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Catholic Malta Legalizes Gay Marriage Over Church Objection – NBCNews.com

People protest against same-sex marriage, a day before the Maltese parliament is expected to legalise gay marriage, outside Parliament House in Valletta, Malta, July 11, 2017. Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters

While abortion remains banned in Malta, gay adoption has been legal since civil unions were introduced in 2014. Last year, the number of exclusively civil marriages eclipsed the number of church weddings for the first time.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna has opposed the gay marriage law, reflecting the church’s longstanding view that marriage is only between a man and woman.

“I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name,” he said in a homily a few days after parliament started debating the legislation. “But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman.”

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says it would be “discriminatory” to have separate laws for heterosexual and gay marriages.

So amendments to existing laws include the elimination of any reference to “husband and wife.” In its place is the gender-neutral term “spouse” to cover all situations.

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The law also calls for the removal of the terms “father” and “mother,” to be substituted by “parents.” Lesbian couples who have children via medical interventions are distinguished by the terms “the person who gave birth” and “the other parent.”

Other changes concern same-sex marriages: Any reference to “maiden name” is replaced with “surname at birth,” while couples can now choose what name to take after marriage. The man, for example, can take his wife’s surname.

More than a dozen European countries have legalized

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Best-selling author Eugene Peterson changes his mind on gay marriage – Religion News Service

Q&A By Jonathan Merritt | 5 hours ago

Eugene Peterson lectures at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle in May 2009. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) After writing more than 30 best-selling books,84-year-old Eugene Peterson has decided to hang it up.

The theologian and writer widely respected among Christians pastors and laypeople alike is best known forThe Message Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Christian Scriptures that has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide.

Despite his ongoing popularity, Petersonsaid he has published his final book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire. And hes no longer teaching or traveling.

But Peterson still has much to say. The influential Christian leader does not mince words as he explains why he is calling it quits, what he thinks about Donald Trump and how he changed his mind on same-sex issues.

Well, Im 84 years old. Thats one. I think Ive pretty much mined everything Ive learned and made art out of it. Thats basically it, I think.

No, I dont feel tired. I just feel like theres a sense of completion, or maybe satisfaction. I think Ive done a better job of everything Id done before inthis book. I might do something else, but I dont think so. These days, I write a lot of letters. Im still keeping up with people and answering their questions or responding to what they are doing. I think its more just a sense of completion.

I think were in a bad situation. I really do. Donald Trump is the enemy as far as Im concerned. He has no morals. He has no integrity. But I have good friends who think hes wonderful. But I think they put up with it less and less. People are getting pretty tired of him, I think. Some of us were tired of him before he was elected. I think we can put up with it, though. I dont think its the end of the road.

Im not sure its either/or. I do feel like pastors are not doing their job. Look at whats going on in the church, at least in my Presbyterian church. It has a consumer mentality. Its about what we can sell and how we can attract people to come to church.

I think the thing thats most disturbing is the megachurch because megachurches are not churches. My feeling is that when youre a pastor, you know the peoples names. When 5,000 people come into the church, you dont know anybodys name.

I dont think you can be a pastor with just a bunch of anonymous people out there. In the megachurch, well, theres no relationship with anybody. I think the nature of the church is relational. If you dont know these people that youre praying with and talking with and listening to, what do you have? I feel pretty strongly about that.

Now, theres a lot of innovation in the church, and overall, I cant say Im disheartened. Im just upset by the fad-ism of the megachurch, but I just dont think theyre churches. Theyre entertainment places.

I havent had a lot of experience with it. But I have been in churches when I was an associate pastor where there were several women who were lesbians. They didnt make a big deal about it. Id go and visit them and it never came up for them. They just assumed that they were as Christian as everybody else in the church.

In my own congregation when I left, we had about 500 people I dont think we ever really made a big deal out of it. When I left, the minister of music left. Shed been there ever since I had been there. There we were, looking for a new minister of music. One of the young people that had grown up under my pastorship, he was a high school teacher and a musician. When he found out about the opening, he showed up in church one day and stood up and said, Id like to apply for the job of music director here, and Im gay. We didnt have any gay people in the whole congregation. Well, some of them werent openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician.

I wouldnt have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do.I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, theyll probably just go to another church. So were in a transition and I think its a transition for the best, for the good. I dont think its something that you can parade, but its not a right or wrong thing as far as Im concerned.

Yes.

I dont know. I tell you, Im still getting used to it all. Im still getting used to being noticed. People write to me. Boy, the stuff that comes in my mailbox is just enormous, so I do a lot of letter writing and telephoning. And Im just amazed, really.

I havent been part of anything big. Ive never been a big church preacher. Ive never been on the radio or anything like that.Im so pleased that people care about what Ive done and support it because these are difficult times for the church. Im quite aware of that.Anyway, I guess Im just surprised that anyone would remember at all.

(Senior columnist Jonathan Merritt writes the On Faith and Culture column for RNS)

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Same-sex marriage bill clears German upper house | News | DW … – Deutsche Welle

A vote was not necessary in the upper house of Germany’s parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday, because no state challenged the draft legislation. The original proposal for the law – and a large part of the initial pressure on Angela Merkel’s government to act -had come from the Bundesrat, where “marriage for all” (“Ehe fr alle”) twice won majority support.

