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Religious Tolerance logo

NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS

For 2002 - October to December

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News of 2002-OCT:

bullet2002-OCT-13: Steven Spielberg criticizes BSA, homophobes, Nazis: In his acceptance speech for the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign Spielberg said, in part:
bullet"Once upon a time I was a Jewish kid growing up, alive and alone, in an all Gentile neighborhood. And mostly in school I experienced 'exclusion' from many other kids my age who only knew what a Jew was from what their parents told them, what their friends said or popular negative stereotypes. ...So when I joined the Boy Scouts of America I felt that I had found a safe haven, away from all the teasing and all the taunting....And maybe most importantly, it was through the Boy Scouts of America - as I was trying out for a merit badge in photography - that I actually discovered my passion for filmmaking. That's exactly how I got started....For most of my life, I have been a passionate advocate of Scouting and I served on the National Board for years until the Supreme Court Case of Dave versus the Boy Scouts of America, where I realized something that I had not been very aware of: that you could be black and white, Hispanic and Asian, Native American, Jewish, Catholic, Islamic - but you couldn't get in to the Scouts if you were gay. So I quit the Boy Scouts. I resigned my commission, which I know is one of the reasons you're that honoring me tonight..... quitting the Boy Scouts was probably one of the most painful experiences I've ever had to endure. But they are wrong and you are right. We are right and we have never been more right than we are right now, in this country and at this time....But I am not totally naïve. The unthinkable shadows our lives everyday. You know, hatred has us in its crosshairs....A few people - and you know, it only takes a few - who are viciously proactive in their hatred. Their fears - irrational fears - and their ignorance compound themselves into sudden violence. That is why the Holocaust occurred, and that is why Matthew Shepard was murdered...." 1 (Not mentioned by Steven Spielberg is the exclusion by the Boy Scouts of members who are Atheists.)
bullet2002-OCT-24: Kodak millwright fired over Email: On OCT-11, the National Coming Out Day for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, supervisors and others in management at the Eastman Kodak Company received an Email which described how to support an employee who came out of the closet. Suggestions included being supportive, acknowledge their courage at taking this step, respect their privacy, etc. A supervisor forwarded the Email to his employees, which included Rolf Szabo, a Millright at Kodak's Rochester NY plant. Szabo replied via Email: "Please do not send this type of information to me anymore, as I find it disgusting and offensive. Thank you." Whether intentional or not, the reply went to all 1,000 recipients of the original Email, rather than just to Szabo's supervisor. Szabo was given two choices: to sign an employee commitment plan which said that he was sorry for his action and which outlines steps to prevent a similar incident, or to be terminated. He elected the latter. 2
bullet2002-OCT-18 (approx): ON: Anti-gay material removed from Muslim display: Musa Raza coordinated an Exhibition of Islamic Art and Science -- at the Scarborough Civic Center in Scarborough, ON Canada. One of the panels contained a collage of various images of gays and lesbians, along with quotations from the Qur'an and the Bible which suggested that homosexual behavior is sinful and that gays and lesbians would be punished after death for their activities. Rita Davies, managing director of the city's cultural division said that her staff asked that Raza provide photographs of the exhibits in advance, but he had failed to do so. Raza says that he does not hate gays and lesbians, but objected to the city obeying the "gay and lesbian command" to remove the panel. He said: "I don't know why this (gay and lesbian) lobby is going too strong and nobody is paying attention about our religion, about our society, about the values of the family." It apparently took a full week after the first complaint was received before the city staff was able to conclude that the display violated the city's human rights policy. Councilor Kyle Rae said: "I'm very disappointed that city staff have allowed...offensive attacks upon gay men and lesbians to be displayed at one of our civic centers." 3
bullet2002-NOV-5: KY: Gay-Straight Alliance meets opposition: Some gay and straight students of Boyd County High School in Cannonsburg, KY, attempted twice to obtain permission from the school's teacher-parent council to organize a Gay-Straight Alliance support group. They were rejected both times. On the third trial, during the week of OCT-26, they had a letter of support from the American Civil Liberties Union which explained the requirements of the federal Equal Access Act. This time, the PTC approved their application. This triggered two demonstrations: The Boyd County Ministerial Association, is planning a community protest against the support group on NOV-10. Many students boycotted the school by staying home on Monday NOV-4; 420 out of the total student body of 990 stayed away.

