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 Covering Gay Parents,  Adoption & Marriage

 

           

Gay Marriage Debate Erupts Across U.S. Associated Press, March 4, 2004

Why San Francisco's brash mayor is taking on Schwarzenegger and Bush over gay marriage TIME,
March 1, 2004

Let States DecideWall Street Journal, February 27, 2004

Gay Conservatives Fight Bush on Wedding Vow Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2004

Taiwan promises gay marriages Toronto Star,
February 8, 2004

Groups expect Bush to press for constitutional amendment Boston Globe, February 6, 2004

Reaction varies to SJC's gay marriage decision Associated Press, February 4, 2004

GOP tries to bar gay marriages Wisconsin State Journal, January 30, 2004

Did Dean oppose Vermont civil unions? New York Blade, January 23, 2004

Poll finds majority opposes same-sex marriage; but most oppose constitutional amendment Associated Press, January 21, 2004

New Bush marriage plan worries gays Gay.com,
January 14, 2004

Mass. about to alter gay-marriage debate USA Today,
December 26, 2003

First gay couple to receive a legal marriage licence Canadian Newsmaker of the Year Canadian Press,
December 21, 2003

Public Ambivalence on Gay Unions Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2003

Bishop: Gays should have right to marry Associated Press, December 12, 2003

Local retired gay couple have agreed to appear in advocacy ad Winston-Salem Journal, December 11, 2003

Mass. Senate eyes civil unions Boston Globe,
December 7, 2003

Speakers debate same-sex marriage Daily Bruin (UCLA), December 4, 2003

Landmark ruling on gay marriage Christian Science Monitor, November 18, 2003

Gay marriage step closer in U.S. state Reuters,
November 18, 2003

High Court in Massachusetts Rules Gays Have Right to Marry New York Times, November 18, 2003

'Marriage Protection' is not protective at all Daily Trojan, October 20, 2003

Gays welcome Barr's stance on Constitution Detroit News, September 8, 2003

Gay leaders mobilize for marriage battle Washington Blade (GLBT), August 17, 2003

Analysis: Gay marriage around the globe United Press International, July 15, 2003

White House Avoids Stand on Gay Marriage Measure New York Times, July 2, 2003 

Ontario court endorses same-sex marriages CBC Ottowa, June 10,2003

Toronto Starts Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses Reuters, June 10,2003

Gay Unions Were Only Half the Battle New York Times, April 6,  2003

Court Hears Gay Marriage Case: Couples' lawsuit could make Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex matrimony. Los Angeles Times, March 8,  2003

States grapple with gay rights and definition of the family Christian Science Monitor, March 6,  2003

Supporters Of Gay Marriage Make Their Case At Capitol. Opponents Fear Law Would Destroy Society The Day, February 25,  2003

Same-sex couples redefining family law in USA U.S.A. Today, February 18,  2003

One man's death from broken leg challenges civil unions, gay rights Newark Advocate, (Opinion) 
February 1,  2003

Newspaper chain enacts pro-gay announcements policy Advocate.com (GLBT), January 8, 2003

Partners in parenthood Philadelphia Inquirer
 September 4, 2002

Forum on state Supreme Court ruling Pittsburgh-Post Gazette August 25, 2002 (Opinion)

 

 

 

 

 


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Associated Press,
March 4, 2004

Gay Marriage Debate Erupts Across U.S.

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. - The contentious debate over gay marriage intensified from coast to coast as officials in liberal pockets of the nation vowed to issue licenses for same-sex couples in defiance of critics and long-accepted laws.

As scores of gay couples tied the knot in Portland, Oregon's governor joined others to question the legality of similar marriage ceremonies sweeping the nation from San Francisco to New Mexico, Massachusetts and upstate New York.

New York's attorney general said gay weddings in that state are illegal, though his opinion didn't deter a second mayor in the state from announcing that he would soon conduct gay marriages.

Critics of gay marriage watched the growing list of counties and municipalities planning to authorize licenses for same-sex couples or solemnizing gay marriages with growing alarm.

"It's anarchy," said Rick Forcier of the Washington state chapter of the Christian Coalition. "We seem to have lost the rule of law. It's very frightening when every community decides what laws they will obey."

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski questioned the legality of Multnomah County issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying the state's 1863 marriage statute suggested marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

But the governor's words did little to deter the long line of gay couples snaking their way around a Multnomah County building, ducking under rainbow-colored umbrellas as they waited to pick up marriage licenses Wednesday.

"This means we finally get to enjoy what every other married couple takes for granted — it means we finally get to enter that world also," said Mary Li, a county employee who was the first to legalize her commitment to her longtime partner.

County officials estimate that over 400 marriage licenses were issued Wednesday to same-sex couples — four times as many as were granted last month on the first day San Francisco recognized gay unions. The licenses were to again be handed out Thursday.

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TIME,
March 1, 2004

I Do ... No, You Don't!
Why San Francisco's brash mayor is taking on Schwarzenegger and Bush over gay marriage

By Chris Taylor, San Francisco

If you wanted to get to Mayor Gavin Newsom's office at San Francisco's city hall last week, you had to navigate your way through a happy sea of gay newlyweds.  Dozens of small groups were strewn randomly on the mayor's balcony, on the grand staircase, under the echoing rotunda modeled on the U.S. Capitol.

Each group offered a similar emotional tableau: the couple beaming with pride, the earnest volunteer officiator in casual dress, the distracted children, the supportive friends wielding cameras or holding up cell phones so parents could hear "I do."  Which is exactly the kind of scene Mayor Newsom imagined when he put the gay wedding train in motion just before Valentine's Day.  "Put a human face on it.  Let's not talk about it in theory," he explains.  "Give me a story.  Give me lives."  The only thing Newsom was surprised by was the sheer number of lives involved - he hadn't expected so many out-of-state couples.  By Friday, nearly 6,000 same-sex newlyweds had streamed out of city hall.

Newsom's decision has set off a nation-wide chain reaction that is putting public officials on the spot.  President Bush declared himself "troubled," hinting that San Francisco's actions make him more likely to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued stern warnings to heed California law, which bars same-sex marriage.  "It's time for the city to stop traveling down this dangerous path of ignoring the rule of law," he said.

Meanwhile, other civic leaders embraced Newsom's actions.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said he would have "no problem" with Cook County issuing same-sex marriage licenses.  Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson welcomed San Francisco's new policy.  Victoria Dunlap, a Republican county clerk in New Mexico, issued licenses to 26 same-sex couples last Friday until the state attorney general shut her down.

Like the lives of the couples his decisions have changed, Newsom's political career has been irrevocably altered.  He began it as the millionaire owner of the PlumpJack Cafe and Winery, the son of a local judge, and the husband of former lingerie model turned cnn and Court TV commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom.  At 36 he is the youngest Bay Area mayor since the Gold Rush era.  Now, less than 50 days into his tenure, the slick-haired, smooth-talking politician has become both poster boy and punching bag on the hot-button issue of gay marriage.  Many Democrats are fretting that a presidential election year is a bad time for Newsom to take a principled and potentially unpopular stand on an issue that might hurt the party in the general election.  But throughout all the controversy, the mayor remains almost preternaturally calm.  "He's like Dean without the anger," says a Newsom staff member.      

Before they elected him by a narrow margin over his Green Party opponent last December, San Franciscans thought they had Newsom figured out.  He was a Clintonian New Democrat, the party establishment's choice to replace outgoing Mayor Willie Brown.  The issue Newsom was best known for was a favorite with conservatives:  he wanted to slash welfare payments to the homeless in return for more city housing.  During a contentious campaign, Newsom voiced enthusiasm for same-sex marriage - but that is hardly an unusual platform in America's capital of gay culture.  "Every San Francisco politician supports it, and then they run and hide when they get in office," he says.  "That's why politicians are unpopular.  We're always looking for a leader who speaks his conscience, and then when he does, we say, 'Boy, that was brave, but a little risky.  Let's find someone more safe.'"

