Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) Buddhist and Christian representatives and the leader of the Unification Church in Taiwan warned on Saturday against a bill to be sent to the Legislature that would legalize various forms of civil partnerships, including same-sex marriage.
The bill was drafted by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, which pushes recognition of civil partnership rights for all couples, irrespective of gender.
The amendments to the civil code also call for legal recognition of the rights of a group of more than two people to form a family whose members are not related by blood.
Members of several religious groups expressed their opposition to the bill Saturday, saying at a press conference in Taipei that it would be detrimental to “traditional family values.”
Buddhist Master Shih Ching-yao said that while he respects same-sex couples, he also hopes they respect the traditional family value of the union of one man and one woman.
The union of one man and woman is nature’s rule, Shih said in arguing against passage of the proposed legislation.
Same-sex spouses in Texas are not being allowed to enroll for military benefits in state-supported Guard facilities, at least for now, because Defense Department policy may conflict with Texas law, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, according to the state’s adjutant general.
Spouses in Texas and elsewhere are able to enroll for these benefits at federal facilities.
In an Aug. 30 memo, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said until legal clarification is provided, officials are unable to enroll same-sex families for benefits at state-supported facilities.
“It is important to note, this is not a denial of benefits, but rather a processing issue that is currently awaiting legal clarification from the Texas State Attorney General’s Office,” said Laura Lopez, a spokeswoman for Texas Military Forces. She said Texas Military Forces officials have been working closely with the governor’s office and attorney general’s office for the past few weeks on the issue.
There are five state-supported Guard facilities and 20 federal installations in Texas, Lopez said.
Under a Texas state law that took effect Sept. 1, 2003, “a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state.” The law also prohibits any right or claim to any legal protection, benefit or responsibility as a result of a same-sex marriage or civil union.
“It’s truly outrageous that the state of Texas has decided to play politics with our military families,” said Stephen Peters, the president of American Military Partner Association, in a statement. “Governor Rick Perry should be ashamed. Our military families are already dealing with enough problems and the last thing they need is more discrimination from the state of Texas.”
Nichols noted that “TXMF remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation.”
There’s a lot of talk these days about the meaning of “religious liberty” and whether or not an individual or corporation may be exempted from various laws if those statutes conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. Yesterday, however, the New Mexico Supreme Court took a step toward ending that debate when it said a photographer didn’t have the right to refuse to shoot a same-sex commitment ceremony.
Back in 2006, Elaine Huguenin, who owns Elaine Photography along with her husband, refused to take photos of a commitment ceremony for Vanessa Wilcock and her partner. (New Mexico law neither permits nor prohibits same-sex marriage, though the state now issues marriage licenses for same-sex couples.)
Wilcock was able to find another photographer, the Associated Press reported, but she sued Huguenin anyway, claiming a violation of New Mexico’s Human Rights Act.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based Religious Right legal outfit founded by radio and television preachers, said Huguenin had every right not to shoot Wilcock’s ceremony because of her religious beliefs.
But the New Mexico high court didn’t buy that argument, saying in a unanimous decision that Huguenin’s action was the equivalent of refusing to photograph an interracial wedding, the AP reported.
Business owners “have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different,” Justice Richard Bosson wrote in the opinion.
“That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us a people,” Bosson continued. “That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: It is the price of citizenship.”
The court did, however, leave a little wiggle room for people like Huguenin: businesses have the right to advertise that they oppose same-sex marriage, but they still have to comply with anti-discrimination laws, the AP said.
Of course that wasn’t acceptable to Jordan Lorence, the ADF attorney who represented Huguenin.
“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” Lorence said in a statement. “This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free.”
He said he is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the AP added.
As is so often the case, the court got it exactly right and the ADF is completely wrong. Wilcock was unfairly discriminated against, period. No one has the right to just ignore any human rights laws they don’t like - no matter the reason.
And defending human rights is hardly the act of a dictatorship - in fact, it would seem the responsibility of any democratic government.
The outcome of this case is something the ADF and its allies simply cannot accept, which is why these sorts of issues are going to be argued in courts throughout America for years to come.
That’s why it is critical that judges see things the way the New Mexico Supreme Court did. If not, there is the potential not just for legal chaos, but also for some really ugly acts in the name of “religious expression.”
True religious freedom is about practicing whatever belief system you like, but not to the point that it infringes on the rights of others. Until everyone accepts that, I’m afraid there will be many more instances of hatred justified by piety.
Kevin Rudd has used the first election debate to promise legislation on same-sex marriage within 100 days of re-election and Labor was ready with a social media campaign harking back to Labor’s famous 1972 “It’s time” election slogan ready to back up the pledge.
Rudd said he supported legalising same-sex marriage “as a mark of decency to same-sex couples across the country who wish the same loving, caring relationship that, for example, I have had with Therese my wife now for the last 32 years, and for that to be formalised”.
He promised Labor MPs would again have a conscience vote on the issue and he “appealed to Abbott to do the same because folk out there want this to happen”.
