COE working group proposes blessing same-sex couples
November 29th, 2013
The Church of England, fresh off a political campaign in which they sealed their inability to sanctify same-sex marriages, is now going to consider blessing the same unions they fought so hard not to officiate. (Mail)
Bishops should lift their official ban on ceremonies to mark civil partnerships and the relationships of gay and lesbian churchgoers, a long-awaited CofE report said.
It signalled an end to the Church’s longstanding insistence that gay relationships are sinful and less worthy than heterosexual marriage.
The report, written by former civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling and a team of senior churchmen and women, may now open the way for a reversal of the CofE’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the eventual appointment of actively homosexual priests and bishops.
The report appears to have the support of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and may reflect the intent of the church to bring it’s rules in line with the reality that such blessings are already widely conducted.
Correction to Greek ‘straights only’ domestic partners proposed
November 26th, 2013
Earlier this month we reported that Greece had been found guilty of discrimination for their domestic partnership registry which explicitly excludes same-sex couples. Now changes have been proposed. (Greek Reporter)
Dimokratiki Aristera (DIMAR), submitted an amendment to Parliament, which brings changes in Law 3719/2008 regarding the cohabitation agreement aimed to stop the discrimination against couples of the same-sex.
The amendment was submitted in the draft law of the Ministry of Justice “Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the General Assembly of the United Nations.”
DIMAR holds about 5% of the votes in Parliament.
Kentucky jury fines gay couple for protesting in marriage office
November 26th, 2013
In January of this year, Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James went down to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office (Kentucky) to request a marriage license. When they were denied, they refused to leave until such time as their civil rights were honored.
At the end of the day they were arrested for trespass.
Today a jury found them guilty and levied a fine. (Courier-Journal)
A Jefferson County jury Tuesday convicted a gay couple of trespassing for refusing to leave the county clerk’s office after they were denied a marriage license — fining them a penny for their crime.
And look who showed up
November 21st, 2013
While most protest to the marriage bill was celebrating an exorcism, the Chicago Police cordoned off a space in front of the UIC Forum – where the signing ceremony was being held – for protest, should anyone wish to do so. And look who showed up, our old buddy Peter LaBarbera, the head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.
Poor, poor Peter. He looks a bit lonely.
(photo shamelessly stolen from Joe.My.God)
Stolam mea est pulchellus
November 21st, 2013
While the marriage bill was being signed, those who oppose equality as being contrary to the procreative purpose of marriage met in Springfield at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to join celibate Bishop Thomas Paprocki for a rather unusual response: an exorcism.
Speaking in a language that has for 1,000 years been spoken only by those who vow not to marry, Paprocki commanded that “every unclean sprit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort and faction” be gone.
But evidence suggests that the command may not have been effective as he himself did not immediately disappear in a puff of purple smoke
Marriage is law in Illinois
November 21st, 2013
Yesterday Illinois Governor Pat Quinn took pens in hand and signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law. (Trib)
Playing master of ceremonies during an hourlong event, the re-election-seeking Democratic governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs. He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that the administration said President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 — a speech on the cusp of the Civil War that called on Americans to heed “the better angels of our nature.”
But it was another Lincoln speech that Quinn referenced as he spoke to about 2,300 supporters gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“In the very beginning of the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois said that our nation was conceived in liberty. And he said it’s dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that’s really what we’re celebrating today,” he said. “It’s a triumph of democracy.”
The ceremony also featured Greg Harris, primary sponsor of the bill, and others including Judy Baar Topinka, the only state-wide elected Republican in Illinois.
Quinn’s signature brings the total number of states with legalized same-sex marriage to 16 (plus the District of Columbia) and the total number of people living in an equality state to 115 million, or 38% of the US population.
In addition, three states (Oregon, Nevada, and Colorado) offer Domestic Partnerships with all of the state rights and obligations, but none of the Federal.
The law is slated to go into effect on June 1, 2014. However, Sen. Don Harmon (D – Oak Park) is considering a bill which would make the law effective immediately.
Daddy needs a new pair of shoes
November 20th, 2013
Nike Inc. has formed a PAC to support marriage equality and seeded it with $280,000 from the company and its executives.
“We are committed to diversity and inclusion and strive to treat our employees equally,” the company said in a statement. “We believe that diversity drives innovation and allows us to attract and retain world class talent. For Oregon businesses to attract and retain the best talent, we need fair and equitable laws that treat all Oregonians equally and prevent discrimination.”
This additional boost of funds shows the seriousness with which Oregon business, activist, and faith alliance have towards overturning Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Currently Oregon United for Marriage has collected 115,080 signatures of the 116,284 needed to get on the 2014 ballot (though they will need to collect a healthy margin to allow for some invalidations).
