Monday, June 22, 2009

Senators Want to Define Marriage

Senators want to define marriage
Monday, 22 June 2009 02:12 by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff

Senator Frank Blas Jr. is personally opposed to same-sex marriages. That’s why he wants the term “marriage” to be clarified locally by law – specifically, whether “marriage” should also mean same-sex civil unions. Toward that effort, Blas and Sen. Tina Rose Muña-Barnes last week introduced Bill 158, which seeks to define marriage as a personal relationship between one male and one female arising out of a civil contract.

Blas has gone on record with the Variety saying that he opposes same-sex marriage, but looks forward to having a discussion on the same-sex union measure introduced by the office of Senator B.J. Cruz. Bill 138, authored by the Guam Youth Congress, would seek to establish civil unions on Guam for same-sex couples.

“Let’s have a discussion on the civil union bill, but I’m opposed to gay marriage. And we’ll have this discussion with the same-sex civil union bill. My bill just defines marriage,” said Blas.

Blas said that discussions he’s had with members in the community prompted him to introduce the bill.

“The bill was spurred by the discussions that were going on about the same-sex (civil) union bill and in those discussions, one of the things that came up was marriage. I did research and wanted to find out what the differences were. Our current statute defining marriage is defined as two persons with a union contract,” said Blas.

Under the third section of his bill, “Incompetency of Parties,” Blas includes “persons of the same gender,” saying that this inclusion would make the relationship between same-sex partners illegitimate.

Section three reads, “Marriages between parents and children, ancestors and descendants, persons of the same gender, and between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews, are void from the beginning whether the relationship is legitimate or illegitimate.”

Blas said that in listening to arguments on same-sex unions, “one of the things that came out of those discussions was that they’re not looking for marriage, they’re looking for rights and benefits. I hope they don’t see this as an affront to them, because that is not my intention.”

Now that local leaders and the community are discussing same-sex civil unions and there is a bill that will eventually receive a public hearing, Blas said he felt it was necessary to define marriage as a union contract between one man and one woman.

“This basically falls in line as defining marriage everywhere else in the nation. Across the nation, the states have defined marriage as one man and one woman union, I just want to clarify that in this bill,” said Blas.

In 1996, the U.S. Congress adopted the Defense of Marriage Act. A section of the Act defined “marriage” for the purposes of federal law and the other affirming federalism principals under the authority granted to it.

The first section states that for purposes of federal law, marriage means a legal union between a man and a woman. The second section reaffirms the power of the states and territories to make their own decisions about marriage.

“I find it necessary to amend our statute defining marriage so that it falls in line with the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Blas.

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