Tag Archives: family equality

Swiss edge closer to gay adoption

Switzerland’s upper house of parliament, the Council of States, decided on Wednesday by 21 votes to 19 to give same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
The Council determined that anyone should be able to adopt a child, regardless of their choice of lifestyle, so long as such adoption would be in the best interests of the child, Swiss news agency SDA reported.
In addition, although the type of marriage would not be a determining factor, applicants seeking to adopt must be in some form of registered partnership.
Those in favour of the change in regulations have pointed to the changing face of family dynamics, and the reality that many children do not grow up in what would be considered “traditional” family constellations.
Urs Schwaller of the Christian Democratic Party said that, while he did not doubt that gay and lesbian people could take of children as well as heterosexuals, there was in his view no need to give them rights to adopt, gay information website GGG.at reported.
Conservative politicians are concerned that the rights of registered partnerships are becoming increasingly aligned to those of traditional marriages, gradually eroding the status of marriage. Schwaller maintained that this is not what the Swiss people want, the website reported.
The lower house, the National Council, must now consider the motion before it can pass into law.
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A look at gay adoption

“It has become almost impossible to get from cover to cover in an LGBT magazine without being confronted by advertisements that claim to assist the community in creating a family. Countless services declare their ability to make the process not only seamless, but also, in their glossy spreads, glamorous. Photographs of cute, giggling babies veil the serious side to starting a family.
And what are these advertisements offering? Rarely adoption. These agencies want to make money. Purchase a womb in the form of a surrogate, purchase some sperm, purchase a turkey baster (or rather, ‘insemination kit’); purchase pretty much anything one needs to create a baby. What gets forgotten, however, is the option of starting a family with a child that already exists. There is a danger of people who read these magazines getting the impression that adoption no longer happens. The gay press undoubtedly has a responsibility to recognise the fact that, due to their need for revenue, they are in danger of becoming responsible for a trend in expensive surrogacy and co-parenting arrangements when there are a great many children in care who need to be adopted. It is a particularly important issue to address, when the process is now simpler than ever for gay people.
Read the full report at So So Gay

The "Impact" of Iowa Marriage Equality – Findings From Evidence.

One important feature of Judge Walker’s verdict in the Prop 8 trial was his finding that the case against marriage equality rested on claims, of the “harm” done by same sex marriage and the supposed threat to children is based on no evidence whatsoever. The substantial evidence that does exist on gay parents, and the experience from Manhattan and the Netherlands where marriage is well established, is that there is indeed no demonstrable harm – to between sex marriages, or to the children of same-sex couples.
Now yet another independent survey, this one from  Iowa, shows the same finding. “Iowawatch” is an online news service for The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news service. Their researchers conducted interviews with married couples and professional experts, and examined extensive published urnal articles, marriage statistics, census data, polls and court rulings.
The conclusion? There is no “harm” – at least no more than from the between sense marriages they so closely resemble. These are extracts from an extensive report at Press Citizen:

Although social conservatives in the 2010 election campaign depict gay marriage as a threat to married life as we know it, Iowa’s 18-month experience with the newly legalized institution has revealed striking similarities to traditional marriage and no discernible harm to it, according to an IowaWatch study.

Thousands of same sex couples married during that period, and despite the controversy that has swirled around them, their marriages have endured.

The IowaWatch study found that similarities range from the way men and women often view marriage to the more mundane tasks of married life, such as doing yard work. Like people in traditional marriages, same-sex couples also talk about raising children and shielding them from the verbal slings of peers, the stability and unit-strength of a family and the value of loving relationships among parents and children, as well as legal necessities and financial security.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage was unanimous, but the opposition has persisted because it is fueled by fears that that the family, the bedrock of American society, is at stake.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to marry,” Maggie Gallagher, chairman for the National Organization for Marriage, said in an e-mail. “They shouldn’t be allowed to redefine marriage to mean whatever relationship (they) choose.”

In sharp contrast, married gays often depict a lifestyle and relationship that seems suburban stable, only now they have a marriage license like other couples.“Not much has changed,” said Ledon Sweeney of Iowa City, who married his partner of 12 years. “We live pretty boring lives. We go to work; we mow our lawn, we pay our mortgage, and we go on vacation if we can save enough money.”