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Wall Street Journal,
February 27, 2004

Let States Decide
by John Yoo

President Bush this week called on Congress to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages by defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.  "Some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage," he said in justifying the need for this extraordinary step.

Election-year politics aside, surely the administration is correct that this revolutionary change in social norms is being unwisely engineered by a small set of officials: the Supreme Court, Massachusetts judges and legislators, and the mayor of San Francisco.  A constitutional amendment would serve as a national plebiscite on the question of gay marriage.  In demanding that the amendment define marriage as between a man and a woman, however, President Bush has adopted the wrong constitutional strategy.

The purpose of a constitutional amendment should be to restore the status quo ante that existed before the activism of these officials upended the social order in Massachusetts and San Francisco.  An amendment in keeping with our federal system would be one that preserved the definition of marriage to each state to decide for itself, just as our constitutional system permitted for the first two centuries of its existence.  Conservatives who have criticized the Supreme Court's nationalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade should support a more modest amendment that would prevent one state, such as Massachusetts, from deciding the policy on gay marriage for all other states.

The Bush administration should resist the urge to engage in unnecessary changes to the Constitution. 

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Los Angeles Times,
February 26, 2004

Gay Conservatives Fight Bush on Wedding Vow
A key GOP group plans a campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment in several states crucial to the president's reelection.
By Johanna Neuman, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Angered by President Bush's endorsement of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely the union of a man and a woman, gay conservatives are laying the groundwork for a campaign against the proposal in swing states, such as Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Ohio, that are critical to the president's reelection.

Log Cabin Republicans, the largest GOP organization on gay issues, is exploring options from grass-roots voter mobilization efforts to television and radio ads - all designed to convince fellow conservatives, as well as moderates and independents, that the White House is "playing politics" with the Constitution.

"A constitutional amendment is a call to arms for gay conservatives," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the group, which is planning its annual convention in Palm Springs in April.  "A lot of gay conservatives who have been extraordinarily loyal will not remain silent.  This is a breach."

In the last few months, Guerriero has visited Missouri and Ohio to assess the political climate and talk to activists.  In the last year he has traveled to 26 states and 87 cities to prepare for the largest presence ever of gay conservatives and their allies at the Republican National Convention, which will be in New York this year.

He said that since Bush's announcement on Tuesday embracing the amendment proposed by Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-Colo.), anger among gay conservatives was boiling over.

"The feeling is, if you want a cultural war, you'll get it," he said Wednesday in an interview.  "We don't want history to record that we stood silent when our president and our party tried to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution."

Some gay conservatives who work in the Bush administration or who hold political office say they feel a special sense of betrayal, and they share a conviction that the White House has miscalculated the political fallout.

Recalling the 2000 campaign, when Bush met with gay activists and vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney - who has an openly lesbian daughter - talked of leaving this issue to the states, some gay Republicans are vowing to vote Democratic for the first time, while others are pledging to stay in the party and fight.

For the White House, the issue of same-sex marriage is a dicey political issue, pitting key constituencies - evangelical Christians and social conservatives - against an activist group of gay Republicans and their allies among Libertarians and moderate Republicans.  In exit polls from the 2000 election, about 4 million Americans identified themselves as gay or lesbian; of those, about a quarter said they voted for Bush.  Gay Republicans say, however, that it is not only their support Bush is risking, but that of their families and friends and like-minded conservatives.

"The day word came out that he was going to support a constitutional amendment, my phone was ringing off the hook, with straight Republican friends saying, 'He just lost my vote,'" said Rebecca Maestri, a lesbian activist who works on Iraqi redevelopment issues for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Toronto Star,
February 8, 2004

Taiwan promises gay marriages

Few here oppose rights including same-sex unions

Island's tolerance rooted in cultural, political realities

Martin Regg Cohn

TAIPEI - When Taiwanese novelist Shu Yu-Shen proposed marriage to his gay lover in 1996, he invited 600 guests to celebrate their public wedding vows.

The only ingredient missing from his lavish banquet: a marriage licence.

"Even though there was no licence and it wasn't legal, I still wanted this symbolic ceremony," Shu recalls. "The most important thing is not a license, it's the feeling."

Seven years later, Shu has changed his mind: He wants to make it official.

Until recently, Taiwanese gays could only cast envious glances at Canadian court rulings that have paved the way for homosexual unions.

But Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has publicly pledged to legalize gay marriage and his government followed up in November with proposed legislation that would let gays "found a family and adopt children."

There is still much uncertainty in this election year about whether gays will win full legal equality with heterosexual couples in Taiwan's parliament.

But few doubt that Taiwan is fast becoming the most gay-friendly place in Asia.

"At least they're offering this promise so that it educates the whole of society," says the soft-spoken Shu, 43, who is also an expert on human sexuality.

"Then, they can test the (public) reaction, which is okay."

Even with Taiwan's bitterly contested presidential election campaign in full swing, the gay-rights proposals have attracted little attention.

The only ripple of protest came late last year when Dr. Ho Shui-sheng, a lawmaker from the governing Democratic Progressive Party, claimed the legislation was "pushing the nation to its doom" because gay couples cannot procreate.

The DPP quickly forced Ho to publicly retract his remarks and it has been smooth sailing ever since.

The explanation for why Taiwan seems to be an island of tolerance in a sea of Asian homophobia lies in a unique combination of history and geography for this nation that Beijing still treats as a breakaway province.

A major motive is geopolitical one-upmanship in the diplomatic competition with mainland China, where homosexuality is still technically illegal and was until recently classified as a mental illness. 

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Boston Globe,
February 6, 2004

Groups expect Bush to press for constitutional amendment

Wayne Washington

A conservative group and gay rights advocates said yesterday they expect President Bush to call on Congress, possibly during a rare appearance Sunday on a television talk show, to pass and send to the states a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Bush is scheduled to be a guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and gay rights advocates fear that the president will use that appearance to call for congressional approval of such an amendment now that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has explicitly said the state must recognize gay marriages.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the subject of gay marriage is discussed on the show, but he added: "I don't know what they're going to be discussing."

Bush has irked some social conservatives by not publicly backing legislation that would, if passed by Congress and ratified by 38 states, insert the traditional definition of marriage into the Constitution. He has repeatedly said he would support such federal legislation only if courts clear the way for gay marriage.

Republicans who attended a retreat with Bush in Philadelphia last weekend said the president voiced support for a proposed amendment filed in Congress by Senator Wayne Allard and Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republicans from Colorado.

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Associated Press,
February 4, 2004

Reaction varies to SJC's gay marriage decision

By Matt Pitta, Associated Press Writer

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) - Residents of this wind-swept seaside town long known as a haven for gays praised Wednesday's opinion by the state's highest court, which cleared the way for the nation's first same-sex marriages to take place in mid-May.

"I think it means equality," said Brian J. McGuinness, owner of the Archer Inn. "I think that establishing anything but marriage for same-sex couples is discriminatory."

McGuinness, who is gay but has no plans to get married himself, sees the legalization of gay marriage as a good business opportunity.

So does Provincetown tourism director Patricia Fitzpatrick, who said the town will market itself as a great place for gay couples to wed.

"The town can now offer something gays and lesbians have waited their whole lives for," she said.

