Kicking A Lion

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Posts Tagged ‘civil union

Justices won’t hear Miller’s visitation request

WINCHESTER — For the fifth time, the Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear Lisa Miller’s attempt to prevent her former civil-union partner from having visitation rights with her daughter.

Miller had asked the justices to overturn rulings from the Virginia Supreme Court and the Virginia Court of Appeals allowing visitation with her child by her former partner.

Miller, who lives in Frederick County, also sought to overturn a Vermont appellate court ruling, which held that Vermont had jurisdiction over the case and Virginia must honor its decision to allow visitation.

Miller and her former partner Janet Jenkins entered a legally recognized civil union in 2000 in Vermont.

The couple decided that Miller would use artificial insemination with an anonymous donor to have a child, and Isabella was born in Virginia in April 2002.

The two women subsequently moved back to Vermont with Isabella, but separated after a year of cohabitation. Miller renounced her homosexuality and returned to Virginia with Isabella.

She denied Jenkins’ request for visitation rights, which led to a series of legal challenges from Jenkins in Vermont and Virginia, with courts in each state issuing sometimes conflicting rulings.

Virginia does not recognize the legality of civil unions, so its courts tended to side with Miller. Vermont, which allows civil unions, sided with Jenkins.

Miller had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would settle the issue, but the justices declined to hear her arguments on four occasions.

Jenkins appeared to have prevailed in August, when Frederick County Circuit Court Judge John R. Prosser dismissed efforts by Miller to deny Jenkins the right to visit Isabella.

Prosser sent the case back to the Frederick County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for enforcement of a visitation order handed down by a court in Vermont.

Miller then took her case to the Supreme Court for a fifth time, but the justices again refused to hear her appeal.

Monday’s legal decision was welcomed by Jenkins’ supporters.

“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis said in a press release. “With both Virginia and Vermont courts agreeing that Vermont has jurisdiction, there is clearly no need for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.”

Rebecca Glenberg, the ACLU of Virginia’s legal director, said the Virginia courts had simply moved to recognize the decisions of Vermont, just as they would have expected other states to respect decisions made in Virginia courts.

“Lisa Miller does not get to cherry-pick her courts to suit her liking,” Glenberg said through the ACLU press release. “Simply because she did not like the Vermont court’s decision does not allow her to try to get a more favorable ruling from another state.”

Federal law stipulates that one state court may not interfere with a custody proceeding in another state.

Jenkins is being represented by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund of Atlanta, as well as the ACLU of Virginia.

Miller is represented by the nonprofit Liberty Counsel, a public-interest law firm and religious ministry that provides free legal assistance in defense of Christian liberty.

The Liberty Counsel is based in Orlando, Fla., but has a strong connection with Liberty University in Lynchburg. Founder and Chairman Mathew D. Staver is the dean of the Virginia university’s Jesse Helms School of Law.

Staver was unavailable for comment Monday evening.

He said previously that Miller would continue to appeal her case, contending that the Virginia courts should not enforce Vermont’s custody orders because of the state’s constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages and the legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.

–Drew Houff

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Written by kickingalion

December 9, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Gay marriage letter sparks opposing view

Gay marriage letter sparks opposing view

With respect to the letter of Nov. 14 “People have spoken on gay marriage bans,” I feel the writer made several wrong points.

Despite the writer’s feelings that California’s vote on Proposition 8 is a dead topic, it is still in debate if the vote (52-48 percent) was enough of a majority to cause a “revision” to California’s constitution (needing 67 percent in favor) rather than an “amendment.” Most constitutions were written with an understanding of the magnitude of turning over a basic premise (equality) versus “amending” a minor issue.

The writer speaks as if the slight majority of California has spoken with a thundering voice that Proposition 8 was the right thing to do, when in reality, even with all of the misinformation spread about the rights of gay people to marry, the law passed by a very thin majority, too thin, many feel, to overturn the more powerful basic stature of the California Constitution.

The writer then goes on to talk about marrying minors and goats, and comparing that to two adult human beings who are in love.

