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DP News Archive
Domestic Partnership News Archive
March 21 - March 28, 2002
This page contains news for the period March 21, 2002 through
March 2002 >>
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Colorado House lawmakers approve ban on same-sex birth certificates
A story published today by the Chieftain Pueblo reports that the Colorado
House voted 36-28 Wednesday to prohibit listing two women or two men as
parents on birth certificates in reaction to two Boulder judges' approval of
45 such same-sex petitions.
"The truth is judges are legislating from the bench," Rep. Lauri Clapp,
R-Centennial, said in support of House Bill 1356 by Rep. Pam Rhodes,
"This piece of legislation deals with birthing," added Rep. Lynn Hefley,
R-Colorado Springs. "It takes a man and it takes a woman to make a baby."
Besides outlawing birth certificates listing two parents of the same sex,
HB1356 would bar "maternity suits" petitioning for same-sex maternity or
paternity if the birth mother or birth father is known.
The bill passed the House with 35 Republican votes and one Democratic
vote, which was cast by Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville. The other 26
Democrats, as well as Republican Reps. Gregg Rippy of Glenwood Springs and
Bill Swenson of Longmont, voted against it.
Sen. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, will try to pass HB1356 in the
Senate, despite an 18-17 Democratic majority there.
"There is absolutely no law or authority anywhere that the name on a
birth certificate will protect the inheritance or security of a child." said
Rep. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield.
The traditional nuclear family of a father and mother deserves continued
recognition in law, Mitchell added.
Same-sex couples’ rights to be tackled by Connecticut lawmakers
A story published today by the Connecticut Post reports that Connecticut
lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed Wednesday that the Legislature
will have another chance to vote this session on whether to expand the
rights of same-sex couples.
On Monday, the assembly's Judiciary Committee approved legislation to
provide same-sex couples expanded legal protections, but the bill missed a
filing deadline and is technically dead.
Despite the problem, Speaker of the House Moira K. Lyons, D-Stamford,
said the bill would be acted on soon.
Republican Gov. John G. Rowland conceded there is bipartisan support to
give same-sex couples additional legal protections, but there's not enough
time in the short, mid-term budget-adjustment session to tackle the thornier
issue of civil unions or gay marriages.
Proponents said that they would revive the legislation as an amendment on
the House floor.
Lyons' support is tantamount to a green light for the amendment to be
raised within the next couple of weeks.
The bill, written so as not to directly mention same-sex couples, would
have allowed people to make written contracts to provide many rights that
gay and lesbian partners are not allowed.
It would allow people to make health-related decisions for their
partners, including life-support, autopsy, organ-donation and cremation
It would also allow for partners to visit private nursing homes and file
wrongful death claims and have victim status in the event of a murder.
"The debate is on and I think the Legislature will spend more time than
we have on the rights they may or may not have," Rowland said Wednesday.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Connecticut panel endorses same-sex bill
A story published today by the Hartford Courant reports that
Connecticut’s legislative judiciary committee made history Monday by
strongly endorsing a measure that would extend limited legal rights to
The legislation was narrowly crafted and, in the end, it didn't even
count because the committee had failed to meet a 5 p.m. deadline to deliver
Nevertheless, the vote marked a milestone for gay rights activists, who
have been pushing for legal recognition of their relationships.
Rep. Michael Lawlor, the committee's co-chairman, predicted the measure
would resurface later in the legislative session in the form of an amendment
to another bill.
Each time the question of gay rights comes up for debate, opposition
softens, said Lawlor, a Democrat from East Haven. "Now people are talking
about technicalities [rather] than the big fundamental issue of
The measure under consideration by the committee Monday did not fulfill
gay activists' hope that Connecticut would become the first state in the
nation to allow same-gender couples to marry.
It also stopped short of allowing couples to enter into Vermont-style
civil unions or California-style domestic partnerships. Both of those states
have set up systems that give gay and lesbian couples many of the
responsibilities of marriage.
In fact, the limited legal rights debated on Monday weren't even
exclusively aimed at same-sex couples. It would have allowed two people to
enter into a legal contract for the purpose of medical decision-making,
end-of-life care and a host of other matters.
It was, Lawlor said, an attempt to remedy some of the "everyday problems
that same-sex couples experience." For example, many gays and lesbians
testified they were barred from visiting their ailing partners in the
The bill, which both sides viewed as a compromise, drew mild praise from
an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage. "This is much better than what we
might have had before us," said Sen. John Kissel, a staunch Republican from
Sunday, March 24, 2002
Michigan leaders approach same-sex
A story published today by the Lansing State Journal reports that the
national focus on gay adoption could mean new hope for gay parents wanting
Michigan state advocates for same-sex co-adoption have worked quietly for
years to convince more judges to allow it.
