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Bush Renews Call For Gay Marriage Amendment

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(Washington) For the second year in a row President George W. Bush used his State of the Union speech Wednesday night to call for an amendment to the US Constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

"So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

"Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage."

Last year Bush told the joint session of Congress that "If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage." (story)

But on at least two occasions in the 12 months between the two addresses the President has appeared to slightly moderate his position, saying he would support civil unions. And, just two weeks ago Bush, in an interview with the Washington Post said he would not push for a vote on the amendment. (story)

"The point is, is that Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take that admonition seriously," Bush told the Post.

The remark sent conservative Christians into overdrive and within hours of the Post hitting newsstands White House spokespeople were on Sunday television talk shows insisting Bush remains committed to the amendment.

LGBT civil rights groups were quick to chastise the President for his use of the State of the Union to renew the amendment push.

"Once again President Bush is contradicting himself," Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Steven Fisher told 365Gay.com.

"He said that the government would never undermine family values, but in the very next breath he calls for passage of a constitutional amendment that undermines LGBT families and denies them the same rights and responsibilities as all others," Fisher said.

"He chose a divisive path of supporting the narrow interests of extremists in his party over the interests of uniting the American people."

Fisher said that there was, however, a sliver of hope in his speech in his stated commitment to helping those with HIV/AIDS. and "We hope his actions match his words," Fisher said.

Gay Democrats also attacked the President's call for an amendment.

"History will severely judge any president who casually calls for a such a radical rewriting of our Constitution without thought of its consequences," Dave Noble, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director told 365Gay.com.

"In 2004, President Bush's remarks to Congress sparked successful anti-gay legislation across the country," said Noble.

"In each of the 13 states where amendments to state constitutions passed, Republican leaders cited President Bush's call for a federal amendment in the State of the Union address as inspiration for their actions."

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman called Bush's address "no surprise" saying that the President is only gratifying his conservative base.

"Where the Republicans are on this issue is irrelevant," Foreman told 365Gay.com.

"What is relevant now is whether the Democrats, our friends and allies, will stand strong and with us against this assault to gay Americans.

A second round of states seeking amendments to ban gay marriage is underway. The first to vote on the issue in 2005 will be Kansas were the amendment will be on the ballot April 5.

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Bid To Undo Some Parts Of Anti-Gay Amendment Fails

(Salt Lake City, Utah) After rushing to write a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution last year, Utah legislators are in no hurry to repair damage the law could deal other kinds of domestic partners.

The Senate overwhelmingly voted late Tuesday to kill a bill that would have eased restrictions imposed by the gay marriage ban. The legislation came under fire from conservative lobby groups in this heavily Republican state where anything seen as advancing gay rights is often doomed to failure.

Taken literally, the gay marriage ban could deny hospital visitation or survivor's property rights to children being brought up by grandparents, or to senior citizens who live together but do not marry for financial reasons. Siblings living in the same household also could find themselves without customary rights.

Utah's Legislature - overwhelmingly Republican and Mormon, and one of the most conservative bodies in the nation - ignored warnings from the state's Republican attorney general that the amendment went too far. Utah voters ratified it with 66 percent approval in November.

But in a moment of sober reflection, some of the same lawmakers were looking at giving back to adults who live together but are ineligible to marry - a category that includes same-sex couples - some of the rights of husband and wife.

"It addresses the need of persons who may have some relationship other than marriage to delegate responsibilities to each other," said Utah Republican Sen. Greg Bell.

The Senate rejected Bell's bill on an 18-10 vote, after Republican senators huddled over lunch with two marriage-law experts who argued there was nothing wrong with Utah's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Bell gave his bill a bland title - the Mutual Dependence Benefits Contract - and was quick to deny it has anything to do with Utah's ban on gay marriage.

The measure would have created a state domestic-partner registry that would allow unmarried couples - heterosexual or gay - to have reciprocal property and health care rights and to bury one another at death.