Some reactions:
bulletJenny Reese, mother of a student who is a member of the Alliance said: "I just don't think it's a good idea for parents to let their children stay home from school. It doesn't set a good example for tolerance.''
bulletAndrea Opell, 17, a senior, said: ''Anything could happen. 'A lot of people say it will die down, and I hope it does. I hope it doesn't get violent. I hope it doesn't get out of hand.''
bulletRev. Tim York, pastor at Heritage Temple Free Will Baptist Church and the Rev. Bill Bentley, pastor at First United Methodist Church have appealed the council's decision.
bulletJames Esseks of the ACLU said at this was ''the first time I've heard of a reaction of this kind or this size'' to the creation of a gay-straight alliance at a school. He continued: "The level of reaction or resistance they're encountering illustrates the need for a safe place for these kids to meet. Can you imagine being a gay or lesbian student in a community where people feel so free in expressing their intolerance? That must be a difficult place to be.'' 4
bullet2002-NOV-26: PA: New hate law protects persons of all sexual orientations: The Pennsylvania Ethnic Intimidation Law had raised crimes motivated by hatred of a person's "race, color, religion or national origin" to the level of hate crimes. On NOV-26, the House passed a bill 118 to 79 which would add additional grounds to the law: ''ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.'' During the debate, the bill's opponents argued that it violated the principle of "equal justice for all." It is difficult to support this argument, because the proposed amendment would protect heterosexuals, bisexuals, gays and lesbians equally. Other opposition is based on the fear that anti-homosexual speech -- for example a pastor quoting homophobic Bible passages -- could be charged under the law. Again, this appears to be difficult to support, because the law kicks in only after a crime has been committed. Speech denigrating a group of people is not a crime; pastors and others are guaranteed freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If no crime has been committed, then the Intimidation Law does not apply. The bill was promoted by Stewart Greenleaf, the chair of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, and House Majority Leader John Perzel. Both are considered conservative Republicans. Since state Senate passed the bill during 2001 by a vote of 32 to 15, it now goes to Governor Mark Schweiker, who has promised to sign it. 5
bullet 2002-DEC-10: Anglican Evangelicals meet to oppose new Archbishop of Canterbury: Four of the most conservative groups within the Church of England -- Reform, the Church Society, the Church of England Evangelical Council, and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies -- are meeting to challenge the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Evangelicals within the denomination had called on Dr Williams either to recant his belief that biblical passages can be interpreted to support committed same-sex relationships, or to resign his office. Figures from the 2000 Church Attendance Survey indicate that the Evangelical movement within the denomination represents over one in three Church of England members, and is growing rapidly. If Evangelicals were to withhold donations in the form of the "parish share" they could drive the Church near bankruptcy.

In a column in The Church of England Newspaper, Andrew Carey, the son of the former Archbishop, wrote: "God always has plenty more work to do, even in the lives of distinguished churchmen. Which is why evangelicals must continue to have a conversation with Dr Williams, to ensure that he understands why we believe him to be utterly wrong on human sexuality." The Rev David Holloway, Vicar of Jesmond said: "At the time of Rowan Williams and gay theology, you don’t only have to teach the truth and refute error, you also have to take action." He quoted Romans 16:17: "Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching that you have learnt. Keep away from them." The Rev George Curry, chairman of the Church Society, said: "As loyal Anglicans, we are faced with the fact that we have bishops across the world and in the Church of England who are teaching error when their job is to drive away error and teach the Gospel."

