The French Senate has approved another essential component of the marriage equality legislation, an article approving adoption rights for same-sex couples. With both that article and the basic marriage equality article passed, it’s likely the Senate will have no trouble passing the full bill in its entirety, but that might still take several weeks. It will also have to return to the National Assembly for final approval, which will likely happen in late May.
In France, the issues of same-sex marriage and adoption are considered separately, with adoption being a much more contentious matter. The same poll that found 63 percent of French voters support marriage equality found that only 49 percent support adoption rights. Theboisterous rallies opposed to the legislation have championed the idea that children deserve a mother and a father, a talking point seemingly exported by American anti-gay groups. Opponents say they will organize another mass protest in Paris on May 26 if the legislation is approved, arguing it should be withdrawn and calling for a national referendum instead.
Source: Think Progress
Uruguayan lawmakers voted Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so, after Canada and Argentina. President José Mujica, whose governing Broad Front majority backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days.
Source: New York Times
Men and women, some with their children — along with a strong contingent of elderly people — assembled near the Arc de Triomphe and hoisted signs reading “Don’t touch marriage, take care of unemployment!” and “Everyone is born from a man and a woman.”
The police estimated that 300,000 protesters took part, 40,000 fewer than they said attended a similar rally in January, but organizers said 1.4 million people showed up. Among the marchers were prominent politicians from the main opposition party, the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, which has called upon its members to protest.
Near the end of the demonstration, small groups of young protesters tried to overrun barriers onto the Champs-Élysées, and the police fired tear gas to drive them back, The Associated Press reported.
Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders oppose the bill, which has already passed the lower house of Parliament and is expected to be approved by the Senate next month. The Catholic Church, in particular, has mobilized its members to protest.
Many opponents have focused on a provision that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Some opponents also say they fear the bill would eventually lead to the legalization of artificial insemination for lesbian couples or surrogate mothers for male couples.
Mr. Hollande, a Socialist who was elected last May, campaigned on a pledge to legalize same-sex marriage; his party holds majorities in both houses of Parliament, and passage has seemed all but assured.
But he has waffled on occasion. He once voiced support for a provision to allow mayors, who preside over civil marriage ceremonies in France, to decline to wed gay couples. He has since stepped back from that position.
Civil unions have existed in France since 1999 and are open to same-sex couples. But the unions are not accompanied by the same suite of rights as marriage.
Opinion polling suggests that a solid majority of French favor legalizing same-sex marriage; the proportion is closer to half with regard to adoption by same-sex couples.
Source: New York Times
The Most Rev Justin Welby told the BBC he had "particular friends where I recognise that and am deeply challenged by it".
But he said he still supported the Church of England's formal opposition to active homosexuality.
He spoke ahead of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral later.
The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron will be among the 2,000 expected guests.
Mr Welby - the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the Anglican communion - said: "You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship."
While he did not doubt the Church's policy on same-sex relationships, he was "challenged as to how we respond to it", he added.
"The Church of England holds very firmly, and continues to hold to the view, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man to one woman," he said.
"At the same time, at the heart of our understanding of what it is to be human, is the essential dignity of the human being. And so we have to be very clear about homophobia."
Asked if the Church would turn a blind eye to some gay relationships, he said: "It's not a blind eye - it's about loving people as they are and where they are.
"You'll find that in every church and you'll find that because it imitates the character and the practice of Jesus himself."
Last month, the archbishop said he stood by the Church of England's opposition to the introduction of gay marriage.
He spoke before the Commons approved same-sex marriage in England and Wales by voting for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by a majority of 225.
The government believes the wording of the bill will ensure the Church of England and the Church in Wales will not face any legal challenges to their opposition to holding same-sex marriages in their buildings.
All religious organisations will be able to opt in to holding ceremonies, but the Church of England and the Church in Wales would first need to agree to change canon law.
Mr Welby, 57, is married with five children. He went to school at Eton, and later Cambridge University.
He rose to the top of the oil industry - ending up as treasurer of Enterprise Oil - and gave up a six-figure salary to train as a priest.
He was a vicar in Warwickshire, a canon of Coventry Cathedral, and the Dean of Liverpool, before being appointed as Bishop of Durham in November 2011.
The BBC's religious affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, says the new archbishop is inheriting a Church which has seen congregation numbers decline dramatically in recent decades, and which is struggling to promote a Christian message to an increasingly sceptical and secular society.
It will be seen as his job to unite a Church deeply riven by disputes about women bishops, and, more dangerously, sexuality, our correspondent adds.
