Malta passes civil unions
April 15th, 2014
The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption on Monday in a 37-0 vote, signaling a major change in social policy for a conservative country where Catholicism is the state religion.
“Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people,” Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.
The opposition Nationalist Party abstained from the vote, saying that although it supports civil unions, it has doubts about adoption rights for gay couples.
The bill now goes to the President for a formal approval at which time Malta will become the southernmost part of Europe to recognize same-sex relationships. From what I glean from their local press, they are rather proud of themselves for this move. As they should be.
UPDATE: The opposition party was anxious that their abstention was not seen as opposition to civil unions or even necessarily as an absolute opposition to adoption, but rather that they opposed that the issues were addressed together. They proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which both parties supported.
Civil unions are coming to Malta
April 2nd, 2014
Malta is tiny dot in the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily. Last September the legislature introduced a bill to provide civil unions which would have all the rights and responsibilities as marriage (including adoption). On February 25th the bill passed committee and now awaits the final third reading before becoming law.
The bill has been on hold since that time due to refusal by the President to sign the bill. (Times of Malta)
Times of Malta reported this morning that the government had postponed the final approval of the Civil Unions Bill as the President had informally told Dr Muscat that he was not willing to sign it into law.
The Bill has been awaiting third reading for five weeks. It would then need to be signed by the President before becoming law. The government is now waiting until President George Abela’s term of office ends on April 4.
Although the incoming President is among the roughly 98% of the half million population that is Catholic, she has no problem signing the bill.
Dr Abela will be succeeded by Family and Social Solidarity Minister Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca who, despite being a staunch Catholic and having opposed divorce, has made it clear she has no problem signing the Bill.
Soon after being nominated for the presidency, Ms Coleiro Preca said since this Bill was an electoral commitment made by the government before the last election she had no problem with it.
The deputy prime minister has promised that the bill will be given its final vote “soon”. To the best of my knowledge, no provision of falcons is required as a condition of the bill.
Chinchilla signs Accidental Civil Unions bill
July 5th, 2013
The bill which passed the Costa Rica legislature this week which may (or may not) allow for same-sex civil unions has been signed. (La Nacion)
“Ya fue firmada y se ordenó la publicación”, dijo ayer el ministro de Comunicación, Carlos Roverssi, con respecto a la ley que, a criterio de algunos diputados y activistas pro derechos gais, podría validar las uniones homosexuales.
“It was signed and ordered its publication”, said yesterday the Minister of Communication, Carlos Roverssi, with respect to the law that, in the opinion of some deputies and gay rights activists, could validate homosexual unions.
Inquiries have been filed with the nation’s courts to determine whether rights, benefits and obligations of marriage will be granted to same-sex couples.
Costa Rica President will sign accidental Civil Unions bill
July 4th, 2013
After legislators “accidentally” passed a law that includes language that could open a path to same-sex civil unions in the Central American country, President Laura Chinchilla said on Wednesday that she would not veto it, as some lawmakers have urged.
“No, we’re going to go forward and will sign this law. We understand that the debate is over how some interpret the law and this alone is not sufficient for the executive to veto the law,” Chinchilla told reporters, according to a video posted by AmeliaRueda.com.
There will likely be a court challenge to the meaning of the bill, but it looks promising. Prior to this legislation, the law stated that common law marriage was only between a man and a woman. This struck that provision, replacing it with “without discrimination against to human dignity”.
Civil Unions accidentally passed in Costa Rica
July 3rd, 2013
If this actually becomes law, it will be the quirkiest means by which same-sex couples have become recognized. Conservative members of the legislature rallied around a bill, thinking that it dealt with youth and family. It did, just not in the way they supposed. (Tico Times)
Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Monday passed a measure – by accident – that could legalize same-sex civil unions as part of a larger bill, lawmakers noted on Tuesday.
Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill’s passage without recognizing the included language that could be interpreted to change the definition of marriage, according to the daily La Nación.
Lawmakers are calling on President Laura Chinchilla to veto the bill they just voted for.
Costa Rica is between 15% and 20% evangelical Christian and the populace strongly opposes equality.
Next Step: civil union states
June 26th, 2013
The overturn of DOMA3 provides a number of benefits for citizens of the marriage equality states. But it simultaneously creates a situation of discrimination for those who live in civil union states.
Before today same-sex couples in New Jersey, for example, had all of the same rights as married couples in New York. That is to say, both were afforded all of the marriage rights and obligations that a state confers but none of the federal rights or obligations. Now, however, New York same-sex couples can avail themselves of a whole host of federal benefits while New Jersey couples remain subjected to a lesser status – not only in name, but in practice.
Currently the states with civil unions (or domestic partnerships) are Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oregon (Wisconsin offers limited rights). Of these, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon are banned by state constitution from offering equal marriage status to same-sex couples. Which leaves our next battlegrounds to be Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey.
In Hawaii, the legislature has been either voting down (or letting die) marriage equality bills, including one submitted in January of this year. However, this changes the picture and it is likely that marriage will finally come to the state which brought the issue to the nation’s attention.
Illinois’ speaker of the House let die a marriage bill just last month. Equality is likely when the House reconvenes in November.
But New Jersey will be the interesting battle. Governor Christie vetoed a marriage bill in February 2012. But he has also supported civil unions and asserted that “discrimination should not be tolerated”. Although marriage and civil unions simply are not equal, his position was not necessarily contradictory before today.
