This page contains news for the period May 14, 2001 through May 20, 2001.
<< May 2001 >>
Friday, May 18, 2001
Massachusetts bill targets domestic
A story released today by the Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts's House Ways and
Means chairman John H. Rogers has sponsored a bill that would limit marriage to
A close reading of the bill, however, reveals further language that takes aim not
only at same-sex marriage, but at any ''benefits exclusive to marriage in the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts as a matter of public policy.''
In other words, Rogers' bill also seeks to outlaw domestic partnership benefits for public
employees. Those benefits have the support of many public officials, even those who won't
go near same-sex marriage, including Acting Governor Jane Swift.
''If you start extending benefits like spousal testimonial privileges and health benefits
into other relationships, you're going to create both legal and social confusion,'' said
Bryan G. Rudnick, executive director of the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance, which
supports Rogers' bill.
''It could possibly create a legal precedent, but more importantly it's about sending the
right message to children.''
''That is an extreme change in the law,'' said Mary Bonauto, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian
Advocates and Defenders. ''This is going out of their way to marginalize people, and it's
a step back.''
Bonauto and others said the provision would not only bar future changes in the status and
benefits accorded to same-sex couples, but it might even take away some of the rights some
gay and lesbian public employees already have, such as bereavement leave, or visiting
rights for partners in the hospital.
''It's a preemptive strike,'' said Senator Cheryl Jacques, a Needham Democrat. ''It's not
enough to preclude gay couples from getting married. They want to ensure gay couples get
no benefits and no protections.''
Rudnick's group and other opponents of same-sex marriage have launched an organizing drive
this year. Rudnick said 22,000 people had signed the organization's petition opposing
same-sex unions. And the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance mailed out tens of thousands of
letters this year asking for donations for a $1.3 million fund ''for our emergency
campaign to protect marriage from the assault it will face in coming months.'' Rudnick
also commissioned a poll that showed that over 50 percent of respondents opposed same-sex
marriages, while 39 percent supported them.
Several lawmakers have proposed domestic partnership legislation this session, including
Representative Alice K. Wolf, a Cambridge Democrat. Her bill, co-sponsored by almost 50
other legislators, would give domestic partners of state, city, or county employees health
benefits. The legislation extends benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples as well as
Wednesday, May 16, 2001
Financial advice for same-sex partners
A story released today by Reuters reports that for
same-sex couples all over America who live and act as though they were
married, saving, spending, or generally managing their finances like most married
couples does not come as easy as it seems.
Same-sex partners may receive reduced retirement benefits, but can't receive survivor
benefits from Social Security or pensions. They can't use most financial planning
software and may not even be able to get access to their partner's financial information
in the event of an emergency.
They have no legal protections and can't give each other more
than $10,000 in assets in a given year without paying gift taxes. Oh, but they'll save on
income taxes without that marriage penalty.
All of those complications have been brought to the forefront
by Sharon Rich, Debra Neiman and Sandy Reynolds, three Boston area financial planners who
are organizing an industry conference to educate other advisors about the special
financial planning needs of gay and lesbian couples. Their group, Prideplanners, is
focused on broadening the list of financial advisors who are well versed in issues
affecting same-sex couples. The first conference takes place in mid-June.
According to Hayden Curry, Denis Clifford, Robin Leonard and
Frederick Hertz, the four lawyers who wrote ``A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay
Couples'', much of what married couples take for granted, same-sex couples can
accomplish with a good lawyer and a sheaf of documents, including a health care power of
attorney, a durable power of attorney for finances
Australian Anglican chief gives
same-sex partners hope
A story published today by The Age, an Australian publication, reports that Anglican
Church Primate Dr. Peter Carnley stated that homosexual relationships could be given the
term of "friendship" and formally witnessed by the church.
In an advance on previous church pronouncements on the issue, he suggested that the church
could bless such a friendship if publicly expressed through a covenant or formal life-long
This could be in the form of a solemn promise or contractual arrangement, that could be
publicly registered that could allow partners to qualify for social security
benefits, pensions and rights to property inheritance.
Dr. Carnley said that the modern Anglican stance on sexual relations "seems to lead
in the direction of accepting that some physical expression of the physical bond of
friendship could be countenanced within same gender relationships as a degree of
recreational sexual activity".
Dr. Carnley was expounding on the controversial issue in response to what he described as
a generally favorable acceptance of society on homosexual relationships.
In witnessing a homosexual covenant, the church would be saying "no" to
promiscuity and associated health risks, and making it more likely the relationship would
last, he said.
Dr. Carnley also argued that "there is no clear biblical teaching about behavior that
might be explicitly appropriate to homosexually oriented persons".
The church would do better to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of such relationships
and leave other matters to individual choice, he said.