights have been violated,” she said.

She also said she and Codding are exploring their legal options.

A proposed amendment to the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriage will appear on the ballot in November. Recent polls suggest it will not win approval.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Uncertainty of Marriage Recognition Stalls Probate of Gay Man’s Estate

This case awaits the outcome of our case int he second appellate department.

Leonard Link: Uncertainty of Marriage Recognition Stalls Probate of Gay Man’s Estate

Uncertainty of Marriage Recognition Stalls Probate of Gay Man’s Estate

Queens County Surrogate Judge Robert L. Nahman has decided that the lack of a definitive ruling by the Appellate Division, Second Department, on whether same-sex marriages contracted in Canada are legally recognized in New York requires delaying the probate of the will of Alan Zwerling, under which the sole beneficiary is his surviving husband, until Zwerling’s parents, who also survive him, can be made parties to the case.

Nahman’s ruling, published in the New York Law Journal on September 9, makes no mention of the decision by the Appellate Division, 4th Department, in the case of Martinez v. Monroe County Community College, decided in February, which ruled that same-sex marriages contracted in Canada are recognized under New York’s common law rule for recognition of foreign marriages, even though under New York practice the Martinez decision is, for now, a statewide precedent. Monroe County tried to appeal the Martinez ruling prematurely, and the Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings, but it is likely that the County will eventually seek to appeal again to the state’s highest court. In the meantime, however, Martinez is supposed to be respected by trial courts as a state-wide precedent, at least until a different department of the Appellate Division produces a contrary ruling.

Instead of following Martinez, Nahman cited Funderburke v. New York State Department of Civil Services, a 2nd Department ruling from late March that did not take a position on whether such marriages must be recognized under New York law, but vacated a trial court decision that had refused to recognize such a marriage. The trial decision was vacated on the ground that it became moot when the defendant agreed to extend spousal benefits to the same-sex spouse of a retired Long Island public school teacher as a result of a change of policy. The 2nd Department panel agreed to vacate the trial court ruling because subsequent events rendered it a mere “advisory opinion” and leaving it in place might cause problems in later cases. But the Zwerling Estate ruling now shows just such a problem.

The rules governing probate proceedings differ depending upon whether somebody dies leaving a legal spouse behind. Because New York law entitles a surviving spouse to receive a share of the estate, regardless whether the spouse is named in the will, the surviving spouse is a necessary party to the probate of the will. In this case, Zwerling’s brother was designated to be the Executor of the estate, and he submitted to the court a petition for probate attaching the will (which names Zwerling’s husband as the sole distibutee) and a copy of the marriage certificate from Ontario. Normally, that would be the end of the story, and assuming all the papers were in order, the Surrogate would take the necessary steps to probate the will and authorize distribution of the assets.

However, if an unmarried person dies leaving a will, the law specifies that the person’s legal heirs are “necessary parties” to the probate proceeding, even if they are not named as beneficiaries in the will, since they would have the right to inherit as a matter of law if there is some reason to invalidate the will. For a person who dies without leaving a surviving spouse or offspring, surviving siblings and parents are legal heirs who are “necessary parties.”

In this case, Zwerling’s brother is the proponent of the will, and presumably has no objections to it. He filed an affidavit of heirship, required by probate procedures, indicating that Zwerling’s parents also survive him.

Surrogate Nahman stated, “Ordinarily, where a decedent is survived by a spouse, the decedent’s parents are not parties to the probate proceeding. It appears, however, that the validity of same-sex marriages has not been definitively determined by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department. In order to ensure that the decree in this proceeding is final and not subject to a subsequent jurisdictional attack, the Court finds that the parents of the decedent are necessary parties.”

Nahman’s decision does not mention where the parents reside, and says nothing about whether Zwerling was estranged from his parents, or whether they have a friendly or hostile relationship to his surviving husband. Depending on these factors, Nahman’s ruling may present a serious barrier to Zwerling’s husband receiving his inheritance, because it gives the parents an open invitation to make trouble about probating the will. The opinion also does not mention the amount of assets in the estate. If they are sizable, there might be a real temptation for parents – especially estranged parents – to make trouble. On the other hand, if Zwerling’s parents are kindly disposed, they could simply consent to be joined as parties, submit to the jurisdiction of the court, and let the proceeding go to its conclusion without making any fuss.