The state Senate had asked the Supreme Judicial Court for an advisory opinion on whether a bill legalizing Vermont-style civil unions would satisfy the court's November ruling, which stated it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.

The SJC responded that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples would do. The Legislature has until May 17 to amend state law and legalize gay marriage.

"It's now crystal clear, if it wasn't before, that the court meant marriage. The word itself has power and benefits that are intangible," said Mark Carmien, owner of Pride & Joy, a gay-themed bookstore in Northampton, the college town in western Massachusetts that has a large gay and lesbian population. "It's a very brave and historic decision."

Carmien, who plans to marry his partner in June, has a sign in his shop counting down the days to May 17 - 103 as of Wednesday.

The ruling drew a new flood of criticism from groups across the nation that oppose same-sex marriage, and who back an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. The Legislature is scheduled to debate such an amendment on Feb. 11, but the earliest it could take effect would be 2006.

Even President Bush weighed in. His spokesman, Scott McClellan, said: "Activist judges continue to seek to redefine marriage by court order without regard for the will of the people."

But on a bright, chilly day in quiet, offseason Provincetown, residents and workers felt differently.

"It's just ... part of a life, that somebody is there for you and can be recognized without prejudice," said Vernon Porter, 57, the secretary to the Board of Selectmen, who is gay. 

At Town Hall, clerk Douglas Johnstone said he's had inquiries from people across the state interested in coming to Provincetown to get married. And he expects to see many more as May 17 approaches.

In Northampton, florist Malea Rhodes, who advertises her business as the only lesbian-owned shop in town, has already booked her first gay wedding. "I hope that more couples will feel comfortable coming to us," she said.

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Wisconsin State Journal,
January 30, 2004

GOP tries to bar gay marriages

Phil Brinkman, State government reporter

Republican lawmakers are again seeking to prevent gay and lesbian marriages from becoming legal in Wisconsin, pushing for an amendment to the state constitution to recognize only unions between one man and one woman.

The move comes three months after Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed legislation that would have done the same thing. By seeking to make the provision part of the constitution, legislators can go around the governor if the measure is approved in two successive sessions of the Legislature and in a statewide referendum.

If approved, the amendment could go to voters as early as spring 2005.

A constitutional amendment also carries more weight than state law, which already limits marriage to "a husband and wife."

Supporters say the change is needed to prevent "activist judges" from ruling that the constitution's guarantee of equal rights for all trumps state law and gives gays and lesbians the right to marry. The Massachusetts high court made such a finding late last year.

"With just one or two Doyle appointments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Massachusetts decision will be the Wisconsin decision within just a few years," said state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, one of the amendment's authors.

Opponents vowed to fight the proposal, which they said seeks to enshrine discrimination against gays and lesbians, who can't get married now.

"Lesbian and gay couples are already denied the hundreds of rights and responsibilities that come with civil marriage," said Tim O'Brien, president of Action Wisconsin.

"Without civil marriage, our families are torn apart in the midst of life's most tragic situations, like medical emergencies or a death in the family," O'Brien said. "Legislators should acknowledge these injustices and do something to help these families."

The amendment also would bar the state from recognizing unions with an "identical or substantially similar" legal status to marriage.

The bill's sponsors say that wouldn't prohibit the state or local governments from extending some benefits to same-sex couples, as do the cities of Madison and Milwaukee and the Madison School District. But the benefits can't be as great as those given married couples.

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New York Blade,
January 23, 2004

Did Dean oppose Vermont civil unions?

Activists recall former governor fought marriage 'tooth and nail'

By Lou Chibbaro Jr.

Gay Democrats were among the earliest and most active supporters behind the fledgling candidacy of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, raising much of the early money behind his longshot presidential bid. Much of that enthusiasm stemmed from Dean's decision to back his state's landmark civil union legislation, the most expansive recognition ever for same-sex couples in the United States.

But gay leaders from Vermont say they have a somewhat less rosy recollection of Dean's role in the debate over whether the state would adopt civil unions or full-fledged marriage, after the question was was forced upon the state's elected representatives by the Vermont Supreme Court in December 1999.

Dean himself has said he felt "awkward" at the time about the issue of gay marriage, and was unsure of how gays would react to his role in the raucous debate over the issue in Vermont.

State Rep. Bill Lipert of Vermont, a gay Democrat, said he remembers accompanying then-Gov. Dean to a gathering of several hundred gay delegates and gay rights activists at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in August 2000.

Dean came to the convention just over three months after he signed the historic Vermont civil union law. His appearance also came eight months after the Vermont Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling ordering the state to legalize same-sex marriage or provide gay couples with all of the rights, benefits and obligations associated with marriage.

Although many Vermont gay activists praised Dean for lobbying hard for the civil unions law, others faulted him for pushing the legislature into passing a civil unions bill rather than a full, same-sex marriage bill.

The marriage route was the clear choice of gay rights attorneys and the three gay couples who filed the lawsuit in 1997 that led to the Vermont court ruling in December 1999.

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Associated Press,
January 21, 2004

Poll finds majority opposes same-sex marriage; but most oppose constitutional amendment

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than half of Americans say they oppose same-sex marriage, but most also oppose amending the Constitution to ban such unions, according to a poll released Wednesday.

In his State of the Union message Tuesday, President Bush said he would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman if courts struck down a law mandating that.

The ABC News poll found that 55 percent of people think it should be illegal for homosexual couples to get married. Almost that many, 51 percent, were opposed to allowing gay couples to form civil unions.

But when people are asked whether the Constitution should be amended or whether each state should make its own laws, six in 10 said states should make their own laws.

Asked whether it should be the role of the federal government to promote and encourage traditional marriage between a man and a women, 56 percent said it should not be a government role.

The poll of 1,036 adults was taken Jan. 15-18 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Gay.com,
January 14, 2004

New Bush marriage plan worries gays

by Eric Johnston, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network

The Bush administration is planning a $1.5 billion election-year initiative to promote marriage, raising concerns about his continued opposition to same-sex marriage and prompting accusations that the White House is playing "divisive politics" with Democrats during the critical primary season.

Administration officials said the initiative is aimed at promoting healthy, sustainable marriages among low-income couples, according to a report in the New York Times.

Conservative and liberal groups alike applauded the effort, citing statistical evidence suggesting that children thrive best, financially and emotionally, in married two-parent families.

But one leading gay activist sees the marriage initiative as an attempt to divide the African-American and gay communities.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released a statement Wednesday accusing the administration of targeting the marriage initiative to inner-city blacks.

"They plan to pit two of the Democratic Party's most solid blocs of support - the African-American and gay communities - against each other," said Foreman, "and wedge off the votes they need to stay in power."

As it stands, federal money for marriage promotion would be available only to heterosexual couples, under terms of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Under that law, the word "marriage" means "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

But in a statement that surprised some gay activists, Wade F. Horn, the assistant secretary of health and human services for children and families, told the Times: "I don't have any problem with the government providing support services to gay couples under other programs. If a gay couple had a child and they were poor, they might be eligible for food stamps or cash assistance."

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USA Today,
December 26, 2003

Mass. about to alter gay-marriage debate

By Dennis Cauchon, USA Today

Thirty-seven states and the federal government have laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages. Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage by a 2-1 ratio.

Yet gay marriage is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Massachusetts will legalize gay marriage on May 17, barring an unforeseen legal roadblock. And language in the U.S. Constitution could require that gay marriages recognized in one state be honored nationwide.

The issue could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. At stake is whether the legal benefits of marriage should be extended to same-sex couples on such issues as child custody, tax benefits and medical care.

