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Vatican Backtracks On Positive Comments About Gays Following Conservative Backlash

It appears there have been some aftershocks to yesterday's pastoral earthquake. Despite a groundbreaking report issued yesterday from the Vatican which declared unheard-of support for gay persons, saying gay people have unique “gifts and qualities” to offer their parishes, the Catholic Church is today backtracking on the report as a result of the ire expressed by more conservative members of the clergy. CNN reports: 

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d5bb66970c-250wiIn response to such reactions, the Vatican backtracked a bit Tuesday. In a statement, it said the report on gays and lesbians was a "working document," not the final word from Rome.

The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create "the impression of a positive evaluation" of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together.

But gay rights groups say that's precisely the impression the Vatican gave Monday when it said:

"Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?"

Such statements seem to be in line with the more merciful approach the church has taken toward gays and lesbians under Pope Francis. In 2013, Francis famously said, "Who am I to judge" gay people?

On Monday morning, just before the Vatican released its positive report on gays, Francis preached that laws that do not lead people to Jesus are "dead," and that Christ did "strange things" such as hanging out with sinners and tax collectors.

Monday’s report also said of same-sex relationships, “it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners” and said bishops must grasp the "positive reality of civil weddings" where heterosexual co-habitation (i.e. “living in sin”) is concerned. 

Despite the backtrack, some gay rights advocates still herald Monday’s report and believe today’s retread isn’t a devastating a setback:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd263b67970b-250wi"I actually don't think this is as much of a backtrack as we usually see!" said Marianne Duddy-Burke, head of the gay rights group Dignity USA.

"I think that response to this report was swift and intense, and I'm sure many bishops want to be sure people aren't reading more into it than is there," she continued. "However, it is undeniable that there has never been any Vatican document that made positive, respectful statements about same-sex relationships, so that is an undeniable breakthrough."

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, echoed that sentiment.

"Regardless of the fact that this is a working document, it is still significant in that it reveals a strong current of affirmative attitudes at high levels in the church towards lesbians and gay people," he said.

U.S. Embassy Condemns Kyrgyzstan's 'Gay Propaganda' Law, Says It Harms Democracy

KyrgyzstanBack in March, an anti-gay "propaganda" law in the same vein as Russia's was introduced into Kyrgyzstan's parliament, infuriating Human Rights Watch and other pro-gay organizations. The U.S. government made no immediate moves to speak out against the bill, which would penalize those who aid in "'forming a positive attitude to untraditional sexual relations' among minors or in mass media" with jail sentences of up to a year. Now, the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan has condemned the proposed legislation.

Yahoo! News reports:

"No one should be silenced or imprisoned because of who they are or whom they love. Laws that discriminate against one group of people threaten the fundamental rights of all people," the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan said in a statement.

"Sweeping limits on civil society harm democracy."

There are strict processes in place for passing legislation in Kyrgyzstan: the bill must go through three readings and votes, and then be signed by the sitting president. Kyrgyz leaders maintain that the outcome is unclear while western press is more sure it will pass.

"It is unclear how this bill will move in (Kyrgzstan's) parliament. The draft law is still at a very early stage, and so far no one is ready to comment on it," said Kyrgyz presidential spokesman Kadyr Toktogulov.

However, both pro-government and opposition factions in the legislature have already mostly spoken in favor of the proposed law, with some deputies calling for making it even tougher.

Whatever the outcome in Kyrgyzstan, let's hope that no more anti-gay propaganda laws become a reality. The ill-effects on the LGBTQ community in Russia have been more than evident.

Catholic Bishops Signal Dramatic Shift in Tone, Acknowledge 'Positive' Aspects of Gay Relationships

A new document summarizing the ongoing 'family synod' meeting of Catholic leadership reveals church officials are signaling a dramatic shift in tone regarding not only homosexuality, but divorce and contraception, The Tablet reports:

FrancisA document released at the halfway point of the gathering said that gay Catholics’ orientation should be valued and that they have “gifts and qualities” to offer parishes. The document also praised elements of same-sex partnerships.

“Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home,” the document, presented this morning by Cardinal Peter Erdo, the relator general of the synod, stated. “Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on family and matrimony?”

The Associated Press adds:

For a 2,000-year-old institution that believes gay sex is "intrinsically disordered," even posing the question is significant.

"This is a stunning change in the way the Catholic church speaks of gay people," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit author. "The Synod is clearly listening to the complex, real-life experiences of Catholics around the world, and seeking to address them with mercy, as Jesus did."