Opponents said the bill wasn't needed; household partners can seal their rights by power of attorney and add each other to a house deed.

There were no indications that the bill would be resurrected.

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Idaho Gay Marriage Amendment Fails

(Boise, Idaho) A proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution to ban gay marriage failed to get the two-third majority it required for Senate passage Wednesday.

The amendment would have banned same-sex marriages and civil unions, inserting a clause in the constitution stating that marriage consists of a union between a man and a woman.

The measure was defeated 14-21. Eight Republican senators joined with six Democrats to ensure the amendment did not get the required "super majority".

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa) said he would not bring back an amended version of the bill this year. But, the closeness of the vote is seen as an indication it likely will return next year. McKenzie said he would make no prediction about 2006.

During debate on the amendment, he said that the bill is not "anti-gay" but rather a means to protect traditional marriage from liberal, activist judges who want to expand the definition of marriage.

Opponents argued that if the amendment were accepted the state would be discriminating against an entire class of people based on their sexuality.

They also called the legislation mean-spirited and said it was unnecessary because Idaho already has a law forbidding gay marriage.

Today's defeat was the second in two years for the proposed amendment.

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US House Calls For Appeal In Pro-Gay Ruling

(Washington) The House of Representatives is urging the White House to appeal a court ruling that allows colleges to bar the Pentagon from recruiting on their campuses because of the military's ban on gays.

In a non-binding resolution the House voted 327 - 84 to express support for The Solomon Law, passed in 1995 to deny defense-related funding to universities that don't provide ROTC programs and don't give military recruiters equal access to their campuses.

Last November, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, saying it infringed on the free-speech rights of law schools that had barred on-campus recruiting because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (story)

The schools had argued that "don't ask, don't tell" was in violation of their own anti-discrimination policies.

Opponents of the resolution said colleges with anti-discrimination policies are only preventing recruiters from using campus facilities, not from contacting students.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said that supporters of the Solomon act "are the ones who are depriving the armed services of able-bodied people" because of the ban on gays. "You are the ones who have driven thousands, literally thousands, of perfectly capable men and women out of the military."

Sharra E. Greer, Director of Law & Policy for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network agrees with Frank.

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History will prove him wrong (again).

My state (Massachusetts, lowest divorce rate in the nation :thumbsup: ) has allowed gay marriage for almost a year now and nothing bad has happened.

My view is that churches marry people or not. I got married in a Catholic Church because that is how I see god. I got married because I love someone and wish to take care of them. It's great that I wanted to do that but priests don't work out divorce settlements or enforce court orders to pay, lawyers and policemen do. I feel as far as the law is concerned any person should be allowed to enter into a contract for the personal and financial well being of another.

btw- The "activist" judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court actually ruled that according to our constituition there aren't two different classes of people. So any privilage given to one group of citizens has to be extended to another, including marriage. Remember we were marrying people as a civil instituition in Mass long before there was a United States or certainly a Texas.

I bet the constituition of alot of states (because they are based on Mass's 200 year old) says the same thing and that's why there is this big rush for amendments. It's mean spirited and the Republicans are providing cover for people who's beliefs can only be compared to the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazi Party.

EDIT: Dating back to 1780 as written by John Adams, the Commonwealth

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The majority of the 'activist judges' on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court were also appointed to the bench by governors that are of the same party as the President.

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Wait, isn't Bush flip flopping? LOL

Or was that other article just a rumor to drum up support for Bush??

Intelligent Republicans vote Libertarian when they have a candidate like Bush running.

I don't respect Bush in any way, shape, or form. I think there is a legitimate anti-government, low-tax, free loving group out there who has a completely legitimate viewpoint. I don't think Bush supports this viewpoint and its pathetic to think they voted for him anyway.

