British Clergy Fear New LGBT Rights Bill in UK (May 24, 2009)
In the U.S. some Church leaders, and others on the far right, have expressed major concerns that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill now in the Senate will hurt the rights of the Church to preach to Church members. Well, it looks as though our community here in the U.S. is not alone in trying to correct misinterpretations and misunderstandings. In Britain there is an existing law titled the “Criminal Justice and Immigration Act”, and this year a new “clause” has been proposed. Our brothers and sisters in the UK seem to be experiencing similar frustrations. The Public Order Act of 1986 includes Part 3 which prohibits expressions of “racial hatred”. This new “clause” is simply extending the protection to the LGBT community. The “clause” or Part 3 is not meant to cause any new concerns to leaders of a Church.
A young man named Eric Patten, just 23 years old, was quite drunk and was asked to leave a club in Provincetown. According to police he began screaming anti-homosexual slurs on the sidewalk outside the club and approached and began attacking two lesbian women. Police also said Eric called one of the women an offensive slur which would refer to a gay man. Then, he pushed one of the women into a cafe window both breaking the window and injuring the woman. Both women were taken to the hospital and bystanders were visibly upset about what they had witnessed. Mr. Patten is facing a number of charges including resisting arrest.
The Rev. Scott Rennie was relieved and humbled as the ruling body of the Church of Scotland voted to dismiss the challenge against his new appointment. Rev. Rennie is now an openly gay minister with a partner and his most current appointment was originally challenged because of his sexual orientation. He believes the challenge came from religious conservatives within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion would be the equivalent to the Anglican body here in the U.S., where openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 in New Hampshire.
Many of the young people in Limerick haven’t really had a place where they can feel comfortable and safe. Many don’t even feel comfortable or safe in their own local schools. The cafe is meant, for LGBTQ young people aged 13 – 25, to be a place where they can stop by for a chat with a youth worker, or even just hang out for awhile. Although it was originally meant for LGBT youth and those who are questioning – non LGBTQ family members and friends are also welcome.
The majority of the justices of the CA Supreme Court voted to uphold the Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage. They said that Prop. 8 was a limited constitutional amendment which did not require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be put on the ballot. The justices decided unanimously that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages would still be legal in the state. The one justice who did vote in favor of overturning Prop. 8, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, said the ruling was, “not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.”
Back in 2000 there was an highly disputed presidential election with memories of hanging chads, butterfly ballots and challenging Electoral College votes. Recently a new advocacy nonprofit called American Foundation for Equal Rights was formed and they hired attorneys David Boies and Theodore B. Olson to represent two gay couples in a Federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. The two attorneys, Mr. Boies and Mr. Olson, were each the lead attorneys during the court battle over the 2000 Presidential election – and are now working together because they see Federal possibility of overturning Prop. 8. Mr Olson, who served as solicitor general under former Pres. Bush was quoted as saying, “Creating a second class of citizens is discrimination, plain and simple. The Constitution of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln does not permit it.” Hopefully their combined legal experience along with their determination will help to win marriage equality for California, as well as other states.
Previously in this column an article was included about a school district in Alameda, CA considering adopting a well written curriculum to help students and teachers have better respect and understanding for the LGBT community. That vote has taken place and there were cheers when the results of the vote were announced. The members of the board voted 3-2 in favor of adopting the new curriculum. Some members of other minority groups present at the meeting were not as happy with the vote – citing problems which exist toward their own groups. The district Superintendent Kirsten Vital answered them by acknowledging the concerns and saying, “We need to do a better job as a school district, but you don’t take away from one group to support another…”.
During the past three months approximately 30 more people have been killed in Iraq because they were either believed to be or know to be homosexual. Amnesty International wrote directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take action to stop this from happening. Some believe that these people were tortured then killed in baghdad at the hands of the Mahdi Army, some believe tribal vigilantes were responsible.
Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach is the winner of nine medals for distinguished service in flight and is trying to save his 18-year Air Force career. A year ago an acquaintance told his bosses he was gay, now Fehrenbach is trying to save his career with the help of The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. He had been trying to stay in the service until the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” – but he has decided it is time to speak out. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach said, “I will fight this in uniform and I’ll fight it without. I swore an oath to defend and support the Constitution, I’m going to speak out and fight this until the law is repealed because it is not constitutional.” He has also appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show.
When Sergio Garcia, a senior at Fairfax High School in the Hollywood area, submitted his application for Prom Queen earlier this month he told his classmates he would wear a suit and not a dress to the prom. Then, at his prom the majority of the students voted by paper ballot to elect him. Senior Keith Perez, who was elected Prom King said that he, “didn’t mind at all” dancing with the school’s first male Prom King. Vanessa Lo, the senior class president and the prom date of Keith Perez, was happy to announce Garcia as the newly elected Prom Queen that evening. Many notable alumni of Fairfax High School include members of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, actresses Mila Kunis and Demi Moore … and another not so notable nor famous alumnus … your humble news gatherer – MJ.