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Chicago Tribune Editorial
The choice for the court
Published July 20, 2005
Choosing a Supreme Court nominee is one of the most important and far-reaching decisions a president can make. A justice can serve on the court for decades, and the effect of its decisions last longer still.
Presidents have often appointed justices for passing political reasons, or even personal ones. But when it came time for George W. Bush to make his first nomination, he did something different: He looked for a distinguished lawyer with a mind to match the difficult issues the court must address and the youth to serve long enough to leave a substantial imprint.
John Roberts is a lawyer's lawyer. A Harvard Law School graduate, he worked in the federal government as an associate counsel for President Ronald Reagan and deputy solicitor general for the first President Bush. In private practice, he gained a reputation as one of the premier Supreme Court litigators in Washington.
Roberts has spent the last two years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the second most powerful court in the land. He has impressed observers with his deep knowledge, clear thinking and serious purpose. His 39 appearances before the Supreme Court are an invaluable training that few justices have had.
Roberts, 50, is generally regarded as a solid conservative but not a hard-edged ideologue. His brief time as an appellate judge means he has written few opinions that might reveal his underlying judicial philosophy. While that may give the Republican Party's right wing some concern, it also leaves Democratic partisans with minimal ammunition against him. Anyone hoping to portray him as a dangerous extremist, as Robert Bork was caricatured in 1987, will have to be exceptionally creative.
About the worst Democrats can say about Roberts is that as deputy solicitor general, he signed a brief arguing that the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion had "no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution." For better or worse, that happens to be almost indisputable. Still, the brief sheds minimal light on whether Roberts would vote to overturn the decision. He presented the brief on behalf of the first President Bush, not for himself. And even a lawyer who thought Roe was wrong in 1973 might choose, after 32 years, to leave settled law settled. There is no way to know, and Roberts is not likely to say at a confirmation hearing.
Some Americans will be disappointed that Bush didn't choose a woman or a Hispanic in the interest of diversity. That's a reasonable sentiment and one that will probably play a bigger role if another vacancy opens up. No appointment, unfortunately, can meet every need. But the Supreme Court always needs outstanding legal minds. In Roberts, it would get exactly that.
Posted 7/19/2005 10:42 PM
Does Roberts represent mainstream law, values?
When President Bush was running for office, he said repeatedly he wanted to fill any Supreme Court vacancies with nominees in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- the justices most willing to overturn the court's established precedents.
Last Saturday, he said his choice would be a "fair-minded individual who represents the mainstream of American law and American values," a broader, if not entirely different, standard.
To cast instant judgment on which mold John Roberts fits more snugly would be wrong, if not impossible. Bush, in announcing his choice Tuesday, focused on Roberts' all-American credentials: athlete, scholar, respected Washington lawyer and family man. But Roberts' legal record, while certainly conservative, is largely opaque.
Roberts' limited experience as a federal appeals judge -- scarcely two years and about 40 largely non-controversial opinions -- gives few clues as to his legal philosophy. His work as a lawyer for previous Republican administrations and for private clients, though, offers some hints. He made arguments on abortion rights, free speech and church-state issues that are at odds with established law.
In one brief, for example, he suggested that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, had no basis in the Constitution and should be overturned. The question now is whether as a Supreme Court justice he would act to do so.
The Scalia-Thomas mantra was convenient political code for voters who oppose abortion, gay rights or affirmative action; reject government regulation of business, safety or the environment; or want official support for their brand of religion.
Whether such views are within the mainstream of American law and values is very much in doubt. In a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll 10 days ago, for instance, 29% of the public said Roe v. Wade should be overturned; 68% said it should be sustained.
The confirmation process, established by the Founders to make the Senate a co-equal with the president in appointing the judiciary, provides the opportunity to examine Roberts' constitutional philosophy. He should be asked in detail his views of how the Constitution should be interpreted. Is it rigid and unchanging, to be viewed only in its most literal, 18th century terms? Or should the apparent intent of the Founders be applied in the light of modern realities?
Should the modern interpretation of the right to regulate interstate commerce be sustained? Or would he, as some of his backers wish, revert to when there were few restraints on business, few rights for workers and little protection for consumers or the environment? And would he carve out exceptions to established law regarding freedom of speech or separation of church and state?
Mainstream law is the settled judgments of the Supreme Court. Roberts should be judged on whether or not he accepts the doctrines behind those judgments. To reject them would less conservative than radical.
