TIME – Same-Sex Couples Welcome Delaware Gay Marriage Law

Same-Sex Couples Welcome Delaware Gay Marriage Law

By AP / Randall ChaseMay 07, 2013129 Comments

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Mikki Snyder-Hall married her partner, Claire, in California in 2008, and moved two years ago to Rehoboth, a gay-friendly Delaware beach town.

Now they’re looking forward to July 1, when Delaware officially becomes the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage after Gov. Jack Markell signed a gay marriage bill into law Tuesday.

“As of July, we are considered married,” said Snyder-Hall said. The couple said that while they don’t intend to have another wedding ceremony, they may have another reception to celebrate their new legal status in Delaware.

Markell, a Democrat, signed the measure into law just minutes after its passage by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer,” a smiling Markell told about 200 jubilant supporters who erupted in cheers and applause following the 12-9 Senate vote barely half an hour earlier.

(MORE: How Gay Marriage Won)

“Delaware should be, is and will be a welcoming place to live and love and to raise a family for all who call our great state home,” Markell said.

Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democratic-controlled legislature barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote.

While it doesn’t give same-sex couples any more rights or benefits under Delaware law than they have in civil unions, supporters argued that same-sex couples deserve the dignity and respect of married couples. They also noted that if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, civil unions would not provide protections or tax benefits under federal law to same-sex couples in Delaware.

“All couples under the law should be treated equally by their government,” Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, a gay rights group that drafted the legislation and led the effort to get it passed, told lawmakers near the end of Tuesday’s three-hour debate.

Under the bill, no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law.

Scott Forrest, 50, of Newark said he and his partner of almost 21 years, Kevin Fenimore, look forward to having the civil union they entered into last year converted to marriage.

“I am elated,” he said.

Lambda Legal, a national gay rights advocacy group, applauded passage of Delaware’s gay marriage bill.

“Today, we celebrate with the thousands of Delaware same-sex couples and their children who will soon be able to have the full recognition and respect accorded to married families,” Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

Tuesday’s debate included the first public acknowledgment by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, that she is a lesbian. Saying she and her partner of 24 years entered into a civil union last year, Peterson rejected the notion that people choose to be gay, any more than they choose to be heterosexual.

“We are what God made us. We don’t need to be fixed, we’re not broken,” said Peterson, 63, adding that if her pursuit of happiness affects someone else’s marriage, perhaps they need to work on their marriage.

(INTERACTIVE: Timeline of the Gay Rights Movement in the U.S.)

But opponents of gay marriage, including scores of conservative religious leaders from across the state, argued that same-sex marriage redefines and destroys a centuries-old institution that is a building block of society.

“Let’s be careful about the concept of social evolution,” said the Rev. Leonard Klein, a Roman Catholic priest speaking on behalf of the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, which serves more than 200,000 Catholics in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“When you remove male and female from the definition of marriage, all bets are off,” added Klein, who urged lawmakers to show an “appropriate humility” for thousands of years of human experience.

Opponents also argued that the gay marriage will bring unintended and unforeseen consequences on broader issues ranging from religious freedom to school curricula and could be used as a basis to argue for acceptance of even more forms of marriage, such as polygamy.

“We’re about to change the entire definition of marriage in order to make people feel good about themselves,” said the Rev. Chuck Betters, pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear. Betters recounted how he became the subject of scathing attacks in social media recently after posting a sign outside his church suggesting that Christianity was more powerful than the movement for gay marriage.

The new law does not force clerics to perform same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But under an existing Delaware law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, business owners who refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples for reasons of conscience could be subject to discrimination claims.

Delaware joins neighboring Maryland and the nearby District of Columbia as jurisdictions that have approved gay marriage. Last week, Rhode Island became the 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, with independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee signing the bill an hour after its final passage.

Minnesota appeared poised to legalize gay marriage after the Democratic speaker of the state House said Tuesday that a gay marriage bill endorsed by the governor and likely to pass in the state Senate also now has enough backing in his chamber. The House will vote on the measure Thursday, and if it passes, the Democratic-led Senate could vote on it as soon as Saturday.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/05/07/delaware-to-become-11th-state-with-gay-marriage/#ixzz2SnDQjR4Y

Yahoo News – Anti-gay marriage marchers take to French streets

Anti-gay marriage marchers take to French streets
By The Associated Press | Associated Press – 9 hrs ago


