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June 27, 2013

US Supreme Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

US Supreme Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cameras lined up outside the Supreme Court in preparation for the release of the DOMA case yesterday.
Image: bclinesmith.

In a ruling released yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5–4 that portions of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are unconstitutional and married same-sex partners should not be prevented from receiving federal benefits including tax and social security benefits, and recognition for the purpose of immigration.

In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Kennedy said DOMA “writes inequality into the entire United States Code“.

Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision in the DOMA case.
Image: Supreme Court of the United States.

The case was brought by 84-year-old Edith Windsor, who was married to Thea Speyer. The State of New York recognised their marriage, but following Speyer’s death, Windsor had to pay more than US$300,000 in inheritance tax.

In addition to a decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court also ruled on a case brought by supporters of Proposition 8 in California, a ballot measure which made same-sex marriage illegal in 2008. The resulting same-sex marriage ban was challenged in the court and a lower court held that the measure was incompatible with the US Constitution. The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by supporters of Proposition 8, arguing they do not have standing to defend in court a law the State of California is unwilling to defend. Therefore the lower court decision holds. California Governor Jerry Brown said: “I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted”.

President Barack Obama welcomed the decisions: “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” Obama instructed Eric Holder, the US attorney general, to ensure the ruling is implemented in federal law.

Anthony Romero from the American Civil Liberties Union said the fight for same-sex marriage rights would now return to the states. Chad Griffin from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organization, pledged: “Within five years, we will bring marriage equality to all 50 states.”

People celebrating the Supreme Court gay marriage decision.
Image: Neon Tommy.

A number of opponents of same-sex marriage have voiced their opinions on the Supreme Court decision. Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, stated: “Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.”

Bachmann went on: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA. What the court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States.”

Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp said the “courts have allowed the desires of adults to trump the needs of our children”.



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March 26, 2013

Supreme Court of the United States contemplates same-sex marriage

Supreme Court of the United States contemplates same-sex marriage

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supreme Court on Capitol Hill
Image: Ken Hammond.

This week, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to address two cases before them on the issue of same-sex marriage. The federal Defense of Marriage Act case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday. The other case involves California’s Proposition 8. A ruling is unlikely to be made until June.

The federal case involves the denial of privileges afforded to heterosexual married couples on the federal level, and the legality of states to opt out of recognizing legal marriages performed in other states in the union and to deny state benefits for those couples.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, potential swing vote on the Supreme Court
Image: Steve Petteway.

John Eastman, law professor at Chapman University and chairman of National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage, believes the eventual ruling will be a close one, with Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy likely to be the key swing vote. Eastman is quoted by U.S. News and World Report as saying of Kennedy, “All eyes are on Justice Kennedy and he’s obviously written the two major gay rights decisions in the past decade and a half and that means that people rightly think that he’s kind of open to taking this step, but he has studiously avoided taking that step in prior cases.” Other court watchers agree with this sentiment.

In the lead up to the hearings, a number of high profile politicians have expressed their support for same-sex marriage including Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Earlier this month, 40 United States senators signed a legal brief arguing against the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that was submitted to the Supreme Court.

High visibility companies have also indicated support for legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, including Starbucks where CEO Howard Schultz gave company support at a share-holder meeting last week. After share-holder Tom Strobhar implied at the meeting that Starbuck’s historical position of supporting same-sex marriage, which included open support of the same-sex marriage legalization efforts in the state of Washington last year, hurt the company’s bottom line, Schultz responded by saying, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company.” The company’s position is predicated on respecting diversity, even if it potentially impacts Starbucks earnings.