The Washington Post Editorial
The President's Choice
Wednesday, July 20, 2005; Page A22
IN NOMINATING Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, President Bush picked a man of substance and seriousness. Judge Roberts has served only briefly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but he was previously among the country's best-regarded appellate lawyers, both in private practice and as deputy solicitor general during the administration of George H.W. Bush. Judge Roberts is a conservative, but he has never been an ideological crusader; he has admirers among liberals. If confirmed as the successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, it is likely that he will shift the Supreme Court toward the right. But his nomination is not a provocation to Democrats -- as some other possible nominees would have been. Mr. Bush deserves credit for selecting someone with the potential to attract broad support.
This is not to say that Judge Roberts's nomination will proceed without controversy. At least one of his opinions since joining the D.C. Circuit raises a concern about his views of the balance of power between the federal government and the states. In that case, Judge Roberts intimated that he might take a very narrow view of the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce -- the constitutional foundation of much of modern federal law. Judge Roberts poetically questioned whether "the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating 'Commerce . . . among the several States.' " Senators will need to explore whether he envisions a dramatic revision of federal power.
Other issues will surely arise. Judge Roberts's two nominations to the D.C. Circuit -- a failed bid at the tail end of the first Bush presidency, and a second in 2001 -- were both held up because of liberals' anxieties. Abortion rights advocates have objected to his having argued, as a lawyer for the government in a case about federal funding for family planning, "that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Judge Roberts has never said whether that brief reflected his own opinion. But the question has already come up anew -- as have more general concerns that he is just too conservative.
The reality, however, is that nobody really knows what Judge Roberts believes, because he has been unusually careful about not discussing his views. His judicial work has been, generally speaking, careful and has given little away about the attitudes of the man who wrote it. So sphinx-like has he been that some conservatives have suggested he might have a "Souter problem" -- that is, not be a real conservative at all. This seems unlikely. But Judge Roberts's law practice was not ideologically driven, and he has not used his brief time on the bench -- as some judges and justices do -- as a platform to promote either his politics or a grandiose theory of judging. His confirmation hearings offer the Senate the opportunity to probe whether his evident reticence and caution would translate into a restrained jurisprudence that respects the stability of precedent.
Such a substantial picture of the nominee will require a serious and dignified confirmation process. The prospects for one are mixed. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) noted Judge Roberts's "suitable legal credentials" and appropriately reserved judgment. By contrast, no sooner had the nomination been reported than People for the American Way declared itself "extremely disappointed" and suggested that his confirmation could be a "constitutional catastrophe." Conservative groups, meanwhile, are demanding his immediate confirmation. In the days that come, the cacophony of voices promoting or opposing him could easily drown out any serious discussion of a man who deserves careful consideration. The Senate needs to make sure that a fair, open and substantive confirmation process takes place even amid the noise.
Gay Teenager Stirs a Storm
By ALEX WILLIAMS
Published: July 17, 2005 - New York Times
The headquarters of Love in Action in Memphis was under siege by protesters over the case of a teenager named Zach.
IT was the sort of confession that a decade ago might have been scribbled in a teenager's diary, then quietly tucked away in a drawer: "Somewhat recently," wrote a boy who identified himself only as Zach, 16, from Tennessee, on his personal Web page, "I told my parents I was gay." He noted, "This didn't go over very well," and "They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong.' "
Rollin Riggs for The New York Times
Brandon Tidwell is a former client of the program intended to change his sexual orientation.
But what grabbed the attention of Zach's friends and subsequently of both gay activists and fundamentalist Christians around the world who came across the entry, made on May 29, was not the intimacy of the confession. Teenagers have been outing themselves online for years, and many of Zach's friends already knew he was gay. It was another sentence in the Web log: "Today, my mother, father and I had a very long 'talk' in my room, where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist Christian program for gays."
"It's like boot camp," Zach added in a dispatch the next day. "If I do come out straight, I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it won't matter."
The camp in question, Refuge, is a youth program of Love in Action International, a group in Memphis that runs a religion-based program intended to change the sexual orientation of gay men and women. Often called reparative or conversion therapy, such programs took hold in fundamentalist Christian circles in the 1970's, when mainstream psychiatric organizations overturned previous designations of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and gained ground rapidly from the late 90's. Programs like Love in Action have always been controversial, but Zach's blog entries have brought wide attention to a less-known aspect of them, their application to teenagers.
