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Posts for June, 2010

Congratulations to Portugal’s gay couples

Timothy Kincaid

June 7th, 2010

Today is the first day that same-sex couples can marry in Portugal. Our congratulations to those couples now able to legally join, to the politicians who fulfilled campaign promises, and the the Portuguese people whose lives have become enriched with a greater promise of equality.

Update: The first weddings have already started:

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced Portuguese mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, married in a 15-minute ceremony at a Lisbon registry office.

“This is a great victory, a dream come true,” Pires said as the couple kissed and hugged.

“Now we’re a family, that’s the important thing,” Pires said, adding they would continue to fight for equal rights for homosexuals, including adoption.

And Portugal makes eight!!

Timothy Kincaid

May 17th, 2010

Anibal Cavaco Silva, the conservative President of Portugal, has announced that he is ratifying the nation’s marriage equality bill. (AP)

Vetoing the bill would only send it back to Parliament where lawmakers would overturn his decision, he said, adding that the country needed to focus on overcoming an economic crisis that has increased unemployment and deepened poverty.

The Socialist government’s bill was backed by all of Portugal’s left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties opposed the measure and demanded a national referendum.

“Given that fact, I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us,” Cavaco Silva said.

Portugal now becomes the eigth nation (the sixth in Europe) to recognize same-sex marriage.

Green = marriage; Red = civil unions or other recognition

Dear insidious and dangerous threat to the common good,

Timothy Kincaid

May 13th, 2010

The Pope isn’t so fond of you.

His Holiness is in Portugal to observe the 93rd anniversary of the Virgin Mary appearing to poor shepherd children in Fatima. And he’s using this opportunity to rail at the Portuguese for allowing civil marriages to include those of which his church disapproves. (NYTimes)

In a speech here to Catholic social service groups, Benedict called for initiatives aimed at protecting “the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”

This was addressed not only at same-sex marriage, but Papa Razti was also objecting to recent divorce laws.

But purely from a pragmatic perspective, it might do the Pope more benefit to focus on people’s spiritual condition rather than the extent to which European nations allow him to have veto power over their laws. His political campaign isn’t working out so well.

Although it is 90 percent Catholic, Portugal has seen a notable shift away from Catholic teaching in recent years. The country legalized abortion in 2008 and its Parliament recently approved a bill permitting same-sex marriage. President Aníbal Cavaco Silva is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming weeks.

The Church has opposed the measure, but Portuguese society appears to be largely supportive of it. Portugal would be the sixth country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway and Sweden.

Rumors about veto of Portugal’s marriage law

Timothy Kincaid

April 26th, 2010

Some news sources are reporting that Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva intends to veto the same-sex marriage bill passed by the legislature. (gayopolis)

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva will veto a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers in February, Radio Renascenca reported. Cavaco Silva will veto the bill soon after Pope Benedict’s arrival on May 11.

However, both the President and the legislative leadership are denying that any decision has been announced. As yet, the exact method by which the bill will become law is uncertain. The legislature has adequate votes to overturn a veto and has indicated intention to do so.

The race for eighth (and ninth and tenth)

Timothy Kincaid

April 14th, 2010

With Italy now out of the running, the big question is which nation will be the eighth to recognize same-sex marriage. The contestants are:

Portugal – the legislature passed the bill. The President sent it to the supreme court which approved the bill. And now he has until about the end of the month to either veto or sign it. It vetoed, there are probably enough votes to overturn. The time frame is between immediately and early May.

Nepal – it is believed that same-sex marriage will be included in the new constitution. This should be in place no later than May 28, 2010.

Iceland – the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News is reporting:

The Sigurdardóttir administration presented the bill to Parliament on March 23. The bill’s passage is expected soon, and same-sex marriage could become legal as early as June 27


Luxembourg
– the Minister of Justice said in January that marriage would be legalized by the legislature’s summer break.

