NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS
FOR 2003 - JULY to SEPTEMBER
News of 2003-JULY:
||2003-JUL-2: USA: Wal-Mart to protect gay and lesbian
employees: Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest private employer, has
expanded its antidiscrimination policy to protect gay and lesbian employees..."
This change is apparently in response to an effort by Pride Foundation -- a
Seattle gay rights group -- which had invested in Wal-Mart during 2001 and then
had lobbied the company to change its policies. Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice
president for communications, said "It's the right thing to do for our
employees. We want all of our associates to feel they are valued and treated
with respect — no exceptions. And it's the right thing to do for our business."
Wal-Mart will continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians on benefits.
The company only gives certain benefits to married couples, and of course gay
and lesbian committed couples are not allowed to marry.
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group in Washington, D.C., that
monitors discrimination policies and laws, reported that nine of the ten
largest Fortune 500 companies now have rules barring discrimination
against gay employees. The exception is the
. 1 Michael Adams, spokesperson for
the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said: "It's a
tremendous step forward, a real symbol of how far we've come in recent
years...Wal-Mart is a uniquely important company in this country...And
they're know as a careful and cautious corporation, which will cause
others to take a look at this issue." 2
||2003-JUL-2: Canada: Surrey, BC school board ends years of
opposition: After six years, and the expenditure of one million
dollars, the Surrey school board gave up. It quietly authorized two books
that treat same-sex marriage with acceptance and approval, for use at the
kindergarten and Grade 1 level. The books are "Who's in a family" and "ABC: A family alphabet book." Globe and Mail columnist Paul
Sullivan wrote: "The point is, trying to censor anything in this day
and age is pointless. Not to mention peevish. Better to spend your time
with your kids, love them and listen to them. They already know more about
sex and tolerance that you ever will and they're willing to teach, if
you're willing to learn. And what the little nippers don't know, they can
look up in those swell new books." 3
||2003-JUL-10: Colorado: Same-sex marriage group formed: Reverend
Phil Campbell, senior pastor of Park Hill United Church of Christ,
announced the formation of Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage, (CCEM) a group dedicated to making marriage available to all
couples in the state. He said, "I helped launch this effort because I
believe in marriage and I believe that equality in marriage is a matter of
faith and fairness. The Constitution of the United States guarantees to
every person in Colorado the equal protection of our state laws. As a
matter of law it is wrong for the state of Colorado to deprive same sex
couples of the right to marry. Gay men and lesbians are entitled to the
same right to marry - in a marriage of love, mutuality and respect - that
is available to my wife and me as a heterosexual couple." Reverend Gil
Caldwell, retired United Methodist minister and CCEM member connected the
struggle for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans to the
centuries-long fight for equality for African Americans. He said: "We
see the truth in the words of Coretta Scott King when she says that the
struggles for inclusion of gay and lesbian people are part of the
'continuing justice movement' for which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his
life. As the black church led the struggle for legal equality, so too the
religious communities are called to be on the forefront in this struggle
for justice for equality in marriage." Clergy representing mainline
and liberal Protestantism and Judaism have joined the movement. 4
||2003-JUL-17: Australia: Uniting Church votes to allow ordination of
sexually active homosexuals: The Uniting Church is Australia's third
largest Christian denomination, after the Roman Catholic and Anglican
churches. Delegates to their annual meeting in Melbourne voted in favor of considering gays and
lesbians for ordination on 2003-JUL-17. The vote was 85% in favor. The
resolution allows churches to choose sexually active gays and lesbians as
clergy. However, churches which object will not be disciplined. Church
President, Dean Drayton, said: "The Assembly has decided that we are a
diverse church, we have great and genuinely held differences, but instead
of allowing these differences to divide us, we will hold together in
something greater—our love of God and our love of the Uniting Church
itself." More details.
||2003-JUL: USA: Episcopal Church to hold its General Convention: The 2003 General Convention will be held in Minneapolis, MN, starting on JULY-30. Two
items on the agenda are
liable to create an explosive atmosphere at the Convention.
Conservatives are outraged at:
||The election of Canon Robinson, an openly gay male in a committed
relationship, must be affirmed or rejected.
||There is a proposal to
compose and allow a blessing -- a formal rite -- for same-sex unions. More details
||2003-JUL-30: USA: "Brides" magazine features same-sex weddings: The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest reports that: "For
the first time in the history of its publication, 'Bride's' magazine has
printed a full-page article discussing same-sex weddings, becoming the
first of the five top-selling bridal magazines to do so. The article,
appearing in the magazine's September-October issue on newsstands now, is
titled 'Outward Bound,' and its opening paragraph states, 'Gay men and
women are out, loud and proud about making a commitment. In other words,
they're just like other couples in love'." 5
||2003-JUL-31: World: Vatican releases anti-same-sex marriage
document: The Vatican's "Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document titled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions
between homosexual persons." It had been approved by Pope John Paul II
on MAR-28, and circulated among the church's bishops on JUN-3. However, it
was only made public on 2003-JUL-31.