The state premier of Rhineland Palatinate, Social Democrat Malu Dreyer, said she was happy “that our persistent fight has succeeded.” Rhineland Palatinate was the state to bring the proposal to a vote twice in the Bundesrat, in 2013 and 2015.

However, Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), did not take part in the session because of friction on the issue within its newly-formed coalition government between the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats. FDP party chairman Christian Lindner said on Twitter that his senior coalition partners did not wish to participate.

“A pity that NRW has to sit out in the Bundesrat on marriage for all,” Lindner’s tweet reads, signed with his initials to indicate he had written it himself. “The FDP in NRW would be in favor, but [state premier] Armin Laschet and the CDU in NRW are against.”

The election pledge that swiftly became law

The lower house, the Bundestag, passed the motion last Friday.It was hurried to the floor after election campaigning quickly morphed into snap legislation. Once Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled in an interview that her Christian Democrats would not block gay marriage after September’s elections, her Social Democrat rival Martin Schulz instead called for an immediate vote in parliament.

Merkel did not seek to stop the vote but voted against; the measure passed comfortably with almost unanimous support from other parties, plus a contingent of the chancellor’s conservatives.

Bavaria’s conservative Justice Minister Winfried Bausback criticized the “surprising and hurried process” in the lower house, saying it was unworthy of the subject. He also told the Bundesrat that Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) continued to oppose the measure, and planned to call on the Constitutional Court to check whether the new law conforms with the constitution.

Moments after parliament endorsed “marriage for all,” with 393 in favor, 226 against and four abstentions, same-sex couples in the chamber’s public gallery openly kissed and hugged one another. Those voting in favor included 75 members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU bloc.

Following the vote, a sober-looking Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting in parliament’s canteen revealed to journalists that she voted against the legislation because of her “basic belief” in marriage being solely “between a man and woman.” She claimed her belief was anchored in the German constitution.

For same-sex advocates, the first legislative hurdle was to get the bill – rejected 30 times in committee – onto the agenda in parliament. Its procedural adoption via a consensus reached between the Greens, the Left and the Social Democrats left Merkel and conservative whip Volker Kauder taken back. Kauder insisted that as a Christian he could only accept marriage between a man and a woman.

Social Democrat Johannes Kahrs, a same-sex marriage advocate who organized parliament’s cross-party “yes” bloc for the snap vote, accused Merkel and her conservatives of “wretchedly” blocking the measure for years. “I’m fed up. We deserve [gender] equality,” Kahrs told parliament. He said the legislative victory was a turning point in history similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Greens parliamentarians showered their retiring colleague and same-sex advocate Volker Beck with confetti as the vote result was announced. Later in tears, he told German television that the “yes” vote had helped restore harmony in German society. The “wall” has fallen, Beck said, adding that the key was how two individuals cared for one another, regardless of their gender.

SPD leader Martin Schulz (right) said the vote was a “victory,” less so for his center-left party but for the dignity of the individual, as enshrined in Article 1 of Germany’s constitution. SPD whip Thomas Oppermann (center) said the vote was “good for the public,” even if it didn’t align with Merkel’s vision on the matter.

Dozens of activists celebrated the legislation outside the Bundestag in the aftermath of the vote. A Bild newspaper survey earlier in the week showed three quarters of Germany’s population favored legal recognition of same-sex marriage. In 2001, legal reform recognized homosexuals in partnerships but left gay couples unable to jointly adopt children.

Countries across Europe, the Americas and Oceania have adopted same sex marriage. This map shows the situation across the world prior to the Bundestag vote. Despite the legislative victory in Germany, same-sex marriage remains a controversial issue in many parts of the world, most notably in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia.

The legal recognition of same-sex marriage marked a dream come true for former Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who died of leukemia in 2016. He long fought for sexual equality and the recognition of constitutional rights for same-sex couples.

Author: Ian P. Johnson

Bavaria’s government and other members ofthe CDU/CSU alliance argue that the new law will require changes to the wording of Germany’s constitution. Bausback said that the current wording describes marriage as”a lifelong partnership between a man and a woman; the basis for a family in which children are raised by their biological parents.”

Constitution set for a rewrite?

Whether or not German law currently defines marriage as such is subject to political debate.

The state premier of Baden Wrttemberg, Winfried Kretschmann of the Greens, argued that no changes to the constitution arenecessary. According to his interpretation, German law never explicitly linked marriage with having a family.

Article 6 of Germany’s basic law has the heading “Marriage – Family – Children,” and the first itemstates: “Marriage and family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.” Whether or not this constitutes an explicit link between the concepts of marriage and reproduction could be the subject of a case at the Constitutional Court.

Read: Same-sex marriage in Germany: An issue for the court?

The Bundesrat also approved a string of other draft laws in Friday’s session. These included new laws designed to prevent or not recognize child marriages, a database to track sperm donors, changes to pension rules, a rule allowing the government to use so-called “trojans” to monitor criminal suspects’ computers, and the abolition of a law against “insulting” foreign heads of state.

msh/dc (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA)

Ulli Kppe: The man who asked Angela Merkel when he could marry his husband

Opinion: Same-sex marriage in Germany – a run-of-the-mill revolution

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Same-sex marriage bill clears German upper house | News | DW … – Deutsche Welle

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Where is same-sex marriage legal across the world? – USA TODAY

Two women celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage after it was approved in the German Parliament in Berlin on June 30, 2017.(Photo: Felipe Trueba, EPA)

Germany is set to become 23rd country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after its parliament voted in favor of the bill last week. The measure is likely be signed into law by the president later this month after formal approval of the upper house.

