Tag Archives: same-sex weddings

Survey: Two-thirds of small businesses oppose the right to refuse services to LGBT customers

Two-thirds of small business owners surveyed by the advocacy group Small Business Majority said businesses shouldn’t be able to refuse goods or services to LGBT customers. Fifty-five percent said businesses shouldn’t be allowed to deny wedding-related services to same-sex couples because of an owner’s beliefs.

Five hundred small business owners were surveyed on the issue in late April, two months before the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.

A majority of the survey participants said they would support laws giving additional legal discrimination protections for LGBT people. Eighty percent said they’d support a federal law to prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in restaurants, hotels and other businesses that are open to the public.

In addition, 81 percent said favor a federal law banning employment discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a prospective or current employee. For decades, equality advocates have tried — and failed — to enact such a federal law.

Despite their responses to the survey, however, the two-thirds of the companies that participated said they had no policy in their companies protecting LGBT employees from discrimination. Of the companies that did have such a policy, 64 said they created it because all customers and employees should be treated equally, and about 40 percent said having such a policy makes it easier to attract and retain good workers and draw more customers.

The Small Business Majority said that 47 percent of the survey participants identified as Republicans, 33 percent as Democrats and 19 percent as independents.

Reform Jewish rabbis select lesbian president

As a rabbinic student in 1980s New York, Denise Eger lived away from other seminarians. She quietly started a group for fellow gay and lesbian students, but held the meetings in another borough. By the time of her ordination, she wasn’t formally out, but her sexuality was known, and no one would hire her. Later, she took the only job offered, with a synagogue formed expressly as a religious refuge for gays.

Since then, the Reform Jewish movement — Eger’s spiritual home since childhood — has traveled a long road toward recognizing and embracing same-sex relationships. That journey has led this week to Philadelphia, where Eger was installed March 16 as the first openly gay president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinical arm of Reform Judaism.

“It really shows an arc of LGBT civil rights,” Eger said in a phone interview ahead of the convention where she will take office. “I smile a lot — with a smile of incredulousness.”

Eger, founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Los Angeles, isn’t the first openly gay or lesbian clergyperson to lead an American rabbinic group. In 2007, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association chose Rabbi Toba Spitzer, a lesbian, as its national president. But Reform Jews, with 2,000 rabbis and 862 American congregations, comprise the largest movement in American Judaism and have a broader role in the Jewish world.

Reform Judaism was the earliest of the major Jewish movements to take formal steps toward recognizing same-sex relationships. In 1977, the Reform movement called for civil rights protections for gays. By 1996, Reform rabbis backed same-sex civil marriage. But as these positions developed, gays and lesbians had to grapple with the uncertainties of pursuing ordination at a time when they could easily be kicked out of seminary over their sexuality, or graduate without a congregation willing to hire them.

Eger, 55, began working in synagogues at age 12, in the mailroom of the Memphis, Tennessee, congregation her family attended. Around the same time, she realized she was a lesbian. By college, Eger knew she wanted to become a rabbi or cantor, even though she believed at the time that it meant she would have to sacrifice her hopes of having a spouse and children.

“It was impossible to reconcile being a rabbi and being a gay person or a lesbian person,” she said.

During seminary, she had a girlfriend, and said some people treated them as a couple. Some Reform synagogues had started outreach programs to gays and lesbians and one congregation, in San Francisco, had an openly gay rabbi. Still, around that time, Minnesota Rabbi Stacy Offner announced she was a lesbian, and was forced out of leadership at her Reform congregation. After Eger was ordained in 1988, she had only the one job offer.

She started the position with Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles amid the AIDS crisis. She said “standing over the graves of 28-year-olds and schlepping to the hospital five or six times a day” intensified her activism for gay rights. In 1990, she came out in a Los Angeles Times story, telling the newspaper gay and lesbian Jews need positive role models.

“I took a great risk but I didn’t feel I could be authentic anymore – watching young men all around me die and not tell,” she said.