Last week the Oregon Episcopal Diocese voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality, joining many ministers and churches from UCC, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish and other faith groups.
November 20th, 2013
Having been found guilty yesterday of breaking the Methodist Book of Discipline by officiating at his son’s wedding, United Methodist minister Frank Schaefer went back before the jury today to be sentenced. But today Schaefer was defiant and dared them to do their worst. (NY Daily News)
“I have to minister to those who hurt and that’s what I’m doing,” said Schaefer.
The prosecutor, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, invited Schaefer to “repent of your actions” and pledge never again to perform a homosexual union.
“I cannot,” Schaefer replied.
His refusal to submit to the church law infuriated his accusers.
Jon Boger, who filed the initial complaint against Schaefer, was outraged by the pastor’s recalcitrance. The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.
“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines,” Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. “He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”
But Schaefer did not back down. He chided the church about hate speech and insisted that it needs to stop treating gays as “second class Christians”. In closing, he put on a rainbow colored stole, a symbol within the church of gay supporters, and said,
I cannot go back to being a silent supporter. I must continue to be in ministry with all people and speak for LGBTQ people. Members of the jury, before you decide my penalty, you need to know I wear his rainbow stole as a visible sign that this is who I am called to be.
After deliberation, the jury sentenced him to a 30 day suspension, a very lenient sentence considering the subject and Schaefer’s refusal to repent and his pledge to take this fight as his mission.
They warned him, however, not to break any rules within 30 days or he’d lose his credentials. This story may be far from over.
Schaefer found guilty
November 19th, 2013
Yesterday the United Methodist Church put Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial. (WaPo)
By the end of the day, the rare jury of 13 Methodist pastors had found Schaefer guilty on two charges: “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.” On Tuesday morning, the jury reconvened to devise Schaefer’s penalty for agreeing in 2006 to marry his son Tim, who earlier had contemplated suicide over his homosexuality.
Schaefer’s punishment will be decided today and could range from a reprimand to expulsion. And the prosecutor is seeking as severe a punishment as possible. (Sun Times)
The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who is serving as the church’s prosecutor, urged the jury in his opening statement to consider whether Schaefer will “repent of and renounce his disobedience to the (Methodist Book of) Discipline,” and promise to obey the denomination’s book of law and doctrine in the future.
Fisher told jurors that Schaefer’s disobedience couldn’t go unpunished.
“Ministers are not free to reinterpret (their) vows according to personal preference,” said Fisher, whose closing argument condemning homosexuality prompted Schaefer’s supporters to stand in silent protest in the gymnasium that served as a temporary courtroom.
“As a father, I understand the desire to show love and support to my children,” Fisher said. “It’s not always true we can do for our children everything they want us to do. True love draws boundaries.”
This line of attack does call into question the extent to which the denomination is sincere in it’s welcome and pledge of ministry to gay persons. If the crime was breaking a rule, that is one thing; but if the punishment is based on opposition to homosexuality, that is quite another.
And, finally, we now have learned the motivation behind the accuser. The mother of Jon Bolger, the man who filed the claim, was recently removed from her position as choir director.
Congratulations, Orlando Cruz
November 18th, 2013
Gay Puerto Rican boxer Orlando “El Fenómeno” Cruz on Nov. 16 married his boyfriend, José Manuel Colón, in New York’s Central Park.
Methodist minister goes on church trial for performing son’s marriage
November 18th, 2013
Unlike many other denominations, the UMC is not an American denomination; rather it is a global church with about a third of it’s membership outside the US. Ever four years, a convention of representatives meets to set it’s doctrines and policies and the issue of gay Methodists, pastors, and marriage are regularly debated. And while many Methodists are fiercely supportive of our rights, both civil and religious, the delegates from Africa and Asia uniformly oppose any movement towards acceptance.
In 2012, with 39% of delegates from outside the US, the church again confirmed the position that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and during scheduled ‘holy conversations’ on the subject, a number of participants felt that they were bullied and derided by those who oppose inclusion.
After the convention, the many within the church in the US began a stage of discontent. Several regional conferences express dissatisfaction with the decision, and in Washington and Minnesota they encouraged voters to support marriage equality on the ballot.
Many others, supported by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, are rebelling against the rules. In Pennsylvania, over 30 UMC ministers pledged to defy the Methodist Book of Discipline and to jointly officiate at a same-sex wedding. They are making the stand in support of a fellow Pennsylvania minister, Frank Schaefer, who went on trial today.
Six years ago Schaefer’s son Tim asked him to officiate at his wedding. Schaefer agreed and for six years no one complained. Then a few weeks before the statute of limitations ran, a congregant who was “dismayed and shocked” to learn about the event pressed charges. (yahoo)
A United Methodist minister who officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he broke his pastoral vows.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon entered his plea at the beginning of a high-profile church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania that is rekindling debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.
