A Catholic priest baptized the child of a lesbian couple in Argentina last weekend. Carina Villarroel and Soledad Ortiz asked Archbishop Carlos Jose Nanez for the baptismal blessing of their daughter, Umma Azul, and he approved, according to a story from The Advocate.
The baptism was performed by a priest at a Cathedral in Cordoba. The Archbishop said the parents’ marital status had nothing to do with the decision to approve the baptism. The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church only states that for the approval of baptism "there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion.”
The event drew publicity in the deeply Catholic country that was the home of Pope Francis, the current pope. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010, making Pope Francis the first pontiff from a country with marriage equality.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was asked to be the child’s godmother, and she agreed.
Ortiz told CNN she asked the president for the honor as “a way to thank her and former President Nestor Kirchner for that law that gave us rights.”
While the baptism does not mark a significant departure from Catholic doctrine, many hope it may signal a softening of the church’s position on gay marriage and homosexuality in general.
Ortiz also said, "Now we hope to get married by the church and we will fight for that.”
Recent comments from Pope Francis indicate that he, at least, is thinking about gay rights. A recent Time Magazine article discussed some remarks from the pope, particularly quotes from an Italian newspaper where he responded to questions about civil unions.
He acknowledged in that interview that some states are seeking “to regularize different situations of living together” to ensure healthcare and other benefits. He added, “We have to look at the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
Many took those comments to mean the church may be open to recognizing civil unions.
His most famous remarks, though, came last year when he responded to a reporter’s question about the church moving to accept homosexuals.
"If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers,” he answered.
A CNN opinion piece argued those comments could signal a more pastoral approach to gays and lesbians that would lead to welcoming them into the Catholic Church.
Irish brewer Guinness announced on Sunday that it was pulling its sponsorship of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. According to Reuters the Dublin based brewing company made the decision because event organizers have excluded gay and lesbian groups from marching in the parade.
"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade," the company said in a written statement. "As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”
Two other beer companies have made similar moves recently. Heineken had already pulled its support from the New York parade and Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Company pulled its sponsorship from the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade over the same issue.
Fox News reports that the brewing companies won’t be the only traditional participants who will be conspicuously absent from Monday’s parade. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has also announced he won’t be marching due to the dispute. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — the city’s first Irish-American mayor in 20 years — sat out his city’s parade on Sunday.
Gay groups are not explicitly excluded from the New York event but they are not allowed to carry banners identifying themselves as gay. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the organizers of the parade, have not commented on the controversy.
In New York, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny drew criticism for his decision to participate.
"The St. Patrick's Day parade (in New York) is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it,” he said earlier in the week, responding to critics.
Gay-rights activists had announced plans to dump Guinness from the roof of the famous Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village in protest over the exclusion of gay-advocacy groups and Guinness’ decision to continue sponsorship. That protest has been cancelled following the announcement by the brewing company that they won’t be sponsoring the event. The Stonewall Inn is considered by many to be the birthplace of the gay-rights movement.
“It’s amazing how the times are changing,” Carmine Tzavis, a Stonewall bartender, told the New York Post. “Thirty years ago, gay people had to hide in fear, and now look what we can accomplish.’’
A state lawmaker in Maine has issued a statement saying he regrets certain comments he made in the past as a champion of ultra-conservative causes in the state. Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman, Republican, issued the statement Wednesday, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The statement came on the heels of a blog post, carried by the Bangor Daily News, by activist and columnist Mike Tipping. The post chronicled a history of untoward comments made by Lockman in the '80s and '90s.
In 1987, for example, Lockman implied that HIV and AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and dirty bed sheets. That same year, in a letter he wrote to the Lewiston Daily Sun, Lockman argued against funding for AIDS education.
“In the overwhelming majority of cases, people are dying because of their addiction to sodomy,” he wrote. “They are dying because progressive, enlightened, tolerant people in politics and in medicine have assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted, depraved crime against humanity.”
Perhaps the most troubling statement from Lockman’s past, though, came in 1990. As director of the Pro Life Education Association, he suggested that if abortion was legal, there was no legitimate reason that rape should be illegal.
“If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death,” he was quoted as saying.
Such statements have led some key Democrats in Maine to call for Lockman’s resignation. Those include Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant, who called Lockman’s quotes “hateful, vicious and offensive.” Grant also said Lockman was a “disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine.”
House Speaker Mark Eves, Democrat, called the comments “extremely alarming” but did not call for his resignation. Eves instead argued that Lockman’s future should be left to the voters.
“I think it’s for those that elected Rep. Lockman to decide (his fate,” he said. "People of Maine do not tolerate those types of things. You’re talking about comments that are really out of character ... for any elected official to be saying."
