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Domestic Partnership News Archive
August 29 - August 31, 2001




This page contains news for the period August 29, 2001 through August 31, 2001.




<<   August 2001  >>

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Thursday, August 30, 2001

Judge upholds same-sex adoption ban in Florida

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida's law against homosexual adoptions is valid, claiming the state has a legitimate interest in only allowing married couples to adopt children.

U.S. Judge James Lawrence King accepted the state's argument that the law was in children's best interests because married heterosexuals provide children with a more stable home.

"Plaintiffs have not asserted that they can demonstrate that homosexual families are equivalently stable, are able to provide proper gender identification or are no more socially stigmatizing than married heterosexual families," said King, senior judge for the Miami-based U.S. Southern District of Florida.

Steven Lofton and Douglas Houghton filed the lawsuit after being told that they could not adopt children in their care.

Massachusetts judge asked to license same-sex marriages and skip trial

A story published by the Washington Times reports that a New England advocacy group is requesting a judge to proceed without a trial in a same-sex "marriage" case and instead order Massachusetts to issue "marriage" licenses to seven couples.

Mary Bonauto, lead attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), said yesterday she now seeks summary judgment to overturn practices that unfairly deny her 14 clients the civil rights that the lawsuit says are guaranteed by the state's constitution. A hearing on the motion is not expected before January.

Public interest in the same-sex "marriage" issue was heightened in mid-August when Cape Cod lawyers Heather Wishik and Susan Donegan returned to their Provincetown home after "marrying" in the Netherlands under an April 1 law establishing same-sex "marriage" there.

The move to have the Suffolk Superior Court decide the issue without holding a trial comes as Attorney General Tom Reilly is considering two voter initiatives submitted Aug. 1 for the 2004 ballot seeking to write a definition of marriage into the Massachusetts Constitution.

The case is based on denial of marriage licenses from March 26 to April 4 at offices in Boston, Newton, Northbridge, Northampton and Orleans.

"We think that the case turns on legal issues that can be resolved without a trial," said Ms. Bonauto, civil rights director for GLAD and lead attorney in the case of Hillary and Julie Goodridge, et al, v. Public Health Commissioner Howard Koh.

She portrays the plaintiffs as responsible citizens who are denied important financial and legal rights involving homeownership, insurance and health coverage because they cannot marry.

South African advocacy group pushes domestic partner benefits for state employees

A story published today at AllAfrica.com reports that South Africa’s Lesbian and Gay Equality Project announced yesterday it had filed court papers against the country’s Finance Minister Trevor Manuel in an effort to secure full pension benefits for surviving partners of gay and lesbian state employees.

The application seeks to declare invalid and unconstitutional certain sections of the Government Employees Pension Fund law and other legislation which prevents same-sex partners of state employees from securing equal benefits.

This application follows two separate applications brought by two judges to the Pretoria High Court and could change the rights of gay and lesbian couples.

Dawn Norton, the lawyer handling the case involving Finance Minister Manuel, said that the Associated Institutions Pension Fund and the Government Employees Pension Fund law discriminated against gay and lesbian people. Private pension funds had eliminated this discrimination with the introduction of the Pension Funds Act of 1999.

Norton said the benefits the suit demanded were the same as those that spouses of married state employees enjoyed.

"What is at the heart of the matter is that we are looking for some sort of system where gay and lesbian relationships are recognized by the law."

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Australian senate debates same-sex adoption

A story released today by the Australian Associated Press reports that National Party Senator Ron Boswell (Qld) said today that it was wrong for gay couples to adopt children. He also added that Australia should to be committed to marriage between men and women and the primacy of the family.

"We believe that adoption of children and same sex couples is basically wrong," Senator Boswell told the Senate during debate on an urgency motion raised by Australian Democrats sexuality issues spokesman Brian Greig.

"The National Party doesn't persecute or deny respect to those who enter freely into a minority lifestyle, but we don't want to promote it to our children as an equally valid or acceptable way of life," Senator Boswell said.

Senator Boswell said he had never discriminated against the two openly gay Senators, Senator Greig or Bob Brown (AG, Tas) but that Senator Greig was trying to normalize and condone gay lifestyle with Senate support.

Supporting the Democrat motion, Labor Senate leader John Faulkner said Labor supported legislative and administrative action by all Australian governments to eliminate discrimination.

"Dealing with discrimination is not about a gay and lesbian agenda, it is not about special rights and it is not about gay marriage," Senator Faulkner said."It is about treating people fairly and treating people equally."

Opposing the motion, government leader in the Senate, Robert Hill said the government condemns all forms of discrimination but did not seek to cover state and territory shortcomings with Commonwealth laws.

Senator Greig earlier said that national laws had discriminated against same sex partners for too long.

After a long debate in the senate floor, the motion passed with Labor support. The bill has now been referred to the House of Representatives.

Pension board denies benefits to domestic partner of slain police officer

A story published today by the St. Petersburg Times reports that the city pension board of Tampa, Florida met yesterday and decided to award the pension benefits to the estate of the slain Tampa police officer Lois Marrero instead of giving it to her domestic partner, fellow officer Mickie Mashburn.

Lawyer Danny Castillo urged the board to consider the 10-year relationship between Marrero and his client, Mickie Mashburn, a marriage. "It's up to this board to determine whether Officer Mashburn was a spouse," Castillo said.

Karen Doering, a civil rights attorney also retained by Mashburn, told the board its policy of allowing only legal spouses to receive pension death benefits was illegal.

"That is on its face a clear violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act," Doering said.

Those arguments didn't convince the eight-member firefighter and police pension board. Without discussion, Mashburn's application was unanimously rejected.

The board attorney and its chairman had both made it clear they would follow the law that provides death benefits to surviving spouses only.

Afterward, Castillo said he was not discouraged. He said he will ask the board to reconsider its vote with a full evidentiary hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

Maria Marrero, Lois' mother, stood quietly to one side during Castillo's comments. She declined to comment about the vote but did respond to a question about same-sex couples.

"I supported my daughter, and I support the issue," Mrs. Marrero said.

As her attorney, Martin Bubley, answered reporter's questions, gay rights activist Nadine Smith began to pepper him with questions as to why he was not acknowledging Mashburn and Lois Marrero's 10-year relationship.

"The Florida Legislature is the proper place for them to change that law," Bubley said. "Therefore, there is no way Mickie Mashburn can claim to be a legal surviving spouse."

As the pension contract stands now, the spouse of an officer killed in the line of duty is entitled to half the officer's salary every year for the rest of the surviving spouse's life.

A committee of City Council, police and fire union members will meet today to discuss changing the wording of their contract to include beneficiaries.



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