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National News
National News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Gay N.H. Episcopal bishop enters civil union, Calif. Episcopal bishop to marry Gays The Gay Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire who has almost singlehandedly caused a near schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion entered into an official civil union with his partner June 7.

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew, who have been together for 19 years, tied the knot at St. Paul's Church in Concord, N.H. About 120 people attended the ceremony.

Robinson was consecrated a bishop in 2003 and the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch, has been internally at war over the morality of homosexuality ever since.

Many observers believe a formal split in the communion is inevitable.

Robinson suggested he wanted to get civilly united before attending this summer's Anglican Communion Lambeth Conference in England, to protect his partner and daughters. He has received death threats since becoming the communion's first openly Gay and presumably noncelibate bishop.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal bishop of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, said June 9 that he strongly supports California's legalization of same-sex marriage and will volunteer to conduct civil weddings in San Francisco, which is expected to be hit with a tsunami of same-sex marriages.

Andrus also called on the faithful to vote against the November ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to undo the Supreme Court ruling that legalized Gay marriage.

The diocese is running ads celebrating the ruling and inviting Gay couples to Episcopal churches for premarital counseling.

"I urge you to encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service and then being blessed in The Episcopal Church," Andrus wrote in a pastoral letter.

"I urge Episcopalians, clergy and lay, to volunteer as Deputy Marriage Commissioners. There are over 4,000 civil same-sex marriages planned in a short period of time in the city of San Francisco alone and the city is asking for help in meeting demand. I intend to volunteer for this at my earliest opportunity."

Two California counties rebel against marriage ruling County clerks in California's Kern and Butte counties have stopped performing all marriages so as not to have to marry Gay couples.

In Kern County, where Bakersfield is located, Clerk Ann Barnett announced her decision after county lawyers told her she could not marry straight couples but refuse to marry Gay couples. Officially, she said the move stemmed from a lack of staff and space to meet the anticipated demand for weddings.

But in an e-mail sent to the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund and obtained by the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, Barnett's office wrote: "Our question is, now that the Supreme Court has refused to stay its decision, will Alliance Defense Fund defend the County Clerk if she ceases performing all marriage ceremonies. ... We fully expect to be sued and our own counsel is not being of help."

In Butte County, north of Sacramento, County Clerk Candace Grubbs cited money problems in announcing her decision. The county's largest city is Chico, population 87,000.

But the president of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir, said the money excuse makes no sense.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle that counties make money from selling marriage licenses and performing weddings.

Kern and Butte counties still have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but counties are not required to also offer wedding ceremonies, though most do as a courtesy and because it brings in income.

Big Gay groups: Do marry, don't sue Leading national Gay organizations have issued a strongly worded advisory all but demanding that same-sex couples who visit California to get married not file any lawsuits seeking recognition of their marriages in their home states.

The document also strongly urges married same-sex couples not to sue for federal recognition of their marriages.

The lengthy document was issued June 10 by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Equality Federation, Freedom To Marry, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"Don't go suing right away," the groups said. "Most lawsuits will likely set us all back."

"One thing couples shouldn't do is just sue the federal government or, if they are from other states, go sue their home state or their employer to recognize their marriage or open up the health plan," the advisory continued. "Pushing the federal government before we have a critical mass of states recognizing same-sex relationships or suing in states where the courts aren't ready is likely to get us bad rulings. Bad rulings will make it much more difficult for us to win marriage, and will certainly make it take much longer."

The full document can be accessed on the ACLU's Web site at tinyurl.com/66z8kq.

Massachusetts governor's daughter comes out Katherine Patrick, daughter of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, came out publicly as a Lesbian June 12 in an interview with the Boston Gay newspaper Bay Windows.

"We ... wanted people to know that it's not only something that we accept, but it's something that we're very proud of," Katherine, 18, said.

She said she came out to her parents in July 2007, just before a picnic by the pool at their home in the Berkshires.

"It was the easiest coming out experience that anyone could possibly have," Katherine said.

First lady Diane Patrick called that event "a nonevent in the sense that there wasn't any tension."

"I was just happy for her that she knew who she was and that she was comfortable with who she was," she said. Gov. Patrick told Bay Windows, "I think when Katherine started to memorize all the episodes of The L Word, there was some hint that maybe she was sending us."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
 

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