MARRIAGE DIGEST: Despite rulings, 'gay marriage' debate not over in Md., Wash.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (BP)--Conservatives in Maryland and Washington state are learning that the battle about "gay marriage" is far from over, despite court rulings in their favor in the past 18 months.
In both states homosexual leaders are hoping their respective legislatures will do what the courts would not do -- legalize "marriage" for same-sex couples. Both courts said the issue was for the legislative branch, and not the judicial branch, to decide.
Dan Furmansky, executive director of the homosexual activist group Equality Maryland, told The Gazette news service in Maryland he is working to get moderate and conservative Democrats on board supporting "gay marriage." Maryland and Washington have Democratic-controlled legislatures and Democratic governors.
"I think that marriage equality will mirror every contentious social issue that the Democratic Party faces. This is a flashpoint issue," Furmansky said. "These elected officials are sent to Annapolis to make life better for all of their constituents, and they need to address the problems that same-sex couples face because they're treated like legal strangers."
The Maryland Court of Appeals -- the highest court in the state -- issued a ruling in September refusing to legalize "gay marriage."
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said "gay marriage" is an issue "whose time has not yet come," but Del. Heather R. Mizeur, a Democrat and open homosexual, said the issue shouldn't be put on the backburner, either.
"The fundamental question in this debate is how do we get equal justice under the law," she told The Gazette. "There aren't many permutations to that answer."
In Washington state, where that state's Supreme Court ruled against "gay marriage" in July 2006, homosexual activists are pushing for additional legislation a mere five months after a new same-sex domestic partnerships law went into effect. The law grants homosexual couples some of the legal benefits of marriage.
"We hope to increase the protections available to gay and lesbian families in Washington state," Josh Friedes, advocacy director of Equal Rights Washington, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "We recognize that we are not at the point were we can pass the marriage bill. In the interim, while we continue the dialogue about marriage, we do believe it is possible to increase the rights."
Additionally, supporters of "gay marriage" say that with an election approaching, they will work to put legislators in office who are more favorable to the issue.
"The entire focus had been on the courts," Washington state Sen. Ed Murray, an open homosexual, told the Seattle newspaper. "We have yet to go through an election cycle where we talk to legislators and raise money for legislators around the issue of marriage."
Expanding the domestic partnerships bill, Murray said, would be another step toward "gay marriage."
Meanwhile, an election in Washington state between Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi -- who Gregoire defeated in a recount after the 2004 election -- could impact the issue. Rossi opposes "gay marriage." Gregoire signed the domestic partnerships bill and previously said she opposed "gay marriage" but has not said as such recently. Asked her views on the issue recently, she said, "I do not believe the state should discriminate against any citizen."
N.H. LAW TO TAKE EFFECT -- New Hampshire's civil unions law takes effect Jan. 1, and same-sex couples -- including Democratic state Rep. Gail Morrison and her partner -- are planning to have a group ceremony on the steps of the state capitol at midnight. The law will grant couples the legal benefits of marriage, minus the name.
"My partner and I have been talking about wanting to do it the minute it was possible, and where else do you celebrate those state accomplishments?" she told the Associated Press. "It's a combination of very private dedication to one another, but within the context of a historic state event, so the Statehouse steps seemed absolutely the perfect place to be."
TWO FATHERS, TWO MOTHERS, ONE BABY -- Christian conservatives worried about the collapse of the natural family found another reason in mid-December to have concern when the Los Angeles Times reported the birth of a baby born essentially with two mothers and two fathers.
With the help of a fertility clinic, homosexual couple Chad and David Craig of Atlanta had their sperm -- mixed so they would not know who the father was -- united with a donor's egg and implanted into a surrogate mother. The baby boy, O. Jansen Hodge Craig, has a biological mother, birth mother and two fathers -- one of them being the biological father.
But that was just the end of the story. They had been trying for four years to have a baby, and as the Times reported, "went through three egg retrievals, 65 eggs, seven fertilization attempts, three surrogates and more than $200,000 in expenses."
The birth mother, who lives in Massachusetts, even is pumping and freezing breast milk and shipping it in dry ice to Atlanta weekly.
One of the men said of taking care of the baby, "[W]e're just going through what all parents go through."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council disagrees.
"[T]hey have gone to such great lengths to ensure that this child will not 'go through' the experience that most children enjoy of being raised by both a mother and a father," Perkins wrote in his daily e-mail. "It is outrageous that courts in some states have become complicit in this denial of biological reality by allowing homosexual couples to have custody of newborns and birth certificates that mislead about the true parentage of the child."
Michael Foust is assistant editor of Baptist Press.