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ＥＵ委員会の世論調査機関である Eurobarometro (Eurobarometer) によると、Ｅｕ諸国の中ですでに同性婚を認めている国では、賛成の率が高い。
Minneapolis demotes first lesbian fire chief
Fri Dec 22, 5:08 PM ET
The fire chief in Minneapolis, widely regarded as the first publicly acknowledged lesbian to occupy such a big-city post, was demoted on Friday in light of sexual harassment allegations against her by five firefighters.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced the demotion of Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek, 43, to an administrative job that included a $40,000 cut in her annual pay.
"She will be completely and permanently stripped of ever holding leadership or management status in this city," Rybak said in a statement after the city council approved the arrangement.
Bleskachek's lawyer, Jerry Burg, said she had hoped to receive a lesser job as a fire chief captain coupled with a severance pay package, but said the city had reneged on an agreed deal. Nevertheless, she accepted the demotion, he said.
Since Bleskachek was elevated to the $116,000-a-year post two years ago, five firefighters -- four women and one man -- have alleged she either sexually harassed or somehow was biased against them. The city settled two of the cases and was close to settling a third case involving three of the women.
Burg said his client had "never been disciplined and had a stellar career," and denied the bulk of the allegations.
"It's been hell since March," when the allegations surfaced, Burg said. "She's been humiliated publicly."
What's in a name? For gay couples getting civil unions, confusion
By Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press Writer | December 24, 2006
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. --In the early 1990s, Christopher Bellis, wary of shocking people, introduced the men he was dating as his "friends."
Now, he and Eddie Bennett, who have been a couple since 1995, are considering replacing the word they usually use for each other -- "partner" -- with "spouse" or "husband."
New Jersey's new law creating civil unions, signed Thursday by Gov. Jon Corzine, gives same-sex couples many of the rights of marriage. Now, gay couples are weighing not what civil unions mean, but what to call them.
Some gay couples refer to entering into a civil union as getting "civilized" or "unionized."
New Jersey joins Connecticut and Vermont as states that allow civil unions for gay couples. Massachusetts allows gay couples to marry, while California has domestic partnerships that bring full marriage rights.
Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family, a gay rights political group in Connecticut, said there isn't a consensus in her state about what to call the act of getting a civil union, or what same-sex partners should call each other.
"We hear some people using the term 'spouse,' We hear some saying 'partner,'" she said. "A few use 'husband' and 'wife,' but most want to save those for when marriage is legalized."
New Jersey's law came in response to an October state Supreme Court order that gay couples be granted the same rights as married couples. The court gave lawmakers six months to act but left it to them to decide whether to call the unions "marriage" or something else.
Gay couples welcomed the law, but some argued that not calling the relationship "marriage" creates a different, inferior institution.
Veronica Hoff of Mount Laurel said she doesn't usually use "spouse" to describe Forest Kairos because they are not legally married, though they have had a commitment ceremony. She isn't fond of "partner" because that term is vague; she said it could mean business partner or tennis partner.
Privately, she and Kairos refer to each other by "cupcake," with "cup" an acronym for "civil union partner."
"It's a cute nickname," she said. "But if I introduce her to somebody else as my cupcake, it doesn't have a sense of dignity to it."
Bellis and Bennett affirmed their relationship through a family commitment ceremony in 1996 and by registering for domestic partnership in New Jersey in 2004. They plan to apply for a civil union license after the law takes effect Feb. 19.
"I no longer want the government to dictate what I can call my spouse," said Bellis, of South Orange.
Civil unions offer all the benefits of marriage New Jersey can confer, from adoption rights to alimony rights. They won't help same-sex couples with federal issues of marriage, such as Social Security benefits or being able to file taxes jointly, however.
The legal and legislative debate over the law was not about those benefits so much as it was about language.
Lawmakers considered terms such as "spousal partnerships" and "civil marriages," and "equal benefits" before settling, as expected, on civil unions. That's a term Vermont and Connecticut also use.
The question over language now becomes more personal than political. In its ruling, the Supreme Court wrote: "However the Legislature may act, same-sex couples will be free to call their relationships by the name they choose."
For Joan Hervey, a Plainfield mortgage consultant, there's no question what to call partner Linda Geczi because they were married legally in Canada.
"I'm going to call her my wife," she said.
The New York Times
December 22, 2006
Senator Brownback and the Judge
If most people were asked to list the qualities they want in a federal judge, few would include “has not attended a same-sex commitment ceremony.” But that was the outrageous litmus test that Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, applied to Janet Neff, whose nomination he has been blocking. Mr. Brownback — who has presidential ambitions — now says he will allow a vote on her nomination. We hope that is a sign that gay-baiting is becoming less tolerable, even to Republican primary voters.