The anonymous author stresses that there is really nothing new in the
document. Rather it is a reiteration of principles and doctrine that have
been taught in the past: that same-sex relationships involve sexual acts
which go against the Church's view of natural moral law. "They do not
proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no
circumstances can they be approved'....Sacred Scripture condemns
homosexual acts 'as a serious depravity'....homosexual acts are
intrinsically disordered....The homosexual inclination is ...'objectively
disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to
chastity'....Catholics must 'witness to the whole moral truth, which is
contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination
against homosexual persons'." Child adoption by a same-sex couple is
seen as a form of child abuse. "When legislation in favour of the
recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a
legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express
his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in
favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral." In
Canada, where same-sex marriages were recently legalized in two provinces,
and where the government has written legislation to make them available
throughout the country, the document was not well received, either by
politicians who resented the intrusive nature of the proposals, and
homosexual groups who objected to its denigration of same-sex loving,
committed couples. One Roman Catholic bishop in Western Canada appeared to
imply that it is likely that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien -- who is a
Roman Catholic -- may spend eternity in Hell because of the proposed
legislation prepared by his party. 6 More details.
||2003-AUG-3: Canon Robinson clears three hurdles on election; one to
go: By a popular vote in the Episcopal Church, USA, Canon V.
Gene Robinson was elected as bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire. However,
because the election came within 120 days of a General Convention, the
vote has to be ratified.
These ratifications have traditionally been routine. The previous bishop-elect whose
election was vetoed by the Convention was elected in
the 19th century. But, Robinson was definitely not a shoo-in. He is a gay man
who has been living in a loving, committed relationship for over a decade. Previous
bishops have been in this situation. However Robinson's circumstance is
unique because he has not kept his relationship secret. The Legislative
Committee on Prayer Book and Liturgy endorsed his election on AUG-1.
The House of Deputies followed suit on AUG-2 by a vote of 128 to 63
-- an unexpectedly large majority. The vote in the House of Bishops is the final
hurdle. This is scheduled for AUG-4. 7 More details.
||AUG-5: Robinson's election confirmed: The House of Bishops voted on Robinson's confirmation. He needed 54 votes from
the 107 bishops. He received 62. Canon Robinson has now been affirmed as bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire.
Responses were highly polarized, as expected:
||Church spokesman Daniel England called the approval "an important
step for the church...Some will be elated at this news, others very
disappointed. And yet the decorum and the civility throughout leads me
to believe that things will hold together."
||Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, PA is opposed to Robinsons
consecration. He said that those who fought approval of his election
were "filled with sorrow" and feel a "grief too deep for
words...This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the
moral consensus of the church throughout the ages. This body has divided
itself from millions of Anglican Christians throughout the world....May
God have mercy on his church." 8,9
They rejected a resolution which
would have created a church ritual to bless same-sex and other
non-traditional relationships. Instead, they overwhelmingly approved a
compromise resolution which would introduce a local option into the church:
||It discusses the treatment and pastoral care of gay and lesbian
||It recognized that some priests were already performing blessings of
gay and lesbian couples in some dioceses in the U.S.
Leaders of Integrity, a gay-positive Episcopalian group, said
that the latter section would, for the first time, signal to bishops
that they had the broader church's permission to allow same-sex unions in
their dioceses if they choose to. Rev. Michael W. Hopkins, president of
Integrity, commented: "This is a major step forward. There has never
been an explicit statement that acknowledges that bishops can do it." 10 More details.
||2003-AUG-22: Sebastopol troop ejected: The Venture Crew 488 in
Sebastopol CA was ejected from the organization by Redwood Council because
of their refusal to discriminate against homosexuals. Bev Buswell, a
long-time Scout leader and local real estate broker was the lead advisor
for the Venture Crew. She had issued a statement promising to not
discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation. Local
and national Scout officials say that all troops must bar gays and
non-theists as members and leaders.
Sebastopol Councilor Linda Kelley brought a letter to a protest near the Redwood Empire Boy Scout Council office. The letter was signed by
herself and three other council members and urged the council to reinstate
Crew 488. She said of the protestors: "We support their efforts to make
scouting as diverse as possible." 11
||2003-SEP-15: Fundamentalist group wins freedom of speech case: Focus on the Family, a Colorado based Fundamentalist Christian
group, had been prevented from advertising their "Love Won Out"
conference on the busses of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in Florida. The conference teaches that homosexual orientation can
be prevented by proper parenting techniques, and that it is treatable in
adults. Such beliefs appear to be found mainly among religious
conservatives. A lower court had ruled that the PSTA censorship of
the ads was acceptable because they were "socially embarrassing."
