Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Marriage equality legislation - Minnesota

Yesterday in Minnesota, the the House Civil Justice Committee held an informational hearing on the Marriage and Family Protection Act (HF1644), which would reverse the state's DOMA. (The Committee also considered HF0999, on civil unions, and HF1740, on out-of-state recognition.) Blogger Joe Sudbay discusses reported testimony by opponents, including Congressional candidate Barb Davis White, and University of St. Thomas law professor Teresa Stanton Collett. (AMERICAblog Gay)

White, who is African American, thinks that marriage equality supporters have "hijacked" the 1960s civil rights movement. She then hijacks it herself, with incitement to bigotry: "Rosa Parks didn’t move to the front of the bus to support sodomy."

Collett foresees terrible harms against religious liberty, even if it's unclear whether she could identify any examples in marriage-equality states:
"'Churches and religiously affiliated institutions will lose their tax-exempt status,' she said. She claimed that Christian colleges would be forced to house same-sex couples in dorms, social work students would be kicked out of school if they refused to counsel gays and lesbians, politicians would revoke funds from religious organizations, and parents would be arrested for speaking out against homosexuality. (Minnesotan Independent)
(At this site, law professor John Culhane has offered his ideas on the appropriate scope of exemptions for religious organizations.)

Law professor Dale Carpenter also testified:
He argued that marriage is a powerful legal institution that encourages healthy, monogamous relationships — whether gay or straight. "There have been no negative effects on heterosexual families or on children raised in those families," Carpenter testified of the increasing prevalence of gay marriage. "No slippery slope to polygamy or anything else." (Politics in Minnesota)
The bills at issue will not receive a vote in the state House. (WCCO.com)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. Health & Human Services

Marcia Coyle reports for The National Law Journal on the Massachusetts Attorney General's motion for summary judgment in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (D. Mass. Case No. 1:2009-cv-11156, Jul. 8, 2009).

Super-DOMA amendments - West Virginia

In West Virginia, state House Republicans plan to use procedural maneuvers to force a floor vote on HJR 5, a super-DOMA amendment. "[T]he GOP strategy started unsuccessfully Monday." (Charleston Gazette / cross-posted by ADF Alliance Alert) The Family Council of West Virginia will hold a rally on Thusday to urge state legislators to adopt a "marriage protection" amendment.

Termination of marriages involving domestic partners

"Equality California is sponsoring a new bill [AB 2700] introduced last Friday by Assemblymember Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) that would create a consolidated form and procedure to dissolve both a civil marriage and domestic partnership." (Equality California press release / cross-posted by Gay Marriage News Watch)

Varnum v. Brien

Last week in the Iowa state Senate, a tax-policy subcommittee rejected provisions of Senate Study Bill 3200 that would have conformed the state's tax code to the requirements of Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009). The issue elicited a response from Danny Carroll, chairman of the the Iowa Family Policy Center Action. Referring to the Varnum Court, Carroll said, "lawmakers should not “bow down to an out-of-control court” by “attempting to sneak through key language changes that would effectively redefine marriage in Iowa." (Gazette Online)

Adoption - Louisiana

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is expected to appeal the ruling in Adar v. Smith, No. 09-30036 (5th Cir., Feb. 18, 2010), which requires the state to recognize out-of-state adoption decrees. (The Times-Picayune / cross-posted by ADF Alliance Alert)

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