Friday, January 28, 2011

France’s Constitutional Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real

France’s Constitutional Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

France’s ban on same-sex marriages has been upheld by that country’s Constitutional Council after it ruled that two women raising four children together do not have the right to wed.

The Constitutional Council said it found no conflict between the law barring same-sex marriages as it stands and fundamental rights enshrined by the constitution.

The ruling relieves the government of any obligation to grant gays the wedding rights enjoyed by heterosexuals, however the court also said it was up to parliament to decide whether the law should change, rather than constitutional authorities,and left the door open for future legislative changes.

France has allowed civil unions between people of the same sex since 1999 but that accords fewer rights than marriage proper. Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, challenged the constitutionality of the French marriage law and had hoped that France would join EU partners including Spain, Belgium and Netherlands that have legalized same-sex marriage.

The couple’s lawyers are hoping the decision will now encourage lawmakers to draw up a parliamentary bill on same-sex marriage, which could make the issue a theme in next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

According to Reuters, the ruling comes as a just released opinion poll suggested views had changed radically in the past five years and that a majority of French people now accept the idea of same-sex marriage.

The results of the survey by TNS Sofres showed 51 percent of respondents in favour of gay marriage and 35 percent against. In 2006, the agency reported 51 percent opposition and 45 percent support.

Same-sex marriage is permitted in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain, according to the Council of Europe.

It is also permitted in South Africa, Argentina, Canada and in some U.S. states.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vote To Bring Gay Mariage Ban Resolution To Senate Floor Fails - WHO

Vote To Bring Gay Mariage Ban Resolution To Senate Floor Fails - WHO: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

A Republican attempt to suspend Iowa Senate rules to force debate on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage has failed on a party-line vote.

Republican Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Indianola, asked Thursday morning to suspend the rules to consider the amendment after Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal called for a vote on a resolution. Sorenson's request failed on a 26 to 24 vote.

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Senators later approved Gronstal's resolution, again on party lines, adjusting Senate rules to make it more difficult to force a similar vote in the future.

Gronstal says the new rules codify longstanding Senate tradition but Republicans claim it's an attempt to prevent debate on controversial issues such as gay marriage.

Republicans want to force a vote on a measure putting a gay marriage ban before voters.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gay Marriage Reaches Majority Support In 17 States | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

Gay Marriage Reaches Majority Support In 17 States | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

A majority of people in 17 states now support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

According to a special reported titled Polling Shows Americans Support LGBT People On All Issues released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, support for gay marriage has increased in all 50 states.

“While the American people embrace their LGBT friends and neighbors, government remains a lagging indicator of acceptance,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “The numbers don't lie. Americans want equal rights for LGBT citizens and lawmakers should heed their call.”

Citing research conducted at Columbia University, the report's authors found that as recently as 2004 such unions did not have majority support in any state, and only 3 states in 2008.

But in 2010, 17 states turned the corner, including Delaware (50%), Nevada (50%), Maryland (51%), Pennsylvania (51%), Oregon (52%), Colorado (52%), Washington (54%), Hawaii (54%), Maine (55%), New Jersey (55%), New Hampshire (55%), California (56%), Connecticut (57%), New York (58%), Vermont (59%) and Rhode Island (60%).

Not surprisingly, the highest majority (62%) was found in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize the institution in 2005.

According to a 2008 statistical report compiled by Nate Silver of the New York Times, another 10 states – including Iowa – are predicted to cross the 50% threshold by 2013.

Five mostly New England states – New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts – and the District of Columbia have legalized the union.

Majorities also exist in all three states – Maryland, Rhode Island and New York – where lawmakers are considering legalizing such unions.

Utah scored the lowest out of the 50 states, with only 22 percent in favor of gay marriage. However, that's an increase of 10% over 16 years.

The report also shows a near universal majority of people (89%) believe gay and lesbian Americans should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gay marriage isn't revolutionary. It's just the next step in marriage's evolution.