On SEP-15, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower
court decision and said that the censorship was unconstitutional. At stake
was the group's freedom of speech. 12
||2003-SEP-16: Conservative motion defeated in Canada: The
far-right Alliance party submitted a motion to the Canadian
Parliament in opposition to same-sex marriage. It read: "That in the opinion of
this House, it is necessary in the light of public debate around recent court
decisions to reaffirm that marriage is, and should remain, the union of one man
and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that parliament take all
necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve
the definition of marriage in Canada." An amendment was proposed that would
delete all the words after "others." If the amendment and the motion
were passed, then Parliament would not be committed to invoke the "notwithstanding" clause
which would override the Canadian constitution. The vote on the amendment was a tie: 134 votes for, and
134 votes against. This is apparently the first tie vote in over 40 years of
Parliamentary voting. The speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, gave the casting
vote against the amendment. He explained that he opposed the amendment so that
the matter could more easily be resubmitted to the Parliament at some future
time. The vote on the motion itself followed. It was narrowly defeated: 137
against and 132 in favor. 7 A very similar motion
had been passed in 1999 by a vote of 216 to 55. Among the 75 members of parliament
from Quebec, 62 voted against the motion, "in a sharp rebuke to the
province's Roman Catholic establishment..." 8
||2003-SEP-17: Hate propaganda motion passes in Canada: Bill C-250
passed by a comfortable margin of 141 (perhaps 143; sources differ) to
110. It adds "sexual orientation" as a protected class to Canada's
"Hate Propaganda" section of the Criminal Code, Sections 318 and
319. The Code applies to every province and territory in Canada. Now, hate
speech will be prohibited if it targets "any section of the public
distinguished by color, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual
orientation." The bill was submitted by Svend Robinson, of the New Democratic Party. Religious conservatives are alarmed that this
law might inhibit clergy from declaring homosexual behavior to be a sin.
This is a very remote possibility, as the law allows hate speech if it is
coupled with religion, whether stated by clergy or laity. Few prosecutions
are expected under this amended law. The main effect is expected to be an
increased acceptance by the people of Canada that gays, lesbians and
bisexuals are full citizens, and members of a protected class. This is a
major step towards recognition that heterosexuals, homosexuals and
bisexuals are three normal, natural sexual
||2003-SEP-23: Nigeria: Man receives death penalty: Jibrin Babaji,
20, was sentenced to death by stoning by a court in Bauchi state of
northern Nigeria. He had been found guilty of bribing boys with the
equivalent of about $0.30 in U.S. funds each to have sex. The victims,
three boys of unknown age, were each sentenced to receive 50 lashes of a
cane. A spokesperson said that the boys pleaded for mercy but the judge "refused
to be persuaded by their pleas and ordered that they should be flogged."
On SEP-26, the fundamentalist Christian news group Covenant News covered this story in its "Abominations: and the land is defiled"
section. They assigned this story the title: "Justice in
Nigeria! Sodomite sentence to death by stoning." Babaji has
indicated that he will appeal the ruling. Babaji's sexual orientation is
unknown. We report it here in the homosexual news section because many
media reports infer that he is a homosexual. Many abusive pedophiles
molest both boys and girls. 14
- Sarah Kershaw, "New Wal-Mart Policy Protects Gay Workers," New York
Times, 2003-JUL-2. at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Greg Guiffrida, "Wal-Mart prohibits bias against gay employees,"
Associated Press, published by the Toronto Star, 2003-JUL-3, Page D2.
- Paul Sullivan, "Don't look back," The Globe and Mail, 2003-JUL-2.
- "Colorado clergy call for equality in marriage. Action Intended to
Highlight Discrimination against Same Sex Couples," The Reconciling
Ministries Network special digest 2003-JUL-11.
- "MIRACLE MOMENTS - The Spirit of Inclusion is moving among us."
Flashnet! The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest. 2003-JUL-30.
- "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions
between homosexual persons," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
2003-JUN-3. Released 2003-JUL-31. See: http://www.vatican.va/
- "Gay bishop clears key vote," CNN.com, 2003-AUG-3, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- "Episcopalians approve gay bishop: Opposition vows to seek
intervention from Anglican leaders," CNN.com, 2003-AUG-5, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Alan Cooperman, "First openly gay bishop approved: Cleared of
sexual misconduct. Vote threatens to split Anglicans," 2003-AUG-6, The
Toronto Star, Pages A1 and A18.
- "Episcopal Leaders Reject Proposal for Same-Sex Union Liturgy,"
New York Times, 2003-AUG-7, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/07/national/07BISH.html
- "Protest takes Scouts to task. Two dozen demonstrate after Sebastopol
troop ejected over gay rights," 2003-AUG-22, The Press Democrat, Santa
Rosa CAat: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/
- Family Research Council Email Washington Report, 2003-SEP-15.
- From live coverage of the House of Commons proceedings on 2003-SEP-16 on CPAC.
- "Nigerian man sentence to death by stoning for sodomy," Yahoo!
News, 2003-SEP-25, at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/
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Copyright © 2003 by the Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JUL-2
Latest update: 2003-SEP-26
Compiler: B.A. Robinson