NATIONAL BRIEFS

Posted on 09 Mar 2006 at 10:18pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Gay bishop back at work after spending a month in rehab for alcoholism

Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson is back on the job after spending a month receiving treatment for an alcohol problem.

“I return to you in a very good place indeed refreshed, focused, clear-headed and happy,” Robinson said in a statement released Wednesday on the Diocese of New Hampshire’s website. The New Hampshire bishop returned from treatment last week from the Caron Foundation center in Wernersville, Pa., and came into the office Monday for the first time in a month.

Robinson said he will continue working on his recovery by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and by meeting with an addiction coach every day for the next month, and then regularly for a year after that.
The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop surprised many when he disclosed last month that he was being treated for his “increasing dependence” on alcohol. His assistant, the Rev. Tim Rich, said Robinson’s growing awareness of his problem, rather than a crisis, prompted the move.
Mike Barwell, a spokesman for Robinson, said the bishop plans to attend a national gathering of Episcopal bishops later this month.

Stachelberg joins Center for American Progress as senior vice president

Winnie Stachelberg has joined the Center for American Progress as senior vice president of external affairs. The center is a nonpartisan institute for research and education on progressive ideals.

Stachelberg spent 11 years with the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based GLBT rights organization, most recently as vice president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Prior to her promotion in February 2005, Stachelberg was political director for the organization.

In her new position with the Center for American Progress, Stachelberg will work to promote progressive policies among elected officials at the local, state and federal levels, according to a written statement released this week.
John Podesta, president and CEO of the center, said having Stachelberg on staff will allow the organization to “reach out to a much broader audience with our progressive message of innovation and collaboration.”

Tom Waddell Award nominations open; award will be presented at Gay Games

The Chicago Gay Games VII opening ceremony will feature the presentation of the quadrennial Tom Waddell Award to two individuals selected for their outstanding volunteer service.

The award is named in honor of Gay Games’ key founder, Dr. Tom Waddell.
The award recognizes outstanding contributions by individuals to LGBT sports and culture in connection with the Gay Games. The 2006 Gay Games opening ceremony takes place at Chicago’s historic Soldier Field on July 15.

Nominations are now open for this year’s award. The online nomination form can be found on the Federation of Gay Games website at www.gaygames.org. The deadline is April 15.

Focus on the Family joins battle over same-sex partner benefits in Alaska

The conservative Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family has entered the battle in Alaska over same-sex partner employment benefits.
The Colorado-based group began calling Monday with an automated phone system, asking whether people support or oppose a proposed state constitutional amendment that would nullify a court decision ordering the state to pay such benefits.

If they say they oppose the amendment, the call is ended. Those who say they support it are directed to call six state senators who the group has identified as potential obstacles to the measure, said Peter Brandt, Focus on the Family’s director of government and public policy.

The group says it wants to preserve what it considers to be traditional values and the institution of the family. It intends to contact thousands of Alaskans through the end of this week as part of its national effort to lobby against recognizing same-sex couples as spouses.

Voters in Alaska in 1998 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that says marriage can only be between one man and one woman.

Church broke law by not reporting support for anti-gay-marriage efforts

The Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena, Mont., broke state campaign laws by not reporting to the commissioner of political practices its “in kind” support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, said Gordon Higgins, the state’s commissioner of political practices.

The church helped support a successful campaign for Constitutional Amendment 96, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. But because the church held meetings, distributed CI-96 petitions and was involved in other political activities, it became an “incidental campaign committee” required to file disclosure records, said Higgins.
The church has sued the commissioner’s office, alleging that the investigation violated the church’s right to free speech. That case is pending in federal district court.

Jewish panel puts off vote on ordaining gays, conducting same-sex unions

A panel that interprets religious law for Conservative Jews on Wednesday put off a vote on whether the movement should ordain gays and conduct union ceremonies for same-sex couples.

After a two-day private meeting in Maryland, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards said the proposals needed “extensive revisions” before any decision could be made.

The committee plans to take up the issue again in December.
The last major Conservative vote on the issue came in 1992, when the panel voted 19-3, with one abstention, that Jewish law barred openly gay students from enrolling in seminaries and prohibited rabbis from officiating at same-sex commitment ceremonies.

Four new legal opinions have been presented to the committee. Two essentially oppose any policy change, one would overturn the ban, and another, which was presented as a compromise, contends that Jewish law explicitly bars only anal sex, but includes no such prohibition on gay relationships, ordination and unions.

The Conservative movement occupies a middle ground between the liberal Reform branch and the traditional Orthodox, adhering to Jewish law while allowing some adaptation for modern circumstances.

Among other branches of American Judaism, the Reconstructionist and Reform movements ordain gays and support civil marriages for homosexual couples, while the Orthodox oppose same-gender relationships.

Fifth member of Illinois hate crimes commission resigns over Muhammad

A fifth member of the Illinois hate crimes commission resigned Wednesday amid frustrations over a controversial appointment who is a high-ranking official in the Nation of Islam.
Alan Spellberg, a supervisor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, said he hand-delivered his resignation letter to the governor’s office, but would not comment beyond what was in the letter. Last week, four Jewish members of the Governor’s Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes stepped down last week rather than serve alongside Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad. Spellberg also is Jewish.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 10, 2006.

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