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Wall Street Journal: Massachusetts’ top court ruled on Thursday that a Vermont civil union will be recognized as the “equivalent of marriage” in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s unanimous opinion . . . | The opinion in Elia-Warnken v. Elia, SJC-11023. July 26, 2012 is accessible here.
LifeNews: The city of Burlington, Vermont, has told peaceful pro-life demonstrators they must stay at least 35 feet away from the city’s abortion clinic or face a fine of up to $500.
One News Now: Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel says the ruling is “outrageous.” “The constitution of Vermont says no person ought to or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship,” Staver tells OneNewsNow. “That’s certainly understandable and that’s a good provision, but going to an open meeting of the local governing board is not a religious meeting simply because someone opens the meeting with prayer.”
Religion Clause Blog: In Hackett v. Town of Franklin, (VT Super. Ct., May 29, 2012), a Vermont trial court held that a town’s practice of including a prayer at its town meetings violates Art. 3 of the Vermont constitutionthat prohibits a person from being “compelled to attend any religious worship.”
LifeSiteNews: The city council of Burlington, Vermont, has passed a new ordinance that could have the effect of banning pro-life protesters from exercising their right to protest in front of the town’s Planned Parenthood facility.
LifeNews: Euthanasia advocates in the Vermont legislature are pushing for a vote to make the state to next to join Oregon and Washington as the only states in the nation to legalize the practice of killing patients in assisted suicides.
GLAD: In a case involving a man who married in Massachusetts without dissolving his Vermont civil union to a different man, GLAD will argue before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) that the marriage should be considered void.
Religion Clause Blog: In Carter v. Lee (VT Super, April 3, 2012), a Vermont trial court held that it can adjudicate a dispute between factions of the First Congregational Church of Manchester.
Republic (AP): Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he’s disappointed with the decision of state Senate leaders not to bring right-to-die legislation to a vote in the chamber this year.
WPTZ.com: For years, the Vermont town of Franklin near the Canadian border started Town Meeting with a prayer. A lawsuit stopped that from happening this year.
St. Alban’s Messenger: Judge Martin Maley will not rule on the constitutionality of town prayer at Franklin’s Town Meeting prior to Town Meeting Day, he said at a hearing Tuesday.
Worcester Telegram: In the small, northern Vermont town of Franklin, the annual Town Meeting starts with the banging of the gavel, the Pledge of the Allegiance and a prayer, delivered by a local pastor. But one woman has objected to the last custom for the last eight years.
Fox News: A Franklin woman is asking a Vermont judge to block a prayer that is used as part of the opening ceremonies on Town Meeting Day.
OneNewsNow.com: A Virginia man who prosecutors say helped a woman leave the U.S. with her daughter so she wouldn’t have to turn custody of the girl over to her former lesbian partner has surrendered to face charges he aided in international parental kidnapping.
Federal prosecutors have worked out a deal with an American missionary in Nicaragua that may help them find a woman who fled the country in a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner, court documents show.
The Rhode Island Catholic: The O’Reillys and the inn are being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based legal organization.
ADF President and General Counsel Alan E. Sears at Townhall: It doesn’t take courage to ride the wave of support for same-sex ‘marriage.’ It takes courage to stand against the surging tide. At the Wildflower Inn, so high in the Vermont hills, the water is rising fast.
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Vermont filed a lawsuit today against a Vermont resort that refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding reception due to the owners’ personal bias against lesbian and gay people. Vermont law prohibits denying access to public accommodations based on sexual orientation.
Fox News: A high school valedictorian in Vermont was forbidden by school administers from delivering nearly half of his graduation speech in which he discussed how Jesus had changed his life. ”I was just sharing a story about my life and how it was changed,” said Kyle Gearwar, the valedictorian at Fair Haven Union High School. “And as an American and as a valedictorian I felt that I should have been able to do that.”
AP: A Tennessee missionary charged with helping a woman get her child out of the United States as part of a high-profile lesbian custody case in Vermont says he’s not guilty. Timothy David Miller . . .
One News Now: he victory thus far does give those who oppose assisted suicide another chance to educate voters and the public to ensure that the bill does not pass next time around, but Beerworth expects a full-court press from pro-life proponents.
Boston Globe: The Vermont Law School is lifting its 25-year-old ban on military recruiters on campus because the military is ending its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about gays and lesbians serving in the military.
NY Times: Federal authorities last week arrested and charged a Tennessee pastor with aiding in the “international parental kidnapping” of a girl who has been missing since late 2009 and is at the center of a lengthy custody battle between her two mothers — a onetime lesbian couple who were in a civil union.
A Christian missionary charged with helping a woman take her 9-year-old daughter to Central America during a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner was allowed Monday to remain free on $25,000 bond . . .
