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Posts for April, 2014

Malta passes civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2014


As anticipated, the legislature of the island nation of Malta has approved civil unions for same-sex couples. (Deutshe Welle)

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Google Translate

“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

Timothy Kincaid

July 4th, 2013

Tico Times:

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2013

Click to enlarge.

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Daniel Gonzales

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.

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Colorado Civil Unions Signed Into Law

Daniel Gonzales

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.

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Civil Unions pass in Colorado

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

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

Daniel Gonzales

January 23rd, 2013

Sen Steadman (left, D-Central/Southeast Denver) is again presenting his bill to his Senate peers in committee.

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This afternoon the Colorado civil unions bill is having its first committee hearing.  I posted some background on Monday.

Here’s live audio from the Colorado Channel. To follow the conversation on Twitter use hashtag #COleg or feel free to comment on this post below.

Update: The hearing has concluded.

Colorado Rep DelGrosso fundamentally misunderstands State Constitution

Daniel Gonzales

January 23rd, 2013

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

In 2006, Colorado voters approved an amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who voted against civil union bills in committees the past two years, said he questions the constitutionality of the proposed bill.

“The voters of Colorado have clearly said this is what we expect,” DelGrosso said. “How can you prove to us that what you’re doing is constitutional? That you’re not just changing the name of something and trying to pretend that it’s something that it’s not — same-sex marriage.”

‎Brian DelGrosso seems to fundamentally misunderstand how Colorado’s constitution.  Our neighbors in Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have all passed amendments that not only ban gay marriage but also ban civil unions.  Here in Colorado our constitution says nothing of civil unions.

The authors of Colorado Amendment 43 and voters have left the door open for us to have civil unions here in Colorado.

And yes, DelGrosso represents Loveland. Oh the irony.

Stronger and more controversial Colorado civil union bill to be heard Wednesday

Daniel Gonzales

January 21st, 2013

Committee hearings on the civil union bill always pack the chamber with spectators and media. This photo is from last year’s legislative session.

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Civil unions legislation has been re-introduced in Colorado and passage is near certain.  Why you ask?  Because the number of bill sponsors constitues a majority of both the House and Senate.  That’s 20 sponsors in the Senate (out of 35 seats) and 38 sponsors in the House (out of 65 seats).

In a first for the bill Republican Rep Cheri Gerou all of a sudden grew balls this year and decided to sponsor the bill after declining to last year. Even OutFront Colorado published an article titled “How are we so sure civil unions will pass this year?

How did we get to this point?  Here’s some backstory…

In 2011 and 2012 Colorado had a divided legislature.  In 2012 after the bill surprisingly managed to pass intact out of a key Republican controlled committee in a desperate last minute attempt to kill the bill House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) killed 30+ bills on the last night of the session rather than allow the civil union bill to reach the floor.

Democrats swept the November election statewide and retook control of the House along with retaining control of the Senate and Governor’s Residence.  Rep Mark Ferrandino was elected by his peers to be the first openly gay Speaker Of The House.  Also during the fall recess, tragically, Dave Misner, the husband of Senator Pat Steadman, the bill’s author, died of pancreatic cancer.

But there are other different things this year too.

Previous civil unions legislation had excluded [Catholic] adoption agencies from having to treat civil-unionized couples equally.  This year’s bill is stronger and no longer includes such an exclusion.  Quoting the Catholic News Agency:

The 2012 Colorado Senate bill proposing to create the unions had stated that the bill “shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption” with a couple in a civil union.

That language, however, is absent from the 2013 bill, S.B. 11.

Much as in other states Catholics are threatening to take their ball and go home.

If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, “we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.”

“That risk is always there,” he said. “I think that we would try to explore every avenue available to us to provide this vital service to the community.”

He said a shutdown is “very well what could happen” given precedents in other states.

In previous years rhetoric opposing the bill was downright comical.  In 2011 local grandmother (and Eagle Forum member) Rosina Kovar provided graphic testimony about the human anus.  And in 2012 two Senators quoted the Bible in floor debate, one saying “I truly believe Jesus is a better answer than Senate Bill 2.”  There has even been a cameo by Paul Cameron.