Tony Abbott said he understood same-sex marriage was “a very important issue”, acknowledging his gay sister, Christine Forster, who was in the National Press Club debate audience with her partner.
But he said the matter had been recently debated by the parliament and would not be a high priority for an incoming Coalition government. He said it would be up to the Coalition party room to decide whether Coalition MPs should get a conscience vote, if it ever came up in the future.
Walters, who ran unsuccessfully for California Treasurer in 2010, has received at least $22,500 over her career from Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr.’s Fieldstead & Co — making it one of her top ten funders, and making her their second biggest state recipient. Ahmanson, heir to a banking fortune reported to total hundreds of millions, has distributed millions of dollars to right-wing political causes promoting a “Christian worldview.” Fieldstead & Co. is an incorporated private company which Ahmanson uses to distribute money to his favorite causes without having to disclose the donations publicly.
Most notorious among these was the Chalcedon Foundation. Ahmanson served for decades on the board of this radical Christian Reconstructionist organization and heavily funded its efforts. The group’s late founder, Rousas John Rushdoony advocated for American laws to literally follow those in the Book of Leviticus, including death by stoning for gay and lesbian people and similar execution for adulterers, juvenile delinquents, non-believers, and most other Americans. While Ahmanson has made clear he personally does not advocate “the stoning or execution of homosexuals,” he conceded to the Orange County Register in 1985: “My purpose is total integration of biblical law into our lives.”
Ahmanson is a major funder and director of the Discovery Institute, a group which promotes creationism and tries to obstruct science education. He was one of the largest contributors to the unconstitutional Proposition 8 campaign to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry in California, spent heavily in support of school vouchers efforts in Colorado and California, backed CareNet (a group that provides “crisis pregnancy centers,” which mislead women about abortion), and, reportedly, funded a $1 million smear campaign against the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop and efforts to split the worldwide Anglican Communion over LGBT inclusion.
By Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times
May 21, 2013
Salt Lake City: the gay parenting capital of the United States?
Unexpected as it may sound, a new study finds that the Utah capital and its outskirts have the nation’s highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children.
Among couples of the same sex in the Salt Lake City area, more than 1 in 4 are rearing children, the analysis of census data reveals.
That fact may seem at odds with perceptions that San Francisco and New York are the centers of gay and lesbian life. Pop culture depicts gays and lesbians turning to adoption, sperm banks or surrogacy to form families in decidedly liberal cities such as Los Angeles.
The Minnesota Senate is expected to give final approval on Monday to a bill that would make the state the 12th in the United States to allow same-sex couples to marry and only the second in the Midwest.
Leaders in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 39-28 majority, have said they believe they have the support to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage. They set a vote for Monday on the measure that members of the state House approved last week.
Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has said he would sign the bill, which would make Minnesota the third state this month to legalize gay marriage after Rhode Island and Delaware. The law would take effect August 1.
Minnesota would join Iowa as the only other Midwestern state to permit gay marriage and the first to do so through legislation. Iowa has permitted same-sex marriage since 2009 under a state Supreme Court order.
The Democratic-led state Legislature in Minnesota is expected to begin a final push on Thursday toward making it the 12th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples and the third this month after Delaware and Rhode Island.
Leaders in Minnesota’s state House of Representatives have scheduled a vote for Thursday to advance a bill recognizing same-sex marriage, which would be followed by a vote in the state Senate on Monday, party spokesmen have said.
Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has indicated that he supports making same-sex marriage legal in the state and has been pressing lawmakers for their backing.
House Speaker Paul Thissen had said he would not put the measure to the full House if leaders did not believe it had the support to pass. It is unclear if any Republicans will support the bill, but Democrats hold a 73-61 majority.
Last night the City Council of Bisbee, Arizona voted 5-2 to begin issuing Civil Union certificates to same-sex couples. While valid only within City Limits this is still a big deal for Arizona.
In a 5-2 decision, the Bisbee City Council defied a warning by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and approved same-sex civil unions Tuesday night.
The vote followed an emotional three hour hearing attended by more than 100 people who packed the council chambers, representing local churches and gay rights organizations
svherald.com (partially paywalled)
The Russian president has opposed the adoption of Russian orphans by LGBT foreign couples, and has instructed the government and the Supreme Court to prepare changes to existing law before July 1.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order will most likely be fulfilled by the Ministry of Education and Science, which is currently dealing with issues concerning orphans and adoptions, Izvestia daily reported.
The ministry has not yet commented on the news, saying that Putin’s instructions had not yet reached their office.
Tensions over the issue arose in mid-February, after the French National Assembly voted to legalize adoptions by same-sex couples. At the time, the Russian plenipotentiary for children’s rights Pavel Astakhov said he would do everything to ensure that Russian orphans are only adopted by heterosexual families.
In mid-February, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that it planned to verify the possible “psychological damage” inflicted on Russian orphan Yegor Shabatalov, who was adopted by a US woman who lived in a same-sex marriage with another US citizen, but concealed her relationship from Russian authorities when she filed the adoption request. Two years after adopting the Russian boy, the couple split and started a legal dispute over parental rights.