PARIS (AP) — Groups opposed to President Francois Hollande’s plans to legalize gay marriage and gay adoptions took to the streets Saturday across France.
Hollande said he would enact his “marriage for everyone” plan within a year of coming to power in May, but vocal opposition from religious leaders, some politicians and parts of rural France has divided the country.
Saturday’s protest, called the “March for Everyone,” included pro-family and Catholic groups. Several thousand people marched in Paris, carrying signs with slogans such as “One child (equals) one father + one mother.”
Their final destination was the Invalides monument, the final resting place of Napeolon Bonaparte, the French leader who invented the country’s prized civil code, which is still in force today. It states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, a point the gay marriage bill seeks to overturn. Another reform would be to replace the entries in a child’s registry book from “father” and “mother” to “parent 1” and “parent 2.”
Elsewhere, France’s largest demonstrations — estimated to be several thousand people strong — took place in Toulouse and France’s second city, Lyon.
The marches Saturday had a dress code of blue, white and pink — putting a spin on the French tricolore flag’s traditional colors of blue, white and red.
A recent survey found that most French favor gay marriage, while support for adoption by gay couples hovers at around 50 percent.

Daily News –

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos donates $2.5 million to Washington state marriage-equality campaign
Along with his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, the entrepreneur makes both a financial and a very public commitment to the cause of legalizing gay marriage in the U.S.

Mackenzie and Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com founder and his wife, made a singificant $2.5 million donation to the Washington United for Marriagecampaign that is working to preserve the legality of gay marriage in Washington state.
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The billionaire founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, along with his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, have just delivered a $2.5 million gift to same-sex marriage advocates in the company’s home state of Washington, injecting a jolt of momentum into a statewide campaign for gay marriage. The donation establishes entrepreneur Bezos and MacKenzie as two of the largest financial supporters of gay marriage in the United States.

The gift instantly doubled the monetary resources available to backers of Referendum 74, a Washington ballot measure that reaffirms the legality of gay marriage coming before voters this November. The referendum originated this spring, when opponents of marriage equality collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot – and to urge that voters reject it. The measure’s success would validate a law passed in the Legislature this year, legalizing gay marriage in the heavily Democratic state.

“It’s an amazing gift, an amazing investment in our campaign and we’re really grateful to Jeff and MacKenzie,” Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk told the Daily News. “It’s clear to us that they saw this as the time to step up and invest in the opportunity to make history,” he said.

Those close to the campaign, which has received big-ticket donations from the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, were quick to point out that these large gifts represent only a portion of the campaign’s backing.

“The donation really shows how there is broad-based support for marriage equality from a broad set of constituencies across Washington state,” Josh Friedes, the director of marriage equality for Equal Rights Washington, told the Daily News.

“The size of this contribution makes it easier for us to compete with the large out of state contributions provided by the National Organization for Marriage, which has traditionally come into states when there is a marriage question on the ballot,” he said.

Friedes said conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage tend to donate large sums of money to local campaigns very late in the game, lulling civil rights groups into a false sense of security.

Preserve Marriage Washington, a conservative organization opposed to Referendum 74, released a statement Friday on its website, claiming that “if this law goes unchallenged, voters would have no say and marriage would be changed for every person in our state from being the union of one man and one woman to being a genderless institution.”

The organization blogged that the Bezos donation would help “impose same-sex marriage” in Washington.

For his part, Friedes said the benefits of the Bezos gift extend beyond the financial.

Attitudes toward marriage, he said, change when people “talk to their friends about why marriage matters.” Still, he said initiating those conversations can be challenging.

“This donation, itself, has sparked the conversation,” Friedes said, noting the proliferation of discourse on the topic today on Facebook, Twitter, and – perhaps characteristically of Seattle – in coffee shops.


Daily News -Cuomo Cheers Ruling On NY Marriage Equality

Cuomo Cheers Ruling On NY Marriage Equality

A state appeals court Friday upheld New York’s landmark same-sex marriage law, rejecting a challenge brought by an upstate religious group.

Our Glenn Blain reports:

The state Supreme Court Appellate Division in Rochester ruled the Senate’s GOP majority did not violate New York’s open meetings law by holding closed-door conferences with Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg prior to voting on the legislation.

Cuomo and Bloomberg had both lobbied for passage of the bill, which was approved by the Legislature in June of 2011.

“The court’s decision affirms that in our state, there is marriage equality for all, and with this decision New York continues to stand as a progressive leader for the nation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The appellate ruling dismissed a lawsuit brought by the group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. A lower court ruling late last year had allowed the case to proceed.

Rev. Jason McGuire, the group’s executive director, said he was disappointed with the ruling and would meet with his attorneys to “weigh our legal options moving forward.”

“If we can’t trust elected leaders to play by the rules when they seek to pass legislation, then anything can pass against the will of the people — whether it be same-sex ‘marriage’ or a national health care initiative,” McGuire said in a statement.