Germany, the largest country in Western Europe by population, becomes the 15th European nation to change its laws to allow gay marriage. This number counts England and Wales as one country and Scotland as a separate entity, since those parts of the United Kingdom passed two separate pieces of legislation on same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland, the other U.K. constituent state, has not legalized such marriages.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) same-sex marriage is legal in these 22countries:

Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and theUnited States.

Currently in Mexico, marriage equality is recognized in certain jurisdictions within thenation. This process is similar to how it was done with the United States until the Obergefell opinion by the Supreme Court in 2015, according to GLAAD, the world’s largest gay rights group.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed while some regions in Mexico also still do not allow same-sexmarriages.

The newly-elected prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, has also pledged to legalize gay marriage in the country.

In Asia, no country has so far legalized same-sex marriage. However, a constitutional court in Taiwan ruled in May that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry.

In Africa, only South Africa has granted the same access to gay couples. Same-sex marriage legislation happened in 2006.

There are at least 71 countries(37% of United Nation member states) where same-sex sexual activity is a crime. The death penalty is implemented for same-sex sexual activitywithin eightof these countries.

These countries include Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia,Nigeria, Syria and Iraq, according to ILGA.

In 124 countries, same-sex sexual acts are not criminalized.

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Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Wisconsin Gazette

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.

After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in Argentinas Senate in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. Since the lower house already approved it, and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin.

The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have increasingly found Buenos Aires to be more accepting than many other places in the region.

The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said everyone loses with gay marriage, and children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.

Nine gay couples had already married in Argentina after persuading judges that the constitutional mandate of equality supports their marriage rights, but some of these marriages were later declared invalid.

As the debate stretched on for nearly 16 hours, supporters and opponents of held rival vigils through the frigid night outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires.

Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species, insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage.

But Sen. Norma Morandini, another member of the presidents party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentinas dictators decades ago.

What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance, she said.

Same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. Mexico City has legalized gay marriage. Colombias Constitutional Court granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.

But Argentina now becomes the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, granting gays and lesbians all the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexuals have. These include many more rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth.

Gay rights advocates said Argentinas historic step adds momentum to similar efforts around the world.

Todays historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality, said Evan Wolfson, who runs the U.S. Freedom to Marry lobby.

He urged U.S. lawmakers to stand up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law.

Among the opponents were teacher Eduardo Morales, who said he believes the legislation was concocted by Buenos Aires residents who are out step with the views of the country.

They want to convert this city into the gay capital of the world, said Morales of San Luis province.

Ines Franck, director of the group Familias Argentinas, said the legislation cuts against centuries of tradition.

Opposing the measure is not discrimination, because the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes, he said. Any variation goes against the law, and against nature.

The president, currently on a state visit to China, spoke out from there against the Argentine Catholic Churchs campaign and the tone she said some religious groups have taken.

Its very worrisome to hear words like Gods war or the devils project, things that recall the times of the Inquisition, she said.

Some opposition leaders have accused her of promoting the initiative to gain votes in next years presidential elections, when Fernandezs husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, is expected to run again.

The vote came after Sen. Daniel Filmus urged fellow lawmakers to show the world how much Argentina has matured.

Society has grown up. We arent the same as we were before, he said.

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Conservatives blast GOP mayoral candidate over new gay marriage … – New York Post

GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis got hit with friendly fire from the right flank Wednesday.

State Conservative Party chairman Mike Long said he was blindsided by the Staten Island assemblywomans statement that she regretted her six-year-old vote against gay marriage in the state Assembly.

This is the slap in the face to the leaders of the Conservative Party, Long fumed, noting Malliotakis first made the comments during a Post interview.

I had to read about this in the New York Post? Im taken aback by it. The party leaders should have been notified up front.

Malliotakis told The Post about her evolved position Monday about six weeks after the citys Conservative leaders endorsed her candidacy.

When did she change her mind? Last week? Long said. I certainly dont agree with her. Shes sort of created a credibility problem for herself.

Malliotakis became the presumptive GOP nominee for mayor last week after her chief primary rival, real estate mogul Paul Massey, dropped out of the race.

Malliotakis, in the statement to The Post, said, Any legislator has votes that they regret, and just like President Barack Obama, my views on same-sex marriage have evolved.

I voted against the marriage-equality bill in 2011 because I thought the bill would have the unintended consequences of lawsuits against religious institutions that did not want to perform the marriages, she explained.

Since 2011, I have attended two weddings of close friends and support the law as is. In recent years I have voted to expand the rights of same sex couples by voting for: The follow up legislation that amended the estates, powers and trusts law to reflect the provisions of the marriage equality act. Adoption rights for same sex couples. Expanding eligibility for those who receive awards under crime victims compensation to include domestic partners. A ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy upon patients under 18 years of age.

The Conservative Party opposed the same-sex marriage law, which passed both houses of the state Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011.

