Friday, December 6, 2013
BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN
RICHMOND, VA, December 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual couples who “marry” outside of Virginia will still be treated as singles by state tax officials, state officials say. The decision was made after state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office pointed out that the ruling did not apply to individual states.
As a result, homosexual couples living in Virginia who choose to ‘marry’ out-of-state will face inconvenience and a higher bill come tax time.
The Virginia Department of Taxation issued a bulletin last month explaining the differences between federal and state tax laws and providing “married” homosexual couples with instructions on how to file their state taxes.
The bulletin explains that while the state had historically defaulted to the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) definition of marriage for tax calculation purposes, it can no longer do so because Virginia’s constitution was amended in 2007 to specifically block the state government from offering any of the “rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage” to any partnership that does not consist of one man and one woman.
As a result, while “married” same-sex couples may file as married with the federal IRS, they will not be able to do so in Virginia. That means that in order to fill out state tax forms, which ask for federal adjusted gross income, such couples may have to prepare at least three separate federal returns: the “married” form – filed either separately or jointly - to be sent to the IRS, and two dummy returns calculated as single people, from which to draw the correct numbers for the state forms.
The law also prevents both members of a same-sex couple from claiming the same child as a dependent, deducting childcare expenses, or deducting alimony or child support payments made to a former same-sex ‘spouse.’
Additionally, any pretax benefits received as a result of the same-sex “marriage,” such as employer contributions to a partner’s health plan, may also be taxed as income, and businesses that provide benefits to same-sex “spouses” will not be able to claim deductions on those benefits.
The Virginia chapter of the ACLU slammed Virginia’s tax policies in a statement, accusing state officials of “ongoing hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians, including legally married same-sex couples.”
And the business sector has complained about the human resources “nightmare” presented by having federal and state withholdings and benefits deductions calculated in disparate ways.
But state officials say their hands are tied.
“It’s not a tax issue. It’s a constitutional matter,” Taxation Department spokesman Joel Davison toldThe Washington Post. “An administrator can’t go against his or her state constitution.”
Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, praised state officials for upholding the law, unlike the state of Missouri, where Democratic Governor Jay Nixon recently issued an executive order forcing tax officials to recognize same-sex “marriages” for the sake of simplicity, even though the state constitution bans such unions.
“We appreciate the department and administration putting the rule of law ahead of simplicity,” Cobb said in a written statement.
But gay activists say they plan to ask Virginia’s incoming Democratic Governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe to follow Nixon’s lead and sign an executive order forcing the state to treat same-sex ‘marriages’ as valid for tax purposes.
McAuliffe has said he supports a repeal of the state’s marriage protection amendment and has promised to issue executive orders banning “discrimination” based on sexual orientation and “gender identity” on his first day in office.
But even if McAuliffe wanted to change the tax laws, it’s far from certain that he could actually do it, as Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage” is much more strongly worded than Missouri’s.
“I think we’ll certainly have conversations with Governor McAuliffe’s office to change this for gay couples,” Brian Moulton of the homosexual Human Rights Campaign told the Post. “But it is very difficult to get around these constitutional amendments.”
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By Brooke Adams | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Dec 04 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Dec 04 2013 01:01 am
A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage brought by three couples who contend the prohibition is unconstitutional.
Each side has asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby for summary judgment — that is, to find their arguments so compelling there is no need for what would likely be a protracted legal fight over Utah’s Amendment 3, the ban approved by voters in 2004.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Derek L. Kitchen and Moudi D. Sbeity; Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge; and Karen Archer and Kate Call. They filed the lawsuit in March, just as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two different cases involving the constitutionality of laws on same-sex marriage and associated rights.
In a pair of rulings issued three months later, the Supreme Court dismissed on procedural grounds a challenge of a lower court decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage in California and struck down a key element of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, even in states like New Yorkwhere such marriages are legal.
In the Utah lawsuit, both sides use the ruling in the second case — United States v. Windsor — to argue that Shelby should find in their favor.
Attorneys for Utah say Windsor makes clear that states, not the federal government, have sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage. The Windsor ruling is "replete with deferential references" to the state of New York’s power and authority to regulate marriage, state attorneys argue, and criticizes the federal government’s effort to interfere with such decisions.
Windsor "overturned an act of Congress considered an ‘unusual’ federal intrusion" into state authority. Given that, Utah’s own power, decision-making and "exercise of its sovereign authority within our federal system to not include same-sex marriage is entitled to the same respect and deference," the state argues.
