AP Briefs: Gay basher sentenced; churches fight denominations over LGBT issues; more

Posted on 12 Apr 2017 at 3:17pm

Here are a few briefs from the Associated Press:

 

Gay basher sentenced in Idaho

Convicted gay basher Kelly Schneider

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho man has been sentenced 28 years in prison for his role in the death of a gay man.

Third District Judge Thomas J. Ryan sentenced 23-year-old Kelly Schneider on Monday, April 10. In January, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court in the death of 49-year-old Steven Nelson.

Schneider has also pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime. He will be sentenced for that charge on April 26. The hate-crime charge was filed in federal court because Idaho doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity in its malicious harassment law.

According to court documents, Schneider acknowledged he lured Nelson to a remote area and used steel-toed boots to kick Nelson 20 to 30 times while Nelson begged for his life. Nelson was left alone in the isolated wilderness area and died after finding help at a home about half-mile away.

 

Church facing excommunication over anti-LGBT stance

CALVERT CITY, Ky. — A Presbyterian congregation is facing excommunication and has been asked to vacate its church after a divergence with the national church on same-sex marriage.

The Paducah Sun reports that the First Presbyterian Church of Calvert City requested dismissal from its denomination following the changed description of marriage issued by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2015. In response, the Presbytery of Western Kentucky, which serves as the regional governing body, has asked the congregation to vacate the church by April 19.

Clerk of session Paul Ambler, whose wife is the pastor, said that the congregation supports civil rights but does not wish to bring secular practices into a church context.

Both sides have retained counsel, although no legal action has yet been filed.

 

Indonesian couple faces caning for gay sex

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having gay sex.

Marzuki, the Shariah police’s chief investigator, said Saturday, April 8, that if found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago.

Residents in a neighborhood of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, reported the men, aged 23 and 20, to police on March 29, said Marzuki, who goes by a single name.

He said the men had “confessed” to being a gay couple and that this was supported by video footage taken by a resident that has been circulating online. It shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the national government in 2006 to end a years-long war with separatists. A Shariah code implemented two years ago allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex. Caning is also a punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.

Marzuki said residents in Banda Aceh’s Rukoh neighborhood were suspicious of the two men because they often seemed to be intimate, and had set out to catch them having sex.

“Based on our investigation, testimony of witnesses and evidence, we can prove that they violated Islamic Shariah law and we can take them to court,” Marzuki said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but a judicial review being considered by the Constitutional Court is seeking to criminalize sex outside marriage and sex between people of the same gender.

 

Nebraska Supreme Court slams anti-LGBT foster, adoption policies

OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska Supreme Court says a former state policy banning same-sex couples from serving as foster parents or adopting wards of the state was akin to hanging a “Whites Only” sign on a hiring-office door.

The court on April 7 ruled that a judge’s 2015 ruling striking down the policy will stand.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples in 2013. A judge ruled in the couples’ favor, declaring as unconstitutional the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services policy.

The state’s high court rejected state attorneys’ arguments that Lancaster County District Judge John Colburn’s finding should be reversed because DHHS had quietly stopped enforcing the ban in 2012, making the matter moot.

Its ruling slammed the 1995 administrative policy, which remained on the agency’s website until February 2015, as evidence “that `heterosexuals only’ need apply to be foster parents.”

“It is legally indistinguishable from a sign reading `Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door,” Justice John Wright wrote.

The court also upheld an order for the state to pay nearly $174,000 in plaintiffs’ legal fees.

“There are tens of thousands of LGBT people who call the Cornhusker State home and thousands of Nebraska children in need of a foster care placement,” said Danielle Conrad, executive director of the Nebraska American Civil Liberties Union, which was among the groups representing the couples.

“This victory means that Nebraska’s motto of `Equality before the Law’ rings out more truly for all in our state.”

Asked why the state appealed if it wasn’t seeking to reinstate the ban, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office replied in a written statement that “there were legitimate jurisdictional questions that needed to be considered by the court. The court has ruled.” It did not elaborate.

 

N.C. church kicks out Scouts for accepting trans members

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — North Carolina church leaders have told a Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack they’re no longer welcome to use their facilities as a home base after the Boy Scouts of America decided in January to allow transgender boys.

The Charlotte Observer reports Coddle Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Mooresville booted both Troop 169 and Pack 169. Mooresville is about 25 miles north of Charlotte.

Pastor Andrew Shoger issued a statement saying that after 10 years, the church decided it “cannot partner with an organization that embraces what God’s Word clearly labels as sin.”

Shoger said the church would let the troops stay until they could find a new home.

The North Carolina Values Coalition has lobbied churches to abandon their Boy Scout troops for “faith friendly alternatives.”

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