This decision reinforces the importance of settling the question of recognition for same-sex marriages in New York once and for all, especially as many same-sex couples from New York have married in Canada, California or Massachusetts, or may be expected to do so, and this ruling clouds the ability to obtain routine probate of their wills. The easiest solution would be for the state Senate to take up and pass the marriage bill that has already cleared the Assembly, allowing same-sex marriages in New York and make recognition of foreign same-sex marriages routine. The legislature could also pass a more limited bill providing for foreign marriage recognition. Or the Court of Appeals could, at the first opportunity, approve the 4th Department’s interpretation of the common law marriage recognition rule from the Martinez case.

We Remember... But Does John McCain?

We Remember... But Does John McCain?

We Remember... But Does John McCain?

9/11/08 Labels: 9-11, Mark Bingham 6 comments
Mark Bingham was an openly Gay American.

On September 11, 2001, when Mark Bingham, boarded United Airlines Flight 93 in Newark, NJ, little did he know that United Airlines Flight 93 would be one of four planes hijacked as part of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nor did it ever cross Marks mind that he would become a hero that day, even though throughout his life he had always been a heroic man.

We are positive he never thought he would save a future presidential hopefuls life.

But when Todd Beamer finished reading the 23rd psalm and uttered the now famous phrase “let’s roll”, Mark stood up from his seat and was there to be counted among the hero’s that day. He was among those who stormed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 and prevented the hijackers from using the plane to kill perhaps even thousands more additional victims that day.

But on United Airlines Flight 93 on September the 11th 2001 there were no Gays, there were no straights, there were only Americans…

Jesus of Nazareth said, “Greater love hath no man than this… that a man lay down his life for his friends”…

Mark Bingham, Gay American, paid the ultimate price when he gave his life to save others, others he did not even know, others that still work hard to deny full rights to Gays American Citizens like Mark.

Bingham was a very rare breed indeed.

A selfless American hero.

Speaking before a crowd of 500 people who gathered at the University of California at Berkeley for the memorial service for Mark Bingham, Senator John McCain, who supports California Prop. 8, voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation, voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes and voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation, praised Mark's heroic sacrifice saying,

It is now believed that the terrorists on Flight 93 intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol where I work, the great house of democracy where I was that day… It is very possible that I would have been in the building, with a great many other people…

I may very well owe my life to Mark and the others who summoned the enormous courage and love necessary to deny those depraved, hateful men their terrible triumph.

Such a debt you incur for life.”

One would think an" honorable" man like John McCain, would honor his life debt to Mark Bingham by honoring the things Mark held dear, but so far McCain has opposed everything Mark stood for.

On September 11th 2001, Mark Bingham stood up for John McCain...

When is John McCain going to stand up for the Mark Bingham's of this counrty?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oregon's anti-domestic partner measure fails

Oregon's anti-domestic partner measure fails

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, August 15, 2008

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Domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples in Oregon remained intact Thursday as a federal appeals court upheld state election officials' findings that a referendum to repeal the partnership law had fallen 96 signatures short of qualifying for the November ballot.

The law, passed last year, made Oregon one of nine states to give legal recognition to same-sex unions. It provides registered partners with the same benefits held by married couples under state law, including property and inheritance rights and hospital visitation. It does not include federal marriage benefits, such as Social Security and immigration rights and joint federal tax filing.

The law is similar to California's domestic partner law. The California partnership law offers same-sex couples an alternative to marriage, a right they won in a May 15 state Supreme Court ruling that could be overturned by a November ballot initiative. Unlike the Oregon partnership law, which applies only to same-sex couples, the California law is also open to opposite-sex couples in which one partner is at least 62.

About 2,500 Oregon couples have signed up since the law took effect in February, said Karynn Fish, spokeswoman for the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon.

"This means these 2,500 committed couples can finally get on with their lives and not have to worry about whether their rights will be suddenly taken away," she said.