Malliotakis was a first-term assemblywoman representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn at the time she cast a no vote. The US Supreme Court has since upheld the legality of gay nuptials.

The Conservative Party made opposition to same-sex marriage a line in the sand issue and pulled the endorsement of Republicans who voted for the law.

But Long admits that gay marriage is now accepted law and is a non-issue in the mayoral race. He said Malliotakis could have said gay marriage is the law of the land without running away from her vote.

Despite the blow-up, he said the Conservative Party will stand by its support of Malliotakis.

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Malta Set to Legalize Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ – Church Militant

VALETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) – The island of Malta is on its way to becoming the latest country to embrace same-sex “marriage.”

A legalization measure, theMarriage Equality Bill, has passed to initial readings before Parliament. It is widely expected to pass a final vote onWednesday.

Designed to “modernize the institution of marriage,” the billis not a single act, but a series of amendments to existing laws such as the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code.

In addition to allowing gays to marry, the measure will purge Maltese laws of “gendered” language. References such as “husband” and “wife” will be changed to the gender-neutral “spouse”; “father” and “mother” to “parent”; and in some cases, “mother” to “person who gave birth.”

The Marriage Equality Bill is the latest innovation put forth by the country’s social democratic Prime Minister,Joseph Muscat.

Muscat regards “marriage equality” to be a top priority of his administration; the Marriage Equality Bill was the first measure he submitted to Parliament after his reelection, and he has vowed to expedite its passage.

“Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties,” he told the BBC, “to serve as a model for the rest of the world.”

Traditionally, Malta has ranked among the most conservative countries in the West. It legalized divorce only in 2011, and maintains a total ban on abortion.

But in recent years, Catholic Malta has thrown off its conservatism to become one of Europe’s most permissive societies.

In 2013, voters elected a leftist government, headed by the Labor Party. With Prime Minister Muscat at its helm, Labor quickly set to work on legislation that would play a large part in toppling the traditional social order.

In 2014, Parliament passed a bill legalizing civil unions and establishing adoption rights for same-sex couples. Afterwards, activists vowed to press on until gays were granted full marriage rights.

In 2016, Malta became the first country in Europe to outlaw conversion therapy any treatment aiming to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Under the new legislation, anyone “advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person [who] performs such practices” is subject to fines and imprisonment. Thus, those who desire to be rid of unwanted same-sex attractions have no recourse to professional counselors or psychologists.

Reflecting on the changes sweeping Maltese society, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Timemagazine, “Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now they’ve seen there’s no threat to society, they’re fine with same-sex partnerships.”

Indeed, attitudes have been changing.A 2016 poll found that nearly two thirds of the population (61%) supported amending the marriage law.

The liberalizing trend is reflected by developments inside the Maltese Church, where in January, the country’s bishops made headlines with their decision to allow divorced and remarried parishioners to receive Holy Communion.

Malta Archbishop Charles Sciclunais pushing back against the gay marriage law, recently saying “We are not against gays … . But we do not need to change the way in which God created marriage to enable us to say that two men or two women can get married.”

He also described the suppression of terms such as “husband” and “wife” in favor of gender-neutral language “lamentable.”

Archbishop Scicluna once opposed legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In 2014, he came out against the civil unions bill, warning Catholic lawmakers that “to vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.”

But he soon reversed course. In a 2016 video interview with Malta Indep, Bishop Scicluna described civil unions as a “service to the dignity of these people,” saying, “I think that we should support legislation that gives same-sex partners their dignity and their social protection.”

Malta’s Catholic heritage stretches back nearly 2,000 years, to the earliest days of the Church. Saint Paul, regarded as the country’s spiritual father, was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome. Through his ministry, Publius, prefect of Malta, was converted. Publius went on to become the first bishop of Malta, and its first martyr and saint.

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Malta’s Parliament set to legalize gay marriage – CNN

The vote signals the latest in shifting attitudes that have swept across the staunchly Catholic country since the 2011 referendum to legalize divorce.

Since then, the country has introduced civil unions and last year became the first European state to ban “gay cure” therapy.

Last month, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said gay marriage would be one of his priorities after he won a snap election.

“Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,” Muscat told the BBC.

The changes are part of what the Maltese government hopes will be a modernization of marriage that will also allow gay couples to adopt children.

In the bill, references to “wife,” “husband,” “mother” and “father” all scrapped in preference of gender-neutral terms such as “parent” and “spouse.”

“The new law is the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to family rights in Malta,” she said.

“The use of gender-neutral terms means that everyone is equal and it is much more inclusive, particularly when it comes to the trans community.”

While the measure is expected to pass, some lawmakers have said they would vote against it.

Since then, more than 20 other nations have followed suit, including Spain, Canada, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and the United States.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the vote is happening on Wednesday.

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David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

By DAVID HARSANYI July 04. 2017 11:20PM Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. The stories dominating coverage distort the publics understanding of the case.

No matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage. The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings. Others similarly framed the case.

There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.

A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop. In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple. He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake. They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door. What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding. Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime.

Like many other bakers, florists, photographers, and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions. If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers. If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny! Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message.

In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions.

In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you. Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate.

How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent? There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests. Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings.

Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved, but also because they dont understand the facts. In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way.

