Canadian province to extend legal
benefits to same-sex marriages
A story released today by the Canadian Press reports that a government report released
by the Canadian province of Alberta said that the province should extend the same
legal benefits to same-sex relationships as married couples.The recommendation is part of
a review of family law released Thursday by Justice Minister Dave Hancock.
"Alberta Justice proposes that Alberta's legislation concerning personal
relationships be amended to comply with the charter," the report says. "This
would include persons in common-law or same-sex relationships."
The province is also considering extending such benefits to people in committed non-sexual
So far, Nova Scotia and Quebec have or are in the process of recognizing civil unions
between gay and lesbian couples.
Such status offers same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage, including the
division of assets after a breakup and the right to inherit property when a partner dies.
Last November the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench ordered the province to rewrite its laws
to allow people in same-sex relationships to inherit property when a partner dies.
The province is also looking at changing a long list of rules and regulations governing
child support payments and access.One option suggests payments could end if a child
voluntarily left home before age 18. Another option says payments should continue after a
child is 18 years of age if he or she isn't independent due to illness or disability.
Alberta Justice proposes that a person who is not the biological parent of a child should
be required to pay child support if taking on the role of father or mother in a
The province also wants to hear from the public on whether the courts should have the
power to link child support payments with access.
New Democrat Brian Mason applauded the proposed changes but warned the government
shouldn't use the public review to delay taking action.
"I think the government has still got a go-slow approach on the issue of same-sex
relationships," he said. "I think there is some prospect that Alberta may
finally catch up with other provinces provided that the social conservatives in the Tory
caucus don't completely sabotage the effort."
The government could introduce legislation on the family law changes as early as this
Wednesday, January 9, 2002
California gubernatorial candidate
says hes open to discuss civil unions
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that in an appearance Wednesday
morning before a gay and lesbian group, Republican gubernatorial candidate and former
Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan said he was "open to discussion" of a bill
that would institute civil unions for same-sex couples.
The statement to the West Hollywood group ANGLE -- Access Now for Gay and Lesbian
Equality -- was further indication that the moderate former mayor is not focused on
courting his party's right wing.
California voters opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 61 percent last March in
voting in favor of Proposition 22, which banned such marriages in the state.
Riordan opposed Proposition 22, while Secretary of State Bill Jones and Los Angeles
businessman Bill Simon, the third major Republican gubernatorial candidate, supported it.
Jones has taken no position on AB1338, while Simon has said that "on its face it
looks like an end run around Proposition 22," said Simon strategist Jeff Flint.
Gov. Gray Davis, who opposed Proposition 22, has not taken a position on AB1338, said
Davis strategist Garry South, who added the Democratic governor has a strong record of
support for gay issues.
Riordan's comment Wednesday is consistent with his approach of reaching out to
moderates, independents and Democrats.
"Obviously there's a line that he probably shouldn't cross -- outright endorsing
gay marriage and officiating at one probably wouldn't do him much good," said Jack
Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College.
"But even for a lot of Republicans the idea of civil unions is not especially
Brazilian court awards temporary
custody to deceased singer's domestic partner
A story released today by Reuters reports that the Brazilian court has granted the
domestic partner of the late Brazilian rock star Cassia Eller temporary custody of Eller's
son. Eugenia Vieira, her partner of 14 years, received six-month custody of 8-year-old
Francisco Ribeiro Eller, nicknamed Chicao.
The ruling also gave Vieira the right to inherit the recording artist's wealth and
copyrights. Eller's family had no objections.
"It's the first case in Brazil that a female partner of a mother gets the custody.
It's still temporary, but ... very reassuring," said Vieira's lawyer Alessandra
Chicao was fathered by Tavinho Fialho, a friend and fellow musician of Eller's who died in
a car crash before the boy's birth. Barros said Chicao has spent probably most of
his time with Vieira, whom he calls "mommy" and who had been a kind of housewife
to Eller, much of whose schedule was taken up by shows and tours.
Brazilian activists claimed that the court decision was a victory for the homosexual
community, saying it could speed approval of a long-awaited bill legalizing same-sex
unions through Congress.
"The case represents a change in the ideology dominant in Brazil. It's a shift away
from the right of blood to the right of the heart," said Bahia Gay Group leader Luiz
Pennsylvania High Court rules on same-sex parental rights
A story released today by CNSNews.com reports that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has
ruled that parental rights can grow out of homosexual relationships, setting a precedent
for non-biological parents seeking custody rights of children they helped raise.
In a 5-2 decision, the state Supreme Court in late December ruled that a Cambria County
woman, Tracie Binaut, had the right to seek shared custody of, and visitation rights with
a child born to her former lesbian partner, Lorrie Mangus. The ruling gives homosexual
couples the same right as heterosexual couples to seek child custody and visitation after
a relationship breaks apart.
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, a Philadelphia based gay rights group,
served as co-counsel for Binaut in her attempt to win custody from Mangus. The center
worked with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
"This case is an important affirmation of the principle that parents should retain
rights and responsibilities after they separate, even if they are same-sex parents,"
Tiffany L. Palmer, legal director for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, said.
Pat Louge, senior counsel for the Lambda Legal Defense, represented Binaut and argued
the case. "I think it is a great result and what I appreciate about it is that it
treats this child and this parent-child relationship the same as the state of Pennsylvania
has treated other relationships," she said.
Louge said the case was very important for Pennsylvania law. "The importance for
Pennsylvania is that there are a lot of families that may not have the full protection of
the law with respect to the adult relationships, but still the parent-child relationship,
who the child sees everyday as their parent, is the concern," she said.
"The Supreme Court totally has done a 180 degree turn on parental rights in making
this decision,"said Rev. Lou Sheldon, Chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition.
"I think that they have incurred the anger of a lot of people and I think that people
do not want the family unit tampered with.
"This is a great disappointment to a very large broad-based coalition of groups in
Pennsylvania, as well as individuals," he said. Sheldon also believes the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling will have strong societal implications.
"This is very devastating because we know from a sociological standpoint that the
best setting for a child is with one man and one woman. It has been proven again and again
that the chemistry of a man and the chemistry of a woman are different; that is what a
child needs," he said.
Maine activist say it lacks
signatures for domestic partner referendum question
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a Maine referendum question
that would forbid the state and municipalities from providing domestic partner benefits
and overturn Portland's domestic partner registry probably won't be going to the voters in
Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, said it is
his understanding that petitioners have gathered only 5,000 signatures to place the
question on the ballot. With the deadline only three weeks away, it is unlikely they could
collect the required 42,000 signatures.
Portland's mayor, Karen Geraghty, who co-sponsored the city's domestic partner
registry, said she believes that the question won't be on the ballot only after the Jan.
28 deadline passes.
If the referendum question isn't on the ballot, employees of the state and the City of
Portland will continue to be eligible for domestic partner benefits for at least a year.
Carl Leinonen, the executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, said
about 115 members of his organization have signed up their partners for insurance
benefits. Leinonen said he has been organizing a coalition to campaign against the
question, should it make the ballot.
''What we're talking about is people getting access to health insurance, access to
affordable health insurance, and I don't know anyone who doesn't think everyone should
have that,'' he said. ''This is about health insurance for families - a pretty basic
issue, and it's something most people want.''
But Steve Whiting, a lawyer who wrote the referendum question, said the issue is not
about health insurance. It is gay marriages.
The question, he said, was designed to overturn Portland's ordinance, which says that
domestic partners, both gay and straight, are families in the City of Portland.
''We want to get rid of official, legal status for gay marriages,'' he said.
If petitioners collect enough signatures by June, they plan to place the question on
the ballot in 2003.