Marriage News Briefs – May 23, 2008

Posted on 22 May 2008 at 10:06pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

L.A. County employees can’t opt out of officiating gay marriages
LOS ANGELES — The city attorney said Monday, May 19 that county workers authorized to perform marriage ceremonies must be willing to conduct same-sex marriages under last week’s landmark court ruling, regardless of their personal views on homosexuality.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said in similar letters to the secretary of state and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that any policy that would allow certain workers to conduct only marriages between a man and a woman would be inconsistent with the May 15 state Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in California.

NH gay rights advocates react to California legalizing gay marriage
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire gay rights advocates questioned whether California’s decision to legalize gay marriage will help or hurt the future of gay partnerships in the Granite State.

One state lawmaker believes the California Supreme Court ruling — which could take effect in as little as 30 days — is the first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire. But others urge caution. And one former lawmaker fears the decision may mobilize homophobic sentiments that could spread across state lines.

"It’s a historic decision," said Rep. Mo Baxley, a Democrat from Andover. "I think in the very near future New Hampshire will also have marriage equality."

Baxley sponsored a similar bill that would have permitted gay marriage in the state. The state Legislature chose to allow civil unions instead.

State gay activist and former Democrat lawmaker Rick Trombley was wary of California’s decision to legalize gay marriage. He fears the decision could inspire backlash, because it came from the court.

California decision could prompt another ban attempt in Wyoming
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The May 15 decision by the California Supreme Court declaring that laws banning same-sex marriages in that state are unconstitutional may prompt another attempt to ban the recognition of such marriages in Wyoming.

John Birbari of Lander is chairman of a group called the Wyoming Family Coalition. The group wants to ban the recognition in Wyoming of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

"We’ve been working on this for about five years, and we’re absolutely committed to getting it passed," Birbari said of the legislation. He said his group sees it as helpful to Wyoming families.

Wyoming law prohibits same-sex couples from getting married in the state. Birbari’s group wants the state to expand the law to prohibit Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Romney criticizes California marriage ruling during speech to NRA
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said May 16 he’s disappointed California’s Supreme Court has followed his home state’s highest court in legalizing gay marriage.

Addressing thousands at an annual convention of the National Rifle Association, the former Republican presidential contender said he was unhappy "to see one more time a one-vote majority of a state Supreme Court overturn the will of its people. That is simply wrong."

He also declared that cultural values were under attack, at one point describing his philosophical opponents as "looney liberals." As he spoke, he sported a flag pin on his suit lapel, a display of patriotism he did not follow during his campaign.

California ruling renews debate over gay marriage in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — A California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex couples to marry in that state has renewed debate on whether Indiana should amend its constitution to ban gay marriage.

"The ruling is wrong, detrimental to the families of California and creates a dangerous precedent for the rest of America," Eric Miller, founder of the conservative group Advance America, said May 16, one day after the California court announced its decision.

"Marriage between one man and one woman is at risk in Indiana, too," he said. "Indiana’s constitution must be amended to protect marriage."

Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who helped kill a prolonged legislative effort aimed at amending the state constitution with a ban on same-sex marriage, noted that state law already bans gay marriage and that law was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

"At no time in the history of our state have we set our compass by the state of California," said Pelath, chairman of the House Rules Committee. "Events in other states have nothing to do with our state.

Sacramento gay man attacked in gay-bashing hours after marriage ruling
SACRAMENTO — Three Sacramento men have been arrested after a beating that law enforcement officials describe as a hate crime against gays, police said May 16.

The incident happened on the evening of May 15 at a Sacramento gas station came just hours after the California Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning a state ban on same-sex marriages.

A 23-year-old Sacramento man was sitting with another man in a car near the station’s restroom when the three suspects asked if he was gay, Sacramento Police Officer Michelle Lazark said. The man said he was. When he got out of the car, the three men beat and kicked him, Lazark said. He did not require medical treatment.

It was not immediately clear if the suspects were reacting to the court’s ruling, Lazark said.

Miami-Dade County commission gives benefits to unmarried couples
MIAMI — Unmarried couples in Miami-Dade County now have domestic-partner benefits.

The county commission approved Tuesday, May 20, to give unmarried, non-related couples — gay or straight — who are at least 18 and live together similar benefits as spouses.

Those benefits include having the same visitation rights in healthcare facilities, jails and juvenile detention centers. Couples will also be able to visit a partner’s children and parents.

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 23, 2008.

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