Republicans target federal courts in fight over gay marriage
By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press
WASHINGTON - No federal court has ruled on state bans on gay marriage, and House Republicans want to make sure none does.
The House of Representatives was considering legislation Thursday to keep the Supreme Court and other federal courts from ordering states to recognize same-sex unions sanctioned elsewhere.
Continuing their election-year focus on gay marriage, Republican leaders expect the measure to pass easily. Last week, the Senate dealt gay marriage opponents a setback by failing to advance a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.
Supporters said Wednesday the House legislation is needed to protect state bans on gay marriage from federal judges who might rule that a gay marriage that took place in Massachusetts, the only state where it is legal, must be recognized by other states.
Spaniards back gay marriage law
MADRID (Reuters) - Nearly 70 percent of Spaniards are in favour of a planned law to legalise gay unions, despite strong opposition from the church in the traditionally Catholic country, a poll shows.
Three quarters of respondents to the nationwide poll, released on Thursday by the Centre for Sociological Investigations also said they thought the law should give homosexual couples exactly the same rights and obligations as heterosexual partners.
Spain, where 95 percent of the population is registered as Catholic, is increasingly liberal and its recently elected Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has made the gay marriage law a high-profile issue during his first months in office.
Only 11.6 percent of the 2,479 people questioned for the poll, which has a 2.0 percent margin of error, said they were very or quite opposed to the law.
Unions want changes to paid parental leave legislation
Trade unions have appealed for wider paid parental leave eligibility, saying the scheme unfairly excludes women who work less than 10 hours a week in part-time jobs.
The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) put its case to Parliament's social services committee today when it opened hearings on legislation that extends paid parental leave from the current 12 weeks to 14 weeks.
CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said unions welcomed the bill but would like the extension to be implemented immediately rather than introduced progressively over two years.
She said that in 2002 the Department of Labour estimated that 11 per cent of women employees would be ineligible for paid parental leave because they did not work at least 10 hours a week for one employer.
Ms Beaumont cited an International Labour Organisation convention which stated that paid parental leave should apply to "all employed women" and for this reason the CTU sought removal of the minimum weekly hours threshold.
Council reappoints activist in close vote
By BRAD SCHRADE
and ANNE PAINE
Advocates for gay rights received a small but jubilant victory last night as the Metro Council narrowly reappointed a lesbian activist to the Metro Human Relations Commission.
The debate over Maria Salas' reappointment had become a pitched battle with echoes from last year's gay rights debate that bitterly divided the council and some members of the community.
Her reappointment hung in the balance up to the moment when the council agreed 22-13 to confirm Mayor Bill Purcell's nomination of her to the volunteer job. She needed a majority 21 votes on the 40-member council, so the two members who abstained were in effect voting ''no.'' Three council members were absent.
Salas, 41, a local attorney, said afterward that she had been uncertain beforehand how the vote would turn out. Purcell's staff was prodding and counting votes right up to the start of the meeting.