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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Cherokee court stops ‘gay marriage’; child focus of civil union dispute; cartoon tackles controversial topic

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (BP)–A Cherokee Nation tribal court issued a temporary restraining order Aug. 12 preventing a lesbian couple from filing the papers to make their “marriage” official.

A hearing on the case was scheduled for Aug. 18, the Associated Press reported.

The restraining order was a victory for eight Cherokee tribal councilors who had filed a petition with the court against the two women. The tribal council passed a law in August 2004 banning “gay marriage,” although by then the couple had already requested and received a marriage application. The law was not retroactive.

The women, Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds, already have participated in a “wedding” ceremony.

It is the second complaint filed against the women. The tribal court dismissed the first complaint, saying the tribal member who filed it lacked legal standing.

The Cherokee Nation is based in Oklahoma, which has a constitutional amendment explicitly banning “gay marriage.” But tribal sovereignty allows the Cherokees to define marriage as they wish.

CIVIL UNION LEGAL MESS — State courts in Vermont and Virginia will hear arguments in September in a child-custody case involving two women who received a Vermont same-sex civil union but have now separated.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins received a civil union in 2000 and then returned to Virginia, where Miller had a daughter through artificial insemination. They then moved to Vermont before the relationship ended. Miller is now a professing Christian, living in Virginia with her daughter. She says she is no longer a lesbian. Jenkins never adopted the child, according to Liberty Counsel, which is representing Miller.

A Vermont lower court awarded Jenkins visitation rights, but a Virginia lower court gave Miller sole custody. Both rulings have been appealed. The Vermont Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case Sept 7, while the Virginia Court of Appeals is set to hear its case Sept. 14. The case eventually could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Same-sex unions will inevitably cause havoc when the laws of one state collide with another,” Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver said in a news release. “Children are caught in the middle of this conflict. Congress should amend the United States Constitution to preserve traditional marriage. In the area of marriage, it is difficult to quarantine the effects of marriage laws. Experimenting with marriage is not without consequences. This battle is for the people, not the courts.”

MICH. COURT HEARING — A Michigan state judge will decide whether the state’s marriage amendment prohibits the government from granting the legal benefits of marriage to the partners of same-sex employees. Judge Joyce Draganchuk heard oral arguments Aug. 16 in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan on behalf of 21 homosexual couples, the Associated Press reported.

The couples want the judge to rule that governments, universities and other public employers can award benefits such as health insurance to partners of homosexuals, AP reported. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has sided with the couples, while Republican Attorney General Mike Cox has said the benefits are prohibited, AP reported.

The amendment, which passed last November by a margin of 59-41 percent, says in part, “[The] union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”

Conservatives say the “similar union” language prohibits the benefits of marriage being given to same-sex couples.

CARTOON SIDES WITH ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — The man who draws the daily cartoon “Bizarro” recently tackled the issue of “gay marriage,” although it only made it into some of the newspapers that regularly run it.

In the single-panel cartoon, a doctor tells a man in a hospital waiting room: “Your husband is in the recovery room. You could go back and see him if you like, but our government-sanctioned bigotry forbids it.”

The cartoonist, Dan Piraro, told The San Francisco Chronicle his editor at King Features Syndicate — which distributes the cartoon — warned him the “gay marriage”-themed cartoon could result in some cancellations. So, before it was sent out, Piraro decided to change it. The new version had the doctor instead saying: “She’s going to be just fine — she’s quite a fighter. The anesthesiologist has a black eye and I think she may have cracked my ribs.”

However, Piraro accidentally sent out the controversial cartoon to newspapers that receive the color version, the Chronicle reported. Newspapers that run the cartoon in black and white got the tame version.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran the controversial version. Last year several thousand “gay marriages” were performed in the city in defiance of state law. The California Supreme Court subsequently invalidated the licenses.

“We didn’t find anything offensive about the original Bizarro cartoon,” David Wiegand, an editor at the newspaper, was quoted as saying in the Chronicle.

Piraro said he thought it was “wise” to change the original cartoon so as not to “lose my voice entirely.” But he says he’s not backing off of his liberal views. In fact, in an e-mail to the newspaper, he called the Bush administration the “Death Star with Darth Vader.”

“One accidental cartoon at a time, I’ll drag this hillbilly nation of ours back out of the Dark Ages,” Piraro told the Chronicle in the e-mail. “Well, probably not, but I can pretend.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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  • Michael Foust