Christina Rees, a prominent member of the General Synod who resigned from the Church of England Evangelical Council after some members criticized Dr Williams, said: "I have seen a draft of the statement and, although it does not mention the archbishop by name, it clearly alludes to the Rowan situation. It is intended to be a rallying point. It refers to sexuality....Making a person’s attitude to homosexuality a touchstone of the Christian faith is elevating it to a place it has never held in Christian tradition." 6
bullet2002-DEC: MO: Professor warns of dangers of tolerating homosexuality: Patricia Schoenrade is chairperson of the Department of Psychology at William Jewell College. This is a liberal arts college in Liberty, MO, whose mission statement calls on it "To be an institution loyal to the ideals of Christ, demonstrating a Christian philosophy for the whole of life, and expressing the Missouri Baptist heritage which is the foundation of the college." The student senate is currently debating whether to add sexual orientation as a protected class in the student bill of rights. According to Baptist Press, Professor Schenrade expressed concern at the growing acceptance of "homosexuality at the school." She is quoted as saying: "I think it's fair to say that there is a pattern developing. It's very easy to confuse love for the individual with acceptance of the lifestyle. Whatever a student finds on a Christian campus, they will assume it is Christianity. If they hear advocacy of a behavior and nothing to counter it, that person will assume it is Christianity...I can't say this strongly enough, but I believe [that] the spiritual and intellectual souls of our students are at risk."  In 1997 she coauthored a paper in the Journal of Personnel Psychology called: "Staying in the Closet Versus Coming Out: Relationships Between Communication about Sexual Orientation and Work Attitudes." At the time, she supported equal rights and protections for gays and lesbians. However, she "came to know Christ" in 1998-FEB. Earlier in December, she sent an Email to students saying: "I refute those ideas now. And the reason why is because I gave my life to Christ." She is reported as saying: "I began to see my role as a Christian teacher of psychology. I was to do it for his [Christ's] glory. Any data I read, any research had to be subordinated to his direction." She believes that many of the faculty share her beliefs, but are afraid to speak out. She said: "You will hear more voices in what's called tolerance but that is not the sentiment of the majority of the faculty. Sometimes people are a little reluctant to speak up because they may be judged intolerant or naive." 7

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bullet2002-DEC-11: North America: Bisexual comic book character: According to Agape Press: "Marvel Comics has announced that 'The Rawhide Kid,' a Marvel character since the 1950s, will make his first appearance as a homosexual in a February release. In an Associated Press report, Marvel's editor-in-chief Joe Quesada states that while the character will not come right out and say he is homosexual, it will be 'obvious through his actions and the things he says that his preference is men, not women.' " It is worth noting that if his "preference" is for men rather than women as a sexual partner, then he is apparently a bisexual not a homosexual. The Kid had been portrayed as a girl-shy character. Effective with the 2003-FEB issue, he will appear as a hero with a homosexual or bisexual orientation.

Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the Fundamentalist Christian American Family Association is distressed by the forthcoming new, openly gay, character in a comic book. He said: "It's imperative that parents learn what Marvel Comics is now trying to do -- and that is to infiltrate their children's lives with a message of homosexuality and to normalize it for the kids. There should be a safe haven for children, and homosexuality should not be able to penetrate that safe haven." He is encouraging parents to complain to Marvel about this development. Sharp said: "That ought to send a message all across America that it's going to be dirty, deviant, nasty, and [supportive of the] pro-homosexual agenda. Parents should be warned that Marvel Comics can no longer be trusted to produce a comic which is entertaining and yet safe for children." 8
bullet2002-DEC-9: IL: Students organize protest over school's "cutest couple": Students at the Crete-Monee High School in the Chicago area traditionally vote to select the "cutest couple" to be featured in their yearbook. This year, the senior class selected a couple for the honor who had been dating since the beginning of the school year. They are lesbians. The school administration put a hold on publishing the selection in the yearbook. Some students complained at a NOV-18 school board meeting. The board refused to act. On NOV-20, about sixty students staged a walkout. School board spokesperson, Sue Rossi, explained that the hold was imposed while permission of the girl's parents was obtained. Rossi said: "Because sex preference is such a private issue, prior to making it a permanent printed record--such as in the yearbook--parental permission was required." Patricia Logue of Lambda Legal Defense and Education, a gay and lesbian legal rights group, commented: "I doubt if this couple were a boy and a girl they'd see a need to run it by the parents." 9
bullet2002-DEC-17: NY: Senate expands protection against discrimination: In spite of concentrated efforts by religious and social conservatives, the Republican-controlled state senate passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) by a vote of 34 to 26. Focus on the Family described this as approving "non-discrimination status for homosexuals..." This appears to be an error, because all persons of all sexual orientations -- heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals -- would be equally protected if the bill is signed into law. It would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations. Currently, the only protected criteria are age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, marital status and disability. The state Assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill earlier in 2002. 10 Governor George Pataki signed it into law a few hours after the Senate passed it. It comes into effect on 2003-JAN-16. According to Focus on the Family: "Opponents say SONDA will move the state one step closer to normalizing homosexuality and placing it on par with the traditional family." 11
bullet2002-DEC-18: HI: Westboro Baptist Church to picket in Hawaii: Fred Phelps told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that "God hates fags." He and his group are planning to visit Hawaii in 2003-JAN "to inject a little gospel truth and sanity into that insane orgy of sodomite lies masquerading as a state." The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, which he heads, issued a statement saying that it would protest in Honolulu from JAN-9 to 14. It criticized a brochure distributed to Kihala Middle School students in 2002-NOV which explained how young people mature sexually and summarized research on sexual-orientation. Ken Miller, spokesperson for The Center, a gay-positive support group said: "It's a sad statement that there's someone like this who will come out and denigrate a segment of our community. His message is scary that God hates all fags and that we should burn in Hell. United Methodist minister Rev. Sam Cox said: "It's sort of a Ku Klux Klan type of extreme homophobia...They sanction murder and even say that 9/11 is God's punishment on America for condoning homosexuals." 12