Schaefer contends that the Methodist Book of Discipline also directs pastors to address the needs of their flock, including gay members and that this was an act of love, not of rebellion.
This trial is being closely watched both within and without the church, including by several other ministers who are also up for trial.
Depending on the outcome of this trial – and others – the United Methodist Church could be in for some tumultuous years. The church is growing rapidly in Africa and the Philippines while it is decreasing in the United States. While support is growing locally, the delegation is increasingly from parts of the world where gays are treated with open contempt, allowing the anti-gay minority in the US to punish those who stand up for justice and mercy.
Hawaii marriage bill signed
November 13th, 2013
Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed the marriage equality bill into law this morning, describing the law as part of Hawaii’s “legacy of aloha.”
At a signing ceremony at the Hawai’i Convention Center’s Liliu Theater, the governor told dozens of invited guests and state lawmakers that the marriage equality bill was the “epitome of the First Amendment in action.”
Hawaii is the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to allow gay marriage. Illinois is expected to become the 16th state later this month when Gov. Pat Quinn signs a marriage equality bill into law in Chicago.
Gay couples can get married in Hawaii as soon as Dec. 2. Clergy can refuse to perform gay weddings. Churches and other religious organizations can deny goods, services and facilities for gay weddings and receptions if it violates religious beliefs.
I understand that the beach, the palm trees, and the tropical forest have already announced that they have no religious objections. Poi is on board, as is the ukulele and luau.
Marriage clears last procedural hurdle, heads to Governor
November 12th, 2013
The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday legalizing gay marriage, putting Hawaii a signature away from becoming a same-sex wedding destination.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called lawmakers to a special session for the bill and has vocally supported gay marriage, has said he would sign the measure. It will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.
Senators passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused. Cheers erupted inside and outside the gallery when the vote was taken, with a smattering of boos.
European Court of Human Rights finds that Greece must allow same-sex civil partnerships
November 7th, 2013
In the evolution of thinking on marriage equality in Europe, several nations started with a marriage-lite structure, a recognition of couples which stopped short of full rights and obligations of marriage. Ironically, this proved to be popular with some straight couples who wanted a less formal structure, an intro-level recognition while they decided whether they wanted a full marriage.
In 2008, to meet the demand for limited couple recognition, Greece decided, “Yes, let’s do that gay couple thing… but with a twist.” So they created civil partnerships, a formalization of rights of cohabiting couples and – turning the idea on its head – they specifically excluded gay couples.
Several same-sex couples challenged the law in the European Court of Human Rights and the decision has been made. (AFP)
Civil unions should not be reserved for heterosexual couples, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday, condemning Greece for creating a “life partner” legal category that excludes gays.
Judges in Strasbourg said that authorities in Orthodox Christian Greece had not offered “convincing and weighty reasons capable of justifying the exclusion of same-sex couples” when passing a 2008 law.
The judges noted that a
European Union member of the Council of Europe need not offer marriage rights or even couple recognition to same-sex couples. But if they create new structures as an alternative to marriage, they cannot make restrictions based on sexual orientation.
The ruling applies to Greece and possibly to Lithuania, which also offers straights-only non-marriage couple recognition.
[NOTE: The heading was revised]
The Tennesseean profiles Bishop Melvin Talbert
November 6th, 2013
Despite warnings from his denomination that he’d be violating the faith’s Book of Discipline, Bishop Melvin Talbert traveled from Nashville to near Birmingham, Ala., to perform the Oct. 26 wedding of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince. They were legally married Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C., but wanted a church wedding.
Talbert sees his involvement as an act of civil disobedience for a moral cause, and if you want to disagree, you’d better have some pretty big boots.
He volunteered to perform same-sex weddings and urged fellow clergy to do the same. He likens his work to the nation’s civil rights movement, a comparison he doesn’t make lightly. Talbert, now 79, shared an Atlanta jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. in October 1960 after being arrested at an Atlanta lunch counter sit-in.
Talbert was one of the student organizers who invited King to join their protest. He spent three days and nights in the cell with King, which molded the direction of his life.
See also the Huntsville Times
Illinois Senate clears procedural hurdle for marriage
November 6th, 2013
Although the Illinois Senate had previously passed marriage equality, amendments in the House required a second vote. (NYT)
The measure passed the Illinois Senate in February, but for procedural reasons it had to be voted on there again. On Tuesday, the Senate quickly approved changes the House made to the bill, sending it to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has said he will sign it. Illinois couples could begin marrying on June 1.