Gay marriage isn't revolutionary. It's just the next step in marriage's evolution.: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

By Stephanie Coontz
Friday, January 7, 2011;

Opponents of same-sex marriage worry that allowing two men or two women to wed would radically transform a time-honored institution. But they're way too late on that front. Marriage has already been radically transformed - in a way that makes gay marriage not only inevitable, as Vice President Biden described it in an interview late last year, but also quite logical.

We are near the end of a two-stage revolution in the social understanding and legal definition of marriage. This revolution has overturned the most traditional functions of the institution: to reinforce differences in wealth and power and to establish distinct and unequal roles for men and women under the law.

For millennia, marriage was about property and power rather than love. Parents arranged their children's unions to expand the family labor force, gain well-connected in-laws and seal business deals. Sometimes, to consolidate inheritances, parents prevented their younger children from marrying at all. For many people, marriage was an unavoidable duty. For others, it was a privilege, not a right. Often, servants, slaves and paupers were forbidden to wed.

But a little more than two centuries ago, people began to believe that they had a right to choose their partners on the basis of love rather than having their marriages arranged to suit the interests of parents or the state.

Love, not money, became the main reason for getting married, and more liberal divorce laws logically followed. After all, people reasoned, if love is gone, why persist in the marriage? Divorce rates rose steadily from the 1850s through the 1950s, long before the surge that initially accompanied the broad entry of women into the workforce.

Adopting love as the basis for marriage meant other changes, too, especially greater acceptance of the idea that men and women had a fundamental right to marry, even to people of whom their parents - and society - disapproved. By the 1940s and 1950s, many state courts were repealing laws that prevented particular classes of people from marrying. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit interracial marriage. In 1978, that court struck down a Wisconsin law prohibiting marriage by parents who had not met prior child-support obligations. In 1987, it upheld the right of prison inmates to marry.

But huge as the repercussions of the love revolution were, they did not make same-sex marriage inevitable, because marriage continued to be based on differing roles and rights for husbands and wives: Wives were legally dependent on their husbands and performed specific wifely duties. This was part of what marriage cemented in society, and the reason marriage was between men and women. Only when distinct gender roles ceased to be the organizing principle of marriage - in just the past 40 years - did we start down the road to legalizing unions between two men or two women.

Over the ages, marriage enforced an unequal division of labor, wealth and power between men and women. Traditional English and American law gave the husband sole control over all property that his wife brought to their marriage and any income she earned during it. Husbands had the legal right - and the duty - to impose their will by force. A husband couldn't cede any rights to his wife, said the courts, "because that would presuppose her separate existence," according to Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws.

By the early 19th century, the old ideas that women needed to be under male authority because they were more prone to sexual passion and religious error than men, and that husbands ruled the home just as monarchs ruled their kingdoms, had given way to a gentler but equally rigid gender ideology. Men were recast as benevolent breadwinners who exercised authority not because they were the patriarchal bosses of the family labor force, but because they were women's natural providers and protectors. Women were frail dependents whose nurturing nature and innate sexual purity predisposed them to sweet submission.

This redefinition of gender allowed 19th-century Americans to reconcile the new ideal of married love with a continued claim that husbands and wives had completely different rights and duties. And in the 20th century, even as the right of individuals to choose their partner became the cultural norm and legal reality, the insistence that marriage united two distinct gender stereotypes became increasingly shrill.

During the 1940s, '50s and '60s, sociologists and psychiatrists remained adamant that marriage required strict adherence to traditional feminine and masculine roles. In 1964, a year after Betty Friedan published "The Feminine Mystique," an article in a journal of the American Medical Association described beating as a "more or less" satisfactory way for an "aggressive, efficient, masculine" wife to "be punished for her castrating activity" and for a husband to "re-establish his masculine identity."

Well into the 1970s, marriage was still legally defined as a union that assigned differing marital rights and obligations according to gender. The husband was responsible for supporting the family financially, but he also got to decide what constituted an adequate level of support, how to dispose of certain kinds of property and where the family would live.

The wife, in turn, was legally responsible for providing services in and around the home, but she had no comparable rights to such services. That is why a husband could sue for loss of consortium if his spouse were killed or incapacitated, but a wife in the same situation could not. And because sex was one of the services expected of a wife, she could not charge her husband with rape.