Although Zach wrote only a handful of entries about the Refuge program, all posted before he arrived there in the Memphis suburbs on June 6, his words have been forwarded on the Internet over and over, inspiring online debates, news articles, sidewalk protests and an investigation into Love in Action by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services in response to a child abuse allegation. The investigation was dropped when the allegation proved unfounded, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
To some, Zach, whose family name is not disclosed on his blog and has not appeared in news accounts, is the embodiment of gay adolescent vulnerability, pulled away from friends who accepted him by adults who do not. To others he is a boy whose confused and formative sexual identity is being exploited by gay political activists.
In his last blog entry before beginning the program, at 2:33 a.m. on June 4, Zach wrote, "I pray this blows over," adding that if his parents caught him online he'd be in trouble. He described arguments he had been having with his parents, his mother in particular. "I can't take this," his post reads. "No one can. I'm not a suicidal person. I think it's stupid, really. But I can't help it - no I'm not going to commit suicide - all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It's so horrible."
The Rev. John J. Smid, the executive director of Love in Action, declined to discuss the details of Zach's experience, citing the program's confidentiality rules. In an interview early this month at his headquarters, a weathered 1960's A-frame building, which was until recently a vacant Episcopal Church, Mr. Smid explained that teenage participants in Refuge are forbidden to speak with anyone the program does not approve of. Requests made through Mr. Smid to interview Zach's parents were declined.
Founded in California in 1973, Love in Action moved to Memphis 11 years ago. It is one of 120 programs nationwide listed by Exodus International, which bills itself as the largest information and referral network for what is known among fundamentalist Christians as the "ex-gay" movement. In 2003 Love in Action introduced the first structured program specifically for teenagers, 24 of whom have participated, Mr. Smid said. The initial two weeks costs $2,000, and many participants stay six weeks more, as Zach has.
The goal of the program, said Mr. Smid, who said he was once gay but now renounces homosexual behavior, is not necessarily to turn gays into practicing heterosexuals, but to "put guardrails" on their sexual impulses.
"In my life I've been out of homosexuality for over 20 years, and for me it's really a nonissue," Mr. Smid said.
"I may see a man and say, he's handsome, he's attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else," he said. "But it's really not an issue. Gosh, I've been married for 16 years and faithful in my marriage in every respect. I mean I don't think I could white-knuckle this ride for that long."
Mr. Smid first learned that one of his teenage participants was a cause célèbre when protesters appeared outside his headquarters for several days in early June, carrying signs saying, "This is child abuse" and "Jesus is no excuse for hate."
He was bombarded by phone calls from reporters, he said, as well as by 100 e-mail messages a day from as far as Norway. Zach's writings, which appeared on his page on www.MySpace.com, were publicized by one of his online acquaintances, E. J. Friedman, a Memphis musician and writer, who read Zach's May 29 blog entry, "The World Coming to an Abrupt - Stop."
Mr. Friedman, 35, was disturbed by what he read and fired off an instant message. "I said: 'You should run away from home. There are people who will help you,' " Mr. Friedman recalled. "He said: 'I can't do that. I want to have my childhood. If this is what I have to go through to have it, then I will.' "
Mr. Friedman posted an angry message about Zach's impending stay at Refuge on his own blog. Mr. Friedman's friends picked up on the story and started spreading it on blogs of their own. Soon a local filmmaker, Morgan Jon Fox, who had met Zach through mutual acquaintances, joined with others to start a group called Queer Action Coalition, which organized the protests at Love in Action.
"We wanted to show support," said Mr. Fox, 26, who directed a fictional film about gay teenagers in 2003, shot at White Station High School in Memphis, where Zach is a student. "Then it kind of blew up."
Links to Zach's site bounced around the country. Mr. Friedman's Web page had so much traffic, "it blew my bandwidth," he said. Mr. Smid, too, was inundated with Internet traffic, much of it outraged at the attempts to change Zach's sexual orientation.
"All of a sudden, 80,000 Internet hits later on our Web site, the world has decided that he should be freed," Mr. Smid said. "Maybe he didn't ask for this. Maybe he doesn't really have the personality that really is going to be able to deal with this. And they talk about our 'abuse' of him."
The program at Love in Action has parallels to 12-step recovery programs. Participants, referred to as clients, study the Bible, meet with counselors and keep a "moral inventory," a journal in which they detail their struggle with same-sex temptation over the years, which they read at emotionally raw group meetings, former clients say.