Over the next two decades, gay acceptance became the norm in most American Jewish groups. In 2006, the Conservative Jewish movement, which holds a middle ground between the liberal Reform and the strict Orthodox, lifted its ban on gay ordination. In 2012, Conservative Jewish scholars introduced a prayer service for same-sex weddings. Orthodox Jews have held to the teaching that same-sex relationships are forbidden; at the same time, more Orthodox gays and lesbians are coming out and seeking recognition.

Eger went on to hold several leadership positions within the Reform movement and in the Southern California Jewish community, and helped write the Reform Jewish prayer service for same-sex marriages.

And, it turns out, she didn’t have to give up having a family. The mother of a 21-year-old son, she is now engaged to be married.

“It’s about human rights and human dignity,” Eger said. “If you can be a rabbi, if you can be a person of faith, if you can serve a community as their pastor, and you can have the opportunity to begin to reconcile all of those issues, it speaks volumes.”

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Gay couples exchange vows in Montana

As they stood linking arms and holding bouquets, Linda Gryczan and Constance Enzweiler of Helena married on Nov. 20 after waiting 31 years.

They were the first same-sex couple in the city to legally wed after a federal judge overturned Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage the day before.

“We’ve been married for 31 years in our hearts. The next 31 we’ll be married in the state,” Gryczan said.

Gryczan has a history with Montana gay rights issues. She was the lead plaintiff in a 1995 lawsuit challenging a separate state law that made gay sex illegal. That led to the unanimous 1997 Montana Supreme Court decision that ruled the law unconstitutional.

She had kind words on Nov. 20 for two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Wednesday’s ruling on the voter-approved ban. Adel Johnson and Sue Hawthorne were married in Washington state but came to the courthouse to celebrate.

“Thank you, thank you, for sticking your necks out,” Gryczan told them.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson married Gryczan and Enzweiler and said he supports the ruling by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to throw out the ban, calling it a stain on the state’s constitution.

“I can’t tell you how big a decision that is,” he said. “It basically says that gay people have the same rights as everybody else, as they always should have.”

Statewide, 47 same-sex couples from 13 counties received marriage licenses on Nov. 20, said Jon Ebelt with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Randi Paul and Jill Houk of Billings lined up for theirs before dawn at the Yellowstone County Courthouse. Less than two hours later – and just minutes after paying $53 for a license – they wed in a courthouse hallway as friends, supporters and members of the media crowded around.

For Paul, a 28-year-old legal assistant, the occasion marked the realization of a dream of getting married in her home state.

“I’m a super Montanan. That’s a big part of who I am. The prospect of getting married somewhere else was upsetting,” she said.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is appealing the ruling, but won’t seek an immediate stay to block same-sex marriages while the case is pending. His spokesman, John Barnes, said the state was waiting for a San Francisco-based federal appeals court to set a schedule for the case.

Some couples said they were eager to say their vows in case Fox’s appeal prevails.

Danielle Egnew, a 45-year-old Billings musician, said she and Rebecca Douglas, 44, wanted to marry “in a positive legal climate.” She said the two already have a date for a larger ceremony – Sept. 15 – but were exchanging vows Thursday to be safe.

Montana, Kansas and South Carolina have continued their legal fight against gay marriage despite rulings in favor of the practice from federal appeals courts that oversee them.

In South Carolina, Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would fight to uphold the state’s constitutional ban even though the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied his emergency request to block gay marriages being performed there.

The first licenses were issued Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, and a lesbian couple exchanged vows on the courthouse steps.

Wilson noted the nation’s top court has not yet resolved conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts. He said a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding gay marriage bans in several Midwest states means the matter likely will go to the high court.

Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston were among the first Montana couples to get their license after spending 22 years together.

“Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife – that’s a big deal,” Wagner said. “Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands.”

