House approves divisive U.S.-China trade pact

24 May 2000 (Newsroom) -- The United States House of Representatives approved a China trade bill on Wednesday that has divided human rights and religious freedom advocates. The House voted 237-197 to grant permanent normal trade relations to the communist nation, taking the place of Most Favored Nation (MFN) status, which required an annual review of China's adherence to international standards. The Senate is expected to approve a similar pact in early June.

U.S. judge orders removal of Ten Commandments from Kentucky public buildings

18 May 2000 (Newsroom) -- A U.S. federal court in Kentucky has ordered state officials to remove wall displays that include the Ten Commandments from classrooms in a public school district and two county courthouses. Judge Jennifer B. Coffman issued three nearly identical preliminary injunctions on May 5, arguing that the wall displays amounted to government endorsement of a particular religion, in conflict with the First Amendment.

Vermont legislature gives final OK to civil unions

25 April 2000 (Newsroom) – The Vermont legislature on Tuesday became the first in the United States to grant gay and lesbian couples all the benefits of marriage through civil unions. By a vote of 79-68 the state House of Representatives passed a final version of the bill, which Democratic Governor Howard Dean promised to sign perhaps by the end of the week. The Senate passed a version of the law last week.

Vermont Senate rejects definition of marriage

18 April 2000 (Newsroom) – The Vermont Senate on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A bill permitting civil unions that would grant all of the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, the most comprehensive law of its kind in the United States, is scheduled for a vote today (April 19).