ACLUTV.org: The ACLU of Vermont has sued the town of Franklin for including prayer in its town meeting. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Marilyn Hackett, a Franklin resident, alleges that the town and its moderator, Timothy Magnant, have violated …
Chicago Tribune: “Representatives of the Vermont Education Association and of nurses at Fletcher Allen Health Care will stage a noontime rally at the Statehouse in Montpelier.”
“. . . the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld, as applied, Burlington, Vermont’s noise ordinance that was invoked by a police officer to issue a written warning to plaintiff, a street preacher, who was preaching in a loud voice outside places of business on a pedestrian mall.”
OneNewsNow: “‘The state said, “No — we don’t allow religion or a deity on our vanity plates” and denied the request,’ recaps Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney [Jeremy Tedesco]. ‘So we litigated the case, and after five years, we won at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. After the district court ruled against us, the Second Circuit said that Mr. Byrne needs to be granted equal access to the vanity plate forum for his religious speech.’”
Washington Examiner (AP): “The state of Vermont has ended a years-long legal dispute with a man who has been fighting for the right to display a reference to one of the Bible’s most famous passages on a vanity plate . . . ‘This really is a great victory for free speech,’ said [Jeremy Tedesco], the general council for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which represented Byrne.”
Associated Press: “A Vermont man will be able to get a license plate that refers to a famous passage from the Bible’s New Testament.”
ADF attorney Matthew Sharp writing at Townhall: “[T]he recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Byrne v. Rutledge, a lawsuit wrapped up Monday, assures us that no matter how short the message or the viewpoint it expresses, it is protected by the First Amendment . . . Shawn Byrne applied to the Vermont DMV for the tag ‘JN36TN,’ a creative reference to the popular Bible verse, John 3:16. But Vermont denied his request, citing a state law prohibiting vanity plates that reference religion or deity.”
Boston.com (AP): “A Vermont high school’s winter ball has been canceled at least in part because of slow ticket sales caused by a ban on the style of dancing known as ‘grinding.’”
LifeNews: “Vermont and Montana will form ground zero for the debate over assisted suicide in 2011 as legislatures in both states are expected to tackle bills related to the subject.”
Christian Post: “The American Civil Liberties Union and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders both filed lawsuits Tuesday on behalf of same-sex couples trying to receive federal benefits from their partners. In GLAD’s case, the advocate group filed a lawsuit on behalf of five same-sex couples and widowed partner across three states – Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire . . . ADF Legal Council [Dale Schowengerdt] explained that GLAD put multiple plaintiffs on the lawsuit because ‘their legal arguments are a little bit thin and they focus a lot on the stories of these couples and basically make an emotional appeal.’”
FRCblog: “It is a tragic consequence of the civil ‘right’ that, unfortunately, Lisa Miller, fought for – and now has to live in spite of. Only this time, an innocent child suffers at the hands of adults in a political milieu where the innocent loses and no one, especially little Isabella, wins.”
LifeSiteNews: “The Democratic candidate for governor of Vermont has told a pro-euthanasia lobby group that he would push to decriminalize the actions of those who help others kill themselves.”
Reuters: “According to a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens, only 5 percent to 6 percent of teens had same-sex partners. In the new study, 9.3 percent of teens said they did.”
OneNewsNow: “The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has told Vermont that license plates referring to ‘religion’ or ‘deity’ are constitutional . . . ‘Shawn Byrne in Vermont wanted to put ‘JN36TN’ [John 3:16] on his license plate, and the state said that he could not do that because they banned all references to religion on vanity plates,’ [ADF Attorney Jeremy Tedesco] explains.”
NorthJersey.com: “‘Christians shouldn’t be censored from expressing their beliefs while others are freely allowed to express theirs,’ said David Cortman, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed the suit in 2005.”
Andrew Cohen writes at Politics Daily: “Judge Livingston then delivered the coup de grace. “The infirmities in Vermont’s application of its own statute are amply demonstrated by the case at bar. Byrne applied for the plate JN36TN, which the state refused to issue because Byrne’s supplied meaning indicated his intent to refer to the biblical passage John 3:16. However, as Byrne argues, and the record supports, Vermont would have approved that very same combination had Byrne supplied a secular meaning for it – e.g., `[M]y name is John, I am 36, [and] I was born in Tennessee.’”
Jeremy Tedesco on the Zeb Bell Show: 2nd Circuit victory in Vermont John 3:16 license plate litigation
ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco on the Zeb Bell Show to discuss the recent 2nd Circuit victory in the Vermont John 3:16 license plate litigation. | MP3 audio 13:41 mins
National Law Journal on Law.com: “A state law that prohibits vanity license plates containing religious messages violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The 2nd Circuit said a Vermont statute that barred a driver from obtaining a vanity plate referring to the Biblical verse . . . Jeremy D. Tedesco of the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Arizona argued for Byrne.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued a ruling Friday that strikes down a Vermont motor vehicles statute that prohibits personalized license plates with messages that refer to “religion” or “deity.”