Lockman released his written statement Wednesday in response to the uproar.
“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret,” he wrote, stopping just short of a full apology. "I hold no animosity toward anyone by virtue of their gender or sexual orientation, and today I am focused on ensuring freedom and economic prosperity for all Mainers."
For the first time in 20 years, a gay rights group will be allowed to join Boston's St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Mayor Martin Walsh threatened to boycott the event if organizers didn’t allow MassEquality to participate in the March 15 parade. The group applied to march each year for the last four years.
"We don't ban gays, we just want to keep the parade an Irish parade," lead organizer Tim Duross told NBC News Saturday.
"Everyone knows who they are," he added. "They're a good organization, they help LGBT veterans, and if they help veterans they're OK with us.”
"That there is a conversation happening around allowing openly LGBT people to march in this parade is historic," said MassEquality executive director Kara Coredini.
Coredini is scheduled to meet with Duross on how the marchers will identify themselves in the parade. Coredini says the only meaningful change will be to allow gays to appear "openly."
"It's not political to want to be equal. It's not political to want to be visible and welcomed by your community," she said.
When asked whether Duross would agree to the rainbow flag being carried, he hesitated before saying, “If they put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and a leprechaun, then I think everyone would be happy.”
Gay rights advocates took the parade to the Supreme Court in 1995, but the high court ruled in favor of private organizers. They said they could exclude groups that disagreed with their message.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council plan to boycott the city’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade because it bans gay pride signs.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” de Blasio said at a February press conference.
“The St. Patrick’s Parade should be a time when all New Yorkers can come together and march openly as who they are- but right now that is not the case for the LGBT community,” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “This City Council is committed to celebrating and respecting the diversity of New York City and that is why we’ve decided to not participate in the parade. I hope the organizers will eventually realize that the parade will be better when all New Yorkers can march openly and proudly.”
While the Sochi Winter Olympics wind down, the controversy over Russia's human rights violations is heating up.
Six members of Pussy Riot, five women and one man, tried to film a performance of their new protest song, "Putin Will Teach You How To Love Your Motherland," in downtown Sochi (20 miles from the Olympics) today.
Shortly after donning their brightly-colored masks, Pussy Riot members were attacked by Cossacks with pepper spray and whips, notes the Associated Press (video below).
The Cossacks are a regional militia, dating back to the Czar era, when they attacked Jewish people, who were hired to provide security for the Olympics.
The New York Times notes that Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were recently hauled into a local police station on bogus theft charges but later released.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina served nearly two years in a Russian prison for protesting on behalf of gay rights. They were released in December 2013.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that police arrived after the beating, but none of the band members were arrested.
A New York mother is causing a stir after her response to her young son’s classmate’s birthday party invitation was sent to a radio station and spread around social media.
The fathers say they initially received a response from Beth after attempting to invite her son Tommy to their daughter’s tie dye birthday party. They received the invitation back, and instead of simply saying Tommy wouldn’t be there, Beth went on an anti-gay tirade.
“Tommy will NOT be attending,” wrote Beth on the invitation. “I do not believe in what you do and will not subject my innocent son to your ‘lifestyle’. I’m sorry Sophia has to grow up this way. If you have an issue or need to speak to me: [phone number].”
After receiving the cruel response, the two dads decided to send the invitation to local radio station K98.3. The station posted the invitation on their Facebook page, and since then, people everywhere have expressed outrage. Beth’s phone number was initially blurred from the picture, but the radio station removed the blur and said, “Beth gave us permission to post her phone number and said anyone who has a problem with what she wrote can call her, too!”
It’s safe to say that Beth should expect quite a few calls.
A federal judge struck down a Kentucky ban on recognizing valid gay marriages obtained in other states on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the ban violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Four gay and lesbian couples sued the state for recognition of their valid out-of-state marriages.
Heyburn compared the ban to the prohibition of interracial marriages, which was once law in the state of Kentucky.
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, the judge struck down part of the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment that read, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.”
“It is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them,” Heyburn said.
In his 23-page ruling, Heyburn wrote, “Religious beliefs ... are vital to the fabric of society ... assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.”
The Family Foundation of Kentucky argued that same-sex marriage undermines what they consider to be the fundamental role of marriage: procreation.
Heyburn threw out that argument, noting that opposite-sex couples are not required to procreate in order to get married.
“No one has offered any evidence that recognizing same-sex marriages will harm opposite-sex marriages," he said.
FFK analyst Martin Cochran says the voters will be disappointed with the ruling.
“Kentucky marriage policy will now be dictated from places like Boston and San Francisco,” he said. “If a state like Utah were ever to legalize polygamy, Kentucky would be forced to recognize it under this decision.”
