OH SNAP — "My friend Hillary created a powerful poster to combat the venomous Westboro Baptist Church protesters in Washington D.C. Friday. Solution to bigotry? A 'Sassy Gay Friend' reference of course!" Like this one. [Hillary Wass via Buzzfeed]
The Arizona legislature has passed emergency legislation ensuring a 300-ft distance between the Westboro Baptist Church and funerals of Tucson shooting victims this weekend, ABC15 reports:
Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema said when she heard of the plans, she got downright angry and decided to take action.
Sinema sponsored Senate Bill 1101 and got some help from fellow legislators.
"We patterned legislation after Ohio's law which is constitutional, it’s been upheld in court, and I got permission from the speaker and the senate president to wave the rules," Sinema said.
That bill was passed just before 3 p.m. Tuesday, and is expected to be signed by Governor Brewer, tonight.
"The bill requires them to be at least 300 feet away from the funeral from an hour before the funeral starts to an hour after it ends and that way people can grieve and love in peace," Sinema said.
The legislation is said to be similar to what 40 other states have currently adopted.
Shortly after the shooting, the hateful church announced plans to picket the funerals, accompanied by a video from WBC Fred Phelps. The plans inspired a counter protest to raise funds for the Anti-Violence Project of Southern Arizona.
In a decision that will open the way for other religious charities to refuse gay couples access to their services, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled that Wesley Mission’s foster care arm, Wesley Dalmar Services, had proved an exemption under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act allowing it to discriminate against homosexual couples, reported The Australian.
Wesley Mission, part of the Uniting Church assembly, argued that providing foster care services to gay couples would put at risk its financial and volunteer assistance from members of the mission who adhered to the doctrine that a monogamous heterosexual partnership was “the norm and ideal of the family”.
The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, made an appearnace on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss "don't ask, don't tell," marriage and the Catholic Church. When asked about the repeal of DADT, he responded that this was something that the Church would not look into.
"That is a question that has to be worked out politically. And there isn't a specific Catholic Church position but whatever happens, it has to be seen in terms of the church's teaching position. And that is, human sexuality is something that is supposed to be exercised responsibly and within the context of marriage."
"What the church is concerned about and what it brings to this debate, this discussion, are two realities. One, the understanding the long, long teaching of the church that every human being is worthy of respect. Then you also have to take the rest of the Gospel message, the rest of Jesus's message that human sexuality has a purpose. And this is not for simply personal satisfaction. Human sexuality has to be seen in the context of the great gift of love, marriage, family."
"We want to be able to work with everybody and to continue to serve as we do, everybody. And so when we are asked to redefine marriage, we can't do that. … If you change that definition and then insist that we now follow a new definition, we're going to be limited.
After marriage equality came to Washington, DC earlier this year, Wuerl decided to end the archdiocese's foster care program rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples.
And what does he think about the way in which the Catholic Church dealt with its continuing sexual abuse scandal?
"I think it's one of the great accomplishments of the church. It recognized there was a serious problem. It dealt with it forthright and then moved on to see that we're in a much, much better place, a much safer place today."
An 26 year-old veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq has been charged with stalking members of the Westboro Baptist Church after police found him following the Westboro family van in a car stocked with handguns, a rifle, and dozens of rounds of ammunition.
Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives arrested Newell mid-morning Tuesday in the Wichita City Hall parking lot after a detective saw him following a van that carried Westboro church members. The church members were meeting in City Hall with police officials. Detectives found Newell in a vehicle backed into a parking space. In the vehicle, investigators found two handguns, a rifle and more than 90 rounds of ammunition, sources have said. The stalking charge accuses Newell of actions targeted at Westboro members and putting them in fear for their safety. The weapons charges accuse him of unlawfully carrying and concealing or possessing with “intent to use” an M4 rifle, .45-caliber Glock handgun and .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.
At Newell’s arraignment several lawyers arrived to offer pro bono defense services, prompting the judge to quip, “The more, the merrier.” Reportedly “many other lawyers” have contacted him with the same offer. Newell, who uses a wheelchair due to difficulties adjusting to Army-supplied prosthetic legs, pleaded not guilty via a video link from his cell. He is being held on 0,000 bond on one felony and several misdemeanor charges. Other charges may be filed pending the result of an FBI search of his home.
Westboro’s Megan Phelps comments on Twitter: “Peacefully protesting institutionalized sin on public sidewalks =\= loading up your car with weapons & lying in wait to commit murder. But somehow, in the totally backward minds of many of you, the former (loving our neighbor) is worse than the latter (planning murder)! Wtf?” Phelps claims that Newell was planning to murder her parents and the 26 children in the Westboro clan.
A defense fund has been set up for Newell via several popular conservative websites. Late this afternoon the Facebook page “Let Ryan Newell Go” was established. Westboro will continue with their planned Hanukkah picket of a Harvard student Jewish group tomorrow.
The opposition of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is legendary. Not only does the Catholic Church lobby for anti-equality constitutional amendments and against marriage equality laws, it has been known to fundraise for those efforts and circulate referendum petitions during Holy Mass while the priest gives a homily on obedience.
Not satisfied with undermining marriage equality, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States also tries to undermine passage of civil union and domestic partnership laws by alleging that those second-class legal constructs somehow erode the “sanctity” of civil marriage for heterosexuals. Civil unions are “an assault on the sacrament and institution of marriage and the family” is how the Diocese of Bridgeport put it.