To gay rights advocates, the movement toward gay marriages is the beginning of the inevitable: a civil rights battle that will lead to gay  couples being treated the same as heterosexual couples. To opponents of gay marriage, it shows how judges twist rulings to fit their own beliefs, regardless of the law or public opinion.

"In today's judicial climate, no law is safe," says Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, a group in Tupelo, Miss., that opposes gay marriage. "You've always got judges in Massachusetts or somewhere who think they are above the law."

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts voted 5-4 [actually 4-3] on Nov. 18 that denying lesbians and gay men the right to marry violates the state constitution's guarantee of equal rights for all citizens. Many state constitutions have similar wording about equal rights. That heartens gay rights advocates and worries opponents.

Nebraska, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska have added bans on gay marriage to their state constitutions, and others are considering it. A federal court challenge to the Nebraska amendment could decide whether states can ban civil unions and domestic partnerships, too.

"Ever since this amendment passed, it's been painful for gays and lesbians to realize how much it affects our lives," says Nancy Brink, an Omaha minister who is part of the legal challenge 

Fighting in court

Opponents of gay marriage agree they are vulnerable in courts, although they have won more battles than they have lost. Courts in Arizona, Indiana and New Jersey ruled this year that gays have no right to marry. 

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Canadian Press,
December 21, 2003

First gay couple to receive a legal marriage licence Canadian Newsmaker of the Year

TORONTO - Time Magazine has announced its 2003 Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.

The magazine has chosen Michael Leshner and Michael Stark - the first gay couple to receive a legal marriage licence in Ontario.

Time's Canadian Bureau Chief Steven Frank writes the Michaels  same-sex marriage was the start of a cultural revolution.

He writes Canada has now joined the Netherlands and Belgium as places where gay marriages are legal.

Frank notes that since the summer, around two-thousand gay and lesbian couples - an estimated 600 of them from the U.S. - have married in either Ontario or British Columbia.''

Frank adds Leshner and Stark have come to symbolize the unprecedented acceleration of social liberalism in Canada in 2003.

He writes for delivering a bracing national wake-up call with eloquent and at times outrageous sound bites and public appearances, the Michaels are Time's Canadian Newsmakers of the Year."

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Wall Street Journal,
December 18, 2003

Public Ambivalence on Gay Unions
By Albert R. Hunt

I am a convert to accepting gay marriages.  But as a political issue it's a time bomb for both sides.

This is evident in this week's Wall Street Journal/NBC News national survey.  Americans are evenly split on the question of civil unions, or granting spousal benefits to gay and lesbian partners; but solidly against gay marriages.  Only marginally, however, does the public support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

There is evidence to suggest that both the intensity of feeling and the demographics of the electorate favor the pro-gay side on this explosive issue; demagoguing against it could backfire.  But it's clear that an increasingly tolerant public wants to move cautiously.

Bob Teeter, who conducts the poll with Peter Hart, believes gay unions is "becoming the number-one social issue in the country" with "fascinating" cross-currents:  "The country and young people especially are becoming much more tolerant of gays.  However much of the country also is religious and considers marriage a sacrament. . . .  My instinct is the public will stay divided for awhile."

I used to be a skeptical agnostic on gay marriage, not outrightly opposed yet uncomfortable.  But times are changing.  When I asked my seventeen-year-old son if he supported gay marriage he shrugged and replied, "Sure. What's the big deal?"

The WSJ/NBC News poll shows that younger voters – 18 to 34-year-olds – by an overwhelming 68% support civil unions, and a majority even supports gay marriages.  As was also true during the drive for civil rights a generation or two ago, younger Americans are not encumbered with many of the hang-ups and prejudices of their elders; the tide is with change.

Another is the transparent phoniness of much of the anti-gay case:  It will destroy the institution, ignores the centrality of procreation to marriage and will afflict a moral depravity on children.

Destroy marriage?  How about the 50% divorce rate, more than double what it was in 1960, or the one-third of children born to single mothers, more than triple the number in 1960?  If the social right really is concerned with marriage, how about some serious efforts, and resources, to address these far more fundamental threats?

Was procreation the purpose of all wedding vows?  I wouldn't trade my three kids – most days – for anything; yet other couples are different, some intentionally, some without choice.  We have a number of childless married friends, including a few prominent conservatives.  They chose not to procreate or to adopt.  Should this carry a penalty?  Annul their vows, or get slapped with a childless-marriage penalty tax?

Conservatives complain that gay adoptions have an insidious effect on the kids.  Yet studies suggest that adopted children of gay and lesbian parents are no different from adopted children of heterosexual couples.  Virtually every body of experts – starting with the American Academy of Pediatricians, whose members actually deal with kids in the real world – agrees.  Gay and lesbian couples adopt a disproportionate number of mentally and physically challenged kids, the most unadoptable.  Right-wing critics would let these children rot in foster homes instead.

A recurring, but specious, argument is that if gay marriages are not precluded, that opens the door to polygamy or incestuous relationships.  The reality:  A central tenet of marriage is to promote stability, far more likely in two-way relationships than in multiple relationships; and the risk of birth defects in children of close relatives is a powerful reason to prohibit such marriages.  Further, gay marriage doesn't undermine religious institutions; any church, temple or synagogue is free to perform, recognize or prohibit such unions.

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Associated Press,
December 12, 2003

Bishop: Gays should have right to marry

LAWRENCE, Mass. - Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said he and his male partner of 14 years would be married if the state legalized marriage or civil unions between same-sex partners.

"I am very supportive of the right to marry," Robinson said in a telephone interview with The Eagle Tribune published earlier this week. "If gay and lesbian people are full citizens of the country and state in which they live, they should be accorded the same rights as other couples.

"I don't think it matters whether you call it marriage or civil union as long as the responsibilities and the benefits are the same."

Robinson said churches should not be required to bless such unions, however.

"I think all of the different churches will have to make a decision whether or not to bless these unions," he said.

He said the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire has been blessing same-sex unions for seven years.

Vermont allows civil unions between same-sex partners. In Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court declared last month that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

New Hampshire adopted a law around 20 years ago that specifically banned same-sex marriages.

Robinson, 56, a divorced father of two and the church's first openly gay bishop, was consecrated last month. The event has divided the church in the United States and abroad.

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Winston-Salem Journal,
December 11, 2003

Local retired gay couple have agreed to appear in advocacy ad

Frank Benedetti and his partner, Gary Trowbridge, met by chance at a coffee shop in Atlanta, fell in love and have lived happily together for nearly 40 years.

When Wachovia Corp., Benedetti's former employer, transferred him here in the early 1990s, Trowbridge, a former state employee in Georgia, came with him. The couple, now retired, pursue many common interests: volunteering, home decorating, attending concerts by the Winston-Salem Symphony and worshipping at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

But because Benedetti and Trowbridge can't enter into a civil marriage, they're ineligible for the many legal benefits and protections that Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual take for granted in their golden years.

Benedetti and Trowbridge want to change that. They have agreed to be featured in a full-page advertisement in support of their cause that may run soon in national newspapers.

"Being gay isn't a second-rate version of being straight," said Benedetti, who has written letters to the Winston-Salem Journal's editor over the years. "We want to be at the table with everyone else."

The ad, which shows a picture of Benedetti and Trowbridge and includes a brief text, is titled "Why Are Right Wing Groups Threatening This Family's Security?" It is one of several by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an organization in Washington that is working to extend to gays both the right to a civil marriage and the same legal benefits and protections that married heterosexual couples and their families enjoy.

The foundation is soliciting donations to pay for the ads, which can be seen at www.hrc.org

The group is also working against a proposed constitutional amendment that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry or receive other forms of legal recognition. Benedetti and Trowbridge gave written testimonies against the amendment to a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month in Washington.

