2013 has been dubbed the “Year of gay marriage”. Pope Francis was named “Person of the Yea” by gay magazine the Advocate, and as number two “Gay Rights Hero of the Year” by New Yorker magazine. The words of the Psalm for today’s Mass will theerefore have particular cogency for LGBT Christians, as we await the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, later this week.
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.
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
- Gay Catholic Group Lauds Indiana Bishops Marriage Statement (lezgetreal.com)
- IN Bishops Stay Neutral on Marriage Amendment (bilerico.com)
- Unnecessary roughing: Why Catholic bishops should be more accepting of gay marriage (suntimes.com)
Nearly three quarters of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a poll published on Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives weigh up extending more rights to homosexual couples ahead of a September election.
Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, accuses Rowan Williams of hardening the Church of England’s attitude to gay marriage
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.
- Anglican stance on same-sex marriage ‘morally contemptible’, says gay cleric (guardian.co.uk)
- Under Rowan Williams, the church has failed gay people | Jeffrey John (guardian.co.uk)
- Permanent, Faithful, Stable: Christian Same-Sex Marriage (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- God is “Out 4 Marriage” – Anglican Dean, Jeffrey John (queeringthechurch.com)
- Equal civil marriage: some developments (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- UK Religious Leaders Launch Campaign to Back Civil Gay Marriage (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- (Anglican) Bishops rebel against Church marriage policy (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
A gay pastor who married his musical producer boyfriend in New York last year has fulfilled a vow to hold a wedding banquet in his native Malaysia in what they believe is the first such event in the Muslim-majority country.
Malaysian-born Ngeo Boon Lin and African-American husband Phineas Newborn III, quietly held the closed reception Saturday – complete with public kisses and karaoke ballad performances – with about 200 guests, including a handful of Chinese-language journalists who were asked not to report on the event until afterward.
The couple risked the ire of a government that has banned a gay arts festival, prosecuted a politician for sodomy and declared that homosexuality has no place in Malaysian society.
“We’re thankful to be able to make Malaysian history here,” Newborn sai
-full report at alarabiya.net
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.
- Episcopalians Approve Rite to Bless Same-Sex Unions (nytimes.com)
- Episcopal Church approves same-sex blessing rite (kansascity.com)
- US church approves gay blessings (bbc.co.uk)
Winning a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Love Free or Die has already become a pivotal film this year as President Obama has embraced its subject matter: gay marriage. Even more timely, the Episcopal Church has just approved a same sex blessing service.
The documentary follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained Bishop who becomes a symbol of both LGBT pioneering and exemplary Christian values of compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.
From Robinson’s chronicles of discrimination abroad to his relationship with his partner Mark, the film takes a personal look at the role faith plays in his and others’ lives, brushing aside the notion that Christianity is only for fundamentalists and evangelicals. Compelling for secular audiences and non-LGBT viewers, the film finds that the greater love that guides people must be shared.
Robinson has faced so much open hatred for his lifestyle that he wore a bullet proof vest to his own consecration. The film shows Robinson discovering another plot on his life, prompting deep questioning and thanks to above. Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.
This scene of Bishop Robinson speaking before serving cups of water at the Gay Pride Parade is riveting, and a rallying cry that should be seen in its entirety and taken to heart.
– full report by John Wellington Ellis, at Huffington Post.
- Gene Robinson: Gay Marriage is God’s Work (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- Episcopal Church Moves Toward Greater LGBT Inclusion (thinkprogress.org)
- U.S. Episcopalians move closer to allowing transgender ministers (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
The southwest Minneapolis suburbs of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie bring to mind Garrison Keillor’s tales from Lake Wobegon: They’re lined with well-maintained homes and tree-lined roundabouts, and home to residents of largely German and Scandinavian ancestry. But the ladies of these towns have quietly begun a revolt — one fought with rainbow flags and a Minnesota nice attitude.
The women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, come from different political parties, religious views, and backgrounds, but they’ve united to fight what many of them call an embarrassment to Minnesota: a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage that will appear on the ballot this November. Minnesota is the 31st state to include such a measure on a ballot, despite a strong LGBT community in Minneapolis, which was named the “gayest city in America” by Advocate Magazine in January 2011.
Throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, pro-gay activism is the norm — conservative lawn signs are strikingly few. The state’s liberal, urban voters have been fighting the amendment for over a year now. Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of 520 businesses and religious organizations based mostly in the Twin Cities, has raised $3.1 million to fight the ban.
But in the bedroom communities of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, billboards promoting right-wing candidates and talk show hosts frequently pop up between car dealerships and golf clubs. A sudden proliferation of rainbow flags has made these neighborhoods into unexpected battlegrounds in the state’s marriage fight
-full report at Advocate
The Episcopal Church in the US is to debate a blessing rite for gay couples who wish to marry.
The church only recognises marriage as being between a man and a woman and supporters of the blessing rite emphasise that it is not a sacrament and would not confer marriage on a couple.
However, if approved, the liturgy would be the first such rite endorsed by a major US denomination.
Titled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant”, it would allow for the exchange of rings.
In 2009, during its last General Convention, the church approved language encouraging bishops to give “generous pastoral response” to gay couples in states with marriage equality.
The church’s General Convention starts today in Indianapolis and the liturgy will be debated on Saturday. It requires the approval of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.
In 2003, the Episcopal Church ordained the first openly gay bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
- Episcopalians Review a New Rite for Gay Unions (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Episcopalians debate transgender inclusion in ministry (news.yahoo.com)
- Episcopal Church May Soon Bless Same-Sex Marriages (towleroad.com)
- The Truth in Transgender: Will the Episcopal Church Amend Its Rules? (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- Pondering a blessing for same-sex couples (philly.com)
Religious figures who support gay marriage will today launch a fightback against church leaders who have come out against same-sex marriage.
Representatives from the Church of England, liberal Jews, the Quakers and the Unitarian and Free Church will join forces at Westminster to declare their backing for the Government’s plans to legalise civil gay marriage, which have provoked strong opposition from leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches.
Some faiths want the Coalition to go further by giving churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriage.
Those attending the conference will include Giles Fraser, a priest who resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral last autumn following the Occupy protests; Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for the Quakers; Rabbi Roderick Young; Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; and the Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
Mr Parker said the Quakers believe that all committed relationships are of equal worth.
“The new proposals allow civil partnerships in Quaker meeting houses, but that is not a marriage; it is a legal contract, not a spiritual one,” he said. “We don’t seek to impose this on anyone else. For Quakers this is an issue of religious freedom.”
Rabbi Young, who will represent the Movement for Reform Judaism at the conference, said: “The proposal to extend civil marriage to gays and lesbians is greatly to be applauded. However it is not enough. It is a bizarre situation when lesbian and gay rabbis may perform a legal religious marriage for heterosexual couples, but are denied the right to experience that joy for themselves with their partners.”
Today’s meeting has been organised by Labour, which backs David Cameron and Nick Clegg in their efforts to bring in gay marriage, despite vocal opposition from many Conservative MPs. Labour also wants the Government to give churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriages – without forcing them to do so by law.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said last night: “Many religious organisations and people within different faiths support same-sex marriage.
“Whilst opposition from some church leaders has been strong, other prominent church figures are supporting same-sex marriage. It should be recognised that there are many views within and between different faiths. If you believe in religious freedom, those organisations that do want to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies should be allowed to do so.”
She said Mr Cameron must not be deterred by opposition within his own party and beyond and urged him to call an early debate in Parliament rather than stall on the issue.
The Government is expected to reject the calls to allow churches to “opt in” to religious same-sex marriage, a proposal which could fuel the Conservative revolt on the issue.
But church leaders fear the planned civil marriage law would spark legal challenges in the European Court of Human Rights by gay rights campaigners, which would force churches to conduct religious same-sex marriage against their will.
– more at The Independent.
- Children’s Charity Barnardo’s Chief Joins Gay Marriage Row (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- Could gay marriage debate drive young Christians from church? (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- (Australian) Gay Christians hope for church acceptance (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- Gay religious weddings ‘supported by 68% of Scots’ (scotsman.com)