Battles to Defend Marriage Heating Up
Dear Supporter of the Family,
This week's Family Watch message is written by Sheldon Kinsel, Director of Policy and Research for Family Watch International. The battle to defend traditional marriage is heating up in several countries, most notably in the U.S. The following is a summary of where the issue stands in several countries.
Marriage battles in the United States:
- California – Recently a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld by 2-1 the ruling of the federal district court that Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only the union of a man and woman that was adopted by voters in 2008, violates the U.S. Constitution. Marriage defenders are asking for a rehearing by a larger, 11-judge panel of the circuit court. There is no deadline for the larger circuit to decide whether to grant this larger “en banc” rehearing. Whether or not the rehearing is granted, it is widely expected that the ultimate decision on marriage in California will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, no homosexual marriages are being performed in California.
- Maine – It is virtually certain that traditional marriage opponents have gathered more than enough signatures to force action on a bill to legalize homosexual marriage that is virtually identical to the one rejected by Maine voters two years ago. If they have sufficient signatures, the proposed law will first go to the GOP-controlled legislature. If the legislature does not pass it without amendments (which is highly unlikely), the proposed law will go directly to a vote of the people in November. Maine, along with Minnesota and the state of Washington, promises to be one of the major showdown states on marriage in the fall.
- Maryland – The legislature has passed a bill to legalize homosexual marriage and sent it to the governor who has said he will sign it. But that does not automatically mean that homosexuals in the state will be able to marry. Defenders of traditional marriage have vowed to immediately begin a petition drive to put the bill before the voters in November for the ultimate decision on whether it will actually become law. Supporters have to gather the signatures of only about 56,000 registered voters, so such a referendum vote appears likely. Polls show Marylanders are about equally divided on whether homosexual marriage should be legalized.
- Minnesota – This state, along with North Carolina, will be voting on a state constitutional marriage amendment. Both marriage amendment supporters and opponents are raising large sums of money for what promises to be a high profile fight over defending marriage in the fall. Opinion polls in the state suggest that the vote in November will be close.
- New Hampshire – A unique showdown in New Hampshire is likely within the next few weeks when the current GOP-dominated legislature is expected to vote on repealing the homosexual marriage law passed by the prior Democratic-controlled legislature. It will be the first serious attempt in any of the six states in which homosexual marriage is now legal to repeal it legislatively. The state’s Democratic governor has vowed to veto any repeal bill, but the Republicans have veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate if all majority members vote together.
- New Jersey – Both houses of the legislature recently passed a bill to legalize homosexual marriage and sent it to Governor Chris Christie who promptly vetoed it as he had promised even before the legislature began its deliberations on the bill. The governor’s position is that an issue as significant as radically redefining marriage should only be done by a direct vote of the people, and a poll taken after the veto found that 53 percent of the voters agree. It is unlikely that the legislature can override the governor’s veto, leaving the issue in limbo for the near future.
- North Carolina – This is the second U.S. state along with Minnesota that will be voting on a state constitutional marriage amendment in 2012. Polls suggest substantial public support for the amendment, and marriage defenders are hopeful that it will be pass handily when it comes before the voters in May.
- Washington State – In recent weeks this U.S. state became the seventh to try to legalize homosexual marriage. But it is far from certain, and actually unlikely, that this law will actually go into effect since Washington is one of several U.S. states that allows voters to have the final say on any bill that passes the legislature and is signed by the governor. If enough signatures of registered voters are gathered on petitions by June 6th, the law will not go into effect until the voters decide its fate in November. Within hours of the governor signing the bill, marriage defenders filed the necessary paperwork to gather the approximately 120,000 signatures to get the bill on the ballot.
The activity on marriage in several key states means it is likely that the issue of marriage will be more prominent in the U.S. presidential campaign than might otherwise have been the case. Three of the GOP presidential candidates are strong defenders of man/woman marriage and strong opponents of legalizing homosexual marriage. President Obama’s stated position is that he also opposes homosexual marriage, but has frequently signaled since he was elected that his position on the issue is “evolving.” Most observers on both sides of the issue agree that this evolution is moving him towards endorsing homosexual marriage, but he does not want to declare support for it because doing so would cost him votes in the upcoming election.
Marriage Battle in France:
Heading into what appears to be a tough national election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recently reaffirmed his opposition to homosexual marriage. His opposition is in contrast to his socialist opponent who is energetically supporting same sex marriage, but is in line with recent actions in the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council rejecting legalization of homosexual marriage.
Marriage Battle in Great Britain:
Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently announced he will actively push to legalize homosexual marriage in Britain, is facing a growing political backlash. His action is threatening to create a major rift with more conservative Tory members in his party. His support has also created a growing coalition of churches of all major denominations, dissident Tory MPs, and prominent national personalities to organize opposition to his plan, including gathering names on a national petition to preserve the traditional definition of marriage.
2012 promises to be another critical year in the fight around the world to defend traditional marriage as a fundamental social institution. We will continue to keep you informed of developments and suggest what you might be able to do to help in your country or state.