Benedetti and Trowbridge would have much to gain from a civil marriage. If one partner died, the other would be eligible for Social Security survivors' benefits. If one partner needed assisted living, the other would be able to apply to the government's Medicaid program for help in financing it. In many cases, inheritances would pass, tax-free, from one partner to another.

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Boston Globe,
December 7, 2003

Mass. Senate eyes civil unions

Move comes as SJC mulls gay marriages

By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff

Leaders of the Massachusetts Senate are preparing to push legislation to establish civil unions for gays and lesbians, a form of legal recognition for same-sex relationships that only Vermont has enacted into law.

The move by Senate President Robert E. Travaglini and his top lieutenants comes as the state's highest court considers whether to legalize gay marriage. Increasingly, some members of the Senate believe the court may direct the Legislature to address the question of the legal status of same-sex relationships, and they want to be prepared.

"Being an advocate of civil rights and an advocate of fairness, and having supported domestic partnerships 20 years ago, it's just a natural progression for me," Travaglini told the Globe in an interview Friday. "I understand the concept of fairness and will be supportive of it."

Travaglini said he is committed to bringing civil union legislation to the floor of the Senate for a vote, but will wait until the Supreme Judicial Court case is concluded before doing so. While many on Beacon Hill expect the SJC to issue its decision this fall, there is no formal deadline by which the court must act.

The Senate president's support for civil unions sets up a potential battle with House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, a socially conservative Democrat and opponent of legal recognition for same-sex couples. Governor Mitt Romney also opposes civil unions.

Travaglini, a Roman Catholic who is married and has three children, said his religious faith blocks him from backing the right of gays to marry, but he said he feels strongly that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same civil protections that heterosexual couples enjoy.

Civil unions, as established in Vermont, offer gay couples who register with the state the rights and benefits of marriage under state law, such as the right to jointly file state tax returns, make medical decisions for a partner, and inherit property. But the unions are not recognized under federal law, prohibiting the couples from receiving federal benefits. 

The California Assembly recently passed a civil union bill more limited than Vermont's, and Governor Gray Davis is expected to sign it into law this month.

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Daily Bruin (UCLA),
December 4, 2003

Speakers debate same-sex marriage

Panel addresses historical court decisions, gender discrimination

By Jennifer Murphy, Daily Bruin Contributor, jmurphy@media.ucla.edu

Proponents of both sides of the debate on legalizing same-sex marriage presented their cases before a full house at the UCLA School of Law on Monday in a forum that included a surprise change of speakers.

About 200 people attended the event and heard three guests speak for and against the topic recently thrust into national spotlight.

A Nov. 18 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sparked debates nationwide after saying the state could not prohibit same-sex marriages. The Massachusetts House of Representatives is considering legislation that would allow for civil unions instead of marriage.

The Charles R. Williams Project on Sexual Orientation Law, an organization dedicated to furthering the rights of homosexual couples, funded the debate. One student said she was impressed by the Williams Project's ability to host a two-sided debate despite its position in favor of same-sex marriages.

The speakers included nationally syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher and the moderator, UCLA Law Professor William Rubenstein, who joined the debate about halfway through to replace a speaker who did not come.

The speakers addressed issues such as the right to marry and historical court rulings that outlawed marriage discrimination.

The speakers also debated whether prohibiting same-sex marriage was gender discrimination.

"A person in a same-sex relationship cannot marry strictly because of his/her sex," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a USC law professor. "That is, by definition, gender discrimination."

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Christian Science Monitor,
November 18, 2003

Landmark ruling on gay marriage

Massachusetts high court rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right and tells the legislature to resolve the issue.

By Amanda Paulson and Seth Stern, Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

The landmark decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday went further than any court yet toward legalizing gay marriage in the United States.

But couples eager to make their union official can't start lining up at the courthouse Wednesday. The tribunal stopped short of ordering the state to start issuing marriage licenses. Instead, it ruled the state's denial of gay marriage unconstitutional - and gave the legislature 180 days to resolve the issue. This marks the first time a high court has ruled that civil marriage between a same-sex couple is a state constitutional right.

The ruling means that the cultural divide over one of the most contentious issues in America will likely only deepen from here. Gay rights activists hope it will bolster their cause in other parts of the country, while conservative groups are equally determined to use it to solidify a growing backlash. "This is the preeminent wedge issue," says independent pollster John Zogby. Now it has even greater "potential to be a wedge issue in 2004."

In its 4-to-3 ruling, the court held that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution."

Unlike court decisions in Hawaii and Vermont, the Massachusetts tribunal didn't send the decision back to a trial court or explicitly allow the legislature to create its own solution. Instead, the court gave legislators and state regulators 180 days to adapt state law to the more expansive definition of marriage set out in its decision. "It's a victory" for same-sex marriage advocates, says Kate Silbaugh, a family-law professor at Boston University. "This is the most expansive decision there has been."

The court redefines marriage as the voluntary union between two persons - a definition adopted earlier by a court in the Canadian province of Ontario. The ruling emphasizes the "enormous private and social advantages" that only marriage brings.

As a result, Ms. Silbaugh, says the Massachusetts high court is not likely to accept civil union as an acceptable alternative if offered by the legislature.

Only a state constitutional amendment redefining marriage as between a man and a woman could block the court's decision. But the earliest that could get on the ballot in Massachusetts would be 2006.

Reaction to the court's ruling was predictably mixed. Some gay rights advocates were disappointed the decision didn't immediately allow same-sex couples to get married. But many still considered it an important step forward. "The Massachusetts supreme court today made history," says Winnie Stachelberg of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group.

Unlike the Vermont decision in 1999, in which the court told the legislature to find a solution and which ultimately led to the 2000 civil-union law, the Massachusetts court "made it fairly clear that anything short of civil marriage would violate the equal-protection clause of the Massachusetts constitution."

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Reuters,
November 18, 2003

Gay marriage step closer in U.S. state

By Greg Frost

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts' highest court has ruled that the state must give gay and lesbian couples the legal rights of marriage, which could make the state the first in America to legalise gay marriage.  

In a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said Massachusetts cannot deny civil marriage rights to two people of the same sex who wish to marry - although it stopped short of ordering the state to start issuing marriage licenses.

"Barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution," the court said on Tuesday, saying state law forbids the creation of second-class citizens.

The ruling was akin to throwing kerosene on the fire of America's ongoing political debate over gay rights, as conservatives voiced outrage and renewed their push for a U.S. constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"In this radical, reckless decision, four political appointees in black robes are attempting to redefine the biological reality that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," said Evelyn Reilly, director of public policy for the Massachusetts Family Institute.

David Buckel, director of the marriage project at gay rights group Lambda Legal, said his group would now push for gay marriages across the country in what he characterised as a "state-by-state" battle.

Gays and lesbians will have to wait until next spring at the earliest to wed in Massachusetts because the court put its decision on hold for 180 days to give the legislature a chance to bring state marriage laws in line with the ruling.

But among the seven homosexual couples who sued the state in 2001 after their requests for marriage licenses were rejected, at least one pair - Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies - said they were already planning on a June wedding.

"This is the happiest day in our lives," said Bailey, choking back tears as she giddily showed off her heirloom diamond engagement ring at an emotional news conference.

Across the country, gays and lesbians celebrated as the Massachusetts court delivered another victory in their decades-old drive for acceptance and equality.

But regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, gay marriages will not be equal under federal laws for purposes of taxes, health and retirement benefits.

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by former President Bill Clinton, defined marriage for federal purposes as between one woman and one man. The law also said individual states were not obliged to honour gay marriage laws passed in other states.

