National Briefs

Posted on 15 Sep 2006 at 12:30am

San Diego Episcopal church votes to leave diocese, organize as Anglican congregation

An Episcopal church in San Diego’s funky Ocean Beach neighborhood has voted to leave the San Diego diocese and organize as an independent, more conservative Anglican congregation.

Holy Trinity Church is the third in San Diego to leave the Episcopal Church as the result of a widening theological breach stemming from the ordination of gay clergy.

Six San Diego-area priests including one in the past week have also resigned since last December to align with more conservative quarters of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.

The incoming Episcopal presiding bishop, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, was among those who voted to confirm V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, in 2003.

Jefferts Schori, who also supports blessing same-sex relationships, was elected by the General Convention in June and is to be installed as head of the U.S. church on Nov. 4.

Arizona State students want to expand awareness program on LGBT issues

Arizona State University students are seeking to expand a program dedicated to increasing campus awareness and acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender community.

SafeZONE is a program that helps fight stereotyping and discrimination through education. SafeZONE provides three workshops: SafeZONE 101, Gender Identity 101 and Becoming an Ally, said David Leo, one of about 15 SafeZONE facilitators.

Organizers are working to identify more groups to take the workshops, such as ASU’s Residential Life.

They want next year’s resident assistants to make their residence halls “safe spaces,” said James Quinn, president of ASU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Coalition, also known as the LGBTQ Coalition.

“The place you are living is one of the most important places to have a safe space,” Quinn said. “It’s important for people to realize that not everyone is of the same background. People don’t realize that they may be using hateful language or terms that could make someone feel uncomfortable.”

SafeZONE workshops, which are two hours long and offered four times a semester, are key to helping closeted LGBTQ individuals, said Lori Girshick, a SafeZONE facilitator.

“Maybe if enough people went, closeted individuals would know that there is nothing wrong with being who they are,” Girshick said. “The issue of LGBTQ sensitivity isn’t about special rights. It’s about basic human beliefs and compassion.”

In addition to workshops, SafeZONE also provides a list of nearly 30 local businesses that have designated themselves as LGBTQ-friendly.

Schwarzenegger vetoes bill banning anti-gay language in California textbooks

A bill passed by California lawmakers would have barred school textbooks from using language that is discriminatory to gays, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign it.

Schwarzenegger said Sept. 6 that the state’s education laws already prevent discrimination, and the bill “would not strengthen this important area of legal protection from bias based on sexual orientation.”

The bill, which won final passage last week, would have expanded current anti-discrimination laws by prohibiting any negative portrayal of gays and lesbians in textbooks and other instructional material. An original version would have required social science textbooks to include the historical contributions of gays and lesbians, but the state Assembly amended it in an effort to avoid a veto from the Republican governor.

The bill’s author, state Senator Sheila Kuehl, called the veto “inexplicable.”

“I am extremely disappointed that the governor chose to respond to a small, shrill group of right-wing extremists rather than a fair-minded majority of Californians who support this reasonable measure,” the Democrat said.

Women still disproportionately impacted by military’s “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ law

Women continue to be discharged at twice the rate of their presence in the armed forces under the federal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law banning openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, according to new data obtained by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

While women account for approximately 15 percent of the armed forces, they totaled 30 percent of those dismissed under the gay ban in 2005.

In all, 219 women out of a total of 726 service members were discharged under “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The Army reported discharging 146 women in 2005; the Navy, 31; the Air Force, 28; and the Marine Corps, 14.

“Women have a long and rich history of service to our country,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “Our nation is safer and more secure because of the contributions made by all women, including lesbian and bisexual women, in our armed forces. It is high time we honored the service of these patriotic women by repealing “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ once and for all.”

An October 2004, Urban Institute study revealed that not only do the rates of service by coupled lesbians surpass that of other women, but that they serve longer than other women. Of women ages 18-67 who served in the armed forces, over 80 percent of coupled lesbians reported having served more than two years, compared with 74 percent of other women.

Arizona Supreme Court rejects legal challenge against Proposition 107

The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected an appeal made by plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Proposition 107, initiative that would prohibit legal recognition of same-sex marriage in the state and, opponents claim, prohibit state or local governments from offering partner benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.

The plaintiffs in the suit, including five unmarried heterosexual couples, argued that Proposition 107 violated the single-subject rule forcing voters to make a decision on more than one issue under one ballot measure.

Plaintiffs in the suit filed the appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court in response to the Aug. 10 ruling made by Maricopa County Superior Court, which narrowly rejected the single-subject rule challenge. The plaintiffs included three retired couples from Tucson and two city of Phoenix firefighters and their partners, all seeking continued protection provided by existing domestic benefits.

The cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Scottsdale and Tempe currently offer domestic benefits, such as healthcare, to employees. Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and former University of Arizona President Peter Likins, have all committed to help Arizona Together, a plaintiff in the suit, defeat Proposition 107 at the polls in November. The three have publicly opposed Proposition 107, becasue, if passed, it will bar government entities from providing domestic benefits to their employees.

“Arizona Together remains optimistic about defeating Proposition 107 at the polls this November,” said Steve May, treasurer for Arizona Together. “We need all the help we can get to win. With sufficient funding and enough support from voters, we firmly believe that we can help families statewide preserve their existing domestic benefits.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 15, 2006.

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