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04/19/2007


After Coming Out to Students, Gay British Teacher Resigns in Response To Parent Complaints

When some of his 10 and 11-year-old students held up a sign saying "Gay Is Good" at a school assembly, assistant head Andrew Moffat of Chilwell Croft Academy in Birmingham - UK, not Alabama - felt it was a good time to come out to show his students that they knew someone gay. That decision wound up costing him his job.

Andrew MoffatWhen word got out, a minority of parents began loudly complaining that they didn't want Moffat teaching their children. The parents, predominantly of Muslim faith but with some Christians as well, said that they didn't want their children being taught that being gay is ok. Moffat resigned under the pressure and has accepted a teaching position outside Birmingham.

Presently, a dozen schools in Birmingham are under investigation for financial mismanagement and the introduction of Islamic religious teachings into the curriculum. Last month a document called "Operation Trojan Horse" was circulated and is allegedly a guide on how Islamic fundamentalists could take over schools.


Bishop Encourages Priests To Marry Gay Couples

Reverend Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, suggests priests get a little creative and go ahead and marry any gay and lesbian couples despite the rules from the Church of England.

The Telegraph reports:

Bishop-alan-wilson11Gay clergy should follow their conscience and defy the Church of England’s restrictions on same-sex marriage, a prominent bishop has said as the most radical change ever made to the legal definition of marriage in Britain comes into force.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said priests should be “creative” to get around restrictions on blessings for same-sex couples and that gay clergy who wish to marry should do so in defiance of the official line.

Joined by an alliance of seven retired bishops, he condemned the Church’s position on gay marriage as “morally outrageous” and said it made him “ashamed”.

Wilson is embracing the newlyweds and is also calling on closeted gay priests to come out and marry their own partners.

He also claimed that several current serving bishops are themselves in gay partnerships, and urged them to publicly acknowledge their status for the sake of “honesty and truthfulness” and even consider marrying.

“If you start to live in a society where there is no longer shame just in being gay I think it is like frostbite coming off – it hurts.

Wilson isn't the only key religious member to praise the new marriage equality law. According to The Guardian, Reverend Nick Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury also applauded the newly married couples:

Gay marriage, the bishop said, "embodies a commitment to be faithful, loving, and lifelong. These are virtues which the Church of England wants to see maximised in society."

Watch video of the a few of nuptials and reactions from British citizens, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "Bishop Encourages Priests To Marry Gay Couples" »


Obamacare, Religious Exemptions, and Gay Rights: Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court Today

By ARI EZRA WALDMAN

SupremesToday, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case about Obamacare. The last time that happened, the Court determined by a bare 5-4 majority that the so-called individual mandate, the requirement that everyone has to buy health insurance or pay a tax, was constitutional. Now, the Court is considering whether corporations can refuse to provide insurance plans that include contraception if doing so would violate the religious beliefs of those corporations' owners.

This matters, not just to those of us in need of health care and not just to those of us who work for companies run by religious people. It matters to all LGBT Americans because the scope of this particular religious exemption could affect the scopes of other religious exemptions.

The cases -- Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius -- will determine the breadth of the religious exemption from Obamacare. Unfortunately, the pretext of religious freedom has gained much traction of late in justifying continued discrimination. And this Court's conservative majority has set itself up to strike a blow against equality.

AFTER THE JUMP, I will construct the argument I expect the Court's conservatives will use to expand the religious exemption. I will show how that argument is deeply flawed. And then I will show how dangerous it is for the LGBT community.

Continue reading "Obamacare, Religious Exemptions, and Gay Rights: Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court Today" »


Satanist Leader Promises to Turn Fred Phelps Gay in Posthumous 'Pink Mass' Ceremony

Lucien_greavesLucien Greaves (pictured with horns at center) — the leader of the New York-based Satanic Temple which held a "pink mass" over the grave of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps' mother to turn her "gay for all eternity” — has promised to do the same to Fred Phelps, the founder of the infamous "God Hates Fags" church, once he dies.

