Friday, February 13, 2009

Around the Nation

Newly released figures from the California secretary of state’s office show that the biggest contributor to the campaign to approve a ban on same-sex marriage in the state was the Knights of Columbus, the political arm of the Roman Catholic Church, which gave $1.275 million. The conservative evangelical Focus on the Family, which fights LGBT issues across the country, gave $657,000 in money and services. The amounts vastly surpass the $189,000 in direct cash and compensated staff time from the Mormon church.

The new figures were turned over to the state weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission that institutional donors to ProtectMarriage, the umbrella group behind Proposition 8, had not reported the value of workers salaries and other expenses. ...

A year after Oregon established a domestic partner registry, about 2,600 Oregon same-sex couples - about one in five - have registered. The domestic partner law allows same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples unable to marry to form legally recognized partnerships. It was passed by the legislature in 2007 and went into effect in January 2008. Under the partnership law, couples who register are guaranteed the right to visit partners in hospital and make medical decisions, file joint state tax returns, and have joint health insurance plans or take sick leave to care for their partners. The law was passed after a legal battle for Gay marriage failed. An analysis by The Oregonian newspaper of the couples who have registered shows that about half of the same-sex couples live in Multnomah County and 70 percent are women. LGBT rights activists say for some couples the partner law may not be practical, others are holding out - hoping the amendment eventually will be overturned and the state will allow them to marry. ...

The New Mexico Senate has once again put the kibosh on a proposed domestic partnership bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-5 on the Domestic Rights and Responsibilities Act. One member was absent, but legislation needs a majority to advance. The vote means the bill is virtually dead. The only hopes of reviving it would be for a member of the committee to end their opposition and call for a new vote, or for the House to pass a similar bill and send it to the Senate.

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