Excessive jewelry or stylish clothing from labels like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger are forbidden, and so is watching television, listening to secular music (even Bach) and reading unapproved books or magazines.
"It's like checking into prison," said Brandon Tidwell, 29, who completed the adult program in 2002 but eventually rejected its teachings, reconciling his Christian beliefs with being gay.
Physical contact among clients other than a handshake is forbidden, and so is "campy" talk or behavior, according to program rules that Zach posted on his blog before he began at Refuge. Occasionally, recalled Jeff Harwood, 41, a Love in Action graduate who still considers himself gay, some participants would mock the mandatory football games.
"You could get away with maybe one limp-wristed pass before another client would catch you," he said, seated on a tattered sofa in a funky cafe called Java Cabana in the trendy midtown district of Memphis.
Because teenagers, unlike adult clients, return home at night, parents are asked to help keep them away from television and, more important, a computer. Zach has not updated his blog since entering the program.
For Mr. Smid and his supporters, offering Love in Action to teenagers is vital to combat what they see as a growing tolerance of homosexuality among young people. "We just really believe that the resounding message for teenagers in our culture is, practice whatever you want, have sex however, whenever and with whoever you want," he said. "I very deeply believe that is harmful. I think exploring sexuality can lay a teenager up for numerous lifelong issues."
Critics of programs that seek to change sexual orientation say the programs themselves can open a person to lifelong problems, including guilt, shame and even suicidal impulses. The stakes are higher for adolescents, who are already wrestling with deep questions of identity and sexuality, mental-health experts say.
"Their identities are still in flux," said Dr. Jack Drescher, the chairman of the committee on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues of the American Psychiatric Association, which in 2000 formally rejected regimens like reparative or conversion therapy as scientifically unproven. "One serious risk for the parent to consider is that most of the people who undergo these treatments don't change. That means that most people who go through these experiences often come out feeling worse than when they went in."
Two weeks ago the Tennessee Department of Health sent a letter to Love in Action, saying it was suspected of offering therapeutic services for which it was not licensed, a department spokeswoman said. Mr. Smid insisted in the interview that his program is a spiritual, not a counseling, center, and he is removing references to therapy from its Web site.
He said he does not track his success rate. Mr. Harwood, who graduated from the adult program in 1999, said that of 11 fellow former clients he has kept track of, eight once again consider themselves gay.
Although critics say such programs threaten the adolescent psyche, at least one teenager who considers himself a successful graduate does not agree. "In my experience people who struggle with their sexuality are more mature in general," Ben Marshall, 18, said. He recounted being in turmoil, growing up gay in a conservative Christian household in Mobile, Ala.
In 2004 his parents sent him to Refuge. "I went to Memphis kicking and screaming," he said. "I had grown to hate the church for the militant message it gave off toward homosexuality."
While enrolled he spent days listening to stories of the pain that homosexuality had caused clients and their families. Slowly, he said, his attitude changed. He ended up choosing to continue in Love in Action's adult program for nine months. While the program has a "high rate of failure," he said "there are enough successes to know I'm not alone."
But even success comes only through continuing struggle. Although he plans to date women in the future, Mr. Marshall said, he is avoiding any romantic relationships for the time being. "In all honesty, I'm just trying to figure out how to deal normally with men before I start to deal with women," he said.
Zach's parents did not reply to a request for comment for this article left on their answering machine. Last week his father, speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, said: "We felt good about Zach coming here. To let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future."
In Zach's case there is no indication he was particularly upset about his sexual identity. Although his high school is in a Bible belt city, the student body is fairly tolerant of homosexual classmates, some students said, particularly those who, like Zach, are not conspicuous about their orientation.
"Stereotype me, if you dare," was the motto Zach chose for his blog, where he listed "Edward Scissorhands" and "Girl, Interrupted" as his favorite movies and Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the alternative rock band the Killers, as the person he would most like to meet.
While Zach, as his blog recounted, only recently came out to his parents, many of his friends had known he was gay for more than a year, one classmate said. Zach openly identified himself as gay on his blog, which links to 213 friends' blogs listed in a Friend Space box on the site.
Zach is due to leave the program next week. His June 4 message expressed thanks for the more than 1,700 messages on his page, many voicing support. "Don't worry," he wrote. "I'll get through this. They've promised me things will get better, whether this program does anything or not. Let's hope they're not lying."