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It Was Catholics Not Evangelicals Who Fueled Bush Victory New Survey Shows

by Richard N. Ostling, Associated Press

Posted: February 3, 2005 2:02 pm. ET

(Washington) John Kerry managed the best showing since in decades for a Democratic presidential candidate among mainline Protestants, but his failure to capture a majority of Roman Catholics - people of his own faith - gave President Bush an important advantage in last November's election, according to a new survey.

Bush's showing also improved dramatically among Hispanic Protestants, 63 percent of whom supported him in 2004 - a 31 percent gain over 2000.

The postelection phone survey of 2,730 people, conducted by the University of Akron and sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, is a close study of voting behavior and religious faith.

Among non-Hispanic Catholics, Kerry won the support of 69 percent with those with liberal or "modernist" beliefs, while 72 percent of "traditionalists" favored Bush. But importantly, 55 percent of the key swing group of "centrists" picked Bush over Kerry, who was criticized by bishops for his support of abortion rights.

The upshot: A one-time Democratic mainstay, Catholics gave Bush an overall edge of 53 percent to Kerry's 47 percent.

Overall, the mainline Protestant vote split evenly, the poll found, with a Bush decline of 10 percent from 2000 and the best showing for a Democrat since the 1960s; results before then are unclear.

Divisions between religious liberals and conservatives were even more stark than they were four years ago.

"The American religious landscape was strongly polarized in the 2004 presidential vote and more so than in 2000," concluded the team of four political scientists, led by Akron's John C. Green.

The scholars said Bush's religious constituency included Christian traditionalists in all categories, Mormons, Hispanic Protestants and religious centrists among Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Kerry's support came from black Protestants and secular Americans, followed by "modernists" among Catholics and mainline Protestants. Jews and Latino Catholics remained loyally Democratic.

Other questions focused on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, which were thought to be crucial when Nov. 2 exit polls showed "moral values" were more important to voters than Iraq, terrorism or the economy.

The study concluded that "social issues were quite important to the Bush vote, but a secondary factor for the electorate as a whole."

The quadrennial Akron surveys are notable for careful interviewing on respondents' precise religious affiliations and religious views and activities. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Wednesday night in the State of the Union speech Bush renewed his call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (story)

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Gay Marriage Amendment Compared To Nazism

(Richmond, Virginia) Virginia's Senate Monday voted 30-10 in favor of a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

During an intense debate on the issue opponents of the measure likened it to the Nazis' treatment of Jews.

"There is nothing ennobling about Senate Joint Resolution 337. It is xenophobia that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy. It is homophobia that brings us to this place in time today," said Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton).

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) went further, saying Virginia has begun stigmatizing people because of their sexuality just as the Nazis did. Jews, she said, were required in concentration camps to wear yellow patches; political prisoners wore red ones; and homosexuals got pink.

"First, there were small infringements on rights, infringements perpetrated by elected representatives (who said) that's what the people want. Some religious leaders participated, misusing Biblical text to justify their deeds," Howell said.

"In Virginia today, we do not require pink triangles. We stigmatize and marginalize people in other ways as we go down a path that we don't know where it will end," she said.

The amendment's Senate sponsor, Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg) said protecting traditional is nothing like Nazism. Newman said that without the measure, Virginia could be forced to honor gay marriages established in states where gay marriages are legal such as Massachusetts.

But, Sen. Kenneth Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax County) said there was nothing wrong with discriminating against gays.

Cuccinelli, noting that homosexuality was illegal for most of Virginia's history until the U.S. Supreme Court forced the state to get rid of the law denounced what he called "the tyranny of judges".

A similar amendment proposal is before the House where it is also expected to win overwhelmingly.

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Yankee Go Home Gay Canadians Tell Same-Sex Marriage Foes

(Ottawa) Supporters of same-sex marriage legislation in Canada are telling conservative Christians from south of the border to keep their noses out of Canadian affairs.

Focus on the Family has reportedly sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to its Canadian affiliate to wage an anti-gay campaign and the Roman Catholic Knights Of Columbus in the US recently spent nearly $100,000 to print two million postcards now being distributed in Catholic churches across Canada for people to send to Members of Parliament.

