National Media Watch

Violence Separates Pair in First Vermont ‘Civil Union’

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 15 — The first couple to enter into a same-sex civil union in the United States are separating, reported the Associated Press.

Carolyn Conrad asked a Vermont court in October to end her relationship with Kathleen Peterson, citing allegations of violent behavior. Conrad also obtained a restraining order against her partner.

The two women had been together for five years. They were the first of 7,549 same-sex couples to take advantage of Vermont’s civil-union law, which took effect on July 1, 2000.

Said Peterson, “All I want to say is that the civil union was a big source of pride for me, and now it’s not.”

Interest in Mary on the Rise

LOS ANGELES TIMES, Dec. 18 — Noting the prevalence of news coverage of Marian devotions, the Times reported that there is a resurgence in the “cult of Mary.”

The Times attributed the resurgence to several factors, including increased Mexican immigration to the United States and the increase in Marian devotion during times of crisis or war.

While much is made in the news of supposed Marian apparitions, such as a statue near Sacramento that seems to weep tears of blood, the Times noted that the overwhelming majority of the estimated 21,000 reported Marian sightings since the fourth century are not recognized by the Church.

The resurgence, however, has led even Protestants to reconsider the role of Mary.

“We are a lot more interested now in biblical characters who are women, and we’ve talked about all the others,” said Beverly Roberts Gaventa of Princeton Theological Seminary. “It might be time to talk about Mary as well.”

Democratic Senatorial Candidate Opposes Roe

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Dec. 18 — Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial candidate and state treasurer Robert Casey said that he believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, reported the Inquirer.

The Democratic Party has recruited Casey to run against Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in 2006, and is hoping that Casey’s position supporting restrictions on abortion will diffuse some of Santorum’s advantage on the pro-life issues.

Differences between the two candidates do remain. Casey supports emergency contraception, all-inclusive sex education, and increased funding for “family planning.”

Casey’s father, Gov. Robert Casey, was denied a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his pro-life stand.

Illinois Pharmacist Sticks to His Conviction

KANSAS CITY STAR, Dec. 15 — The Star profiled Rich Quayle, one of four Illinois pharmacists suspended without pay by Walgreens for refusing to fill prescriptions for “emergency contraception.”

Quayle said his right to refuse prescriptions is covered under the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which protects medical professionals from practicing medicine that conflicts with their beliefs. Last August, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved a rule that requires pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception.

“I have firm religious beliefs, and I choose not to destroy a human being,” said Quayle, who is Baptist.

The American Center for Law and Justice has filed a complaint on behalf of the pharmacists with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The U.S. Capitol dome

House Expected to Pass ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ on Thursday

The bill, which would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and recognize same-sex marriages on a federal level, has drawn criticism from Catholic leaders for not providing strong enough protections for those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman — a belief in line with Church teaching.