Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bush Returning to Washington Over Schiavo

Bush Returning to Washington Over Schiavo

2 hours, 1 minute ago
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush (news - web sites) is changing his schedule to return to the White House on Sunday to be in place to sign emergency legislation that would shift the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman to federal courts, the White House said Saturday.
"Everyone recognizes that time is important here," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "This is about defending life."

After Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed on Friday, members of Congress worked out a deal to pass legislation to allow federal courts to decide the 41-year-old woman's fate and — in the hopes of supporters of the woman's parents — restore the tube that was keeping her alive.

The House and Senate hoped to act on the legislation Sunday, so Bush decided he needed to be in Washington so he could immediately sign the bill, McClellan said.

"The president intends to sign legislation as quickly as possible once it is passed," McClellan said.

During previous travels, Bush has had legislation flown to him overnight by military plane for his signature. But in this case, McClellan said that the fact that a woman's life is at stake made it necessary for him to travel to the bill.

"Terri Schiavo's feeding tube has been removed and we stand with ... all those who are working to defend her life," he said.

Bush was spending the weekend at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, arriving there Friday night after a day traveling in Florida to pitch his plans to overhaul Social Security (news - web sites).

On Monday, he was to leave from Texas for a two-day trip in the West to continue pitching his Social Security proposals. Now, McClellan said, he would likely keep his Social Security appearances but depart for them from Washington instead.

On Wednesday, Bush is due to host Mexican President Vicente Fox (news - web sites) and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at his ranch, and there was no indication that would change.

He was then to spend the rest of the Easter week before returning to Washington March 28.

McClellan said that Bush had not talked with any members of Congress Saturday about the case, but was kept apprised by his staff. He dismissed any suggestion that there were any political considerations at work, either in the quick and aggressive congressional action or the president's hurried return to the White House.

The Senate convened briefly Saturday evening to give formal permission for the House to meet Sunday, when it otherwise would be adjourned for the Easter recess.

The plan is for the House to act on the two-page bill Sunday or just after midnight Monday morning. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the Senate then would act on the House legislation, assuming it passes the House as envisioned.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Judge says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

Judge says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional — a legal milestone that, if upheld on appeal, would open the way for the most populous state to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County's trial-level Superior Court likened the ban to laws requiring racial segregation in schools, and said there appears to be "no rational purpose" for denying marriage to gay couples.
The ruling came in response to lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco and a dozen gay couples a year ago after the California Supreme Court halted a four-week same-sex marriage spree started by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The opinion had been eagerly awaited because of San Francisco's historical role as a gay rights battleground.
Gay marriage supporters hailed the ruling as a historic development akin to the 1948 state Supreme Court decision that made California the first state to legalize interracial marriage.
"Today's ruling is an important step toward a more fair and just California that rejects discrimination and affirms family values for all California families," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said.
At issue were a 1977 law that defined marriage as "a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman," and a voter-approved measure in 2000 that amended the law to say more explicitly: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
The state maintained that tradition dictates that marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples. Attorney General Bill Lockyer also cited the state's domestic-partners law as evidence that California does not discriminate against gays.
But Kramer rejected that argument, citing Brown v. Board of Education — the landmark U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) decision that struck down segregated schools.
"The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts — separate but equal," the judge wrote.
It could be months or years before the state actually sanctions same-sex marriage, if ever.
Robert Tyler, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, said the group would appeal. And Lockyer has said in the past that he expected the matter eventually would have to be settled by the California Supreme Court.
Last winter, nearly 4,000 gay couples got married after Newsom instructed the city to issue them licenses. The California Supreme Court later declared those marriages void, saying the mayor overstepped his authority. But the court did not address the underlying issue of whether the law against gay marriage violates the California Constitution.
Two bills now before the California Legislature would put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot. If California voters approve such an amendment, as those in 13 other states did last year, that would put the issue out of the control of lawmakers and the courts.
The decision is the latest development in a national debate that has been raging since 2003, when the highest court in Massachusetts decided that denying gay couples the right to wed was unconstitutional.
In the wake of the Massachusetts ruling, gay rights advocates filed lawsuits seeking to strike down traditional marriage laws in several other states. Opponents responded by proposing state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
Around the country, Kramer is the fourth trial court judge in recent months to decide that the right to marry and its benefits must be extended to same-sex couples.
Two Washington state judges, ruling last summer in separate cases, held that prohibiting same-sex marriage violates that state's constitution, and on Feb. 4, a New York City judge ruled in favor of five gay couples who had been denied marriage licenses by the city.
Just as many judges have gone the other way in recent months, however, refusing to accept the argument that keeping gays from marrying violates their civil rights.
California has the highest percentage of same-sex partners in the nation, and its Legislature has gone further than any other in providing gay couples the benefits of marriage without being forced to do so by court order.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples

April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples
Subject: April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples
Hello from California!

As you know, we here in California celebrated a stunning victory yesterday, when the Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of same-sex couples getting married, saying it was Unconstitutional to not allow it.

Rev. Troy Perry and his husband (Canadian marriage) challenged Prop. 22, our version of a State DOMA, which in effect, said that the State did not have to recognize same-sex marriages out of California Jurisdiction.
Diane Olson and I were the first couple to challenge the marriage laws in California by filing the lawsuit on Feb. 24, 2004, "Tyler vs. County of Los Angeles." Gloria Allred and her law firm represented us, pro-bono-and will continue to do so.

We were thrilled to be consolidated into the lawsuit with the SF couples, many of whom are are friends and sister activists!

Meanwhile, we are continuing to organize. You organized a tax day protest last April 15,2004, regarding the taxation discrimination against same-sex couples.

This year, April 15 falls on a Friday night. Would you consider organizing another protest? We need to keep showing the press, our friends, our families, and the far right, that we are not going away until we win this issue.

Once again, dontamend will help with posters, flyers, leaflets, talking points, or whatever help your group needs! Last year, 35 cities protested. Let's try for many more this year.

With Pride,

Robin Tyler,
Executive Director (great articles on yesterdays CA decision!!)
The Equality Campaign