Tag Archives: marry

Minnesota House to vote on marriage equality bill

The Minnesota House of Representatives has announced that HF1054, which would extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, will get a floor vote on May 9.

House leaders have repeatedly said that the bill would not be brought to the floor without the 68 votes needed for passage.

If the measure passes in the House, a final vote would be needed on the Senate floor.

“Thursday’s vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives will be a historic victory for thousands of same-sex couples and families in our state,” Minnesotans United campaign manager Richard Carlbom said in a news release May 7. “We are confident that the necessary votes to extend the freedom to marry for same-sex couples have been secured and that HF1054 will pass the House floor.

He continued, “The Minnesota House of Representatives is now poised to make Minnesota the next state to grant civil marriage to same-sex couples and their families by affirming what we already know to be true: Marriage is about the love, commitment, and responsibility that two people share, and it is a basic freedom that should no longer be denied to some simply because of who they are.”

Gov. Mark Dayton supports the measure. 

Justices weigh striking down Defense of Marriage Act

U.S. v. Edith Windsor, the case heard mid-morning March 27 by the U.S. Supreme Court, is about a widow’s fight against a federal government that refuses to recognize her marriage to her partner of 44 years.

U.S. v. Windsor is about discrimination against 112,700 other legally married same-sex couples wanting the federal government to recognize their relationships and access to more than 1,100 federal marriage benefits.

U.S. v. Windsor is about the estimated 10,000 military servicemembers whose families are denied equal benefits and protections under the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. v. Windsor is about the estimated 36,000 binational same-sex couples whose families face bearing broken up because of DOMA.

And U.S. v. Windsor is about countless other same-sex couples wanting but waiting to marry in the District of Columbia and nine other states – and perhaps as many as four others by the end of the year.

The court likely will issue an opinion in the Windsor case in late June, when it also rules on a case challenging California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In Windsor, the nine justices will be deciding whether the U.S. government’s refusal to recognize legal marriages violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. 

Before answering that question, the justices will consider a question of whether House Republicans, who are defending DOMA, have jurisdiction and standing. The House leadership hired a legal defense team to intervene after the U.S. Justice Department declined to defend DOMA, arguing that the law signed by Bill Clinton in September 1996 is unconstitutional. The justices spent a lot of time on the question of standing, and raised concerns for the Obama administration’s enforcement of a law it finds unconstitutional.

DOMA contains two basic provisions – one allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and the other requires the federal government to refuse recognition of legal same-sex marriages.

At the time the law was passed, there were no legal same-sex marriages in the nation.

DOMA’s federal prohibition results in the government denying gay and lesbian couples more than 1,100 benefits associated with marriage, including benefits related to taxes, immigration and Social Security.

DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional 10 times in seven cases, including Windsor, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in November 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Windsor and Thea Spyer, after four decades of being together, had married in Canada in 2007. Two years later, Spyer died of complications from multiple sclerosis and left her estate to her wife.

Because of DOMA, the U.S. government refused to recognize the marriage and Windsor was required to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Had Spyer been a man, the tax would have been zero.

The ACLU argues that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution by recognizing and honoring marriages of different-sex couples but not honoring the legal marriages of same-sex couples.

Windsor won at the U.S. District Court level last June, when Judge Barbara Jones ruled that Section 3 is unconstitutional. She wrote, “DOMA operates to reexamine the states’ decisions concerning same-sex marriage. It sanctions some of those decisions and rejects others. But such a sweeping federal review in this arena does not square with our federalist system of government, which places matters at the ‘core’ of the domestic relations law exclusively within the province of the states.”

An appeals court upheld Jones’ decision last October, prompting a last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed in December to take the Windsor case, setting oral arguments for March 27, followed by a decision in late June.

The arguments began at about 10:10 a.m., with the first discussion focused on jurisdiction and standing.

Chief Justice John Roberts told the U.S. deputy solicitor general that the administration’s decision not to defend DOMA but to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the law was unprecedented. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy said if the president believed DOMA was unconstitutional, perhaps he shouldn’t enforce it.

Justice Antonin Scalia refered to the Obama administration as the “new regime” and called it a “new world” when the attorney general enforces a law but decides it is unconstitutional.

Deep into the hearing, the justices turned their focus to the arguments for and against DOMA. The earliest reports from the courtroom were that there was a majority opposed to Section 3 of DOMA. ScotusBlog reported that Kennedy, considered the swing vote on both marraige cases, suggested that the federal rejection of same-sex marriages violates state rights.