Gender imbalance threatens China
Wednesday 20 July 2005 9:21 AM GMT
Excess men have previously led to political upheaval in China
China is set to become the world's largest lonely hearts club in coming decades, with some 23 million men of marriageable age unable to find a female partner, an international population conference has heard.
The prospect of millions of men forced to go solo threatens major social and political problems for the tightly controlled country of 1.3 billion people, the most populous nation on the planet, experts told the conference on Wednesday.
China, like its neighbours Taiwan and South Korea, has paid the price for a rapid decline in fertility combined with a preference for male children, according to University of Texas researchers Dudley Poston and Karen Glover.
Since the 1980s, modern medical techniques which can determine the sex of a baby before birth, have led to high rates of abortion for female babies, according to the findings.
"From the year 2000 and continuing until 2020, there will be many extra boys of marriage age seeking females to marry, who will be unsuccessful in their courtship pursuits," the researchers said.
During China's baby boom of the 1960s the fertility rate peaked at 7.5 children per woman - compared to 3.7 at the height of the US baby boom in the 1950s - but plummeted following the introduction of the one-child policy in 1979, to 1.7 children per woman in 2001.
The one-child rule led to massive sex selection in favour of boys
Despite the assertion by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong that "women hold up half the sky", the one-child policy led to massive sex selection in favour of boys from the 1980s.
As the ratio reached 120 male babies for every 100 female, the excess boys became known in Chinese as the guang guan or "bare branches".
Prone to crime
According to the research, men who do not marry are more prone to crime than if they were married, raising fears of social and political instability.
To alleviate the problems of an excess male population, Chinese authorities in the past have recruited single men into high-risk law enforcement, military and large scale public works projects which have above average mortality rates.
"China could well turn to an authoritarian form of government. In such a scenario the country's slow progress toward democracy could be stalled if not halted," the researchers said.
Massive female immigration to China to counterbalance the problem was unlikely, they added.
Instead they suggested the most probable scenario was that excess single men "will settle in bachelor ghettos in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and Tianjin where commercial sex outlets would be prevalent".
Men have been recruited into high-risk jobs with high mortality rates
China's neighbours Taiwan and South Korea have also been experiencing abnormally high ratios of male-born children.
All three countries have Confucian patriarchal society structures where the male line inherits the wealth and wives are absorbed into the husband's family.
Previous gender imbalances in China have led to major political upheaval.
In the 19th century, the Nien rebellion in northern Shandong province was in part blamed on an excess male population, estimated at 100,000, that was caused by an earlier famine and widespread female infanticide, the researchers said.
It took the ruling Qing dynasty 17 years to overthrow the rebels who ruled the region of six million people.
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大統領、野党との衝突回避 最高裁判事、承認見通し (共同 2005/07/20)
2005年 07月 20日 水曜日 15:46 JST
［ワシントン １９日 ロイター］ ブッシュ米大統領は、先に辞任を表明した米連邦最高裁のサンドラ・デイ・オコーナー判事の後任に、保守派のジョン・ロバーツ連邦高裁判事を指名し、上院に対して迅速な承認を呼びかけた。
The New York Times Editorial
July 20, 2005
Scrutinizing John Roberts
The American people know little about Judge John Roberts, other than that President Bush is nominating him to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. But in the coming weeks that should change. The Senate has a duty to scrutinize his background and to question him closely at his confirmation hearings about substantive areas of the law. If he is a mainstream conservative in the tradition of Justice O'Connor, he should be confirmed. But if on closer inspection he turns out to be an extreme ideologue with an agenda of stripping away important rights, he should not be.
Judge Roberts is a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and before that he was a lawyer in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush. Compared with many of the possible nominees whose names have been circulating, he has a thin record on controversial subjects. This may have helped him win the nomination because it gives the other side so little to work with. But it also puts a greater burden on the Senate to determine what kind of justice he would be.
One of the most important areas for the Senate to explore is Judge Roberts's views on federalism - the issue of how much power the federal government should have. The far right is on a drive to resurrect ancient, and discredited, states' rights theories. If extremists take control of the Supreme Court, we will end up with an America in which the federal government is powerless to protect against air pollution, unsafe working conditions and child labor. There are reasons to be concerned about Judge Roberts on this score. He dissented in an Endangered Species Act case in a way that suggested he might hold an array of environmental laws, and other important federal protections, to be unconstitutional.
There are also serious questions about the attitude of Judge Roberts toward abortion rights. As a lawyer in the first President Bush's administration, he helped write a brief arguing that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
President Bush did the country a service by making his nomination early enough for the Senate to have ample time to investigate the judge's record and hold hearings. The leaders in both parties should resist any pressures to move quickly. It would be irresponsible to take a position on the nomination of Judge Roberts until his background is carefully reviewed, and until senators have a chance to question him at length. The nomination of a new Supreme Court justice is a great moment for the nation, providing new vigor to a great American institution. The entire country has a stake in the outcome.
同性婚を認める法案が上院通過 (MapleTown 2005/07/20)
Canada's gay marriage law set to come into force
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Californian matchmaker Dale Bullock, with client files on his desk in front of him, talks to a client by phone from his office in downtown San Francisco July 14, 2005. As the legal debate over gay marriage rages, San Francisco-based Bullock has found a niche pairing gays and lesbians for life-long unions and marriage. To match feature Life-Gaymatchmaker. Picture taken July 14, 2005. Lou Dematteis/Reuters Photo by Lou Dematteis/Reuters
OTTAWA (Reuters) - A law allowing gay marriages across Canada could come into force as early as Wednesday after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation.
That would make Canada the fourth country in the world after Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain to permit same sex marriages, although a number of Canadian provinces have been allowing same-sex marriages for some time.
The unelected Senate upper chamber -- dominated by members from the ruling Liberal party -- voted by 47 to 21 late on Tuesday to pass the law.
The lower house of Parliament had already backed the legislation despite fierce opposition from conservative politicians and from religious groups, who portrayed it as an attack on organized religion.
The law needs to be formally approved by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, but CBC radio said that could come as early as Wednesday. No one in Clarkson's office was immediately available for comment.
The Liberal government said it had to draw up the legislation to allow same-sex marriage after courts in eight of the country's 10 provinces ruled that failing to do so would violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Opponents fear churches and religious officials could be sued for refusing to carry out same sex marriages.
The legislation grants gays and lesbians the right to full civil marriages, but makes clear that religious officials would not be obliged to marry same-sex couples.
Some Canadian provinces have already become something of a tourist destination for gay couples from other countries who are seeking to get married.
Canadian residency requirements are less strict than those in other countries that allow gay marriage, but the new unions may not be recognized in the couples' home countries.
Senate passes same-sex legislation
Last Updated Tue, 19 Jul 2005 23:48:37 EDT
Canada has become the fourth country to officially sanction same-sex marriage.
The Senate has voted 47-21 in favour of the Liberal government's controversial Bill C-38.
Three senators abstained.
The historic vote comes after gay and lesbian couples launched lawsuits in different provinces demanding the right to marry.
Courts in seven provinces agreed that the traditional definition of marriage violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Liberal government responded to the first of those rulings - in Ontario in 2003 - by introducing legislation which was adopted last month in the House of Commons.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has said he will bring back the same-sex debate if he's elected prime minister.
The bill will become law when it receives royal assent on Wednesday.
Canada Becomes 4th Country To Legalize Gay Marriage
by Alexander Panetta, Canadian Press
Posted: July 20, 2005 12:30 am ET
(Ottawa) One of the most raucous debates in Canadian history resulted in a vote late Tuesday night that made Canada the fourth country to sanction same-sex marriage.
The Senate erupted in a loud cheer as it adopted the Liberal government's mill, which will give gay and lesbian couples the right to civil marriages.
The 47-21 vote came after years of court battles and debate that divided families, religious groups and even political allies.
As the debate dragged on Tuesday, the Liberals threatened to invoke closure and call a snap vote on the legislation. But the debate ran its course later in the night and members stood for a vote.
The country had been almost evenly split on the legislation, which found its greatest support among younger Canadians and small-l liberal voters.
But even within political clans the issue created irreconcilable fissures.
One Liberal MP - Pat O'Brien - quit his party caucus out of frustration with the bill and Joe Comuzzi resigned from the federal cabinet.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has said he will bring back the debate if he's elected prime minister.
One Conservative said voters will have the final say over Ottawa's decision to redefine marriage.
``Let the country speak at the next federal election,'' Tory Sen. Gerry St. Germain said hours before the bill passed. ``Let's not pass this legislation now. Let's wait. Let's make (the election) a referendum on this bill.''
The Liberals say only one tool remains at the disposal of anyone wishing to turn back the clock: the Constitution's so-called notwithstanding clause.