Attorneys for the three couples say that under the "binding analysis" of Windsor, their arguments prevail because "Utah’s Marriage Discrimination Laws ... single out same-sex couples to impose a disability on them, and to treat them unequally." Under Windsor, such laws are "irrational, and no legitimate purpose overcomes their purpose and effect to disparage and injure."
"In arguing that regulation of marriage is the exclusive province of the state, the state defendants rely on antiquated opinions and case law, and ignore the patent statements in Windsor to the contrary," the couples argue. Moreover, the state defendants "gloss over" statements in the decision that highlight the need to "respect the constitutional rights of persons" in marriage laws and misinterpret the basis for striking down DOMA, which was equal protection and due process — not federalism.
"Where a state’s regulation of marriage does not respect those rights, or infringes upon those guarantees — such as the case here — then the state’s power is limited by the Constitution," the plaintiffs argue.
The plaintiffs and the state disagree about the standard of scrutiny that should be the basis of weighing the constitutionality of Utah’s law, as well as what research has to say about same-sex relationships — particularly regarding children raised by such couples.
The ACLU of Utah, in an amicus brief filed in support of the plaintiffs, urges Shelby to use heightened scrutiny in his review of Utah’s law, which would mean homosexual couples would be considered a quasi-suspect class that has historically experienced discrimination, has distinguishing and immutable characteristics and is politically powerless.
The state counters that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has found sexual orientation is not a protected class deserving of the higher standard of scrutiny, instead requiring a review based on whether there is a rational governmental interest underlying Utah law.
"Viewed properly, none of the factors adequately supports — and the important political power factor weighs heavily against — making sexual orientation the first new protected class in almost 40 years," the state says in a court filing.
Gay and lesbian interest groups have made remarkable advances in legal and political arenas, with 16 states and the District of Columbia now recognizing same-sex marriage, the state notes. A majority of Americans also support such marriages, it adds.
"It would be hard to identify many groups on the national scene that are more politically powerful than gays and lesbians," the state says.
Homosexuality also is "directly relevant to marriage’s historical focus on childbearing and mother-father child-rearing and to the problem of unplanned and unintended children," the state argues. "Male-female marriage supports the state’s strong interest in having a child raised by the father and mother who brought him into the world; same-sex marriage does not."
The state also says that if the term "marriage" is extended to relationships other than those involving a man and a woman it will lose "some of its intelligibility" and thus "some of its power to attract broad social allegiance and support and to guide potentially procreative heterosexual couples into stable marriages."
But the plaintiffs argue that the state "cannot use their political power to discriminate against a politically unpopular minority that does not share the majority’s religious and/or moral view in terms of the fundamental right, and equal access, to marriage."
The state position, particularly on what constitutes an ideal marriage and its importance in child-rearing, received support from four university professors, who filed an amicus brief in its behalf. They are Lynn D. Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University; William C. Duncan. who is an adjunct law professor at BYU and director of the Marriage Law Foundation; Bryce J. Christensen, an associate professor of English at Southern Utah University who has authored several books on marriage as an institution; and Joseph P. Price, an associate professor of economics at BYU who has written about marriage and family.
On Monday, Shelby denied a motion by The National Center for Lesbian Rights to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, saying it had come too late to give the parties in the lawsuit time to respond.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
LONDON, November 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian hoteliersfined for refusing a single room to two homosexual men in September 2008, have lost their appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court, with the court ruling that their company policy was “discriminatory.”
Despite the fact that the couple proved that their policy applied equally to any unmarried couples, and not just homosexuals, all five judges ruled the Bulls’ policy to be a case of illegal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and dismissed their appeal. Two of the judges said the discrimination was “indirect,” but unjustified.
The elderly couple said they were “deeply disappointed and saddened” at the decision that has “reinforced the notion that gay rights must trump everything else.”
They have said that they have been the victims of an ongoing hate campaign, including threats and abusive phone calls and emails, vandalism of their home and car. The Christian Institute reports that wheel nuts were removed from the couple’s car “and recently a dead rabbit was nailed to their fence”. The website of the business was recently hacked and replaced with pornography.
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September that they had no choice but to sell their business, having gone hungry and without heating last winter in their struggle to make mortgage payments.
“We’re just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Mrs. Bull said in a statement after the verdict.