"Even after this decision - as wonderful as it is - same-sex couples who get married will still not be completely equal because the federal government refuses to recognise their relationships and provide full equality for them," said James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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New York Times,
November 18, 2003

High Court in Massachusetts Rules Gays Have Right to Marry

By Terence Neilan

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled today that gays have the right to marry under the state constitution, emphatically stating that the Commonwealth had failed to identify any constitutional reasons why same-sex couples could not wed.

But the ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court stopped short of allowing marriage licenses to be issued to the seven gay couples who sued the state Department of Public Health in 2001 after their requests for marriage licenses were denied. The court ordered the Legislature to come up with a solution within 180 days.

Today's ruling is similar to a 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision, which led to the state Legislature's approval in 2000 of gay unions that give couples many of the same benefits of marriage. Courts in Hawaii and Alaska have also ruled that the states did not have a right to deny marriage to gay couples, but the decisions were followed by the adoption of constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

But the movement faces an uphill battle in the Massachusetts assembly, which is considering a constitutional amendment that would legally define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. That proposal has been endorsed by the Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran of Boston, but other factions within the Legislature support either gay marriage or civil unions between people of the same sex.

While the ruling fell short of what the plaintiffs were seeking, it was nevertheless a victory for gay rights advocates, given the forceful language of the opinion.

"We are mindful that our decision marks a change in the history of the marriage law," the court said in its 4-3 opinion, written by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall.

"Marriage is a vital social institution," Chief Justice Marshall wrote. "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. It brings stability to our society.

"For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial and social benefits. In return, it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations."

She added: "The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.

"We conclude that it may not."

The state's Attorney General's office, which defended the Department of Public Health, argued that neither state law nor its constitution created a right to same-sex marriage. The state also said any decision to extend marriage to same-sex partners should be made by elected lawmakers, not the  courts.

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Daily Trojan,
October 20, 2003

'Marriage Protection' is not protective at all

Harvey Villarica

Using innocent terms to hide intolerance and discrimination, the religious right and the Bush administration are campaigning to attack the progress of civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"Marriage Protection Week" is just the latest from the deceptive campaign against equal rights for LGBT people.

What exactly is Marriage Protection Week? On Friday, Oct. 3, 2003, President Bush signed a proclamation which officially declared October 12-18, 2003 as "Marriage Protection Week." In the proclamation, he says he wants to build "strong and healthy marriages in America."

It sounds like a noble cause, doesn't it? However, if you read the actual text of the proclamation, you will see that the real intention of the proclamation is to bar the recognition of same-sex marriages. The proclamation states that "marriage is a union between a man and a woman."

Tracking the history of the proclamation reveals even more. One day before Bush's proclamation, on Oct. 2, the Family Research Council, along with 22 other ultra-conservative groups, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce the so-called "Marriage Protection Week."

Obviously, Bush's proclamation is nothing more than endorsing the movement of the extreme right.

To justify the proclamation, Bush claims that "research has shown that, on average, children raised in households headed by married parents fare better than children who grow up in other family structures." However, this argument seeks to muddle the issue by combining the welfare of children from single-parent families that have lower household incomes with the welfare of children raised by same-sex couples.

Bush seeks to hide the truth that research on same-sex parenting has shown that children raised by same-sex parents can have the same advantages and expectations of health, adjustment and development as children raised by heterosexual couples. The American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Family Physicians recognize this body of research and have advocated for equal rights for same-sex parents.

"Marriage Protection Week" is not about protecting children. It's not even about protecting marriage. It's about denying LGBT people the right to marriage.

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Detroit News,
September 8, 2003

Gays welcome Barr's stance on Constitution

By Deb Price, The Detroit News        

Want proof that politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows?  Well, the gay community finds itself with a very unlikely bunkmate – former congressman Bob Barr, the author of the 1996 federal law against same-sex marriage.        

While still opposed to same-sex marriage, the conservative Georgia Republican is a welcome, powerful voice against the radical effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to read as follows:       

 "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.  Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."       

 In two eloquent columns, Barr makes a "states' rights" argument against trying to end the U.S. debate over gay marriage by tying states' hands (see bobbarr.org).        

In The Washington Post, he wrote, "In the best conservative tradition, each state should make its own decision without federal interference ...  I am a firm believer that the Constitution is no place for forcing social policies on states, especially in this case, where states must have latitude to do as their citizens see fit."        

Barr's declaration came shortly before the Sept. 4 hearing that Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn's Judiciary subcommittee held on the anti-gay amendment.  And Barr's words should serve as a reminder to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill that amending the brilliantly crafted Constitution is extremely serious – and rarely a wise idea.        

That's why our founding fathers required amendments to win two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate and then be approved by three-quarters – now 38 – of the states.  Since ratification of the Bill of Rights more than 200 years ago, our national blueprint has been changed only 17 times, and just once to take away rights – from drinkers in 1920.  Prohibition proved so unpopular that it was repealed 13 years later.

In an interview, Barr told me he still supports his 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which says no state must recognize another's same-sex marriages and that the federal government won't recognize them.  Obviously, while we both oppose writing marriage restrictions into the Constitution, Barr and I will have to agree to disagree about DOMA, since my spouse Joyce and I want our two-month old Canadian marriage certificate to be honored in our own country.

These days, Barr talks without rancor about the possibility that some state, say Massachusetts, will soon open marriage to same-sex couples.

Gone is the fiery rhetoric he used in demanding that DOMA be passed:  "The flames of hedonism, the flames of narcissism, the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundations of our society – the family unit."

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Washington Blade (GLBT),
August 17, 2003

Gay leaders mobilize for marriage battle

Summits, Web sites emerge to fight backlash

By Lou Chibbaro Jr.

With a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban gay marriage looming in the background, leaders of at least 16 national and state gay civil rights groups are scheduled to meet in Washington on Sept. 8 to map strategies for opposing the amendment and advancing the cause of same-sex marriage.

The meeting, to be held at the offices of the Human Rights Campaign, follows a similar meeting held in New York City on July 21. Participants hailed that meeting as a first-of-its-kind "summit" of gay leaders waging a high-stakes marriage battle.

"It's really less about a meeting and more about what we are doing to enlist non-gay people and to move public opinion," said gay rights attorney

Evan Wolfson, executive director of the New York-based gay advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

Evans and other gay leaders have vowed to go on the offensive in fighting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which legal experts say would go beyond banning gay marriage. Some gay rights attorneys, including officials with the ACLU, warn that the constitutional amendment would overturn existing domestic partner laws and other statutes and policies benefiting same-sex couples, including Vermont's civil unions law.

The amendment was introduced by Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) and states: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

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United Press International,
July 15, 2003

Analysis: Gay marriage around the globe 

By Steve Sailer
UPI National Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, July 15 (UPI) -- The acceptance of the concept of gay marriage varies radically around the world ranging from the Netherlands, where same-sex marriages have been legal for more than two years, to China, where homosexuals are often the targets of "anti-vice" campaigns.

When it comes to social policy in Europe, there is one hard-and-fast rule: where the Netherlands innovates, the rest of the continent imitates. Having already decriminalized soft drugs and euthanasia, Holland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages on April 1, 2001.

The Dutch government agency Statistics Netherlands reported in late 2002, "Same-sex couples do not seem to be very interested in marriage. Statistics Netherlands estimates that there are about 50,000 same-sex couples in the Netherlands, of whom less than 10 percent have married so far."

In the last nine months in 2001, 2,400 single-sex couples married. That number fell to 1,900 in 2002, compared to 85,500 male-female marriages in the Netherlands.

