Same-sex marriages performed in states that have redefined marriage (currently Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire), will be recognized in Washington D.C. According to USA Today:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A law recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere has gone into effect in the District of Columbia.The bill was approved in a 12-1 vote by the D.C. Council in May, with council member Marion Barry casting the lone no vote.
Congress, which has the final say over the city’s laws, had 30 days to review the bill. A push by black church leaders who oppose gay marriage failed to get a referendum on the matter.
And Congress took no action, allowing the bill to become law Tuesday.
The “black church leaders” they’re referring to are a group led by Harry Jackson, who are standing for righteousness in the D.C. area.
Prop 8 has been upheld in California! The same-sex “marriages” that went into effect before Prop 8 will remain legally recognized, however. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
The California Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that banned same- sex marriage in the state, but the court also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed last year will remain valid.
Despite the conclusions in the 186-page ruling, the battle over same-sex marriage in California is likely to continue, with supporters insisting they will try to get the matter back on the ballot, or possibly try to appeal the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Expect gay activists to protest the ruling around the country, a campaign called Day of Decision has been planning events to either celebrate or protest today’s decision. Below are a list of cities that have Day of Decision events planned. If you live in or near one of the cities, see if you can take a bit of time to minister to these folks as they protest, showing them that we are not “mean-spirited bigots,” but instead Jesus-followers that love them and our community enough to keep marriage a male/female union. Click on a link to find out where the protest will be held in your community.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a same-sex marriage bill that had passed the Senate. The cause of the bill’s failure appears to be an amendment that would protect religious organizations from being required to perform same-sex marriages. According to Liberty Counsel:
Manchester, NH – By a vote of 188-186, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a same-sex marriage bill because it contained a religious liberty protection clause. The state Senate had previously passed the bill along party lines by a vote of 14-10. Governor George Lynch, who is opposed to same-sex marriage, said he would veto the bill unless it contained a religious liberty protection amendment. The amendment was added to the House version of the bill, and that is where it met opposition by an openly homosexual member of the House, who lobbied against the bill because of the amendment.
The religious liberty protection amendment would affirm the right of clergy and others affiliated with religious organizations to refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. However, an openly homosexual state Representative, Steve Vaillancourt from Manchester, led the opposition to the bill because he was opposed to the religious liberty amendment and said the House should not be “bullied” by the Governor. Vaillancourt supports the prior version of the bill that did not provide protections for clergy. The earlier bill passed both chambers, but the Governor said he would veto the prior bill because it lacked the religious liberty protection amendment. There are not enough votes to override a veto by the Governor.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The good news is that the same-sex marriage bill did not pass. The bad news is that some legislators want to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages. This bill failed to garner enough votes because it contained a clause designed to protect clergy and religious institutions from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages. This should be a wakeup call for people who cherish freedom. The same-sex marriage agenda being advanced is on a collision course with the values and freedoms shared by most Americans. This is clear evidence that the end game is to force clergy and religious institutions to not just accept, but to celebrate and participate in same-sex marriages.”
Gay activist Jeremy Hooper had this to say in response to Matt Staver’s comments:
The only thing that this is clear evidence of is the fact that WE. DON’T. WANT. THESE. UNNEEDED. RELIGIOUS. PROTECTIONS. BECAUSE. NO. GAY. ACTIVIST. — NO. GAY. ACTIVIST. — IS. SEEKING. FORCED. CHURCH. RECOGNITION. OF. OUR. CIVIL. MARRIAGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s much the same way that religious people have never needed protections from the non-religious heterosexuals who have long utilized the civil marriage system. The church decisions, as always, are to be left to the individual sects, and the reform of church policy must come from within the same.
It has already been shown that the legalization of gay marriage will have an effect on religious organizations, thus the concerns that spurred the inclusion of these religious protections in the bill are not without warrant. Mr. Hooper said “the church decisions, as always, are to be left to the individual sects.” This is exactly what this clause is attempting to protect
Democratic Gov. John Baldacci today signed into law a bill allowing gay marriage, making Maine the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage.
The governor’s signature came barely an hour after the measure won final approval in the state Legislature, with a final 31-8 vote in favor in the Maine Senate.
Baldacci said in a statement that while he has opposed gay marriage in the past, “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and ofequal [sic] protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.
10% of U.S. states have now completely redefined the definition of marriage. It is not a “question of fairness and [of equal] protection under the law,” homosexuals have just as much a right to marry as anyone else, we are simply asking that the definition of marriage not be changed.
Maine’s House of Representatives will vote today on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The bill was approved by the Senate last week, and a live video stream from the House can be viewed here.
