NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS
For 2004 - JULY to SEPTEMBER
In the following, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."
News of 2004-JULY to SEPTEMBER:
|2004-JUL-14: FMA defeated: The
Senate voted 48 in favor and 50 opposed to a cloture procedure which would have
cut off debate and forced a vote on the FMA. The affirmative vote was 12
short of the 60 required. The FMA is now dead in the water. Debate can
be resumed later, but a heavy Senate work load makes this unlikely in
the near future.
|2004-AUG-9: PA: Christian demonstrators ejected from Phillies game: The
Philadelphia Phillies baseball team hosted their second "Gay Day" on
AUG-9. A total of twelve ticket holders complained and had their money refunded.
During the fifth inning, five conservative Christians unfurled a home-made sign
which stated: "HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN, CHRIST CAN SET YOU FREE." Within a
few minutes, a security guard approached the Christians and asked that they
remove the banner. Then two gay men and two lesbian women stood up in front of
the banner and kissed. The crowed cheered the latter. Other guards approached.
Three young men grabbed the banner and tried to remove it. The Christians
responsible for the banner were ejected from the ballpark. Security
officials accused them of inciting a riot by the content of the banner.
|2004-JUN: Sweden: Pentecostal pastor
convicted of hate speech: Sweden passed a constitutional amendment in 2002
which included sexual orientation in a list of groups protected from "unfavorable
speech." The law protects heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals equally. Sometime in 2003, Pastor Ake Green delivered a
sermon at his Pentecostal church in Borgholk, Sweden. He allegedly described homosexuality
as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society." He
described them as "perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil has used as
his strongest weapon against God." He was charged with inciting hatred
against a group of people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Green was
found guilty and sentenced to one month in prison. Public prosecutor Kjell
Yngvesson is reported as saying: "One may have whatever religion one wishes,
but [the sermon] is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting
Bible [verses] on this topic as he does makes this hate speech."
Christianity Today magazine reported: "In his defense, the pastor said he
merely wanted to make clear the biblical view on homosexuality, not to express
disrespect." Green's lawyer said that the law and conviction violated the
pastor's religious freedom. Soren Andersson, president of a Swedish federation
for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights (RFSL), said that religious
freedom never justifies offending people. He said: "Therefore, I cannot
regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion." |
A search on the Google.com search engine using the string "Ake Green" found 605
hits. Some relate to the "Ake Ake," a type of exotic shrub which comes in
a green variety. But most seem to refer to the Swedish event. The conviction
occurred a few months after Canada's similar hate propaganda bill -- C-250 --
became law. However, that law has a specific clause exempting hate propaganda
speech if motivated by religion. Green could not have been prosecuted in Canada
under C-250. 1
|2004-JUL-28: USA APA supports same-sex marriage: The largest group of psychologists in the U.S.,
the American Psychological Association (APA), adopted a policy affirming
the right of same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies. The policy
states that if they have children, they deserve all of the legal rights
of opposite-sex couples. Diane Halpern, president of APA, said: "We're
going out on a limb. But we're doing what we should be doing....[Keeping
gays from marrying] puts a particular stress on them just because of
their sexual orientation. It's a health issue and a mental health issue."
|2004-AUG: WA: Hon.
William L. Dowling of King County Superior Court in Seattle, WA
issued his decision on same-sex marriage. He ruled that "The denial to
the plaintiffs of the right to marry constitutes a denial of substantive due
process." He declared that the state's Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) is unconstitutional. This is the first time in history that a court
in the U.S. has declared a DOMA act to be unconstitutional.
|2004-AUG: KS: Christian group sues Kansas City
over domestic partner registry: A fundamentalist Christian group, the
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), has launched a lawsuit against Kansas City
because it created a registry of unmarried domestic partners on 2003-SEP-11.
Couples who register must "be jointly responsible for the basic
necessities of life" and "each other's common welfare." They must
"be each other's sole domestic partner" and intend to live together
forever. ADF attorney Kevin Theriot said: "Hard-working people do not pay
taxes to support social experiments. This registry is not only in conflict
with state law, it undermines and cheapens marriage. Marriage is more than a
welfare program." 2|
|2004-AUG: USA: ABA policy on judge's membership
in anti-gay groups: A panel of the American Bar Association (ABA)
held an all-day public hearing in Kansas City on AUG-6. They discussed the
ethics of judges holding memberships in anti-gay organizations, like the
Boy Scouts of America or certain veterans groups.
