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March 22, 2013

News Briefs

Church puts anti-gay sign back up on Interstate 71

Brunswick, Ohio--Southwest Baptist Church has once again erected a sign facing Interstate 71 saying, “Homosexuality is a sin, but Christ can set you free.”

The church put up the sign, visible from the highway, in late 2011. At the time, public outcry and a petition with 2,500 signatures convinced Pastor Greg Davis to replace it with a different message.

Now, however, it has returned.

Davis said he decided to return the sign to its place of prominence when a gay friend came to him after falling on hard times. He said that, earlier, he would have turned him away and told him to come back when he “got his life right.” But now, he instead decided to show him the error of the “lifestyle” he “chose.”

Brunswick residents, meanwhile, are filing complaints with local officials, although the church is in Brunswick Hills. Others are going to regional authorities, petitioning Positively Cleveland to remove the towns from websites promoting the area and writing letters to local newspapers.

Meanwhile, Equality Ohio sent out an email alerting supporters to the issue, signed by Equality Ohio, the Cleveland LGBT Center and the Diversity Center of Cleveland.

Accused killer might claim ‘gay panic’

Clarksdale, Miss.--The man accused of murdering a black gay mayoral candidate might use a “gay panic” defense, claiming that the victim sexually assaulted him.

Marco McMillian and his accused killer, Lawrence Reed, met in an area bar a few weeks ago and became friends. They were supposed to go to a party together the night Reed crashed McMillian’s SUV. McMillian was not in the car, and police started a search for the mayoral candidate, finding his body on February 27.

Reed’s girlfriend says she got a call from him saying that McMillian was pushing for a sexual relationship. McMillian’s body showed signs of being beaten, dragged and burnt. He was found naked, according to family members who spoke with the coroner.

Two sisters who spoke with Reed shortly before the crash that tipped off police say that he told them everything that happened. They say that he told them McMillian exposed himself and tried to force himself on Reed, and Reed was bruised and bloody when he showed up at their door. Reed told them he had choked McMillian with the chain on his wallet.

The FBI is monitoring the investigation, and has said it will step in if it believes federal charges should be filed in the case, which may still be prosecuted as a hate crime.

New pope linked marriage to Satan

Vatican City--While Facebook may no longer be able to compare a sitting pope visually to Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars fame, on LGBT issues, Pope Francis is a direct successor to retired Pope Benedict XVI.

As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis clashed with the Argentinean government over same-sex marriage, saying that it was “a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” He also called the adoption of children by gay people discrimination against children, which brought a rebuke from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. She likened his comments to the Inquisition.

Despite a 90% rate of Catholicism in Argentina, over 70% of the population supported the 2010 same-sex marriage law, and pushing for it is believed to have cemented the president’s reelection bid.

Bergoglio is also accused of saying nothing as liberal Catholic priests disappeared during the “Dirty War” of the 1970s. He has also criticized leftist groups in his home country.

While his record on LGBT issues is dreadful, he has done a lot of work on issues facing the poor, and eschewed an opulent residence provided him in Buenos Aires in favor of a spartan apartment. He rode the bus around town and often went to the slums.

He is also the first non-European pope, a nod to the fact that it is only in the Global South that the Catholic church is gaining power.

‘Ex gay’ group loses tax exemption

Washington, D.C.--The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an “ex-gay” organization, has reportedly lost its nonprofit status last September after failing to file the proper paperwork with the IRS for three years running.

The IRS posted a revocation notice on March 11.

Despite losing their tax-exempt status, some pages on the website and callers to the organization are being told that donations are tax-deductible, which is not true.

The loss is the latest in a seris of blows to the group. Last year, Dr. Robert Spitzer retracted his 2001 study saying that sexual orientation could be changed. Two years before that, board member George Rekers was caught with a male prostitute he found online and hired to accompany him on a European vacation.

California has also passed a law barring “reparative” therapy from being given to minors. The law is being challenged in courts, but New Jersey is examining similar legislation.

Boy Scouts do survey on gay ban

Irving, Texas--After backpedaling in February on a move to lift the national ban on gay scouts and leaders, the Boy Scouts of America has sent a survey to group leaders and former scouts on whether or not the ban should be replaced with the ability of local chapters to decide on their own whether or not to let in gays.

The survey was sent to leaders on March 11, then to former members on March 12. Responses are due by April 4.

It asks respondents whether they oppose or support allowing gay members and leaders, and whether doing so follows the Scout Oath, which requires people to be “morally straight.” It also asks about respondents’ feelings regarding the possibility of each group having its own membership rules.

Part of the impetus for reexamining the ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, was a petition drive urging the National Geographic Channel to cancel the program Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?

Bill Clinton wants DOMA struck down

Washington, D.C.--President Bill Clinton urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act in a March 7 opinion piece in the Washington Post, legislation he signed into law in 1996.

“Many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more,” he wrote. “It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.”

“When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination,” he continues. “Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.”

Clinton ran on a pro-gay platform, but found himself boxed in by opponents on his efforts to repeal the military ban on gay and lesbian personnel. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was viewed as being a compromise, allowing gay servicemembers as long as they hid their orientation, but it was used to start witch hunts.

That made the president reluctant to risk his administration politically on LGBT issues beyond the long-neglected AIDS crisis.

The Obama administration and the Justice Department opine that DOMA, specifically the third section, is unconstitutional, and have refused to defend it in court. House Speaker John Boehner took it upon himself and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which voted along party lines, to take up defense of the law. Arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court at the end of March.

New Zealand may be next with vows

Wellington, N.Z.--New Zealand may have marriage on its books in a matter of weeks.

A bill allowing full same-sex marriage passed its first reading by a two-to-one margin, and a later straw poll prior to a second reading found only one member of Parliament had changed his mind and would oppose the legislation.

The bill would also legalize adoptions by same-sex couples. It is expected to become law by August.

The youth wings of all eight political parties in the country pledged to support the law in mid-March.

Two years plus for helping kidnap child

Burlington, Vt.--The Mennonite minister who was accused of aiding a woman who abducted her daughter, kept her away from her former partner and fled the country, was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

Miller was convicted last fall for aiding Lisa A. Miller, who is not related to him. Lisa Miller took her daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, and fled to Nicaragua.

Courts in both Vermont and Virginia, where Miller moved to find more sympathetic judges, had ordered Miller to relinquish custody of Isabella to her former partner, Janet Jenkins. Miller and Jenkins had a civil union in Vermont, and Isabella was conceived through assisted fertilization.

After ending their relationship, however, Miller was “born again” and renounced her lesbianism. She then ignored court rulings on shared custody, disappearing in 2009 with the girl as the court awarded sole custody to Jenkins.

Jenkins filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, suit against Miller and other individuals and groups who helped her former partner flee to Latin America.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.








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