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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Schwarzenegger names replacement for Janice Rogers Brown; landmark civil union ending

EDITORS’ NOTE: Marriage Digest will next appear in Baptist Press Dec. 30.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–In a move that could impact the outcome of a California “gay marriage” case, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has nominated what some are calling a moderate to the state Supreme Court.

Schwarzenegger Dec. 9 nominated San Francisco appeals court Judge Carol Corrigan, 57, to replace Janice Rogers Brown, a conservative who left the state Supreme Court to become a U.S. appeals court judge.

A lawsuit seeking the legalization of “gay marriage” is making its way through the state court system and eventually will end up before the seven-member California Supreme Court. Brown almost certainly would have voted against its legalization. Corrigan’s position on the issue is unknown.

Corrigan’s nomination received mixed reviews from conservatives, who had hoped to see Schwarzenegger nominate Vance Raye, another appeals court judge who was thought to be under consideration.

“He seemed to be the more conservative of the two,” Mike Spence, president of the conservative group California Republican Assembly, told the Associated Press. “We’ll have to see how she rules on cases.”

Schwarzenegger said he “looked for someone with strong experience, unimpeachable character and someone who is widely respected.”

“I found all of that and more in Justice Corrigan,” he said in a statement.

The state’s chief justice, attorney general and an appeals court judge will be responsible for confirming or rejecting Corrigan’s nomination, AP reported.

LANDMARK CIVIL UNION ENDING — A restraining order has been granted to one of the two women who, in 2000, became the first couple to receive a civil union in the United States, after the state’s highest court ordered the legislature to such unions, according to the Rutland (Vt.) Herald.

Carolyn Conrad, 35, is seeking to end her union with Kathleen Peterson, 46, in a filing with a family court in Brattleboro, Vt., in October, according to a report in the newspaper Dec. 15.

A family court judge issued an order prohibiting Peterson from contacting Conrad and from being within 100 feet of Conrad’s home, workplace and auto. In her court statement, Conrad wrote, “At this point, I believe [Peterson’s] behavior is escalating and I am fearful for my safety” after Peterson allegedly punched a hole in a wall during a late-August argument and threatened harm to a female friend of Peterson in early December.

Conrad was quoted by the Herald as only stating, “All I want to say is that the civil union was a big source of pride for me and now it’s not,” while Peterson declined to comment on the breakup.

Conrad and Peterson, who met on a hiking trip about five years earlier, received their civil union moments after midnight on July 1, 2000, when state law enacting civil unions went into effect.

“We didn’t plan on being the first,” Conrad told a Reuters reporter at the time. “But we wanted to do it as soon as possible, and [the town clerk] was kind enough to agree.”

More than 7,500 couples had obtained civil unions in Vermont through the end of 2004, and there have been 78 dissolutions, according to the Vermont Office of Vital Records, the Herald reported. The paper noted: “A large majority of same-sex couple seeking civil unions come to Vermont just for that purpose. Only 15 percent of the civil unions, 1,137, were couples who were Vermont residents. A little more than two-thirds of the same-sex couples who filed for civil unions were women.”

CIVIL UNIONS UNPOPULAR IN CT. — Same-sex civil unions became legal in Connecticut Oct 1, but thus far they have been fairly unpopular. In the first six weeks civil unions were legal, 463 homosexual couples obtained a civil union license, the Associated Press reported. By comparison, more than 1,400 same-sex couples obtained a marriage license in the first two weeks “gay marriage” was legal in Massachusetts.

Part of the reason is that Massachusetts is a larger state, AP said. Another reason is that homosexuals in Connecticut want “gay marriage” — not civil unions. Civil unions grant homosexuals the legal benefits of marriage without using the word “marriage.”

“I won’t sell my self-respect for some legal rights. I think we deserve justice and equality, and I don’t see why I should accept institutional segregation,” John de la Roche, a homosexual man in Connecticut, told AP.

Some legislators voted for civil unions as a compromise between “gay marriage” supporters and opponents. But despite the civil unions law, homosexual activists have filed a lawsuit seeking “gay marriage” legalization.

IOWA AMENDMENT COMMITMENT — Republican state legislators in Iowa are vowing to push for a state constitutional marriage amendment in the wake of a “gay marriage” lawsuit filed there Dec. 13. An amendment passed the House this year but failed to receive a vote in the Senate, which is split 25-25 and has co-majority leaders.

“We have a direct attack on Iowa law,” Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican, was quoted as saying in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “Many of us believed then and believe now that Iowa law alone is not sufficient to protect marriage in Iowa. There truly is a new urgency for the Iowa Senate to bring this issue up this year, get this passed and start the process of presenting to the voters of Iowa so that they can decide on this issue.”

The amending process is lengthy, and an amendment wouldn’t go to voters until 2007 at the earliest.

But Senate Co-President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat, seemed cool to the idea.

“I think a constitutional amendment ought to be the last resort,” he said, according to the Gazette.

Conservatives say any amendment should be passed now, and not later. They point to Massachusetts, where legislators debated an amendment while a “gay marriage” lawsuit made its way through state court. They failed to take action until after the state high court had legalized “gay marriage.” By then, many legislators argued that it would be unfair to “take away rights” from homosexual couples, and the legislature failed to send an amendment to voters.

Pro-family groups in Massachusetts now hope to place an amendment on the ballot in 2008 through the petitioning process.

ROMNEY NOT RUNNING — Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts who fought the legalization of “gay marriage” there, said Dec. 14 that he would not seek re-election in 2006. Romney is believed to be considering a run for president in 2008.

“My decision comes down to this: In this four-year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do. In fact, we’ve already accomplished a great deal,” he said, according to AP.

‘GAY MARRIAGE’ BAN IN LATVIA — The Latvian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment Dec. 15 protecting the natural definition of marriage, putting the country at odds with many European countries that have embraced homosexual activism. The amendment passed by a vote of 65-6, Reuters reported.

“This is not against gays. It is supporting traditional families,” lawmaker Oskars Kastens said, according to Reuters. “Looking at trends in Europe we are against liberalization of the idea of family. It is the same in both Lithuania and Poland.”

Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain recognize “gay marriage.”

CANADIAN POLLS — The Conservatives have inched closer to the Liberals within the past week in Canadian election polls. A Strategic Counsel poll released Dec. 16 showed 34 percent of Canadians favoring the Liberals and 30 percent the Conservatives in the Jan. 23 election for Parliament. The New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois party ran a distant third and fourth. The poll was conducted Dec. 12-14. Liberals, under the leadership of Prime Minister Paul Martin, currently hold the most seats in Parliament.

Conservatives have promised a vote to repeal the country’s “gay marriage” law if they gain power. A Leger Marketing/Sun Media poll released Dec. 16 showed that 55 percent of Canadian adults support a vote in Parliament on the issue.

But even if Conservatives were to gain Parliament and vote to reverse the law, the bill would face an uphill climb in the Liberal-dominated Senate. Senators are appointed by the prime minister.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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  • Michael Foust & Art Toalston