Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Equality foes turn focus to marriage ban
AUGUSTA, Maine – A day after Maine voters decided to keep the state’s gay rights law on the books, the losing side said its main focus now will be to pass a state constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights.
Voters on Nov. 8 made Maine the last New England state to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Pastors argue for marriage ban
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – As pastors from around Minnesota gathered Nov. 10 to strategize in favor of a state ban on equal marriage rights, other church groups protested outside.
The summit was convened by the Minnesota Family Council, the chief backer of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban legal recognition of marriage and civil unions for gays.
About 75 opponents of the amendment protested outside the event, including pastors and congregants from a number of Twin Cities churches.
Supporters of the equal marriage ban said they hope that the political mobilization of pastors doesn’t end, and mentioned pushing for tougher divorce laws in the state as a possible future cause.
Romney tones down anti-gay remarks
BOSTON – A day after he accused justices on the Supreme Judicial Court of legalizing equal marriage rights to please Òtheir like-minded friends in the communities they socialize in,Ó Gov. Mitt Romney on Nov. 11 sought to portray his comment as a generic criticism of their legal approach.
The Republican chief executive said the four justices who authored the 2003 majority opinion were not so much reflecting the views of their particular social circles, but of the community at-large. Instead, he argued, they should have rooted their opinion not in public opinion, but precedent and the four corners of the state constitution.
Romney’s remarks prompted a rebuttal from Attorney General Tom Reilly, a candidate for next year’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He accused the governor of continuing a pattern of denigrating Massachusetts to out-of-state audiences, and of playing up to conservative audiences to advance a possible presidential run in 2008.
Councilman in Ohio ousted over domestic registry fight
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio – A city council member who fought against the nation’s first voter-approved domestic partner registry has lost a bid for re-election to a candidate who is openly gay.
The Rev. Jimmie Hicks Jr. lost the Nov. 8 election to Mark Tumeo.
Hicks sued to block the creation the city’s domestic partner registry, which recognizes gay and unmarried heterosexual couples but gives no legal status or marriage rights. It was approved by voters in 2003 and ruled constitutional by a Cuyahoga County judge.
In July, the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, but not before the city spent more than $100,000 to fight Hicks’ lawsuit.
Judge throws out charge against gay man who stabbed attacker
PHILADELPHIA – A judge threw out a manslaughter charge against a young man who fatally stabbed a teenager who allegedly attacked him because he is gay.
Municipal Judge Gerard Kosinski also ordered 21-year-old Lucas Dawson released from jail.
Dawson told police that seven people began taunting him, chasing him down and beating him as he walked to catch a bus in October. He said he pulled out a small knife and waved it, but when Gerald Knight, 17, punched him, he stabbed him in the chest.
The Assistant District Attorney had not decided if she would appeal.
Gay student group disbands over Baptist controversy
MACON, GA – A support group for gay students at Mercer University in Macon held its final meeting on Nov. 14 after the head of the Georgia Baptist Convention complained the group conflicted with the university’s Christian roots.
The Mercer Triangle Symposium was the school’s first gay student group and was first recognized by the school in 2002. Student government president Nancy David said about 50 students, faculty and administrators attended the last meeting to show support.
GBC executive director J. Robert White complained about the symposium last month after learning about it in a campus newspaper.
University of Virginia hires full-time LGBT advocate
RICHMOND, Va. – Aiming to better serve sexual minority students, the University of Virginia has hired the school’s first full-time program coordinator for its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.
The Charlottesville center provides support to up to 2,000 LGBT students it estimates to be on campus.
Until last year, it was directed by graduate students, limiting operation to roughly 20 hours a week.
Gay Presbyterian minister ordained in N.Y.
DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – A Presbyterian congregation has ordained a gay man who refuses to embrace celibacy despite the denomination’s ban on sexually active homosexuals joining the clergy.
Raymond Bagnuolo was ordained Nov. 13 at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry. During the ceremony, when asked if he would abide by the church’s constitution, Bagnuolo said yes, except for a measure that says ministers must practice fidelity if married and chastity if single.
The measure, an amendment approved in 1997 to exclude sexually active homosexuals from the ministry, has split the church and has been defied several times with other ordinations, which are usually followed by formal complaints that sometimes lead to discipline.
Foreign bishops urge conservatives to split
PITTSBURGH – An international panel of Anglican archbishops called upon a gathering of their conservative American counterparts Nov. 11 to split from the rest of the U.S. Episcopal Church unless it abides by traditional teachings.
The seven archbishops from Africa, the West Indies, and Asia spoke at the Hope and a Future Conference organized by the Anglican Communion Network.
The network is headed by Pittsburgh’s Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan, who helped form the group in 2003 after the Episcopal Church in the United States consecrated Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire and gave tacit approval to blessing services for same-sex couples.
The Episcopal Church is the Anglican Communion’s U.S. branch. Duncan’s group represents a minority of Episcopalians in the 2.3 million-member American church, but his group’s views are shared by a majority of bishops in the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, said a spokesman.
Swedish pastor defends anti-gay sermon in court
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – A Swedish Pentecostal pastor charged with hate speech for denouncing homosexuality as a Òcancerous tumorÓ in 2003 defended his views in the country’s highest court Nov. 9, saying gay sex was an abnormality on par with pedophilia.
Ake Green, 64, delivered a fiery anti-gay sermon two years ago that triggered a legal battle testing the limits of Sweden’s freedom of speech. The trial ended Nov. 9, but a verdict will be issued at a later date, the court said.
Green became the first clergyman convicted under Sweden’s hate crimes legislation, which was modified in 2003 to include attacks against homosexuals. An appeals court overturned the ruling earlier this year, but Sweden’s chief prosecutor appealed the acquittal at the Supreme Court.