Goldman Sachs has also supported the push for same-sex marriage arguing that the lack of equality hurts businesses. Goldman Sachs, Marriott International and Thomson Reuters have all signed a legal brief condemning the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Protesters gathered inside the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota, to protest against the upcoming vote by the Minnesota House of Representatives to put an anti-same-sex marriage amendment on the 2012 election ballot.
Image: Fibonacci Blue.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published last week showed support for same-sex marriage in the United States was at an all time high at 58%, an increase of 21% since 2003. A recent Gallup poll showed similar results, with 54% of Americans supporting federal benefits for gay and lesbian couples, an increase of 27% since 1996 when the federal Defense of Marriage Act became law. Last week, a poll published by Reuters/Ipso found 63% of Americans supported same-sex marriage or civil unions. Despite this, social conservatives argue that this support may be over-stated by as much as 7% when voters are asked to voice their opinion on the issue at the ballot box. They cite a 2010 study by New York University political science professor Patrick J. Egan. Social conservatives also argue that people lie to pollsters to avoid appearing intolerant. 2000 Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer said on Fox News Sunday, “I’m not worried about [same-sex marriage], because the polls are skewed. Just this past November, four states, very liberal states, voted on this issue and my side lost all four of those votes. But my side had 45, 46 percent of the vote in all four of those liberal states.” Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, also argues that misleading polling questions over-count support for same-sex marriage in the United States.

Despite the potential for skewed polling, the four most recent ballot initiatives regarding same-sex marriage in the United States on a state level resulted in citizens voting to support same-sex marriage in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington and Maine. It also comes at a time when the most recent election cycle in the United States saw opponents of same-sex marriage outspent 3 to 1.



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December 24, 2010

U.S. vice president Joe Biden says positive consensus on same-sex marriage is \’inevitable\’

U.S. vice president Joe Biden says positive consensus on same-sex marriage is ‘inevitable’

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Friday, December 24, 2010

In an interview on the United States television show Good Morning America today, U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that a positive consensus on same-sex marriage is “inevitable” as the country “evolves.”

Cquote1.svg [There is] inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. I think the country’s evolving. Cquote2.svg

—Joe Biden

“[There is] inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. I think the country’s evolving. And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA,” said Biden.

Biden’s remarks come just days after U.S. president Barack Obama signed into law, the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT). The repeal, which was signed by Obama on Thursday, will now allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the country’s military, without fear that they will be discharged from service. A report by The Pentagon earlier this month concluded most U.S. service personnel do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. The report found only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect. DADT, in effect for 17 years, was repealed by the United States Senate on Saturday. The military will cease enforcement of the policy in 60 days time, after the Pentagon has certified to Congress that it, and the military are ready to implement the new law.

“This is a very good day,” Obama told a crowd of soldiers and senior military officials on Thursday. “This morning I’m proud to sign a law that will bring an end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love.” Obama added that the government would “not drag their feet” and they were “committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently.”

Currently, same-sex marriage is only legal in five of the 50 U.S. states; Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, including the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). In 2008, same-sex marriage was banned in California after voters approved Proposition 8. It was later overturned by a federal judge in San Francisco who deemed the measure unconstitutional.



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February 6, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, February 6, 2009.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Clarkson calls British Prime Minister Gordon a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’

British television presenter and newspaper columnist Jeremy Clarkson has told journalists in Sydney, Australia, that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”.

The remark caused outrage amongst Scottish Labour politicians with some calling for the BBC to sack him. Clarkson has since apologised.

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U.S. gay spouses entitled to benefits, says judge

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt has ruled that same-sex marriages must be treated the same as straight marriages by authorities when it comes to healthcare and benefits rights. He also said that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

The judge was ruling in a specific administrative dispute process, so the judgment does not set a wider precedent.

Sources


Royal Bank of Scotland fires non-execs

The troubled Royal Bank of Scotland, now 68% controlled by the UK government, has fired seven non-executive directors from the pre-credit crunch era.

The bank is about to report losses of £28 billion and has been under fire for plans to pay bonuses to the trading staff who generated them.

Sources


Icelandic retailer Baugur in trouble

Baugur, the Icelandic retail giant, has failed to get bankruptcy protection from its creditors at home and has placed its British arm in administration.

The group, which owns or has stakes in a large number of British High Street famous names, is being pursued for the equivalent of £1 billion in Iceland by the recently nationalized Landsbanki.