Mormon school removes Hallmark’s same-sex wedding cards

Greeting cards celebrating same-sex marriages turned up at the Brigham Young University bookstore on Aug. 19.

Placed by Hallmark, the cards reading “Mr. and Mr.” and “Mrs. and Mrs.” were quickly removed when bookstore staff discovered them after photos surfaced online. The outside vendor stocked the shelves without realizing the school wouldn’t want to sell the cards marketed to buyers celebrating unions between two brides and two grooms, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when they were placed, but Jenkins said they weren’t up long. BYU staffers have spoken with the company about leaving similar cards off university store shelves in the future. The school doesn’t plan on ending its contract with Hallmark.

“This was just someone stocking the shelves who wasn’t aware,” she said. “We’ve been able to work with them.”

Asked why they were removed, Jenkins referenced the BYU honor code. It states that while being attracted to people of the same gender doesn’t violate the honor code, acting on those feelings is a violation.

“Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” it states.

BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has stood behind its belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman despite a growing societal movement in support of legalizing gay marriage.

Calls to Hallmark weren’t returned Wednesday.

Samy Galvez, president of the group Understanding Same Gender Attraction (USGA) and a senior at BYU, said changes to the honor code in 2007 and 2010 allowed students to talk about their sexual orientation without fear of being expelled.

Though he declined to comment on the greeting cards, calling it an accident, Galvez said he’s generally found a welcoming environment at BYU.

“I was really amazed to see how welcoming and how loving people are,” he said. “Even though you know people adhere to a standard of conduct of not advocating for same-sex marriage, at the same time that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of showing empathy.”

Amid unprecedented legal momentum for same-sex marriage, Wisconsin couples remain in limbo

As gay couples in Wisconsin waited in legal limbo in mid-June, equality foes continued working to defend anti-gay amendments in the courts and marched on Washington.

But those foes are caught in a losing streak. The march on Washington on June 19 fell flat, and there have been 21 consecutive court rulings for marriage equality since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision in the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

On June 25, a federal judge struck down Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. The court clerk in Marion County, home to Indianapolis, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couple about an hour after the decision was announced.

On the same day, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower-court ruling that found Utah’s prohibition of same-sex marriage unconsitutional. The 3-2 ruling affects all states in the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

But the appeals court immediately put a stay on marriages in those states pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  

Just weeks before the June 25 rulings,  U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on June 6 found that Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment barring gay couples from marrying violates the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. Crabb didn’t issue a stay — requested before her ruling by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — until June 13. So for six days in early June, same-sex couples applied for and obtained marriage licenses in 60 of the state’s 72 counties. At least 550 gay couples were married in Wisconsin.

While the case is pending appeal with the 7th Circuit in Chicago, there’s uncertainty: For those with licenses who didn’t marry, should they wed? For those caught in the five-day waiting period, can they marry in another state? For those who married, what benefits, responsibilities or protections do they have?

“I think the harder questions are like adoptions, the really hard issues,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. That’s why these stays are so gut-wrenching for people.”

On June 16, Wisconsin’s congressional Democrats asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to confirm, as he has done in similar situations in Utah and Michigan, that the federal government will recognize the marriages of Wisconsin gay couples and guarantee them:

• The ability to sponsor a foreign spouse for legal residency.

• Health, workers’ compensation, retirement and other benefits for the spouse of a federal employee.

• Health benefits, spousal ID cards, housing allowances and on-base support services for the spouse of a military servicemember.

• Joint income tax filings, as well as spousal exemptions of gifts, inheritances and the value of employer-provided spousal health coverage.

• Unpaid family and medical leave to care for an ill spouse.

• Spousal Social Security benefits.

“Earlier this year, you made clear that couples who married in Utah and Michigan after federal judges struck down those states’ bans are entitled to full federal recognition,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are grateful for this tremendous leadership on behalf of fairness and equality. We ask that you similarly declare that those same-sex couples who married in Wisconsin since the June 6 decision are equally entitled to the federal benefits they deserve.”

