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A national gay-rights group on Monday launched a $1 million campaign designed to increase support for same-sex marriage in Texas and eight other Southern states.
Freedom to Marry, based in New York, said the South is home to most of about 50 federal lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans, including three in Texas. A San Antonio judge is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days on one of lawsuits, filed by same-sex couples from Austin and Plano who argue that the Texas ban is unconstitutional.
The Texas co-chairs for the effort, called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, are Mark McKinnon, who was chief media adviser to former President George W. Bush, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.
As a conservative, I dont believe you or I or the government can tell people who they can love or marry. Freedom means freedom for everyone, not just for some, McKinnon said in a statement released by Freedom to Marry. The political reality is that the marriage wedge has lost its edge. This train has left the station and we all need to get on board.
The Southern campaign is part of a wider strategy to build momentum toward a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn bans on gay marriage by increasing public support for same-sex marriage and add to the 17 states that allow the practice, the organization said.
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, which opposes same-sex marriage, predicted that Texans will reject politically motivated efforts to redefine marriage and weaken religious liberty and free speech.
The idea that there is enough public support in the state of Texas to redefine marriage and change our Texas Constitution through the legislative process is a fantasy, and they know it, Saenz said. The only changes weve seen made recently were by unelected federal judges and by a federal government that is overreaching and abusing its power. That is not the will of the people.
But Chuck Smith, executive director of the lobbying and advocacy group Equality Texas, said recent polling has shown growing acceptance for same-sex marriage in the Lone Star State.
More Texans have come to recognize that the world doesnt end when gay and lesbian people are allowed to marry, and that they want to get married for many of same reasons straight people do that is they have fallen in love and want to publicly commit to sharing their lives with them, Smith said.
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Michigan’s nearly decade-old ban on gay marriage is going to trial Tuesday, with two weeks set aside for testimony from experts about whether there’s a legitimate state interest in restricting marriage to a man and a woman.
Same-sex couples poised for a favorable ruling last fall had lined up for marriage licenses across Michigan, only to be stunned when U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he wanted to hold a trial. Since then, judges in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia have struck down bans on gay marriage. At least 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow it.
In Michigan, two Detroit-area nurses are challenging the state’s ban, which was approved by 59 percent of voters in 2004. They sued in 2012 to try to overturn a law that bars them from adopting each other’s children, but the case was expanded at Friedman’s invitation to include same-sex marriage.
“If marriage is a fundamental right, then logic and emerging Supreme Court precedent dictate that the legitimacy of two adults’ love for one another is the same in the eyes of the law regardless of sexual orientation,” attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse said in a court filing last fall.
They argue that Michigan’s constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, which forbids states from treating people differently under the law.
The state attorney general’s office, meanwhile, is defending the 2004 election result.
“Their attempt to circumvent the legislative process and disrupt the will of the people of the state of Michigan must be rejected,” the state said.
On Monday, more than 30 pastors from Baptist churches and conservative Christian congregations around Michigan held a news conference to declare their support for the ban. They said family stability and the Bible demand marriage only between a man and a woman.
“The fight is on,” said the Rev. Roland Caldwell of Burnette Inspirational Ministries in Detroit. “Don’t tell me I can go to the polls and then the next day tell me I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Welcome to the website of Occupy Miami. As a local part of a national and global grassroots movement Occupy Wall Street, we seek to create a world that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%
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The Economic Freedom Fighters launched its election manifesto in Thembisa at an event marked by heavy flirting with other left-wing organisations.
Floyd Shivambu, Julius Malema and Mpho Ramakatsa stand to sing the national anthem at the EFF’s election manifesto launch. (M&G)
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) manifesto launch at Mehlareng stadium in Thembisa on Saturday signalled another telling shift in the alignment of left-leaning parties.
The launch was marked by heavy flirting between the EFF and other left-wing organisations, and “advocate of the people” Dali Mpofu promising some major announcements in the near future.
The event, which police estimated drew about 50000 people, many of them representing various parts of the country, featured representatives from the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), the Socialist Party of Azania (Sopa) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).
There were messages of support from the National Council of Trade Unions and the Democratic Left Front.
Most telling were comments fromPAC deputy president Mike Muendane.
Freudian slip After admonishing those who were sleeping through a revolution by “failing to see the importance of today”, Muendane went on to say “we will take back the land of this country that’s what we’ll do as the EFF”.
Whether this was some kind of a Freudian slip, or a taste of things to come, could not be confirmed definitively by those in attendance wearing PAC T-shirts.
EFF members hand out water to supporters. They did the same at their party launch in Marikana.
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The decision by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum makes Oregon the third state in the past month to cease defense in federal court of gay marriage bans, after Nevada and Virginia, as activists fight for legalization across the United States.
“The law in this area is developing, and it is now clear that there is no rational basis for Oregon to refuse to honor the commitments made by same-sex couples in the same way it honors the commitments of opposite-sex couples,” Rosenblum, a Democrat, said in announcing the move.
But it will not result in immediate legalization of gay marriage in Democratic-dominated Oregon, where a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution banned same-sex nuptials. While Oregon law bans same-sex marriages in the state, it does allow domestic partnerships and since October has recognized the marriages of same-sex couples wed elsewhere.
Opponents of gay marriage said they were disappointed with Rosenblum’s move.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Rosenblum “is shamefully abandoning her constitutional duty to defend the marriage amendment overwhelmingly enacted by the people of Oregon” and “She swore an oath of office that she would enforce all the laws, not just those she personally agrees with.”
In all, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage in a trend that has gained momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits. The court struck down part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Since mid-December, prohibitions on same-sex marriage have been ruled unconstitutional in New Mexico, Utah and Virginia by federal judges. The Utah and Virginia decisions have been stayed pending appeal.