Sources



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January 2, 2008

US presidential candidate Duncan Hunter speaks to Wikinews

US presidential candidate Duncan Hunter speaks to Wikinews

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Duncan Hunter

Duncan Hunter is an American politician who has been a Republican member of the House of Representatives since 1981 from California’s 52nd congressional district in northern and eastern San Diego. It was previously numbered the 42nd District from 1981 to 1983 and then the 45th District from 1983 to 1993. Hunter was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the 109th Congress. Hunter is currently seeking the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the Congressman.

Running for President

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDavid ShankboneWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you handle juggling running the Presidential campaign, acting as a Congressman, and as a husband?

DH: It all works out well. I just talked to my wife, who is campaigning in Wyoming right now. She’s in Casper; I just saw her a couple of nights ago and I came back here [to Washington D.C.] for the votes [on the Defense Bill]. Our son just came back from Afghanistan on Thanksgiving. He’s a U.S. Marine and finished his third tour there in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re all doing well. We’re all blessed and having a great campaign season.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you ever at night say to yourself, “I can’t believe I am finding the energy for another day of this.”

DH: No, actually, listen, most of this stuff is done in air conditioning. [Laughs]

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png[Laughs] That can’t help the sleep deprivation, though.

DH: Listen, I was looking out the window of the Capitol and I saw two guys laying pipeline across Independence Avenue and I thought all I have to do is straighten my tie and make another speech.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngGood point.

DH: It’s a lot of fun, it’s a privilege and we’re having a great time. It’s a wonderful family endeavor. I think we’re getting our message out, too: strong national defense, enforce our borders; we’ve got the other guys talking about border enforcement and building my border fence. Also, we’re talking about bringing back high-paying manufacturing jobs that we pushed off to China with bad trade deals. Also the need to keep this country strong militarily. I think it’s a strong message, and I think the message is catching hold well.

Immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border fence

Wikinews waves Left.pngDavid ShankboneWikinews waves Right.pngPresumably the primary reason one typically gives to run for President is because they think they can win and do some good things for the country, but would you say the second reason after that is for a chance to frame the debate on the issues?

DH: Certainly. I think you do that every day, so you’re accomplishing something every day of the campaign, which is getting your message out. For example, I built the border fence in San Diego and I wrote the law that the President signed last October 26 a year ago to extend the border fence—my San Diego fence—854 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Across the smuggling corridors in those states. So every day we work that issue and energize the American people to build the fence, which is now the law. Every time we get that agenda to complete the border fence picked up by the other candidates, we are accomplishing something. We’re moving the ball down the field.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngThe fence that was built in Israel is seen by many as divisive in an area that is far more explosive than the Mexican-U.S. border. How do you respond to people who say that a fence is more symbolic of divisiveness than a resolution of the issues that cause illegal immigration?

DH: Actually, I think the fence has received the approval of people who live on both sides of the border in my community, because before we built that border fence in San Diego—I don’t know if you read the book Lines and Shadows, that was a best-selling book by Joseph Wambaugh, who wrote The Onion Field—it was about the no-mans land that existed between Tijuana and San Diego before we built that fence. You had armed gangs, some of them with machine guns, that preyed on the illegal aliens, murdered a number of people, robbed people by the hundreds every night, and they preyed on people not only on the northern side, but in the northern Tijuana neighborhoods. When we built the double border fence, we took away the mobility of the border gangs, put them out of business, and we actually brought about a much better situation for people on both sides of the border.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngIs a fence the remedy for that, or is finding a remedy for the needs and causes of those gangs and for the illegal migration of people a remedy?

DH: Let me put it this way: until we built the border fence, nothing worked. We had law enforcement operations on both sides of the border, and the gangs ran wild. They used the border as a safe haven. If they were pursued in the north, they’d go south; if they were pursued in the south, they’d go north. So until we built the double fence—it’s two fences with a road between—and we took away the mobility of the border gangs, we weren’t able to handle that. So actually there wasn’t another remedy. There’s another reason that we need to have one, and that’s this: today we have 250,000 criminal aliens, mostly people who came across from Mexico, not to look for work or for a better life, but to hurt Americans. People who created and committed serious crimes against Americans. 250,000 of those folks right now in federal, state and local penitentiaries and jails. Unless you have—

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat were they coming here to do?