Heyburn did not rule on whether Kentucky must perform gay marriages.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh says openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam is evidence of the assault on heterosexuals by the tiny percentage of America that is homosexual.
"Heteros--you say heterosexuality may be 95, 98 percent of the population -- they're under assault by the 2-5 percent that are homosexual," Limbaugh said. “Why is there a political agenda attached to and driven by homosexuality and there is no corresponding heterosexual agenda?”
“Why is it heroic for a gay man to play football?” he asked. “I'm just positing these questions, because there is an answer to all of these questions. And the answer is key and fundamental to understanding.”
Limbaugh said it’s important to the media and the White House, not the rest of America, that Sam succeed in the NFL.
He blamed the media for turning Sam into an icon and forcing him to be a gay rights activist.
“The media is gonna turn [Sam] — whether he wants to be one or not, they’re gonna turn him — into an activist. He is going to become one,” he said. “He’s the Rosa Parks, he’s the Martin Luther King, he’s the Jackie Robinson. They’re gonna turn this guy into an activist. … This is going to be a totally media driven-story, totally — and because of that, it’s gonna mess everything up.”
Furthermore, he says claims against the NFL alleging the sport is too dangerous and leads to serious health problems must be bunk if people are celebrating Sam entering the draft.
“Why is it OK now for a gay man to play football?” he asked. “I thought it was dangerous and leads to concussions, that it was barbaric. I thought that it was too dangerous and leads to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and early death, suicide, but yet, but yet, here comes the first announced gay guy and 'Hey cool, man, go for it!'”
“I thought last week it was stupid to play? Now all of a sudden it’s courageous?” he added. “Why is it courageous? Well, because he’s gay. All right. Well, what’s the courage? Where is the courage? Why does being gay make him courageous in entering the NFL?”
A Pennsylvania pastor threw out one of his church members for being gay, announced the expulsion to the entire church, and then denounced him for going public about the incident.
Pastor David Slautterback told the Ambassador’s Bible Chapel Sunday that a 20-year-old Bobbie Pierce had to be thrown out because he wouldn’t change his mind concerning his sexuality.
Pierce says he was a member of the church in Newberry Township for years and was even baptized there.
The church has no denominational affiliations and claims to “hold to the historic fundamentals of the Christian faith.”
Slautterback and other church leaders said Friday Pierce can no longer be a member, but he can attend services there as long as he doesn’t take divisive stances or speak contrary to scripture.
When Pierce shared a letter he received from the church with the York Daily Record, the church turned on him.
"We're accused of hate, Bobbie has accused us of hate," Slautterback said. "I think Bobbie's action (of talking to the York Daily Record) is an action of hate."
Slautterback said he doesn’t hate Pierce and that the church only wishes to save his soul.
"We placed Bobbie under church discipline out of love for Bobbie and regard for his soul," Slautterback said.
The church's website says, “We believe in disciplining Christians through God's Word so they may live a testimonial life for Christ, thus becoming effective for God's use in leading His called to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Pierce says his sexuality and pressure from the church has made him depressed at times, but his friends have come to his aid.
"I've heard so many stories of someone who is homosexual who has a strict Christian family, who commits suicide," Pierce said.
He claims he still believes he is a Christian and that "homosexuality isn't a sin, it isn't a choice."
"The members of the church are like a family," he said. "That's where I grew up. Even with the non-acceptance of homosexuality, it's still my church where I felt comfortable."
Slautterback says homosexuality is an avoidable sin.
"I do not believe that a homosexual person has to be homosexual any more than I believe that a person who is inclined to steal steals," Slautterback said.
When confronted with news that other church leaders have a more inclusive policy on homosexuality, he said churches may use the same Bible but not all “come to it with the respect” as his church.
A woman in Nigeria has disowned her cat because of its homosexuality. The cat displayed "unnatural sexual behavior," reports the Huffington Post, leading the middle-aged woman to shun it after seven years.
The cat, named Bull, has made history as being the first cat to be publicly declared gay and disowned by its owner, reports Leadership.
Bull was in the habit of making sexual advances only to other male cats in the household and his owner felt his behavior was "a contradiction of the laws of nature."
Leadership reports that the cat's owner expressed a strong belief in the "divine purpose of creating male and female of every creature to fulfill an ordained purpose of procreation."
The cat's owner had only one comment to make: "Anybody interested in this gay cat can have it because I have no further use of it.”
Bull's headline making comes just days after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill banning same-sex marriage, gay amorous relationships, and participation in LGBT rights groups.
Bull is still seeking a home as no one has publicly accepted ownership of him.