In light of all that, it is tempting to assume it was a foregone conclusion that the Illinois Catholic Conference would take a proactive position in opposition to the Illinois civil unions bill and bemoan the bill’s passage after the fact. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion at all, because in actuality the Roman Catholic Church indulges in moral relativism where civil unions and domestic partnerships are concerned. Washington
In 2009 the Washington State Catholic Conference sent one man to a few legislative committees to quietly testify against SB 5688, the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009. The man was not accompanied by supporters or sign-wavers.
After the law passed, WSCC posted an unsigned statement on their main web page in support of a referendum aimed at repealing it. The posting was made with no fanfare and beyond these acts the Catholic Church machine remained silent. Unlike in other states, Catholic parishoners were not rallied at church to sign the referendum petition, donate to the anti-equality campaign or vote a particular way.
Apparently the Catholic Church, like most of its religious-right colleagues in Washington, saw this particular referendum as a non-starter and thus gave it lip service but no solid backing. Indeed, Chief of Staff Siler of the Yakima Diocese stated that “our resources are limited, and we think the more important issue will be the question of gay marriage”. (Curious statement, given that the Catholic Church stated that the battle over the domestic partnership law was about marriage.)
Undoubtedly the Catholic Church’s minimal participation in the domestic partnership debate was also with an eye towards keeping people in the pews. Washington has a small Roman Catholic population, many of whom live in the Puget Sound region which heavily supports LGBT equality and sends pro-equality legislators to the state legislature.
Thus to all appearances the Catholic Church acted in Washington based on political and pragmatic calculations rather than standing on principle and boldly defending heterosexual-only marriage from what they said they considered a true threat.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois’ publication “Promoting Civil Unions to Undermine Marriage” was intended to explain their anti-civil union position but ironically the title can truthfully be read to mean that the Catholic Church in fact promotes civil unions when doing so might undermine marriage equality legislation.
On December 7, 2009 the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act“, a marriage equality bill (S1967). Committee chair Senator Paul Sarlo and Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference had the following exchange (emphasis added):
SENATOR SARLO: Thank you, Mr. Brannigan.
I have one question. Does the Catholic Church support– We understand there’s some potential — there’s loopholes in the Civil Union law — the current Civil Union law — that prevents same-sex couples from having the same rights as heterosexual couples. Does the Catholic Church support this Legislature amending the Civil Union law to close up every possible loophole?
MR. BRANNIGAN: Yes. The Catholic Church is– Within a week after the Civil Union Act was passed, I issued a memorandum to all of our institutions. As a matter of fact, when Seton Hall University then did a global e-mail to all employees notifying them that they should check with their health benefits because now the University was offering benefits to same-sex couples — and the University noted myself as the author of the direction — there was — I received quite a few calls from some individuals who didn’t agree with that position. But we do support the Civil Union Act.
This is a complete reversal from the New Jersey Catholic Conference’s opposition in 2006 when the New Jersey Legislature was working to pass the civil union law. By 2009 however the political landscape had changed and the Legislature was considering a marriage equality law. It seems clear that under those circumstances the Catholic Church chose to cut its losses and say it supported civil unions so it could declare that marriage equality was not necessary. As happened in Washington state, the Catholic Church in New Jersey walked away from principle after making a political calculation.
In 2009 the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland lent its public affairs director Mark Mutty to Stand for Marriage Maine to lead the marriage equality law ballot repeal effort. During a debate on the referendum, Mutty strongly endorsed civil unions:
However, it is totally unnecessary for marriage to be redefined in order for them to have those benefits. There are alternatives, and those alternatives I think we’re all familiar with, enhanced domestic partner legislation, and other like arrangements can be made that do not fundamentally change the definition of marriage but yet provides those same benefits that they seek. And I fail to see how those benefits would not be available through these alternative arrangements as well as they would through marriage and I think that is the ultimate compromise…
…and again, enhanced domestic partnership legislation, a number of other options, civil unions is certainly an option that will provide all those same benefits, yet recognize that the two relationships are fundamentally if nothing else biologically very different.
Of course this was contrary to the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and presumably Mutty’s boss Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland: “We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage – by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.”
In the United Kingdom, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales openly supports civil partnerships despite pointed rebukes from Pope Benedict. ”Civil partnerships are precisely what they say they are. They’re not gay marriages or lesbian marriages. They’re simply a legal arrangement between two people so that they can pass on property and other rights in which they were discriminated against before,” said Bishop of Nottingham Malcolm McMahon earlier this year. His view was supported recently by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales who said “We did not oppose gay civil partnerships. We recognized that in English law there might be a case for those.”
Despite many statements to the contrary, the Catholic Church clearly doesn’t believe that civil unions and domestic partnerships are intrinsic threats to heterosexual-only marriages or they would be fighting them hard at every turn rather than quietly ducking the issue (Washington) or outright endorsing civil unions (New Jersey, Maine and United Kingdom). Call it pragmatism, call it moral relativism, either way the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t always practice what it preaches on the “assault to the sacrament” that allegedly is civil unions. Pam’s House Blend – Front Page
It's not just the Mormon or Catholic churches that treat its gay parishioners like demon worshipers. So too does the uber-conservative Adventist Church (you know, the one that treats Saturday and not Sunday as the sabbath), which as you'd expect endorses only opposite marriage and a limited view on human sexuality. In the still-in-production Seventh-Gay Adventists, producers (and married couple) Stephen Eyer and Daneen Akers, both raised in the Adventist church, are exploring "the complex intersection of faith, identity, and sexuality through the stories of LGBT Adventists who are struggling with their desire to belong to the church they know and love and their need to be fully accepted for who they are." To capture the stories of gay Adventists, they set up "story booths" around the country to record the true life tribulations of the gay faithful. As you might imagine, the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is none too pleased with their project.