Well, not all people. In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage. The bakery refused. Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities. I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity.

Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice.

.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist.

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Catholic Malta Legalizes Gay Marriage Over Church Objection – NBCNews.com

People protest against same-sex marriage, a day before the Maltese parliament is expected to legalise gay marriage, outside Parliament House in Valletta, Malta, July 11, 2017. Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters While abortion remains banned in Malta, gay adoption has been legal since civil unions were introduced in 2014. Last year, the number of exclusively civil marriages eclipsed the number of church weddings for the first time. Archbishop Charles Scicluna has opposed the gay marriage law, reflecting the church’s longstanding view that marriage is only between a man and woman. “I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name,” he said in a homily a few days after parliament started debating the legislation. “But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman.” Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says it would be “discriminatory” to have separate laws for heterosexual and gay marriages. So amendments to existing laws include the elimination of any reference to “husband and wife.” In its place is the gender-neutral term “spouse” to cover all situations. Related: The law also calls for the removal of the terms “father” and “mother,” to be substituted by “parents.” Lesbian couples who have children via medical interventions are distinguished by the terms “the person who gave birth” and “the other parent.” Other changes concern same-sex marriages: Any reference to “maiden name” is replaced with “surname at birth,” while couples can now choose what name to take after marriage. The man, for example, can take his wife’s surname. More than a dozen European countries have legalized Follow

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Best-selling author Eugene Peterson changes his mind on gay marriage – Religion News Service

Q&A By Jonathan Merritt | 5 hours ago Eugene Peterson lectures at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle in May 2009. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons (RNS) After writing more than 30 best-selling books,84-year-old Eugene Peterson has decided to hang it up. The theologian and writer widely respected among Christians pastors and laypeople alike is best known forThe Message Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Christian Scriptures that has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. Despite his ongoing popularity, Petersonsaid he has published his final book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire. And hes no longer teaching or traveling. But Peterson still has much to say. The influential Christian leader does not mince words as he explains why he is calling it quits, what he thinks about Donald Trump and how he changed his mind on same-sex issues. Well, Im 84 years old. Thats one. I think Ive pretty much mined everything Ive learned and made art out of it. Thats basically it, I think. No, I dont feel tired. I just feel like theres a sense of completion, or maybe satisfaction. I think Ive done a better job of everything Id done before inthis book. I might do something else, but I dont think so. These days, I write a lot of letters. Im still keeping up with people and answering their questions or responding to what they are doing. I think its more just a sense of completion. I think were in a bad situation. I really do. Donald Trump is the enemy as far as Im concerned. He has no morals. He has no integrity. But I have good friends who think hes wonderful. But I think they put up with it less and less. People are getting pretty tired of him, I think. Some of us were tired of him before he was elected. I think we can put up with it, though. I dont think its the end of the road. Im not sure its either/or. I do feel like pastors are not doing their job. Look at whats going on in the church, at least in my Presbyterian church. It has a consumer mentality. Its about what we can sell and how we can attract people to come to church. I think the thing thats most disturbing is the megachurch because megachurches are not churches. My feeling is that when youre a pastor, you know the peoples names. When 5,000 people come into the church, you dont know anybodys name. I dont think you can be a pastor with just a bunch of anonymous people out there. In the megachurch, well, theres no relationship with anybody. I think the nature of the church is relational. If you dont know these people that youre praying with and talking with and listening to, what do you have? I feel pretty strongly about that. Now, theres a lot of innovation in the church, and overall, I cant say Im disheartened. Im just upset by the fad-ism of the megachurch, but I just dont think theyre churches. Theyre entertainment places. I havent had a lot of experience with it. But I have been in churches when I was an associate pastor where there were several women who were lesbians. They didnt make a big deal about it. Id go and visit them and it never came up for them. They just assumed that they were as Christian as everybody else in the church. In my own congregation when I left, we had about 500 people I dont think we ever really made a big deal out of it. When I left, the minister of music left. Shed been there ever since I had been there. There we were, looking for a new minister of music. One of the young people that had grown up under my pastorship, he was a high school teacher and a musician. When he found out about the opening, he showed up in church one day and stood up and said, Id like to apply for the job of music director here, and Im gay. We didnt have any gay people in the whole congregation. Well, some of them werent openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician. I wouldnt have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do.I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, theyll probably just go to another church. So were in a transition and I think its a transition for the best, for the good. I dont think its something that you can parade, but its not a right or wrong thing as far as Im concerned. Yes. I dont know. I tell you, Im still getting used to it all. Im still getting used to being noticed. People write to me. Boy, the stuff that comes in my mailbox is just enormous, so I do a lot of letter writing and telephoning. And Im just amazed, really. I havent been part of anything big. Ive never been a big church preacher. Ive never been on the radio or anything like that.Im so pleased that people care about what Ive done and support it because these are difficult times for the church. Im quite aware of that.Anyway, I guess Im just surprised that anyone would remember at all. (Senior columnist Jonathan Merritt writes the On Faith and Culture column for RNS)

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Same-sex marriage bill clears German upper house | News | DW … – Deutsche Welle