In 1970, inspired by the Supreme Court decision that interracial couples had the right to marry, two Minnesota men applied for a marriage license. Asked by a reporter which one would be the wife, their reply was: "We don't play those kinds of roles." The incident received little serious attention. Most Americans could not imagine a marriage in which one partner did not assume the dominant role of husband and one the subordinate role of wife.

During the 1970s and 1980s, however, a new revolution in marriage rolled across North America and Europe. As feminists pressed for the repeal of "head and master" laws enshrining male authority in the household, legal codes were rewritten so that they no longer assigned different rights and duties by gender. Over time, people came to view marriage as a relationship between two individuals who were free to organize their partnership and their parenting on the basis of their personal inclinations rather than pre-assigned gender roles. Today, as Judge Vaughn Walker noted in his decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals."

Gender neutrality has made many marriages fairer and more fulfilling than ever before, which has in turn been a big factor in the falling divorce rates and steep decline in marital domestic violence over the past 30 years. And spouses who share an egalitarian viewpoint report above-average levels of marital happiness, according to researchers.

The spread of gender-neutral attitudes about heterosexual marriage has also undercut support for limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Although well-financed campaigns against same-sex marriage still generate victories on Election Day, hard-core opposition has steadily eroded. In October, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time in its 15 years of polling, less than half the public opposed same-sex marriage. That poll also found that 42 percent actively supported it - still less than a majority, but a new high. Two other national polls have found that a small majority of Americans endorse same-sex marriage.

Support for same-sex marriage is already higher than support for interracial marriage was in 1970, three years after the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. And since young adults ages 18 to 29 are the group most supportive of same-sex marriage, it is largely a matter of when, rather than if, a majority of Americans will endorse this extension of marriage rights.

Opponents of gay marriage argue that this trend will lead to the destruction of traditional marriage. But, for better and for worse, traditional marriage has already been destroyed, and the process began long before anyone even dreamed of legalizing same-sex marriage.

People now decide for themselves who and when - and whether - to marry. When they do wed, they decide for themselves whether to have children and how to divide household tasks. If they cannot agree, they are free to leave the marriage.

If gay marriage is legally recognized in this country, it will have little impact on the institution of marriage. In fact, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage - an indication that it's not just the president's views that are "evolving" - is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the profound revolutions in marriage that have already taken place.

Candian Court Rules on Religious Opt-Outs for Marriage Officials :: EDGE New York City

Candian Court Rules on Religious Opt-Outs for Marriage Officials :: EDGE New York City: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

An appeals court in Saskatchewan has issued its verdict about a proposed law that would allow government employees to cite their religious faith in refusing services to gays and lesbians.

The case dealt specifically with marriage commissioners seeking the legal right to refuse to preside over weddings for same-sex couples. A law to that effect had been proposed, and the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was asked by the Saskatchewan government to consider whether the bill met constitutional muster. Arguments were made before the court in May, 2010, the Canadian Press reported. Two days of hearings explored the needs of gay and lesbian couples to be treated equally before the law, as well as rationales for allowing people with anti-gay religious outlooks to carry those beliefs into the workplace. Proponents of the proposal said that gay families could always go to someone willing to marry them. GLBT equality advocates argued that such a law would set a civil rights-damaging precedent that could lead to future curtailments for gays and lesbians.

A constitutional scholar, John Whyte, told the Canadian press, "The case is significant on the very issue itself," recalled the Vancouver Sun in a Jan. 9 article. "The case also opens the door--a much wider door--on the question of accommodation of religious needs." Added Whyte, "But it has some impact on the general question of accommodation of religious belief in public servants and public service generally. That’s what’s at stake here in a conceptual way, and so the case has that significance."

The government’s solicitation of an opinion from the high court marked the first time in two decades that lawmakers turned to the judiciary in deliberating potential legislation, the Vancouver Sun said.

The court ruled on Jan. 10 that such a law would not, in fact, be constitutional, and that marriage commissioners must, therefore, set aside private religious beliefs while on the job and answer their professional obligations.