Attorney Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian organization representing sponsors of the referendum, said the ruling disenfranchised Oregonians whose signatures weren't counted.

"The people didn't thwart this effort, government bureaucracy did," he said.

The law was signed in May 2007 and was due to take effect in January, but a federal judge put it on hold for a month while considering opponents' challenge to state election officials' refusal to place their referendum on the November ballot.

Needing 55,179 valid signatures, sponsors of the referendum turned in 62,000 signatures on petitions to election officials, who followed standard procedures by examining a random sample. After invalidating signatures that didn't match those on registration cards, they concluded that only 55,083 valid signatures had been submitted.

The judge upheld the signature-counting process on Feb. 1 and was affirmed Thursday by a three-judge appeals court panel, which said Oregon took reasonable measures to validate petition signatures.

Sponsors of the referendum argued that election officials should have notified voters whose signatures were rejected and given them a chance to prove their identity. But the court said county registrars are trained in signature verification, allow sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions, and refer all rejected signatures to a second elections official for added scrutiny.

The ruling is Lemons vs. Bradbury

Florida's gay adoption ban ruled unconstitutional - 09/09/2008 -

Florida's gay adoption ban ruled unconstitutional - 09/09/2008 -

A Monroe Circuit Court judge has ruled Florida's 31-year-old gay adoption ban ''unconstitutional'' in an order that allows an openly gay Key West foster parent to adopt a teenage boy he has raised since 2001.

Declaring the adoption to be in the boy's ''best interest,'' Circuit Judge David J. Audlin Jr. said the Florida law forbidding gay people from adopting children is contrary to the state Constitution because it singles out a group for punishment.

Florida is one of only two states -- the other is Mississippi -- that forbids gay people from adopting.

Circuit judges in Florida have found the statute unconstitutional twice before, both in 1991, but both challenges stalled. A Miami case expected to be heard next month may provide an additional challenge to the law.

At the heart of the Monroe case is a 13-year-old boy with learning disabilities and special needs who has lived in his Key West foster father's two-story home since the Department of Children & Families placed him there in 2001. The boy is identified as John Doe. The father, 52, is not identified.

Audlin appointed the foster father as guardian for the boy in 2006. At a recent hearing, the boy testified he wanted the man to be his ''forever father'' -- like all the other kids had -- ''because I love him,'' the order says.

A home study by a social worker ''highly'' recommended the guardian and his partner be allowed to adopt the boy, saying the two men provided a ''loving and nurturing home,'' provided ''fair and consistent'' discipline and are financially secure, the order says.

Miami attorney Alan Mishael, who represents John Doe's guardian, declined to discuss the ruling, since Audlin has not yet published it formally. He said the ruling is less about public policy than the welfare of a former foster child who wants a father of his own.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Cayman Islands - Cay Compass News Online - Gay marriage ban approved

Well you won't see us give any tourism dollars to the Cayman's. Travel to the Cayman's is off our list and should be for all LGBT supporters.

Cayman Islands - Cay Compass News Online - Gay marriage ban approved

By Brent Fuller,
Sunday 7th September, 2008 Posted: 14:04 CIT (19:04 GMT)

Cayman Islands lawmakers voted in favour of a ban on same sex marriages following a debate Friday in the Legislative Assembly.

The Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2008 still requires the legal formality of a third vote before passing, but lawmakers unanimously approved a key second vote on the measure Friday afternoon. The formal third vote is expected sometime this week.

The ban, accomplished simply by defining marriage as “the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife,” will be added as an amendment to the Marriage Law (2007 Revision) when Governor Stuart Jack signs it. Neither Mr. Jack nor officials with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office have given any indication that they will refuse to accept the amendment.

“The people of the Cayman Islands are sending a clear signal that they do not wish to change the definition of marriage,” Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said. “The purpose (of this amendment) is to confirm and clarify what the Marriage Law has always meant in Caymanian society.”

Mr. Tibbetts said the government did not mean the amendment as an insult or commentary on other countries and other cultures that have legalised same sex marriage. He said there were just certain aspects of the islands heritage and culture Caymanians didn’t wish to change.

Other ruling party lawmakers expected some criticism over the vote.