A vote was not necessary in the upper house of Germany’s parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday, because no state challenged the draft legislation. The original proposal for the law – and a large part of the initial pressure on Angela Merkel’s government to act -had come from the Bundesrat, where “marriage for all” (“Ehe fr alle”) twice won majority support. The state premier of Rhineland Palatinate, Social Democrat Malu Dreyer, said she was happy “that our persistent fight has succeeded.” Rhineland Palatinate was the state to bring the proposal to a vote twice in the Bundesrat, in 2013 and 2015. However, Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), did not take part in the session because of friction on the issue within its newly-formed coalition government between the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats. FDP party chairman Christian Lindner said on Twitter that his senior coalition partners did not wish to participate. “A pity that NRW has to sit out in the Bundesrat on marriage for all,” Lindner’s tweet reads, signed with his initials to indicate he had written it himself. “The FDP in NRW would be in favor, but [state premier] Armin Laschet and the CDU in NRW are against.” The election pledge that swiftly became law The lower house, the Bundestag, passed the motion last Friday.It was hurried to the floor after election campaigning quickly morphed into snap legislation. Once Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled in an interview that her Christian Democrats would not block gay marriage after September’s elections, her Social Democrat rival Martin Schulz instead called for an immediate vote in parliament. Merkel did not seek to stop the vote but voted against; the measure passed comfortably with almost unanimous support from other parties, plus a contingent of the chancellor’s conservatives. Bavaria’s conservative Justice Minister Winfried Bausback criticized the “surprising and hurried process” in the lower house, saying it was unworthy of the subject. He also told the Bundesrat that Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) continued to oppose the measure, and planned to call on the Constitutional Court to check whether the new law conforms with the constitution. Moments after parliament endorsed “marriage for all,” with 393 in favor, 226 against and four abstentions, same-sex couples in the chamber’s public gallery openly kissed and hugged one another. Those voting in favor included 75 members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU bloc. Following the vote, a sober-looking Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting in parliament’s canteen revealed to journalists that she voted against the legislation because of her “basic belief” in marriage being solely “between a man and woman.” She claimed her belief was anchored in the German constitution. For same-sex advocates, the first legislative hurdle was to get the bill – rejected 30 times in committee – onto the agenda in parliament. Its procedural adoption via a consensus reached between the Greens, the Left and the Social Democrats left Merkel and conservative whip Volker Kauder taken back. Kauder insisted that as a Christian he could only accept marriage between a man and a woman. Social Democrat Johannes Kahrs, a same-sex marriage advocate who organized parliament’s cross-party “yes” bloc for the snap vote, accused Merkel and her conservatives of “wretchedly” blocking the measure for years. “I’m fed up. We deserve [gender] equality,” Kahrs told parliament. He said the legislative victory was a turning point in history similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Greens parliamentarians showered their retiring colleague and same-sex advocate Volker Beck with confetti as the vote result was announced. Later in tears, he told German television that the “yes” vote had helped restore harmony in German society. The “wall” has fallen, Beck said, adding that the key was how two individuals cared for one another, regardless of their gender. SPD leader Martin Schulz (right) said the vote was a “victory,” less so for his center-left party but for the dignity of the individual, as enshrined in Article 1 of Germany’s constitution. SPD whip Thomas Oppermann (center) said the vote was “good for the public,” even if it didn’t align with Merkel’s vision on the matter. Dozens of activists celebrated the legislation outside the Bundestag in the aftermath of the vote. A Bild newspaper survey earlier in the week showed three quarters of Germany’s population favored legal recognition of same-sex marriage. In 2001, legal reform recognized homosexuals in partnerships but left gay couples unable to jointly adopt children. Countries across Europe, the Americas and Oceania have adopted same sex marriage. This map shows the situation across the world prior to the Bundestag vote. Despite the legislative victory in Germany, same-sex marriage remains a controversial issue in many parts of the world, most notably in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia. The legal recognition of same-sex marriage marked a dream come true for former Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who died of leukemia in 2016. He long fought for sexual equality and the recognition of constitutional rights for same-sex couples. Author: Ian P. Johnson Bavaria’s government and other members ofthe CDU/CSU alliance argue that the new law will require changes to the wording of Germany’s constitution. Bausback said that the current wording describes marriage as”a lifelong partnership between a man and a woman; the basis for a family in which children are raised by their biological parents.” Constitution set for a rewrite? Whether or not German law currently defines marriage as such is subject to political debate. The state premier of Baden Wrttemberg, Winfried Kretschmann of the Greens, argued that no changes to the constitution arenecessary. According to his interpretation, German law never explicitly linked marriage with having a family. Article 6 of Germany’s basic law has the heading “Marriage – Family – Children,” and the first itemstates: “Marriage and family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.” Whether or not this constitutes an explicit link between the concepts of marriage and reproduction could be the subject of a case at the Constitutional Court. Read: Same-sex marriage in Germany: An issue for the court? The Bundesrat also approved a string of other draft laws in Friday’s session. These included new laws designed to prevent or not recognize child marriages, a database to track sperm donors, changes to pension rules, a rule allowing the government to use so-called “trojans” to monitor criminal suspects’ computers, and the abolition of a law against “insulting” foreign heads of state. msh/dc (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA) Ulli Kppe: The man who asked Angela Merkel when he could marry his husband Opinion: Same-sex marriage in Germany – a run-of-the-mill revolution