The law was a response to earlier court findings that, under existing law, marriage commissioners may not refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples. Similar questions about balancing religious freedoms with ensuring that gays receive equal treatment before the law are pending in other provinces, but the court’s decision is binding only in Saskatchewan.

The provincial government had signaled that it wanted to find some compromise between those who wish to deny same-sex couples equal service on religious grounds, and the rights of all Canadian citizens to be treated equally before the law. "What we are trying to achieve is whether we can protect the rights of same-sex couples and also the rights of marriage commissioners without having to pick [one priority] over the other," Don Morgan, the province’s justice minister, had told the media prior to the court’s verdict, according to a Jan. 10 CBC News article.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Same-sex marriage bills introduced in R.I. House, Senate - Projo Politics Blog

Same-sex marriage bills introduced in R.I. House, Senate - Projo Politics Blog: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Same-sex marriage bills introduced in R.I. House, Senate
5:55 PM Thu, Jan 06, 2011 | Permalink
By News staff Email this author | Email this entry

By Katherine Gregg
Journal State House Bureau

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- With the introduction on Thursday of same-sex marriage bills in both the House and Senate, the battle now begins.

In the House, Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston introduced his annual bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. The 29 lawmakers co-signing the bill include House Speaker Gordon D. Fox.

As she introduced similar legislation in the Senate, Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, said she hoped it would get a hearing and vote early in the legislative session.

A mirror of Handy's bill, it legalizes "civil marriage'' between people of the same gender to marry, while specifying that no religious institution would be required to marry same-sex couples if that would go against their teachings.

"We want to get it going early on," she said. "We want to have debate and a hearing, and we do not want to wait until the end of the year."

The legislation has strong support in the House, where Fox, who is openly gay, has also expressed his desire for an early vote. But House Minority Leader Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, says that while he favors "civil unions'' he draws a line when it comes to the word "marriage,'' and doesn't believe that changing the definition of marriage should be decided solely by the 75 members of the House, 38 in the Senate.

"I agree with those who say words have meaning,'' he said Thursday, citing words like "plantations'' in the official name of the state, and "illegal aliens'' as a term to describe some non-citizens. "All these words have power and meaning, and can offend and hurt and harm.

"Well, if that's the case, a civil union bill achieves what they are seeking to achieve. A gay marriage bill appears to be a little stronger ... And I would support any bill leaving this floor and going before the voters as a referendum question.''

The bill's chances in the Senate are more iffy.

Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed opposes same-gender marriage, which is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, but is facing a repeal effort in New Hampshire. (In Maine, voters overturned the state Legislature's approval of same-sex nuptials.)

Paiva Weed said after the brief session Thursday that it was "premature" to comment on how soon Perry's bill, which will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, might be considered.

Perry said she believes the legislation would be approved if put to the full Senate, but noted that the bill, which she has introduced at least eight times in recent years, has never been put to a vote, even in the committee.

Meanwhile, a New York-based advocacy group registered its own opposition to the term "same-sex marriage.''

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said it would prefer the media and the public use the phrase "marriage for gay and lesbian couples" rather than "gay marriage," "same-gender marriage," "same-sex marriage," etc.

"The reason is this,'' said media field strategist Justin Ward. "Gay and lesbian couples are not looking to change the institution of marriage; they want to be a part of the institution as it exists now.''

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Truth Wins Out - Rhode Island Governor Chafee Uses Inaugural Address to Call for Marriage Equality

Truth Wins Out - Rhode Island Governor Chafee Uses Inaugural Address to Call for Marriage Equality: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

, so here’s the key text, via Towleroad:

“I urge the General Assembly to quickly consider and adopt this legislation. When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honor our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in the pursuit of human equality. Rhode Island today must be as welcoming to all as [the state's founder] Roger Williams intended it to be. Mark my words, these two actions will do more for economic growth in our state than any economic development loan.”

Maggie Gallagher’s 2011 resolution, of course, is to find faster, more efficient ways to play Whack-A-Mole.

