Catholic Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays

Posted October 19th, 2014 by pikapp44

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

The bishops failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals that stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront. It said “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between man and woman. The paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops – whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion – also failed to pass.

The outcome showed a deeply divided church on some of the most pressing issues facing Catholic families.

It appeared that the 118-62 vote on the gay section might have been a protest vote by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support.

In an unexpected gesture after the voting, Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the synod.

“Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,” he said. “Grazie tante.” Conservative bishops had harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft, even though the media reports merely reflected the document’s content.

Francis’ gesture, and his words inside the synod hall chastising bishops who were overly wed to doctrine and were guided by “hostile rigidity,” as well as those bishops who showed a “destructive goody-goodiness,” indicated that he was well aware of the divisions the debate had sparked. His speech received a four-minute standing ovation, participants said.


Catholic synod: Pope Francis setback on gay policy

Posted October 18th, 2014 by pikapp44

Pope Francis has suffered a setback as proposals for wider acceptance of gay people failed to win a two-thirds majority at a Catholic Church synod.

A draft report issued halfway through the meeting had called for greater openness towards homosexuals and divorced Catholics who have remarried.

But those paragraphs were not approved, and were stripped from the final text.

The report will inform further debate before the synod reconvenes in larger numbers in a year’s time.

Correspondents say the text welcoming gay people and remarried Catholics had been watered down in the final version that was voted on – but it appears that they still met with resistance from conservatives.

Speaking after the vote, Pope Francis told attendees that he would have been “worried and saddened” if there had not been “animated discussions” or if “everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace”, AP news agency reported.

He also cautioned against “hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God”.

Pope Francis’s closing speech at the synod received a four-minute standing ovation

While the earlier draft had said that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, the revised document only said that discrimination against gay people “is to be avoided”.

The Pope said the full draft document, including the rejected paragraphs, should be published.

“Keep in mind this is not a magisterial document….the Pope asked for it to be made available to show the degree of maturity that has taken place and that which still needs to take place in discussions over the coming year,” Holy See press officer Tom Rosica said on Vatican Radio.

The two-week synod has revealed a fracture line in church opinion over how to adapt traditional church teaching on human sexuality towards 21st-Century attitudes, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.

Pope Francis had made a powerful appeal to traditionalists not to lock themselves within the letter of the law, but conservative cardinals and bishops carried the day at the end of the synod, our correspondent adds.


Barriers to gay marriage fell in Arizona, Alaska and Wyoming on Friday following a series of federal court actions in the latest in a series of legal victories for supporters of same-sex matrimony in America.

In Arizona, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick wrote in a ruling made public on Friday that the state’s restrictions on gay marriage were “unconstitutional by virtue of the fact that they deny same-sex couples the equal protection of the law.”

Same-sex couples in the state began getting married right away. In Phoenix, Kevin Patterson and David Larance rushed to a county clerk’s office after the decision and were swiftly married in a ceremony just outside the building.

“I’m just overjoyed, it’s been a long time coming,” said Patterson, a plaintiff in the Arizona case.

Separately, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute request from Alaska seeking to block a ruling by a federal judge that struck down that state’s ban, and a U.S. district judge overturned a gay marriage ban in Wyoming.

A state holiday in Alaska meant gay couples would not be able to apply for marriage licenses there until Monday, nor were marriages expected to immediately proceed in Wyoming thanks to a temporary stay on the judge’s ruling in order to provide the state time to pursue an appeal.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s office said the state would resume issuing marriage licenses on Monday while going forward with a last-ditch legal appeal.

The court actions would bring to 32 the number of states that allow gay marriage, if the Wyoming ban is not placed on a more permanent hold by a higher court by Oct. 23.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court surprised observers by leaving intact lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage in five states. A day later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, found gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada were unconstitutional.

Arizona’s attorney general said he would not appeal Sedwick’s ruling because there was no chance of success, and he gave the go-ahead for marriages to proceed.

But Arizona Republican governor, Jan Brewer, lashed out at the federal court system.

“It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than 200 years,” Brewer said in a statement.

The judge who overturned Arizona’s ban, after ordering the state in September to recognize the marriage of a gay man wed in California whose same-sex spouse later died, declined to put his ruling on hold.

In Wyoming, Republican Governor Matt Mead had said prior to Friday’s ruling that the state should not appeal, local media reported. A spokeswoman for the governor could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could the Wyoming attorney general.


The Vatican made key changes to an English translation of passages about homosexuality in a divisive document on Thursday, watering down a message that had been seen as a major shift in its tone on gay people.