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Where is same-sex marriage legal across the world? – USA TODAY

Two women celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage after it was approved in the German Parliament in Berlin on June 30, 2017.(Photo: Felipe Trueba, EPA) Germany is set to become 23rd country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after its parliament voted in favor of the bill last week. The measure is likely be signed into law by the president later this month after formal approval of the upper house. Germany, the largest country in Western Europe by population, becomes the 15th European nation to change its laws to allow gay marriage. This number counts England and Wales as one country and Scotland as a separate entity, since those parts of the United Kingdom passed two separate pieces of legislation on same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland, the other U.K. constituent state, has not legalized such marriages. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) same-sex marriage is legal in these 22countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and theUnited States. Currently in Mexico, marriage equality is recognized in certain jurisdictions within thenation. This process is similar to how it was done with the United States until the Obergefell opinion by the Supreme Court in 2015, according to GLAAD, the world’s largest gay rights group. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed while some regions in Mexico also still do not allow same-sexmarriages. The newly-elected prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, has also pledged to legalize gay marriage in the country. In Asia, no country has so far legalized same-sex marriage. However, a constitutional court in Taiwan ruled in May that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry. In Africa, only South Africa has granted the same access to gay couples. Same-sex marriage legislation happened in 2006. There are at least 71 countries(37% of United Nation member states) where same-sex sexual activity is a crime. The death penalty is implemented for same-sex sexual activitywithin eightof these countries. These countries include Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia,Nigeria, Syria and Iraq, according to ILGA. In 124 countries, same-sex sexual acts are not criminalized. Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2uyR1KR

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Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Wisconsin Gazette

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples. After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in Argentinas Senate in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. Since the lower house already approved it, and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin. The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have increasingly found Buenos Aires to be more accepting than many other places in the region. The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said everyone loses with gay marriage, and children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother. Nine gay couples had already married in Argentina after persuading judges that the constitutional mandate of equality supports their marriage rights, but some of these marriages were later declared invalid. As the debate stretched on for nearly 16 hours, supporters and opponents of held rival vigils through the frigid night outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires. Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species, insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage. But Sen. Norma Morandini, another member of the presidents party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentinas dictators decades ago. What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance, she said. Same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. Mexico City has legalized gay marriage. Colombias Constitutional Court granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans. But Argentina now becomes the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, granting gays and lesbians all the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexuals have. These include many more rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth. Gay rights advocates said Argentinas historic step adds momentum to similar efforts around the world. Todays historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality, said Evan Wolfson, who runs the U.S. Freedom to Marry lobby. He urged U.S. lawmakers to stand up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law. Among the opponents were teacher Eduardo Morales, who said he believes the legislation was concocted by Buenos Aires residents who are out step with the views of the country. They want to convert this city into the gay capital of the world, said Morales of San Luis province. Ines Franck, director of the group Familias Argentinas, said the legislation cuts against centuries of tradition. Opposing the measure is not discrimination, because the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes, he said. Any variation goes against the law, and against nature. The president, currently on a state visit to China, spoke out from there against the Argentine Catholic Churchs campaign and the tone she said some religious groups have taken. Its very worrisome to hear words like Gods war or the devils project, things that recall the times of the Inquisition, she said. Some opposition leaders have accused her of promoting the initiative to gain votes in next years presidential elections, when Fernandezs husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, is expected to run again. The vote came after Sen. Daniel Filmus urged fellow lawmakers to show the world how much Argentina has matured. Society has grown up. We arent the same as we were before, he said.

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Conservatives blast GOP mayoral candidate over new gay marriage … – New York Post

GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis got hit with friendly fire from the right flank Wednesday. State Conservative Party chairman Mike Long said he was blindsided by the Staten Island assemblywomans statement that she regretted her six-year-old vote against gay marriage in the state Assembly. This is the slap in the face to the leaders of the Conservative Party, Long fumed, noting Malliotakis first made the comments during a Post interview. I had to read about this in the New York Post? Im taken aback by it. The party leaders should have been notified up front. Malliotakis told The Post about her evolved position Monday about six weeks after the citys Conservative leaders endorsed her candidacy. When did she change her mind? Last week? Long said. I certainly dont agree with her. Shes sort of created a credibility problem for herself. Malliotakis became the presumptive GOP nominee for mayor last week after her chief primary rival, real estate mogul Paul Massey, dropped out of the race. Malliotakis, in the statement to The Post, said, Any legislator has votes that they regret, and just like President Barack Obama, my views on same-sex marriage have evolved. I voted against the marriage-equality bill in 2011 because I thought the bill would have the unintended consequences of lawsuits against religious institutions that did not want to perform the marriages, she explained. Since 2011, I have attended two weddings of close friends and support the law as is. In recent years I have voted to expand the rights of same sex couples by voting for: The follow up legislation that amended the estates, powers and trusts law to reflect the provisions of the marriage equality act. Adoption rights for same sex couples. Expanding eligibility for those who receive awards under crime victims compensation to include domestic partners. A ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy upon patients under 18 years of age. The Conservative Party opposed the same-sex marriage law, which passed both houses of the state Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011. Malliotakis was a first-term assemblywoman representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn at the time she cast a no vote. The US Supreme Court has since upheld the legality of gay nuptials. The Conservative Party made opposition to same-sex marriage a line in the sand issue and pulled the endorsement of Republicans who voted for the law. But Long admits that gay marriage is now accepted law and is a non-issue in the mayoral race. He said Malliotakis could have said gay marriage is the law of the land without running away from her vote. Despite the blow-up, he said the Conservative Party will stand by its support of Malliotakis.