If you’re in Rhode Island, Maggie’s organization helpfully put together a list of the Senators who’ll be voting on this, with contact info and everything. Thank you, Maggie, for working so tirelessly, and accidentally, for gay equality!
Tags: Lincoln Chafee, Maggie Gallagher, marriage equality, Rhode

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Federal Appeals Court Sends Prop 8 Case On Detour To State Supreme Court: News: SFAppeal

Federal Appeals Court Sends Prop 8 Case On Detour To State Supreme Court: News: SFAppeal: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

A federal appeals court in San Francisco today sent a key question in a challenge to Proposition 8 to the California Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals asked the state high court to decide whether the sponsors of the voter-approved state ban on same-sex marriage have the legal right to appeal a decision that struck down the measure.

The issue arose because former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is now governor, declined to defend the voter initiative in the trial of a civil rights lawsuit.

The state officials were the original defendants in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples.

The appeals court panel said the state Supreme Court must decide whether the sponsors have the right to appeal under state law.

If the state court rules that there is no such right, then the appeal must be dismissed, the court said. That would leave in place an August ruling in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco struck down the measure.

The federal panel wrote, "This court is obligated to ensure that it has jurisdiction over this appeal before proceeding to the important constitutional questions it presents, and we must dismiss the appeal if we lack jurisdiction."

If the California Supreme Court concludes that the sponsors do have a right to appeal, the case would go back to the 9th Circuit, which would then decide whether the initiative violates the U.S. Constitution.

But the detour to the state high court would delay a final ruling in the case for at least several months.

Proposition 8, enacted by voters in 2008, provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.

Walker's ruling striking down the initiative has been put on hold during the appeal process.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

OK . . . I’m off the pot - Libby Post - - Albany NY

OK . . . I’m off the pot - Libby Post - - Albany NY: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

by Libby Post

I know I’ve been absent for the past two months and my apologies to folks whose comments “lingered” as one of my loyal readers wrote (he also told me in no uncertain terms to shit or get off the pot–so . . .).

To tell you all the truth, I’ve had a challenging time at work the past few months. Suffice it to say this was the year of the angry voter who made it his or her business to hurt local libraries by just saying NO to any type of tax increase regardless of its merits.

You know the Tea Partiers have caught a wave–albeit hopefully a short one–when mom and apple pie initiaitves, such as supporting libraries, go down to defeat.

But, it’s a new year and my #1, and I really mean this, my #1 resolution is getting back to writing on LGBT issues both here and at WAMC. As hokey or perhaps as bizarre as this might seem, the more engaged I am in LGBT issues the more successful I’ve been professionally–so, in order to keep the lights on and a new Medi-Fast order on my table, I’m back.

The end of 2010 was an interesting one for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed. While it is the only major legislative victory on LGBT rights for the Obama Administration, it is a major accomplishment for the community. It’s time for our country to take this giant leap forward and stop falling prey to the hysteria of the Radical Christian Right and its homophobia.

The troops themselves as well as many of the military’s leadership say the repeal will not impact unit cohesion. When the bombs are bursting and the bullets flying, I doubt anyone is thinking about whether the person you’re working with to the defend the county is gay or straight. You just want to make sure they’re on our side. And, quite honestly, those who have enlisted to serve their country from the LGBT community didn’t do it lightly–they knew the odds they were up against because they enlisted while DADT was in effect . They enlisted anyway because they felt an obligation–an obligation to serve their country.

In this day and age, if these brave folks have resolved to fight for our country, they deserve the thanks of a grateful nation not the jeers and tirades of ignorant ingrates.

2011 promises to be an interesting one for the LGBT community. The Republicans have taken the majority in the House of Representatives nationally and in the Senate in New York State. I don’t expect any movement on any of our legislative issues nationally. But I do expect for the Republicans in the State Senate, with their razor thin majority, to put the issue of same-sex marriage to rest–in other words, I think there’s a good chance of it passing this year.