Read the full report at Press Citizen

Oz State Premier Stands Up To Cardinal Pell, Secures Gay Adoption for NSW.

Breaking news today is that the New South Wales state assembly has narrowly approved a bill to put LGBT and heterosexual couples on an equal footing for adoption procedures. There are still a few hurdles to clear before this becomes final, but (as far as I can tell), with this one, the biggest has now been cleared. This is big news for queer Catholics. The formidable Cardinal Pell made clear his strong opposition – but the equally strong support of the Catholic NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, appears to have been decisive in providing just enough resistance.
Kristina Kenneally, Catholic and Advocate for Adoption Equality

Perhaps it was the full-fledged backing given to the Bill by New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, which took the wind out of the sails of opponents. “In forming my position on this Bill, I have considered my experiences as a mother, my responsibilities as a parliamentarian and my conscience as a Christian and member of the Catholic faith,” she told lawmakers. Instead of proving divisive, it served to unite New South Wales’s main political outfits with Opposition Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell also voting in its favor.

This is an important reminder to all of us that the “Catholic Church” is far more than the bishops and cardinals who claim to speak for us. They are fully entitled to speak on behalf of the Vatican and Vatican doctrine – but when they claim to speak on behalf of “the church”, research evidence consistently shows that they deceive. On numerous issues of sexual ethics, ministry, and papal authority, the evidence is that right across the globe, most Catholics simply do not agree with orthodox Vatican doctrine.

This decision is also important as another indicator of an Australian paradox. In the global march to family equality, Australia stands out as an oddity. Although surveys have shown that a strong majority of Australians support full marriage and adoption rights for same sex couples, there is still no national provision for either, and both of the major political parties opposed full equality during the recent election campaign. Below the surface, however, there have been increasing signs of a gathering groundswell of support that could soon force the issue. The election result, which produced a hung parliament with increased influence for independents and a stronger Green Party, may show the major parties how mistaken they were – and may pave the way for a major rethink. It is significant that the NSW result came after a “conscience” vote in the assembly (that is, members were permitted by their whips to take their own decisions, rather than following a party line). It is believed that a conscience vote on marriage in the national parliament could attract significant support.
Meanwhile, even as Canberra dithers, there are regular advances at state level, with the adoption decision in New South Wales just the latest of several.   Earlier this week the Tasmanian lower house voted to recognise same sex marriages conducted elsewhere, which means that Tasmanian couples will be able to secure secure legally recognised marriage easily enough – provided only that they are willing to travel abroad for the wedding. (Several countries which currently recognise marriage equality do not have residency requirements. Nepal could soon be another.)
Gay adoption is already recognised in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, which is also the only state to conduct formal civil partnerships. (New South Wales and Victoria maintain less formal domestic partnership registers, which makes it easier for same sex couples to achieve the de facto recognition that in principle they are entitled to – but which in practice can be difficult without suitable documentary evidence of the relationship.)
Each separate move at state level inevitably leaves the population that much more accustomed to the idea of family equality, and queer families increasingly visible as ordinary members of society, deserving equal treatment before the law, just like everyone else. Each advance bring the next one closer, eroding still further the resistance. Even before the vote in last month’s election, the Greens were promising to introduce a bill to provide for national gay marriage. When they do, they and the newly influential independents in the hung parliament will aim to secure a conscience vote. I suspect that even if they get one, it is unlikely that gay marriage will pass just yet. However, it is clear that Labour at least lost votes as a result of their stand against equality. The coming vote on a Green bill for marriage equality will not be the last. Sooner or later (and probably the former), the politicians will realise they are on the wrong side of history, and stand up for justice.
Cardinal Pell will soon have a lot more to worry about than adoption equality in one more Australian state.

Argentina Approves Family Equality.