Judge Neff, a Michigan state court judge, attended the commitment ceremony of the daughter of a family who had lived next door to her for 26 years. She said that attending and delivering a homily was like joining in an important event in the life of one of her own daughters.
Mr. Brownback, one of the most conservative senators, considered it to be a disqualifier for the bench. Later, he made an equally objectionable offer: he would allow a vote on Judge Neff if she agreed to recuse herself from cases involving same-sex unions. The Senate does not get to tell federal judges what areas of law they may rule on.
Senator Brownback now seems to be calculating that even in the Republican Party, the sort of extreme bigotry he has shown toward gay people would not be a selling point. At a time when Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter is pregnant and President Bush has declared himself “happy for her,” Mr. Brownback’s hostility puts him far out on the political fringe.
Mr. Brownback says that although he will allow Judge Neff’s nomination to come to a vote, he is still likely to vote against her. If he does, he should be asked to explain his vote if he hits the presidential campaign trail. Whether someone has attended a same-sex commitment ceremony is not a worthy litmus test to impose on someone seeking an important office. Whether someone holds hateful views toward gay people certainly is.
Transvestite killings on the rise in Guatemala
Reuters Thursday November 23, 12:24 AM
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Two transvestites were shot dead in broad daylight on Wednesday, their bodies riddled with bullets in the latest in a wave of suspected hate crimes in Guatemala.
The transvestites, in their 20s, were gunned down together outside a bar in the crime-ridden Villanueva neighborhood of the capital. They were shot in the face and body.
"They both had long hair and long nails, men dressed as if they were women," said emergency worker Oscar Sanchez. At least 15 bullet casings lay on the ground at the murder scene.
Hate crimes have grown this year in Guatemala, an often macho and extremely violent society still scarred by a long civil war that killed 200,000 people and ended 10 years ago.
Oasis, a gay rights group, said 11 transgender people have been murdered so far this year, compared to seven the year before, and no one has been arrested for the crimes.
Gabriel Ixcoy, an 18-year-old transgender prostitute known as Shakira, was shot dead in September for refusing the sexual advances of a young gang member. He reportedly cut out Shakira's tongue.
Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in Latin America with over 5,300 people murdered in 2005 -- a murder rate of around 40 per 100,000 people. The rate in the United States is 5.6 murders per 100,000, according to the FBI.
While the number of Guatemalan transvestites killed is minimal compared to the overall murder figure, rights workers are increasingly focusing on the killings of women, gays and other vulnerable groups.
Police are rarely interested in finding the killers of transvestites and are sometimes involved themselves, gay rights activists say.
In December last year, Juan Pablo Mendez, or Paulina, was killed and another transgender prostitute was wounded by three people witnesses identified as uniformed police officers.
"The general level of violence in Guatemala has increased exponentially over the past few years with most crimes going unpunished," said Sebastian Elegueta, a Central America researcher for Amnesty International.
"But it's the most vulnerable groups in society, like women, sex workers or transgender people, that are targeted first and those that are afforded the least amount of protection from the state," he said.
Oasis Director Jorge Lopez said transsexuals are particularly at risk because the majority work as prostitutes, trawling the dangerous streets of Guatemala's old city in short mini-skirts, wigs and platform heels.
"Transgender people end up in sex work because they've been kicked out of their homes, their schools, their jobs," said Lopez. "The only options left for them to make a living is prostitution or working in a hair salon."
Many of the transvestite prostitutes loitering on the corners of the capital come from other Central American countries, said Lopez.
"People throw eggs at us, call us names, shoot at us," said Claudia, a 21-year-old Nicaraguan transgender prostitute out on a corner past midnight in black fishnet stockings, a ruffled white skirt and bright blue eye shadow.
"The police are the worse. They sometimes force us to rob clients so they can take their cut," she said.
N.J. governor signs gay civil unions law
By TOM HESTER Jr., Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 21, 2:07 PM ET
New Jersey's governor signed legislation Thursday giving gay couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage allowed under state law — but not the title.
When the law goes into effect Feb. 19, New Jersey will become the third state offering civil unions to gay couples and the fifth allowing gay couples some version of marriage.
Connecticut and Vermont also offer civil unions for gay couples, while Massachusetts allows gay couples to marry, and California has domestic partnerships that bring full marriage rights under state law.
"We must recognize that many gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey are in committed relationships and deserve the same benefits and rights as every other family in this state," Gov. Jon S. Corzine said in signing the legislation.
The Legislature passed the civil unions bill on Dec. 14 in response to a state Supreme Court order that gay couples be granted the same rights as married couples. The court in October gave lawmakers six months to act but left it to them to decide whether to call the unions "marriage" or something else.
Gay couples welcomed the new law, but argue not calling it "marriage" creates a different, inferior institution. Even some same-sex couples who attended the bill signing remained lukewarm about the law.
"It's a step forward, but it's not true equality," said Veronica Hoff, 52, of Mount Laurel, as she stood with her partner.
The civil unions law grants gay couples adoption, inheritance, hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights and the right not to testify against a partner in state court.
They won't, however, be entitled to the same benefits as married couples in the eyes of the federal government because of 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Gay partners won't be able to collect deceased partners' Social Security benefits, for example, said family lawyer Felice T. Londa, who represents many same-sex couples.
Social conservative groups and some lawmakers opposed the measure, saying it brings gay relationships too close to marriage, but it easily passed the Legislature.
"It's same-sex marriage without the title," said John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage. "It uproots the cardinal values of our culture."
He said opponents would push for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions in New Jersey, no matter what they're called.
"Let the voters decide that marriage is defined as a union of one man and one woman," Tomicki said.
Democrats who control the Legislature have said they have no plans to consider such a proposal.
Associated Press Writer Chris Newmarker contributed to this report.
Same-sex civil unions become law in New Jersey
Thu Dec 21, 4:41 PM ET
New Jersey on Thursday became the third U.S. state to provide equal rights for same-sex couples in committed relationships known as civil unions.
Gov. Jon Corzine, signing the Civil Unions bill into law, said the state has an obligation to give such partnerships the same legal rights as married couples.
"We must recognize that many gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey are in committed relationships, and deserve the same benefits and rights as every other family in the state," Corzine said in a statement.
The bill was passed by lawmakers last week following a ruling by the state Supreme Court affirming equal rights for same-sex couples, but deferring to the legislature a decision on whether to call their relationships "marriage."
Lawmakers opted to call them "civil unions."
Massachusetts is the only U.S. state to have legalized same-sex marriage, which supporters say is necessary to establish true equality for homosexual partnerships. Connecticut and Vermont have civil union laws.
State's top court agrees to review same-sex marriage ruling
- Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
(12-20) 13:06 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in California.
The court voted unanimously today to review an Oct. 5 ruling by a state appellate court that upheld California's ban on same-sex marriage. That court ruled 2-1 that the state was entitled to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as long as it continues to grant substantially equal rights to same-sex couples who register as domestic partners.
In an unusual action, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, whose office is defending the marriage law, joined opponents of the law in asking the California Supreme Court to review the case. They said thousands of couples as well as the general public deserve an answer from the state's highest court on the extent of marriage rights under the state constitution.
The court did not say when it would hear the case. With extensive written arguments expected, a hearing is unlikely before next fall at the earliest, with a ruling to follow within 90 days.
Today's announcement came nearly two months after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to be treated equally with heterosexual couples but did not have a fundamental right to marry under the state's constitution. The 4-3 ruling led to swift passage last week of a bill establishing civil unions, which Gov. Jon Corzine may sign as soon as Thursday.
A similar ruling by Vermont's Supreme Court in 1999 also prompted passage of a civil unions law a year later. Such a ruling is unlikely in California, however, because the state already has a law giving domestic partners, most of them gay or lesbian couples, virtually all of the rights enjoyed by married couples -- a law described by advocates of same-sex marriage as separate and unequal. Only Massachusetts' highest court, in 2003, has ruled that marriage must be available to all couples regardless of gender.
The California case started in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples. The state Supreme Court called a halt after a month and later nullified the nearly 4,000 weddings in a ruling that found Newsom had exceeded his authority.
The issue of the validity of the 1977 law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman was referred to San Francisco Superior Court, where Judge Richard Kramer ruled the statute unconstitutional in March 2005. He said it violated the fundamental right to marry the partner of one's choice -- first declared by the state Supreme Court in a 1948 ruling on interracial marriage -- and that it also discriminated on the basis of gender.
The appeals court overturned Kramer's ruling this October, saying the fundamental right to marry applied only to opposite-sex couples and noting the steps California has taken toward equal rights for gays and lesbians.
That ruling was appealed by groups of same-sex couples and by the city of San Francisco, which also challenged the marriage law.
The Supreme Court proceeding is In re Marriage Cases, S147999.
E-mail Bob Egelko at email@example.com.
California's top court to review gay marriage ban
Wed Dec 20, 5:35 PM ET
California's highest court said on Wednesday it would consider a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriages, a legal fight stemming from marriage licenses granted to homosexual couples two years ago by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
A California appeals court in October upheld the state's voter-approved ban, which gay activists said they would appeal. Legal experts had expected the California Supreme Court to accept petitions to review the decision.
Newsom defied the state's ban by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a move that triggered an intense national debate over whether gays should be allowed marry.
Since then California's Democrat-led legislature has sided with gay activists, approving legislation to permit same-sex nuptials. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation, saying the issue should be left to voters or the courts.
The state's voters in 2000 approved a ballot measure defining marriage as the union of a man and woman. But domestic partnership legislation since then has afforded gay couples in California many of the same privileges enjoyed by married couples.
New Jersey lawmakers last week approved same-sex civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married partners without allowing the relationships to be called "marriage."
Only Massachusetts has legalized marriage between same-sex partners.
Calif. high court reviewing gay marriage
By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday December 20, 2006
The California Supreme Court unanimously agreed Wednesday to decide whether the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates a constitutional ban on discrimination, though an outcome is not likely until late next year.
The justices are reviewing an October decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal, which ruled that California marriage laws do not discriminate because gay and lesbian couples can get most rights the state confers to married couples.
Massachusetts is the only state that authorizes same-sex marriage. California offers domestic partnerships, similar to civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed gay and lesbian couples to wed at City Hall in 2004, but California's justices halted the ensuing wedding spree and voided 4,037 marriage licenses by ruling the mayor did not have authority to make marriage law.
About 20 same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco sued the state, and the case has meandered through trial and appellate courts. Had the Supreme Court not taken the case, the lower court's decision would have stood.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the city was "extremely gratified."
"It's perhaps the major civil rights issue of our time," he said.
A call to the office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer was not returned.
A 1977 law and a 2000 voter-approved measure prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying in California.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday that officials will abide by a state Supreme Court decision to provide benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees as of Jan. 1.
The court on Tuesday had told the state to stop dragging its feet and implement benefits, which will end a seven-year battle by the American Civil Liberties Union and nine couples who sued.
"We believe we have no more judicial options," Palin said, shortly before the Republican signed a bill calling for voters to decide in April whether the Legislature should consider proposing a constitutional amendment to prohibit the benefits.
The high court ruled in October 2005 that denying the benefits violated the state's guarantee of equal protection for all Alaskans.
The state constitution prohibits marriage for same-sex couples.
Associated Press writer Steve Quinn in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.
Legislators condemn nativity scene dolls
Wed Dec 20, 8:38 PM ET
Two Italian legislators caused an uproar among colleagues in this predominantly Catholic country on Wednesday when they placed dolls representing two gay couples in Parliament's nativity scene.
Bruno Mellano and Donatella Porretti of the small but vocal Radical Party said their gesture was intended to show support for a law that would give unmarried couples, including gays, some of the same rights as married couples. But it prompted swift and stern condemnation from shocked legislators on all sides.
"Vulgar and unacceptable," said a statement by women deputies with the rightist, opposition Forza Italia party.
Pro-Vatican politician Rosy Bindi called the move "a useless provocation against the nativity of the Chamber of Deputies that hurts us as Christians and as citizens of this country," in comments carried by the ANSA agency.
The four dolls in question included dolls embracing. They were removed within minutes, according to the ANSA news agency.
Furor in Italy over "gay nativity" in parliament
By Philip Pullella
Wed Dec 20, 11:38 AM ET
Two leftists in Italy's ruling coalition on Wednesday outraged fellow lawmakers by placing four dolls representing homosexual couples near the baby Jesus in the official nativity scene in parliament.
The two parliamentarians from the small "Rose in the Fist" party said their gesture was to promote the legalization of gay marriage and granting legal recognition to unmarried couples.
Bruno Mellano and Donatella Poretti placed the Barbie and Ken-type dolls in the parliamentary nativity scene, each couple lying down embraced among the shepherds witnessing the birth of Jesus.
Each of the two doll couples, which parliamentary ushers removed after a few minutes, wore miniature placards with slogans in favor of gay rights.
"This is a vulgar and unacceptable double attack against both a (national) institution as well as a religious symbol," a group of women parliamentarians of the opposition conservative Forza Italia party said in a statement.
Luca Volonte, a member of the small centrist opposition Union of Christian Democrats, called the gesture a "pure attack against the religion practiced by the majority of Italians."
Italy is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and nativity scenes, featuring figures of the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, animals and three kings bearing gifts, are put but in many homes, squares and shops.
Some members of the opposition demanded the lawmakers be censured by the speaker of the lower house of parliament.
But even the Italian Communist Party, which supports gay rights and is also in the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Romano Prodi, distanced itself from the action.
One communist parliamentarian called it "a grave political error" that would not help homosexuals.
The two leftist politicians carried out their gesture just before Pope Benedict, speaking to pilgrims and tourists at the Vatican, said Christmas creches were part of Christian culture that had to be defended.
In recent weeks, several state schools have decided not to erect the nativity scene. Some shops decided not to sell them, saying they were not popular or did not fit their image.
But even Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni has criticized such schools, saying they had gone too far in banning nativity scenes which could instead be used as tools for inter-religious dialogue.