Argentina
– Although the administration intends to legalize marriage, without a law in place several judges are fighting over whether to grant couples the right to marry. In addition to the male couples previously reported, two women have now legally married in Buenos Aires (Santiago Times):

Two women that were exiled during the last Argentine military dictatorship (1976/1983) were married Friday in Buenos Aires, the first wedding among lesbians in the country, reported the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Federation of Argentina, or FALGBT.

Norma Castillo, from Uruguay, and Ramona Arevalo, Argentine, were married by Judge Elena Liberatori after having requested legal protection within the framework of the campaign “Same right, same names,” which the LGBT Argentine Federation has been carrying out for several months. They are both 67 years old and have been a couple for over 30 years.

Slovenia – the Family Law Bill does appear to continue to move forward but it is difficult to figure out just where things stand.

Cyprus – this tiny island seems to have dropped out of the race. Earlier this week the Cypriot government continued pondering the issue but the language now seems to focus on “partnerships”. (Cyprus Mail)

THE GOVERNMENT will take “seriously” the Ombudswoman’s latest report recommending legal reforms to allow same-sex partnerships, said Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Lazaros Savvides yesterday.

“No decision has been taken. It is something we have to study a bit further. We have not closed the issue, it remains open,” he said.
….
Savvides told the Sunday Mail that the various departments will continue to examine the issue and reconvene after June to discuss the matter.

Italy’s supreme court to rule on same-sex marriage this week

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2010

From On-Top Magazine

Italy’s highest court is expected to rule on a gay marriage case this week, Italian media is reporting.

The court will meet in closed session to discuss a large number of appeals – including the gay marriage case – on Tuesday and Wednesday. In March, the court postponed making a decision until after Easter.

And the race continues. Will Italy or Portugal be the eighth nation to recognize same-sex marriages?

Portugal’s supreme court approves same-sex marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2010

The Portuguese supreme court had until today to approve or reject the same-sex marriage bill forwarded to them by the President. Today they have announced that it is not unconstitutional.

IOL Diario (Google translation)

The Constitutional Court Thursday gave this ‘green light’ to the law that allows marriage between same sex, whereas the norms sent by Ben to preventive control are constitutional, reports as saying.

Judge adviser Victor Gomes was the spokesperson for the ruling, which had eleven votes, of which seven presented the declaration to vote, and two dissenting opinions.

The constitution of Portugal has a clause supporting marriage but this was deemed not to be contradictory to including same-sex couples. (tvi 24 – Google translation)

The Constitutional Court held that “the extension of marriage to same-sex ‘is consistent with the recognition and protection of the family as” fundamental element of society, emphasizing that marriage is’ open concept’, which allows different political views.

In a memo distributed to the media after the public reading of the ruling on the request for preventive control of four rules of law that allows marriage between same-sex requested by the President read that the TC concludes that the legislative initiative ‘not violates the constitutional guarantee of marriage. ”

President Cavaco Silva now has until the 28th to approve or veto the bill. The legislature is believed to have adequate votes to override a veto.

Portugal marriage timeline

Timothy Kincaid

March 23rd, 2010

Rex Wockner writing for PinkPaper.com provides a good timeline of when action is required on the marriage bill in Portugal. Currently it has been forwarded to the supreme court for a review for constitutionality.

April 8: the last day that court can have completed their review

April 28: the last day for pondering the court’s response by the president (assuming they take until 4/8)

If he signs it, it becomes law. If he vetoes it, Parliament is expected to pass it again, which would then force Cavaco Silva to sign it.

Should the Constitutional Court find some problem with the law, which is considered to be unlikely, Parliament then probably would amend it to address the court’s concerns.

Portugal’s marriage bill forwarded to Supreme Court

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2010

Portugal’s president, Cavaco Silva, has forwarded the marriage bill to the Supreme Court. (On Top)

Cavaco Silva asked the court to review the constitutionality of 4 out of 5 of the bill’s articles. Article 3, which was not forwarded, would forbid married gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.

The Constitutional Court has already ruled against gay marriage. In a narrow 3-to-2 decision last year, the court denied a lesbian couple the right to marry, despite a provision in the constitution that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

It is difficult to know what this means.