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Malta Set to Legalize Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ – Church Militant

VALETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) – The island of Malta is on its way to becoming the latest country to embrace same-sex “marriage.” A legalization measure, theMarriage Equality Bill, has passed to initial readings before Parliament. It is widely expected to pass a final vote onWednesday. Designed to “modernize the institution of marriage,” the billis not a single act, but a series of amendments to existing laws such as the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code. In addition to allowing gays to marry, the measure will purge Maltese laws of “gendered” language. References such as “husband” and “wife” will be changed to the gender-neutral “spouse”; “father” and “mother” to “parent”; and in some cases, “mother” to “person who gave birth.” The Marriage Equality Bill is the latest innovation put forth by the country’s social democratic Prime Minister,Joseph Muscat. Muscat regards “marriage equality” to be a top priority of his administration; the Marriage Equality Bill was the first measure he submitted to Parliament after his reelection, and he has vowed to expedite its passage. “Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties,” he told the BBC, “to serve as a model for the rest of the world.” Traditionally, Malta has ranked among the most conservative countries in the West. It legalized divorce only in 2011, and maintains a total ban on abortion. But in recent years, Catholic Malta has thrown off its conservatism to become one of Europe’s most permissive societies. In 2013, voters elected a leftist government, headed by the Labor Party. With Prime Minister Muscat at its helm, Labor quickly set to work on legislation that would play a large part in toppling the traditional social order. In 2014, Parliament passed a bill legalizing civil unions and establishing adoption rights for same-sex couples. Afterwards, activists vowed to press on until gays were granted full marriage rights. In 2016, Malta became the first country in Europe to outlaw conversion therapy any treatment aiming to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Under the new legislation, anyone “advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person [who] performs such practices” is subject to fines and imprisonment. Thus, those who desire to be rid of unwanted same-sex attractions have no recourse to professional counselors or psychologists. Reflecting on the changes sweeping Maltese society, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Timemagazine, “Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now they’ve seen there’s no threat to society, they’re fine with same-sex partnerships.” Indeed, attitudes have been changing.A 2016 poll found that nearly two thirds of the population (61%) supported amending the marriage law. The liberalizing trend is reflected by developments inside the Maltese Church, where in January, the country’s bishops made headlines with their decision to allow divorced and remarried parishioners to receive Holy Communion. Malta Archbishop Charles Sciclunais pushing back against the gay marriage law, recently saying “We are not against gays … . But we do not need to change the way in which God created marriage to enable us to say that two men or two women can get married.” He also described the suppression of terms such as “husband” and “wife” in favor of gender-neutral language “lamentable.” Archbishop Scicluna once opposed legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In 2014, he came out against the civil unions bill, warning Catholic lawmakers that “to vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.” But he soon reversed course. In a 2016 video interview with Malta Indep, Bishop Scicluna described civil unions as a “service to the dignity of these people,” saying, “I think that we should support legislation that gives same-sex partners their dignity and their social protection.” Malta’s Catholic heritage stretches back nearly 2,000 years, to the earliest days of the Church. Saint Paul, regarded as the country’s spiritual father, was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome. Through his ministry, Publius, prefect of Malta, was converted. Publius went on to become the first bishop of Malta, and its first martyr and saint. Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line. Like our work? Support us with a donation.

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Malta’s Parliament set to legalize gay marriage – CNN

The vote signals the latest in shifting attitudes that have swept across the staunchly Catholic country since the 2011 referendum to legalize divorce. Since then, the country has introduced civil unions and last year became the first European state to ban “gay cure” therapy. Last month, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said gay marriage would be one of his priorities after he won a snap election. “Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,” Muscat told the BBC. The changes are part of what the Maltese government hopes will be a modernization of marriage that will also allow gay couples to adopt children. In the bill, references to “wife,” “husband,” “mother” and “father” all scrapped in preference of gender-neutral terms such as “parent” and “spouse.” “The new law is the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to family rights in Malta,” she said. “The use of gender-neutral terms means that everyone is equal and it is much more inclusive, particularly when it comes to the trans community.” While the measure is expected to pass, some lawmakers have said they would vote against it. Since then, more than 20 other nations have followed suit, including Spain, Canada, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and the United States. This story has been corrected to reflect that the vote is happening on Wednesday.

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David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

By DAVID HARSANYI July 04. 2017 11:20PM Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. The stories dominating coverage distort the publics understanding of the case. No matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage. The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings. Others similarly framed the case. There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred. A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop. In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple. He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake. They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door. What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding. Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime. Like many other bakers, florists, photographers, and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions. If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers. If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny! Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message. In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions. In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you. Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate. How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent? There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests. Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings. Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved, but also because they dont understand the facts. In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way. Well, not all people. In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage. The bakery refused. Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities. I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity. Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice. . David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Business Politics Social issues Courts Oped

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