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin, which filed the equality case on behalf of eight same-sex couples, was assessing the situation — preparing for the appeal and looking into whether additional lawsuits should be filed on behalf of couples left in limbo.

In addition to the June 25 rulings, another marriage equality case was set for June 26 in Louisiana and a hearing was set for July 2 in a Florida case.

And the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear five cases from four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee — in a single session in Cincinnati on Aug. 6.

The Cincinnati court is the third federal appeals court to weigh recent challenges to state bans. The 4th Circuit in Virginia heard arguments in another case in May. 

Any one of them, or all, could reach the U.S. Supreme Court and bring a conclusive ruling on marriage equality.

‘A hateful handful’

Leaders on the equality side fully expect the nine-member Court to eventually overturn the amendments and anti-gay marriage laws.

And so do many leaders in conservative circles — from Newt Gingrich, who was House speaker when DOMA was enacted, to seven-term U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. In May, Hatch told a radio interviewer, “Let’s face it: Anybody who does not believe that gay marriage is going to be the law of the land just hasn’t been observing what’s going on.”

Yet groups such as the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council pledge to fight on for years against gay marriage the way the anti-choice movement has fought Roe v. Wade.

NOM promoted the June 19 march as a “road to victory.”

Co-sponsors of the event included FRC, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Washington Times newspaper, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women for America and the Heritage Foundation.

Speakers included what the Human Rights Campaign described as a “parade of horribles” — former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, NOM president Brian Brown, Capital Tea Party Patriots co-founder Doug Mainwaring, a gay man who says gay marriage is “objective evil,” and ADF counsel Austin Nimocks.

NOM also brought to the microphone Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., who has compared gay marriage to a satanic plot; Dr. Him Garlow, who has said gay marriage will lead to enslavement of those opposed to the unions; Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan Anderson, who has compared gays and lesbians to pedophiles; and the Rev. Bill Owens Sr., who has likened gay marriage to bestiality. 

Brown, in a statement to supporters before the march, claimed the Supreme Court “will be watching.”

He also said, “A competition is won by those who take the field, not by those who sit on the sidelines. Friends, we need to take the field for marriage — and fight to win.”

NOM’s critics, however, maintain the organization is now faking a movement — national polls show that strong opposition to marriage equality has dropped to 28 percent and only 40 percent of opponents of marriage equality would pay anything to stop its progress.

The march proponents “are the proud leaders of a hateful handful, the last gasp of a reactionary rump,” said HRC’s Fred Sainz.

Supreme Court puts gay marriages on hold in Utah

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 6 issued a brief order blocking further same-sex weddings in Utah until an appeals court can review the case.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, in a statement, said, “The Supreme Court made the correct decision to stay Judge Shelby’s ruling in the Amendment 3 case. Clearly, the stay should have been granted with the original District Court decision in order to have avoided the uncertainty created by this unprecedented change.”

He continued, “As I have said all along, all Utahns deserve to have this issue resolved through a fair and complete judicial process. I firmly believe this is a state-rights issue and I will work to defend the position of the people of Utah and our State Constitution.”

In December, a federal judge ruled that Utah’s ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional, clearing the way for about 1,000 same-sex couples to marry in the predominantly Mormon state.

The state requested a stay, seeking to block gay weddings until its appeal could be reviewed by a higher court.

The district court judge denied the stay requests, as did the appeals court.

That prompted the Utah Attorney General’s office to turn to the Supreme Court for a stay. The request first went to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has jurisdiction for the region.

On Jan. 6, the high court issued a stay, which will remain in effect until the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can review Utah’s appeal.

Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said in a news release, “Utahns and other Americans have witnessed the joy that marriage has brought to hundreds of loving and committed couples over the past weeks. While it is disappointing that the dreams of many more will be put on hold, we know that in the end justice will be served and no couple will be excluded from this cherished institution.  We still live in two Americans where full equality is within reach in one and another where even basic protections are non-existent.  As the marriage equality map expands, history is on our side and we will not rest until where you live is not a barrier to living your dreams.”