Kennedy also wondered whether the federal government had the “authority to regulate marriage.”

ACLU attorney James Esseks, representing Windsor, agreed that marriage is not a traditional issue for the federal government. “It’s the states that marry people. The federal government doesn’t do that,” he said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg indicated what she thought of DOMA when she said the federal provision created a two-tiered system – “full marriage and the skim-milk marriage.” She also observed that marriage impacts “every aspect of life.”

Justice Elena Kagan, during the arguments, read from a congressional report that accompanied DOMA in 1996 and said that lawmakers’ intent was to show moral disapproval of homosexuality.

Kagan said that the court tends to treat federal laws as suspect when they are passed by a Congress that “targets a group that isn’t everyone’s favorite group in the world.”

After the hearing, Windsor attorney Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, said, “Two lower courts have concluded that it was unconstitutional for Edie to have to pay a $363,000 estate tax bill simply because, as a lesbian, she was married to a woman, instead of a man. We very much hope that the Supreme Court will do the same.”

Windsor said, “Thea and I were legally married. We loved and cared for each other for over 40 years. We deserve to be treated equally by our country, and not like second-class citizens. While Thea obviously can’t be here today, I know how proud she would be to see how far we have come for us to be standing on the steps of the Supreme Court asking for fair treatment of our marriage.”

DOMA continues to face other legal challenges and also is the focus of a repeal campaign in Congress. However, the legislative effort is not expected to advance in the Republican-controlled House.

Editor’s note: To be updated.

Jim Nabors, partner marry in Seattle

Golly: Jim Nabors, the actor perhaps best known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle on TV in the 1960s, has married his partner of 38 years in Seattle.

The couple married at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, with the vows exchanged some two months after gay marriage became legal in the state.

Nabors told the Hawaii News Now “I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody. I’m very happy that I’ve had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I’m just very happy.”

The ceremony was private, with a judge officiating.

Nabors starred on both “The Andy Griffith Show” and the spin-off “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” He also had his own variety show and appeared regularly on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

On the Web…


When, how gay couples marry in Maine, Maryland, Washington

The Human Rights Campaign, after witnessing a four-state sweep of victories on marriage equality Nov. 6, released a guide on getting hitched in Maine, Maryland and Washington.

Those states legalized same-sex marriage on Election Day while in Minnesota voters rejected an anti-gay constitutional amendment.

In Maine

Mainers passed Question 1, which allows loving same-sex couples to legally marry in the state. The law will take effect 30 days after the governor proclaims the election results, comes about 10 days after the results are confirmed by the secretary of state.

Same-sex couples will follow the same procedures for obtaining licenses in Maine that that straight couples follow. Licenses are obtained from town and city clerks, with the couples applying in person. Out of state residents can get married in Maine.

In Maryland

Marylanders voted to pass Question 6, a referendum allowing same-sex couples to legally marriage. The new law will take effect in Maryland on January 1, 2013.

Maryland requires that a marriage license be obtained from the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where the marriage is to take place. A marriage license is not effective until 6:00 a.m. on the second calendar day after the license is issued and non-residents of the state can marry in Maryland. In fact, the Baltimore tourism bureau has launched a gay wedding campaign.

In Washington

Washington voters approved Referendum 74, which allows loving same-sex couples to legally marry in the state. This law will take effect December 6, 2012.

Licenses are issued at county level. 

Gay Republicans firm up convention plans

UPDATE: Convention officials announced early evening Aug. 25 that the convention would convene on Aug. 27 but immediately recess to Aug. 28 due to severe weather forecasted with Tropical Storm Isaac.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement: “Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday, Aug. 27 and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 28. After consulting with Gov. Scott, NOAA and local emergency management officials, we are optimistic that we will begin an exciting, robust convention that will nominate the Romney-Ryan ticket.”

TAMPA — A crew of gay Republicans is making final preparations for the Republican National Committee’s welcome party on Aug. 26, as well as a series of Log Cabin Republicans events.

The convention officially begins at the forum in downtown Tampa on Aug. 27. By early Aug. 25, some streets in downtown Tampa were closed to traffic, government buildings were fenced off or barricaded and groups of state troopers were patrolling the area on foot, by bicycle and in cars.

Delegates were checking into host hotels and reporters and photographers – from lone bloggers and alternative press writers to cable news armies – were picking up their credentials.