Previous rulings by the ABA have prohibited judges from joining clubs that
discriminate on the basis of race or sex. The decision could effect
thousands of judges, because state and federal courts generally adopt the
ABA ethics policies, with some modifications. The ABA is not expected to
vote on the decisions of the panel until 2004. Some reactions:|
|Phoenix, AZ, lawyer Mark Harrison, said
that the panel wants to "make sure that judges aren't viewed as
|Ethics expert Stephen Gillers at New
York University said that gays and lesbians involved in court cases
"should not be asked to trust the fairness of a judge" who
belongs to a club which discriminates against homosexuals.|
|Frederic Smalkin, a senior federal judge
and professor at the University of Maryland said: "Judges are
human beings too. They should be allowed to exercise their First
Amendment rights of free association."|
|Brian Fahling, an attorney with the
American Family Association, said that judges with religious
objections to homosexuality should be exempt from such a rule. He said:
"Sexual preference is not like race. It's not like gender. To lift
that up as something virtuous ... I find it deeply troubling."
|2004-AUG-30: House rejects the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA):
As expected, the House rejected the FMA. A majority voted in favor of the
bill; the final vote was 227 to 186, with the Representatives largely split
on party lines. But a simple majority is insufficient to pass a
constitutional amendment. The vote fell 49 votes short.
|2004-SEP-3: WV: Court agrees to hear
lesbian custody case: Tina Burch and Christina Smarr were a same-sex
couple who had a son together. He is now four years old. Smarr got pregnant
via donated sperm, but was killed in a car accident during 2002. Her
brothers-in-law took the child and gave him to his grandparents to raise.
Burch sued for custody but lost at trial. The West Virginia Supreme Court
agreed to hear the appeal and voted 3 to 2 to give Burch temporary custody.
She believes that state law allows custody to be awarded to a child's
psychological parent. The grandparents do not believe that Burch and Smarr
were a lesbian couple. However, their relationship was acknowledged by the
lower court judge. 4|
|2004-SEP-9: WA: Superior
Court Judge for Thurston County, Richard Hicks, ruled in favor of same-sex
marriage. He determined that gays and lesbians are
part of a
protected, minority class. He also ruled that the state's Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies them the right to marry is
unconstitutional. In addition, two sections of the marriage laws which
define marriage as between one man and one woman are also unconstitutional.
|2004-SEP-12: LA: Jimmy
Swaggart alleged threat to kill gays: On his SEP-12 telecast,
Fundamentalist televangelist Jimmie Swaggart was discussing his opposition
same-sex couples to marry. He said: "I've never seen a man in my life
I wanted to marry...And I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks
at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died." His
audience responded with extended laughter and applause. The program was
broadcast on a Toronto station, and someone lodged a compalint with the
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Swaggart Ministries also receive
complaints from gay-positive groups. He apologized on SEP-22, saying that he
was joking. He said that he has used the expression "killing someone and
telling God he died" thousands of times. He didn't mean any harm. He
said: "If it's an insult, I certainly don't think it was, but if they are
offended, then I certainly offer an apology."
- Lars Grip, "No Free Speech in Preaching,"
Christianity Today, 2004-AUG-9, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
- "Christian Attorneys Sue Over Domestic Partners Registry," Iowa
Family Policy Center, 2004-AUG-12 news release.
- Gina Holland, "ABA May Bar Judges From Anti-Gay Groups," Associated
Press, 2004-AUG-06, The Kansas City Star, at:
- "W.V. Court to Hear Lesbian Custody Case," EarthLink, 2004-SEP-4,
- Marilyn Elias, "Psychologists to endorse gay marriage," USA
TODAY, 2004-JUL-28, at:
- "Threat to kill gays just a joke: Swaggart," Ottawa Sun,
2004-SEP-23, Page 7.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. sec 107: The news items
contained in the above hyperlinks are provided without profit by the
Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, PO Box 27026, Kingston ON
Canada K7M 8W5, and are intended to be available to anyone
interested in the topics included, for educational purposes only. Any
editor, author, Webmaster, writer, publisher, news service, etc. that
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Copyright © 2004 by the Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-APR-24
Latest update: 2004-SEP-23
Compiler: B.A. Robinson