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News and comment on marriage equality

See also: The federal marriage amendment | State marriage amendments

September 2007: Religious right confab against marriage equality

Religious right summit draws prominent speakers

S.I. Rosenbaum, St. Petersburg Times, September 22, 2007

Brandon -- In a fluorescent-lit, ice-cold room, Dr. David Prentice explained the dangers of cloning.

One building over, a young schoolteacher earnestly lectured on the religion of the Founding Fathers. Down the hall, lawyer John Stemberger passed out petitions to ban gay marriage.

In its first day, the Family Impact Summit at Bell Shoals Baptist Church covered the full platform of the Christian Right, from "Life Issues" to "The Homosexual Agenda" and "What Every Christian Should Know About Islam." Continue.

Christian Right Returns to Marriage to Reverse Political Fortunes

Associated Press,, September 25, 2007

Headed into the 2008 election season, Christian conservatives are weary. Their movement has lost iconic leaders, and the Republican presidential field is uninspiring. But they may have found hope in a trailer on the campus of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla.

There, in Annex Room No. 3, Ruth Klingman nods as a leader in Florida's pro-family movement describes how same-sex marriage would open the door to other ''aberrant forms of marriage.'' He holds up a printout of ''polygamy pot lucks'' as evidence. Continue.

Religious right set to gather
A three-day summit will bring well-known figures to Brandon to talk bedrock issues.

Sherri Day, Times Staff Writer, St. Petersburg Times, September 20, 2007

Brandon - Hundreds of conservative Christians are expected to converge here today for a three-day meeting intended to mobilize support for the bedrock issues of the religious right.

Dubbed the Family Impact Summit, the nondenominational event will feature a variety of speakers and panelists who represent a Who's Who among the Christian Right. Scheduled presenters include Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council; Richard Land, who leads the Southern Baptists' lobbying arm; and former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer will serve as a keynote speaker, and Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, is expected to talk about right-to-life issues.

Summit organizers also anticipate representatives from several national Christian advocacy groups like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association. Continue.

Cultures clash, but gingerly
Gay protesters of the Family Impact Summit at Bell Shoals are greeted by praying churchgoers

S.I. Rosenbaum, St. Peterburg Times, September 21, 2007

Brandon - Outside Bell Shoals Baptist Church, protesters held signs reading "GOD LOVES ME AS I AM" and "QUEERLY DIVINE AND DOING FINE."

Harold Brockus, a pastor from Pinellas Park, addressed church members who had gathered Thursday afternoon to watch and pray for the protesters.

"Please," he said, "Please, give up your war against gays."

Bell Shoals was about to kick off its first-ever Family Impact Summit. The event, which runs today and Saturday, will feature some of the Christian Right's biggest names and offer workshops on "The Homosexual Agenda" and "Homosexuality and Youth." Continue.

Thompson backs state bans on same-sex marriage

George Bennett, Palm Beach Post via, November 16, 2007

Hollywood, Fla. — Cautioning against a federal solution to the controversy over gay marriage, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson on Friday applauded a Florida group for "taking care of business at home" by seeking a statewide ban on same-sex marriages.

Thompson, who along with other GOP hopefuls has aggressively courted social conservatives before Florida's Jan. 29 primary, spoke to a Florida Family Policy Council dinner audience of more than 300.

The group is trying to get a referendum on the 2008 Florida ballot defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman and forbidding recognition of any other type of union "that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof." Continue.

Ex-Gays Mislead Christian Activists at ‘Family Impact Summit’

Mike Airhart,, September 26, 2007

At the religious-right’s misnamed “Family Impact Summit,” two spotters for Right Wing Watch recorded their observations of Exodus youth activists Mike Ensley and Scott Davis, and the anti-Christian appeals of Christine Sneeringer, who leads an Exodus-affiliated group called Worthy Creations. Continue.

Pro-Family Summit Faces Opposition

Michelle Vu, The Christian Post, September 24, 2007

A protest was staged outside a Florida Baptist church last week as it hosted a pro-family summit attended by some of the nation’s most prominent conservative Christian leaders.

Signs reading “God Loves Me as I Am” and “Queerly Divine and Doing Fine” were seen outside of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., Thursday afternoon, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

About 75 gay rights activists called the Family Impact Summit a “hate summit” that encourages bigotry with its opposition to gay “marriage” and for mobilizing Christians to petition against the practice. Continue.