Update: The bill was passed by the House, and is heading back to the Senate for a final vote
In response, New York Times columnist Frank Rich provided an editorial entitled “The Bigots’ Last Hoorah” declaring “the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.” Here’s a snippet:
Far from terrifying anyone, “Gathering Storm” has become, unsurprisingly, an Internet camp classic. On YouTube the original video must compete with countless homemade parodies it has inspired since first turning up some 10 days ago. None may top Stephen Colbert’s on Thursday night, in which lightning from “the homo storm” strikes an Arkansas teacher, turning him gay. A “New Jersey pastor” whose church has been “turned into an Abercrombie & Fitch” declares that he likes gay people, “but only as hilarious best friends in TV and movies.”
Yet easy to mock as “Gathering Storm” may be, it nonetheless bookmarks a historic turning point in the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.
What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead.
While it is hard to take Mr. Rich seriously when he describes a video such as Gathering Storm as “idiotic” (is childish name-calling now an acceptable form of journalism at the New York Times?), his declaration of the video’s “symbolic significance” bears consideration. Are we at a “historic turning point” in the fight over the redefinition of marriage? Are we who do not want to radically redefine marriage now “depopulated and isolated” (not to mention “brain-dead”)?
In some ways, it does seem that the tide is turning in favor of the gay activists, who it seems will not rest in their battle to gain societal sanctioning of their lifestyles. Even bans on same-sex marriage and gubernatorial vetoes are no longer enough to stop the redefinition of marriage in some states. Clearly, something more is needed, and the persistent pounding of the GLBT drum on this issue may in the end be enough to simply wear out the opposition’s drive to even care about the issue. As Kirk and Madsen put it in 1989’s After the Ball: “The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome.” Will the silent majority of Americans who do not want to redefine marriage, as well as those Rich so callously (and inaccurately) describes as “homophobic activis[ts]” in the “anti-gay movement,” be able to withstand this continued onslaught?
Good arguments and interesting videos, while needed, will be insufficient in this battle. The fight will continue on the legal and political fronts, as well it should, but the problems go deeper than law, and they transcend politics. In the end, we are in need of nothing less than divine visitation, resulting in changed hearts and lives. Rich may be overstating his case with his proclamations of the “anti-gay movement[‘s]” death, but his assessment of societal trends are not without merit. God is our only hope… He would not have it any other way.
Over the last week, there were three major victories for gay activists: The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that there were no constitutional grounds to ban same-sex marriage; the Vermont legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill and then overrode the governor’s veto; and Washington, D.C. indicated that it would begin to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. What does this mean for those who insist that “marriage” can only be defined as the formal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife?
As Orwellian as this might sound, the progression is clear and undeniable. First, gay activists came out of the closet and began to demand their rights (1969 was the landmark year). Then they demanded that conservatives (especially those with a Judeo-Christian moral foundation) recognize those rights. Their next goal was to take away the rights of conservatives – the rights of freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The final goal is to put conservatives in the closet, and it is happening right before our eyes. Simply stated, if homosexuality is legitimate in every respect, then any opposition to homosexuality is illegitimate.
Make no mistake about this: Where “gay marriage” becomes the law of the land, opposition to same-sex marriage will be prosecuted as unlawful. As a foretaste of what is to come, in New Mexico, Elaine Photography was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to shoot the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple; in California a Christian doctor was found guilty of refusing to offer medical services to a lesbian woman who wanted to be artificially inseminated in order to have a baby with her partner; in Massachusetts, elementary school parents were told they did not have the right to keep their children home when homosexual issues were being discussed in class, since same-sex marriage is legal there (not to mention the fact that the courts found it more important to teach children “diversity” than to honor the wishes of the parents).
In England, an Anglican Vicar was fined and ordered to undergo equal opportunities training for refusing to hire a gay youth leader; a graduate student in the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University was expelled for refusing to affirm homosexual behavior in a private counseling session; and a Christian pastor in Canada was forbidden from speaking or writing or publishing anything that is critical of homosexual practice after writing a letter to the editor in a local newspaper.
With regard to same-sex marriage, even the gay publication The Washington Blade (May 30, 2008) raised the question of whether “the legalization of same-sex marriage in California” could potentially “prevent priests and ministers from preaching that homosexuality is biblically forbidden,” also asking if “churches in time [could] risk their tax- exempt status by refusing to marry gays.” At the least, the Blade expected a flurry of court cases. And the Georgetown University, lesbian law professor Chai Feldblum acknowledged that when push comes to shove, when there is a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
The Legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry. The vote was 23-5 to override in the state Senate and 100-49 to override in the House. Under Vermont law, two-thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.