DH: Well, they came across to hurt people! Those people didn’t come across to find job, they came across to commit crimes, got convicted, and are presently residing in our penitentiaries and jails. That’s a quarter of a million criminal aliens.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngWhere did they come from?

DH: Mostly Mexico. The vast majority came from Mexico and last time I looked 27% of the federal penitentiary population are criminal aliens. So there is a large criminal contingent that moves back and forth across the border, and we pay $3 billion a year to incarcerate those folks. One year’s incarceration costs would build a thousand miles of border fence. That’s another reason why you have to have a real border. The other aspect is that we have the biggest open door in the world, that is the biggest front door, the legal immigration system is very liberal in this country and very open, so it is only appropriate that when people want to come into this country, they knock on the front door.

Concentrating the political power in Congressional redistricting

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png You were originally elected as part of the Reagan Revolution and you came from a historically competitive district—

DH: Actually a non-competitive district; it was 2 to 1 Democrat. It was so noncompetitive that my opponent announced two weeks before the election that it was so Democrat that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t beat him! [Laughs]

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But you won! So it sounds competitive.

DH: Well, it wasn’t competitive until 1980.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngDistricts nationwide have become solidly leaning toward one party or another. Do you think that since our districts are being drawn in ways—and both parties do this—in ways that ensure one party wins, do you think that hurts our democracy?

DH: Well, actually, it’s always happened since the original Gerrymander by Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, which they named the Gerry Salamander and then the Gerrymander. The district I ran in had been gerrymandered by the Democrats of the legislature to be heavily Democrat; I was just able to win it. You have the same thing now. You have very polarized seats, but it’s not much different than it was in 1980. In fact, it’s no difficult at all.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But studies have shown that districts have become more concentrated, that the votes have become more lopsided toward one party, whereas it used to be more that you would find percentages of 47/53, whereas now it is 60/40 or 65/35. You consistently win more than 60-70% of the vote in your district.

DH: Yeah, well, that’s true, but that’s what the old guy used to get in my district in 1980.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But then they changed it.

DH: Yeah, but my point is that the district was actually moved—the Democrat legislature actually cut my house out and moved it around and moved it into East County with a narrow connector. SO I have always been subject to the Democrat party controlling redistricting in California. They have done what is most expeditious for the party.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Don’t you think this is a problem we have in the country with both parties doing it?

DH: Well, they have always done it. I guess my point is that it’s the same as it has always been. There have been a number of attempts in which referendums have been offered by the minority party, for example in California, to make redistricting more even, and those initiatives have always been the subject of mass media campaigns by the controlling party, and you’ve usually lost. So you end up in the end with the elective representatives of the party sometimes overseen by the judiciary, because you end up with judicial panels redistricting if there is a defective redistricting by the state legislature, but in the end the elected representatives of the states are the people who draw the lines. I don’t know what a valid substitute would be for the elected representatives of the state. I say that as a guy coming from a state that is dominated by the opposite party that tries to do my party in. On the other hand, those districts are drawn by people who have been elected by the majority of Californians. I like the idea of having judicial panels redistrict the states, but I think in the end under this democratic system we have, having the elected representatives do the redistricting is the way it has been done in the past and the way it is going to be done in the future.

Iran and nuclear capabilities

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png The National Intelligence Estimate came out that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program in years, but the Bush Administration has been warning us that Iran is a threat. Do you think these two pieces of information hurt our international standing?

DH: No, I don’t. First, I think the National Intelligence Estimate, which I have seen in classified and unclassified form, is flat-out wrong. Because a major part of a weapons program is the production of weapons-grade uranium. You presently have 2,952 centrifuges refining uranium in Natanz, which is three times as many centrifuges as our intelligence service has estimated until an actual inspection was made by the IAEA.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But the IAEA and Mohamed ElBaradei have also come out and said that the National Intelligence Estimate jibes with their findings.