Laws protect minors because the legislature and the voters feel minors have not reached the age of consent and therefore cannot make an adult decision on an act that will affect the rest of their lives.

Goats (and animals of most types) do not have the cognizant capabilities to have “consent.” It would be impossible for a goat to enter into marriage, since the goat would not have the ability to understand the phrase “I do,” to make the commitment of a lifetime of love and respect.

We are not talking about children, nor are we talking about goats. We are talking about two consenting human beings who want to have exactly the same rights – including divorce, having a family, earning respect – as do millions of other couples.

Those people who feel that “civil unions” convey these rights must never have studied law. Law is based on words, phrases and precedence, which sometimes follow a tricky path.

What is a “civil union” in one state may or may not exist in another. What does it mean to be “civil unioned” in Vermont and “un-civil-unioned” in Texas, which does not support civil unions? Is it the same as “divorce?”

What if you are “married” in Massachusetts and need to get “divorced” in a state that does not recognize that marriage? As a country we recognize the bond of marriage in all of our states. This is not true of “civil unions.”

Like it or not, the laws of a nation, and indeed the world, have been written around a word. How we treat a couple in love, their rights and obligations, is based on that word “marriage.”

Unless we go through every law and every statute and make sure that the laws are consistent, then there is no equal rights under the law for one group to be “civil unioned” and one group to be “married.”

The word that defines an unequivocal and inseparable love and a commitment to that love is “marriage.” That the word “marriage” does not mean only a commitment between a man and a woman is shown in our vernacular: “I am married to my job;” “I am married to my cause.”

We use these phrases every day. The phrase “married” in these cases mean commitment, love and duty. These are the things that two people mean when they say their vows, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual.

The writer of that letter feels the “voters have spoken.” I am old enough to remember the 1950s, and I can tell you that the “voters spoke” over civil rights, particularly in the South, and they rejected civil rights for African Americans.

Fortunately, some brave judges and some brave politicians stood up and declared that discrimination as being wrong, and from that the civil rights amendments and laws were created. I still have hope that this will happen again and that the recent attack on the constitution of California will be overturned.

For those who feel that the equalization of marriage will happen “in good time,” “in good time” will not help two of my male friends who shared 40 years of fidelity and love. They will never be able to say that they were “married.” One of them died last year of brain cancer.

I hope that the American people will finally see the inequality and inhumanity of what they are doing and allow gay marriage to happen before too many more couples are parted in death.

Goats? And (better yet) taxpaying goats? The argument is not just ridiculous, it is just plain baaaaad.

Jon A. Hall

Amherst

Written by kickingalion

November 30, 2008 at 5:32 am

Vermont legislator plans push for gay marriage

Vermont legislator plans push for gay marriage

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont legislator plans to introduce a bill to allow gay marriage in the state that first approved civil unions for same-sex couples.

State Sen. John Campbell, a Democrat, says he will sponsor the bill in the legislative session beginning in January. He acknowledges it is unlikely to gain ground unless Gov. Jim Douglas signals support.

The Republican governor said Thursday that the civil union law is sufficient but wouldn’t say whether he would veto a gay-marriage bill.

Only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow gay marriage. California voters recently overturned a ruling allowing the practice there.

Several other states sanction domestic partnerships or civil unions. Vermont became the first state to do so, in 2000.

Written by kickingalion

November 22, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Elton John on Gay Marriage

From USA Today:

Elton John, accompanied by his longtime partner, David Furnish, had some choice words about California’s Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that passed on Nov. 4.

In December 2005, John and Furnish tied the knot in a civil partnership ceremony in Windsor, England. But, clarified the singer, “We’re not married. Let’s get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage.”

John and Furnish, and their two cocker spaniels, Marilyn and Arthur, were in town for Tuesday’s annual benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“I don’t want to be married. I’m very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership,” John says. “The word ‘marriage,’ I think, puts a lot of people off.

“You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.”

NOTE:  Elton John lives in England, where civil partnerships and marriage are equal in rights.  In California, civil unions and marriage are not equal.  Maybe someone should let Sir Elton know this before making this comment again???

Written by kickingalion

November 15, 2008 at 12:37 am