What’s Brewing: Highland Park Presbyterian says it won’t allow gay clergy despite policy change

Pastor Ron Scates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Minnesota Senate voted 38-27 Wednesday to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that would ban same-sex marriage. Minnesota already has a statute limiting marriage to one man and one woman, but Republicans in the Legislature are apparently looking for a boost in next year’s election. Only one Democrat in the Senate voted in favor of the amendment, which now goes to the Republican-controlled House, where it is also expected to pass. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the measure but cannot veto it. Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage have passed in all 31 states where voters have considered them. On the bright side, Delaware’s civil unions bill was signed into law Wednesday night and will take effect next year.

2. Highland Park Presbyterian Church, led by our old friend Pastor Ron Scates, plans to send a letter to its 5,000 members reaffirning the congregation’s commitment to “traditional” marriage and celibacy for unmarried clergy, the Associated Press reports. The letter comes in the wake of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s decision this week to remove the celibacy requirement for unmarried clergy, thus paving the way for the ordination of gays and lesbians. Pastor Scates has long been a vocal opponent of gay clergy, and Highland Park Presbyterian has formed a task force to study the impact of the new policy. In 2009, Scates admitted in a personal letter to Instant Tea that he’s “been taken into the world of homosexual sex …” and sent us a copy of a newsletter from an “ex-gay” group.

3. Contrary to some published reports, Uganda’s Parliament still plans to consider an Anti-Homosexuality Bill this year that currently includes a death penalty provision for repeat offenders and other violators. The Uganda parliament is now scheduled to debate the bill on Friday.

—  John Wright

Bigot of the Day: Sally Kern v. Justin Thompson

Sally Kern, left, and Justin Thompson

The competition for today’s honor is pretty intense, and in the end we couldn’t make up our minds. So we’re turning to you to decide this toss-up between the undisputed heavyweight bigot from up north, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, and a fiery young challenger from the south, Texas A&M University student Justin Thompson.

Let’s start with the familiar Kern, who on Wednesday said that minorities earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and don’t have as much initiative, according to the Tulsa World. Kern made her comments during debate on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action in state government.

“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school?” Kern said. “I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”

And now for the newcomer, Thompson, who penned a guest column for the Battallion, the student newspaper at Texas A&M, in support of a bill to slash funding for the school’s LGBT resource center. Here’s a snippet from Thompson’s column:

“I do not hate homosexuals; their lifestyle is offensive and against my beliefs. I feel the same about extramarital sex and similar actions common today.  All are a misuse of a gift from God. Sex is not about recreation or either of the two participants; it is about an attempt to create new life. Sex that has no possibility of conception is wrong because it deprives a person at a chance at life. Extramarital and homosexual sex is selfish and reprehensible because they put the participants first at the expense of the most vulnerable.  …

“I know that many have homosexual tendencies that may or may not be natural. Even if they are, that does not excuse acting them out. I can have innate feelings for a married woman, but that does not excuse adultery. We are not animals, dominated by instinct. We have free will and, to some extent, self-discipline. It is our instinct to sleep until the sun wakes us, but we set our alarms and go to class in the morning. We diet, exercise, take medicine and do a multitude of things that are against our instincts. Sometimes, doing the right thing takes effort and goes against what we want to do.  I sympathize with those fighting the temptation; I know it is a long, hard struggle.”

So, who should take home today’s Bigot of the Day prize? You decide, and let us know in the comments.

—  John Wright

Vatican: Pope’s condom comments apply to women too

NICOLE WINFIELD | Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about condom use being a lesser evil than transmitting HIV also apply to women, the Vatican said Tuesday, a significant shift for a pope who just last year said condoms only worsen the AIDS problem.

Benedict said in a book released Tuesday, Nov. 23 that condom use by people such as male prostitutes was a lesser evil since it indicated they were taking a step toward a more moral and responsible sexuality by aiming to protect their partner from a deadly infection.

His comments implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception, which the Vatican opposes.

