National Briefs

Posted on 30 Oct 2006 at 2:10pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Brownback may stop blocking appointment of nominee who attended lesbian wedding

WASHINGTON A conservative Republican lawmaker is considering whether to stop blocking a judicial nominee over concerns her appearance at a lesbian commitment ceremony betrayed her legal views on gay marriage.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, said Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff should not be disqualified automatically for having attended the ceremony. But Brownback made clear it raised doubts in his mind. “But what I want to know is what does it do to her look at the law? What does she consider the law on same-sex marriage, on civil unions, and I’d want to consider that,” Brownback said.

President George W. Bush nominated Neff, to be a U.S. District Court judge as part of a compromise struck with Democrats. Neff’s nomination is pending before the full Senate; Brownback has stalled it because of her attendance at the 2002 ceremony in Massachusetts.

Neff has said she attended as a friend of one of the two women, a longtime neighbor. She has declined to answer Brownback’s queries on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage or civil unions, saying it would be improper to address questions that might come before her as a federal judge.

Episcopal task force monitoring “‘problem’ dioceses for possible property disputes

CHICAGO The Episcopal task force on property disputes related to the church fight over the Bible and sexuality is monitoring the Pittsburgh diocese and others it considers “problems” for the church.

Bishop Stacy Sauls, head of the House of Bishops Task Force on Property Disputes, says his panel is maintaining contact with Episcopalians in those dioceses who wish to “remain loyal to The Episcopal Church.”

Since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, some traditionalist parishes have split from the U.S. denomination. Church leaders are trying to prepare for any legal fights over the properties.

Sauls says that lawyers, including several diocesan chancellors and a judge on the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals, are helping the bishops prepare.

The task force has developed a “brief bank” of court filings and legal research to help dioceses with litigation and has also identified potential expert witnesses. The panel is also working on a position paper “setting forth possible common grounds which could be sought so that the split in The Episcopal Church which is feared by the task force might be avoided.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 1, 2006.

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