The bishops repeated that gay marriage was off the table. But it acknowledged that gay partnerships had merit.

"Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions, it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners," they said.

For heterosexuals, the bishops said they must grasp the "positive reality of civil weddings" and even cohabitation, with the aim of helping the couple commit eventually to a church wedding.

The document also reveals bishops have called for a re-reading and greater study of the church's guidelines for opposition to artificial birth control, stating the need to "respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control.

Additionally, the document showed disagreement between bishops on the issue of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, with calls for greater theological study on the matter. 

Laura Ingraham Is Concerned Gay Marriage Opponents Will Now Face Discrimination: AUDIO

On Laura Ingraham's radio program Friday, the conservative commentator came to the defense of Mike Huckabee, who last week blasted the GOP's largely non-existent response to the SCOTUS marriage decision. Ingraham also shared her (and her viewers') worry that the progress of LGBT equality will somehow criminalize religious beliefs. 

IngrahamSaid Ingraham: 

"I think [Huckabee's] just saying what a lot of people believe and you can say that's not right or that's not fair, but they have every right to believe what they believe people are saying 'Laura, how long before my faith becomes a hate crime?' That's a great question and I think Huckabee he's raised this before. If you're a Bible-believing Christian and you're in the military, can you expect to get a promotion? If you're a Bible-believing Christian and have gotten up and spoken spoken about traditional marriage in a high school debate, will that be used against you in getting into a college?" 

Listen to the clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

[via Media Matters for America]

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Indiana State Rep. Tim Wesco Warns Of Possibility For Polygamy Following SCOTUS Ruling

Though many prominent members of the GOP have come forward in support of marriage equality over the past few months, others are holding fast to their "traditional" point-of-view. Representative Tim Wesco of Indiana's 21st district is one such individual.

WestcoA proponent of that state's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Wesco said, "I personally can never change my view on that. I'm solid that marriage is between a man and a woman." Unfortunately for Wesco, his perspective is becoming the exception to the marriage equality rule; furthermore, his belief that polygamy could be the next deteriorating shot fired at "traditional marriage" is very nearly a tired cliché.

The Elkhart Truth reports:

“Unfortunately, the courts have grown increasingly powerful in the past decade,” said Wesco, facing Democrat Jodi Buoscio for the District 21 seat in elections in November.

He said the Supreme Court, by paving the way for same-sex marriage, isn’t protecting the right to marriage. Rather, it’s aiding in redefining marriage.

“I think the time is coming down the road when it is going to go beyond only same-sex marriage,” Wesco said, hinting at the possibility of polygamy gaining legal protection. If marriage could be expanded to include same-sex couples, then “why can’t three or four people get married?”

Wesco's fears hold no water for the time being, and as we reported several days ago, happy reports of successful marriage license acquisition are coming out of Indiana and several other states.

Check Out This Irish Senator's Awesome Smack Down of Russia's Anti-gay Propaganda Ban: VIDEO


Senator David Norris, Ireland's first openly gay person elected to public office, appeared on RT's Worlds Apart program this week to dissect Russia's ever-increasing crackdown on LGBT citizens and their rights. 

Explaining that Russia's attitudes towards gay rights are "30 years behind" Western sensibilities, Norris wasted no time in bringing up the "dishonest" campaign that the Russian Orthodox Church and lawmakers have led in trying to "protect children" with the country's anti-gay 'propaganda' ban. 

When host Oksana Boyko explained that perhaps Russia's anti-gay efforts were related more to protecting its cultural "heteronormativity" rather than criminalizing homosexuality or perpetuating discrimination, Norris fired back:

Russia with love"What about parades, marches banned by the mayor of Moscow? Why was that? What about the people being beaten up, being dragged out of their homes, being tortured, being subject to vicious, brutal attacks by thugs in Moscow with the police standing by. That's hardly equality...what we should be doing is making sure that our family structures are more rational and they reflect the views of everyone in society and that we protect everyone in society. We don't just do lip service for the individual's rights and say "Oh you can be homosexual in a hole in the ground somewhere as long as nobody knows about it, but we're perfectly alright with you being clobbered and battered to death on the streets of Moscow with the police turning the other way'" 

It's a 30 minutes segment, but well worth a full watch - especially towards the end when Boyko gets all flustered after being asked about Vladimir Putin's own sexuality in light of his fondness for "galloping around with little small beady eyes, half-naked on a horse."


Related: "Documentary To Russia With Love Looks at LGBT Rights in Russia in the Lead Up to Sochi Olympics: VIDEO"

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