Category Archives: Marriage / family

“Indiana Catholic bishops issue statement on gay marriage ban” – Indianapolis Star

Indiana’s Catholic bishops issued a statement Thursday on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but they stopped short of taking a position on the hot-button topic.

Arcbishop Joseph W Tobin

The statement, signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Indiana’s five bishops, emphasizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but also the dignity of all people.

“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” the statement says. “At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

Church officials said the statement isn’t intended to stake out a political position, but to inform people about Catholic teachings as they weigh the issue.

“People have the right to make their own decisions on these issues, but it needs to be done with an informed conscience,” said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Archdiocese

-continue reading at Indianapolis Star

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Anglican stance on same-sex marriage ‘morally contemptible’, says gay cleric

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, accuses Rowan Williams of hardening the Church of England’s attitude to gay marriage

Rev Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a “morally contemptible” policy on same-sex marriage, denouncing it for moving “in the opposite direction” to society and criticising Rowan Williams for changing his “public position” on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, writes that, by setting themselves against same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Church have prioritised the union of the Anglican communion over the rights of gay Christians.

“This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible,” he writes in an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian. “Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

John writes that, contrary to the expectations of those who had expected Williams to introduce a new tone in the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the Church’s line has in fact “continued to harden” during his near-decade as Archbishop of Canterbury.

John – who was forced to withdraw his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 due to fury from conservative evangelicals – says that as Archbishop of Wales Williams had made the case for an ethical framework for gay relationships. “Tragically, he changed his public position as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine,” he adds. “Since then the Church’s line has continued to harden.”

In Permanent, Faithful, Stable, republished this week as Anglicans prepare for a stormy autumn of debate over same sex marriage, John outlines the theological case for gay people in stable and faithful relationships to be offered the same recognition as heterosexual couples. While superficially there is “little difference”, he writes, between civil partnership and marriage, the official distinction “helps perpetuate a distinction in status”.

via The Guardian.

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Townsend, other Md. Catholics to push same-sex marriage – Maryland Politics – The Washington Post

The group leading Maryland’s same-sex marriage campaign is highlighting Catholic supporters, including former lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D).

Gov. Martin O’Malley, center, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, right, after O’Malley signed Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in March. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Gov. Martin O’Malley, center, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, right, after O’Malley signed Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in March. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Townsend, a member of one of the most prominent Catholic families in American politics, is scheduled to appear at a news conference Tuesday morning in Baltimore, alongside parents of gay children.

The Maryland Catholic Conference, the official lobby for the church, was among the more vocal opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage legislation this year and is also working for its repeal in the November election. Among other arguments, the group stresses the importance of having both fathers and mothers in children’s lives.

But Catholics are not of one voice on the issue in a state where the church played a central role in its founding.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who sponsored this year’s same-sex marriage bill, is a practicing Catholic. He has argued that all families should have the same legal rights. House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) also broke with the church in shepherding the legislation through his chamber.

More recently, both O’Malley and Busch have appeared at fundraisers to benefit Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group hosting the news conference Tuesday in Baltimore.

full report – The Washington Post.

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The first couple to be married on a military base met at a Baptist church,

Will and Erwynn met at church and fell in love. But they had a big problem—“don’t ask, don’t tell.” The unlikely story of the first gay military union.

It’s almost Christmas, and I’m eating lunch with Tech Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his fiance Will Behrens at a Cracker Barrel in New Jersey. Erwynn, 34, is an active-duty serviceman in the Air Force. Will, 35, is a branch manager for a financial firm. There are six months to go until Will and Erwynn get married at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a joint military base in Wrightstown, N.J. It will be the first publicly announced gay civil union or wedding ever to take place on an American military installation. But today is about family, not planning for the big day. With us are Will’s children from a previous marriage, his 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. When the country fried steak and chicken and dumplings arrive, everyone joins hands in prayer. Will thanks God for our food and prays that I’ll make it home safely. We say amen and eat.

 Little about the couple’s biographies would suggest that they would become gay rights trailblazers or find themselves on the progressive side of a culture war. Will was born outside of Chicago in 1976. His mother was a teacher. His father, a marine-turned-fundamentalist-minister, spent most of the year on the road through his work with Fairhaven Baptist church in Chesterton, Ind. Will’s father was its youth pastor and vice president of the church’s small Christian college.
Fairhaven Baptist was founded by Dr. Roger Voegtlin, a firm believer in corporal punishment. Will recalls Dr. Voegtlin giving spanking demonstrations and instructions during church. Will’s parents followed Dr. Voegtlin’s example, imposing strict discipline on Will and his three siblings. Will ran away from home twice, in fifth and sixth grade, because he was so fearful of punishment from his father.
-full report at Slate
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Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts to allow clergy to bless gay couples

Starting in December, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will let clergy bless gay couples, a change announced after a national Episcopalian convention this month approved a new rite for same-sex relationships.