The Guardian published the following regarding the Vermont decision, and what to expect in the near future:
Vermont is important because it is the first legislature to pass such a bill. Legal marriage for gays in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa was the result of court rulings. The Vermont bill cannot be overruled by its governor and the first gay marriages are scheduled for September.
Wolfson said: “Legislatures in several states are considering bills now and we are hoping to see movement in several of them over the next few months.”
The next is likely to be New Hampshire, whose house of representatives has voted in favour and the bill has now gone to its senate. In Maine, the state legislature is scheduled to begin committee hearings later this month. In New York and New Jersey, both their governors have promised to sign any bills passed by their legislatures.
Wolfson, who founded his organisation in 2003, sees the California ruling as a turning point. “California was a wake-up call. People realised that we had been too complacent.”
Other states laying the groundwork for bills in favour of same-sex marriages include Illinois, Washington state, Maryland and Rhode Island
In a time when state governments should be doing everything they can to strengthen natural marriage, again and again they are choosing to alter its very definition. The effects of these changes will become more and more evident over time. As stated by Frank Turek, “International surveys show that same-sex marriage and the erosion of traditional marriage tend to go together. Traditional marriage is weakest and illegitimacy strongest wherever same-sex marriage is legal. ” Is the erosion of natural marriage and the strengthening of illegitimacy really in the best interest of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and now Vermont?
Gay marriage is now legal in Iowa. According to the AP:
Iowa’s Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday in a unanimous and emphatic decision that makes Iowa the third state — and the first in the nation’s heartland — to allow same-sex couples to wed.
In its decision, the high court upheld a lower court’s ruling that found a state law restricting marriage to between a man and woman violated Iowa’s constitution.
“We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective,” the Supreme Court wrote in its decision. “The Legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”
More information can be found in the summary and full opinion released by the courts. The court decided:
Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.
Natural marriage is the foundation of a civilized society
Homosexual behavior is inherently destructive
The law is a great teacher, and it encourages or discourages behavior
Government-backed same-sex marriage would encourage and normalize homosexual behavior, and it would harm natural marriage, children, adults, and homosexuals themselves
The law should promote behaviors that are beneficial and prohibit (or at least not endorse) those that are destructive
Therefore, the law should promote natural marriage, and it should provide no option for government-backed same-sex marriage or civil unions
The Iowa Supreme Court believes that limiting marriage to male/female relationships “does not substantially further any important governmental objective.” Is not harming “natural marriage, children, adults, and homosexuals” a governmental objective for Iowa? Then they should reverse their decision on gay marriage.
Vermont, the first state to adopt a civil unions law for same-sex couples, held a public hearing on Wednesday, March 18th regarding a bill that would allow full marriage for gays and lesbians. In preparation for the hearing, which had more than 500 people in attendance, the state’s largest newspaper voiced their opinion. According to the AP:
The state’s largest newspaper published an editorial Wednesday reversing its decade-long stance against same-sex marriage. The Burlington Free Press said it had “wrongly warned Vermonters against gay marriage” in 1999, and it labeled its earlier concern that a push for it could bring violence “pure nonsense.”
Following this, Friday saw a vote in favor of the bill from Vermont’s Senate Judiciary Committee. According to the Rutland Herald:
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill Friday extending marriage to same-sex couples in Vermont.
The 5-0 vote on the bill came after a week of testimony before the committee, as parents, religious leaders, civil rights experts and psychologists weighed in on the possibility of Vermont becoming the third state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The full Vermont Senate is expected to vote on the bill Monday.
An amendment that attempts to protect religious freedoms was included:
Committee members also approved an amendment Friday morning that made some slight changes to the bill. The original bill contained language reaffirming the Constitutional right of churches to refuse to marry people if it disagrees with their faith.
But clergy and conservative religious leaders this week told lawmakers that they were worried that the provision was actually an attempt to, at some point in the future, force religious communities to perform same-sex marriages. Several religious leaders worried that their churches would be sued for not solemnizing same-sex marriages.
The altered language – which was approved in a 5-0 vote – made it clear that churches could not be sued in civil court. Campbell, a Catholic who added in the original provision, said it was an attempt at protecting religious freedoms.
Rise, saints, and be in prayer for Vermont with regard to this issue. Gay marriage in Massachusetts has already changed society negatively, and we should expect nothing less in Vermont. For more information on gay marriage in Vermont, and how you can get informed and involved if you live in that area, check out the Vermont Marriage Advisory Council site, including their events page, which includes an event featuring pro-gay/anti-gay-marriage lecturer David Blankenhorn on March 30th.