Missouri supremes set the state up for slap down
October 31st, 2013
Justice Scalia once famously said that “a tax on yarmulkes is a tax on Jews”, the idea being that one cannot hide behind the technicality of a law ‘applying to everyone’ when the actuality is that the law is designed to impact only one demographic.
And though Scalia refuses to see it, he provided the clearest legal parable as to why it is that laws designed to impact only gay citizens – though couched as ‘applying to everyone’ – violate the US Constitution.
Although several conservative politicians have tried to claim that their state’s sodomy laws are still valid using the argument that they applied to both gay and straight people, these have never gotten any legal traction. When Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Attorney General (and GOP gubernatorial candidate), tried to argue for reinstatement of that state’s sodomy laws by bringing a case involving oral sex with an opposite-sex minor, the US Supreme Court didn’t even grant certiorari.
Nevertheless, those who oppose equality for gay people often tie themselves up in logic pretzels, seeking a way to simultaneously disadvantage gay citizens while still convincing themselves that they are applying rules equally and fairly. And one of their favorite tactics is to make one unequal law – fully justified in this one instance by tradition and religious freedom and social need and, especially, ‘think of the children’ – and to then use that inequality as justification for the next. It’s what I call gay yarmulke logic.
The current iteration of the gay yarmulke is marriage (having replaced “homosexual acts”). Those who oppose equality aren’t anti-gay, you see, just anti-gay marriage. And, of course, the next inequality is justified by marriage inequality.
The latest example comes to us from the State of Missouri.
On Christmas Day 2009, Missouri State Trooper, Corporal Dennis Engelhard was hit and killed in the line of duty when a car hit an icy patch and veered out of control. He left behind his partner of 15 years, Kelly Glossip, and Kelly’s son who they were jointly raising.
The Police and Fireman’s Fund held a fundraiser for the parents, at which they ignored Engelhard’s spouse and child. The State Troopers issued an obituary stating that Engelhard was ‘single’ and the Governor asked people to pray for his family, who who “lost a beloved son and brother.”
And, naturally, claiming that Glossip was just “a boyfriend”, the state refused to provide him with the survivor benefits to which any spouse is entitled and which are intended to help the family go on after an officer is killed.
Glossip sued. And today the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that Glossip had no rights. Not because of his orientation, oh no of course not, but because of the gay yarmulke, marriage laws. Although they had exchanged rings, they weren’t a family. (OzarksFirst)
Glossip argued that the law was discriminatory because Missouri state law also forbids same-sex marriage. He also claims it is an unconstitutional special law.
The court rejected these claims.
In a 5-2 opinion, the court ruled that the law Glossip was challenging discriminated on the basis of marriage, not sexual orientation.
“Glossip was denied ssurvivor benefits because he and the patrolman were not married, not because of his sexual orientation,” the ruling document stated. “If Glossip and the patrolman had been of different sexes, Glossip would have still been denied benefits no matter how long or close their relationship had been. The result cannot be any different here simply because Glossip and the patrolman were of the same sex. The statute discriminates solely on the basis of marital status, not sexual orientation.”
They weren’t discriminating against gay people, you see, just people of the same sex being spouses. They also oppose heterosexual people of the same sex being spouses. Just like they would tax Lutherans for wearing yarmulkes.
But while these cases frustrate me, they are our key to equality. These examples of discrimination are so blatant, so intuitively unfair, that they win not only our legal arguments but the hearts of the public.
What the State of Missouri did to not just Kelly Glossip but to Dennis Engelhard, who gave his life for the state, is so cruel that it shames decent people. And the gay yarmulke argument is so obscene that it is inconceivable that it could hold up to an inspection by the US Supreme Court.
It is through cases like this one that marriage equality will finally be achieved.
Marriage passes Hawaii Senate Judiciary
October 29th, 2013
A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii cleared a state Senate committee and moved to the full Senate for a vote.
The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee approved the bill following nearly 12 hours of testimony Monday during which more than 400 people addressed lawmakers, Hawaii News Now reported.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday. If it passes, it will go to the House, where a joint hearing before the Judiciary and Finance committees is scheduled Thursday.
Hawaii Senate hears marriage on Monday
October 22nd, 2013
Gov. Neil Abercrombie made the request for lawmakers to hear the other bills on Tuesday while also notifying the Legislature about a revised gay marriage bill.
The state Senate will take the lead on the gay marriage bill, with a public hearing Monday morning before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.
Geidner: Christie’s argument has been procedural, not personal
October 21st, 2013
Christie’s entire defense of the marriage law, in fact, has been premised — like Monday’s statement — upon process and not upon his personal opposition to same-sex couples’ marriages, which he has continued to maintain in his bid for reelection.
When the trial court ruled against Christie in September, for example, he did not defend “traditional marriage” or something similar. Instead, he looked to process, with a spokesman saying, “Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”