Questions arose immediately, however, about the pope’s intent because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended his comments to only apply to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point,” Lombardi said.

The pope is not justifying or condoning gay sex or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. Elsewhere in the book he reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the pope is saying that condom use in heterosexual relations is the lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner.

While that concept has long been a tenet of moral theology, the pope’s book “Light of the World” — a series of interviews with a German journalist — was the first time a pope had ever publicly applied the theory to the scenario of condom use as a way to fight HIV transmission.

The pope’s comments have generated heated debate, mostly positive in places like Africa which has been devastated by AIDS and where the church has been criticized for its opposition to condom use.

—  John Wright

‘Pro-family activist’ calls on Obama to close bathhouses to stop the spread of AIDS

Welcome to 1985. That’s what it seems like if you listen to “pro-family activist” Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. LaBarbera is calling on President Obama to shut down the gay bathhouses to stop the spread of AIDS.

OneNewsNow, a “Christian” news media outlet, ran this story Wednesday on LaBarbera’s reaction to the International AIDS Conference held last week in Vienna, Austria:

Peter LaBarbera

“At last week’s International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, the Obama administration pledged the support of the U.S. in the global fight against AIDS. But one pro-family activist points out that an important aspect is missing from the undertaking.

“Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made prerecorded speeches at the close of the conference, committing the nation’s dedication to fight the disease. However, one key factor seemed to be absent from the rhetoric, says a prominent pro-family activist.

“‘It’s not a big mystery about what helps cause AIDS, and yet one key portion — homosexual practice, homosexual sex — is just off the table,’ notes Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). ‘And then we wonder why we can’t keep this disease in check.’

“He compares this issue to the Wizard of Oz or the emperor who has no clothes. ‘There’s a lot of talk about fighting AIDS, but they’re not really serious about one of the key causes, which is homosexual behavior,’ he laments.

“Instead, LaBarbera says, President Obama promotes it. He wishes the president would take serious action to combat the disease — like shutting down homosexual bathhouses.

“‘Bathhouses are places where men can go practice this dangerous sexual activity in secret,’ the AFTAH president explains. ‘They can bring it home. If they’re bisexual, they can bring it back to their wife or their girlfriend and be the conduit for AIDS into the heterosexual community.’

“Based on the fact that the Obama administration has avoided the issue, the pro-family activist concludes that it is politically incorrect to talk about the dangers of homosexual behavior.”

OK, so once I wiped the tears of hysterical laughter from my eyes, I read this again and realized just how NOT funny it really is. Not funny for so many, many reasons.

First of all, this guy is trying to take us back to the dark ages of the AIDS epidemic, when fear and misinformation ruled.

I mean, c’mon, “homosexual behavior” does not CAUSE AIDS. Yes, HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, whether it be homosexual or heterosexual sexual contact. But there is a big difference in means of transmission and cause. AIDS is CAUSED by a virus. And guess what, that virus does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

And the reason we can’t “keep this disease in check” is because of people like LaBarbera and his ilk who are spreading hate and lies and misinformation. I mean, how many men actually believe this guy and think they won’t get AIDS as long as they never have sex with another guy?! THAT’s what adds to the spread of the virus.

I just want to make sure that Ol’ Pete knows HIV is already spreading like wildfire through the hetero community, and has been for years, and it is because of people like him who spout this kind of shit instead of actually paying attention to science and fact and reality.

We need to stop letting LaBarbera and others of his ilk get away with their crap about “the dangers of homosexual behavior” and we need to start talking even more about the very real dangers of stupidity. And of hate. And of shame. And of lies. LaBarbera and others like him are so full of hatred or self-hate or whatever, that they are putting lives at risk with their stupidity. We can’t stop them from talking, but we do have to call them on their lies.

So hey, Pete. I’m calling bullshit. You want to hate LGBT people, that’s fine. That’s your right. But your stupidity on AIDS/HIV is putting lives at risk. So either learn the facts or shut the hell up.

—  admin