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

People for the American Way, Right Wing Watch, September 20, 2007

Just days after the Religious Right’s B-team gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to question Republican candidates for president (including the ones who didn’t show up), a number of more prominent right-wing figures are convening in Tampa for the Family Impact Summit, sponsored by the Focus on the Family-affiliated Florida Family Policy Council, the Tampa-based Community Issues Council, the Family Research Council, and the Salem radio network.

Advertised topics range from “Christian Citizenship” to “Homosexual Agenda,” but the focus will no doubt be on the 2008 election, and in particular, the effort by Florida’s Right to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot—even though gays are already prohibited from marrying by statute.

Below is some background on the featured speakers, from Tony Perkins and Richard Land to Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell. Continue.

March 2007

Gay Marriage Advocates Switch Strategies

by Ray Henry, Associated Press, The Edge (Boston), March 19, 2007

Aronda Kirby and Digit Murphy were once married to men, received the tax breaks for married couples and were legally permitted to take family leave if their husbands or children got sick. Both women lost those protections when they came out as lesbians, divorced their husbands and set up a new household together with their six children.

Now, with couples like Murphy and Kirby in mind, some gay rights advocates who previously fought for "marriage or nothing’’ are shifting strategies. Rather than fighting to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, they’re lobbying for the protections marriage provides. Continue.

Democrats pledge to push gay bills
Hate crimes vote expected in spring, ENDA in fall: official

By Joshua Lynsen, Washington Blade, February 9, 2007

Democratic leaders are pledging to push at least two bills this year in Congress that would enact new civil rights and protections for gays.

During the Democratic National Committee’s annual winter meeting Feb. 2 in Washington, party officials said congressional leaders will act this spring to pass a federal hate crimes bill that includes crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

A trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is expected to follow this fall, officials said.

The projected timetable was revealed at the same gay caucus meeting where DNC Chair Howard Dean thanked the party’s gay supporters for their contributions toward the Democratic victories in November. Continue.

Democratic money went to help defeat state marriage amendments, Howard Dean says

By Michael Foust, Baptist Press, Febrary 9, 2007

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Democratic National Committee funded efforts last November to defeat proposed constitutional marriage amendments in Arizona and Wisconsin as well as a pro-amendment proposal in Illinois, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said Feb. 2 at the party's winter meeting, adding that homosexual Republicans would be "a lot more comfortable in our party."

Dean's comments were reported Feb. 9 by the Washington Blade newspaper, which also said Democratic leaders have pledged to push two bills this session backed by homosexual activists. The Blade is a newspaper geared toward homosexuals. Continue.

November 2006 -

Conservatives: Keep Gay Marriage Out of the Courts

Opinion Article by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, The New York Times, November 17, 2006

CONSERVATIVES have consoled themselves since Election Day with the knowledge that many "conservative" social issues did well -- including (and especially) the eight state "marriage amendments" on the ballot -- even if the Republican candidates faltered.

These marriage measures, of which only Arizona’s was defeated, generally prevent recognition of gay marriages by defining marriage as a "union between a man and a woman" in the state constitutions. More than half of the states now have such constitutional provisions (some of which would also forbid same-sex civil unions), and conservatives need to reconsider whether that’s really what we want. There are, in fact, some very good reasons conservatives should oppose this approach.

The definition of marriage is, of course, of critical importance to individuals on both sides of the issue and to society at large. But at least since independence, the question of who may marry and under what conditions has been the province of the state legislatures. And it should have remained that way. Continue.

October 2006

The GOP's dwindling anti-gay parade
Polls show Americans turning their backs on the divisive politics of homosexuality. Will hard-liners in the heartland, like Colorado's Marilyn Musgrave, be forced to follow?

By Michael Scherer,, November 3, 2006

Nov. 3, 2006 | LOVELAND, Colo. -- In this season of porno-themed political ads and anti-gay marriage amendments, Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave is, surprisingly, tacking in a different direction. She no longer wants to talk in public about the "radical homosexual agenda" and its malicious impact on the American family. "I am running on a platform of security. Economic security. Border security. National security," the corn-husk blond Republican announced at the start of a candidate debate last week in Windsor.

This is a dramatic departure from the Musgrave of old, the Pentecostal mother of four who came to politics in 1990 as a school committee member determined to stamp out sex education. Continue.

Amid debate over rights, number of gay judges rising

Joan Biskupic, USA Today, October 7, 2006

When a case testing whether Oregon should allow same-sex marriages came before the state's Supreme Court in 2004, one of the court's seven justices quietly wrestled with a vexing question: Should he, a gay man, take part in the case? Or did part of Rives Kistler's identity -- his sexual orientation -- mean that he should sit it out, to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest?

