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NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS

FOR 2003 - JULY to SEPTEMBER

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News of 2003-JULY:

bullet2003-JUL-2: USA: Wal-Mart to protect gay and lesbian employees: Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest private employer, has expanded its antidiscrimination policy to protect gay and lesbian employees..." This change is apparently in response to an effort by Pride Foundation -- a Seattle gay rights group -- which had invested in Wal-Mart during 2001 and then had lobbied the company to change its policies. Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president for communications, said "It's the right thing to do for our employees. We want all of our associates to feel they are valued and treated with respect — no exceptions. And it's the right thing to do for our business." Wal-Mart will continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians on benefits. The company only gives certain benefits to married couples, and of course gay and lesbian committed couples are not allowed to marry.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group in Washington, D.C., that monitors discrimination policies and laws, reported that nine of the ten largest Fortune 500 companies now have rules barring discrimination against gay employees. The exception is the Exxon Mobil Corporation. 1 Michael Adams, spokesperson for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said: "It's a tremendous step forward, a real symbol of how far we've come in recent years...Wal-Mart is a uniquely important company in this country...And they're know as a careful and cautious corporation, which will cause others to take a look at this issue." 2

bullet2003-JUL-2: Canada: Surrey, BC school board ends years of opposition: After six years, and the expenditure of one million dollars, the Surrey school board gave up. It quietly authorized two books that treat same-sex marriage with acceptance and approval, for use at the kindergarten and Grade 1 level. The books are "Who's in a family" and "ABC: A family alphabet book." Globe and Mail columnist Paul Sullivan wrote: "The point is, trying to censor anything in this day and age is pointless. Not to mention peevish. Better to spend your time with your kids, love them and listen to them. They already know more about sex and tolerance that you ever will and they're willing to teach, if you're willing to learn. And what the little nippers don't know, they can look up in those swell new books." 3
bullet2003-JUL-10: Colorado: Same-sex marriage group formed: Reverend Phil Campbell, senior pastor of Park Hill United Church of Christ, announced the formation of Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage, (CCEM) a group dedicated to making marriage available to all couples in the state. He said, "I helped launch this effort because I believe in marriage and I believe that equality in marriage is a matter of faith and fairness. The Constitution of the United States guarantees to every person in Colorado the equal protection of our state laws. As a matter of law it is wrong for the state of Colorado to deprive same sex couples of the right to marry. Gay men and lesbians are entitled to the same right to marry - in a marriage of love, mutuality and respect - that is available to my wife and me as a heterosexual couple." Reverend Gil Caldwell, retired United Methodist minister and CCEM member connected the struggle for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans to the centuries-long fight for equality for African Americans. He said: "We see the truth in the words of Coretta Scott King when she says that the struggles for inclusion of gay and lesbian people are part of the 'continuing justice movement' for which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life. As the black church led the struggle for legal equality, so too the religious communities are called to be on the forefront in this struggle for justice for equality in marriage." Clergy representing mainline and liberal Protestantism and Judaism have joined the movement. 4
bullet2003-JUL-17: Australia: Uniting Church votes to allow ordination of sexually active homosexuals: The Uniting Church is Australia's third largest Christian denomination, after the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Delegates to their annual meeting in Melbourne voted in favor of considering gays and lesbians for ordination on 2003-JUL-17. The vote was 85% in favor. The resolution allows churches to choose sexually active gays and lesbians as clergy. However, churches which object will not be disciplined. Church President, Dean Drayton, said: "The Assembly has decided that we are a diverse church, we have great and genuinely held differences, but instead of allowing these differences to divide us, we will hold together in something greater—our love of God and our love of the Uniting Church itself." More details.
bullet2003-JUL: USA: Episcopal Church to hold its General Convention: The 2003 General Convention will be held in Minneapolis, MN, starting on JULY-30. Two items on the agenda are liable to create an explosive atmosphere at the Convention. Conservatives are outraged at:
bulletThe election of Canon Robinson, an openly gay male in a committed relationship, must be affirmed or rejected.
bulletThere is a proposal to compose and allow a blessing -- a formal rite -- for same-sex unions. More details
bullet2003-JUL-30: USA: "Brides" magazine features same-sex weddings: The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest reports that: "For the first time in the history of its publication, 'Bride's' magazine has printed a full-page article discussing same-sex weddings, becoming the first of the five top-selling bridal magazines to do so.  The article, appearing in the magazine's September-October issue on newsstands now, is titled 'Outward Bound,' and its opening paragraph states, 'Gay men and women are out, loud and proud about making a commitment. In other words, they're just like other couples in love'." 5
bullet2003-JUL-31: World: Vatican releases anti-same-sex marriage document: The Vatican's "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document titled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons." It had been approved by Pope John Paul II on MAR-28, and circulated among the church's bishops on JUN-3. However, it was only made public on 2003-JUL-31.