“I just want to warn my colleagues to gird their loins,” Health Minister Anthony Eden said, adding that when the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee heard about the amendment “we will be hearing their comments.”

Lawmakers said, despite the controversial nature of the issue, they are confident their actions reflect what the majority of Caymanian voters want.

A Caymanian Compass on–line poll done in July 2007 found about 60 per cent of respondents were in favour of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The Compass poll is non–scientific and does not seek to determine whether respondents are likely voters.

The government did hear some criticism on Friday from opposition party members, not over the amendment itself, but over whether the legislation went far enough.

West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr. asked what would happen if a couple that participated in a civil union in Britain moved to the Cayman Islands. Civil unions, or civil partnerships as they are known in the UK, allow same sex couples to receive the same legal benefits and bear the same responsibilities as heterosexual married couples.

“What recognition or respect would be given to those two individuals in the Cayman Islands?” Mr. Glidden asked. “Would they be allowed to adopt children? Would they be allowed to have joint bank accounts? Share pension benefits?

West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin also questioned whether the marriage ban would apply to someone who had a sex change operation and suggested that the law be amended to include phrases “born a man” and “born a woman” in the text.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin said the government would need more time to look into the ramifications of making further adjustments to the law such as Mr. Anglin and Mr. Glidden had suggested.

“The definition is sufficiently wide enough for the time being,” Mr. Bulgin said.

Mr. Glidden and Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor–Connolly also questioned the government as to whether UK assurances that local legislation in Cayman would define marriage were reliable.

Mr. Tibbetts said the issue would come up in constitutional talks with the UK, which are scheduled to begin toward the end of this month. The government has proposed inserting language in the country’s constitution stating that marriage would be defined by local laws, in order to remove any doubt.

The Leader of Government Business has previously said that he is reluctant to include a ban on civil unions in local legislation because any such attempt would require Cayman to define civil unions and thereby recognise their existence.

“If we were to define civil unions it would mean we would condone them, and accept them and allow them, and I’m saying otherwise,” Mr. Tibbetts has said. (See Caymanian Compass, 8 July, 2007)

Mr. Tibbetts also said he was not concerned about the loss of what is often referred to as “the pink dollar” in tourism, and said the Marriage Law amendment would not have any affect on visitors or residents’ conduct in their private lives.

“Caymanians are well aware that people of a different persuasion come to our shores and they have been welcomed here,” he said. “The basis of this bill is not financial calculations. We don’t set our family values based on how much money they make for us.”

Opposition members agreed.

“This is not intruding on people’s practices in their own homes and behind closed doors,” Mr. Anglin said.

‘The tide is turning’ in same-sex marriage case - Rochester, NY - MPNnow

‘The tide is turning’ in same-sex marriage case - Rochester, NY - MPNnow

By Julie Sherwood, staff writer
Daily Messenger
Sun Sep 07, 2008, 02:04 AM EDT


Canandaigua, N.Y. -
Both sides in a legal case over same-sex marriage benefits say recent developments in similar cases could prompt a resolution for an Ontario County couple.

David Harmon, an associate professor of history at Finger Lakes Community College, is suing the college for refusing to grant health benefits to his spouse, Kevin Mayer.

Harmon and Mayer were married in 2004 in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal. Since their marriage four years ago, Harmon has been seeking health benefits for Mayer through his contract with the college. On July 18, Harmon filed a suit in state Supreme Court alleging FLCC’s refusal to grant the benefits “constitutes unlawful gender discrimination based upon sexual orientation.” The lawsuit also seeks “any compensatory damages the court rules appropriate.”

When the lawsuit was pending in June, County Attorney John Park said ambiguities in the state’s law made it unclear whether the college should grant the benefits. This past week, Park said there are still questions. However, “it appears if we extend benefits to heterosexual couples ... we are obligated to extend the same to same-sex couples,” he said.

Park added that there are still “many wrinkles” in the case and the county and college must follow legal procedures in defending itself in the lawsuit. At the same time, “there is an increased awareness” of same-sex marriages “and a public recognition of this issue,” said Park. With cases similar to this one mounting across the state “it will probably lead to a resolution in our jurisdiction,” he said.

