National Briefs

Posted on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:22pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Episcopal minister stops performing any weddings in protest of gay ban

AMHERST, Mass. An Episcopal minister will stop performing all wedding ceremonies to protest the denomination’s prohibition of same-sex unions.

“We are called to join the fast that our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ have had to observe all their lives,” said the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, rector of Grace Episcopal Church.

Several members of the congregation say they support Hirschfeld’s move, which he announced in his Sunday, March 11 sermon. Others said they were concerned that that the move might add to the polarization of an issue that has already divided Episcopals.

Two priest associates at Grace Church, the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and the Rev. Burton Whiteside, also said they won’t perform marriages.

Transgender Law Center announces hiring of first policy advocate

The Transgender Law Center has announce that Alexis Rivera has been hired as the organization’s first policy advocate.

In addition, Lisa Rae Dummer, an attorney specializing in benefits, has been elected as the new board chair for the center

Rivera has spent several years working on issues related to transgender youth and HIV education and prevention, most recently with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Cecilia Chung, the center’s deputy director, said she “believes passionately in [Rivera's] potential. And having her on TLC’s staff only increases our ability to truly serve the needs of a statewide community.”

Dummer was named board chair in February by unanimous vote. She is an active member of Transgender San Francisco and joined TLC’s board in 2006.

Indianapolis school district considering adding protections for LGBT employees

INDIANAPOLIS Indiana’s largest school district is considering policies that would give lesbian and gay employees rights and protections similar to those extended decades ago to racial minorities and women.

Indianapolis Public Schools officials said the move is essential to treat their staff equitably, although opponents argue that it extends unfair protections to a group based on its behavior rather than race or gender.

IPS has circulated its proposal and was expected to vote on it in the next few months. The district has been quietly adding “sexual orientation” to its nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies for several years.

“It’s the fair thing to do,” said IPS Board member Kelly Bentley. “I don’t think it’s right to discriminate against anybody.”

Several gay teachers in IPS said they would welcome the change but declined to allow their names to be used out of fear of retribution from supervisors, colleagues or students.

Police investigate two weekend assaults as possible hate crimes in Boulder

BOULDER, Colo. Police were investigating two weekend assaults as possible hate crimes.

Two men were accused of attacking a 23-year-old man early Sunday, March 11, after making derogatory comments about his sexuality as he walked with his arm around another man, police said.

On Saturday, March 10, a 19-year-old man was punched and kicked in the face, and police were investigating whether the attack was racially motivated. It wasn’t clear if any arrests had been made.

In the Sunday incident, the 23-year-old man told police he was shoved after confronting the two men who had made the comments. A fight ensued, but no one was hospitalized, police said.

Police said Adam Perez, 21, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault and bias-motivated crimes and Eric Schorling, 21, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, bias-motivated crimes and felony criminal mischief. Both men are from Boulder.

Police said they were still investigating a Feb. 21 assault on a woman who said she was attacked after telling two men she was gay. No arrests have been made.

Church refuses communion to lesbian couple who spoke out against marriage ban

GILLETTE, Wyo. A lesbian couple who were married in Canada have been told they can’t receive communion at the church they’ve attended since 1998, in part because they publicly opposed a bill that would have barred Wyoming from recognizing gay marriages.

Leah Vader said she received a letter last week from the Rev. Cliff Jacobson, pastor of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, that read in part, “because of your union and your public advocacy of same-sex unions, that you are unable to receive communion.”

Vader and Lynne Huskinson have attended St. Matthew’s since 1998.

Earlier this year, when the Legislature debated a bill that would have barred Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere the state already had a law barring same-sex marriages from being performed in the state the couple called it “discrimination.” The bill ultimately failed in the House.

Jacobson said the Cheyenne Diocese joined in the decision, and that the women’s advocacy was one of the reasons the church took action.

“We’re not the bedroom police. That, ultimately, comes between the person and God,” he said. “But it puts it in a much different light with a public nature.”

Jacobson said the Catholic Church reaches out to gays and lesbians, “but within that are the moral norms of the church.” Vader said she still saw the move as discriminatory.

“This is just so easy,” she said. “It sends a big fat message to gay people.”

And, she said, she was disturbed that the news was delivered in a letter, and that it came when it did, denying her communion as Lent and Easter approach.

“This is the one food we all need,” Vader said. “Of all the sacraments, it’s the one that should be taken frequently.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 16, 2007

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