After all, the majority of New Yorkers now support it. Why keep it hanging over the heads of the State Senate. According to Ross Levi, the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Executive Director, Dean Skelos, the Senate’s new majority leader, will let marriage equality come to the floor of the Senate and there will be no party line vote.

In other words, the GOP majority in the State Senate has recognized that opposing marriage equality is a losing issue for them and it should be considered a vote of conscience–just as reproductive choice and the death penalty are considered.

With the Pride Agenda’s successful work of defeating two of the anti-marriage equality votes in the Senate–one from each side of the aisle–Skelos sees the writing on the wall. Marriage equality isn’t an issue he needs to expend major political capital on anymore. He will let the chips fall where they may. If that’s the case, we just might be standing under a chuppah sometime soon.

And after all, if the Republicans want to help the economy legalizing our nuptials will, according to the State Comptroller’s offices, pump $184 million into the state’s economy. Not enough to turn our financial crisis around but good enough to bolster some small businesses throughout New York.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Boston Marriage: Top Episcopalian Clerics Wed in Same-Sex Ceremony :: EDGE Ft. Lauderdale

Boston Marriage: Top Episcopalian Clerics Wed in Same-Sex Ceremony :: EDGE Ft. Lauderdale: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

by Kilian Melloy

Two highly placed Episcopalian clerics married in Boston in a same-sex wedding celebrated at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.

The wedding took place on New Year’s Day, and joined the Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale and Mally Lloyd in holy matrimony, according to a Jan. 2 press release. Ragsdale is the dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School. Lloyd is the Canon to the Ordinary.

The ceremony marked the first same-sex wedding to take place at the cathedral in the nearly seven years since marriage equality was granted in Massachusetts, the first state in the union to extend legal parity to gay and lesbian families.

The wedding was also the first to be officiated over by the Right Reverend M. Thomas Shaw, who serves as the Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. It was only a little more than a year ago, in November, 2009, that Shaw decided to allow clerics in the Diocese of Massachusetts to officiate at all weddings, regardless of the genders of the celebrants, noted the release.

"God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a life long commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other," said Bishop Shaw at the ceremony, which was attended by about 400 people. "It’s a profound pleasure for me to celebrate with God and my friends, the marriage of Katherine and Mally."

"The couple met on June 30, 2008, at the urging of a mutual friend," recounted the release. "At the time, Canon Lloyd, 57, said, ’We were both travelling a lot and so we would talk by phone. And somehow when you talk a lot by phone, a relationship can go deeper more quickly than when you spend time in person. At least that is what happened to us.’ "

The release noted that the marriage is the first for Dean Ragsdale, and the second for Canon Lloyd. "It’s astonishing how the world is changing," Ragsdale said, going on to note, "when I grew up, I never believed I would be able to have someone special in my life and now to have almost 400 people show up to support us at our marriage ceremony is wonderful."

"We have a lot in common," said Canon Lloyd, adding, "we each have a spiritual life that the other understands and respects and we also understand the amount of travelling and often late hours that our work requires. Somehow too when you are in your fifties, certain things just aren’t as big a problem as they seemed in your twenties."

"Though the Episcopal Church’s canons and formularly still state that marriage is between a man and a woman, the church at its General Convention in July of 2009 decided to allow that ’bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church,’ " noted the release.

"Ragsdale, 52, became dean of the historic Episcopal Divinity School in October 2009," the release said. She is the first woman to hold that position. The school is among the most progressive seminaries in the world."

The release went on to say, "Lloyd, 57, as canon to the ordinary to Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE since December 2008, serves as a chief executive, overseeing operations for one of the Episcopal Church’s largest and most politically active dioceses. She is a deputy to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention and a member of the church’s influential Program, Budget and Finance Committee."

Religious and social conservatives blasted the marriage, focusing on Ragsdale’s advocacy for women’s reproductive freedom. "Ever notice how liberal women are almost always fugly (inside and out)?" read text posted at BeJohnGalt on Jan. 2. The text was placed beneath a photo of Ragsdale, who was shown speaking at a rally for reproductive freedom.