The anonymous author stresses that there is really nothing new in the document. Rather it is a reiteration of principles and doctrine that have been taught in the past: that same-sex relationships involve sexual acts which go against the Church's view of natural moral law. "They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved'....Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts 'as a serious depravity'....homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered....The homosexual inclination is ...'objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity'....Catholics must 'witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons'." Child adoption by a same-sex couple is seen as a form of child abuse. "When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral." In Canada, where same-sex marriages were recently legalized in two provinces, and where the government has written legislation to make them available throughout the country, the document was not well received, either by politicians who resented the intrusive nature of the proposals, and homosexual groups who objected to its denigration of same-sex loving, committed couples. One Roman Catholic bishop in Western Canada appeared to imply that it is likely that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien -- who is a Roman Catholic -- may spend eternity in Hell because of the proposed legislation prepared by his party. 6 More details.

bullet2003-AUG-3: Canon Robinson clears three hurdles on election; one to go: By a popular vote in the Episcopal Church, USA, Canon V. Gene Robinson was elected as bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire. However, because the election came within 120 days of a General Convention, the vote has to be ratified. These ratifications have traditionally been routine. The previous bishop-elect whose election was vetoed by the Convention was elected in the 19th century. But, Robinson was definitely not a shoo-in. He is a gay man who has been living in a loving, committed relationship for over a decade. Previous bishops have been in this situation. However Robinson's circumstance is unique because he has not kept his relationship secret. The Legislative Committee on Prayer Book and Liturgy endorsed his election on AUG-1. The House of Deputies followed suit on AUG-2 by a vote of 128 to 63 -- an unexpectedly large majority. The vote in the House of Bishops is the final hurdle. This is scheduled for AUG-4. 7 More details.
bulletAUG-5: Robinson's election confirmed: The House of Bishops voted on Robinson's confirmation. He needed 54 votes from the 107 bishops. He received 62. Canon Robinson has now been affirmed as bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire.

Responses were highly polarized, as expected:
bulletChurch spokesman Daniel England called the approval "an important step for the church...Some will be elated at this news, others very disappointed. And yet the decorum and the civility throughout leads me to believe that things will hold together."
bulletBishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, PA is opposed to Robinsons consecration. He said that those who fought approval of his election were "filled with sorrow" and feel a "grief too deep for words...This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians throughout the world....May God have mercy on his church." 8,9

They rejected a resolution which would have created a church ritual to bless same-sex and other non-traditional relationships. Instead, they overwhelmingly approved a compromise resolution which would introduce a local option into the church:
bulletIt discusses the treatment and pastoral care of gay and lesbian Episcopalians.
bulletIt recognized that some priests were already performing blessings of gay and lesbian couples in some dioceses in the U.S.

Leaders of Integrity, a gay-positive Episcopalian group, said that the latter section  would, for the first time, signal to bishops that they had the broader church's permission to allow same-sex unions in their dioceses if they choose to. Rev. Michael W. Hopkins, president of Integrity, commented: "This is a major step forward. There has never been an explicit statement that acknowledges that bishops can do it." 10 More details.

bullet2003-AUG-22: Sebastopol troop ejected: The Venture Crew 488 in Sebastopol CA was ejected from the organization by Redwood Council because of their refusal to discriminate against homosexuals. Bev Buswell, a long-time Scout leader and local real estate broker was the lead advisor for the Venture Crew. She had issued a statement promising to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation. Local and national Scout officials say that all troops must bar gays and non-theists as members and leaders.