In 2001, Dutch marriages between gay men outnumbered marriages between lesbians by a 5-4 ratio. Sexual orientation researchers, such as J. Michael Bailey, chairman of the Northwestern University psychology department, typically assume that there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians, suggesting that marriage is more popular among female homosexuals.

In fact, under the "civil union" law in operation in the state of Vermont, two-thirds of registering couples have been lesbians, according to a survey by University of Vermont psychology professors Sondra Solomon and Esther Rothblum.

Other countries have been quick to follow in the Netherlands' footsteps.

In late March, the Belgian Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a law giving gay couples almost the same nuptial rights as heterosexuals.

Under the new law, married homosexuals will automatically have inheritance rights over the goods and property of their deceased partner. In addition, they will receive the same fiscal breaks as heterosexual couples, will be allowed to fill in only one joint tax form, will benefit from unemployment payouts should one of the partners be out of work and will have the same financial obligations in the case of divorce.

However, unlike the Netherlands, homosexual couples will not be allowed to adopt children, nor will the lesbian partner of a mother be considered the parent of the child.

"Mentalities have changed. There is no longer any reason not to open marriage to people of the same sex," Belgian Justice Minister Marc Verwilghen said during a heated debate in Parliament.

It is a view that is rapidly gaining ground.

In France, Germany and most Nordic countries, gays and lesbians have extensive civil union rights, and last month the British government sparked a storm of protest by granting gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual ones.

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New York Times,
July 2, 2003

White House Avoids Stand on Gay Marriage Measure

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg

WASHINGTON – Two days after the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, embraced a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban gay marriage, the White House today declined to endorse it, and conservatives were divided over whether such an amendment was necessary.

"The president believes that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman," Mr. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters today.

But when Mr. Fleischer was pressed on whether the president supported a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, he did not take a firm stand, instead saying the issue was "a question in the legal realm."

Dr. Frist made his views known in a Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week," signaling that the issue of gay marriage was likely to become a theme for Republicans during the next election campaign.  Many conservatives are outraged over the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn a Texas law banning sodomy, a ruling they see as opening the door to the legalization of same-sex unions.

Senator Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania Republican who angered many gays earlier this year with his remarks linking homosexuality to polygamy and incest, wrote to constituents last year to express support for the legislation, dubbed the Federal Marriage Amendment by its backers.  Mr. Santorum is the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership.

But other conservatives today expressed caution.  "Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, I don't know that it's a good idea to put it in the Constitution," said Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, in an interview.

Mr. Ensign said that in a recent discussion of the amendment with several senators and a conservative journalist, some argued that "to make a rush judgment on this would be a mistake."

Still, the Supreme Court decision in the Texas case, coupled with a recent decision in Canada to permit gay marriage, suggests the debate will only grow louder.  At the same time, courts in several states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, are expected to rule on cases involving same-sex unions.

"This is going to be just like abortion," said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group.  "What you have is the court using the same theoretical underpinnings, the so-called right to privacy, to try to be the ultimate arbiter of an intractable social issue."

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CBC Ottowa,
June 10,2003

Ontario court endorses same-sex marriages

OTTAWA - The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling that any bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. This potentially paves the way for gay weddings in the province.

"The existing common law definition of marriage violates the couple's equality rights on the basis of sexual orientation under [the Charter of Rights]," read the decision released Tuesday.

As a result of the ruling, plantiffs Michael Leshner and Michael Stark said they planned to marry Tuesday afternoon. Toronto's city clerk said she would issue a marriage licence.

However, the decision doesn't mean that Ontario will automatically begin to register the marriages. Premier Ernie Eves said that he personally has no objections to the unions, but said the decision would ultimately be made in Ottawa.

"You go back to the issue of which government really has constitutional responsibility for the legalization of marriages, and I believe courts have ruled previously that that is the federal government," he said.

The judgment follows an Ontario Divisional Court ruling on July 12, 2002, that ordered Parliament to alter its definition of marriage to include gay men and women.

According to the Divisional Court, the federal definition of marriage as a lawful and voluntary union between "one man and one woman" violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A lawyer for the federal government had argued that marriage is based on a universal concept of a union between one man and one woman.

The case appeared before the court after seven same-sex couples tried to apply for marriage licences from the City of Toronto.

Two other Toronto couples later joined the case. They wed during a joint service at a Toronto church in January 2001. However, Ontario's ministry of consumer affairs refused to register the unions.

Courts in Quebec and British Columbia have also ruled that denying same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

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Reuters,
June 10,2003

Toronto Starts Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's largest city, Toronto, decided on Tuesday to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after an Ontario court set aside the heterosexual definition of marriage as unconstitutional.

What would be Canada's first legal gay marriage ceremony after the decision was immediately scheduled for Tuesday afternoon between two men who had been among those who had brought the legal case.

And retroactively the court decision also recognized two other gay marriage ceremonies that had taken place in Toronto in 2001, declaring those unions valid.

"They're married, as effective today," said Joanna Radbord, a lawyer for some of the couples.

The federal government was putting up no immediate roadblock. Mike Murphy, a spokesman for federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, said: "We're examining the ruling...We have to take some time to review it."

The three-person Ontario court ruled that the federal law limiting marriage to heterosexuals violated the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Canadian Constitution.

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New York Times, 
April 6,  2003

Gay Unions Were Only Half the Battle

By Fred A. Bernstein

In February 2002, John Anthony and Russell Smith traveled from Texas to Vermont to make their relationship official.  In a ceremony in Waterbury, the two men entered into a civil union, the legal status that, for a gay or lesbian couple, is the closest thing in this country to marriage.

But by the end of the year, Mr. Anthony and Mr. Smith had broken up.  Their civil union, however, continues, and like a number of out-of-state couples who have parted ways, they've learned that because of a peculiarity in Vermont's landmark civil union law, there is little they can do about it.

The law, which took effect in July 2000, says that only a Vermont resident – someone who has lived there for at least a year – can dissolve a civil union.  Mr. Anthony, 34, and Mr. Smith, 26, sought a divorce in Beaumont, Tex., where they live, and they were granted one on March 3 by a state District Court judge.

But the attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott, asked the judge to withdraw it.  "A divorce cannot be granted where a marriage never existed," Mr. Abbott declared.  The judge agreed to rehear the case, but Mr. Smith, who said he couldn't afford to fight the attorney general, withdrew his divorce petition.

Mr. Anthony, who owns a photography business, and Mr. Smith, who works in employee relations for a large company he declined to name, are in a legal limbo that is "very stressful," Mr. Smith said.  "I have my own life now."

He had helped Mr. Anthony finance his business, he said, taking on a lot of personal debt, and he had hoped a divorce would free him of possible future obligations.  "Legally, it's an open question whether I'm liable now," he said.       

Ronnie Cohee, his lawyer, said of the former partners: "One day one of them is going to win the lottery.  Texas is a community-property state, and the other one is going to say, ‘Give me half.'"       

"It's very unfair to let them get into something they can't get out of," she added.

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Los Angeles Times, 
March 8,  2003

Court Hears Gay Marriage Case

Couples' lawsuit could make Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex matrimony.

By Elizabeth Mehren, Times Staff Writer

BOSTON - After 16 years together, they are the kind of couple who worry about life's nagging "what ifs?" What if the mortgage doesn't get paid? What if the furnace blows up? What if Julie Goodridge keels over and the state will release her body only to next of kin?

"Well," said Hillary Goodridge, "that would be her second cousin Patsy in Mississippi."