DH: What I’m saying is that the facts don’t support the facts as alleged—or represented by this last inspection—don’t’ support the conclusion that there is not a weapons program being undertaken. A major part of a nuclear device is the refined uranium, which constitutes the explosive matter in a nuclear device. If that’s a major part of the bomb, right now you have almost 3,000 centrifuges producing that material right now in Natanz, Iran, and not only haven’t they slowed down, but they have been increased to three times our former estimate and they are going—according to the last inspection—full bore. So if somebody is telling you they are disarming, the next question you want to ask them is, “Then why are your ammunition factories still in production?”

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Isn’t that just conjecture?

DH: No, it’s not conjecture at all. Natanz has been—the arms teams have been there and they have counted the centrifuges and they are operating at full speed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But there is no evidence that they are making any weapons with them, correct?

DH: No, they are producing the powder, the explosive material that is used in a nuclear device, which is the most difficult part to obtain. So they are proceeding at full pace with a part of a nuclear device. So the question to ask the Iranian is, “Why are you doing this?” There is no good answer. I think it is misleading to say they have stopped their arms program. They haven’t stopped that part of it.

Terrorism: the greatest threat to humanity

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png What do you think is the greatest threat to humanity?

DH: The production or the securing of a weapon of mass destruction. There are several species of threats, but I would say in terms of the war against terrorist—

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png You think terrorism is the greatest threat to humanity?

DH: No, I’m going to give you several broad categories, and then I want to give you a sub-category. But if look at the terrorist threat, which I think right now is perhaps the greatest imminent threat that we have, the securing of a nuclear device or another weapon of mass destruction, and its detonation in a large population center,

I think that’s the greatest—

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Are you for nuclear non-proliferation, then?

DH: Well, I’m for nuclear non-proliferation to terrorist groups, and for technology control.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png What is technology control?

DH: It means controlling the subsystems that can be utilized to develop a weapon of mass destruction. You have technology control with respect to chemical and biological weapons, but also nuclear weapons. So you have a regime that includes the nuclear suppliers group, you have several international constructs to keep those systems from getting into the wrong hands. So technology control is a very important aspect of securing and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons capability by a terrorist group or a terrorist state.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Do you think we should begin entering into agreements with other countries to disarm the nuclear arsenal worldwide?

DH: No, I don’t think the United States should eliminate our nuclear arsenal because I think that manifests a deterrent against others who might move aggressively against the United States at some point, or might move aggressively against our allies. I think there is a deterrent factor to having a nuclear weapons capability for the United States, which I would describe as a responsible nuclear state. Nor do I worry about Great Britain’s, nor do I worry about France’s. But what I would do is everything possible to prevent a regime with nuclear technology from falling into the hands of those who would use it irresponsibly, and that would include of course Iran, obvious North Korea, which has some nuclear devices, and other countries.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png It seems like it is a difficult thing to argue that we have nuclear arms, but other sovereign nations can’t have them.

DH: Yeah, I think that would have to fall under the category of the real world. You don’t want to have countries which have what I would call non-stable leadership, or anti-American leadership, developing the means to kill large numbers of Americans. That may not seem fair, that’s not Marquis of Queensbury rules, but it’s in the interest of the United States.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Does it not worry you that governments can change quickly? You had Shah Pahlavi, who was very pro-Western for a long time, overthrown in Iran. President Musharraf in Pakistan, which now has nuclear weapons, is also unstable with his hold on power and has nuclear capabilities.

DH: Yes, but I think in both those cases you will see that we did not give nuclear weapons capability to either one of them, and would very much prefer they didn’t have it. So I agree with you, but I want to remind you that we haven’t given and we have been very much against nuclear proliferation to those states.

The United Nations

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png You are a critic of the United Nations and it would seem like out of any foreign body that is positioned to assume global leadership on this issue, it would be the UN. Do you think it is wise to take an antagonistic view of that body when it seems necessary to have the global cooperation it embodies?

DH: Well, I’m not antagonistic toward the United Nations as much as I am realistic about the United Nations. I think the United Nations is good, as I have said, for inoculating babies and for operating refugee camps and refugee centers, but they should not be relied upon by the United States for our security, and I think that has been proven time and time again. So the United States needs to have independently the means for maintaining its security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png One of the things you said was, “Rest assured no treaty that infringes the sovereignty of the United States…”

DH: You said you saw a quote that said ‘a trip to the waste basket’? That’s not a…

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png That’s not an accurate quote?