In a statement to VICE Magazine, Greaves stated that he hopes that Phelps “lingers long enough to savour the full terror that must consume a mind as superstitious and bitterly haunted as his… abandoned by the only people he personally shared his spiteful and depraved sense of mission with.” Greaves then explained his plans to turn Phelps posthumously gay:

“At the time [that I turned Fred’s mother gay], I predicted that Fred hadn’t too much longer till he would pass, and I stated – in a direct tweet to the WBC – that I would be presiding over Fred’s own Pink Mass before too long. As I have made a promise to a dying man, I fully intend to do my very best to see it through, and the pomp and circumstance of this Pink Mass will surely far, far exceed that of the original event in Meridian, Mississippi.”

You may recall that Greaves also proposed and raised funds to erect a Satanic monument alongside the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma capitol lawn.


Mississippi House Strikes 'Religious Liberty' Text From Anti-Gay Bill, Sends It To Study Committee

MSflagThe "religious liberty" bill proposed in Mississippi, whose language follows in the footsteps of the Arizona bill vetoed last month by Gov. Jan Brewer by allowing for anti-gay discrimination by businesses based on religious beliefs, has been passed on to a study committee to be reviewed further. The committee will research how best to pass the bill later on, and for now the text citing "religious liberty" has been struck from it.

Think Progress reports:

This leaves the fate of the bill in question. If it goes to conference between the House and Senate, the problematic language could be added back to it. In addition, the new study committee could meet in the near future and offer some version of the bill quite soon. Lawmakers with concerns about the original language pointed out that the study committee might very well investigate new ways to create the same “license to discriminate” that led to their objections in the first place.

Mississippi law's definition of "person" encompasses businesses, so passage of a "religious liberty" bill of any kind would, like Arizona, provide for businesses to discriminate openly against the LGBT community. There has been backlash in Mississippi, though, which again echoes the events leading up to the Arizona decision.

Many Mississippi religious leaders opposed the bill, suggesting lawmakers’ efforts “eerily echo Jim Crow laws that robbed African Americans of their basic human dignity.”

Hopefully the bill will lose steam in the committee as activism and opposition mounts. 


Catholic Priest Refuses Gay Man Last Rites

Ronald Plishka, a gay Catholic man who suffered a heart attack on February 6, was admitted to the emergency room at Washington Hospital Center in DC for treatment. Unsure if he would survive, he requested a priest give him the last rites. Father Brian Coelho was brought in to perform the ceremony but stopped once he learned that Plishka is gay.

The Washington Blade reports:

Washington“We started talking and I told him I was so happy with this new Pope because of his comments about the gays and his accepting the gays,” Plishka said. “And I mentioned that I was gay. I said it and then I asked him does that bother you? And he said, ‘Oh, no, that does not bother me,’” said Plishka.

“But then he would not proceed with administering the last rites or communion. He couldn’t do it.”

According to Plishka, Coelho, who brought a supply of holy water to his hospital room, never said in so many words that he was refusing to administer communion and last rites.

Asked what Coelho told him, Plishka said, “Well, I mean he stopped. He would not do it. By him not doing it I assumed he would not do it because why was he getting ready to do it and all of a sudden when I say I’m gay he stops?”

Plishka said Coelho gave no reason for not giving him the sacraments he requested but offered instead to pray with him.

“He said what he wanted to do,” said Plishka. “He wanted to pray. That’s what he wanted to do. He said well I could pray with you. And I just told him to get the fuck out of here — excuse me. But that’s what I told him.”

Plishka received further treatment at the hospital and was eventually released. Once home he called to complain about Coelho.

Once at home, Plishka said he called the hospital chaplain’s office to lodge a complaint against Fr. Coelho. He said he also called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception next to Catholic University, where he has attended Mass nearly every Sunday for years.

“They have a priest on call,” he said. “So he called me back and said he agreed with what the priest at the hospital did. He said unless you’re willing to change and basically become somebody you’re not, then this priest had every right to do that, to refuse you communion and to refuse you the last rites of the church,” Plishka said.


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