Sebastopol Councilor Linda Kelley brought a letter to a protest near the Redwood Empire Boy Scout Council office. The letter was signed by herself and three other council members and urged the council to reinstate Crew 488. She said of the protestors: "We support their efforts to make scouting as diverse as possible." 11
bullet2003-SEP-15: Fundamentalist group wins freedom of speech case:  Focus on the Family, a Colorado based Fundamentalist Christian group, had been prevented from advertising their "Love Won Out" conference on the busses of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in Florida. The conference teaches that homosexual orientation can be prevented by proper parenting techniques, and that it is treatable in adults. Such beliefs appear to be found mainly among religious conservatives. A lower court had ruled that the PSTA  censorship of the ads was acceptable because they were "socially embarrassing." On SEP-15, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision and said that the censorship was unconstitutional. At stake was the group's freedom of speech. 12
bullet2003-SEP-16: Conservative motion defeated in Canada: The far-right Alliance party submitted a motion to the Canadian Parliament in opposition to same-sex marriage. It read: "That in the opinion of this House, it is necessary in the light of public debate around recent court decisions to reaffirm that marriage is, and should remain, the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that parliament take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve the definition of marriage in Canada." An amendment was proposed that would delete all the words after "others." If the amendment and the motion were passed, then Parliament would not be committed to invoke the "notwithstanding" clause which would override the Canadian constitution. The vote on the amendment was a tie: 134 votes for, and 134 votes against. This is apparently the first tie vote in over 40 years of Parliamentary voting. The speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, gave the casting vote against the amendment. He explained that he opposed the amendment so that the matter could more easily be resubmitted to the Parliament at some future time. The vote on the motion itself followed. It was narrowly defeated: 137 against and 132 in favor. 7 A very similar motion had been passed in 1999 by a vote of 216 to 55. Among the 75 members of parliament from Quebec, 62 voted against the motion, "in a sharp rebuke to the province's Roman Catholic establishment..." 8
bullet2003-SEP-17: Hate propaganda motion passes in Canada: Bill C-250 passed by a comfortable margin of 141 (perhaps 143; sources differ) to 110. It adds "sexual orientation" as a protected class to Canada's "Hate Propaganda" section of the Criminal Code, Sections 318 and 319. The Code applies to every province and territory in Canada. Now, hate speech will be prohibited if it targets "any section of the public distinguished by color, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation." The bill was submitted by Svend Robinson, of the New Democratic Party. Religious conservatives are alarmed that this law might inhibit clergy from declaring homosexual behavior to be a sin. This is a very remote possibility, as the law allows hate speech if it is coupled with religion, whether stated by clergy or laity. Few prosecutions are expected under this amended law. The main effect is expected to be an increased acceptance by the people of Canada that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are full citizens, and members of a protected class. This is a major step towards recognition that heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals are three normal, natural sexual orientations.
bullet2003-SEP-23: Nigeria: Man receives death penalty: Jibrin Babaji, 20, was sentenced to death by stoning by a court in Bauchi state of northern Nigeria. He had been found guilty of bribing boys with the equivalent of about $0.30 in U.S. funds each to have sex. The victims, three boys of unknown age, were each sentenced to receive 50 lashes of a cane. A spokesperson said that the boys pleaded for mercy but the judge "refused to be persuaded by their pleas and ordered that they should be flogged." On SEP-26, the fundamentalist Christian news group Covenant News covered this story in its "Abominations: and the land is defiled" section. They assigned this story the title: "Justice in Nigeria! Sodomite sentence to death by stoning." Babaji has indicated that he will appeal the ruling. Babaji's sexual orientation is unknown. We report it here in the homosexual news section because many media reports infer that he is a homosexual. Many abusive pedophiles molest both boys and girls. 14

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References:

  1. Sarah Kershaw, "New Wal-Mart Policy Protects Gay Workers," New York Times, 2003-JUL-2. at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  2. Greg Guiffrida, "Wal-Mart prohibits bias against gay employees," Associated Press, published by the Toronto Star, 2003-JUL-3, Page D2.
  3. Paul Sullivan, "Don't look back," The Globe and Mail, 2003-JUL-2.
  4. "Colorado clergy call for equality in marriage. Action Intended to Highlight Discrimination against Same Sex Couples," The Reconciling Ministries Network special digest 2003-JUL-11.
  5. "MIRACLE MOMENTS - The Spirit of Inclusion is moving among us." Flashnet! The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest. 2003-JUL-30.
  6. "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2003-JUN-3. Released 2003-JUL-31. See: http://www.vatican.va/
  7. "Gay bishop clears key vote," CNN.com, 2003-AUG-3, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  8. "Episcopalians approve gay bishop: Opposition vows to seek intervention from Anglican leaders," CNN.com, 2003-AUG-5, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  9. Alan Cooperman, "First openly gay bishop approved: Cleared of sexual misconduct. Vote threatens to split Anglicans," 2003-AUG-6, The Toronto Star, Pages A1 and A18.
  10. "Episcopal Leaders Reject Proposal for Same-Sex Union Liturgy," New York Times, 2003-AUG-7, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/07/national/07BISH.html
  11. "Protest takes Scouts to task. Two dozen demonstrate after Sebastopol troop ejected over gay rights," 2003-AUG-22, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa CAat: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/
  12. Family Research Council Email Washington Report, 2003-SEP-15.
  13. From live coverage of the House of Commons proceedings on 2003-SEP-16 on CPAC.
  14. "Nigerian man sentence to death by stoning for sodomy," Yahoo! News, 2003-SEP-25, at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/

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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, PO Box 27026, Kingston ON Canada K7M 8W5, 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 © 2003 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JUL-2
Latest update: 2003-SEP-26
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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