Right-wing Christian groups have been urging their members to call long distance to Canada to tell MPs to vote against the Civil Marriage Act. One Ontario MP has said she has received 30 calls from Americans in the last 10 days.

American Christian broadcasters have also been targeting Canadians. Two weeks ago 365Gay.com reported that James Dobson, chairman of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, in a broadcast heard on 130 radio stations across Canada denounced the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin which brought in the same-sex marriage bill.

In addition, the opposition Conservative Party has been getting help from Republicans. Several GOP advisers have been working with the Conservatives to formulate attacks on the legislation and use it as a wedge issue in the next Canadian election.

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has said he will look at changing Canadian laws to prevent foreign interests from using their money to sway Canadian political debates. But he has conceded there may be little the government can do.

Nevertheless, Revenue Canada is examining the books of right-wing Canadian groups to see how the money pouring in from the US is being reported.

"There's a lot of money coming in from the United States to Canada,'' said Claude Cote, a Quebec spokesperson for gay-rights lobby group Egale Canada. "There's hundreds of thousands of dollars being sent from the U.S. by the Republican right to convince MPs to vote against the bill.''

Evangeline Caldwell, coordinator of the Quebec Coalition for Same-Sex Civil Marriage said Canadians should resist foreign influence.

"It's not that people from other nations can't say something but arriving with the cavalry is little bit unnecessary,'' she said. "We can take care of our own debate and we are doing so.''

A vote on the marriage bill is expected this spring.

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Massachusetts Marriage Amendment Interview

by Margo Williams 365Gay.com Boston Bureau

Posted: February 10, 2005 7:30 pm. ET

(Boston, Massachusetts) Massachusetts lawmakers will not be asked to vote this spring on the contentious constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini (D-Boston) believes there are more important issues facing the legislature and the marriage issue could become a distraction, according to the Boston Globe.

Quoting unnamed sources close to Travaglini the Globe reports that the Senate leader wants to concentrate on health care, the budget, and job creation.

Travaglini's office did not immediately return calls from 365Gay.com seeking confirmation.

The Globe reports that the Constitutional Convention - a joint meeting of the House and Senate - will now likely be held in the fall.

To put the issue to voters in 2006 the proposed amendment would have to be approved during this session of the legislature.

Last March the amendment passed the first phase, following heated debate, by only a handful of votes. (story) The proposed amendment would bar same-sex couples from marrying but would allow civil unions and convert those marriages already performed to domestic partnerships.

Under the Massachusetts Constitution the measure needs a second vote by the Constitutional Convention in this session of the legislature before going to voters.

The Globe reports that Senate minority leader Brian P. Lees, an East Longmeadow Republican, confirmed that Travaglini had decided to delay the convention.

The decision is the latest indication that there may not be enough votes to pass the amendment. Last November Massachusetts voters elected a more moderate legislature. A survey of the House and Senate last month showed that the amendment is unlikely to get the 101 votes votes needed. (story) Last March it was approved with only four votes to spare.

Voters are also unlikely to approve it. A Bay State Poll, taken for the Eagle-Tribune shows that most people in Massachusetts have grown comfortable with same-sex marriage and 52 percent of respondents said they do not want to see the amendment on the ballot. (story)

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Unbelievable. How 2 gay men or 2 lesbians getting married effects anyone else is beyond me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

there are two types of people who oppose gay marriage:

1. Ignorant bigots. They say things like "Marriage has always been between a man and a woman". Just like slavery was always ok.

2. People who think Spongebob is an insidious spokesfigure for the radical gay recruitment movement. Often members of the Christian Coalition.

None of them have looked at the relevant facts and debated the merits of same-sex marriage.

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From Feb 15, 2005 Orlando Sentinel

Group wants new same-sex marriage ban

A group with ties to conservative Christian organizations Monday launched a petition drive to put a ban on gay marriage before Florida's voters next year.

The Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage, a statewide political action committee, will campaign to change the state constitution. The proposal would define marriage exclusively as "the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife."

It emphasizes that "no other legal union that is treated as marriage" would be valid or recognized by the state.

"Marriage is too important to allow one judge somewhere, at some time to undermine the institution that is precious to all Floridians," said Mat Staver, president of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel. The Christian Coalition of Florida and the Southern Baptist Convention also attended the announcement.

However, Gov. Jeb Bush seemed unconvinced of the need for an amendment.

"My feeling is that if there's a problem to solve, first we ought to try to solve it through the legislative process," Bush said in Tallahassee. "If that doesn't work, then the initiative process is the logical place to go."

Bush said Florida's Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1997, legally defining matrimony as the union of a man and a woman. President Clinton signed into law a provision that states are not required to recognize gay marriages accepted in other states.

"Gay marriages are banned in our state," Bush said. "If I can be convinced that there are looming court cases that undermine that statute at the state level or that the law that passed and was signed into law by President Clinton at the national level didn't solve the problem, then I'd consider being supportive of it."

Group members in Orlando laid out plans to collect the signatures of 8 percent of the electorate, which would be exactly 611,011 Floridians, to get the amendment on the 2006 ballot.

While gay and lesbian activists criticized the petition drive as an attack on the very principle of love, the coalition members who gathered at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Orlando said Valentine's Day was the perfect day for an affirmation of traditional values.

Serving as a backdrop to the speakers were newlyweds Rebecca and Jesse Phillips, the bridegroom dressed in a black suit and the bride clad in the sparkling white gown worn when they married two weeks ago. The Phillipses were joined by other families of various races, a symbol of unity, organizers said.

"It is fitting on a day like today that we celebrate the diversity of natural marriage," said Lindsey Martin, a lawyer who is the spokeswoman for the coalition. "No human society . . . has ever sustained itself with a buffet-like marriage mentality."

Besides touting the benefits of traditional marriage, group members said its actions are part of a national effort to let voters define marriage. They criticized "activist judges" who have granted gays and lesbians the right to obtain marriage licenses in states such as Massachusetts and New York.

The coalition recruited Staver to craft amendment language that would not be open for interpretation.

If successful, Florida would join 17 other states that have banned gay marriage -- including 11 in November. Another 18 states are considering bans.

"The courts have been using state constitutions . . . to undermine the marriage laws," Staver said.

In showing a united front, amendment proponents had clergy, attorneys, families, a marriage counselor and a man who described himself as a former gay man who turned straight.

O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, said gay activists are "trying to piggyback" on the Civil Rights movement.

"As a black American, I resent the comparison," said Dozier, adding that gay people have never been hit with fire hoses made to eat in separate restaurants or sit in the backs of buses. "We are born black and can never change, but homosexuals can and sometimes do change."

Those claims were dismissed as rhetoric by gay rights advocates, who said the same conservative leaders rehash the same tired and old arguments to deny gays their rights.

"It stirs up the right wing. It helps them raise money and get voters out," said Dan Hall, treasurer of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a gay rights group in South Florida. "I don't think people want to burden the constitution with little issues like this."

Gay activists said it was ironic that those pushing for a ban on gay marriage made their announcement on Valentine's Day. One tradition holds that the holiday commemorates St. Valentine secretly marrying Christians in defiance of a ban ordered by Roman Emperor Claudius II.

The Equality Florida gay rights group in Tampa said the coalition's campaign tainted love's day with bigotry by choosing to enshrine discrimination in the state constitution. Group director Nadine Smith said the ballot plan would deny gay couples rights to Social Security and pension benefits, hospital visitation and the right for partners to make crucial medical decisions.

"The impact of this kind of attack is very real. Families will be harmed. Couples who love each other and take care of each other need legal protections," Smith said. "It is morally wrong for the state to get in the way of people taking care of each other."

John Kennedy of the Tallahassee bureau and Madeline Bar

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