Kistler, a former Oregon assistant attorney general and the first openly gay member of the state's highest court, consulted an ethics book to decide "whether it was permissible for me to sit on the case." Then he checked with a judicial ethics panel, which told him it would not be a conflict. Continue

Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue

By Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, October 14, 2006

DENVER, Oct. 13 -- The debate over same-sex marriage was a black-or-white proposition two years ago when voters in 11 states barred gay couples from marrying.

But this year shades of gray are everywhere, as eight more states consider similar ballot measures. Some of the proposed bans are struggling in the polls, and the issue of same-sex marriage itself has largely failed to rouse conservative voters.

In some cases, other issues, like the war in Iraq and ethics in Washington, have seized voters’ attention. But the biggest change, people on both sides of the issue say, is that supporters of same-sex marriage this year are likely to be as mobilized as the opponents. Continue.

Reaction to New York, Georgia and Washington decisions, July 2006

What's Next for Marriage?

by Pete Winn, Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, July 27, 2006

The battle to defend traditional marriage may stand at a turning point — but never have we needed a federal constitutional amendment more than now.

Wednesday's momentous decision by the Washington state Supreme Court was the seventh victory on marriage in July — and it leaves pro-family legal analysts pondering where the movement to protect marriage really stands in the aftermath of such good news. Continue

Traditional Marriage Makes Gains Across U.S.

by Wendy Cloyd, Focus on the Family, July 7, 2006

Court victories Thursday in two states have turned the nation's focus back toward protecting marriage — and there is much to be optimistic about.

Even with the highest state courts in New York and Georgia ruling in favor of traditional marriage, as they did Thursday, the battle to defend society's bedrock institution is still being fought in state and federal courtrooms nationwide. Continue

Pro-Family Leaders Praise Ga., NY Courts' Pro-Marriage Rulings

By Bill Fancher and Jenni Parker, AgapePress, July 7, 2006

Pro-family groups are celebrating two court rulings on Thursday in New York and Georgia that turned aside bids by homosexuals to legalize same-sex "marriage." While the Georgia Supreme Court's decision to uphold a referendum result banning homosexual marriage surprised few, many conservatives were both surprised and particularly pleased by the strong, pro-family wording of the New York court's ruling. Continue

The Radicals React

Gary Bauer, American Values, email of July 7, 2006

After New York's highest court rejected efforts to redefine marriage by judicial fiat, the radical Left reacted with extraordinary venom. Today's New York Times features a "news story" that should have been placed on the editorial page. Just consider these opening lines which practically romanticize the homosexual rights movement:

"Nowhere did gay marriage seem like a natural fit more than New York, where the Stonewall uprising of 1969 provided inspiration for the gay rights movement and where a history of spirited progressivism had led some gay couples to envision their own weddings someday.

"Yesterday's court ruling against gay marriage was more than a legal rebuke, then — it came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups."

When has the New York Times ever expressed such concern for the sensitivities of men and women of faith, who regularly receive "shocking insults" from our courts on a host of issues? Later in the same article, the Times noted that Joe Solmonese, president of the nation's largest homosexual rights group, "…said he was surprised that the New York decision connected the rights and responsibilities of marriage to child-bearing." Well, that is after all the fundamental issue, and child-rearing should be the paramount public policy concern.

But the most outrageous statement came from Democrat National Chairman Howard Dean, who yesterday wrote in a press release that the decision "relies on outdated and bigoted notions about families." How's that for a "shocking insult" to anyone who takes Judeo-Christian values or common sense seriously? Dean ought to apologize, but this morning I could find no statement from the other party commending the decision or condemning Dean's comments. I don't understand this silence by those in the political establishment who claim to covet the support of "values voters," the men and women who have run up the score -- 20-to-0 with an average vote of 71% at last count – on state-level marriage protection amendments across the country. Marriage and family are not partisan wedge issues, but winning issues that unite the overwhelming majority of Americans. We know Dean is speaking for the 29%. Is anyone speaking for the 71%?

January 2006 - September 2006

Banned in Boston
The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty.

by Maggie Gallagher, The Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006

Gallagher reports on legal experts' views on the effect of marriage equality on religious organizations which oppose it. Marc Stern, counsel for the American Jewish Congress, tells her the big question is whether institutions which advocate and practice discrimination against LGBT individuals would lose their tax exemption. (No one is contending that religious organizations would be punished for refusing to marry a couple.) Go to the article.

