Wednesday, February 24, 2010

News roundup

During the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference this week, one conservative, Ryan Sorba of the California Young Americans for Freedom, denounced CPAC for allowing the gay conservative group GOProud to co-sponsor the event and host a booth. After finishing his short speech, amidst booing from the crowd, he walked off the stage.

Said Sorba; "Just to change the subject for just a second, I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride (sic) to this event," said Sorba. As the crowd booed, he responeded; "Bring it. Bring it. I love it. I love it. I love it.”

He continued; “Civil rights are grounded in natural rights.... Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship. The intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction. Do you understand that? Civil rights, when they conflict with natural rights, are contrary.”

He left the stage to mostly boos.


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The Washington Post reports that Lutheran Church if fragmenting over the issue of gay marriage. Congregations at two Lutheran Churches in Edgar, Wisconsin debated the issue with one congregation voting to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the other barely voting to stay on. The two churches shared a common pastor with the departing one fired the pastor.

Pushing plans for the new Lutheran denomination is Lutheran CORE, an activist group that led opposition to the gay clergy policy. Critics say liberalizing policies toward homosexuality directly contradicts scripture. Lutheran CORE's website states it intends to “Uphold the Biblical norms for marriage, family and sexuality” and “sponsor conferences and seminars and will prepare theological papers related to marriage, family, and human sexuality.” The group hopes to have the new organization, the North American Lutheran Church, operating by August.

Of the 10,000 or so congregations in the ELCA, 220 have taken steps to leave with 28 congregations with 28 going through both required votes. Bishop Peter Rogness of the Saint Paul synod doesn't think it's a major upheaval. "Even if that number doubles or triples, it would still be less than 5 percent of the ELCA," said Rogness "So it's not as though a schism has happened, where we're a denomination split in half. Nothing on that magnitude is in the offing."


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Continuing on the religious theme, but on a more upbeat note, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that the John Knox Presbytery, a regional governing body the Presbyterian Church, voted to ordain a gay Madison man.

Members of the presbytery, which encompasses parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, voted 81 to 25 to ordain Scott Anderson. Anderson said he's been in a committed relationship with a man for 19 years. "I could see it having national implications, for sure," the Rev. Alex Thornburg of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Madison said of the vote. "Some will proclaim this decision the best thing in the world and others will say the church is dying. It will have its drama around it."

National church policy requires married candidates for ordination to take a vow of fidelity and single candidates - gay or straight - to take a vow of chastity. However, the church allows candidates for ordination to file an objection to a rule based on conscience. The presbytery then must decide the seriousness of the candidate's departures from official teaching. In Anderson's case, a majority of the presbytery decided his relationship status did not undermine essentials of church doctrine and that his departures from official teaching "were not serious enough to overshadow his many other gifts," Meunier said.

A May 15 ordination date has been set but could be delayed as Caledonia Presbyterian Church near Portage will challenge it through appeals process, said Whitman Brisky, a Chicago attorney representing the 60-member church. They cite the church rule barring the installation of a minister "who is engaged in an extramarital, sexual relationship," Brisky said.

In a statement submitted to the presbytery, Anderson wrote that the ministerial prohibition against gays and lesbians in committed relationships "represents a grievous misapplication of biblical teachings." This misinterpretation "is unfaithful to God's loving intentions for humankind and seriously undermines the church's gospel witness to gay and lesbian partners. I cannot in Christian conscience support it."


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The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler declared his opinion that the state must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. If the courts or General Assembly don't block his decision, gay marriages from other states would be legally recognized.

As stated in the Sun, under a principle known as "comity," states have historically offered reciprocity for legal, executive and judicial acts. The best example may be common-law marriages — a union created by cohabitation and agreement rather than the usual ceremony. Maryland recognizes the legality of such marriages from other states even though the law here does not actually provide for them.

The state ban on same-sex marriage still holds, but as the law never spoke to marriages created in other states, the principle of comity applies.

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