Gephardt blasts Bush for marriage amendment support
St. Louis – Rep. Dick Gephardt released a statement criticizing President Bush’s support for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marrige in the U.S. “It is time for President Bush to end his alliance with homophobic bigotry once and for all and speak out against the Republican Party’s hostile election year attempt to amend the United States Constitution to include a ban on gay marriage. Throughout our history, the Constitution has been amended to afford expanded rights to disenfranchised citizens, not to unfairly single out a particular group of Americans by limiting their rights. The president should stand up against these kinds of intolerant forces in his own party and should espouse views of tolerance and equality that truly reflect the values of the American people.”
Military promotions on hold in the Senate
WASHINGTON – The Senate approves promotions of officers, but an unidentified Republican senator is blocking them from moving forward, Senate sources speaking on the condition of anonymity said.
A single senator can block measures from moving forward by placing a “hold” on them. The senator who is blocking the military promotions is thought to be acting in retaliation for a separate hold placed by an unnamed Democrat on an Army general’s promotion.
Maj. Gen. Robert Clark was nominated by Bush for his third star and a promotion. The nomination has been criticized by Democrats and gay-rights groups, because Clark presided over an Army post where a soldier thought to be gay was murdered.
If approved by the Senate, Clark would become a lieutenant general and the commanding general of the Fifth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Clark is currently the acting commanding general there.
Court suggests same-sex partners may be made co-guardians
PORTLAND, Maine – Maine’s highest court suggested Tuesday that same-sex partners may be appointed as full co-guardians of minor children.
In a case called Guardianship of I.H., Maine Supreme Judicial Court justices wrote that the answer “is not in doubt” as to whether probate courts may appoint a co-guardian with a natural or legal parent.
The opinion acknowledges that gay and lesbian partners have the same rights as heterosexual partners to have full co-guardianship rights, said Mary Bonauto, an attorney with the nonprofit Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston.
Bonauto said probate courts across Maine have been denying same-sex partners full co-guardianship rights for several years because judges were unclear of what the law allowed them to do.
New Hampshire Supreme Court: Gay sex cannot be adultery
CONCORD – The New Hampshire Supreme Court, ruling in a divorce case, was asked to review a case in which David Blanchflower accused his wife Sian Blanchflower of adultery for sexual relations with Robin Mayer.
A Family Court judge decided Mayer and Sian Blanchflower’s relationship was adultery. Mayer appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that gay sex is not adultery under New Hampshire divorce law.
Three of the five justices agreed. Two others did not. In NH adultery is not defined in the state’s divorce laws. Other states have defined adultery in broader terms beyond intercourse to include gay sex.
But the majority did not want the NH courts to step onto the slippery slope of defining which sex acts outside of intercourse might amount to adultery.
“I think the majority opinion is unintentionally trivializing same-sex relations and violating modern notions of the sanctity of marriage,” said Marcus Hurn, a professor at Franklin Pierce Law Center.
A relationship is adulterous “because it occurs outside of marriage and involves intimate sexual activity, not because it involves only one particular sex act,” said Chief Justice David Brock and Justice John Broderick.
Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to legalize gay marriage
TRENTON, N.J. – A Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit Nov. 5 brought by seven gay couples that sought to make same-sex unions legally recognized in New Jersey.
The judge ruled that there is nothing in the state constitution that guarantees same-sex unions as a right and said the appropriate forum to change marriage laws is the Legislature.
Although she rejected arguments made in the lawsuit, Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg urged state lawmakers to take action that would give gay couples rights that other states have granted.
In opposing the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office had argued that while the state does not doubt the sincerity of committed relationships of same-sex couples, there is nothing in the state Constitution that guarantees their right to marriage. The state also said that their right to maintain relationships was not being interfered with.
The lawsuit was filed last year by seven couples who all have been in committed relationships for between 11 and 32 years. The couples include two Episcopalian pastors from Union City. Four of the couples have children, including one with a newborn.
Lambda Legal, the advocacy group that argued the case for the couples, said it intends to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.
Wisconsin governor vetoes bill defining marriage as one man, one woman
MADISON, Wis. – Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill Nov. 7 that would define marriage in Wisconsin as solely between a man and woman, saying state law already clearly prohibits same-sex marriage and the legislation was “mean-spirited.”
State law now defines marriage as a contract between a husband and wife. But supporters of the bill have warned that activist judges could interpret the language loosely and redefine marriage to allow gay couples to wed. They said the bill would ensure gay marriage would not be allowed or recognized in Wisconsin.
The Supreme Judicial Court is still considering a lawsuit brought by seven gay couples against the state Department of Public Health in 2001, after their original requests for marriage certificates were denied.
Fight over same-sex health benefits goes to high court
HELENA – What began as a dispute over health insurance benefits for two University of Montana employees has become a battle over the legal status of gay marriage.
The case, to be heard by the Montana Supreme Court this month, has resulted in a passionate debate over whether the state can treat same-sex couples differently than straight couples.
Behind the lawsuit are two couples, Carol Snetsinger and Nancy Siegel, who live in Missoula, and Carla Grayson and Adrianne Neff, now living in Ann Arbor, Mich. Snetsinger and Grayson, UM employees, sued after the school refused to extend health benefits to their partners. A district judge in Helena threw out the women’s lawsuit a year ago, and the four women appealed.
Shortly after the suit was filed in early 2002, the Missoula home of Grayson and Neff was destroyed by arson. The case has never been solved.
Higher education officials contend the policy of denying health insurance benefits to same-sex partneris not illegal discrimination. The ACLU and the four women insist it is.
The case has grown beyond those legal and constitutional questions, with a swarm of national organizations interested in the outcome and filing written arguments. Some groups fear a ruling against the university system will be a blow to the traditional notion of marriage. Others see the case as a test of society’s willingness to accept homosexuality.
Protests held against Cirque du Soleil for HIV discrimination
San Francisco – Lambda Legal and community leaders announced protests against Cirque du Soleil for discriminating against people with HIV.
Lambda Legal filed a federal discrimination complaint in July against Cirque du Soleil on behalf of Matthew Cusick, who was fired because he has HIV even though Cirque’s own doctors cleared him to safely perform. In a letter this spring responding to Lambda Legal’s formal request to reinstate Cusick in the performance, Cirque du Soleil’s attorneys said the company was acting as a “socially responsible employer” that has an obligation to avoid “known safety hazards.”
A package of materials for the “Discrimination: Another Side of Cirque du Soleil” campaign, including printable leaflets and post-cards, petitions and other resources, is online at www.LambdaLegal.org.
Naval Academy graduates work to create gay alumni chapter
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Twenty-nine graduates of the Naval Academy are working to establish an official gay and lesbian chapter of their alumni association in what would be a first for any U.S. service academy.
Jeff Petrie, a 1989 graduate of the Naval Academy who now lives in San Francisco, is organizing the effort and plans to file an application with the academy’s alumni association. He calls his would-be chapter USNA Out.
The chapter’s members-to-be, none of whom still serve in the military, want to support gay midshipmen still bound by the Department of Defense’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” mandate.
Skid Heyworth, vice president of communications for the military college’s alumni association, said he hadn’t received the group’s application but would pass it to the association’s board of directors for review.