The alterations pointed to continued tensions between conservatives and progressive bishops at the closed-door assembly, known as a synod, which is discussing family issues such as homosexuality, divorce and birth control.

They included substituting the phrase “providing for these people” (homosexuals) in place of the earlier “welcoming these people.”

The word ‘fraternal’ in a passage that called for the need to find “a fraternal space” for homosexuals in the Church was deleted without explanation in the English translation of the original Italian.

The provisional document, issued on Monday at the mid-point of a two-week assembly of some 200 bishops from around the world, was hailed as a breakthrough by gay rights groups and Church progressives but prompted a backlash from conservatives.

In a dramatic change in tone from past condemnatory language, it said homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” the Christian community and asked if Catholicism could accept gays and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples. There were no changes in the translation of those passages.

A Vatican spokesman said on Friday the changes were made after some participants pointed out errors in the first English translation, which was the only one changed.

But reporters at a news conference challenged the new translation, saying that it was not faithful to the Italian text, which was not changed and which the Vatican considers the official text.

“I am Italian and that is not a translation. It is a falsification,” Massimo Faggioli, a theologian and historian who is writing about the assembly said in a Tweet.

The Italian version still uses the word “accogliere,” which means “welcoming” and not “providing for.”

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are. It is against gay marriage.

Summaries released on Thursday from 10 discussion groups broken down by language indicated that many bishops wanted changes in the final version of the document, which also deals with issues such as cohabitation, divorce and birth control.


Rev. Franklin Graham said Monday that “activist judges” are to blame in the legalization of gay marriage.

Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was specifically referring to his home state of North Carolina. Sixty-one percent of the state’s residents, according to the Christian Post, were against same-sex marriages but a federal judge in the state recently overturned the ban on the practice anyway.

“It’s sad when a judge is able to overrule the will of the people,” Graham told WCNC Charlotte, an NBC affiliate, on Monday. “This is a democracy, and the people spoke, and we’re seeing that activist judges across the country are overturning the will of the people. We saw that in California. We’re now seeing it here in North Carolina now. I don’t know what will take place.”

Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. struck down North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, a move that followed the Supreme Court’s announcement that it would not hear appeals regarding the legalization of gay marriage.

“The court determines that North Carolina’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional as a matter of law,” Cogburn wrote in his ruling. “The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue and it is clear as a matter of what is now settled law in the Fourth Circuit that North Carolina laws prohibiting same sex marriage, refusing to recognize same sex marriages originating elsewhere, and/or threatening to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.”

“LGBT families in North Carolina will now be treated as equal under the law in North Carolina — a day that so many have fought so hard for,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, after Friday’s ruling. “We celebrate knowing that this shameful chapter in North Carolina’s history has passed. At the same time we know that you can still be fired simply for being gay in North Carolina. Protection from discrimination in the workplace is the next step in our push for full equality.”


Federal Judge Strikes Down Alaska Gay Marriage Ban

Posted October 12th, 2014 by pikapp44

A federal judge struck down Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage Sunday evening.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska ruled that the state’s ban was unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess wrote that any relationship between the ban and government interests was “either nonexistent or purely speculative.”

“Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws are a prime example of how ‘the varying treatment of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that we can only conclude that the legislature’s actions were irrational,’” Burgess wrote, citing an earlier court ruling.

“Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits, and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex,” the Alaskan court decision continued.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) released a statement on Sunday saying that he would appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, though that court has already struck down similar bans in Idaho and Nevada.

“As Alaska’s governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution,” Parnell said in the statement. “Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution.”
When Alaska voters passed the amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman in 1998, it was the first of its kind.


Italy’s interior minister has ordered mayors to stop recognizing the validity of gay marriages performed outside the country, prompting protests from rights groups and local officials.

Gay marriage is illegal in Italy. But some Italian cities have allowed gay couples who legally wed in other countries to register their unions in city halls when they return, just as heterosexual couples who marry outside Italy can do.

The recognition is significant because it can help a partner inherit the other’s estate and affects health benefits, insurance and pensions.

Minister Angelino Alfano, who sent his directive to mayors on Tuesday night, rejected accusations of homophobia made by some gay rights advocates.

“This is not ideological. My only intention is to see that the law that does not allow two persons of the same sex to marry is respected,” he said.

A poll taken last year showed that gay marriage was supported by just a quarter of the population in Italy, where the Roman Catholic Church holds considerable sway over politics.

The same survey showed more than 85 percent backed the recognition of so-called “civil unions” to give same-sex partners more rights.

