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Texas Church Reverses Course After Relegating Gay Couple To Side Chapel For Son's Ceremony: VIDEO


Earlier this month, we told you how a church in Florida had agreed to allow a gay couple's child to be baptized after initially turning them away, igniting a weeklong national firestorm.

Apparently, a church in Austin, Texas wanted to avoid a similar controversy.

Rich Jones and Adrian Mertz have both attended Shoreline Church since before they were married last year. They've continued to attend with their 4-year-old adopted son, Santino, and say they've been welcomed. 

But when Jones and Mertz requested to hold a dedication ceremony for Santino at the church, they were told it would have to be in a side chapel rather than the main sanctuary. The topic of homosexuality was too sensitive, church officials said, and the congregation wasn't ready to deal with it. 

However, after a reporter from a local TV station contacted the church about turning away Jones and Mertz, officials quickly changed their mind. 


The congregation issued this statement:

"We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused the Mertz family regarding the dedication of their child to God. We understand how our attempt to make a reasonable accommodation was misguided and hurtful. It is our intent to uphold human dignity, and in this regard we have failed. We are reaching out to the family to invite them to our next baby dedication."

Mertz and Jones were beside themselves with joy upon receiving the news. ... 

"Honestly I am just so happy and glad that we stepped out on faith. We've come to realize in order to expect change, you have to be part of the change and this just shed light on what Shoreline is really all about," said Mertz.

Santino's dedication is now set for June in the main chapel with all the other children. 

Watch KVUE-TV's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Introduces Bill to End Anti-LGBT Discrimination in Adoption

GillibrandU.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has announced plans to introduced legislation that aims to eliminate anti-LGBT bias in adoption.

NY1 reports the proposed "Every Child Deserves a Family Act" would "prohibit adoption organizations that receive federal funding from discriminating against adoptive or foster parents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status."

The AP adds Louisiana, Mississippi, and Michigan prohibit gay couples from jointly adopting while four other states restrict same-sex couples from using the second-parent adoption process.

Texas Lawmakers To Consider Anti-Gay, 'License To Discriminate' Adoption Amendment


On Monday we told you how the Texas House is about to vote on a bill seeking to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. The vote on the anti-gay marriage bill is now expected to take place Wednesday or Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the House is also now scheduled to consider an anti-LGBT, "license to discriminate" adoption amendment. The amendment is designed to allow taxpayer-funded, faith-based adoption agencies such as Catholic Charities to turn away gay couples based on their religious beliefs. It is similar to a bill that was defeated in Florida last month

Texas GOP state Rep. Scott Sanford (above), executive pastor of a large Southern Baptist congregation, introduced the anti-gay adoption amendment after his identical bill — which we reported on last month — failed to be scheduled for a House floor vote. The amendment is scheduled to be considered by the House on Wednesday.   

The Texas Freedom Network, Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas said in a release Tuesday: 

If enacted into law, Rep. Sanford’s amendment would allow child welfare providers to discriminate against not just gay and transgender families seeking to provide loving homes for children who need them, but also against people of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom a provider objects for religious reasons. This would seriously weaken the state’s child welfare system by further shrinking the pool of qualified parents who can provide a safe, loving home for children.

Moreover, the amendment would expose minors to potential harm, even allowing child welfare service providers to force gay and transgender minors into abusive and discredited reparative “therapy” programs to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, the state would potentially have no recourse to act to protect such children from that harm.

Let’s be clear: this amendment puts a political agenda and personal beliefs ahead of the interests of children in the state’s welfare system, many of whom have come into that system because of abuse and neglect. Decisions about the placement of those children in safe, loving homes should be based on their needs and on the ability of families to meet those needs, not the religious or moral objections of the agencies with which the state has contracted to provide those services.

Earlier this month, the Human Rights Campaign issued a release in which major child advocacy groups came out against Sanford's adoption bill: 

In a letter to Texas lawmakers, the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), Voice for Adoption (VFA), and North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) blasted the legislation that would empower adoption agencies to discriminate against eligible parents and guardians. If passed, the discriminatory bill would deny countless children access to caring homes. It could also prevent eligible interfaith couples, same-sex couples, and couples where one individual was previously divorced, the opportunity to care for a child in need.

“We urge you to examine the research that demonstrates if we truly wish to act in good conscience towards children waiting for permanent families, we must not exclude qualified and eager prospective foster and adoptive parents,” the letter states. “Foster and adoptive parent applicants should be judged based on their qualifications, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. Enshrining discrimination into law, on the other hand, will undermine the safety and well-being of Texas’ children.”

“This is tantamount to taxpayer-funded discrimination, as many of the state’s private adoption agencies have large public contracts,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “We call on Texas legislators to choose the best interests of the child over discrimination, and abandon this bill aimed at hurting Texans who wish to provide caring homes for children.”

Researchers To Drive 'Final Nail In Coffin' Of Mark Regnerus Study By Showing It Actually Supports Gay Parenting

University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus' discredited "New Family Structures Study" actually shows, when corrected, that children with gay parents fare as well as those with "intact biological families."  