“Britain ought to be a country of freedom and tolerance, but it seems religious beliefs must play second fiddle to the new orthodoxy of political correctness,” she added. “Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society.”
The Supreme Court deputy president, Lady Hale, said the Bulls are free to “manifest their religion” but by refusing to allow homosexual men to share a double bed in their establishment, they were breaking the law.
In what has been called the first national test case of the Equality Act’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR) for Christians who hold traditional sexual moral beliefs, the Bulls have lost in every court, starting with the Bristol Crown Court in January 2011.
Moreover, Judge Andrew Rutherford declared in the Bristol Crown Court ruling that in law there is no discernable difference between civil partnership and marriage, a ruling which later helped to pass the Conservative government’s “gay marriage” act.
The legal action has had a huge impact on the Bulls’ lives. In addition to being fined £3,600 for the “hurt and embarrassment” felt by the complainants, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, the Bulls were ordered to pay the latter’s legal expenses.
The Bulls have failed in their efforts to find a way to continue their business enterprise while living their beliefs. The Government’s tourism board for England struck the Bulls’ B&B off their approved list of guesthouses and homosexualist groups and publications have enacted a boycott.
They tried to turn their guesthouse into a non-profit, Christian-only retreat centre, but have recently announced that their legal fight has been so costly they have no choice but to sell their home. They have operated their business for 25 years and have always made their policy known to guests.
Hazelmary Bull has described their situation as exemplifying the ongoing marginalization of Christianity in Britain. With these kinds of rulings, she said, it is clear that “some people are more equal than others.”
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September, that they came to the decision to sell as “a gradual process”. “We just noticed more and more that we couldn’t make the mortgage repayments” she said.
“Last winter was terrible. We were actually shivering and were hungry. We are coming towards next winter and dreading it. In 2013, two people who worked all their lives at this have ended up cold and hungry. It’s not right.”
She described the loss of their home and business as being like a “death in the family”. “I never thought it would end like this. We are not facing the future with any real enthusiasm.”
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Attorney General's Office said in a motion Friday that it wants to defend in federal court the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
New York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia's Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Huntington in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple.
The lawsuit says the Kanawha and Cabell county clerks denied the six adults marriage licenses under the state law, and that effectively denies them many benefits that could make their lives easier. Those include shared health insurance, reduction of tax liabilities, family leave, caretaking decision power and death benefits.
The lawsuit did not name any state officials as defendants. A judge had previously given Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick an extension on filing a response to the lawsuit so that Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office could determine whether it was going to intervene.
McCormick's petition seeking more time noted that the case involves a constitutional issue that "will have far ranging effects for each and every citizen of the state of West Virginia," and for the 55 county clerks who currently are required to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It also said she has no discretion on whether to grant marriage licenses and no expertise on the legal issues at hand.
Morrisey's filing notes that state agencies enforce or otherwise execute the laws in question.
Morrisey's decision comes days after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing same-sex weddings to begin in that state this summer, making it the 16th overall to legalize gay marriage.
Lambda Legal argues West Virginia's ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children. In addition to its own ban, the state doesn't recognize same-sex marriages that occurred in other states. The organization says its clients are denied the legal sanction, societal respect, financial protections and other support that marriage gives to heterosexual couples.
The plaintiffs are partners Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins, and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton, of St. Albans, and their son, Drew
Lambda Legal filed a similar lawsuit challenging Virginia's gay marriage ban in September.
Monday, November 25, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge Friday set June 9 as the trial date for a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban after rejecting a request to delay the proceeding.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III also set a timetable for pre-trial motions and other paperwork to be filed before the trial at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg.
Jones said a defense request to delay the trial until August would be unnecessary.
“I’m an optimist by nature,” he said.
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that bars same-sex marriage. Nationally, Illinois this week joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing it.
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who took office in January, has refused to defend the law in court, saying it violates the state and federal constitutions.
Friday’s meeting came a week after Jones denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the two major defendants — the secretaries of the state departments of Healthand Revenue.
William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice who heads the private legal team that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett hired to defend the state officials, said he plans to appeal Jones’ ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by next week.
The defendants’ motion cited a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision to argue that federal courts lack jurisdiction over state marriage laws. But Jones said that decision has been eroded by the court’s subsequent rulings on constitutional challenges based on sex or sexual identity.
“The jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972,” Jones said in his opinion.