At the American Civil Liberties Union, staff attorney Joshua Block said, “Despite today’s decision, we are hopeful that the lower court’s well-reasoned decision will be upheld in the end  and that courts across the country will continue to recognize that all couples should have the freedom to marry.” 

Utah asks Supreme Court to halt gay marriages

Utah officials on Dec. 31 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend the same-sex marriages that have taken place since earlier in the month, when a federal district judge overturned a state ban on such unions.

Utah’s appeal to the high court was delayed by the holidays and changes in the Utah Attorney General’s office, along with a request for assistance from a private legal entity.

State officials in a request that goes to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency requests from the Rocky Mountain region asked that the Supreme Court block same-sex marriages while they prepare an appeal.

Sotomayor could handle the request herself or bring in the full court.

In its filing, the state said, “Numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah. Each one is an affront not only to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels, but also to this court’s unique role as final arbiter.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, ruling on a lawsuit on Dec. 20, opened the way for same-sex couples to marry in the heavily Mormon state. He overturned the state’s constitutional amendment against gay marriage without issuing a stay.

That meant that same-sex couples could begin receiving marriage licenses.

He also rejected a request from the state for a stay, as did the federal appeals court for the region.

The state, in the appeal to the Supreme Court, said, “Without a stay pending appeal, the district court’s decision and order created a rush to marry.”

State officials have estimated that to continue the court battle against same-sex marriage will cost more than $2 million

Methodist pastor faces church trial over son’s wedding

The Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex marriage “because I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,” but his decision to flout Methodist law could cost him his pastor’s credentials in the latest flashpoint of a debate roiling the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination.

Schaefer, 51, faces a church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania over charges that he broke his pastoral vows by performing the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. The United Methodist Church accepts gay and lesbian members but rejects homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and clergy who perform same-sex unions risk punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension to defrocking.

The German-born pastor is unapologetic, saying he answered to a higher law — God’s command to love everyone.

“If I am charged to minister to all people, regardless of who they are and what they are, then it should be just so,” he said.

Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them, like Schaefer, are facing discipline for presiding over same-sex weddings. Schaefer’s trial is set to begin Nov. 18 at a Methodist retreat in Spring City, Pa.

Critics say Schaefer and other clergy should not be permitted to flout Methodist teaching with impunity, contending they are sowing division within the church and ignoring the church’s democratic decision-making process. The denomination’s top legislative body, the 1,000-member General Conference, reaffirmed the church’s 40-year-old policy on gays at their last worldwide meeting in 2012.

Rebellious clergy “have decided to take the law into their own hands, so to speak, and go ahead and violate the requirements of our (Book of) Discipline,” the denomination’s book of law and doctrine, said the Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News, an evangelical Methodist group. “They have in a sense renounced the process that we use to determine what the church believes about things. I don’t think that is the appropriate way to handle disagreement.”

On Saturday, some 50 clergy plan to show their support of Schaefer by presiding over a same-sex ceremony at a Methodist church in Philadelphia — a largely symbolic gesture since Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize gay marriage, but one that could still land the preachers in hot water.

“If we are operating under the position of open hearts, open minds and open doors, we can’t close those doors to certain people,” said the Rev. David Brown of Arch Street United Methodist Church, where the ceremony will take place.

Schaefer hadn’t given homosexuality a lot of thought until his son Tim came out at age 17, telling his parents he had contemplated suicide because of his struggle with sexual identity.

“Growing up as a ‘PK,’ a pastor’s kid, he didn’t think that he was the way he was supposed to be, that his sexual orientation was wrong and sinful according to the church,” Schaefer said. “He got that message from the church and the large culture that there was something wrong with him.”

To Schaefer, his son’s admission was proof that homosexuality is not a choice.

