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

Time – France’s Lower House Pushes Through Gay Marriage Legalization—Now What?

France’s Lower House Pushes Through Gay Marriage Legalization—Now What?

By Bruce CrumleyFeb. 12, 2013

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Junior Minister for Family Dominique Bertinotti and French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira listen to members of Parliament explaining their vote on Feb. 12, 2013 at the French National Assembly in Paris, France.

France took a big step towards balancing the rights of homosexuals and heterosexuals Feb. 12, when the leftist-controlled Assemblée Nationale passed draft law legalizing marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. The legislation, adopted by a vote of 329 to 229, now heads to the left-dominated upper house of parliament for expected final passage in mid-March. From there, the so-called “Marriage For All” bill will undergo routine legal and constitutional vetting before going into force as French law—probably later in spring.

Though first-phase passage of the text was virtually certain, the vote was nevertheless significant for numerous reasons. Politically, it was the first major social reform presented by Socialist President François Hollande—whose promise to legalize same sex marriage was one of his central campaign planks. Meantime, it saw socially liberal France finally embrace marriage and family rights for same sex couples that many countries adopted long ago, including some considered more conservative. And after several embarrassing policy setbacks—like the constitutional incompatibility of Hollande’s planned 75% tax rate on incomes exceeding €1 million ($1.3 million)—the resounding lower house approval of “Marriage For All” sent the French public the not altogether common image of parliament’s leftist majority marching in lock step with Hollande’s often more cautious cabinet to put policy into place.

“This law is in line with a long series of republican reforms for equality and against discrimination,” said Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as legislators prepared to vote. “Contrary to what those who rail against it say — and fortunately they’re in the minority — this law is going to strengthen the institution of marriage.”

Despite the large margin of victory, bringing the text to vote was a laborious affair—and the fight over “Marriage For All” won’t be over even once the law is enacted. The legislation remains an issue of contention—even among people who back it–and widened the split within French society over same sex marriage and adoption rights.

A Feb. 8 Ifop survey for French news site Atlantico.fr found 66% of respondents supporting same sex marriage—a level of public approval generally reflected in previous polls on the topic. By contrast, the Atlantico.fr study found only 47% of French people backing adoption rights for same sex couples—down from 52% in Oct. 2012. In general, sociologists say, the majority of French people view equal rights for same sex couples as being both logical and over due, but start expressing more doubts when parenting and child raising issues are factored into the debate.

Similar ambiguity has also been reflected within political parties. France’s main conservative party, the Union for a Popular Majority (UMP), found itself caught in the political trap of having to oppose any policy championed by rival leftists—but this time involving a social reform many UMP members and officials privately support. As part of that often pro forma resistance, conservatives introduced nearly 5,000 amendments to undermine the text—virtually all of which were struck down during 10 straight days of frequently uproarious parliamentary debate. Maintaining party discipline in the face of personal conviction wasn’t always easy. Heading into Tuesday’s vote, UMP leaders warned that perhaps 15% of the party’s 196 legislators might support the bill or abstain during voting, despite the official order to reject the Hollande measure. In the end, two UMP legislators voted for the bill–along with five centrists–with another five conservative PMs opting not to vote at all.

Divided conservative ranks over gay marriage weren’t limited to France’s opposition. On Feb. 5, the UK’s House of Commons approved a measure to legalize marriage for same sex couples in Britain that split the right. In stark contrast to France, however, the Tory-tabled UK bill won support of opposition Labour MPs in clearing passage, as some 176 Conservative legislators voted against the text, abstained, or disqualified themselves by casting ballots for and against it.

But such fissures haven’t been limited to parties of the right. Several Socialist Party legislators from less laissez-faire overseas territories had warned before Tuesday’s vote they might vote against the text to express concerns they and their constituents had with “Marriage For All.” More hardline leftists in Hollande’s majority promised that once the measure became law, they’d quickly push to have another chapter added to it so fertilization treatment for same sex couples would be covered by France’s state health care system as it its for heterosexuals. Debate within the left and right alike becomes even more animated over the issue of same sex couples using surrogate mothers to procreate.

Despite the various layers of disagreement over “Marriage For All,” the measure was never at risk of failing to clear initial passage Tuesday en route for probable upper house approval next month. Though the left’s majority in the upper chamber is far slimmer—just six seats—the legislation is expected to be voted through sometime in March. Yet even then, opponents promise to continue denouncing the measure—starting with a March 24 re-make of the January marches that drew as many as 800,000 people into the streets of Paris. Religious and political conservatives maintain the bill will undermine the solidity, structure, and even concept of the family unit. They pledge to keep attacking the initiative in the defense of children–even after it becomes law.

While that promises more of the remarkably large, well-organized protests that opponents have staged since late 2012, those are very unlikely to have any affect on “Marriage For All.” Though that very vocal French minority is good at airing its unhappiness with the bill, Hollande knows the far larger, voting majority of French society considers the reform fair, curative, and long overdue—and just doesn’t say so as loud.

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/02/12/frances-lower-house-pushes-through-gay-marriage-legalization-now-what/#ixzz2Kkcdy5mM