Friday, November 22, 2013
SALEM, OR, November 21, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Sports retail giant Nike has jumped into the fray over same-sex “marriage,” founding a political action committee (PAC) to fund efforts to redefine marriage in Oregon, where the company is based.
Oregon voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The measure was approved by a wide margin, with 57 percent of Oregonians voting in favor of the traditional definition of marriage, despite the amendment’s backers being outspent 2-to-1 by homosexual activists.
In 2008, the state legislature voted to approve domestic partnerships for homosexual couples, and last month, state officials announced that Oregon would recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other states.
But that’s not good enough for homosexual activists, who have mounted a petition drive to put same-sex “marriage” on the ballot again in Oregon, asking voters to reverse the ban they enacted just ten years ago.
Now, Beaverton-based Nike has joined the fight, founding “Nike Equality PAC” to support the referendum.
According to the Portland Business Journal, the PAC was launched with $280,000, including $100,000 in corporate contributions and $180,000 in personal contributions from company executives.
“We chose to set up the Nike Equality PAC so that Nike, and its employees if they choose, have a specific avenue to support campaign efforts that are directly related to winning marriage equality in Oregon,” the company said in a statement.
Nike has a long history of supporting homosexual causes both inside and outside the state of Oregon. The company was instrumental in organizing support for Oregon’s domestic partnership law and played a major role in adding homosexuality and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Nike also filed a “friend of the court” brief during the Supreme Court battle over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), urging the court to force the federal government to recognize gay “marriages.”
In its daily operations, Nike gives preference to homosexual suppliers, and has long extended full “spousal” benefits including adoption assistance to its homosexual employees and their partners, whether “married” or not. The company also covers sex-change operations and related hormonal treatments for employees and their dependents.
In 2012, Nike introduced a line of rainbow-colored, homosexuality-themed shoes and sportswear. Sales of the high-priced line (a pair of rainbow-soled sneakers costs $115) have netted more than $200,000 for the company’s LGBT Sports Coalition, which seeks to “end bias” against homosexuality in sports.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
By Ray LongClout Street
7:01 a.m. CST, November 21, 2013
A Catholic bishop offered prayers of exorcism Wednesday in response to Gov. Pat Quinn's approval of an Illinois gay marriage law, and he suggested politicians are "morally complicit" in assisting the sins of same-sex couples.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki spoke Latin to send the message, "Be gone, Satan, father of lies, enemy of human salvation. Give way to Christ."
The head of the Springfield Diocese delivered his remarks to a large crowd of worshippers in the cavernous Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception only blocks from the Capitol, where lawmakers approved the same-sex marriage legislation two weeks ago.
"I exorcise you, every unclean sprit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ," Paprocki said during the hourlong ceremony 200 miles from the bill-signing celebration in Chicago.
The exorcism performed is known as a minor one in the pantheon of the practice, said Paprocki, who noted similar renouncements of the devil in the acts of baptisms and confirmations.
"I'm not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a 'major exorcism,' but all of us are certainly subject to the devil's evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil," Paprocki said.
Afterward, the bishop said he did not expect people to see instant results, restating a point he made during the service that Hollywood had sensationalized exorcisms.
But he noted that the legalization of abortion 40 years ago under Roe v. Wade did not silence the opposition to the practice, and he held out hope that one day the same-sex marriage law would be repealed.
In opening a service titled "Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage," Paprocki said he was speaking with "great reluctance."
"I did not seek to enter any controversy, and I don't relish being part of one," he said. "But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers."
While protesters stood in the chilly rain, Paprocki told his flock sitting in wooden pews that his position was not that of a "self-righteous saint" but of a sinner.
He warned that "legal redefinition of marriage is contrary to God's plan" in which marriage should be only between a man and woman.
"Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality," Paprocki said.
He maintained his remarks "are not meant to demonize anyone, but are intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the church."
Yet Paprocki also charged that "politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin."
"We must pray for forgiveness of these sins and deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church," Paprocki said.
The bishop said the church "stands ready to extend God's mercy to those who confess their sins with true repentance."
There is a "key point which the secularists are missing: They think that stressing God's mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God's mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness," he said.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN
MONTCLAIR, CA, November 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Los Angeles-area gym is under fire for a transsexual’s claim that he was asked to stop using the women’s locker room after revealing his past life as a man to his personal trainer.