“If that’s the case, this is the way God made him,” Schaefer said. “This is the way he was created, as a homosexual.

Schaefer said he informed his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he planned to officiate Tim Schaefer’s wedding, and again after the ceremony. He said he faced no discipline until April — about a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire — when one of his congregants filed a complaint.

Schaefer could have avoided a trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding. That’s a promise he said he couldn’t make — because three of his four children are gay.

“I do worry about losing my credentials,” he said, “but I’m willing to lose them for an act of love.”

Gay marriage opponents invoke God, free speech in Illinois

Busloads of gay marriage opponents rallied outside the Illinois Capitol in Springfield this week, pledging to reverse any headway in the push for state legislation that would allow same-sex weddings.

Pastors, Christian activists and others addressed a crowd clustered on the first floor of the Capitol rotunda, some peering down from the second and third floor rails, a day after gay marriage proponents held their own event to urge lawmakers to approve it.

“Are we going to stay silent and let this happen?” Christian activist Jim Finnegan asked the crowd.

“Defend Marriage Lobby Day” – sponsored by the Illinois Family Institute began with a morning prayer service outside the state Capitol. The secretary of state’s police put number of attendees at 2,500 – slightly smaller than the estimate from Tuesday’s event.

Attendees began the day outside with a prayer service in front of the Lincoln statute, in front of which a large wooden cross printed with “God Abhors Civil Unions” had been placed.

Some attendees carried pictures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and posters emphasizing their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“Kids do better with a mom and a dad,” one sign read.

Pastors from several of the area’s black mega-churches are trying to help blunt gay marriage advocates’ work to clinch a handful more “yes” votes to secure passage of the measure in the House. Activists are targeting moderate Republicans as well as socially conservative members of the largely Democratic House Black Caucus to get to the votes needed.

Same-sex marriage legislation passed the state Senate in February but has not been called in the House.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said just weeks ago that about a dozen votes were still needed for the legislation’s passage. However, gay rights activist Rick Garcia said this week that the current count of “yes” votes was around 55 – progress that Wednesday’s rally attendees pledged to work to erode.

“If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything,” Larry Trotter, pastor of Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago said, calling the “righteous to report for duty.”

At the rally for marriage equality held the day before, top state Democratic state officials along with Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka spoke.

Two Republican senators took to the podium at the anti-gay rally.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, one of four GOP primary candidates for governor, cracked that if he were governor, such a rally might not have to be held. Dillard called the measure a violation of First Amendment rights, and pledged to veto any gay marriage legislation that might come across his desk.

Fellow Republican Sen. Jim Oberweis, who announced he’s gathering petition signatures for a U.S. Senate run against Durbin, reminded the group he’d long been an opponent of gay marriage.

Monsignor Carl Kemme of Springfield’s Catholic Diocese called marriage “God’s design, not man’s.”

On Oct. 22, the diocese head, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, barred any pro-gay marriage activists wearing rainbow sashes from attending a Mass. Kemme called Springfield a “fearless defender of the traditional definition of marriage.”

Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011 – a measure passed by a lame-duck Legislature following the November 2010 election. There are now 14 states, plus Washington D.C., where same-sex couples can without question enter into marriage.

Both Illinois chambers adjourned for the week on Oct. 23.

California clears same-sex weddings for prison inmates – but not to other prisoners

California prison officials have confirmed that inmates can get married to someone of the same sex under certain conditions.

Michael Stainer, director of the adult institutions division for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, issued a memo on Friday stating that the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriages legal again in the state in June also applies to prisoners.

But Stainer says gay or bisexual inmates will only be allowed to marry same-sex partners who are not incarcerated and only during prison ceremonies.

He says marriages between two prisoners would raise security concerns.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said that Steiner’s directive was prompted by an inquiry from his office.

In 2007, California became the first state to allow conjugal visits and overnight stays for inmates with same-sex domestic partners.