MARRIAGE DIGEST: Marriage amendments cause states to repeal domestic partner benefits; ...
Posted on Jun 29, 2007 | by Erin Roach
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A handful of states are repealing same-sex domestic partner benefits for public employees in light of recent amendments defining marriage.
USA Today reported June 20 that a Michigan court ruled earlier this year that cities, universities and other public employees may not continue the practice of offering benefits to homosexual couples because of a 2004 marriage amendment in that state.
Twenty-one public employees in Michigan are appealing to the state Supreme Court in order to keep their benefits, and the outcome could set a standard for how such cases are handled in other states, the newspaper said.
In Kentucky, Attorney General Greg Stumbo ruled that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville could not offer health insurance and other benefits to domestic partners after both schools had approved plans to do so. Stumbo said the universities' policies to provide domestic partner benefits came too close to the legal definition of marriage as defined by a constitutional amendment passed in 2004.
A U.S. appeals court last year upheld Nebraska's amendment prohibiting government employers from granting benefits to same-sex couples, USA Today noted, and in Ohio, state Rep. Tom Brinkman has filed a lawsuit to keep Miami University of Ohio from offering domestic benefits for homosexuals.
Supporters of the natural definition of marriage as between one man and one woman say same-sex domestic benefits afford homosexuals rights that should be reserved for married people.
"The other side wants the same recognition as marriage, and obtaining domestic partner benefits is an important step in their overall goal," Michael Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, told USA Today.
MARRIAGE AMENDMENT CAUSES CONFUSION IN OHIO -- Unmarried people who are charged with domestic violence in Ohio have found a loophole in order to receive a lesser penalty for their crimes, and they're pointing to the state's marriage amendment passed in 2004.
A person charged with abusing a domestic partner is eligible for penalties for repeat offenders, such as restraining orders and a longer jail sentence, in addition to assault charges, USA Today noted June 20. Someone charged with assaulting a person who is not a domestic partner, though, is only charged with a misdemeanor offense or other felony charges besides domestic violence.
At least 80 unmarried defendants in Ohio have challenged the state's domestic violence law, USA Today said, because they say it's unconstitutional given that the marriage amendment prohibited the legal recognition of any union other than a marriage between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships, the defendants say, no longer exist.
"The amendment says the state is not allowed to treat unmarried people as if they are married," Thomas Eagle, a lawyer representing one of the defendants, told USA Today.
The Ohio Supreme Court is considering the matter, and some are calling for the domestic violence law to be rewritten for clarification since the marriage amendment was meant to address homosexuality, not heterosexual crimes.
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER OPPOSES 'GAY MARRIAGE' -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard continues to hold firm against homosexual activists promoting "gay marriage" in his country.
Though a poll released June 21 found that 71 percent of Australians want same-sex couples to have the same legal rights as heterosexual partners in common-law marriages and 57 percent support "gay marriage," Howard said the laws won't change during his administration.
"We are not in favor of discrimination, but of course our views on the nature of marriage in our community are very well known and they won't be changing," Howard told a local television station, according to the Associated Press.
In response, Australia's chief discrimination watchdog, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, released a report showing that 58 of the nation's federal laws discriminate against same-sex couples regarding financial and work-related entitlements, AP said.
Howard said he would read the report but would not guarantee any adjustments to the laws.
The prime minister's stance is more remarkable given that he is trailing in opinion polls for elections later this year and some say granting marriage rights to homosexual couples is an electoral necessity, AP reported.
Howard's administration in 2004 amended federal law to ensure that marriage in Australia could only be interpreted to mean one man and one woman.
DUO PROMOTES 'GAY MARRIAGE' in EU -- A pair of Dutch members of the European Parliament are pushing to have "gay marriage" licenses obtained in the Netherlands recognized in all parts of the European Union.
Sophie in't Veld and Kathalijne Buitenweg take issue with the fact that same-sex couples who marry in the Netherlands, where such a practice is legal, and move elsewhere -- such as to Italy -- are no longer recognized by their country of residence as married.
"It is unacceptable that only some of the marriages performed in the Netherlands are recognized abroad," Buitenweg said, according to Expatica, a news service for English-speaking expatriates across Europe.
The news organization noted that one of the main concerns of homosexual couples is that one partner would not receive an inheritance if the other partner dies while living in a nation where "gay marriage" is not recognized.
"Gay marriage" is legal in five countries: Canada, Spain, South Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands.