November 10, 2006
International Recognition of Same Sex Unions
Mexico City's assembly on Thursday voted for the first time in the country's history to legally recognize gay civil unions, a measure that will provide same-sex couples with benefits similar to those of married couples. The mayor was expected to sign the measure into law. Read the New York Times article (last visited November 9, 2006 bgf)
A parliamentary committee approved proposals for same-sex marriages in South Africa on Thursday, clearing the way for the passage of legislation that would be unique on a deeply conservative continent. Read the New York Times article (last visited Nov 9, 2006 bgf)
November 9, 2006
Arguments on Federal "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban
"Two hours of oral argument on a federal "partial birth" abortion ban at the Supreme Court yesterday showed that the justices are intensely focused on the procedure's medical details and health implications -- but produced few clues as to how they might rule. As expected, the court's four most liberal members, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, sounded skeptical about the statute. Of the court's conservatives, only Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said much at all, asking questions that implied the law should be upheld. That left plenty of time for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom both sides in the case consider the likely swing vote, to listen to the lawyers and air his concerns -- though he did not tip his hand."By Charles Lane, Washington Post Link to Article (last visited 11-8-06 NVS)
Man Jailed for Planning to Kill Ex-wife Seeks Relief from Child Support Payments
"A Toronto-area man, already serving a four-year sentence for plotting to kill his ex-wife to get out of paying child and spousal support, is now using his incarceration as an excuse to avoid the payments. Ronald Schulz pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit murder, admitting he hired a hitman to break his ex-wife's neck. The "hitman" was in fact an undercover police officer, and Schulz ended up in prison. In court this week, however, Schulz argued he still can't pay for support due to his incarceration, an argument that his ex-wife's lawyer called the ultimate in audacity." Reuters, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 11-8-06 NVS)
Student-Moms Take Kids to College
"BRENNA WELSH, who is 4 years old, thinks she lives in a hotel and eats dinner at a restaurant every night. That the hotel is a modest three-story dormitory and the restaurant a college cafeteria is unimportant to her. That she is able to live with her mother, Nicole Welsh , 29, and 6- year-old brother while her mom works toward her degree makes her happy and ambitious. “When I get big,” she says, sitting in a child-size chair in the dorm’s day care center, “I’m gonna clean my room.” Evidence of children is sprinkled throughout the campus of Wilson College. A women’s liberal arts school in south-central Pennsylvania near the West Virginia border, it is home to 400 full-time students, 20 of them mothers." By Jane Gordon, N.y. Times Link to Article (last visited 11-8-06 NVS)
Human Rights Watch Issues Report Regarding Violence Against Women and Girls
"Discriminatory laws, traditional practices and a severe shortage of emergency shelters combine to perpetuate violence against women by their family members and intimate partners in the Palestinian territories, according to a report to be issued on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group. The report, based on interviews over the last year with victims, police officers, social workers and officials of the Palestinian Authority, says that while there is “increasing recognition of the problem” of violence against women and girls, “little action has been taken to seriously address these abuses.” In fact, the report says, “there is some evidence that the level of violence is getting worse, while the remedies available to the victims are being further eroded.”" By Steven Erlanger, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 11-8-06 NVS)
"Guatemala, where nearly one in every 100 children is adopted by an American family, ranks third behind much larger nations, China and Russia, when it comes to providing babies to American couples. The pace of adoptions and the fact that mothers here, unlike in other places, are sometimes paid for their babies have brought increasing concern and the prospect of new regulation that may significantly reduce the number of Guatemalan babies bound for the United States next year, or end it altogether." By Marc Lacey Link to Article (last visite 11-8-06 NVS)
November 8, 2006
Other Family Law Election Issues
North Dakota's Shared Parenting ballot initiative, which would have created a strong presumption for joint custody, was defeated. See the Minot Daily News
South Dakota's abortion ban was also defeated. (Read about it from Reuters)
Nov. 9, 2006 bgf
Colorado's Referendum to Allow Civil Unions Defeated
Colorado's ballot included not only a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage but also a referendum that would have allowed civil unions. While the constitutional amendment passed by a 56 percent margin, the referendum was defeated by a narrower margin.
Read about the issue on The Denver Channel (last visited Nov. 8, 2006 bgf)
Election Results: Constitutional Amenmdents Banning Same-Sex Marriage
Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were on the ballot in eight states and were approved in seven (Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin) of the eight (with Arizona defeating the initiative). Some of the states had proposals that banned same-sex marriage but did not speak to domestic partnerships (e.g., Wisconsin, Tennessee) ; while others banned both civil unions and gay marriage. (Virginia, Arizona, Colorado)
Vote margins were Colorado (56-44 percent), Idaho (63-37), South Carolina (78-22), South Dakota (52-48), Tennessee (80-20), Virginia (57-43) and Wisconsin (59-41) with Arizona defeating the measure (51-49).
An ABC News story notes the divergence between voting on this issue and voting for candidates with conservative views on marriage issues. Washington Post Reporter Chris Jenkins reports on the Virginia ballot issue in the Washington Post and his report on the Wisconsin election appears in the Green Bay Press Gazette. For analysis of the effect of religious groups on the issue in Wisconsin, see the Channel3000 report from Madison, Wisconsin. For the Tennessee outcome and reaction, watch a video from Nashville News station WKRN.
Some early analysis of the outcomes include:
civilrights.org - noting that while 7 of the 8 states passed the ban, the margin was narrower than in prior years in other states and also reporting on election results for candidates with strong views on the issue
Stanley Kurtz's analysis appears in the National Review.
(All links last visited November 8, 2006 bgf)
November 7, 2006
Chinese Sociologists Urge "Bolder" Sexual Attitudes
"Chinese sociologists said that the country should promote bolder attitudes toward sex, but that wife-swapping was off the agenda, state media reported Monday. Chinese attitudes toward sex have relaxed in recent decades, triggering a boom in extramarital relationships which the Communist Party has blamed on bourgeois mores imported from the West." Reuters, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 11-6-06 NVS)
Roberts Court to Hear Abortion Case
"The morning after the closely fought midterm elections, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case in six years. The hot-button issue has been debated for years among social and religious activists, voters and judges themselves. At issue in Wednesday's arguments is the constitutionality of a federal law banning a specific late-term procedure its critics call "partial-birth" abortion." By Bill Mears, CNN.com Link to Article (last visited 11-5-06 NVS)
N. J. Poll on Same-Sex Marriage
"Only a quarter of voters in the U.S. state of New Jersey are in favor of allowing same-sex relationships to be called marriage although half favor equal rights for such unions, a poll showed on Monday. The poll, published in the Star-Ledger newspaper, follows a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling last month that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, but that state lawmakers should decide within six months whether those relationships could be called marriage." By Jon Hurdle, Reuters, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 11-6-06 NVS)
Elections to Watch
"Voters in South Dakota will be deciding whether to uphold or annul a law that would ban virtually all abortions. Ballot measures in Oregon and California could require parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. . .
Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin will vote on state constitutional amendments that could ban same-sex marriage. Strangely, Colorado voters will decide on a rival measure that would actually legalize domestic partnerships even if the marriage ban passes. "
By Jess Barron, the buzz log, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 11-6-06 NVS)