Last April a judge in the Tuscan city of Grosseto ruled in favor of a gay couple that wanted their marriage, performed in the United States, to be transcribed in the records of the city after their request had been refused.

City officials in Naples said they would go to court to challenge Alfano’s directive.

Flavio Romani, head of Italy’s leading gay rights group, Arcigay, called Alfano’s directive “irresponsible”.

Michela Brambilla, a parliamentarian of the opposition center-right Forza Italia headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused the government of being “out of touch with the country”.


Federal Judge Asked to Allow Same Sex Marriages in Florida

Posted October 8th, 2014 by pikapp44

A federal judge is being asked to allow same sex couples to marry in Florida in the wake of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a motion Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. Hinkle previously ruled Florida’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but stayed the ruling until other cases around the country were resolved.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week to turn away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office did not immediately say if it will fight the ACLU’s motion.

Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement that it was Bondi’s duty to defend the state constitution and the outcome will be decided by the courts.


Supreme Court Declines to Intervene in Gay Marriage Cases

Posted October 6th, 2014 by pikapp44

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the divisive issue of same-sex marriage, a surprise move that will allow gay men and women to marry in as many as 11 new states but leave the issue unsettled nationwide.

By rejecting appeals in cases involving Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana, the top court left intact lower-court rulings that declared the bans in those states unconstitutional. The court’s action Monday immediately ends delays on marriage in those five states. Virginia, for example, may start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as early as 1 p.m. ET, a state official said. The commonwealth will also recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are already legal.

And in addition to the five states where gay marriage will go forward, same-sex couples in six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — will be able to get married soon, too, because those states are bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s review.

The court’s action Monday effectively makes same-sex marriage legal in 30 states, plus the District of Columbia. Gay marriage was already legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Legal analysts had predicted the justices would settle the hot-button question of nationwide same-sex marriage once and for all this term.

The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay rights advocacy group, hailed the action. “Today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” HRC president Chad Griffin said. But he added that the “complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws” left in place in states where gay marriage isn’t legal was “unsustainable,” and the “only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality.”

Monday’s action does not set a legal precedent. Lower courts are free to rule for — or against — same-sex marriage, and we may yet get rulings upholding bans.


A judge struck down part of Missouri’s gay marriage ban for the first time on Friday by ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, saying state laws banning the unions single out gay couples “for no logical reason.”

The order means such couples will be eligible to sign up for a wide range of tax, health insurance, veterans and other benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has defended the state’s ban on gay marriage, said his office was reviewing the ruling.

The decision comes in a lawsuit filed by 10 same-sex couples who legally married outside the state, including Arlene Zarembka and Zuleyma Tang-Martinez. The St. Louis couple, who married in Canada, said Friday’s ruling could boost their household income, and they plan to apply Monday for Zarembka to receive Social Security benefits as Tang-Martinez’s spouse.

“To me, it’s a real validation by the judge of our relationship and our commitment to each other,” Tang-Martinez said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is helping the couples, noted the ruling was a first in the state.

“We’re gratified that the court recognized that married same-sex couples and their families are no different than other couples, and that the Constitution requires them to be treated equally,” ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said. “This is not the first court to reach this conclusion, but it is the first court to do so in Missouri, so it’s a tremendous day for our state.”

Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs sided with the couples, who argue that their rights to equal protection and due process are being violated by Missouri’s ban on gay marriage. Youngs said the couples deserve the same recognition as opposite-sex couples who married in other states.

“The undisputed facts before the Court show that, to the extent these laws prohibit plaintiffs’ legally contracted marriages from other states being recognized here, they are wholly irrational, do not rest upon any reasonable basis, and are purely arbitrary,” Youngs wrote. “All they do is treat one segment of the population — gay men and lesbians — differently than their same-sex counterparts, for no logical reason.”

The lawsuit before Youngs only challenges Missouri’s refusal to recognize marriages legally performed outside the state, not laws that bar same-sex couples from getting married in Missouri.

Rothert said the ruling means that thousands of Missouri couples can now qualify for spousal government benefits and, on a smaller level, change their last names to match their spouse’s on their Missouri driver’s license.

The case is among at least three challenging Missouri’s ban: There is a federal challenge in Kansas City, and a St. Louis case focuses on city officials who issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples to trigger a legal test of the ban.

The lawsuits are based on the same arguments that led the U.S. Supreme Court last year to overturn part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a tax, health and other benefits to legally married gay couples.

In Missouri, Youngs said he expects the state Supreme Court to “provide the last word on all of the important legal issues presented by this case.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The ACLU has cases pending against 13 other states with such bans, including five cases currently before federal appeals courts.