DH: I like what you said, but that’s not a phrase I generally use, but I am not supportive of the United Nations for U.S. security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png If you’re concerned about infringing on the sovereignty of the United States, but the concern doesn’t extend for the sovereignty of other countries, how do you form a foreign policy principle that doesn’t make it seem the concern is only what is good for us?

DH: Listen, I need to go to a conference right now, can I call you back?

[Break for Congressman Hunter to attend a conference]

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Hi Congressman Hunter. How was the meeting?

DH: Very good. We wrapped up the defense conference. That was with Senator Kennedy and Senator Levin, and they agreed to take the hate crimes bill off the defense bill, so we are going to move it forward and pass it, so it was good news.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png That happens a lot where they put disparate bills together in the hopes of moving them together. What are some of the positives and what are some of the negatives of doing that?

DH: We do pass out-of-scope legislation in the defense bill sometimes; but the problem is putting in legislation that wouldn’t pass independently. The downside is passing legislation that probably wouldn’t pass or wouldn’t be signed by the President otherwise.

School prayer

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngYou support school prayer?

DH: Yeah, I support folks having a place where young people can go to have a quiet time after their substantive activities and have a prayer.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngNot a school mandated prayer?

DH: Not a state-enacted prayer.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.pngMore a moment of silence?

DH: Not a moment of silence, but having a place where young people can go and prayer and still having that availability to do that.

Pornography

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png You sponsored the Parents Empowerment Act–

DH: I wrote it. I was the original author of it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png That Act would allow parents or guardians to sue in federal court anyone that disseminates material harmful to minors.

DH: Yeah, pornographic material that hurts young people. That’s one way to get to people that put out dirty images. The key is that if they disseminate it in a way they can expect minors to see it, then they should be held liable for the damages of that material. I came to that conclusion after watching the FCC operate in a very very haphazard and sluggish manner, very rarely responding to complaints. And very under-manned even if they did respond energetically to complaints. It gives parents the ability to hold pornographers liable for the damage to their children. That’s the only way you are going to stop them, to hit them in their pocketbook because they obviously don’t care about the children. They just care about their pocketbook.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Can you explain how that does not limit free speech, especially on the Internet?

DH: Yes, certainly. Free speech, for example–nobody disagrees that somebody has a right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater; we all agree on that. And nobody has the right to put pornographic literature in front of children or in the public, and from my perspective, that should be an actionable right that parents would have. It empowers parents to go after people who are putting filth in front of their children, and to hit these people where they live, which is in their savings account or their check book.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png What about a pornographic website?

DH: Absolutely it would stop a pornographic website, if it is put out in a way that children should reasonably be expected to see it, it should be banned. I think this: the trauma that is caused by young kids–and studies show now that a fairly substantial amount of young children are exposed to pornographic websites now–just sighing and saying that’s life in modern America, well I think we should keep it from happening.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Are there any studies that show it actually harms children?

DH: Oh, absolutely! That pornography harms children, there’s lots of studies. Don’t you think pornography harms children?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png I’ve spent time in Europe, and I have spent time here. It depends on what you are saying pornography is. For instance, in Europe women are allowed to be bare-chested on the beach or in some places on television. It doesn’t seem to harm children there.

DH: If you’ve seen some stuff on the websites, it’s much worse than that. You’re aware of that.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Sure, but what is the bar for pornography, then?

DH: I think that is a matter of judgment and the court is going to have to make the judgment whether that is pornography or not. That has always been a question of fact. Once it is established and once a community–jurors–agree that it is pornography, that it has harmed children, then the people who spread it are going to be held accountable. You have to be held accountable for what you throw out in front of children.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Would a website with a message at the front saying that a user confirms they are over 18 before they enter the site, would that be sufficient?

DH: I think that’s a question of fact for the jury. They are going to have to decide whether the key element in the Parents Empowerment Act, which is whether or not the purveyor of the pornography could reasonably expect children to see it. It might be argued to the jury that there are movies which put restricted labels and don’t go with the General Audience label because it actually intrigues young people and sometimes has proven to draw higher attendance if you have a label that implies there is something risque in the movie. You’ve seen that. Movie makers avoid the General Audience label.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png They also try to avoid the X label.