News Items of Interest
Two U.S. States Say Life Begins at Conception. The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation that provides rights to an embryo from the moment of conception. The bill will now go to the Oklahoma House. Read more here. The Virginia House of Delegates also approved a bill that would define life as beginning at conception. Read more here.
African Leaders Reject U.N. Call for Homosexual Equality. In a speech given to the Summit of the African Union in January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for African countries to liberalize their laws with regard to homosexual behavior. At least four African countries have publicly expressed opposition to the Secretary General’s comments. Read more here.
Growing Military Homosexual Group Wants More Rights. The group OutServe has more than doubled its membership since last year and is gearing up to fight for more benefits for homosexual members of the military. The organization claims to have 42 local chapters at military bases around the world. Read more here.
European Court Rules on Distribution of Homosexual Leaflets. The European Court for Human Rights unanimously ruled against four individuals who distributed 100 leaflets to students in Sweden in an attempt to start a debate about the lack of objectivity regarding homosexuality in Swedish schools. The men were convicted of agitation against a national or ethnic group. Read more here.
Obama Defends LGBT Record. Speaking to a group of high-level Washington, D.C.-area fundraisers, Obama called the work his administration has done for LGBT rights “profoundly American.” Obama is facing renewed questions regarding his position on same-sex marriage. Read more here.
Russian Legislation Against the Promotion of Homosexuality Moves Forward. Lawmakers in St. Petersburg, Russia have initially approved a bill that will introduce fines for advocating same-sex relationships to children and for promoting pedophilia. The legislation, which will likely be given final consideration within a few days, will make it illegal to hold gay pride parades and will prohibit public displays or discussions of LGBT issues. Read more here.
Major UK Homosexual Group Attempts to Abolish “Husband” and “Wife.” Stonewall, a large homosexual activist group, presented legislation to Parliament that will resolve legal issues surrounding the introduction of same-sex marriage. Among other suggestions, the words “husband” and “wife” would be replaced with “parties to a marriage.” Read more here.
Pelosi Calls for Homosexual Marriage Democratic Platform Plank. Former U.S. House Speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for a plank in the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform which endorses legalizing homosexual marriage. Read more here.
Britain’s Cameron Faces Backlash from Churches Over Same-sex Marriage. Prime Minister Cameron has publicly pledged support for redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Brennan, the barrister and peer, launched the “Coalition For Marriage,” a campaign designed derail the plans for legalizing homosexual marriage. Read more here.
Presbyterian Court Rebukes Minister for Same-sex Marriage Ceremonies. A high court of the U.S. Presbyterian Church upheld the censure of the Rev. Jane Spahr, a lesbian minister from San Francisco, California who performed same-sex weddings in violation of church doctrine. Read more here.
No Tax Benefits for Marriage in UK. Sources inside the Treasury revealed that tax breaks for married couples will not be in the upcoming budget, however, the Treasury denied that there have been any decisions made on the budget. Read more here.
Appeals Court Asked to Rehear Prop 8 Ruling. Defenders of marriage in California have asked the U.S. federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear “en banc” the 2-1 ruling that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. An 11-member panel of the circuit would rehear the case. There is no deadline by which the circuit must decide whether to grant the request. Read more here.
District Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional. A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally prohibits a lesbian from enrolling her married “wife” for federal health benefits. The decision is likely to be appealed by the special council retained by the U.S. House of Representatives which has taken over the responsibility for defending the law because the Obama Administration has refused to fulfill its obligation to do so. Read more here.
News Items of General Interest
Sex-Change Treatment for Children on the Rise. The journal Pediatrics reports that a growing number of teens and even younger children who believe they were born the wrong sex are getting support for sex-change treatments. The practice of treating children who experience Gender Identity Disorder with sex change interventions is highly controversial among medical professionals. Read more here.
Planned Parenthood Promoting Sex, Pornography to Children. One pro-life organization, American Life League, believes abortion giant Planned Parenthood deliberately sexualizes children in order to increase its contraceptive, STD testing, and abortion revenues. Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds. Read more here. (WARNING: This article contains some graphic language.)
U.S. State Department Seeks $4.1 Billion for Contributions to United Nations Agencies. The State Department budget includes $79 million for the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); $125 million for the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF); $39 million to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and millions more for other UN agencies. Read more here.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Recommends HPV Vaccine for All Boys. The CDC is now stating that the controversial vaccine should be given to all males between the ages of 11 and 21. The vaccine is believed to be effective in preventing genital warts in men and women and some cancers caused by the human papillomavirus including cancers of the cervix, head and neck. HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact in sexually active individuals. Read more here.
Pope Benedict XVI Endorses the Family. In a speech directed toward members of the Italian National Association of Large Families the Pope stated, “Without children there is no future.” Italy currently has one of the lowest birth rates in the world—1.4 children per woman, far below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. Read more here.
Sexual Freedom Costs Britain £100 Billion Each Year. According to research by the Jubilee Centre the problems of sexual promiscuity and relationship breakdown result in massive public costs. The costs include dealing with family breakdown, sexually transmitted infections (STI), absenteeism, domestic violence and educational underachievement. Read more here.
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