Same-sex couples cannot marry in New York and the state’s highest court has said only the Legislature has the authority to change that.

Carl Korn, spokesman for New York United Teachers and Harmon’s legal case, said the state Assembly has approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and a vote on the bill is pending in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson’s counsel told state agencies in May that a recent state appellate court ruling required them to recognize gay marriages legally performed elsewhere — or risk discrimination claims.

Paterson was responding to a Feb. 1 ruling by an appellate court that backed giving spousal health benefits to a Monroe County couple. Patricia Martinez had sued Monroe Community College after the college refused to provide health insurance to her spouse, Lisa Ann Golden. Martinez and Golden were married in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal.

This past Tuesday, a state Supreme Court judge rejected the first direct legal challenge to the governor’s move to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Christian legal organization that challenged the governor's move, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, said it would appeal.

State Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings wrote in her decision issued Tuesday that gay couples’ decision to wed represents “a personal expression of emotional devotion, support and interdependence and a public commitment.”

“With that validity, they expect equal treatment with other married couples.”

Harmon said that with all the developments happening over recognition of same-sex marriage, he sees the county and college finally having to act: “I guess they will have to move now, won't they?”

“The tide is turning,” added Korn, “as more states and more communities are recognizing valid marriages.”

Korn said he is hopeful Harmon’s case can be settled out of court. “We all want to continue discussion,” he said. “We hope for a swift and fair settlement.”

Contact Julie Sherwood at (585) 394-0770, ext. 263, or

Despite legal battle, few same-sex couples enrolling for state benefits | | Press & Sun-Bulletin

Despite legal battle, few same-sex couples enrolling for state benefits | | Press & Sun-Bulletin

By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau

ALBANY -- Expensive, taxpayer-funded lawsuits over whether New York should recognize same-sex marriages from other states could linger for years, but so far few gay couples are taking advantage of the state's expanded rights, state records show.

The state Department of Civil Service said it was aware of only 33 same-sex married couples who have signed up for the state's health insurance since it extended the benefits to them on May 1, 2007.

The number is a tiny fraction of the 589,000 families who work for state or local governments and are enrolled in the state's health insurance program.

Gay rights activists said the few enrollees debunks the argument by anti-gay-marriage groups that taxpayers shouldn't be funding benefits for same-sex couples because New York doesn't allow for same-sex marriages.

"The idea that there's some kind of revolutionarily, highly costly, dramatic change going on is really a fallacy," said Susan Sommer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a gay-rights group.

In May 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered that same-sex couples married out of state would be eligible to enroll in the state's health insurance program. A year later, Gov. David Paterson expanded the benefits for married gay couples to include all 1,324 rights in New York that were previously afforded only to heterosexual couples.

Paterson's directive sparked a lawsuit from the national Alliance Defense Fund and several state lawmakers, who argued Paterson didn't have the right to unilaterally expand benefits for same-sex couples.

This week, a state Supreme Court judge rejected the lawsuit, but the group said they plan to appeal.

Stephen Hayford, a leader of the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, said that even though the number of enrollees from same-sex couples is small, the state shouldn't be paying for their benefits. The state did not have an estimate on how much the same-sex benefits are costing taxpayers.

"The issue isn't how much is being expended, but that it's inappropriate to spend anything at all," he said, adding that "I think it's curious that the advocates of same-sex marriage are pushing so hard for something that clearly not many same-sex partners are actually taking advantage of."

State records also show that the number of same-sex domestic partners who work in the public sector in New York and receive health-care benefits is also relatively small.

The number of same-sex domestic partners enrolled in the state's health insurance program is 1,267 -- compared to a 3,614 heterosexual domestic partnerships.

Also, the number of same-sex domestic partnerships that receive state health insurance has increased by just 225 since March 2007, according to the Civil Service Department.

Paterson based his decision on a Feb. 1 ruling by an appellate court that backed giving equal benefits to a Monroe County couple, one of whom sued Monroe Community College after the school refused to provide health insurance for her partner, whom she married legally in Canada.

