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Time to Come Out as People of Faith for Marriage Equality

Friday, October 18th, 2013

ChurchMost Christians once opposed the fight for equality for gays and lesbians. Today many Christians and other people of faith are at the forefront of the fight to end discrimination against the gay and lesbian community — even working to support marriage equality.

In 1988, a group of conservative Christians in Oregon collected enough signatures to force a vote on whether or not the state’s governor had made the correct decision when he signed an executive order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in the executive branch of Oregon’s government. Voters passed that initiative and it once again became permissible to fire people based on their sexual orientation. Most religious leaders either cheered the decision or remained silent.

Then, in 1992, the Oregon Citizens Alliance came forward with another initiative called Ballot Measure 9. This initiative would have amended the state constitution to declare ‘homosexuals” “abnormal” and “perverse.” It would have been the first time a class of people had their rights taken away in a state constitution since African-Africans where declared less than a full person. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland joined a broad coalition that ultimately defeated the measure. Many considered the proposed language akin to language used against the Jews in the early 1930s in Germany. But a similar measure passed in Colorado.

Authored By Reverend Chuck Currie – See the Full Story at the Huffington Post

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Brazil: Human Rights Committee Stomps on Human Rights of Gays and Lesbians

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Brazil - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Brazil has made a mockery of its human rights commission, by putting in the hands of a right-wing pastor.

Gay Star News reports:

Brazil’s Congressional Commission on Human Rights and Minorities (CCHRM) has approved an amendment that would protect ‘priests [from] being penalized if they refuse to carry out marriages, baptisms and other ceremonies between homosexuals or their children.’ If adopted by lawmakers the measure would allow churches to exclude those who ‘violate its values, doctrines and beliefs,’ potentially shutting them out of their faith communities. Brazil’s right-wing Social Christian Party has managed to dominate the CCHRM and in March used their numbers to elect racist and homophobic pastor and lawmaker Marco Feliciano to head the commission, allowing them to produce these kinds of amendments.

So the commission that supposed to be protecting the rights of minorities is instead using the powers of the law to go after the same groups, in the name of Christianity. Nice.

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Norway: Majority of Bishops Favor Same-Sex Marriages in Churches

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Norway - Google Maps

from Google Maps

The Church of Norway is inching closer to allowing same-sex wedding ceremonies in its churches.

Gay Star News reports:

8 out of 12 Church of Norway bishops indicated their support for marrying same-sex couples within the church, while 4 were opposed. 8 out of 12 bishops indicated church blessings for civilly wed same-sex couples could also be acceptable, while 4 were adamant that same-sex religious marriage was the only acceptable way of accommodating same-sex couples. However the Church of Norway will not decide the issue until its next synod in April next year.

Norway has had full marriage equality since 2009.

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Vanuatu: Government Threatens Big Fines for Same Sex Weddings

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Vanuatu - Google Maps

from Google Maps

A government official in the island nation of Vanuatu is threatening churches and resorts with heavy fines if they marry gay and lesbian couples.

Gay Star News reports:

Vanuatu’s Minister for Internal Affairs Patrick Crowby has issued a warning to all Christian pastors throughout the Pacific island nation that they are not allowed to preside over same-sex marriages. Crowby says such acts are in breach of the constitution of Vanuatu because it is a Christian country. Crowby also warned resorts that they would face stiff penalties if they allowed same-sex marriages to occur on their grounds, while any priest or church that was involved in marrying same-sex couples would be stripped of their licenses.

Yes, because it’s not enough to just ban same sex couples from marrying – they must be punished, too. Cross that country off my vacation list.

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USA, Hawaii: Churches, Lawmaker Meet to Discuss Marriage Equality Bill Exemptions

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

HawaiiIn a sign that Hawaii religious leaders are taking the proposed marriage equality bill seriously, a group of churches met with lawmakers to request religious exemptions in the law.

