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Domestic Partnership News Archive
January 01 - January 06, 2002




This page contains news for the period January 01, 2002 through January 06, 2002.




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Sunday, January  6, 2002

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Activists to fight state VHDA bid to extend home loan eligibility to domestic partners

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Virginia conservative activists plan to fight a proposal being considered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority that would allow unmarried and same-sex couples to be eligible for low-interest home loans.

"If you are trying to help preserve family stability, embarking on a program like this undermines that," said Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican. "We don't have any obligation to accommodate every and any personal behavior.

"There will be a budget amendment to prohibit it," Mr. Marshall said. "If I were to bet on it, I would bet we would preserve the status quo."

Virginia is the only state with such a restriction on loan applicants, VHDA officials said. The current rule, initially adopted in 1980 and reinstated in 1996 after a two-year lapse, limits loan eligibility to borrowers who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. The new proposal would make no distinction for loans to multiple borrowers under the program, and would extend state loans to nontraditional families, including homosexual couples and single parents, allowing them to pool their resources to purchase a home.

The housing authority's 10-member board, which will consider the proposal at its Jan. 23 meeting, received input from the public at a hearing Thursday in Richmond.

"I think that generally, and particularly during an economic downturn, the state should do all it can to appropriately increase homeownership throughout the commonwealth," said Albert C. Eisenberg, a former member of both the housing authority board and the Arlington County Board. He was among the 10 persons who spoke at the hearing.

Late last year, the authority undertook a major study of housing needs statewide in the last decade. Officials said the findings, coupled with input from real estate agents, developers, lenders, nonprofit groups and others, prompted the proposal to eliminate the family rule.

"We're really approaching this from a business point of view. It simply makes good business sense," said Arthur Bowen, VHDA's managing director of public policy. "We've heard loud and clear that if we make this change, we'll be in a better position to serve the people we were created to serve."

Friday, January 4, 2002

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Unmarried partners can register in London on Valentines Day

A story released today by the RainbowNetwork.com reports that London Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced that unmarried couples will be able to register their partnerships on Valentine’s Day.

Couples are normally only able to sign the London Partnerships Register on Wednesdays and Saturdays. With Valentine`s Day falling on a Thursday this year the Mayor wanted London couples to have the chance to register their partnerships on what many consider to be the most romantic day of the year.

The Greater London Authority is the first public body in the country to offer official recognition to same-sex as well as heterosexual couples.

The news comes as Brighton and Hove City Council are a step closer to establishing their own partnership register for unmarried couples, including lesbians and gay men. The city will now join Manchester, which has already approved a register.

Thursday, January 3, 2002

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Vermont High Court rejects civil union challenge

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Vermont's Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the civil unions law granting gay couples many of the rights and benefits of marriage.

In a Dec. 26 order signed by all five justices and released Thursday, the court turned aside claims brought by taxpayers, legislators and town clerks.

They had made two main claims: One asserted that the civil unions law is invalid because 14 House members who supported it bet on the outcome of a preliminary House vote. In the other, town clerks argued that the law is unconstitutional because it forces them to violate their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong by issuing civil union licenses to couples.

The high court said it was up to the House to decide whether the legislators who placed the $1 bets should have been disqualified. It said the dispute involved ``matters constitutionally entrusted to the sound and exclusive judgment of the House, not to this court.''

The civil unions law, passed in 2000, gives gay couples the closest thing in America to marriage. No other state has such a law.

Erik Stanley, a lawyer for the groups that sued said they have no other legal recourse.

``Really, I guess, the next option would be for the people of Vermont to go back to the Legislature and get the Legislature to deal with the problem by repealing the law or by enacting more stringent laws prohibiting gambling on the House floor,'' said Stanley.

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

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British Civil Partnership Bill gets first hearing

A story released today by the RainbowNetwork.com reports that a Civil Partnerships Bill is to be introduced later this month in Great Britain. The Bill will give legal recognition for cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, the Liberal Democrat peer, will bring his Private Member’s Bill on Civil Partnerships to the House of Lords on 9 January. The Bill will then be published the following day and will have its second reading debate on the last week of January.

For the first time it will enable unmarried domestic partners living in a mutually supportive relationship to make legal provision for their joint protection.

Lord Lester issued a statement which said: "The recent case of Anna Homsi, the long-term cohabiting partner of an SAS member killed in Sierra Leone who was held not to be entitled to a war pension due to her unmarried status, is a well-publicized example of the difficulties faced by many vulnerable cohabiting couples.

"Under existing law, cohabiting couples have no automatic next-of-kin rights, property or pension rights. They remain subject to inheritance tax on the death of their partner and have no recourse to the law on the breakdown of their relationship."

The statement concluded by saying: "Similar measures have been enacted elsewhere in Europe and the Commonwealth. It is core Liberal Democrat policy to introduce a similar and much-needed law reform in this country."


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Concerned New Hampshire citizens hold group prayer to support gay students

A story released today by Foster’s Daily Democrat reports that a small group of concerned New Hampshire citizens gathered at First Parish Church on Wednesday morning in support of two high school students who have been thrust into controversy.

The Rev. Abby Campbell led the group in prayer, countering an anti-gay demonstration at Dover High School by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. who is protesting against the school administration’s decision to allow two female students to be listed in the high school yearbook as best couple.

Campbell stressed a message of tolerance in reaction to the Westboro church protest.

"Today, we’’re praying for everyone, for students, faculty, staff and also the visitors who are with them," Campbell said during a 15-minute service this morning. "We are asked to be deliberately peaceful in our prayers today."

The two students were cast into the spotlight last month when students were asked to vote for the best couple. Principal Robert Pedersen had directed the yearbook staff to reject the ballots because they were designed to select a male and female as best couple.

Superintendent Armand LaSelva reversed the decision after students drafted a petition in support of the same-sex couple.

During the brief service, Campbell urged the group to be "prayer warriors" to counter evil and hatred that may be spread today, telling them to put on the armor of God.

"We need to support each other," she said. "We even pray for those who speak hatred."



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