Liechtenstein OKs gay partnerships in referendum

The Liechtenstein Coat of Arms

As conservative lawmakers in New York state ignore polls showing a majority of people there support same-sex marriage and continue to wrestle over whether to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage, the citizens of Liechtenstein on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to give legal recognition to civil partnerships for same-sex couples, according to this report by AFP news service.

Liechtenstein is a tiny principality with a population of about 35,000, tucked in between Switzerland and Austria. In Sunday’s referendum, 68 percent of those voting were in favor of civil partnerships.

(Usually, at least here in the U.S., legal recognition for same-sex partners comes through the courts or, more rarely, through legislation. Public referenda on such rights usually end up with the gays and lesbians on the losing end.)

The vote means that same-sex couples will get the same tax, inheritance and welfare rights that straight married couples get in Liechtenstein. The law is based on the one that went into effect in Switzerland in 2007 and excludes the right to adopt children, according to AFP.

Liechtenstein’s Parliament was on the verge of passing the civil partnership law earlier this year, but a group called Vox Populi insisted the question be put to a vote of the people. And the people, as Prime Minister Klaus Tschuetscher said, voted to put “an end to the discrimination faced by same-sex couples.”

According to the Wikipedia entry on Liechtenstein, in 2000 about 78 percent of the country’s population identified as Catholic (down from 85 percent in 1990, but still high). I find that quite interesting, considering that some of the strongest opposition to marriage equality in the U.S. — and especially in the current battle over same-sex marriage in New York — comes from the Catholic Church.

Wikipedia also notes that Liechtenstein is governed under a “constitutional absolute monarchy,” in which power is shared by the Parliament and the Prince of Liechtenstein, and the prince has “veto” power over laws passed by Parliament.

—  admin

Poll: Opposition to gay marriage waning in Nevada

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Most Nevadans still oppose legalizing gay marriage in the state, according to a statewide poll released Saturday, Aug. 14.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV survey found that 46 percent oppose same-sex marriage, 35 percent support it and 19 percent were undecided.

That compares with two-thirds of Nevadans who gave final approval in 2002 to a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The telephone poll of 625 registered voters was conducted Monday through Wednesday, Aug. 9 through 11, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Candice Nichols, executive director of The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said the results show a softening of opposition to gay marriage in Nevada.

“We’re seeing the climate changing,” she said. “It’s going to take time, but there’s been a shift and it will keep going forward.”

Pollster Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon agreed: “I just don’t see the rabid opposition that existed five or 10 years ago.”

But Richard Ziser, a local conservative activist and supporter of the 2002 constitutional amendment, said the poll results more likely are just a reaction to the gay marriage issue being on the back burner for now.

“The economy and jobs are what people are concerned about right now,” he said. “If we were out there talking about it and having it out in front, our numbers would pick up again.”

The poll was conducted after a federal judge ruled California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

—  John Wright