Source: BBC News
Bergoglio has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, contraception and abortion and is considered to be among the most conservative in Latin America. In 2010, for instance, Bergoglio stated that same-sex adoption is a form of discrimination against children and has said that same-sex marriage is “a scheme to destroy God’s plan” and “a real and dire anthropological throwback.” He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow for marriage equality, writing a letter warning that it would “gravely harm the family.”
However, Bergoglio has focused on helping the poor throughout his career, noting, “The suffering of innocent and peaceful continues to slap us, the contempt for the rights of individuals and peoples are so far away, the rule of money with his demonic effects as drugs, corruption, trafficking people, including children, along with material and moral poverty are big problems.”
In 2001, upon becoming cardinal, Bergoglio “discouraged people from spending the money to fly to Rome to celebrate with him and advised that they instead donate the funds to help alleviate poverty at home.” He lived in a simple apartment, cooked his own food, and traveled by bus instead of a chauffeured limousine.
However, Bergoglio has been criticized by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for his behavior during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina, with some journalists claiming that he prevented human rights groups from finding political prisoners by imprisoning them in his vacation home.
During the period of the dictatorship, the Catholic Church failed to confront the regime, even as it was kidnapping and killing thousands. The church eventually issued a blanket apology for its actions in October of 2012, though Bergoglio “invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court” to address two cases in which he was directly involved. When he did testify in 2010, his “answers were evasive,” human rights activists claim.
It has been 1,272 years since a non-European pope led the Church, and is particularly appropriate today, as the number of Catholics have declined in Europe, but grown significantly throughout Latin America. It is now home to 41 percent of Catholics and is “perceived as a Catholic bedrock that needs support to counter the tremendous growth of Protestantism. ”
White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel at 7:07 PM at Vatican City, as the crowd cheered loudly in anticipation. The inaugural mass for the new Pope could take place as early as this week.
Source: Think Progress
Respected sociologist Li Yinhe has submitted a proposal to China's government suggesting legalizing gay marriage, as she has regularly since 2003.
Li said on Sina Weibo (China's Twitter) that a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) has taken her proposal to the NPC annual meeting that started this week in Beijing.
'Homosexual people are Chinese citizens and there are homosexuals who want to get married. Their request should be addressed as it does not run against their civil rights as citizens,' reads Li’s proposal, South China Morning Post reports.
Li is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This year is the fifth time she has lobbied the NPC to legalize gay marriage.
It is unlikely however that Li's suggestion will become law as it can only become a formal legislative proposal after it is signed by 30 out of the 3,000 NPC members and no officials have supported gay marriage during Li's previous four lobbies of the NPC.
Last year Li argued that if China legalizes gay marriage the country will gain the 'upper hand' over the United States, that was before President Obama announced his support.
Li's call for gay marriage in China is joined this year by the voices of parents of gay children - PFLAG China sent a letter to the NPC last week.
'Some of our children have been with their same-sex partners for almost ten years,' the letter said. 'They care for and love each other dearly, but they are unable to legally sign for their partners when they are ill and in need of an operation.'
The Chinese government rarely responds to calls from citizens, but that doesn't stop Li from persevering.
Li's proposal this year included six arguments for why China should legalize same-sex marriage, based on her own sociological research:
- it's not against any current laws
- the countries with the most advanced human rights laws allow same-sex marriage
- if gay people could marry there would be more committed same-sex relationships which would halt the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
- same-sex marriage will help with population control
- if same-sex marriage is allowed gay men would not feel pressure to marry straight women, which causes a lot of emotional trauma in China
- allowing same-sex marriage will create a more harmonious society
'In short, allowing same-sex marriage will not harm China. This proposal is for the good of the nation, the people and the gay minority.'
Source: Gay Star News
Koyuki Higashi and her partner of one and a half years tied the knot in front of 30 well-wishers on Friday, but much more of the country was in on the celebration, the first same-sex wedding at the theme park here.
Ms. Higashi, a stage actress turned gay rights activist, and her partner, Hiroko, who has not revealed her full name, posted frequent social media updates of their wedding plans and from their Christian-style ceremony, with a romantic gondola ride.
“My partner Hiroko and I just held a gay wedding at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Even Mickey and Minnie are here to celebrate with us!” Ms. Higashi, 28, wrote in a Twitter post that also had a picture of the newlyweds posing with the big-eared Disney characters and a flower-festooned cake. Her entry was reposted more than 6,000 times, drawing largely positive responses.
“Congratulations,” replied Masaki Koh, a Japanese gay porn star. “Your wonderful wedding will bring inspiration and hope to many people who still hesitate to take the first step. I was also encouraged that Tokyo Disney Resort was so understanding.”