They've sent legal briefs, made phone calls and pushed the issue at
But they worry a more high-profile push could indeed tip the issue in the
"I wish (gay supporters) would lie low," said Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith, a
Democrat from Washtenaw County's Salem Township who's running for governor.
She thinks opening up adoption law for changes could lead to an all-out ban
on gay adoptions. "The law's not perfect, but it's better than creating a
ban," she said.
State Rep. Paul DeWeese, R-Williamston, said the law needs work. He's on
the state House Family and Children Services Committee.
"It's not clear if it's being applied differently," said DeWeese, who
supports joint adoption by same-sex couples as long as they demonstrate a
"Either the Legislature or the Supreme Court has to step in and clarify
Attorney General Jennifer Granholm could offer an opinion on the case if
asked, but that's unlikely, spokeswoman Genna Gent said.
A law change would require approval from the governor.
Dick Posthumus, the leading Republican candidate for governor, doesn't
think the law needs changing, spokesman Sage Eastman said. Posthumus
wouldn't support an all-out ban on gay adoption, he said.
Three Democratic candidates - Granholm, Smith and U.S. Rep. David Bonior
of Mount Clemens - support co-adoption by same-sex couples. GOP contender Ed
Hamilton says gay people shouldn't be barred from adopting and, under
certain circumstances, should be able to adopt together.
Nationally, laws on same-sex adoption differ. Utah bans same-sex couples
from adopting and Florida and Mississippi ban all gay and lesbian people
Cohabitation going mainstream in America
A story published today by the St. Paul Star Tribune reports that over
the past 30 years American couples have quietly moved cohabiting from the
fringes to the mainstream. These days, more than half of couples taking
their wedding vows already have lived together.
It's a statistic that shows this country is not quite going the way of
Sweden: We don't cohabit instead of marriage; we cohabit on the way to
"We've gone beyond the 50 percent mark," said Pamela Smock, a sociologist
at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "We're closer to 60 percent for
first marriages. Soon we're not going to be asking questions about who does
decide to cohabit, but who doesn't."
One indication of the jump in cohabiting couples is the U.S. Census,
which shows an increase in unmarried men and women sharing a household, from
500,000 in 1970 to 4.9 million in 2000. Another revealing Census statistic:
90 percent of Americans will marry at least once.
A growing body of research is bringing more detailed understanding of
Of cohabiting couples, about 50 percent marry within five years, 40
percent break up, and 10 percent simply continue living together.
Forty percent of all children spend some time in a cohabiting household.
Some research found that domestic violence is twice as common among
cohabiting couples as married couples, and that depression rates are higher.
Also, cohabiting couples who then marry are 50 percent more likely to
But other research found that the relationships of cohabiting couples who
plan to marry each other — up to 75 percent of all cohabitors — are as good
as those of married couples.
"All those differences are why we need to be careful not to treat
cohabitors as a monolithic group," said Susan Brown, sociologist at Bowling
Green State University in Ohio. "A couple plans to marry? Presence of
children? Ever married? Depending on all that, cohabiting is going to have
very different outcomes."
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Minnesota House committee rejects domestic partner benefits in state
A story released today by Channel 4000 reports that the Minnesota House
committee put the future of a contract for state employees back in question
when it rejected the same-sex benefits that had been negotiated by labor
unions and the state.
Acting on a charge led by Republicans, the Ways and Means Committee voted
16-12 Wednesday night to take away the health benefits of same-sex partners
of state employees in a bill that now goes to the House floor.
Last fall, the state agreed to the domestic partner benefits after a
two-week strike by the two largest unions representing state workers, the
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and Council 6 of the
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The contracts are in effect, but ratification by each house is needed for
them to remain in force. A bill to ratify the contracts is awaiting action
in the Senate.
MAPE President Chris Mau said in a statement that even though the
benefits wouldn't affect many employees in the union, he remains committed
to pushing for them to be included in the new contract.
"We don't care if you're Mork from Ork and you've been fired for saying 'Nanu
Nanu' to every question your boss asks you. If you have committed yourself
to being a member of our union, then our union is committed to fighting for
you." added Mau.
But House Republicans disagreed with that notion. Rep. Doug Stang, R-Cold
Spring, proposed the amendment to scrap the domestic partner benefits. He
said state employees and his constituents told him it was "not appropriate"
to offer them because the benefits would discriminate against unmarried
heterosexual couples and increase state compensation costs.
James Monroe, executive director of MAPE, said Wednesday's committee
action was a setback for labor relations for state employees. "I think it's
bad law (and) it's bad policy," he said.
Employee Relations Commissioner Julien Carter said the Ventura
administration would fight legislative efforts to change the contracts. He
added the vote may violate the Public Employees Labor Relations Act.