And leaders with LCR, the largest LGBT Republican group, were in town, making final credential arrangements for supporters and preparing for a series of events, including:

• Holding a meet-and greet with gay delegates on Aug. 26 at the Rusty Pelican in Tampa.

• Holding a Republicans Out to Win party with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe on Aug. 27 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa;

• Hosting a Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry brunch with the Freedom to Marry organization on Aug. 29 at Holland & Knight, 100 N. Tampa St., Tampa;

• Celebrating Congressional Allies in support of the LCR PAC on Aug. 30 at 108 S. Morgan St., Tampa.

Log Cabin also was working on a tally of LGBT delegates and alternates attending the convention, which concludes with Romney’s acceptance speech on Aug. 30.

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Gay couple married in US feted at Malaysia banquet

A gay pastor who married his musical producer boyfriend in New York last year has fulfilled a vow to hold a wedding banquet in his native Malaysia in what they believe is the first such event in the Muslim-majority country.

Malaysian-born Ngeo Boon Lin and African-American husband Phineas Newborn III, held the closed reception over the weekend – complete with public kisses and karaoke ballad performances – with about 200 guests, including a handful of Chinese-language journalists who were asked not to report on the event until afterward.

The couple risked the ire of a government that has banned a gay arts festival, prosecuted a politician for sodomy and declared that homosexuality has no place in Malaysian society.

“We’re thankful to be able to make Malaysian history here,” Newborn said.

Ngeo, an ethnic Chinese pastor who has lived mainly in the United States since 1998, attracted criticism from Malaysian officials and religious groups when he married Newborn, a Broadway musical producer, last August.

Even though Ngeo identifies himself as a Christian, Malaysia’s Cabinet minister for Islamic affairs voiced fears at the time that his nuptials could promote “extremism” among Malaysia’s 28 million people, including ethnic Malay Muslims who comprise nearly two-thirds of the population. A newspaper owned by the ruling party urged authorities to prevent Ngeo from holding any wedding celebration in Malaysia.

But by this summer, the couple, both in their 40s, believed enough time had passed for them to fly to Malaysia for a few days without fanfare and invite Ngeo’s mother, friends, former colleagues and schoolmates for a traditional Chinese wedding feast.

“It’s my right to celebrate my joy with the people I care about,” Ngeo told The Associated Press. “The government can make noise, the religious conservatives can make noise, but they’re not welcome here.”

The Malaysian government had no immediate reaction to news of the event.

Banquet guests ushered to their seats at a Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur had found small, heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in Chinese-language notes that translated into “God loves gays.”

Two guests serenaded each other with Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ duet “Endless Love,” while a transgender entertainer tearfully praised Ngeo and Newborn for reminding everyone that “there is only one sexual orientation: love.”

One guest, Eric Goh, said gay Malaysians “need to come out in bigger numbers and we need to have more straight people support us.”

Ngeo made his trip back to Malaysia a month after Prime Minister Najib Razak said in in a speech that  LGBT behavior was part of a “deviant culture” that should “not have any place in this country.”

Najib’s statement marked a reiteration of the government’s stance and did not trigger new concerns. But for gay Malaysians, especially Muslims, it nevertheless meant that the door to public self-expression remained slammed shut.

Most gay Malaysians live free from direct harassment by authorities, and a law that prescribes 20-year prison sentences for sodomy, even consensual, is rarely enforced. The most prominent person charged under that law was Anwar Ibrahim, an opposition leader acquitted this year of sodomizing a male former aide in what he claimed was a politically motivated case.

“I understand the sensitivities. I’m not demanding for gay marriage to be allowed now in Malaysia,” Ngeo said, adding that his advice to gay Malaysians was to “keep going and be creative.”

Baptist church refused to marry couple because they’re black

 A Mississippi couple says the church where they planned to get married turned them away because they are black.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson say they had set the date and mailed invitations, but the day before their wedding they say they got bad news from the pastor of predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs: Some members of the church complained about the black couple having a wedding there.

The Wilsons, who live in nearby Jackson, said they attend the church regularly although they are not members.

Pastor Stan Weatherford told WLBT TV he was surprised when a small number of church members opposed holding the wedding at the church.

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.

Weatherford performed the July 21 ceremony at another church.

“I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day,” said Weatherford.

WLBT reported that church officials now say they welcome any race. They plan to hold internal meetings on how to move forward.

Church member Casey Kitchens said she and other members of the congregation are outraged by the church’s refusal to marry a black couple, a decision she says most of the congregation knew nothing about.

“This is a small, small group of people who made a terrible decision,” Kitchens told The Clarion-Ledger. “I’m just ashamed right now that my church would do that. I can’t fathom why. How unfair. How unjust. It’s just wrong.”

“I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn’t stand up,” said Charles Wilson.

Wilson told the newspaper that he understands Weatherford was caught in a difficult position and he still likes the pastor, but he also thinks the pastor should have stood up to the members who didn’t want the couple to marry in the church.

“It’s not reflective of the spirit of the Lord and Mississippi Baptists,” the Mississippi Baptist Convention executive director, the Rev. Jim Futral, said. “It’s just a step backward. … It’s a sad thing.”

Marvel superhero to marry his boyfriend

Marvel comic book character Northstar will become the first gay super-hero to walk down the aisle when he marries his boyfriend Kyle in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men” next month.

When he came out in a 1992 issue of “Alpha Flight,” Northstar became the first major gay superhero. Now the comic book world also has out characters like Batwoman, the Question, Wiccan and Hulking.

Soon Northstar aka Jean-Paul Beubier will accomplish another first, marrying partner Kyle Jinadu in June.

Pride month also is when DC comics will reintroduce an “iconic” male superhero as gay.

“When a major comic publisher like Marvel not only includes, but publicly celebrates the legal wedding of two of its gay characters, it is a reflection of how supporting same-sex couples has become the new normal,” said GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. “Readers expect to see their realities portrayed in these fictional worlds and today that includes married gay and lesbian couples.”


NY City Council Speaker Quinn marries partner

New York City council speaker Christine Quinn married her longtime partner Kim Catullo on Saturday in a private ceremony on a sunny, warm spring evening.

The city council’s first openly gay speaker and Catullo were walked down the aisle by their fathers. Quinn wore a gown made by designer Carolina Herrera. Catullo wore a cream silk suit designed by Ralph Lauren.

The theme of the wedding was “Spring in New York,” and was inspired by the High Line city park, around the corner from the venue in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. A variety of local flowers were used, many wildflowers that grow at the park.

Photos of the couple released later Saturday showed the two hand-in hand, smiling. Quinn wore a one-of-a-kind hair comb fashioned with family heirlooms. Among the guests in attendance were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.

It was a private end to a public battle over the right for same-sex marriage. Quinn, along with many others, lobbied for the law that New York passed last summer.

The wedding comes 10 days after President Barack Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage. After his announcement, Quinn — a Democrat who is expected to run to replace Bloomberg next year and currently leads the pack of presumptive candidates in fundraising — said it made her feel that the president himself would be walking her down the aisle.

Both women lost their mothers to cancer when they were teenagers, and they have established a women’s cancer research fund in their honor in advance of the ceremony. Bloomberg, a billionaire who lobbied for the marriage legalization along with Quinn, has said he will make a donation.

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Modern families: U.S. Census Bureau charts trends

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released a series of statistics showing changes in households and families from 2000 to 2010.

The bureau reported:

• Interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010.

• Nationally, 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples had partners of a different race compared with 18 percent of opposite-sex unmarried partners and 21 percent of same-sex unmarried partners.

• Sixty-six percent of all households in 2010 were family households – defined as a household where “two or more people who are related by birth, marriage or adoption live together.” That number does not include same-sex households.

• The number of nonfamily households increased 16 percent, from 34 million in 2000 to 39 million in 2010, while family households increased 8 percent, from 72 million in 2000 to 78 million in 2010.

• The percentage of households containing just one person increased from 25.8 percent in 2000 to 26.7 percent in 2010. Atlanta and Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of one-person households among places with 100,000 people or more. In both cities, 44 percent of households reported just one person.

• There was a 41 percent increase in unmarried partner households between 2000 and 2010. Opposite-sex unmarried partner households grew from 4.9 million in 2000 to 6.8 million in 2010. Same-sex unmarried partner households grew from 358,000 to 646,000 from 2000 to 2010, or from 0.3 percent of all households to 0.6 percent of all households.

• Multigenerational households – households containing three or more parent-child generations – increased from 3.9 million in 2000 to 5.1 million in 2010. Nine percent of households in Hawaii were multigenerational households, which is the highest for the nation.

• The percent of households with people 65 and older increased across the decade. In 2000, 23 percent of households included someone 65 and over, compared with 25 percent in 2010.

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