Yanel Valenzuela, 29, told KCAL-9 Los Angeles that a female manager at the Montclair location of the LA Fitness gym chain told him he was no longer welcome to use the women’s changing and restroom area after he confessed to a personal trainer that he had been born a man, but had surgery to remove his male sex organs and replace them with female facsimiles.
According to Valenzuela, he told the trainer his secret because he wanted fitness advice targeted toward his unusual situation. But he claims a manager took him aside later and told him he couldn’t use the women’s locker room anymore.
“I felt hurt because I don’t understand why she did it. She had no reason. She had no complaints from anyone,” Valenzuela told KCAL. He said he showed the manager his California driver’s license, which he had changed to say he is a female, along with a letter from his doctor confirming he’d had the sex-change operation.
Valenzuela insists the manager’s request amounted to disrespect and harassment. “It gave me emotional stress,” he told KCAL. “I don’t think it was fair.” He said he went to the press about the incident to force the manager to think twice before denying anyone else access to the restroom or changing facilities of their choice.
“I hope this never happens to anybody again because it’s not fair for me to be disrespected in front of clients and the members that come here,” Valenzuela said.
LA Fitness told KCAL they are aware of the situation, but refused to comment further. It has not been confirmed whether the gym planned to go through with banning Valenzuela from the women’s facilities; however, that seems unlikely, as California’s anti-discrimination law singles out “gender identity” and “gender expression” as protected classes.
Facilities use by so-called “transgender” people has been a particularly hot topic in California of late, as concerned parents have mounted a ballot referendum to overturn a recently-passed law requiring the state’s public schools to allow students to use the restroom and changing facilities of their chosen – not biological – sex, as well as participate in the single-sex activities of their choice, such as sports teams.
While California’s laws do not specifically address the use of privately owned restrooms, an increasing number of judges and commissioners around the country have interpreted “public accommodation” provisions like the one contained in California’s anti-discrimination law to include access to the bathroom of one’s choice. For example, in Oregon, a bar owner was recently ordered to pay a group of cross-dressers $400,000 after he asked them not to return due to other customer’s complaints about their inappropriate behavior in the women’s restroom.
The Obama administration’s Department of Justice, which has called the promotion of transgender acceptance a “top priority,” has also taken an aggressive stance on the issue, claiming that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sex, applies to “perceived” sex as well as real sex. The DOJ has mounted a campaign of legal harassment against schools and employers that fail to allow self-identified transgender people (regardless of biology or surgical status) to access facilities meant for the opposite sex.
A number of schools have been intimidated by the DOJ’s threats, including the University of Arkansas, which changed its bathroom policy after the DOJ sent them a letter threatening legal action if they refused to allow a 38-year old male cross-dresser to use the women’s restrooms, despite the fact that the man – a father of a toddler who had recently divorced his second wife – had not yet had surgery to remove his male organs.
But Randy Thomasson of Save California believes the DOJ is wrongly interpreting the law. Attorney General “Eric Holder needs to reread the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and find out that civil rights are based on an unchangeable, immutable characteristic,” Thomasson said, after the DOJ forced a Los Angeles area high school to allow a ninth grade girl to use the men’s facilities. “You cannot change your genes or your gender. You have chromosomes and they are either XX or XY.”
Laurence Vance, a policy adviser at the Future of Freedom Foundation, goes even further. Vance argues that governmental attempts to force private property owners to accommodate the whims of those suffering from gender confusion highlights a fatal flaw within the nation’s anti-discrimination laws.
“From a private property standpoint, the growing trend of making accommodations for ‘transgender’ people should be opposed root and branch, but not because this concerns anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity,” Vance told LifeSiteNews via e-mail. “All anti-discrimination laws are an assault not only on property rights, but on freedom of thought and freedom of association.”
“In a truly free society,” Vance stated, “all business and property owners would be free to discriminate against anyone, for any reason, and on any basis. And it goes without saying that they would be free to make their own restroom policies. But even without going this far, all federal anti-discrimination laws should still be opposed simply because the federal government has no authority under the Constitution to make them.”
Monday, November 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the U.S. Senate considers a national 20-week ban on abortions, issues of life and family have remained in the forefront of state legislatures across the country, as well.
This week, California’s Secretary of State granted permission for pro-life activists to attempt to place a measure on the ballot to require abortionists to notify the parents of underage girls who wish to have an abortion.