BeJohnGalt also suggested that accepting gays among the laity and the clergy was behind declining numbers in open and affirming religious traditions. "Yesterday we were discussing the lack of a moral doctrine in many mainstream Christian religions and how it is hastening their demise," the posting read. "A number of Episco0pal and Anglican bishops and priests have moved to the Catholic Church in recent years and, in several cases, entire parishes have converted to Catholicism, primarily due to the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of homosexuality."

According to contested claims, church attendance overall is declining not only in America, but also in developed nations globally. A 2008 study indicated that all mainstream denominations were losing adherents. One study refuted this, but was itself called into question by survey results that indicated that Americans tend to exaggerate their church attendance. Churches with more modern approaches that target the young have done better than "traditional" churches at maintaining their numbers and vitality.

Participants at conservative chat site posted similar denunciations. "[T]his is why the Episcopalians are nothing but a joke anymore," wrote one. "[T]he evil was welcomed in and now it is destroying."

Wrote another, "How special (and sick) WE KNOW homosexuality is their RELIGION..."

"This nut thinks she’s a Christian?!?" posted another. "That’s some strange brand on "Christianity" she’s preaching. Yikes! I hope people run fast & far from her ’message’."

"Hopefully, they used a calliope instead of the church organ to play the ’wedding’ march," quipped another.

Religious site Stand Firm dismissed the wedding as "Circus Entertainment" in a Jan. 3 posting that referred to Ragsdale as a "Lesbian infanticide advocate."

The Episcopal News Service reported on Jan. 3 that Ragsdale was attended at the wedding ceremony by two nephews and a niece. Lloyd’s three children from her first marriage, two sons and a daughter, attended her.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Uruguay OKs gay unions in Latin American first | Reuters

Uruguay OKs gay unions in Latin American first | Reuters: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Under the new law, gay and straight couples will be eligible to form civil unions after living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and child custody.

Uruguay's Senate passed the bill unanimously after the lower house approved it last month, a congressional spokesman said. The country's center-left president is expected to sign it into law.

Several cities, including Buenos Aires and Mexico City, already have gay civil union laws on the books. Uruguay's law would be the first nationwide measure in Latin America, which is home to about half the world's Roman Catholics.

In Uruguay, couples must register their relationship with authorities to gain the cohabitation rights, and they will also be able to formalize the end of a union.

Gay marriage remains illegal in Uruguay, a small South American country known for its secular streak.

The Catholic Church has said its opposition to gay marriage is non-negotiable and Catholic politicians have a moral duty to oppose it.

Earlier this year in Colombia, a group of senators shot down a landmark gay rights bill at the last minute, using a procedural vote to back away from the measur

Activists In Paraguay Optimistic About Upcoming Gay Marriage Debate | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel

Activists In Paraguay Optimistic About Upcoming Gay Marriage Debate | On Top Magazine :: Gay & Lesbian News, Entertainment, Commentary & Travel: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

By Carlos Santoscoy
Published: October 05, 2010

Supporters of gay marriage in Paraguay say they have a good chance of having the legislation approved.

The debate on whether to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the Roman Catholic stronghold kicked off Saturday with two large demonstrations.

Opponents of marriage equality protested at town squares throughout the nation, while advocates gathered in front of the Pantheon of Heroes, Asuncion's memorial to the country's fallen soldiers, to urge Paraguayans to support gay marriage.

The gay rights group SOMOSGAY (we are gay) will present the gay marriage bill to legislators this month. Opposition, however, began mobilizing just days after neighboring Argentina approved a similar law in July.

“We are going to put out an intense educational campaign on Christian values, to avoid the law of marriage between people of the same sex that was approved in Argentina from coming to Paraguay,” Bishop Adalberto Martinez of San Pedo told La Nation.

The church is backing the campaign Queremos Papa y Mama (We want a mother and a father), which sponsored Saturday's anti-gay marriage Festival Por La Vida Y La Familia (Festival For Life & Family).

SOMOSGAY President Simon Cazal said that while his group will present the gay marriage bill this month, lawmakers aren't expected to take up the bill until early next year. “There is a possibility that it'll be approved,” Cazal told On Top Magazine in an email.