- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean yesterday said that if elected he would press every state to recognize the rights of American homosexual couples who “marry” in Canada.

The former Vermont governor was the first to highlight same-sex “marriage” as a political issue when he signed a law recognizing it through civil unions in his state, giving homosexuals the same rights as other married couples beginning in 2000.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Dean said he would not ask Congress for a law recognizing rights for homosexual couples, but would urge states to do so.

“I would insist that every state find a way to recognize the same legal rights for gay couples as they do for everybody else,” Mr. Dean said. “If a couple goes to Canada and gets married, when they come back they should have exactly the same legal rights as every other American.”

The Family Research Council opposes the Canadian initiative and is leading the fight against legislation introduced two weeks ago by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, that would extend domestic-partner benefits to homosexual federal employees.

“What’s happening in Canada is a warning to America,” said Ken Connor, Family Research Council president.

“Unless the American people rise up to defend this indispensable institution, we could lose marriage in a very short time,” Mr. Connor said in a statement.

No other Democratic candidates have commented on a Canadian court’s ruling that the country’s definition of marriage as male-female was unconstitutional discrimination against homosexuals. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien plans to introduce legislation recognizing same-sex “marriages.”

Democratic candidates who support civil unions for homosexuals include Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, according to the Boston Globe, which surveyed candidates on the issue.

Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said the decision should be left to the states. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said the issue should be studied further.

According to the survey published last month, all Democratic candidates support homosexual couples’ eligibility for domestic-partner benefits, including health care and pension plans.

The Vermont law was not proposed by Mr. Dean, but by the state courts.

“But it helped make a name for the then-unknown governor, who has been capitalizing on his status as a gay-rights pathbreaker to raise money from the gay community,” the Globe said.

President Bush does not support civil unions or same-sex “marriage.”

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