Oregon gay marriage backers had planned to put a repeal of the state ban before voters in November, but said they will hold the 160,000 signatures they have gathered pending the outcome of the court case.
“Now that we have done the hard work of assuring a place on the ballot and moving public opinion, we have the ability to wait for the courts to do the right thing,” Oregon United for Marriage campaign manager Mike Marshall said in a statement.
(Reporting By Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Washington; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Amanda Kwan and Grant McCool)
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Dear Mr. Ellison: We’ve never been formally introduced, but you’ve mistaken me for a concierge and threatened my family several times
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Sarnic, who entered the strip via the Erez border crossing, inspected the hospital’s incubators section and Intensive Care Unit.
By Mustafa Haboosh
GAZA CITY – Turkey’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Mustafa Sarnic paid a visit on Wednesday to the Nassr Pediatric Hospital in the Gaza Strip in the company of a delegation from the UN children’s fund (UNICEF).
Sarnic, who entered the strip via the Erez border crossing with Israel, inspected the hospital’s incubators section and Intensive Care Unit.
He also listened to the hospital director regarding the hospital’s requirements, which include fuel needed to operate the hospital’s generators.
Gaza, which faces grave difficulties obtaining the fuel necessary to operate its power stations, continues to suffer repeated electricity outages.
Sarnic, on his second visit to the Gaza Strip since being posted to the West Bank, described the Palestinian coastal enclave as an “important” place for the people of Turkey.
He told Anadolu Agency that offering help to the people of Gaza served to raise the morale of the Turkish public.
The hospital, he said, also faced serious challenges securing needed medical equipment and medicine for child patients.
He went on to vow that the Turkish government in cooperation with UNICEF would exert efforts to meet the hospital’s needs as soon as possible.
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GAZA CITY Like many Palestinians, Marwan Hissi has closely followed reports of peace negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
An unemployed father of five living in a refugee community in the Gaza Strip, Hissi says he has a question for American negotiators leading the talks: “Where’s Hamas?”
The Islamic militant movement, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, has been excluded from the process as U.S. officials work out a preliminary agreement on key issues in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel, the United States and the European Union refuse to engage with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and which they consider a terrorist group.
While all eyes are trained on Netanyahu and Abbas as U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry prepares to present a deal, the issue of Hamas, which could make or break the implementation of any agreement, looms uncomfortably in the background.
Hamas has denounced the negotiations, saying Abbas, whose Fatah party controls the West Bank, does not have authority to bargain on behalf of all Palestinians.
“Any outcome or agreement that is reached does not commit or represent our people,” Hamas spokesman Sami abu Zuhri said recently in an interview in Gaza City. “We believe that armed resistance is the only way to get our land back.”
Among the key points for Israel in the negotiations is a provision that would secure Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and deny Palestinian refugees the right to return to their pre-1948 homes.
Abbas is opposed to recognizing the Jewish character of the land but appears more flexible on the right-of-return issue, saying he does not believe all Palestinians should get to go back to their former homes. Hamas leaders, however, say they would reject any treaty that denies rights to Palestinian refugees.
At a Friday rally in opposition to the peace talks, Hamas officials said they also oppose an Abbas proposal to have an international security force, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, patrol a future Palestinian state.
Israeli skeptics of the negotiations say there is little point in reaching an agreement that the Palestinian faction controlling Gaza would ignore. Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, a right-wing member of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, said in December that negotiations that don’t include Gaza’s leaders are “a joke.”
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Thousands of occupy heart of Kiev Thousands seem determined to stay in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine. Journalist Victoria Butenko has more. UKRAINE / KIEV PROTESTS Thousands of People …
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By David A. Lieb, David Cary, Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. Opponents of same-sexmarriageare scrambling to find effective responses, in Congress and state legislatures, to a rash of court rulings that would force some of America’s most conservative states to acceptgaynuptials.
Some gay-marriage foes are backing a bill recently introduced in both chambers of Congress that would leave states fully in charge of theirmarriagepolicies, though the measure stands little chance of passage. In the states, they are endorsing a multitude of bills some intended to protect gay-marriage bans, others to assert a right, based on religious freedom, to have nothing to do withgaymarriagesshould those bans be struck down.
In Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia, federal judges have voided part or all of the bans on same-sex marriagethat voters approved between 2004 and 2006. Each of the rulings has been stayed pending appeals, and a final nationwide resolution may be a few years away in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The trend is unsettling to the activists who opposegaymarriage, and some have called for extraordinary measures in response.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, known for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in a judicial building, has written to all 50 governors urging them to support a federal constitutional amendment definingmarriageas between only a man and a woman.
In Missouri, where voters approved a gay-marriage ban in 2004, eight Republican House members filed articles of impeachment against Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon after he ordered his administration to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples who were legally married in other states. The Republican House leader has yet to schedule the matter for public hearings, but some GOP sponsors insist they are serious.
The people put it in the constitution thatmarriageis between one man and one woman the issue is the governor has absolutely ignored the constitution and the people’s will, said Rep. Ron Schieber, a Republican from Kansas City.
The demand for religious exemptions, meanwhile, is widespread.Gaymarriageopponents have fought for strong exemptions in every state where lawmakers have already decided the issue. In New York, for example, gaymarriagewas recognized only after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s top two legislators struck an 11th-hour compromise on religious accommodations.
However, the resulting exemptions have generally been limited in scope and haven’t come anywhere near to whatgaymarriageopponents sought. In Massachusetts and Iowa, where same-sexmarriagewon recognition through the courts, there are no religious exemptions related to the rulings.
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