No federal government has ever used that provision in the Charter of Rights, which allows governments to overrule rights deemed fundamental.
The Tories and Liberals have sparred over whether the legislation was preventable. A top Liberal senator said Tuesday there was no end in sight to the bickering and that it was time to vote.
``There is no point in further postponement,'' said Jack Austin, the Liberal leader in the Senate.
``There are no new issues to be argued, there are no new positions to be taken.
``I think everyone in this chamber understands that we have _ along with the Canadian people _ come to our own conclusions.''
The Tories were hoping to amend C-38 to say marriage has traditionally been defined as the union of a man and woman.
But the government side had two reasons for opposing the Tory move.
First, they dismissed it as an insignificant and unnecessary change to the legislation.
But proponents of same-sex marriage had a deeper fear: that the bill could potentially be scrubbed if any changes were made at this point.
Amendments would have sent the bill back to the House of Commons, which is adjourned for the summer break, only to have it return for further debate in the fall.
Since the Liberals have a minority government, they could theoretically be toppled at any time and legislation before the Commons would disappear if there were an election.
The marriage legislation stems from a 2003 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional.
The government had fought same-sex couples in court but became a proponent of redefining marriage as courts in Ontario and seven other provinces sided with gays and lesbians.
Then-prime minister Jean Chretien announced in June 2003 that he would not appeal the Ontario ruling and that he would table legislation heeding to same-sex couples' wishes.
Bill C-38 would extend same-sex rights to Alberta and P.E.I., the only two provinces where courts have not yet struck down traditional marriage laws.
The legislation also stipulates that the new definition of marriage is only binding on public institutions like courthouses and city halls.
It says religious institutions - churches, mosques, synagogues and temples - and individuals can continue defining marriage as they see fit.
However, some public officials have said they fear they might lose their jobs if they refuse to marry same-sex couples because of their personal religious convictions.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has said those individuals - and their jobs - will be protected by the legislation and by the Charter of Rights's guarantee of religious freedom.
Canada Senate Approves Gay Marriage Bill
By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
(07-19) 22:12 PDT TORONTO, Canada (AP) --
Canada's Senate late Tuesday voted to adopt landmark legislation to legalize gay marriage nationwide despite fierce opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders. The bill could be signed into law as early as Wednesday.
The bill grants same-sex couples legal rights equal to those in traditional unions between a man and a woman, something already legal in a majority of Canadian provinces.
The legislation drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal Party government easily passed the Senate, which essentially rubber stamps any bill already passed by the House of Commons, which passed it late last month.
The bill becomes law when it is signed by Canada's Governor-General. Once that happens, Canada will become only the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage nationwide, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
The 47-21 Senate vote came after years of court battles and debate that divided families, religious groups and even political allies.
Martin, a Roman Catholic, has said that despite anyone's personal beliefs, all Canadians should be granted the same rights to marriage.
Churches have expressed concern that their clergy would be compelled to perform same sex ceremonies. The legislation, however, states that the bill only covers civil unions, not religious ones, and no clergy would be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies unless they choose to do so.
The Roman Catholic Church, the predominant Christian denomination in Canada, has vigorously opposed the legislation, saying that it would harm children in particular.
In the United States, Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriages; Vermont and Connecticut have approved same-sex civil unions.
Though hundreds of foreigners have come to Canada to seek civil ceremonies since gay marriages were first allowed in Ontario and British Columbia in 2003, not all countries or states recognize the unions.
The U.S. government does not recognize same-sex marriage, and most states refuse to acknowledge marriage certificates from gay and lesbian couples, regardless of where they wed.
On the Net:
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Defend Marriage Canada
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The Greens Are Wilting
The Greens Are Wilting
The ecoconscious party may be the foremost victim of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's decline. Can it survive?
By Stefan Theil
July 18 issue - Twelve months ago Germany's Greens were at the peak of their power. With 13 percent support in polls—their highest ratings ever—they had become the party of choice for a broad, educated elite. Observers saw their handwriting all over the policies of the government they had formed with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats in 1998: new mandates for renewable energy and recycling, an agreement to phase out nuclear power, a modern citizenship law that did away with ancient blood-based rules, even gay-partnership rights. Their leader, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, was easily the most popular politician in Germany.