But on the Naver Matome site, which collects and curates social media entries, a user who identified himself as Nizo Hakoda remarked: “I don’t particularly mind homosexuality and same-sex marriage, but watching the news made me wonder why they had to hold their ceremony at a crowded place like Disney. It’s fine for the people who accept it, but there are others who don’t.”
The Walt Disney Company had long allowed same-sex celebrations in a limited way on its grounds, like in banquet halls. But in 2007, it began allowing same-sex couples to buy high-end wedding packages, which can include elaborate ceremonies, Disney characters and public displays at its theme parks and on its cruises.
Despite that change in policy, Ms. Higashi found that no same-sex wedding had ever occurred at Tokyo Disney Resort. She reported on her blog and on Twitter that she had inquired about weddings at Tokyo Disney Sea, a part of the Disney Resort. But when it became apparent to the organizers that her partner was female, Ms. Higashi reported, she was asked if one of them could wear a tuxedo — so that other visitors to the park would not feel uncomfortable.
Her posts set off the first stir on Japanese social media sites.
A week later, the organizers at Milial Resort Hotels, a subsidiary of the company that runs Tokyo Disney, got back to Ms. Higashi with good news: both brides were welcome to wear wedding dresses (or both tuxedos, for that matter). “Mickey Mouse supports gay marriage!” Web headlines declared.
Milial Resort Hotels issued an apology. “Initially, there was an incomplete understanding on the part of our staff over the requirement for dresses,” said Jun Abe, a Milial spokeswoman. “If we caused them sadness and discomfort, we are sorry.”
Of course, their dream wedding did leave something to be desired for the couple: legal standing.
Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages, though there is little in the way of religious opposition from Buddhism, imported from China, or Japan’s native Shinto religion. Japanese historical texts contain references to same-sex relationships.
Some local governments, including Tokyo, ban discrimination at work based on sexual identity, but even so, in this group-conscious, relatively conformist society, most gay residents remain in the closet. Gay public figures tend to be in TV entertainment, where gay men win laughs as flamboyant queens.
Ms. Higashi came out less than three years ago after a short-lived stage career, while Hiroko says she cannot use her full name widely because some family members are not fully comfortable with her sexuality.
Hiroko said, however, that she was emboldened by the response the couple had received from friends, family and social media, and that she hoped that her wedding helped create a public discussion.
“This could prompt Japan to question why it so often ignores or discriminates against minorities,” Hiroko said. “Mostly we just want people to know that gay people exist for real, and we would like to throw weddings like everyone else.”
Source: New York Times
The Obama administration’s friend-of-the-court brief marked the first time a U.S. president has urged the high court to expand the right of gays and lesbians to wed. The filing unequivocally calls on the justices to strike down California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure, although it stops short of the soaring rhetoric on marriage equality Obama expressed in his inaugural address in January.
California is one of eight states that give gay couples all the benefits of marriage through civil unions or domestic partnership, but don’t allow them to wed. The brief argues that in granting same-sex couples those rights, California has already acknowledged that gay relationships bear the same hallmarks as straight ones.
‘‘They establish homes and lives together, support each other financially, share the joys and burdens of raising children, and provide care through illness and comfort at the moment of death,’’ the administration wrote.
The brief marks the president’s most expansive view of gay marriage and signals that he is moving away from his previous assertion that states should determine their own marriage laws. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, signed off on the administration’s legal argument last week following lengthy discussions with Attorney General Eric Holder and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
In a statement following the filing, Holder said ‘‘the government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law.’’
Obama’s position, if adopted by the court, would likely result in gay marriage becoming legal in the seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
In the longer term, the administration urges the justices to subject laws that discriminate on sexual orientation to more rigorous review than usual, as is the case for claims that laws discriminate on the basis of race, sex and other factors.
The Supreme Court has never given gay Americans the special protection it has afforded women and minorities. If it endorses such an approach in the gay marriage cases, same-sex marriage bans around the country could be imperiled.
Friend-of-the-court briefs are not legally binding. But the government’s opinion in particular could carry some weight with the justices when they hear oral arguments in the case on March 26.
Despite the potentially wide-ranging implications of the administration’s brief, it still falls short of what gay rights advocates and the attorneys who will argue against Proposition 8 had hoped for. Those parties had pressed the president to urge the Supreme Court to not only overturn California’s ban, but also declare all gay marriage bans unconstitutional.
Still, marriage equality advocates publicly welcomed the president’s legal positioning.
‘‘President Obama and the solicitor general have taken another historic step forward consistent with the great civil rights battles of our nation’s history,’’ said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign and co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the legal challenge to Proposition 8.
The president raised expectations that he would back a broad brief during his inauguration address on Jan. 21. He said the nation’s journey ‘‘is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.’’
‘‘For if we are truly created equal, than surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,’’ he added.
