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Politics : Politics for Pros- moderated -- Ignore unavailable to you. Want to Upgrade?

To: greenspirit who wrote (4062)7/31/2003 8:30:12 AM
From: LindyBill  Read Replies (2) | Respond to of 768639
This will be a tough one for some Liberal Catholic Politicians. Their voters are going to be more demanding on this one.

Vatican Starts Campaign Against Gay Marriage


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican launched a global campaign against gay marriages Thursday, warning Catholic politicians that support of same-sex unions was ``gravely immoral'' and urging non-Catholics to follow their lead.

The Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a 12-page set of guidelines with the approval of Pope John Paul II in a bid to stem the increase in laws granting legal rights to homosexual unions in Europe and North America.

``There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family,'' the document said. ``Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.''

The issue is particularly charged in the United States, where some lawmakers in the House of Representatives have proposed a constitutional ban on gay marriages to counter state laws granting legal recognition to gay unions.

President Bush said Wednesday that marriage was defined strictly as a union between a man and a woman and said he wants to ``codify that one way or the other.''

The Vatican document, ``Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,'' sets out a plan for politicians when confronted with laws or proposed legislation giving homosexual couples the same rights as married heterosexuals.

It also comes out strongly against allowing gay couples to adopt, saying children raised by same-sex parents face developmental ``obstacles'' because they are deprived of having either a mother or a father.

``Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development,'' it said.

It said gay adoptions contradicted the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which holds that the best interests of the child are to be paramount.

The document says Catholic politicians have a ``moral duty'' to publicly oppose laws granting recognition to homosexual unions and to vote against them if proposals are put to a vote in legislatures.

If the laws are already on the books, politicians must speak out against them, work to repeal them and try to limit their impact on society, it said.

``To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral,'' the document said.

The Vatican said its guidelines were not only intended for Catholic lawmakers but for non-Christians and everyone ``committed to promoting and defending the common good of society'' since the issue concerned natural moral law, not just Church doctrine.

The document comes after an appeals court in Ontario, Canada ruled in June that Canada's definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. That paved the way for legalized gay unions there.

Vermont and some European nations, such as Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark, have ``civil union'' laws giving same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of traditional marriages.

The document doesn't contain any new Church teachings on the issue, repeating much of the Vatican's previous comments on homosexuality and marriage, which it defines as a sacred union between man and woman designed to create new human life.

It said homosexuals shouldn't be discriminated against, but said denying gay couples the rights afforded in traditional marriages isn't discrimination.

Monsignor Angel Rodriguez Luno, a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, noted in a statement released by the Vatican that homosexual relationships, like other human relationships, need not be legally recognized.

Basic friendship, for example, isn't defined legally because it is a private relationship, he said.

In a footnote citing a 1992 comment on the topic, the document also noted that there was a danger that laws legalizing same-sex unions could actually encourage someone with a homosexual orientation to seek out a partner to ``exploit the provisions of the law.''

On Thursday, a small group of demonstrators from Italy's Radical Party held up banners at the edge of St. Peter's Square to protest the document. The banners read ``No Vatican, No Taliban,'' and ``Democracy Yes, Theocracy No.''

Other opposition to the document came from the Green Party in predominantly Catholic Austria. Ulrike Lunacek, a party spokeswoman, said Catholic politicians should follow human rights conventions, ``not the old-fashioned views of the Vatican.''

``This hierarchy, which also rules on other issues like forbidding the use of condoms to avoid AIDS, is far from reality,'' she said in a statement issued earlier this week after the Vatican announced the document's release.

To: greenspirit who wrote (4062)7/31/2003 10:15:45 AM
From: LindyBill  Respond to of 768639
Looks like the market rise this last two months wasn't all just A "Bear Rally." Good news for us and the Repubs.

U.S. Economy Grew at 2.4% Annual Rate in 2nd Quarter

Filed at 8:52 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy, lifted by consumer and business spending, broke out of the doldrums and grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2003, the strongest showing in nearly a year.

The improvement in the gross domestic product in the April to June quarter, reported by the Commerce Department Thursday, came after two straight quarters of lousy economic growth. GDP increased at just a 1.4 percent pace in both the final quarter of 2002 and the first three months of this year.

The report reinforced the hope that the nation's economy, shedding war and other uncertainties that had bogged it down earlier, would gain more traction in the second half of this year.

Considered the broadest barometer of the economy's health, GDP measure the total value of goods and services produced within the United States.

The 2.4 percent growth rate turned in during the second quarter showed more energy than the limp 1.5 percent pace that economists were predicting. The second quarter's performance was the best since the third quarter of 2002, when economic growth clocked in at a healthy 4 percent rate.

In another encouraging report, new applications filed last week for unemployment benefits dropped by 3,000 to a five-month low of 388,000, the Labor Department said. It marked the third week in a row that jobless claims went down and suggested that the pace of layoffs is stabilizing.

Meanwhile, a second Labor report showed that U.S. workers' wages and benefits grew by 0.9 percent in the second quarter, down from a 1.3 percent rise in the previous quarter.

To give the recovery a push, the Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate by one-quarter percentage point on June 25 -- to 1 percent, a 45-year low.

With the economy showing scattered signs of improvement, economists believe the Fed will hold short-term rates steady at its next meeting on Aug. 12.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and private economists believe the economy will stage a material rebound in the second half of this year. President Bush's tax cuts along with near rock-bottom short-term interest rates should help out on that front, economists say. Some are predicting growth in the second half in the range of a 3.5 percent to 4 percent rate.

Analysts believe the combination of lower borrowing costs and fatter paychecks and other tax incentives might spur consumers and businesses to spend and invest more.

Even if that turns out to be the case, the job market is likely to remain sluggish economists say. The unemployment rate hit a nine-year high of 6.4 percent in June. It could hover in that range and possibly move higher in the months ahead because job growth probably will not be strong enough to handle an influx of people looking for work amid an improved climate, economists say.

The stagnant jobs market so far hasn't taken a big bite out of consumer spending, the main force keeping the economy going.

Consumers in the second quarter increased their spending at a brisk 3.3 percent rate, up from a 2 percent pace in the previous quarter. After trimming spending on big-ticket items, such as cars and appliances, in the first quarter, consumers ratcheted up such spending on ``durable'' goods in the second quarter by a whopping 22.6 percent.

Especially encouraging in the GDP report was budding signs that the big freeze on business spending is beginning to thaw. Businesses, which cut spending on equipment and software in the first three months of this year, boosted such investment in the second quarter at a sizable 7.5 percent rate. That marked the biggest increase in three years.

And, after six straight quarters of slashing spending on new plants, office buildings and other structures, businesses boosted this spending by 4.8 percent in the second quarter.

A sustained turnaround in capital investment by businesses is a crucial ingredient to the economy's ability to get back to full throttle, economists say.

Another factor helping out second quarter GDP: a stunning 44.1 percent growth rate in government defense spending, the largest increase since the third quarter of 1951.

The housing market, a continued bright spot of the economy, also helped bolster GDP in the second quarter. Spending on residential projects grew at a rate of 6 percent, down from the previous quarter's red hot 10.1 percent growth rate.

The nation's swelling trade deficit was one of the forces restraining the economy in the second quarter. The deficit shaved 1.56 percentage point off from GDP in the second quarter.

Another factor holding back second-quarter GDP was a whittling of inventories by businesses. That subtracted 0.77 percentage point from GDP. But with inventories lean, businesses will need to replenish them, something that would help economic growth in the coming months.