RegnerusThat's according to two sociologists who will publish research they're calling "the final nail in the coffin" of Regnerus' widely debunked, right-wing funded study.  

The sociologists — Brian Powell of Indiana University and Simon Cheng of the University of Connecticut — cleaned up Regnerus' data and eliminated respondents who clearly weren't raised by gay parents. 

Right Wing Watch reports: 

By eliminating suspect data — for example, a 25-year-old respondent who claimed to be 7’8” tall, 88 pounds, married 8 times and with 8 children, and another who reported having been arrested at age 1 — and correcting what they view as Regnerus’ methodological errors, Cheng and Powell found that Regnerus’ conclusions were so “fragile” that his data could just as easily show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents don’t face negative adult outcomes.

“[W]hen equally plausible and, in our view, preferred methodological decisions are used,” they wrote, “a different conclusion emerges: adult children who lived with same-sex parents show comparable outcome profiles to those from other family types, including intact biological families.”

In other words, as University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen put it, “when you clean the data and fix the things that are fixable, the results just don’t hold up.” 

Powell and Cheng's work will appear in Social Science Research, the same journal that drew heavy criticism for publishing Regnerus' flawed work. 

Powell and Cheng found that one-tenth of 236 respondents in Regnerus' study never lived with a gay parent, and another one-sixth lived with a gay parent for less than a year. Once those respondents are recategorized or eliminated, the researchers found only one negative outcome out of 40 for children raised by gay parents — they are more likely to have extramarital affairs. But Powell and Cheng say that finding is statistically insignificant. 

Despite nearly universal condemnation of Regnerus' study, including from his own sociology department at UT, he has continued to defend it and try to use it in court to oppose same-sex marriage. In Michigan last year, a federal judge rejected Regnerus' testimony, calling it "entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration."

No word on whether researchers also plan to look into Regnerus' more recent claim that the "normalization of gay men's sexual behavior" will cause a surge in the "practice of heterosexual anal sex."

Read the full Right Wing Watch story here

Gay Florida Couple Wins Battle To Have Son Baptized At Episcopal Church: VIDEO


After a week of national outcry, an Episcopal church in Florida has decided to baptize a same-sex couple's baby after initially canceling the ceremony. 

The controversy began last Saturday, when Rich McCaffrey (above with his husband, Eric) reported on Facebook that the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando had canceled their son's baptism because some members of the congregation objected: 

JackWe chose Sunday, April 19 for the baptism. We attended Sunday services and recommended classes, becoming more familiar and pleased with our choice. We invited friends and family, both local and from out of town, and we looked forward to celebrating with Jack on what was to be an important day. On Thursday, April 16 we received a message from Dean Clark asking us to contact him regarding “a development” concerning the baptism. With relatives in the room, I called and what I heard still creates a lump in my throat. The Dean shared there were members of the congregation who opposed Jack’s baptism and although he hoped to resolve the conflict, he was not yet able to (the Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer, was also involved). After probing further the Dean said “the issue is with you and Eric being the first two men who will baptize their child at the Cathedral.” He offered his apologies and further explained this was a bigger deal because of the exposure that comes along with the baptism taking place at the Cathedral. In essence “this is not no forever, just not now.” Three days before our son was to be baptized he was turned away. At that moment, he was unwelcomed by the church, and denied his rite to be recognized as a Christian. I was speechless, angry, and heartbroken.

McCaffrey's post was shared more than 1,000 times and garnered national media attention. An online petition calling for the church to baptize Jack reached almost 25,000 signatures.  

The outcry prompted Brewer, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, to reach out to the couple. And McCaffrey reported Friday that Brewer had agreed to allow Jack to be baptized in the church: 

Bishop Brewer extended an invitation to meet with us and we had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday evening. We spoke frankly and openly about the chain of events. ... He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it. 

We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer. At the same time we know on many fronts there is healing to be done which will take time. ...

I close with one more lesson for Jack – Aspire to live your life with grace and forgiveness. You will be better for it.

Change is seldom easy. I thank each of you for listening to us, supporting us, and engaging in the conversation.

Watch a report from, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Michigan GOP-Controlled Senate Committee Approves Anti-gay Religious Objection Adoption Bills

JohnsonBills heard and approved in two hours by a Michigan Senate committee Wednesday could allow religious adoption agencies to refuse to work with same sex couples, reports Iron Mountain Daily News.

Three bills - which passed 4-1 along party lines - would also prevent governments from refusing to license or provide funding for adoption agencies that exercise such objections. The GOP-led House passed the bills last month.

Supporters say the legislation won't prevent anyone from adopting because faith-based agencies that choose not to work with gay people would refer them to other places.

However, Sommer Foster, director of political advocacy for Equality Michigan, said the bills represent "an attempt to write religious discrimination into Michigan law."

Sen. Bert Johnson (right), the only Democrat on the committee, offered amendments that would have prohibited agencies from denying placement if it's not in the best interest of the child, make public cases in which they would deny services and comply with federal and state civil rights acts.

All six amendments were voted down.


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