The diocese will continue to forbid clergy from performing gay marriages, something its Eastern Massachusetts counterpart allows. But in an interview last week, the incoming Western Massachusetts bishop said he plans on asking worshipers whether they want to revisit the prohibition.

By a wide margin, Episcopalians at this month’s national General Convention approved a new rite blessing same-sex relationships. Each diocese in the country can decide whether to perform the blessing.

Following the convention, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts announced it would give parishes the option to perform the same-sex blessing.

Bishop-elect Douglas John Fisher, who will succeed Bishop Gordon Paul Scruton in December, called the resolution “a big move in the right direction.”

“This is a great development for our gay brothers and sisters, and we hope to celebrate that with them starting in December,” Fisher said in an interview.

While the new ritual will not constitute nuptials, Fisher left open the possibility the diocese may ultimately approve gay marriage, following the lead of the Eastern Massachusetts diocese, which sanctioned such services in 2009.

“When I get there, I’ll certainly be having those conversations,” said Fisher, currently rector of Grace Church in Millbrook, N.Y. “We’ll see where all of that leads.”

– full report at  The Boston Globe.

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Cardinal Calls for Gay Marriage Referendum

THE Catholic Church will today intensify pressure on Alex Salmond over same-sex marriage by calling for a referendum on the proposals, before the First Minister’s flagship independence vote.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has attacked SNP plans.

The leader of Scotland’s Catholics, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has warned the First Minister that “far more people” are concerned about same-sex ceremonies than independence.

A spokesman for the Church told The Herald it wanted a public vote on the issue before a referendum on independence.

Ministers are expected to announce proposals for gay marriage after a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. They are under intense pressure from opponents, including campaign groups and churches. More than 27,000 people have signed a petition against the plans.

However, the First Minister is facing calls from many within his own party to press ahead with the proposals. At the weekend Jim Eadie, the SNP Edinburgh Southern MSP, said: “The message to the Scottish Government should be: ‘Stand firm, hold your nerve.'”

Muslim leaders and the Catholic Church have denounced the plans and accused Scottish ministers of offering “worthless” assurances over opt-outs.

Cardinal O’Brien, who has previously described the proposals as madness, specifically linked gay marriage and independence in a statement last night calling for a referendum.

He pointed out that almost 80,000 people responded to an official consultation on same-sex marriage while 26,000 have responded to the one on independence.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “The Scottish Government’s consultation on redefining marriage had three times more respondents than the consultation on the constitution, demonstrating clearly that far more people are concerned about fundamental matters of morality at the present time.

“Clearly, if it is sensible to hold a referendum on independence, it is crucial we have one on marriage. It is the only way the country can move forward on this issue. Let all those who have a view on this subject place their trust in the Scottish people and let Scotland decide.”

-full report at   Herald Scotland.

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U.S. Presbyterian Church at crossroads over gay marriage | Reuters

Midwestern minister Greg Smith is considering an act of ecclesiastical disobedience.

Deeply sympathetic to gay rights since his son, Matty, came out as gay a decade ago, the lifelong Presbyterian told his son he will officiate at his wedding, defying church policy.

“I believe that we’re doing more harm than good prolonging the inevitable,” said Smith, who at 64 is retired but still ministers in Des Moines, Iowa.

“On this issue, there is no mechanism for pastors to express conscientious objection without either defying church authority or demitting from one’s pastoral call. And that’s extremely stressful and distressing.”

Like many other denominations, the Presbyterian Church(U.S.A.), the 10th largest U.S. religion according to the National Council of Churches, is in the grips of a crisis over gay marriage.

The 2.7-million-strong church has lost about 500,000 members over the last decade, and church leaders fear that an endorsement of same-sex marriage could spur an exodus of Christians who view it as incompatible with biblical teachings.

But failing to act could mean the church is viewed as irrelevant and homophobic by young and progressive members.

Earlier this month at its General Assembly, a gathering held every two years, church leaders rejected a constitutional change, by a vote of 338-308, that would have defined marriage as between two people, rather than a man and a woman.

Some have said the church was moving too fast. Just two years ago, the church agreed to open the ranks of its clergy to homosexuals, prompting dozens of congregations to split off to join more conservative denominations or to form their own.

“The Assembly was trying to hold together a broken church with both hands, trying to honor people on both ends of the spectrum who feel pain around the issues of marriage,” said Reverend Aimee Moiso, who led the assembly’s committee on marriage.

“But we did manage something miraculous: In a polarized church and nation, we spent several days trying to figure out a way to stay together across our divisions,” she said.

– more at Reuters.

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