Ventura sent a letter to House Speaker Steve Sviggum in late February,
urging him to work to ratify the contract after the House passed HR25, a
resolution that officially objected to the state contract. At the time,
Sviggum called it "a warning" that the House would not ratify the contract.
In the letter, posted on the DOER Web site, Ventura said, "With any
negotiated contract, there will always provisions one group or another will
not like. With the passage of HR25, the House of Representatives has
deviated from a twenty-year practice of the legislature to not interfere
with the bargaining process."
Ventura said rejecting the contract sets a precedent that he won't
Wednesday's committee vote sends the measure to the House floor for a
Pretoria civil servants win domestic
A story released today by South African Press Association reports that in
terms of a settlement reached with Pretoria’s Government Employees' Pension
Fund (GEPF), the domestic partners of civil servants are now entitled to
full pension benefits upon their death.
This follows the out-of-court settlement of a class action suit against
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, filed with the Pretoria High Court by the
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.
In the application, the organization sought to secure full pension
benefits for the surviving same-sex partners of state employees.
In terms of the settlement, all partners of lesbian and gay employees of
state or para-statal organizations will be entitled to pensions from the
State Pension Fund upon their death.
This affects those who are in a position to register their partners for
such benefits, as well as the partners of state employees who are already
"It is very regrettable that a matter such as this... took so long to
resolve. We are nevertheless pleased with the final outcome," said Equality
Project co-ordinator Evert Knoesen.
The organization also called on the government to shift from being
defensive on matters of gay and lesbian equality to being proactive.
Amsterdam to make history by performing
A story released today by Expatica.com reports that on March 31,
Amsterdam will be the first city in the world to officiate the first legal
civil marriage of same-sex couples.
Officiating at the service was the new Amsterdam Mayor, Job Cohen.
As the former deputy Justice Minister, Cohen was directly responsible for
the move to legalize gay weddings.
Under the new laws, the same basic requirements will be in place for
same-sex couples as for heterosexual couples. That is, one partner must be a
resident of the Netherlands, the intention to marry must be registered and
the two participants are not allowed to be closely related.
They are bound by the same laws of both marriage and divorce.
But important differences arise when recognizing the marriage outside of
the Netherlands. There is also a major difference in the law if the married
couple wish to have children.
"We are seeking recognition contracts with other countries," the senior
legal advisor of the Registrar's Office in Amsterdam, Hans Tomson, said.
"But our expectations are not high. In Scandinavia maybe."
"In some countries homosexuality is still against the law. I can imagine
you could get serious problems in Islamic countries or even the Balkans,"
In these types of scenarios, Hanson said it would be better to leave the
marriage license at home.
The Christian Democrats and three smaller Protestant political parties
voted against the legalization of same-sex marriages and the Vatican also
denounced the change.
It is interesting to note here though, that in the Netherlands, all
marriages must first be performed as a civil ceremony before a religious
ceremony can be staged.
But church groups maintain their strong attitudes, despite division among
"I have heard of a few priests who will perform same-sex weddings against
the authority of the church," Tomson said.
Australia’s domestic partner
superannuation bill likely to prevail
A story released today by ABC News reports that South Australian
Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson and the Opposition both predict a bill to
give same sex couples greater rights under the State Superannuation Act will
After two failed attempts, the bill will be reintroduced to Parliament in
May, by Labor backbencher Frances Bedford.
Under the bill, same-sex domestic partner relationships would enjoy the
same legal recognition as heterosexual domestic partner relationships in
terms of superannuation.
Mr. Atkinson believes Ms. Bedford has a much better chance of succeeding
this time around and Shadow Attorney-General Robert Lawson agrees.
"I think it will be dealt with one way or another this time," Mr. Lawson
English city to hold it’s first same-sex ‘wedding"
A story released today by the Manchester Evening News reports that the
city of Manchester, England will have its first same-sex ‘wedding’ by the
middle of next month.
The ceremony, though having no legal validity, will be performed by
register office staff.
City council chiefs are due to approve plans for the new partnership
register service this week.
Couples will sign a partnership register and make a declaration of
life-long commitment to each other at the ceremony. The register and
ceremony will be open to straight couples as well as same-sex partners.
The ceremony will be performed by officials from the register office at
the council's marriage suite in Heron House - or at other locations for an
increased charge. The standard charge will be £97.50.
Despite having no legal validity, council campaigners say the register is
an important step towards full equality for gays and lesbians.
Count Mary Murphy, the council's spokeswoman on same-sex issues, said:
‘‘I am very excited this is going to happen, and I am pleased that it's
happening in Manchester because we have always tried to keep the equality
issue to the forefront."