Scholars' Conference on Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty

the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, May 2006

On December 15, 2005, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty hosted a private conference of first amendment scholars to assess the religious freedom impacts of legalized same-sex marriage. The result of the day was a series of papers, which are approaching final form, and which will eventually be published by an academic press. Continue

On Religion: Could gay acceptance just be a matter of time?

By Nancy H. McLaughlin, The News-Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), May 13, 2006

Generations to come won't be caught up in whether gay couples can be married or should be covered on a shared health insurance plan, says retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, who wrote the best seller, "Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism." Continue

Looking to Win in November, With a 2-Year-Old Playbook

By Adam Nagourney, New York Times, April 16, 2006

"In 2004, Karl Rove declared that President Bush would win re-election if Republicans turned out millions of religious and other conservative voters who had stayed home in 2000. And they did just that, with the help of voter outreach campaigns, a network of church appeals and state initiatives that would ban gay marriage.

"Yet there is a strong sense among Republicans that the gay rights issue is not as powerful as it once was... Republicans are running out of contested states where such a ballot could qualify and pass, and gay rights groups have been more aggressive in fighting these initiatives as they appear...

"Beyond that, Republican officials said candidates in culturally conservative parts of the country would try to fight efforts to allow stem cell research." Click here for the report

Feingold Announces Support For Gay Marriage

by, April 4, 2006

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has come out in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Responding during a constituent meeting to a question about Wisconsin's anti- marriage ballot measure, Feingold said "“The proposed ban on civil unions and marriage is a mean-spirited attempt to divide Wisconsin and I indicated that it should be defeated.” When he finished denouncing the measure, Feingold expressed support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry." Click here for the report

Feingold comes out for gay couples

Sen. Russ Feingold, interview with, April 6, 2006

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold describes the evolution of his support for marriage equality. "The subject has been coming up in the last couple of years at my town meetings, and I have always looked at people and said, 'You know, I think our society is better off if two people who love each other are together and are married.' I’ve looked right at them and said it. So I just decided to take the next step, given what’s going on in my state, and make it absolutely clear that I oppose this amendment, that this really is a civil rights issue to me." Go to the interview

Same-sex marriage battles escalate

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY, March 24, 2006

"Gay rights advocates are pushing to legalize same-sex marriage with an unprecedented wave of lawsuits in state courts, while those seeking to ban such unions are gaining ground in state legislatures." Click here for the report.

Poll finds U.S. warming to gay marriage
Opposition off 12% since '04 -- support for adoption, military role is up nationally

By Wyatt Buchanan, The San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2006

"Opposition to same-sex marriage dropped sharply across the country during the past two years, though just over half of Americans still oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday." Click here to read the report.

New Marriage Poll Doesn't Tell Whole Story
Media failing to note that 60 percent of Americans still oppose allowing homosexuals to marry

Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, March 24, 2006

"A national poll by the Pew Forum seems to indicate that Americans are weakening in their resolve to defend traditional marriage.... Matt Daniels, director of the Alliance for Marriage, said the poll results aren't really an accurate reflection of Americans' attitudes." Click here for the article.

Marriage Equality Moves Forward

Evan Wolfson,, March 29, 2006

Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, "the gay and non-gay partnership for marriage equality nationwide," writes that he was pessimistic about moving American opinion to favor same-sex marriage. Current polling shows majorities of most groups now favorably disposed. Opinion is even moderating in the only group in which a majority strongly opposes marriage equality, white evangelical Protestants. Click here.

IRS Goes After Gay Couples

by Paul Johnson,, March 2, 2006

"The Internal Revenue Service has begun warning tax preparers, businesses and state governments that same-sex couples legally married in Massachusetts or registered as domestic partners in states such as California and New Jersey must file separate income tax forms." Click here for the report.

“'The opposition to ending discrimination in marriage for gay couples does not turn on how you feel about polygamy,' Wolfson says. 'And the people who bring up polygamy are not ready to end discrimination against gay people anyway. It’s just a diversion.'” Click here for the report.

Federal Court Mulls Classroom Gay Subject Matter

by The Associated Press, February 7, 2007

(Boston, Massachusetts) Officials from a suburban Massachusetts school district asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two couples who claim their parental rights were violated when homosexuality was discussed in their children's classrooms.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf did not immediately issue a decision in the case from Lexington, but peppered lawyers on both sides with questions and said he understood the importance of the case to both parents and school administrators.

Tonia and David Parker sued after their 5-year-old son brought home a book from kindergarten that depicted a gay family. David Parker was later arrested for refusing to leave his son's school after officials would not agree to notify him when homosexuality was discussed in his son's class. Continue.

