National Briefs

Posted on 18 Jan 2007 at 3:49pm
By Associated Press

Catholic archbishop apologizes for serving Communion to men in nun drag

SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco’s top-ranking Catholic clergyman apologized for serving Communion to two men dressed as nuns during a church service in the heart of the city’s gay community.

In a letter posted on the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Web site, Archbishop George Niederauer said when he offered Communion to the two members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Oct. 7 mass, he didn’t recognize either as wearing “mock religious garb.” He apologized for giving them the sacrament, calling it “a mistake.”

“The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries,” he wrote.

Members of the decades-old group dress in heavy makeup and elaborate headdresses to satirize the church and draw attention to a variety of causes, including gay rights and access to AIDS care.

Video of Niederauer giving Communion to the two activists while preaching in the city’s Castro district earlier this month has stoked a furor among some local Catholics and conservative bloggers.

Larry Craig appeals judge’s refusal to allow him to retract guilty plea

MINNEAPOLIS Sen. Larry Craig has opened a new round in his legal battle stemming from his airport restroom arrest, appealing a judge’s refusal to let him to withdraw his guilty plea to disorderly conduct.

Craig’s appeal was filed Monday, Oct. 15, at the Minnesota Court of Appeals, less than two weeks after Hennepin County District Court Judge Charles Porter refused to overturn the plea.

The four-page filing did not detail the basis for the appeal, noting only that Craig was appealing Porter’s Oct. 4 order. The documents were dated Oct. 12 but were received and stamped by the Appeals Court on Monday.

Craig, a Republican from Idaho, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August after he was accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June.

The appeals court must find there’s been an “abuse of discretion” by the trial judge before overturning a ruling in other words, that some aspect of the ruling was decided improperly.

Lesbian couple to face trespassing charges stemming from marriage protest

DENVER A same-sex couple who refused to leave the Denver clerk and recorder’s office after they were denied a marriage license will go face trial for a charge of trespassing.

Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder of Englewood pleaded not guilty Tuesday stemming from the Sept. 24 incident. A trial date was scheduled for Dec. 17. Both refused to leave the clerk and recorder’s office, though it was closing, contending they were entitled to the federal benefits of a heterosexual married couple.

Colorado voters in November passed a ballot proposal banning gay marriage. They also rejected a proposal to give same-sex couples some of the same legal benefits as married spouses.

Philadelphia raises Boy Scouts’ rent because of discriminatory policy on gays

PHILADELPHIA The city has decided that the Boy Scouts chapter here must pay fair-market rent of $200,000 a year for its city-owned headquarters because it refuses to permit gay Scouts.

The organization’s Cradle of Liberty Council, which currently pays $1 a year in rent, must pay the increased amount to remain in its downtown building past May 31, Fairmount Park Commission president Robert N.C. Nix said Wednesday, Oct. 17.

City officials say they cannot legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a nominal sum to a private organization that discriminates. The city owns the land on which the council’s 1928 Beaux Arts building sits.

Scouting officials will ask the city solicitor for details on the appraisals that yielded the $200,000 figure, said Jeff Jubelirer, spokesman for the Cradle of Liberty Council.

Westboro Baptist leaders say Thompson once agreed with anti-gay stance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church are urging Fred Thompson to support their stance on homosexuality a position on which they say the Republican presidential candidate once “saw eye to eye” with them.
Thompson was hired for a mid-1980s legal case in Kansas on the recommendation of Margie Phelps, daughter of Westboro founder Fred Phelps.

The Topeka, Kan.-based church is now best known for protesting at soldiers’ funerals, claiming their deaths are retribution for the nation’s acceptance of homosexuality.

Thompson campaign spokeswoman Karen Hanretty on Wednesday, Oct. 17, dismissed the church as “a radical fringe group, looking to draw attention to themselves. In no way do these people share Fred’s values.”

Church members released an open letter to Thompson this week, saying he had discussed his views on homosexuality with them while handling the case of a woman who had sued the state’s Republican attorney general for sexual harassment.

Tennessee AG says gays face no constitutional barrier there to adoption

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Tennessee has no constitutional obstacles to gay couples adopting children, according to an attorney general’s opinion released Oct. 11.

Same-sex couples should be eligible to adopt children as long as adoption is found to be in the best interest of the child, Attorney General Bob Cooper wrote in the opinion.

The opinion was requested by Wilson County Circuit Judge Clara Byrd, but her reasons weren’t immediately known. She did not immediately return a call seeking comment and court records for adoption and juvenile cases are generally sealed from the public.

The Tennessee Constitution has no mention of any adoption issues, Cooper found, and there are no current laws on the books that specifically bar gay couples from adopting. Cooper said under current state law, adoptions may be granted to any prospective parent who is at least 18 years old. No one is required to be married.

But prior to making a final order, a judge “must find that petitioners are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child.

The state Court of Appeals has found that “the lifestyle of the proposed adoptive parent is a factor the trial court should consider in determining whether a proposed adoption is in the best interest of a child,” Cooper said.

“Accordingly, assuming the adoption is found to be in the best interest of the child who is subject of the adoption, there is no prohibition in Tennessee statutes against adoption by a same sex couple.”

Current guidelines followed by the state’s Department of Children’s Services for placing children in state custody with foster or adoptive parents do not take into account sexual orientation.

Attack on gay man in Pennsylvania being investigated as hate crime

DUBLIN Police are investigating whether a weekend attack on a gay man from Bucks County, Penn., was motivated by the victim’s sexuality.

State police in Dublin are looking for two men who assaulted 40-year-old Brett Saylor about 4:45 a.m. Saturday. Saylor, who was on his way to work, was treated at Doylestown Hospital.

Saylor, who moved to the area four months ago from Louisville, Ky., said the two men called him abusive names indicating they knew about his sexuality. He said they did not take his money or valuables.

State police Sgt. Edward Murphy said the assailants could face a hate crime charge in addition to assault and harassment because of the abuse about the victim’s sexuality.

Lesbian prison guard wins lawsuit against N.Y. Corrections Department

BUFFALO, N.Y. The state Corrections Department has been ordered to pay $850,000 to a lesbian prison guard who said she feared for her life while being relentlessly harassed by a co-worker because of her sexual orientation.

New York Human Rights Commissioner Kumiki Gibson also directed the department to train employees and enforce policies to prevent discrimination after an administrative law judge found it had subjected the guard “to a hostile work environment because she is gay and female.”

Corrections Officer Alicia Humig, 55, said she was bombarded with derogatory names, sexually offensive drawings and written comments at Wende Correctional Facility for a year and that her complaints about it only led to retaliation by the department.

The harassment by fellow officer Jim Wright left Humig unable to eat or sleep, caused frequent nosebleeds and depression and threatened her safety at work, according to the judge’s finding, which was accepted by Gibson on Oct. 11.

“This case reflects the most disturbing nightmare that any employee could find herself,” Administrative Law Judge Martin Erazo Jr. wrote.

The Corrections Department, the judge said, “willfully permitted a work environment to flourish where the credible evidence showed the complainant could have been killed because she is a gay female.”

Corrections spokesman Erik Kriss said the department would appeal the ruling and called the award amount excessive.

Humig had been a corrections officer since 1983. She and Wright continue to work at Wende, a maximum-security prison in Alden, though in different areas of the complex.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 18, 2007

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