2002-DEC-20: BC: Canadian Supreme Court overrules local school board: In response to strong parental support during 1997, the Surrey School Board, near Vancouver, BC, in Canada banned three gay-positive books in its public school systems. In a 7 to 2 decision, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the board must revisit its decision. More details.

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References:

  1. "Spielberg Likens Matthew Shepard Killing to Nazi Persecution," The Gay Financial Network, at: http://www.gfn.com/news/story
  2. Joe Kovacs, "Kodak fires man over 'gay' stance: 23-year veteran of global film giant objected to pro-homosexual memo," WorldNetDaily, at: http://www.wnd.com/news/
  3. Bruce Demara, "Exhibit's anti-gay material removed," Toronto Star, Toronto ON, 2002-OCT-25.
  4.  Mark Pitsch, "Gay-rights decision protested at E. Kentucky school: Allowing group to meet sparks student boycott," The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY., 2002-NOV-5, at: http://www.courier-journal.com/
  5. Felicia Dionisio, "Pennsylvania House OKs 'gay' rights; Will pastors be targeted for preaching against homosexuality?," WorldNetDaily™, 2002-NOV-28, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  6. Ruth Gledhill, "Evangelicals ready to challenge Williams for the Church's soul,"
    The Times (England), 2002-DEC-10. Online at: http://www.gospelcom.net/
  7. Todd Starnes, "Prof sees pattern toward acceptance of homosexuality at William Jewell," Baptist Press, 2002-DEC-11, at: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14830
  8. Allie Martin and Jody Brown, "Marvel Comics Puts Homosexuality in the Saddle," Agape Press, 2002-DEC-11, at: http://headlines.agapepress.org/
  9. Mubarak S. Dahir, "Chicago Students Stand Up for Gay Equality," at: http://www.tolerance.org/teens/stories/
  10. Sonja Swiatkiewicz, "N.Y. Senate approves pro-gay bill: Observers say the measure will move homosexuality closer to full acceptance," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/
  11. Sonja Swiatkiewicz, "Pataki Signs N.Y. Pro-Gay Bill," CitizenLink, Focus on the Family, 2002-DEC-19.
  12. "Anti-gay group to picket in isles: The religious group from Kansas will protest in January," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2002-DEC-18, Page A3.
  13. Art Moore, "Law of the land: Canada OKs pro-'gay' books for kids. Parental views cannot override imperative of tolerance, diversity." WorldNetDaily, 2002-DEC-28, at: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp

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Notice:

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. sec 107: The news items contained in the above hyperlinks are provided without profit by the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, Suite 128, 829 Norwest Rd., Kingston ON, Canada, K7P 2N3., and are intended to be available to anyone interested in the topics included, for educational purposes only. Any editor, author, Webmaster, writer, publisher, news service, etc. that objects to being part of this listing may request that future works be excluded. We will also attempt to delete previous entries from the same source.

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > News > here

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Copyright © 2002 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-DEC-28
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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