DH: It depends on what the case is and what the jury believes. If the jury believes it was truly put in there in a way that the purveyor of the pornographic image set up his site to attract children, then he is going to be liable. But it’s a question of fact.

Gay Marriage

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider yourself States Rights?

DH: I think so. I think that’s a general philosophy. Federalism. I don’t think it’s absolute; I think there are some issues in which the country as a nation has an interest.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Why would you support the Federal Marriage Amendment if you are for States Rights?

DH: Because of what I just told you. I think that states rights are important, but there are some issues in which the nation as a community has an interest, and of course the Marriage Act, one of the fears has been if you end up with one or two states that support homosexual marriage, what you’ll end up doing is producing a flow of people going to a particular state, receiving their marriage license in that state, and then due to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, having those marriages recognized in the state where the marriage is banned.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Doesn’t DOMA prevent that? The Defense of Marriage Act?

DH: Well, if you end up with a federal act that prohibits it–that’s what I’m saying, if you prohibit it on a national basis in a Constitutional Amendment or on a federal act, then you eliminate the process of having one or two states generating homosexual marriages and then demanding they be recognized under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Do you understand what I’m saying? If you have one state that allows it, then you have a recognition requirement of the other states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png But didn’t DOMA prevent that? Massachusetts currently has gay marriage. So didn’t DOMA prevent that from happening?

DH: Prevent what from happening?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Prevent a swell of people going to Massachusetts and getting married, and then taking their marriage to another state that bans it and forcing them to recognize it?

DH: What’s your point? I think that’s good. That it does prevent it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png So do you no longer support amending the Constitution is my question.

DH: No, I think it has still yet to be fully decided as to whether a few states can at some point basically become proliferators, if you will, of non-traditional marriage. Here’s my position: If it is necessary to amend the Constitution, then I think we will need to do it. I think you need to have a Defense of Marriage on a uniform basis in all fifty states. What it takes, in terms of satsifying the federal courts to do that, should be done. So if it is required that it is necessary to have an amendment to the Constitution to do that, I would support that. But doing what it takes to have a uniform treatment to defend traditional marriage across all the states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Essentially you would want to revoke Massachusetts’ ability to have gay marriage?

DH: Yes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png So that would be anti-States rights to a degree?

DH: Well, that’s your argument. But my point is that when I said I’m for states rights, I’m also for recognizing the fact that there are some issues in which the nation has an interest.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Why do you think gay marriage is one of those issues?

DH: I think that’s a center piece, the most important institution in our country, is the marriage. The traditional marriage. Its most important role is as the protector of children. I think central to the American family, which is the most central institution in the country, is the marriage between a man and a wife. I think we need to elevate that traditional marriage. Support it, promote it, elevate it. Not devalue it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png How does gay marriage devalue marriage?

DH: I think that it devalues it by rendering it less than what it was, by making it something that is not a function of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which most of our laws are built on.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Although we are not a Christian nation–

DH: As you start to devalue the traditional marriage, people would ask why can’t it simply be a contract between a number of people? What’s special about two people? What’s special about a man and a wife? I think there is something special about a man and a wife, and in a way the traditional marriage is different than many institutions. It is not a governmentally-formed institution. It is an institution that has a religious element to it. It’s a part of a our Judeo-Christian tradition.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png The argument against that is should government be involved in it at all then.

DH: But it is recognized, and protected, by government. So that makes it an unusual institution.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png What about when two Muslims marry, then? Because that’s not Judeo-Christian.

DH: Well, I’m saying that was the basis of the traditional marriage in our society that made it an important institution in this society. That doesn’t mean it is restricted of one religious group, but that it has been a function of Judeo-Christian religion and has become thereby a part of our laws.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Since it exists in all societies, just because it is practiced by a Judeo-Christian society does that make it a Judeo-Christian institution or a human institution?

DH: Well, I think you can argue that, but–

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png You don’t believe that?