It’s been a long night waiting for confirmation, but Argentina has just become the latest country, and the fourth strongly Catholic country, to approve family equality, even in the face of vigorous, highly visible,  opposition by the Catholic  Church. (Note that I do not describe this as “gay marriage”. The legislation which has been approved includes much more than just provision for same -sex marriage.)
What is particularly pleasing to me was that while the political argument in favour was based on human rights grounds, many of the supportive politicians made clear that their support was because of their Catholic faith, which emphasized the importance of respect for those human rights.
In their marathon debate, a number of senators in the 72-member upper house referred to their Catholic beliefs in presenting their reasons for opposing or supporting the bill.

Even some priests declared publicly in favour of the law. It is surely significant here that Argentina is in South America, birthplace of liberation theology – and hence a strong influence in gay liberation theology, about which I will be writing for publication tomorrow. (The theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, who took her thinking beyond gay liberation theology to queer theology and to “indecent” theology, was from Argentina. Her writing is deeply influenced by her Argentinian background, and its history of struggle against colonialism, patriarchal oppression, and injustice of all kinds.
Elsewhere in Latin America, gay marriage is recognised in Mexico City, and civil unions in Colombia and Uruguay. Argentina now becomes the first in the region to approve full equality on a national level.  It will not be the last.

(For the record: the number of countries with full marriage equality has doubled in the past eighteen months. Last January, there were just five countries with legal recognition for same sex marriage. Since then, that  with Norway and  Sweden  joined them last year, and three already – Portugal Iceland and now Argentina -in the past six months. Asia is now the only continent wit no recognition, but Nepal has promised it.)

From Reuters:

Argentina Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill 

Argentina’s Senate passed a gay marriage bill early on Thursday, clearing the way for the country to become the first in South America to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Following more than 14 hours of charged debate, during which thousands of Argentines protested outside the Congress, the upper house voted 33-27 for the proposal, with three abstentions.
“I believe this has advanced equal rights,” Senator Eugenio Artaza told reporters after the debate in which many lawmakers in the upper house invoked their Roman Catholic beliefs to explain their stance.
Opinion polls show a majority of Argentines support gay marriage, but there is less backing for same-sex couples to adopt children.
The Argentine president’s backing for the bill, which also gives homosexual couples the right to adopt children, has pitted Fernandez against the influential Roman Catholic Church a year before a presidential election.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, had raised particular concern about the adoption clause of the bill, saying it was important to ensure that children had as role models “both a father and a mother.”

Argentina, Gay Marriage: Priest Barred From Celebrating Mass

In Argentina, the Senate is debating a law to approve full equality for all families. A priest who has openly declared support for the law has now been barred by the bishops from celebrating Mass.

I suppose this is not a surprise. The Catholic bishops have been fierce in their opposition to marriage equality in Argentina, encouraging major protests yesterday to protest the proposal, while Fr José Nicolás Alessio hit the news earlier as spokesman for a group of priests declaring public support for it. What is noteable in the latest twist, is Fr Alessio’s stated reasoning, and his determination to meet his commitments to the community by defying the bishops, and saying Mass regardless.

I was always taught in Catholic schools that there could be no obligation to obey unjust laws or commands. Catholic teaching is clear that where a decision is determined in good conscience, it must take precedence over external authority. Fr Alessio’s position is a sound, very Catholic one – but I don’t suppose the bishops will see it quite like that.

Meanwhile, if I have correctly interpreted the somewhat garbled English in a separate report from Momento24, it would appear that the Senate have rejected a compromise proposal for civil unions. This means that the only proposal which will now be debated (probably tomorrow) will be the proposal for full family equality. In that basis, I guess it looks likely to pass.

From Momento24:

Priest José Nicolás Alessio was sanctioned by the Archbishop of Cordoba due to his position in favor of gay marriage.

The sanctions consist of the prohibition on offering Mass and weddings. “I am surprised and very hurt because I never thought that the Bishop of Cordoba (Carlos Náñez), who appeared more open to the position of the Argentine bishop in these prohibitions, cut off heads who think differently,” Alessio said. “I have commitments to my community. I believe more in the Gospel that in these canonical codes, so this weekend I will celebrate Mass, unless they put me prisoner, “the priest added. Alessio works in the parish of San Cayetano and is willing to challenge the sanction even if “he can make another ‘crime’ when it celebrates Mass, because the first was by thinking differently and the second will be for being faithful to my community.”