Parents rip school over gay storybook
Lesson reignites clash in Lexington

By Tracy Jan, The Boston Globe, April 20, 2006

"In a controversy with a familiar ring, parents of a Lexington second-grader are protesting that their son's teacher read a fairy tale about gay marriage to the class without warning parents first.

"The teacher at Joseph Estabrook Elementary School used the children's book, King & King, as part of a lesson about different types of weddings. A prince marries another prince instead of a princess in the book, which was on the American Library Association's list of the 10 most challenged books in 2004 because of its homosexual theme." Continue

Massachusetts 2nd-grade teacher reads class 'gay marriage' book
Administrator backs her

Michael Foust, Baptist Press, April 20, 2006

Religious right activists are criticizing a Massachusetts second-grade teacher for reading a book about gay families to her class. According to the article, "conservatives say it is an example of what happens when a state redefines one of society's most important institutions." Click here

Debating Marriage

Larry King, Janet Parshall, Chad Allen, R. Albert Mohler, and Guy Padgett, Transcript of CNN Larry King Live, January 17, 2006

Larry King's guests include conservative radio host Janet Parshall; openly gay actor Chad Allen, star of "End of the Spear," a movie favored by the religious right; R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Guy Padgett, openly gay former mayor of Casper, Wyoming, the city where Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay.

Janet Parshall explains her views on gay marriage: "I think when two people of the same sex get together and they decide to use the moniker of a marriage I think it's a grotesque misrepresentation and actually if that union decides that they want to then adopt children because biology says they can create children then I think what you have in many respects is state sanctioned child abuse because you have purposely taken away either a momma or a daddy and mom and dad are both necessary in a child's life."Click here to read the transcript.

God's Senator
Who would Jesus vote for? Meet Sam Brownback

By Jeff Sharlet, Rolling Stone, January 25, 2006 .

Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who, this report says, is the annointed presidential candidate of the religious right, , says, with Sweden in mind: "You look at the social impact of the countries that have engaged in homosexual marriage." (Sweden has not recognized same-sex marriage.) Then, according to RollingStone, Brownback says: "You'll know 'em by their fruits." "He pauses, and an awkward silence fills the room. He was citing scripture -- Matthew 7:16 -- but he just called gay Swedes 'fruits.'" Click here for the report.

UCC Loses Churches Gains Others In Supporting Gay Marriage

By Newscenter Staff, January 20, 2006

"(Cleveland, Ohio) Leaders of the 1.3- million-member United Church of Christ are reporting mixed outcomes during the six-month period that followed its General Synod's controversial decision to affirm support for same-gender marriage equality." Click here for the report.

Religious right fixates on polygamy

Don't Do Unto Others
The difference between gay marriage and polygamy.

By William Saletan, Slate, March 23, 2006

"Uh oh. Conservatives are starting to hyperventilate again. You know the symptoms: In a haystack of right-wing dominance, they find a needle of radicalism, declare it a mortal danger to civilization, and use it to rally their voters in the next election. First it was flag-burning. Then it was the 'war on Christmas.' Now it's polygamy. Having crushed gay marriage nationwide in 2004, they need to gin up a new threat to the family. They've found it in Big Love, the HBO series about a guy with three wives. Open the door to gay marriage, they warn, and group marriage will be next. Continue

Polygamy Is 'Next Civil Rights Battle,' Activists Say

By Randy Hall,, March 16, 2006

A wide-ranging exploration of the religious right's preoccupation with same-sex and group marriages. They claim their concerns stem from the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning anti-sodomy laws as violating the right to privacy. (Many right-wingers reject the existence of the right to privacy, which also protects the right to choose an abortion.)

The religious right worries that Lawrence v. Texas will fast-track same-sex and polygamous unions. Mormons are currently challenging the latter's illegality. People quoted in this report: question relying on the government (rather than the Bible) to outlaw these relationships; venture a preference for polygamists because they can "procreate;" generally worry about what we're coming to. No one questions the premise that harm and danger are inherent in other people's relationships. Read the article

A marriage of many?
Is gay marriage a slippery slope toward legal polygamy, or are conservative warnings a red herring?

By Ryan Lee, Washington Blade, February 24, 2006

"Gay rights organizations have long refuted claims that acceptance of same-sex unions is a slippery slope toward marital anarchy. 'The right wing would love nothing more than for us to spend all of our airtime discussing distractions such as polygamy, bestiality and other — from their point of view — doomsday scenarios rather than engage the public about committed same-sex couples being discriminated against,' says Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, which advocates marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

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