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Gay civil marriage updates

From the wires…

* Gay voters in Houston rally against marriage amendment. Texas already has a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And a 2003 law prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions. But Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who sponsored the amendment measure during this year’s regular session, said he doesn’t think that’s enough. The constitutional amendment on November’s ballot defines marriage as the union of one man with one woman, and prohibits the state or any political subdivision from creating or recognizing “any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” Supporters of the amendment say it’s needed because Texas laws regarding same-sex marriage could be challenged in state court if the language is not placed in the constitution.

Turnout historically is light for constitutional amendment votes. Houston often has disproportionate influence because of its population and because it is the only major city that holds municipal and school elections on the odd-year November Election Day when amendments typically go to the voters. Houston also has a large and politically sophisticated gay community that can be expected to turn out against the amendment. The Houston Equal Rights Alliance, a coalition of organizations, is attempting to build alliances, create a concise message, identify supportive voters and mobilize turnout. Wallace and others hope to use the next five months to educate the public about the lives of gay people and their families. City Controller Annise Parker, the highest-ranking openly gay officeholder in Harris County, said she thinks the amendment is being pushed for political reasons by supporters aiming to gain capital with conservatives. “For us, it’s about our lives,” she said. “They do it to identify voters, raise money and influence local races.” Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, a socially conservative women’s group that pushed for the amendment, downplayed the importance of the opponents’ urban strategy. “I don’t think that just targeting an urban area is going to profit them with a margin that is going to be successful,” she said.

* Spain Senate rejects same-sex marriage bill. Spain’s plans to introduce marriage rights to lesbian and gay couples have been rejected in the country’s upper house of parliament. The Spanish Senate voted Wednesday against the government’s contentious bill. The final vote was 131-119. It was blocked when the Catalan Christian Democrat Party decided to form a voting coalition with the Popular Party (PP), the Reuters news agency reports. Along with the Catholic Church, the PP has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the bill, which will give full marriage and adoption access to same-sex couples. The PP also invited a senior psychologist to testify on the issue but was forced to distance itself from his comments after he said homosexuality was a “pathology.” In a bid to reassure gay voters, the PP said the comments were not reflective of the party. The Advocate notes that the Socialist government must now return the bill to the congress, where it will be able to force through the legislation. That final vote is expected next week in the last session before the legislature breaks for the summer recess. Passage is expected, and Spain would thus become the third European country to legalize same-sex marriage, after Belgium and the Netherlands. Spanish gay couples would also be allowed to adopt children.

* New Brunswick court rules same-sex marriage legal in that province of Canada. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Judith Clendening ruled that common-law marriage was the union of “two persons” — not a man and a woman. The ruling came in the way of a June 15 application before her by lawyer Alison Menard, who was acting on behalf of four same-sex couples. “People will be recognized, the ones that were married out of the province, and people can now go out and get married legally in this province. And to me, that’s worth all the fight and agony that we went through.” Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island are now the only jurisdictions where same-sex marriages aren’t the law. If the federal government manages to get Bill C-38 passed this summer, same-sex marriage will be become the law all across the country.

* In related news, some Canadian Talibannery: Parish priest in Martin’s riding prays PM will be ousted over same-sex marriage. A parish priest in Paul Martin’s riding says he’s praying the prime minister will lose his seat in the next federal election because he’s doing the devil’s bidding on same-sex marriage. Father Francis Geremia delivered his message in a fiery sermon during a Roman Catholic wedding mass over the weekend in Montreal. In a telephone interview Monday with The Canadian Press, the priest described himself as a former Liberal who has shifted his political allegiance in spectacular fashion. He’s now working against Martin’s party – and seeking help from a celestial ally. “He has to be very careful because he might even lose his riding,” Geremia said from Montreal. “I pray that he will lose his riding. Because you cannot have two faces: either you serve God or you serve the devil.”

* Calif. gay marriage bill may return soon. California’s six gay and lesbian state lawmakers are resorting to an unusual approach in an effort to legalize same-sex marriage in their state. They will try to pass a same-sex marriage bill through a parliamentary move called “gut and amend,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday. The process requires them to strip the contents of another bill that has already passed the state Assembly and insert the language of AB 19. AB 19, the same-sex marriage bill, failed by just four votes in California’ Assembly after two successive votes on June 2 — the closest success any legislative effort has seen in the attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. “My hope is that we will have a bill amended by the end of this week or the beginning of next,” said Assemblyman Mark Leno in an AP interview. Randy Thomasson, president of the conservative Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), had a warning for Mark Leno. “Be careful what you wish for,” he said. “The Democrat politicians’ addiction to homosexual ‘marriage’ guarantees that a constitutional marriage amendment protecting marriage rights for a man and a woman will qualify and pass on next year’s ballot.”

* New Jersey Gay Marriage Suit Headed for State’s Highest Court. Seven same-sex couples plan to appeal this week’s decision by a lower court that said New Jersey’s constitution doesn’t allow gay couples to wed, according to David Buckel, senior counsel for Lamda Legal, which is representing the p
laintiffs. Buckel’s group is pressing the issue in New Jersey because the state is one of five that offers legal rights such as joint tax status to gay couples. New Jersey courts ``have shown they know how to apply equal- rights provisions to gay people,” said Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark who filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs. “Marriage has never been religious in the state.”

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Pam Spaulding

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