National Briefs – March 14, 2008

Posted on 13 Mar 2008 at 9:55pm
By Associated Press

Breakaway Episcopal bishop ousted by church officials
FRESNO, Calif. — Episcopal leaders ousted a breakaway conservative bishop Wednesday, March 12 in a struggle for control of the Diocese of San Joaquin and its properties.

The Episcopal House of Bishops, meeting in Texas, took the action against Bishop John-David Schofield, who last December led the Fresno diocese to secede from the Episcopal Church.

San Joaquin is the first full diocese to split from the liberal-leaning denomination, which in 2003 consecrated the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The House of Bishops voted to "depose" Schofield, which removes him as head of the diocese and bars him from performing any religious duties. Schofield, who opposes ordaining women and gays, vowed in a statement to continue leading the diocese as a member of the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone.

He warned that any attempt by the denomination to "seize our property" through litigation would violate biblical teachings. The diocese includes 48 church buildings in prime real estate markets throughout California.


University of Hawaii changing housing policy to admit same-sex couples
HONOLULU — A University of Hawaii officials says the school is working on a policy to admit same-sex couples into family housing.

A gay couple is suing the university for not allowing them to return to the housing area they lived in last year because it’s reserved for married couples. Joseph O’Leary and Phi Ngo said living off-campus has cost them extra rent, transportation and food.

University Vice Chancellor Francisco Hernandez called the lawsuit surprising and disappointing. He said the university already is working on changing its housing policies to accommodate gay couples.


Colorado lawmakers considering bill to prohibit anti-gay discrimination
DENVER — A year after protecting gays and lesbians from being fired from their jobs, state lawmakers are considering outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation in other areas.

A new bill sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, would make it illegal to deny gays and lesbians everything from an apartment rental to a burial plot. It takes the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws and adds sexual orientation to the list of factors, such as race and national origin, that can’t be considered.


Kansas Supreme Court overturns ban on picketing funerals
TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Supreme Court effectively killed a law banning picketing at funerals on Tuesday, March 11, ruling that it was unconstitutional for legislators to include language that required a court to uphold the law before it could be enforced.

That "judicial trigger" was intended to prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from collecting damages from the state following a successful appeal of the law. The law was passed in response to the church’s picketing of military funerals; the Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers claim U.S. combat deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

The court did not address the merits of the 2007 law, which bars protesters from being within 150 feet of a funeral one hour before, during or two hours after a service ends. It also makes it unlawful to obstruct any public street or sidewalk.


American Family Association ends boycott against Ford for pro-gay policies
DETROIT — The conservative American Family Association said Tuesday, March 12, that it’s ending a two-year boycott of Ford Motor Co., saying the company has met most of its demands, which included ending donations to groups that support same-sex marriage.

Ford said in a statement that its principles haven’t changed, but that it has reduced overall advertising and charitable spending in recent years because of losses in North America. Ford lost $2.7 billion in 2007.

"We are committed to treating everyone fairly and with respect, including our dealers, customers and employees," the company said. "Ford will continue to market its products widely to attract as many customers as possible and make charitable contributions to strengthen communities to the extent business conditions allow."


These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 14, 2008

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