National Briefs March 23, 2009

Posted on 24 Mar 2009 at 12:01am
By Associated Press

Another marriage petition cleared for California

SACRAMENTO — The sponsors of a second ballot measure seeking to repeal California’s ban on same-sex marriage have been cleared to start collecting signatures.

The secretary of state on Friday, March 20 gave the group Yes on Equality until Aug. 17 to collect the nearly 700,000 signatures needed to qualify its initiative for the 2010 ballot.

If approved by voters, the group’s proposed constitutional amendment would rescind Proposition 8, which passed last November. The California Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on legal challenges to the voter-approved measure.

Earlier this month, two Southern California college students got permission to start circulating petitions for a separate initiative that would end all marriage as a state-sanctioned institution and instead make couples — gay or straight — eligible only for domestic partnerships.

Activist files second complaint over Mormon church

SALT LAKE CITY — A California gay rights activist has added new allegations to his formal complaint accusing the Mormon church of understating the financial backing it gave to help pass a gay marriage ban in California.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, says The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hid its role in establishing the National Organization for Marriage, a New Jersey-based group that opened a California office last year.

Karger filed his supplemental complaint Thursday, march 19 with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which already is investigating his earlier allegations against the church.

A spokeswoman says the church did not establish NOM and has already reported the $190,000 of in-kind contributions it made to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

Presbyterian court mulls lesbian’s ordination bid

OAKLAND, Calif. — A Presbyterian deacon who has twice been denied ordination because she is a lesbian is again asking church officials to let her application proceed.

Lisa Larges appeared before a church court Friday, March 20 to defend her qualifications as a minister despite a ban on sexually active gays serving as clergy within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Last year, Larges’ regional presbytery voted 167-151 to accept the 45-year-old’s candidacy because she submitted a statement declaring her disagreement with the ban on moral grounds.

Some fellow church members challenged the decision, which is now in the hands of a regional church court. A ruling is expected by Tuesday, March 23.

Colorado bill helping same-sex couples advances

DENVER — The Colorado Senate has given initial backing to a bill making it easier for gays and lesbians to leave property to their partners.

The Senate voted Friday, March 20.

House Bill 1260 would apply to any two unmarried people, not just same-sex couples. They could file a designated beneficiary document with county clerks giving them rights such as making funeral arrangements and receiving death benefits in addition to automatically inheriting property.

Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg says the bill blurs the line between marriage and civil union. He tried but failed to change the bill to cover married couples.

Democratic Sen. Jennifer Veiga says married couples are already protected and adding another layer of rights would be confusing.

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