National Briefs

Posted on 05 Jan 2006 at 10:01pm
By Wire Reports

California university bars Christian student group over morality clause
California State University, San Bernardino, has barred a Christian student group from organizing on campus because it would discriminate against non-Christians and gay people.

As in similar disputes on other campuses, the Christian Student Association’s proposed constitution included a sexual morality statement and required that members and officers be Christians.

The university said it acted under a section of California’s education code that says public university student groups cannot exclude people on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

Ryan Sorba, a student who tried to for the association, accused the university of discrimination against Christians. “This is about whether the First Amendment is allowd to exist at Cal State San Bernardino and whether or not Christians are allowed to exist,” he said.

The Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz., has sued the California State campuses at Long Beach and San Diego, saying the system forces students to abandon Christian beliefs to obtain benefits other organizations receive, such as funding from student fees and permission to post fliers and meet in university rooms.

Gay magazine honors Georgia high school student as person of year
A north Georgia high school student who fought to start a gay club at her school is being honored by a gay magazine as its person of the year.

The Advocate selected Kerry Pacer, a senior at White County High School, as its Person of the Year. Past recipients of the title include artist Robert Mapplethorpe and Episcopal Church bishop Gene Robinson.

Pacer said she was overwhelmed with the award and uneasy with the media attention brought by it.

Controversy erupted last year when Pacer and her friends tried to form a gay-straight alliance club for classmates. The school board agreed to its formation, but administrators later eliminated all noncurricular clubs at the school.

The club, Peers Rising in Diversity Education, now meets off campus.
School Superintendent Paul Shaw acknowledged Pacer’s courage.

“She probably deserved the recognition if she received the award,” he said.

Washington state senator calls for passage of gay rights law in 2006
Lisa Brown, majority leader of the Washington State Senate, is urging the body to finally pass a perennial House bill to extend nondiscrimnation protection to gays and lesbians.

New Senate Republican leader Mike Hewitt, of Walla Walla, said it is unclear if any Republicans have to decided to join the Democrats in favor of passing the law. It’s a difficult issue for Republicans, not because of morality, but because they don’t want to force small businessses to hire gays or homeowners to have to rent rooms to them, he said.

Brown said if the state Supreme Court throws out the state’s current ban on same-sex marriage, “it will be a very interesting dilemma” for lawmakers. Unless the court spells out a right to marry, such a bill probably couldn’t pass the Legislature, she said.

New Hampshire lawmakers to consider constitutional ban on gay marriage
The New Hampshire Legislature is expected to debate whether marriage should be restricted to heterosexuals.

Lawmakers will be asked to consider amending the constitution to declare that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. State law bans same-sex marriages, but proponents argue it would be easier to repeal the law than rescind a constitutional amendment.

A committee established to study New Hampshire’s marriage laws recommended that same-sex couples be denied legal status and be allowed only a minimum of benefits available to heterosexual couples.

The panel’s minority accused the majority of putting gays on trial rather than seriously studying the issues.

Pope restates objections to same-sex marriage in New Year’s Eve services
Pope Benedict XVI referred in a New Year’s Eve service to statements he made in June condemning same-sex marriage.

In the message last summer he called marriage a union between man and woman and condemned same-sex unions as anarchic “pseudomarimony.”
Benedict said he spoke to “underline the importance of the family founded on a marriage in the life of the church and of society.”

Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, spearheaded a Vatican campaign against same-sex unions in 2003, issuing guidelines for Catholic politicans to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples. The Vatican and the Italian Catholic Church have opposed politicians’ efforts to give legal recognition to unmarried couples.

Lawsuit challenging Iowa’s ban on gay marriage leads to debate in legislature
Iowa Senate Republican leader Stewart Iverson said a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s law banning gay marriage proves a constitutional amendment is needed.

“A gay rights group from New York is determined to define marriage in Iowa unless Iowans act to define it first,” Iverson said.

Senate Democratic leader Mike Gronstal disputed Iverson’s claims.
“We don’t introduce a constitutional amendment every time someone files a lawsuit,” Gronstal said. “If we did, we’d have 40 to 50 constitutional amendments on the ballot every time.”

Kate Varnum, of the 12 Iowans challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, said she and partner, Trish Hyde, both of Cedar Rapids, are focused on their strong desire to be married not the political fallout.

Illinois congregation splits from United Church of Christ over gay marriage
A 170-year-old congregation in southern Illinois says it is breaking away from the United Church of Christ because the denomination’s support of same-sex marriages and abortion rights has eroded its membership.

The Zion United Church of Christ accused the denomination in a written statement of promoting “unbiblical teachings and practices.” The Rev. Darrell Weber said the discontent has been building for years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 6, 2006.

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