Gay lawyers protest honor for Bowers
ATLANTA – A planned honor for former state Attorney General Mike Bowers, who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend Georgia’s anti-sodomy law from a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union, has raised the ire of gay lawyers in Georgia.
The Atlanta Bar Association plans to give Bowers its Leadership Award at an October banquet.
The Stonewall Bar Association, a group that supports gay and lesbian attorneys in the state, responded with a letter to the Atlanta bar this week saying Bowers left a “discriminatory and hypocritical legacy.”
Contact Atlanta Bar Association President Richard B. Herzog, Jr. to express your opinion of Bowers’ anti-gay leadership at (404) 817-6000.
Conservatives claim they are being ‘muzzled’ on marriage
WASHINGTON – Religious conservative leaders, sensing declining alarm over their equal marriage, are claiming that the debate over homosexuality has prompted attacks on religious freedom.
By expanding the discussion from marriage to religious expression, social conservatives hope to reconnect with religious voters and religious leaders who don’t necessarily view same-sex unions as a threat.
The Family Research Council and others are building a case file of anecdotes where they say religious people have spoken out against equal marriage only to be punished.
The subject of religious expression will be the main theme of an Oct. 15 Family Research Council gathering in Boston of conservative religious and political leaders that will be broadcast to churches nationally.
Colo. trans worker wins discrimination case
DENVER – A woman who was fired while preparing to undergo sex-change surgery was let go in violation of state anti-discrimination law, the head of Colorado’s civil rights agency has ruled.
Advocates praised the ruling, saying it was the first of its kind in Colorado.
Danielle Cornwell, 54, claimed in a complaint filed in April with the Civil Rights Division that she was fired in July 2005 because she was a woman and because she had recently told the company she planned to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.
Originally known as David Michael Cornwell, she had realized while working for Intermountain Testing Co. that she was a transgender woman, according to the ruling. She began assuming a feminine appearance, and also told her employer she planned to change her name and dress in women’s clothing.
Marriage opponents give up on Illinois referendum
ST. LOUIS – A group that opposes equal marriage says it is dropping a legal battle to hold a referendum on the issue in Illinois this fall.
The group has been pushing for an advisory referendum asking voters whether they want the Illinois Constitution rewritten to bar equal marriage rights, which are already banned under state law.
Election officials rejected the referendum, saying the Family Institute did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. A sampling of its petitions showed they probably had fewer than 260,000 valid signatures, short of the 283,000 required.
The group challenged the ruling in court, but lost. Last week a federal appeals court refused to reinstate the lawsuit.
Comptroller sued over same-sex benefits
ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York State Comptroller has been sued for his recognition of Canadian same-sex marriages when providing public retirement system benefits.
Four Westchester County residents, backed by the Arizona-based extremist group Alliance Defense Fund, claim in a lawsuit filed last week that Hevesi acted illegally when deciding in 2004 that the state retirement system would consider same-sex Canadian marriages in the same manner as dual-sex marriages. Under Hevesi’s decision, surviving same-sex partners from Canadian marriages could in certain cases be eligible for accidental death benefits or cost-of-living adjustments from the system.
Episcopal priest blesses denomination’s first Arkansas gay union
LITTLE ROCK – An Episcopal priest who was the first to bless a gay couple in Arkansas says it was not his intent to be the first at anything, but rather to recognize two men who “discovered God’s presence in a redeeming life-giving way” over the last 15 years.
The Rev. Ed Wills blessed the relationship of Ted Holder and Joe van den Heuvel on Sept. 16 in a service before about 200 people.
The Bishop of the 55 congregations in the Diocese of Arkansas authorized blessings for same-sex couples in July. Seven other dioceses have written policies for the practice while others haven’t formalized the process.
Minister charged by church for performing gay marriage rights
PITTSBURGH – A Presbyterian minister has been charged with breaking church law for performing a marriage for two women.
Janet Edwards, a parish associate at the Community of Reconciliation Church in Pittsburgh, said she was charged with presiding at the June 2005 wedding in contradiction of the church’s position on marriage.
The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reserves marriage for a man and a woman, although ministers may bless other types of “holy unions.”
“For me, scripture teaches that the message of marriage is the covenant – the love and commitment between the partners” and not their gender, Edwards said.
Edwards is also charged with irregularities contrary to the constitution for language she used because the marriage was interfaith.
If found guilty, Edwards said she faces punishment ranging from a rebuke to removal from the ministry.
In March, a longtime Presbyterian minister who was the first of her faith to be tried for officiating same-sex marriages was acquitted of the same charge.
South African religious group marches to protest equal marriage
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – A religious group marched to parliament Sept. 16 to protest proposed legislation to legalize equal marriage rights.
The Marriage Alliance, which is made up of about 100 churches and religious bodies, organized the marches across the country. While the group wants to restrict marriage to same-sex couples, it also supports additional legislation to protect the rights of same-sex couples in permanent relationships.
Parliament is shortly due to begin debating the Civil Unions bill and is expected to approve it before the end of the year.
The bill was introduced to comply with a Constitutional Court judgment which found that the common law definition of marriage in the Marriage Act of 1961 was unconstitutional because it failed to give the same status, benefits and responsibilities to same-sex unions that marriage accorded to heterosexual couples.
The new bill provides for the recognition of domestic partnerships between adults, whether they are of the same or different sex.
Male Spanish air force privates wed
SEVILLE, Spain – The Spanish military has had its first public taste of gay marriage as two male soldiers wed, sealing their union with gold rings and a long kiss.
Alberto Linero, 27, and Alberto Sanchez, 24, both privates in the air force, wore crisp, dark blue dress uniforms with red and gold epaulets as they exchanged vows on Sept. 15 in a chandeliered reception room in Seville’s town hall – the first known wedding among same-sex members of the military since Spain legalized equal marriage last year.
Spain has no law against gays in the military, and other service members have acknowledged their homosexuality in the past.
Some 4,500 same-sex couples have wed under the gay marriage legislation, which took effect in July 2005.