DH: No, I said you could argue that, but in this society it has been a function of the Judeo-Christian religion, although it is supported similarly by other religions, and by diverse numbers of ethnic groups. On the other hand, that’s not a reason to not support it, to not elevate it, and not to honor it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngDSWikinews waves Right.png Some Christian churches such as the Episcopalians conduct gay marriages.

DH: Listen, you might have all liberal types in this country to undo what is essentially the traditional marriage. I don’t agree with that. I think that is an underpinning to the most important institution in this country, which is the family, and so I don’t agree with those who would tear the traditional marriage down, or think it is without value, or that it can be changed and should be changed. I simply don’t agree with that.

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February 9, 2007

Washington State Initiative would require married couples to have kids

Washington State Initiative would require married couples to have kids

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An initiative has been introduced in the U.S. state of Washington that would require a married couple to have children within three years, or else their marriage would become void.

The activist group Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA) filed Initiative 957 on January 26. If passed, marriage in the state would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. In order to receive a marriage license, a couple would have to assert that they “know of no reason” that they cannot have children. If they did not have children within three years, their marriages would be subject to annulment. All other marriages would be defined as ‘unrecognized’ and people in them would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

WA-DOMA formed in 2006 in response to the decision in the case Andersen v. King County, where the state Supreme Court upheld Washington’s ban on same-sex marriage. The court found the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts marriage to unions between a man and woman, was proper. In the decision, the court reasoned that there was a “legitimate state interest” in limiting marriage to couples capable of having children.

WA-DOMA is in favor of gay marriage rights. The purpose of the initiative, according to founder Gregory Gadow, is to show that the logic behind the DOMA ruling is absurd. ‘For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,’ said Gadow. ‘If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.’

Supporters of I-957 must gather at least 224,800 valid signatures by July 6 to put it on the November ballot. The alliance says if the initiative were passed, the state supreme court would likely strike it down as unconstitutional, which would in turn weaken the Court’s reasoning in upholding the Defense of Marriage Act.

The measure’s backers have said they are planning two additional initiatives. One would prohibit divorce or separation when a married couple has children, and would make having a child together the equivalent of marriage.

Other gay rights groups do not support the paper. Activist Bill Dubay commented that while he gets the point of the initiative, it is unlikely he would sign it. The gay advocacy group Equal Rights Washington does not endorse the bill, stressing that that families come in all forms, with or without children, and that laws should help families, not hurt them.

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June 5, 2006

President Bush pushes for gay marriage ban

President Bush pushes for gay marriage ban

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Monday, June 5, 2006

File:Marriage usa.png
Definition of Marriage by US State Based

US President George W. Bush is pushing for a national ban on gay marriage, as the US Senate opened a debate on a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. “Changing the definition of marriage would undermine the structure of the family,” said Bush, who raised the issue at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

“The Defense of Marriage Act declares that no state is required to accept another state’s definition of marriage. If that act is overturned by the courts, then marriage recognized in one city or state may have to be recognized as marriages everywhere else,” said the President.

Bush criticized judges who overturned state laws. State legislatures “are being thwarted by activist judges who are overturning the expressed will of their people… Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,” he said. The “cornerstone of a healthy society” is traditional marriage, Bush declared, and the issue should be returned – “back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people.”

At the White House, Bush told supporters of the amendment that he’s “proud to stand” with them. His comments come as the U.S. Senate starts three days of debate on the measure. All Senate Democrats, except Ben Nelson of Nebraska, oppose the ban.

Whilst many in the Senate do support Bush’s amendments, in the final throes of an election cycle, few are prepared to support the bill. “A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry pure and simple,” said Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, where the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriages in 2003.

“Marriage between one man and one woman does a better job protecting children better than any other institution humankind has devised,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. “As such, marriage as an institution should be protected, not redefined.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who says he believes marriage is the union of a man and a woman, said he nonetheless would vote against the amendment on a test vote Wednesday.

“The reason for this debate is to divide our society, to pit one against another,” Reid said in remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor. “This is another one of the president’s efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract, and to confuse America. It is this administration’s way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day.”

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