National & International News

National News
Disgraced Pastor Cuts Ties with Old Church
Ted Haggard, former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, has ended his official relationship with the megachurch he founded. He was fired from New Life in November 2006, after he admitted to “sexual immorality” when allegations surfaced that he visited a gay male escort, the Denver Post said. Several months later, he agreed to enter a process of “spiritual restoration.” Brady Boyd, current pastor at New Life Church, sent a letter to parishioners and the media saying Haggard recently requested to end his official relationship with the New Life Church Restoration Team. He and his family now live and attend church in Phoenix, Arizona.

Domestic Partnerships Begin in Oregon
Same-sex couples in Oregon celebrated in early February on the first day they legally could apply for domestic partnerships. In Portland, people were lining up outside the Multnomah County Building as early as 4 AM, The Portland Oregonian reported. The lines were the result of a decision by a federal judge who tossed out a challenge to Oregon’s new civil-unions law. That suit sought to block the domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature, and put the matter to a public vote. The ruling put the new law into effect immediately, entitling same-sex couples to most of the duties and benefits that married residents receive. The first step for couples was to fill out forms. From there, they went into county licensing offices, where they faced a five-minute procedure before leaving with a certificate.

New York Court Recognizes Gay Unions

A New York appellate court has granted the same recognition to out-of-state marriages of gay couples as heterosexual couples married outside of the state. New York State does not permit homosexual couples to marry. It does permit the voluntary extension of health-care benefits to same-sex couples, however. The court said this means gay marriages meet the state’s “marriage recognition rule,” The New York Times reported. The court said the state’s longstanding recognition of out-of-state marriages and a Court of Appeals decision permitting legislation acknowledging same-sex marriages mean that “in our view, the Court of Appeals thereby indicated that the recognition of plaintiff’s marriage is not against the public policy of New York.” The case involves the Canadian marriage between Patricia Martinez and Lisa Ann Golden. Martinez sued her employer, Monroe Community College, for denying health benefits to Golden following their marriage. The couple entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2001.

International News

Group Decries HIV Arrests in Egypt

Human Rights Watch condemned the Egyptian government for jailing a group of alleged homosexual men after one revealed he was HIV-positive. The rights group sharply criticized Egyptian authorities for the convictions of four men on charges of “habitual practice of debauchery” and the arrests of four others awaiting trial. The arrests were sparked in October when police broke up an altercation between two men on a Cairo street. One of the men revealed to police that he has tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Both men were arrested and two further arrests ensued after photographs or telephone numbers were found in the possession of the arrested men. Four others were arrested later at an apartment leased by one of the men.

Rights Group Hails Gay Adoption Ruling
Human Rights Watch praised a decision by the European Court of Human Rights calling discriminatory a ruling banning a lesbian couple from adopting a child. The court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in the case of E.B. vs. France, saying the French decision to deny adoption rights to a lesbian couple on the grounds of sexual orientation violated European discrimination and family rights law. The case involved a 45-year-old teacher and her domestic partner who applied for adoption in 1998. French authorities refused the application in 2002, citing a lack of a “paternal referent” in E.B.’s home. The European court ruled French law extending adoption rights to single parents meant France “could not then take discriminatory measures in applying it.” Human Rights Watch says the ruling means adoption rights should extend to homosexual couples throughout Europe.

Judge Wants HIV Witness Masked in Court

A Southern Ontario judge who demanded a witness with HIV and Hepatitis C wear a mask while in the courtroom is being challenged by two AIDS groups. Complaints were filed in Toronto by the rights groups with the Ontario Judicial Council about Justice Jon-Jo Douglas, who presides in Barrie, about 90 miles north of Toronto. The trial is for a man accused of sexually assaulting a fellow inmate in a provincial prison, The Toronto Star said. In November, after the alleged victim testified about his HIV status and hepatitis, Douglas reportedly demanded he wear a mask. Crown Prosecutor Karen McCleave said the judge wouldn’t listen to her claims that such measures were not needed. “The HIV virus will live in a dried state for year after year after year, and only needs moisture to reactivate itself,” the court transcript quoted Douglas as saying. McCleave replied that she wouldn’t ask the witness to wear a mask in court when he faces no such requirement in the community. The provincial Criminal Lawyers Association also has lodged a complaint with the judicial council about Douglas, the Star said.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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