Associated Press: “A decade after Vermont became the first state to recognize same-sex couples, it is one of five states that have expanded beyond civil unions to offer full-fledged same-sex marriage. But it’s still a hotly debated issue in many parts of the country. Voters in California and Maine overturned same-sex marriage, and 29 states have passed laws or constitutional amendments against it.”
AP: “Lawyers for Lisa Miller argued their case Wednesday in Montpelier challenging a Family Court judge’s decision to award custody to former partner Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, Vt.”
WCAX: “The Vermont Supreme Court weighs in later this week in the long running custody dispute between former lesbian partners.”
Associated Press: “An 8-year-old girl at the heart of a long-running child custody fight between former lesbian partners may have fled to Central America with her birth mother, a lawyer for one of the women said.”
Associated Press: “Thirty-six years after Vermonters voted to unify the court system, Gov. Jim Douglas on Thursday signed a bill to implement those changes . . . Under the 369-page bill Douglas signed, probate court districts no longer will follow the borders of Vermont’s 14 counties; instead the courts will have five probate districts, with rural counties bunched together and the most populous, Chittenden, forming its own district. New probate judges will be required to be lawyers.”
Associated Press: “Eight-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins and birth mother Lisa Miller failed to appear for a court-ordered Jan. 1 custody swap in which Miller’s former partner, Janet Jenkins, was to get the girl.”
North Carolina Family Policy Council: “The leaders of the North Carolina House and Senate have consistently defended their inaction on the MPA by arguing that same-sex ‘marriage’ is simply not an issue for North Carolina . . . Meanwhile, the strong marriage laws of other states, such as Iowa, have proven to be no match for activist judges or politicians intent on overturning them . . . Efforts to get the marriage redefinition law on a referendum so that the people of D.C. could decide its fate—including a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and Stand for Marriage D.C., and a last minute appeal for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene—were not successful before the law went into effect.”
Times Argus: “But gay rights advocates say the organization’s “discriminatory” policies – it prohibits gay and lesbian adults from volunteering as troop leaders – should prevent the group from receiving any taxpayer money.”
LifeSiteNews: “The daughter of ex-lesbian Lisa Miller appeared to have suffered emotional trauma following forced visits with Miller’s ex-partner, according to sworn testimony submitted to a Vermont court.”
The Virginia Court Court of Appeals has issued this ruling in Miller v. Jenkins, No. 0705-09-4. (Va. Ct. App. Feb. 23, 2010). For more background on the case, click the case name tag below.
LifeSiteNews: “Judge Harrison of the Bedford County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court ruled that because Miller’s whereabouts are unknown, it cannot be proven that she is aware of the court order to transfer custody of her daughter Isabella. He scheduled another hearing for May 19.”
Burlington Free Press: “Later that day, as Cardinal struggled at the hospital with numerous injuries from the crash, she learned that her twin fetuses — she was eight months pregnant — didn’t survive . . . egally it is as if her fetuses — a boy named Colin Patrick and a girl named Emma Margaret — meant nothing . . . The legislation the two women want, however, ignites an electrically charged debate about abortion that has many lawmakers steadfastly opposed . . . ”
LifeSiteNews: “Ex-Lesbian Lisa Miller has been given 30 days to transfer custody of her daughter to her former lesbian partner, or possibly face criminal penalties.”
Vermont Times-Argus: “A Rutland Family court judge is giving a Virginia mother at the center of a same-sex custody battle 30 days to comply with his order before he imposes sanctions that could include a warrant for her arrest.”
CNA: “In a case showing some ramifications of the legal recognition of same-sex unions, a Virginia woman has disobeyed a Vermont court order to turn over sole custody of her biological daughter to her former lesbian partner.”
Lambda Legal has posted this press release on behalf of the former lesbian partner who seeks to remove a child from the custody of her natural mother.
Rutland Herald: “Abortion-rights groups – the Vermont-ACLU and Planned Parenthood among them – say the proposed legislation has the potential to undermine women’s rights by leading Vermont into a murky debate over abortion. Assigning legal status to unborn fetuses, the groups say, sets a dangerous precedent that could deteriorate women’s rights to choose.”
Boston Globe: “Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen has ordered that Lisa Miller of Winchester, Va., turn over her child Isabella to Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven on Friday in Virginia.”
Christian Post: “The Virginia Court of Appeals heard oral arguments this past week on the issue of whether Virginia must enforce a custody order and visitation order arising from a dissolved Vermont same-sex civil union.”
Liberty Counsel: “Yesterday, Liberty Counsel appeared in court to defend Lisa Miller. The ACLU and Lambda Legal Defense Fund are seeking to transfer custody of Lisa’s biological daughter, Isabella, to Janet Jenkins, a lesbian living in Vermont . . . The prior litigation focused only on whether Virginia had to register the Vermont order. This case presents for the first time whether Virginia must enforce the terms of the civil union order, which Virginia law declares to be ‘void in all respects.’”