Obama has a complicated history on gay marriage. As a presidential candidate in 2008, he opposed the California ban but didn’t endorse gay marriage. He later said his personal views on gay marriage were ‘‘evolving.’’
When he ran for re-election last year, Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage, but said marriage was an issue that states, not the federal government, should decide.
Public opinion has shifted in support of gay marriage in recent years.
In May 2008, Gallup found that 56 percent of Americans felt same-sex marriages should not be recognized by the law as valid. By last November, 53 percent felt they should be legally recognized.
Gay marriage supporters see the Supreme Court’s hearing of Proposition 8, as well as a related case on the Defense of Marriage Act, as a potential watershed moment for same-sex unions.
In a well-coordinated effort, opponents of the California ban flooded the justices with friend-of-the-court briefs in recent days.
Among those filing briefs were 13 states, including four that do not now permit gay couples to wed, and more than 100 prominent Republicans, such as GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Two professional football players who have been outspoken gay rights advocates also filed a brief in the California case. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo urged the court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court has several options to decide the case that would be narrower than what the administration is asking. The justices also could uphold the California provision, as opponents of gay marriage are urging.
One group, the National Organization for Marriage, expects the Supreme Court to uphold the votes of over 7 million Californians to protect marriage, spokesman Thomas Peters said.
One day after the Supreme Court hears the California case, the justices will hear arguments on provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.
The administration abandoned its defense of the act in 2011, but the measure will continue to be federal law unless it is struck down or repealed.
In a brief filed last week, the government said Section 3 of the act ‘‘violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection’’ because it denies legally married same-sex couples many federal benefits that are available only to legally married heterosexual couples.
Studies have shown that married couples enjoy better health than people who are single, divorced or separated.
When Dr Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, and her team studied the health of gay and straight couples, they found marriage made a difference.
"When we controlled for socioeconomic status, the odds of reporting poor or fair health were about 61 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting men than for men in heterosexual marriage, and the odds of reporting poor to fair health were about 46 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting women than for women in heterosexual marriages," Liu said.
Although the researchers did not study the impact of legalizing gay marriage, Liu said it is plausible that if gay unions were sanctioned by law it could improve health by reducing stress and discrimination and providing health benefits enjoyed by married couples.
"If marriage can promote health, it is reasonable for us to expect that if same-sex couples had the advantage of legalized marriage their health may be boosted," Liu added in an interview.
Nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C., have legalized same-sex marriage, assuring gay couples the benefits of a legalized union.
The researchers compared the health of 1,659 gay couples living together and a similar number of married heterosexuals. They pooled data from 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Surveys in which people across the country were asked to rate their overall health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.
The study, which is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, showed that black women living together as a couple were the most disadvantaged. They reported worse health than any other non-married black women.
Liu and her co-authors, Corinne Reczek an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati, and Dustin Brown, a post-graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, suggest that the discrimination and stress that gay couples experience could contribute to their poorer health.
"Legalizing same-sex marriage could also provide other advantages often associated with heterosexual marriage - such as partner health insurance benefits and the ability to file joint tax returns - that may directly or indirectly influence the health of individuals in same-sex unions," Liu added.
Various companies are set to join separate friend-of-the-court briefs, one expected on Wednesday in a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and one due on Thursday in a case that questions a California law that banned gay marriage.
Major companies are to urge the court to invalidate Proposition 8, the California law in question, and strike down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
The brief to be filed in the Proposition 8 case, a draft of which was obtained by Reuters, has been joined by such companies as Apple Inc, Nike Inc, Facebook Inc, Morgan Stanley, Intel Corp, Xerox Corp, AIG Inc and Cisco Systems Inc.
The two cases are to be argued on March 26 and 27.
In briefs already filed in support of marriage being restricted to heterosexual unions, business interests have not been represented. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issue.
Lawyers at the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, which is handling the Proposition 8 brief, said more names could be added to the list before it is filed on Thursday.
In the DOMA case, a source close to the case said a similar brief with more than 250 signatories is due to be filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
In the Proposition 8 brief, attorney Joshua Rosenkranz wrote that companies believe that the ban and other laws like it "inflict real and wholly unnecessary injury on business."
"By marginalizing same-sex couples and foreclosing gay men and lesbians from forming 'married' families, these bans on equal access to marriage stigmatize gay men and lesbians and deprive them of the benefits intrinsic to marriage," he added.
Even if a corporation welcomes gay and lesbian unions, "it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws," Rosenkranz wrote.
He also made the argument that there is "a strong business case" for recognizing same-sex marriage. Gay marriage bans "can impede business efforts to recruit, hire and retain the best workers," he added.