Just a year later, the Greens are floundering. In May elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, voters kicked them out of the last of five state governments where they once shared power. Fischer is under investigation in a scandal involving human trafficking from Eastern Europe—critics say he approved a controversial 2000 directive abolishing background checks on foreign visitors, and refused to make changes despite having been informed of massive abuse. Support for both the party and its leader has taken a nose dive, and Schröder's decision to call early elections for Sept. 18 has caught them at the worst possible moment. A weakened Social Democratic Party (SPD) could conceivably join up with the conservatives in a "grand coalition." But virtually no one can envision a scenario in which the Greens—who have no other allies than the hemorrhaging SPD—stay in government.
The party may thus be the most direct victim of Schröder's political woes. The question is whether it's experiencing a temporary setback, or is in terminal decline. "The Zeitgeist has turned," says Thomas Petersen, an analyst at the Allensbach polling institute. With 12 percent unemployment—and seemingly endless economic stagnation—spreading anxiety deep into the middle class, the national debate has shifted from things like global warming to the hard issues of jobs, money and welfare. Last week Schröder's SPD unveiled an "election manifesto" that promises a new "rich-people tax" to help pay for its social programs. The conservatives will follow with their own platform this week, expected to focus on labor-market deregulation and the cutting of payroll taxes. Classic Green issues like the environment, pacifism and feminism now seem like indulgences to many. "Green worries are luxury worries," says Petersen. "When there are no jobs, the ozone hole no longer matters."
Ouch. As if overnight, the Greens have turned from the darlings of the German establishment to emblems of what ails the country. goodbye eco-freaks, the Financial Times Deutschland headlined last week, predicting the advent of a long conservative era. With their neglect of hard-hitting economic issues, the Greens have turned themselves into "the feel-good party of the urban academic milieu," sneered even Berlin's Tageszeitung, a historically leftist paper. Critics see Fischer's visa scandal as the embodiment of what's wrong with the Greens: do-good policies—in this case, opening Germany's borders in the name of "multiculturalism"—paired with an arrogant disregard for the cost to the country. A similarly high-minded policy to subsidize wind power has drawn protests from citizens angry about thousands of giant wind turbines that now sully once pristine landscapes. Even Schröder has lashed out at his erstwhile political allies, suggesting in a recent interview in the weekly Die Zeit that sharing power might have been a mistake.
To be fair, Schröder's own party, not the Greens, bears greater responsibility for the chancellor's demise. His left wing has rebelled against even modest economic reforms—hence the SPD's new soak-the-rich platform. In fact, on the issue of urgently needed economic reforms, the Greens have been more pro-market than Schröder, calling for an end to rust-belt industry subsidies and less red tape for entrepreneurs. Rightly or wrongly, the Greens even credit their environmental policies with creating jobs. "Look where the new jobs are in Germany," says Anna Luhrmann, a Green M.P. in Berlin, noting the 70,000 positions created in the renewable-energy sector. Wind- and solar-power companies have been among the fastest growing in the country, and a high-tech recycling industry has begun expanding abroad.
Yet a boom in wind and garbage may matter little in the face of a broad cultural shift. If Cologne University sociologist and Greens expert Markus Klein is right, Germany is in the grip of a "values rollback," away from the post-materialist values of the comfortable 1970s and '80s—including concern for the environment and minority rights—to a more conservative emphasis on achievement, responsibility, family, career and, to a small extent, even religion. Young Germans who grew up in the economically insecure 1990s, he says, worry about jobs and education, not the second-tier issues with which the Greens are identified. Already, says Klein, Green voters are concentrated in the 40-to-49 age bracket, while young voters are increasingly flocking to conservative and liberal-democratic parties. "The Greens are a one-generation project," says Klein. "Their core voters will just die out."
That probably underestimates the Greens' resilience, and the persistence of the issues they address. As last week's G8 meeting in Scotland showed, "soft" issues such as climate change and developing-world aid are hardly ephemeral. "If even George W. Bush talks about the need to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, then I'm not going to worry about the future of the Greens," says Luhrmann. And as intransigent as their reputation might be, the Greens have shown a remarkable capacity for change. Once in office, peacenik Fischer passionately supported sending German troops to Kosovo and Afghanistan. And the once anarchist Greens have had no qualms about abolishing an array of privacy rights—like confidentiality in banking—only loosely connected with the fight against terror. An "ecolibertarian" wing of the Greens even wants to ally with Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats.
Such hard-nosed realism is not likely to save the party come September: the latest polls show the Greens garnering only 7 percent of the vote. But four years in opposition may give them enough time to figure out how to adapt to Germany's new reality.