Tag Archives: Marriage 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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In Valentine’s Week, Marriage Equality Advances: Update

If anyone still has any doubts that marriage equality is on the move in the US, just consider how  many advances there have been in just the past few days, in this week of St Valentine:

  • Also on Monday in New Jersey, the state Senate approved a bill, which then passed in the state House Thursday. Gov Christie vetoed, as promised, on Friday.  Proponents now have two years to muster enough votes to override. (Or they could try next year to go the referendum route, after all, or they could hope for a favourable ruling from the state Supreme Court.)
  • In Maryland on Tuesday, Valentine’s day, key committees approved a bill which was due to go to the full House of Delegates Thursday, and was finally passed late on Friday. It must still go to the Senate, but as they approved a similar bill last year, that should not present a problem. Thereafter, Governor O’Malley has promised to sign.
  • In Colorado, a bill for civil unions (not full marriage) was approved by a state Senate committee yesterday. It is expected to pass easily in the Senate, and will then go to the House.
These have been on the radar for some time, with extensive press reporting. Two others were less widely predicted:
  • The Illinois General Assembly introduced a gay marriage bill yesterday, after it cleared the House rules committee February 8th.
  • Legislation is due to be introduced in Rhode Island today.
  • A West Virginia delegate introduced a bill for civil unions.
Meanwhile, the Maine campaign to repeal Proposition  and reinstate marriage equality, appears to be going well. Organisers submitted far more petition signatures than required, and polling shows strong support.
These are steps forward, not achievements completed. There are still hurdles to be overcome, in each:
  • Even after signature by the governor, Washington’s new law faces a voter’s referendum for repeal.
  • Any override of Gov Christie’s veto in New Jersey will be a tough ask. It may not happen.
  • The Maryland bill can pass in the House (where it came short last year). As in Washington, there will likely be a voter referendum for repeal.
  • Prospects in Illinois, R.I. and Colorado are also uncertain.
  • The WV bill is largely just symbolism. It’s unlikely to pass.
And in Minnesota and North Carolina, there are existing proposition campaigns to write discrimination into the state constitutions.
Even so, the momentum is clearly in the direction of equality. That’s seven states where the initiative is moving forward, and two heading in the other direction. Even if there are some setbacks, these will be reversed – just as New York last year reversed it’s earlier Senate defeat with the help of three Republican senators, and as Maine is on course to reverse 2009’s proposition for repeal, with a counter proposition to re-instate marriage for all, free of discrimination.

In every vote taken in state legislatures so far, there have been a few Republican legislators crossing party lines to vote their consciences, for equality. Catholic bishops and some other religious leaders are actively campaigning to restrict marriage – but in every public campaign, there are other faith leaders and prominent
Catholic politicians who are arguing, from religious principles, for justice for all.

Full marriage equality is clearly on the way – and that will include full inclusion, in at least some churches.
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Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional – US Federal Appeals Court

A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

It was unclear when gay marriages might resume in California. Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have repeatedly said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling from the 9th Circuit.

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling states.

Associated Press

It’s not finally over until the Supreme Court agrees, but this is a big step forward.

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BBC News – Gay man and transgender woman wed in Cuba

“A Cuban man and transgender woman have married in what is being seen as the country’s first ‘gay wedding’.

Same sex marriage is illegal in Cuba, but bride Wendy Iriepa is legally a woman after undergoing one of the first state-sponsored sex changes in 2007.

Her fiance, Ignacio Estrada, is a noted dissident and gay rights activist in Cuba and is also HIV positive.”
– video at BBC News

Two-thirds of Scots support gay marriage

“EQUALITY campaigners have called for swift legislation to allow Scots the right to same-sex marriages, after a new study showed the number who support the move has soared.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has revealed that in 2010 almost two-thirds of people (61%) supported same-sex marriage, up from 41% in 2002.

The report comes after a split emerged in the SNP over the issue of same-sex marriages. SNP MEP Alyn Smith criticised colleagues only days after John Mason, a nationalist colleague tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament, backed by three other nationalist MSPs, stating that no one should be forced to approve of same-sex marriage.”

Australian minister announces lesbian partner is pregnant as gay marriage debate gathers heat – The Washington Post

Penny Wong and partner Sophie Allouache are expecting a baby, due in December. Source:AdelaideNow

“A senior government minister in Australia has announced that her lesbian partner is pregnant. Finance Minister Penny Wong said in a statement Tuesday that her partner, Sophie Allouache, had conceived through in-vitro fertilization and is expecting her first child in December.”
The announcement comes as pressure mounts on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to support overturning her center-left Labor Party’s ban on gay marriage. The policy change will be voted on its annual national conference in December.

– The Washington Post

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.