Such concerns about the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage prompted the Goodridges to lend their names to a legal case that could make Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. But even as the Supreme Judicial Court deliberates a lawsuit in which six other gay and lesbian couples have joined as plaintiffs, state lawmakers are preparing legislation that could supersede any court decision.

The debate makes Massachusetts the latest battleground for an ongoing effort to allow gays to claim the full rights and benefits of marriage.

Similar efforts are underway in Indiana and New Jersey, after failing in Hawaii and Alaska.

Following a year of impassioned discussion, Vermont passed legislation in 2000 creating an institution called civil union. But although it extended many benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples, it stopped short of using the term "marriage." The protections and provisions of civil unions also were not valid outside Vermont.

Many same-sex couples called the Vermont solution insufficient, if not insulting.

"I have no interest in having a civil union. I have only an interest in getting the legal protections of marriage," said Julie Goodridge, 45. "I don't think it's appropriate, given the history of this country, to have a separate institution when there is a perfectly good institution that exists for the majority of the people in this nation."

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Christian Science Monitor, 
March 6,  2003

States grapple with gay rights and definition of the family

Rules on adoption in Florida and marriage in Massachusetts face court challenges by gay couples.

By Amanda Paulson, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BOSTON – Two court cases this week have the potential to push America toward a broadening definition of family that is increasingly inclusive of homosexuals.

In Boston, the state's top court is considering the legality of same-sex marriage.  If the justices side with the plaintiffs – seven gay and lesbian couples – Massachusetts could become the first state in the country to sanction gay marriage.

In Miami, a federal appeals court heard from four men who have been barred from adopting the children they take care of because of Florida's categorical ban on adoption by gay individuals.  Though Florida is currently the only state with such a law, a ruling could have implications on adoption practices around the country.

"For a long time, courts have had a powerful role to play in redefining family," says Elizabeth Bartholet, a family-law expert at Harvard Law School.  "Both [cases] are very important.  Partly because one of the major areas in which traditional definitions of family are being challenged has to do with gay and lesbian formations."

And the direction in which courts are moving is slowly shifting. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that criminalizing homosexual behavior was acceptable.  But in the past five years, there's been what Ms. Bartholet calls a "powerful trend" of courts granting more family rights to gays and lesbians.  The high court, also, is revisiting its 1986 ruling in a case this year.

In many ways, the cases heard this week are quite different.  No state has yet allowed gays and lesbians to marry (Hawaii and Alaska amended their Constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage after their courts approved it), while Florida is the only state in the union that prohibits all homosexual adoptions.       

But at issue in both is whether a broader definition of family can find legal as well as social acceptance.

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The Day, 
February 25,  2003

Supporters Of Gay Marriage Make Their Case At Capitol 
Opponents Fear Law Would Destroy Society

By Michael Costanza, Day Staff Writer

Hartford – Opponents of gay marriage told state lawmakers Monday that they risk shaking the very foundation of American society if they make it legal for one man to call another his husband or for two women to live as wives.  But Priscilla Newell, a lesbian who has loved her partner for 25 years, assured lawmakers that the sky will not fall.

Newell, 75, and Mary Wade, 63, enjoyed most of the benefits of marriage when they lived together in Vermont, which became the first state to grant civil unions to homosexuals in 1999.  But they lost those rights when they moved to North Stonington six months ago to be closer to Wade's daughter, who lives in New York City.

On Monday, at the urging of their pastor at All Souls Unitarian-Universalist congregation in New London, the couple came to the Capitol and joined the fight for legislation to make Connecticut the first state to recognize same-sex marriage.

"My commitment is blessed by my religious faith but not recognized by the state of Connecticut," Newell told the legislature's Judiciary Committee during a public hearing on the proposal.  "A commitment that is as strong as a heterosexual marriage.  We have the same family values and responsibilities.  

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U.S.A. Today, 
February 18,  2003

Same-sex couples redefining family law in USA

By Joan Biskupic, USA Today

Donna Colley and Margaux Towne-Colley, a lesbian couple bringing up a son in Omaha, face an ongoing dilemma. 

They could stay in Nebraska, where Colley has a satisfying job as a lawyer, the couple own a home and are close to their neighbors. It's also where state law does not allow both women to be legal parents to Grayson, a blond, blue-eyed toddler who was delivered by Towne-Colley after she was artificially inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor.

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Newark Advocate, (Opinion) 
February 1,  2003

One man's death from broken leg challenges civil unions, gay rights

By Deb Price

Last February, 41-year-old Conrad Spicehandler was walking through Manhattan after signing papers to buy a house with his partner of 15 years.

Suddenly, he was struck by a car.

Before going into surgery for a badly broken leg, Conrad sweetly wrote to his partner, John Langan: "I've made my life in your heart."

That night, following the surgery, John and other family members watched over Conrad.

While in shock that Conrad had been one of a dozen victims in a bizarre hit-and-run spree, everyone was grateful his injury didn't seem life-threatening.

But, while recuperating from a seemingly successful follow-up operation two days later, Conrad died.

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Advocate.com (GLBT), 
January 8, 2003

Newspaper chain enacts pro-gay announcements policy

Following the lead of its flagship paper, The Orange County [Calif.] Register, Freedom Communications Inc. has become the first national newspaper chain to enact a policy prescribing all its papers to print same-sex union announcements, according to a Tuesday press release from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 

Its new policy affects 35 newspapers in 11 states, including The [Alton, Ill.] Telegraph, the Brownsville [Tex.] Herald, and The [Panama City, Fla.] News Herald.

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Philadelphia Inquirer
 September 4, 2002

Partners in parenthood

A court ruling now allows gay couples in Pennsylvania to be just that. It used to be that couples would have to move to New Jersey - or consider other measures - to ensure rights for the partner of the parent with legal custody.

By Kathy Boccella, Inquirer Staff Writer

Ever since he brought Berel home from the hospital, Andrew Altman has never felt like anything but a real dad.

It was Altman who quit his job as deputy director of the Clean Air Council to stay home with his son. He was the one who got up in the middle of the night for feedings, and who took Berel to Rittenhouse Square to play on the statue of the goat.

But when Berel developed a respiratory infection and had to spend a couple of nights at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Altman's paternity came into question - because he is gay.

Though Altman was the full-time parent, it was his partner, Leon Chudzinski, who had adopted Berel. And until a recent state Supreme Court ruling, Pennsylvania law did not allow homosexuals to adopt a partner's child.

"The non-legally adoptive parent had zero rights," Altman said, after putting the plump 17-month-old in his playpen in their home at 12th and Pine Streets.

That scenario is changing.

E-Mail: Inquirer.opinion@phillynews.com 

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Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
 August 25, 2002

Forum on state Supreme Court ruling

Deploring the state Supreme Court decision giving gay partners the right to adopt, Michael Geer says that emotional appeals should not form the basis of wise public policy

These days Americans need no reminder that our courts can and indeed do make wrong decisions.  From the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling (now on hold) declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional to the legal circus surrounding the 2000 presidential election, there is ample evidence that too many judges feel great liberty to issue rulings based on political and not legal reasoning.  Increasingly, we are ruled not by our elected representatives, but by activist judges legislating from the bench.

Such is the case with last week's ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding same-sex couple adoptions.  Pennsylvania's statutes clearly do not provide for homosexual couples to adopt children, and legislation to permit it has failed even to be voted out of committee.  So, as is too often the case, advocates of this social experiment turned to the courts to let them do what the law does not allow.

These advocates lost at the county court level – in Erie and Lancaster counties, and again at Superior Court, where the court rightly determined that state adoption law, and the statute declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman, precluded these homosexual couples from jointly adopting.

E-Mail: letters@post-gazette.com 

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