Massachusetts legislators have given initial approval to an amendment that bans gay marriage but explicitly authorizes identical civil benefits for same-sex couples. However, since the amendment cannot take effect until November of 2006 at the earliest, Massachusetts is set to become the first state to recognize gay marriages.
Some conservative strategists accept the idea of gay civil unions
Apr 06, 2004
While churches continue to debate their understanding of homosexuality, the political debate on gay partnerships has moved dramatically toward legal acceptance. Consider the movement of the past four years. In 2000, when Vermont enacted a “civil unions” law giving homosexual couples the rights and benefits of marriage, the move seemed at the extreme edge of political feasibility.
Proponents of traditional family values are championing a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling March 11 that halted—at least temporarily—gay marriages in the state. “What the court has done . . . is take a stand against the anarchy that has reigned in San Francisco since February 12,” said James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family.
Testimony, not advocacy, is my intent in this first foray into a subject about which church bodies argue: the “blessing of gay marriage/unions” and “ordination to clergy status” of men and women in committed homosexual partnerships. Let me separate the two. The “blessing” item is now part of presidential politics, a subject M.E.M.O never touches.
Turning the heat up on the national debate, Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled that civil unions are not good enough to comply with the court’s historic ruling in November that opened civil marriage to gay couples.
President Bush, speaking confidently and forcefully in his State of the Union address on January 20, defended the U.S.-led war on terrorism and efforts to establish democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We have a bumper sticker on our car: “Keep Vermont Civil.” The sticker is a bit tattered, since it goes back to the controversy about “civil unions”—the Vermont law passed in 2000 establishing various legal equivalencies to marital rights for gay and lesbian couples.
My morning reading the other day included four texts on sex and marriage that I carefully pondered: Dennis O’Brien’s thoughtful essay—which is published in this issue—expressing reservations about legalizing gay marriage; a New York Times Magazine analysis of the conflict in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia resulting from Bishop Peter Lee’s vote in favor of the consecration of Gene Robinso
President Bush said in a television interview that he could support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but also said “whatever legal arrangements people want to make” should be permitted if approved at the state level.