For those who read Portuguese

International Marriage Update

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2010

Several nations are competing to become the eighth to offer full civil marriage recognition to same sex couples. It is likely that at least three, possibly four, will change their laws by summer.

Portugal – The parliament has now finalized the language of the bill and around the first of the month sent it to President Cavaco Silva. Silva is a member of the PSD party and has spoken in the past in opposition to same-sex marriage recognition. It is uncertain what he will do.

Silva has four choices. He can sign the bill, send it to the Supreme Court within 8 days, or refuse to sign it and return it to Parliament within 20 days (a form of veto). Prime Minister José Sócrates has stated that he has the requisite two-thirds vote to overturn a Presidential veto.

Nepal – This Asian nation is scheduled to implement a new constitution by May 28, 2010. This new constitution is reported to have marriage equality provisions. Nepal has been capitalizing on this change in hopes of increasing tourism.

Luxembourg – This tiny duchy has had civil partnership laws since 2004. However, at the end of January, Minister of Justice François Biltgen announced that the nation would legalize civil gay marriage before Parliament’s summer break. Gay couples will not be allowed to adopt.

Iceland – This vast island with its hardy but tiny population has had registered partnerships since 1996. The current government, helmed by lesbian Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, is committed to changing the law to enact marriage equality. Although no time line is currently reported, as of 18 November 2009, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights confirmed that the government was working on such an act.

This is not likely to be a highly controversial issue in Iceland. Only one lawmaker voted against the 1996 partnerships and the 2006 upgrade was passed unanimously.

Argentina – There have now been two legal same-sex marriages in that country opening up a precedent, if not exactly law. However, the current governmental leadership has indicated support for marriage equality and there are bills currently under consideration. Although movement forward was scheduled for last November, but parliamentary procedures were used to delay the decision until 2010. The two judicially authorized marriages may be seen as impetus for the legislature to enact marriage as a matter of legislation rather than concede to judicial mandate.

Cyprus – The Attorney-general’s office, Law Commissioner, Ombudswoman, and senior representatives of the relevant government ministries will meet this month to discuss whether the island off the coast of Turkey and Syria will adopt marriage equality.

To make the race even more uncertain, the European Court of Human Rights heard testimony last week from an Austrian couple suing for marriage rights. On Tuesday, the court determined that Poland could not treat a gay man and his partner differently than a married couple. It is expected to announce within the next few months whether European states can deny marriage to same-sex couples or whether civil unions, such as those adopted by Austria at the first of the year, were sufficient to protect equal rights.

So we see movement in Europe, Asia, and the Americas and at the most northern and most southern parts of the globe. And, of course, we may always be surprised by an unexpected nation taking this step, as well as determinations in the European . But, whichever moves first, it will certainly be a spring to remember.

UPDATE:

Slovenia – This eastern neighbor of Italy, and former portion of communist Yugoslavia, has already begun the process of changing their laws to allow for marriage equality. Their legislature voted yesterday to advance the bill.

Portugal marriage update

Timothy Kincaid

February 16th, 2010

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Portugal has now passed its second hurdle. (Vancouver Sun)

Portuguese lawmakers Thursday definitively adopted legislation legalising homosexual marriage, although President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a practising Roman Catholic, must give final approval.

The bill will now go to President Anibal Cavaco Silva for signature. It is expected that if he vetoes the bill, there will be an override.

Portugese support marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2010

A poll taken after the Portugese Parliament voted to enact marriage equality shows the move to be popular in the Catholic nation. From Bay Windows:

Fifty-two percent of Portuguese support legalization of same-sex marriage, according to a new Eurosondagem poll for Rádio Renascença, SIC TV, and the Expresso newspaper.

The Eurosondagem poll quizzed 1,010 people by telephone from Jan. 7 to 12. Forty-three percent said they oppose same-sex marriage.

Portugal parliament approves marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2010

Portugal’s legislature has approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. (The Guardian)

Right-of-centre parties opposed the change and sought a national referendum on the issue, but their proposal was rejected and the government’s bill was passed by 125 votes to 99.