Same-sex marriages are legal in Canada, South Africa, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. They are also legal in Massachusetts and California.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Republican Platform: Same Old Anti-Gay Politics / Queerty

Republican Platform: Same Old Anti-Gay Politics / Queerty

New running mates John McCain and Sarah Palin are trying to present themselves as reformers.

Together, they say, their administration will clean up dirty politics and set America in a new direction. Looking at the Republican party's platform, however, it becomes increasingly clear the Grand Old Party's gay politics are the same stagnant, archaic politics.

While gay Democrats scoffed at the lack of LGBT in their party's platform, we're sure - or, we hope! - that the Republican party's lavender set will have something to say about two very anti-gay stipulations in their peers' platform. First and foremost, there's a little thing called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the discriminatory measure preventing out and proud homos from serving in the military. Based firmly in a tradition of bellicosity, the Republicans declare their support for the troops and pledge to make the armed forces stronger. But, in a brazen display of illogic, the party promises also to keep the gays far from the battlefield. It is, in their words, for service men and women's own protection:

We oppose reinstituting the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from ground combat units. Military priorities and mission must determine personnel policies. Esprit and cohesion are necessary for military effectiveness and success on the battlefield. To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.
Why, we wonder, are we incompatible? Because we're all limp-wristed pansies with overactive libidos, or something? Politics like that are not only exclusionary, they're short-sighted and based in stereotypes. In a word, such a stance is unpatriotic.

The anti-gay action doesn't end there. Once again, the Republicans have pledged to protect America's "families" from same-sex marriage, which they must view as a worst threat than terrorism. The party also goes further by coming out against gay adoption and smearing the Democrats for trying to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. From the platform:

Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.

Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children. Children are our nation’s most precious resource. We also salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive families.

Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.
The party also pledges that faith-based organizations who are "forced to abandon" their principles for political correctness face "religious discrimination." Anyone who reads this drivel and considers McCain and Palin to be reformers - well, they're just gullible.

With regard to the "Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married" line. Now, we understand Governor Palin's 17-year old daughter shouldn't be derided for being pregnant out of wedlock - she lives in Alaska, what else is she going to do? - but the chasm between the party's pledge and the American reality couldn't be more clear.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Court Backs Paterson Regarding Gay Unions -

Another consistent Victory!! The ADF loses again.

Court Backs Paterson Regarding Gay Unions -

Court Backs Paterson Regarding Gay Unions
ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson was acting within his powers when he issued an executive order requiring government agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state, a court ruled on Tuesday.

The decision, issued by Justice Lucy A. Billings of State Supreme Court in the Bronx, a trial-level court, is the latest in a string of rulings by state courts that have upheld the right of same-sex couples who were married in other jurisdictions to have their marital status recognized in New York, even though gay couples may not marry within the state. A bill to allow gay unions passed the State Assembly last year but has not come up for a vote in the Senate.

The suit was filed in June by lawmakers who opposed the governor’s order and by other opponents of same-sex marriage, who argued that Mr. Paterson had effectively usurped the Legislature’s role by issuing the order. The governor said the order, issued in May, was made to protect the state from litigation by gay couples legally married in places like Canada or Massachusetts.

But in her decision to dismiss the suit, Justice Billings rejected the plaintiffs’ reasoning, finding that Mr. Paterson’s order was consistent with state laws that generally require officials to recognize marriages from other jurisdictions and are silent on whether gay marriages should be excluded from that recognition.

“Furthermore,” she wrote, “when partners manifest the commitment to their relationship and family, by solemnizing that commitment elsewhere, through one of life’s most significant events, and come to New York, whether returning home or setting down roots, to carry on that commitment, nothing is more antithetical to family stability than requiring them to abandon that solemnized commitment.”

Jim Campbell, a spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund — the Arizona group that represented the plaintiffs — said that it would appeal the ruling. “This decision enshrines the radical notion that the State of New York should forfeit its autonomy to define marriage for itself,” he said.

In a statement, Governor Paterson lauded the ruling as “a wise and fair determination of the policy that holds valid same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.” The decision was also praised by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which joined Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo in defending the executive order.

“There has been a steady drumbeat of courts recognizing longstanding New York law as it applies to same-sex couples,” Susan Sommer, a lawyer at the fund, said in a statement.