Now, however, a state can decide if federal benefits should be afforded to their gay citizens. Should the legislature send Christie another marriage bill – and I anticipate that they will – he will have to decide whether he opposes unequal treatment or whether he supports tradition and the teachings of his church. And as Christie has presidential aspirations, this might be the first indicator as to whether the Republican Party can acclimate to the new reality.
The Era of Civil Unions Is Coming To An End
May 17th, 2013
Remember when Civil Unions were the viable alternative to marriage equality? Robert Jones and Daniel Cox of the Public Religion Research Institute explain that those days are quickly drawing to a close:
The changing political composition of civil union supporters shows that the center of gravity of this debate has shifted significantly. The civil union option has moved from being a middle way dominated by political moderates a decade ago to one that is, today, most attractive to political conservatives. And looking ahead, there is evidence that the civil union option may have a limited future, at least if younger Americans are any indication. When given a three-way choice, civil unions are the least popular option among Millennials (Americans born after 1980). Only slightly more than 1-in-10 (13%) Millennials prefer civil unions, while 67% say they support allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, and 15% oppose any legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
Civil Unions come to Colorado
May 1st, 2013
At Midnight, Anna Sher and Fran Simon became the first couple in Colorado to become civil unioned (civilly unioned?). They were one couple of many that have been waiting for a long time to have the state recognize their relationship and it is a joyous day. Mazel Tov!
Video: Seminar for Coloradans considering a civil union
April 18th, 2013
Yesterday our state equality org One Colorado held a webinar / conference call to help educate Coloradans on civil unions, which will be issued starting May 1st. The event covered issues from navigating paperwork to conceiving children once a civil union is established. Several staffers from One Colorado spoke as well as estate law and family law experts from the Colorado Bar Association.
Although this was originally a live, for record purposes I produced a video of the event couples can use in the future if they are considering entering into a civil union here in Colorado.
Colorado Civil Unions Signed Into Law
March 21st, 2013
After one failed referendum, two years being voted down in the House, civil unions were signed into law today with a high-five and thumbs-up from Governor Hickenlooper.
And video footage of (most of) Sen Pat Steadman’s formal remarks followed by the Governor’s signing.
Civil Unions pass in Colorado
March 12th, 2013
The Civil Unions bill in Colorado has passed. The bipartisan vote in the House was 39 to 26 and, having already cleared the Senate, it goes to Governor John Hickenlooper for his expected signature.
Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, and Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, joined all 37 Democrats to advance equality.
Cyprus moves towards couple recognition
February 20th, 2013
Cyprus is a oddity. It is a member state of European Union and is ethnically about three quarters Greek. But it is geographically in the Middle East, bout 50 miles south of Turkey and within 100 miles off shore of Syria and Lebanon.
While there is a Turkish Muslim minority, Cyprus prides itself as one of the earliest Christian outposts, evangelized by Paul. Most Cypriots are Greek Orthodox and the nation is very religious.
However, Cyprus provides a slightly bizarre service to one of its other close neighbors.
In Israel, marriage is controlled by the official religious institutions which, if you are Jewish, is the orthodox Israeli rabbinate. And if you don’t qualify for a traditional halakhah wedding – or aren’t particularly religious – your options are limited. However, Israel registers foreign marriages without much question (including same-sex marriages), so many mixed-faith or non-religious Israelis travel out of the country to marry. Most go to Cyprus.
And it is against this background that Cyprus is beginning the process of allowing same sex couples to have some form of legal recognition. (CyprusMail) They’ve been discussing it since 2010 (though the news tended to translate as “marriages” at that time) but it looks as though a bill is finally going forward.
HUMAN rights group ACCEPT-LGBT yesterday hailed the Cabinet’s recent decision to pass a draft bill on civil partnership in order to enable couples to be legally recognised outside of marriage.
The process has several more steps, but as best I can tell it has support from most of the political power structure. It’s fascinating to watch as the nations on the borders between East and West begin to address issues of equality.
Colorado Senate votes for civil unions
February 11th, 2013
Today the Colorado Senate voted for a civil unions bill (Denver Post)
A bill allowing gay couples to form civil unions passed the Senate on Monday morning on a 21-14 with Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango providing the lone Republican “yes” vote.
All Democrats voted for the bill. On Monday the bill goes to the House where it is expected to pass easily. The bill is expected to become effective in May.
Colorado Civil Unions Clear Senate Committee
January 24th, 2013
A bill to grant civil unions to Colorado’s same-sex couples cleared its first hurdle yesterday when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 on straight party lines to approve the bill. The bill’s next stop is the Appropriations Committee before moving to the full Senate.
There were a number of people testifying against the bill. Among them were Mark Rohlena, of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, who complained that unlike previous versions of the bill, this one doesn’t have a religious conscience exemption clause which would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. But Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), the bill’s sponsor, noted that when the exemption was in previous versions of the bill Catholic leaders testified against it anyway, so he decided not to include it in the bill this year. An attempt to add the amendment to the bill failed.
Live audio of Colorado civil union committee hearing
January 23rd, 2013
This afternoon the Colorado civil unions bill is having its first committee hearing. I posted some background on Monday.
Update: The hearing has concluded.