The bill now goes to a committee and back to parliament for a second vote before being presented to the President.

The conservative president, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, is thought unlikely to veto the socialist government’s bill, which won the support of all left-of-centre parties. His ratification would allow the first gay marriage ceremonies to take place in April, a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on an official visit to Portugal.

Portugal will be the eighth nation (sixth in Europe) to recognize same sex marriages.

Parliament did not, however, pass a second bill which would allow adoption by same-sex couples.

Portugal marriage vote on Friday?

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2010

The Vancouver Sun is reporting:

Catholic Portugal, traditionally one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries, is expected to approve the legalization of gay marriage on Friday with a minimum of fuss.

With the governing Socialists and other left-wing parties enjoying a strong majority, the new law is likely to sail through the first reading debate and gain final approval before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, due in Portugal in May.

Deputies are also expected on Friday to vote two other bills submitted by the Green party, the Left Bloc and others which would grant gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children.

If the gay marriage proposals do pass through parliament, they will the have to go through a parliamentary commission before coming back for the final approval.

As yet, I’ve not seen corroborating sources about a Friday vote. But we’ll keep our eyes on this.

Marriage legislation presented for Portugal

Timothy Kincaid

December 17th, 2009

In November we informed you that the current government in Portugal was planning on crafting legislation to enact marriage equality. They now have done so. (AP)

Portugal’s Socialist government has drawn up a proposal that would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow gay marriage.

The law is almost certain to pass, as the center-left Socialist government has the support of all left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties oppose the measure.

The proposal changes Portuguese law to remove references to marriage being between two people of different sexes, Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told a news conference Thursday, adding the government will send its proposal to lawmakers for a debate, probably in January.

The bill is almost certain to pass. If signed by the President, same-sex marriages might occur as early as April.

The bill may also be vetoed by the conservative President. I’ve not determined if supporters have the 2/3rds necessary to override a veto.

Will Portugal be nation number eight?

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2009

The Pink Paper is reporting that Portugal may soon take step to enact marriage equality.

Sources close to Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates, who is forming a new government following September elections, said that legalising same-sex marriage will be one of the new team’s first actions.

The BBC’s Humphrey Hawksley also seems to believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable within a matter of months. The vote count from Sócrates’ Socialist Party when combined with those from the Left Bloc and the Communist Party predict its passage with votes to spare.

Portugal Supremes Say No to Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2009

The A/P is reporting:

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced mothers in their 30s who have been together as a couple since 2003, were turned away by a Lisbon registry office when they attempted to marry in 2006 because the law stipulates that marriage is between people of different genders.

Portugal’s constitution, however, also forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The women took the case to a Lisbon court, which rejected their unprecedented challenge.

After considering their appeal against that decision, the Constitutional Court said in a statement posted on its Web site that the constitution does not state that same-sex marriages must be permitted.

By a 3 to 2 vote, they denied the constitutional right to marriage. However they did not mandate that marriage could not be granted by the legislature. And that is a distinct possibility in the near future.

However, the center-left Socialist Party has included a proposal to permit same-sex marriages in its manifesto for September’s general election. Its chief rival, the center-right Social Democratic Party, opposes the measure. Opinion polls show the two parties are neck-and-neck in voting intentions.

You’d better hurry Portugal or you may be behind Albania.

Portugal Says No To Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2008

Portugal’s Parliament voted by a large majority today to defeat a proposal to allow same-sex marriage in that country. The governing Socialist Party and the main opposition Social Democratic party joined to defeat the measure. The center-left Socialist Party released a statement calling for a debate on the issue:

A change of this depth and complexity should be made only after a considered discussion and after broad support has built up for it in Portuguese society, inside and outside political parties, so that a clear and unequivocal political undertaking can be given,” the Socialist Party said in a statement.

A recent poll in the mostly Roman Catholic country showed that 53% opposed same-sex marriage, and 42% supported it. The margin of error was 2.7%.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.