If it became law, the proposed ballot measure would require a 48-hour waiting period after parents are notified by a medical professional. There would be exceptions for medical emergencies, parental waivers, or verification of parental abuse. Judges would also be granted flexibility to act in the girl’s best interest. The measure requires 807,615 signatures from registered voters to be submitted by April 14. California voters have turned down similar measures three times in the last decade.
A judge has upheld the state’s gay “marriage” law, citing a loophole in the state’s constitutional amendment against same-sex “marriage.” The language reads: "The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples."
According to Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto, the amendment allows the legislature a great deal of flexibility when it comes to who can and cannot wed. The amendment is at the center of a challenge by a Republican lawmaker against the law signed by governor Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday and passed in a special session of the Hawaiian legislature last week. Republican legislator Bob McDermott says the state’s citizens should be allowed a direct vote on the issue.
Hawaii Family Advocates president Jim Hochberg said that the new law will lead to organizations and individuals who support traditional marriage being accused of discrimination. He also said “the new law includes special protections for homosexual couples that opposite sex couples will not enjoy with respect to divorce, annulment, or legal separation.”
After a bipartisan deal over the creation of a new procedure to authorize specialty license plates fell apart, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to create “Choose Life” license plates. Money from the plates will go to a pro-life corporation that sends money to adoption centers.
According to Pro-Life Wisconsin Director of Legislation Matt Sande in a public statement, if the new plates are allowed they “will provide a wonderful opportunity for Wisconsinites to express their pro-life beliefs and facilitate and encourage adoption as a positive, life-affirming choice for women with unplanned pregnancies.” Pro-Life Wisconsin reports 29 states have allowed “Choose Life” plates since 2000, and have raised $17 million for adoption centers.
Governor Jay Nixon announced on Thursday he supports same-sex “marriage,” citing how he is “starting to see…and think differently about things like discrimination.” Shortly before this announcement, Nixon said the state would – by Executive Order – accept state tax returns jointly from same-sex couples “married” in other states. He said at the time the issue of tax returns was distinctly separate from his personal opinion on homosexual “marriage.”
On Thursday, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thanked Iowa governor Terry Branstad for his attendance at the Informed Choices of Iowa fundraiser in Des Moines. Huckabee, who said he “got into politics because I’m pro-life,” reminded listeners that governors are able to accept a fraction of invitations they receive, and most do not participate in pro-life events. Because of this, Huckabee said “it matters” when a governor shows up to a pro-life event.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
HONOLULU, November 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although teeming crowds of thousands, perhaps the largest in the history of state politics, opposed it, the Hawaiian legislature passed a bill redefining marriage.
In a signing ceremony today, Governor Neil Abercrombie said the bill furthered “fairness, justice, and human equality” in the state. "Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us," he said, after calling a special session of the legislature to pass the bill.
An estimated 10,000 people from the various islands that compose the state attended a marriage preservation rally at the capital of Oahu on Monday, October 28. Another 24,000-plus written comments were sent in on the topic.
Some 5,184 citizens signed up for the opportunity to testify before the state Senate's public hearing for two minutes each, later reduced to one minute. A total of 1,800 showed up, but only 425 were allowed to testify before State Senator Clayton Hee cut the meeting off. Those who got to speak complained that lawmakers were checking their phones instead of listening to their voices.
The final vote confirmed it. The state Senate passed the bill on Tuesday 19-4, with two abstentions. The senate's only Republican member voted no, as did three Democrats.
“The amount of public input that rose strongly against this bill is both monumental and historic and we are strongly disappointed that this legislature ignored the overwhelming voice of the people,” said Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates.
President Obama praised their work, saying in a statement, “I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder.”
The signing ceremony completed the revolution begun 20 years ago, when the state supreme court ruled that denying marriage licenses to homosexuals constituted discrimination. As the case wound its way through the court system, the 50th state became the first to restrict marriage between members of the opposite sex, passing Amendment 2 in 1998.
Soon, a wave of states acted to protect themselves from judicial overreach on the issue of marriage.
However, Hawaii's amendment said, “The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.” Although voters believed they had restricted marriage to nuclear families, the state attorney general argued 15 years later that the amendment merely gave the legislature theoption of preserving marriage – an option it could decline.
State Representative Bob McDermott has promised to appeal.
Despite the constitutional amendment, the first state to ban same-sex “marriage” became the 15th state to redefine marriage.
The new definition will go into effect on December 2, barring court intervention.