This year we have a new religious fundamentalist to watch.

It’s widely believed that Facebook post is reffering to Vicki Marble (R-Northern Colorado I-25 corridor) who proudly touts her AFA Action scorecard on her campaign website. Unfortunately Ms Marble’s only appointments are to the Education and Local Government committees so we’ll likely have to wait for the bill to reach the Senate floor for her to embarrass herself.  And in other fundamentalist news Colorado Family Action is having a “Rally and Prayer for Marriage” on Friday Jan 25.  Legislation dealing with marriage isn’t being considered this year, and marriage is already defined in our state constitution, Amendment 43 so I’m not sure why Colorado Family Action is wasting their time having a rally about it.

The civil union bill’s first hearing is the Senate Judiciary Committee, this Wednesday, January 23, at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.  Committee hearings are broadcast as audio-only on the Colorado Channel’s website.

The final bill is expected to pass and be signed by mid March with the first civil union licenses issued May 1st.

Colorado: Election Results Clear Path for Civil Unions in 2013 Legislature

Daniel Gonzales

November 9th, 2012

Rep Ferrandino testifying to a committee in support of civil unions during the 2012 legislative session. Photo by me.

 

Last legislative session Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty killed 30+ bills at the end of the session rather than allow a civil unions bill to reach the floor of the House.  At the time the Republicans held a one vote majority in the Colorado House.

McNulty covered in political flop-sweat and desperation explaining to the Capitol press pool his decision to kill 30+ bills rather than allow civil unions to reach the floor. Photo by Sean Mullins of OutFront Colorado.

 

Gay supporters were livid by McNulty’s willingness to allow government to break down in such a way just to stop civil unions and formed a group, Fight Back Colorado dedicated to re-taking the House majority.  Fight Back targeted three vulnerable races and on Tuesday night successfully unseated all three GOP Reps.  Not only that but Dems won almost every contested seat and now control the House 37-28, in addition to retaining control of the Senate and governorship (which wasn’t up this election).

Outgoing Speaker McNulty congrats Ferrandino on Thursday.

 

McNulty was replaced yesterday by Mark Ferrandino, who is our first openly gay Speaker Of The House and also happens to represent my district.

The path has been cleared for civil unions to pass in 2013.

Gay Son Speaks Of Father’s Failed Leadership In Killing Colorado Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2012

When the Colorado House’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted on a 5-4 party line vote to kill a civil unions bill, Rep. Don Coram (R-58) acknowledged that his vote to defeat the bill was also a bill against his own gay son. Today, Coram’s son, Dee Coram, has come forward to speak out against his father’s vote:

“He was given an opportunity here to actually be a leader and I guess he didn’t take that leadership role. It’s disappointing to see something like this that he said should have gone to a house floor for a vote. Essentially, he prevented that from happening,” Dee Coram said.

Colorado House in Special Session Kills Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2012

Photo by Daniel Gonzales. Click to enlarge.

When Republican Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty declared that the special session called by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was a “reset” on the legislation, he wasn’t kidding. Defying the will of the majority in the House, McNulty sent the civil unions bill to House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, despite the bill having passed through three House committees during the legislature’s regular session. But in sending the bill to the third committee, McNulty carefully selected a destination where the bill was sure to die.

And so die it did. The House committe tonight killed the civil unions bill on a straight party-line vote of 5-4. Rep. Don Coram (R-58) felt compelled to vote against his own gay son to kill the bill. That’s how badly House leadership wanted this bill dead.

Update: Daniel Gonzales, who attended the hearing, sends this account:

Rep. Coram had not previously been public about his gay son until his pre-vote remarks when he went public. Also seated next to him was Rep. Lois Court (D-Aurora) who in her pre-vote remarks had to alternate between restraining herself from crying and swearing.

Reps. Don Coram and Lois Court. Photo by Daniel Gonzales

Update: Daniel Gonzales has also posted this video of Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s formal statement to the media following the death of his civil unions bill in The House State, Veterans, and Military affairs Committee tonight.

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