Edge Boston reports:

Religious leaders in Hawaii have been meeting with state lawmakers about a religious exemption in pending gay marriage legislation, balancing opposition to the bill with trying to protect their interests as much as possible should it pass.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday (http://bit.ly/16Kd6bA ) that leaders trying to strengthen the exemptions still mainly want to persuade the Legislature to vote down the bill.

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Italy: Threatening Letter From Vatican Shuts Down Gay Kiss Exhibit

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
Gay Kiss Exhibit

Photo by Gonzalo Orquin

The Vatican’s lawyers sent a threatening letter to a gallery in Rome, forcing gallery to cancel a gay exhibit.

Towleroad reports:

The Vatican this week blocked an exhibition of photos by artist Gonzalo Orquin that featured gay couples kissing in Churches in Rome. The exhibition entitled, “Trialogo” was scheduled to open at the Galleria L’Opera. However, once the Vatican sent a letter threatening legal action, declaring, “the church is against the exhibition,” and invoking the Italian constitution to make its case, Orquin consulted with his lawyers and decided to pull the exhibit for “security reasons.” The Huffington Post reports:

Vicariate spokesman Claudio Tanturri told The Local that the photos violate the Italian constitution. “Italian constitutional law safeguards an individual’s religious feeling and the function of places of worship,” he said. “Therefore photos that are not suitable and do not conform to the spirituality of the place offend and infringe upon the advancement of man in the particular place for the expression of faith”.

So now religious freedom extends to blocking photos of churches?

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UK, Scotland: Legal Challenge Against Churches Over Marriage Equality Unlikely

Friday, September 20th, 2013

ScotlandIn response to concerns that churches might face lawsuits for marriage equality in Scotland, legal experts have decided that that’s unlikely.

Pink News reports:

The inquiry into the Bill is being undertaken by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee who will hear evidence from a wide range of stakeholders in the coming weeks, before making recommendations to the Scottish Parliament on whether to proceed with the Bill and, if so, in what form. Religious organisations have voiced concerns that churches could be forced to marry same-sex couples against their wishes, if the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, is signed into law, reports the Scotsman. Legal experts have said attempts to challenge the right to opt-out for the Church of Scotland under the European Convention on Human Rights are unlikely to be unsuccessful.

Scotland hopes to finish its “expedited” consideration of the bill by next March.

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USA, Hawaii: Churches Prepare to Oppose Marriage Equality Bill

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Hawaiian ChurchAs Democratic lawmakers consider a special session to pass a marriage equality bill, churches are preparing to mobilize against it.

Hawaii News Now reports:

While Hawaii lawmakers work on a marriage equality bill today pastors from 100 churches signed a declaration to stand against same sex marriage and urge lawmakers not to go into a special session. “It’s a matter of colliding convictions it’s not so much discrimination as much as it is disagreement,” said Norman Nakanishi, Grace Bible Pearlside Senior Pastor. “It’s not personal, but it’s a belief based on the word of God.” “God’s way is the best way marriage between one man and one woman,” said Margaret Scow, Emmanuel Temple The House of Praise Leader.

It seems to me that the longer we delay the bill, the more time it gives the opposition to get fired up. What are we waiting for?

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USA: Some Churches Changing Bylaws To Explicitly Ban Same-Sex Weddings

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

ChurchIn an effort to insulate themselves against so far nonexistent lawsuits, some churches are making changes to their bylaws. ABC News reports:

Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman. Although there have been suits against wedding industry businesses that refuse to serve gay couples, attorneys promoting the bylaw changes say they don’t know of any lawsuits against churches. Critics say the changes are unnecessary, but some churches fear that it’s only a matter of time before one of them is sued.

It seems like a harmless enough, if unnecessary, change to me. I have no desire to get married in the church that doesn’t want me. What do you all think?

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USA: The LGBT Rights Revolution in Churches

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

ChurchFor most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.

A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage.

Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Authored By Molly Ball – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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