Monday, March 8, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Religious liberty exemption - Ireland

The Civil Partnership Bill of 2009 has been referred to a committee of Ireland's Dáil, or House of Representatives. According to an "explanatory memorandum," the bill would "provide an extensive package of rights, obligations and protections for same-sex couples who register as civil partners." It would also establish "a redress scheme for cohabitants and recognition of cohabitant agreements." The Sunday Business Post reports on lobbying by religious officials for a religious liberty exemption. The desired exemption would cover public officials who, for religious reasons, refuse to conduct civil partnership ceremonies. Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Justice, opposes the exemption. He said that "there is no basis for providing a right to discriminate against a class of persons on the grounds of freedom of religion or conscience." He also warned of "unintended consequences" from the proposed exemption, identifying examples of many other services public employees may be entitled to withhold on religious grounds.

Religious liberty exemption - D.C.

Mirror of Justice is a blog devoted to Catholic legal theory. Discussion continues there about the recent decision by the D.C. Archdiocese to discontinue eligibility for spousal benefits among employees of Catholic Charities. Law professor . It's exactly the kind of alternative that law professor John Culhane thought was available.

DOMA - Gill v. OPM

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) represents same-sex couples who are challenging Section 3 of the federal DOMA, which limits recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples. GLAD has started to post firsthand accounts of the harms to married, same-sex couples.


Renee Harmon and her former partner, Tammy Davis, ended their relationship of 19 years, after Davis gave birth to twins. "Harmon says Davis cut off Harmon's contact with the children, prompting Harmon to sue in Wayne County Circuit Court in a long-shot bid to win joint custody. It's a battle she is prepared to take to the Michigan Supreme Court in an effort to secure joint custody rights for nonbiological, unmarried partners, gay or straight ... The first hurdle for her lawyers will come March 22, when they try to persuade Judge Kathleen McCarthy that Harmon has legal standing to sue." (Citizen-Times, cross-posted by ADF Alliance Alert, and Detroit Free Press) Law professor Nancy Polikoff discusses the case here.

Lisa Miller remains the subject of an arrest warrant, having disappeared with the child she once shared with her former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins. A Vermont family court judge issued the arrest warrant after holding Miller in contempt for failure to comply with a court order to surrender the child to Jenkins, to whom the court transferred permanent custody., a Christian news service, reports that "[t]he daughter of ex-lesbian Lisa Miller appeared to have suffered emotional trauma following forced visits with Miller's ex-partner, according to sworn testimony submitted to a Vermont court ... Clinical Therapist Sylvia Haydash, who had two clinical sessions with Isabella and observed her for an hour on another occasion, concluded that the visits were doing serious harm to the child, causing anxiety, renewed bed-wetting, and general psychological regression." To place this testimony in context, I would welcome comment from readers who are following the details of the case.

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