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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Conservatives starting from scratch in Mass.; UCC endorses ‘same-sex marriage’; Iowa Supreme Court upholds ‘divorce’


EDITORS’ NOTE: The next edition of Marriage Digest will appear in Baptist Press on July 15.

BOSTON (BP)–Social conservatives in Massachusetts are abandoning an effort to place a constitutional marriage amendment on the 2006 ballot, instead opting to start from scratch to pass a more favorable one in 2008.

The amendment they support would ban “gay marriage” while leaving untouched the issue of Vermont-style civil unions. By contrast, the amendment currently before the legislature, known as the Travaglini-Lees amendment, would ban “gay marriage” while legalizing civil unions — something conservatives staunchly oppose.

“Asking citizens to vote on the Travaglini-Lees amendment is like asking them to vote for George Bush and John Kerry on the same ticket,” Massachusetts Family Institute President Kris Mineau, who supports the new effort, was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe.

The new amendment has the support of Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, who reportedly is considering a run for president in 2008.

“I’m concerned that the amendment currently under consideration by the Legislature is somewhat confused or muddied by the combination of two things: One is the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, which I support, and the other is the requirement that there be civil unions in the Commonwealth, which is a provision I do not support,” Romney said, according to The Globe.

The Travaglini-Lees amendment already has passed one session of the legislature and must pass once more before going to voters in 2006.

The new amendment requires approximately 66,000 signatures from Massachusetts residents. It then must be approved by one-quarter of the legislature in two consecutive sessions, The Globe reported, before it appears on the 2008 ballot. The Travaglini-Lees amendment requires support from a majority of the legislature.

Pro-family groups have launched a website (www.voteonmarriage.org) promoting the new amendment. It reads: “When recognizing marriages entered after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.”

The new effort may undercut support for the Travaglini-Lees amendment this fall.

UCC ENDORSES ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — The United Church of Christ voted overwhelmingly July 4 to approve a resolution endorsing “same-sex marriage” after its leader, John H. Thomas, called for affirming the rights of “gay, lesbian and transgender persons” to have unions “equal in name, privileges and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples.”

“I believe our local churches, as they are able, should move toward the development of marriage equality policies,” Thomas said during a speech at Emory University, The Washington Times reported June 29.

After about an hour of debate, roughly 80 percent of the church’s General Synod voted for the resolution, making the United Church of Christ the first mainline Protestant denomination in the United States to express support for “same-sex marriage.”

“On this July 4th, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has acted courageously to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of same gender couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate and bless those marriages,” Thomas said after the vote, drawing a comparison to the nation’s Independence Day.

The UCC, with 1.3 million members in 5,700 congregations, became the first major Christian body to ordain an openly homosexual minister in the 1970s, and 20 years ago the denomination labeled itself “open and affirming” of homosexuals.

LESBIAN ‘DIVORCE’ UPHELD — The Iowa Supreme Court June 17 allowed the dissolution of a Vermont same-sex civil union to stand. The court ruled that conservative groups who had sued had no legal standing.

The case began in November 2003 when Iowa state Judge Jeffrey Neary granted a lesbian couple a “divorce,” not realizing that they were of the same sex and involved in a Vermont civil union, and not a marriage. But upon learning of his mistake, he allowed the “divorce” to stand.

Conservative groups had sued, arguing that since Iowa does not recognize civil unions, it also should not recognize the dissolution of a civil union.
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For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust