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News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals

2011-MAY-16 to 31: Accelerating steps toward
equality etc., after DOMA decision in early 2011

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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See also events during the first half of 2011-MAY

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Background:

The Obama administration announced on 2011-FEB-23 that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. They cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus invalid.

Some commentators predicted that this decision will generate a tipping point that will lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S.

This prediction may be coming true. We have noticed an increase in events -- some important, some minor, some merely symbolic -- that indicate a gradual evaporation of animosity and homophobia against sexual minorities.

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Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:

  • 2011-MAY-16: CNN's Don Lemon reveals that he is gay: Lemon is the Sunday night anchor on CNN. His sexual orientation was well known to his colleagues, but not to the general public until the New York Times outed him in advance of his upcoming book "Transparent" which will be available on JUN-16. He revealed that he is gay on his Twitter account. Lemon is worried about rejection from the black community of which he is a member. He said:

    "It’s quite different for an African-American male. It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away. ... You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women. I guess this makes me a double minority now." 10

  • 2011-MAY-20: Gallup Inc. released a  poll showing support for SSM: Gallup conducted a poll among 1,018 American adults on 2011-MAY-05-08. Results results have a margin of sampling error of ±4 percentage points.

Gallup poll results 13

Results are similar to the Washington Post/ABC News poll shown above: The two polls agreed that 53% of American adults support marriage equality. They agreed within 1 percentage point on the level of opposition.

There are three critical data pieces of data reported by these polls:

      • All three polls report that a majority of Americans adults now support same-sex marriage.

      • The three polls agree closely about the margin between those who oppose and those who support SSM: 8 percentage points for the Public Religion Research Institute and Gallup polls and 9 percentage points for the Washington Post/ABC News poll.

      • the Public Religion Research Institute and the Washington Post/ABC News poll found that the number of Americans who are strongly opposed to SSM is now equal to the number who are strongly supportive. This is a politician's nightmare, No matter what action they take, they will be condemned by one quarter of the voters.

  • 2011-MAY-24: Focus on the Family acknowledges they are losing the battle over marriage equality: Focus president and CEO, Jim Daly, was recently interviewed by World Magazine. The Christian Post reports that he was asked how evangelicals were doing in their effort to support traditional marriage. [In reality, Focus' efforts at supporting marriages of one woman to one man were not the real topic of the interview. Rather, it was their effort concentrated on denying marriages to loving committed same-sex couples.]

    He answered:
"We’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don’t know if that’s going to change with a little more age -– demographers would say probably not. ... We’ve probably lost that. I don’t want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture."

"We’ve got to look at what God is doing in all of this. ... Have we done such a poor job with marriage, is He so upset with our mishandling of it in the Christian community, along with our lust of the flesh as a nation, that he is handing us over to this polygamy and same-sex situation in order to perhaps, drive the Christian community, the remnant, into saying ‘OK, there’s no no-fault divorce in our church'?"

Daly commented on a question he received from a gay individual who asked why Christians are so opposed at same-sex marriage even though Christians had not done so well with marriage themselves.

Daly said:

"We’ve got to look at our own house, make sure our marriages are healthy, that we’re being a good witness to the world. Then we can continue to work on defending marriage as best as we can." 14

The term "defending marriage" is a commonly used phrase by fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians to refer to efforts at preventing loving, committed same-sex couples from having the option to marry and achieve the status and protections that marriage offers to themselves and their children.

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  • 2011-MAY-25: Support for "gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults" reaches a new high: With all of the attention being paid to same-sex marriage, people sometimes forget that a sizeable minority of American adults would prefer that the government should re-criminalize private, consensual same-gender sexual activity. During 2003-JUN, the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws in over a dozen states that criminalized such activity to be unconstitutional.

    Since 1978, Gallup Inc. has asked a random selection of American adults: "Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal." In their 2011 poll conducted from MAY-05 to 08, they changed the wording slightly to: "Do you think gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal." We suspect that they changed the question because the term "homosexual" has become a snarl word in some circles, whereas "lesbian" and "gay" are more emotionally neutral. The percentage who feel that consensual sex among lesbian and gay adults should be legal has risen from 43% in 1978 to 64% in 2011 -- an average rise of 0.63 percentage points per year over that interval. The rate of change in approval seems to be increasing. Gallup typically surveys a little more than 1,000 adults. The margin of error is ±4%. 17
  • 2011-MAY-27: Same-sex blessings approved in eighth Canadian diocese: Although same-sex marriage has been legal since mid-2005 in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada will still only allow its priests to solemnize opposite-sex marriages. However, the 143rd synod of the diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI approved a local option resolution. Priests and parishes can now bless same-sex unions. Priests and parishes can opt out if they wish. This decision raises to eight the total dioceses within the Anglican Church of Canada that permit blessings of the relationships of loving, committed same-sex couples. The previous seven are New Westminster, Montreal, Niagara, Huron, Ottawa, British Columbia and Toronto. According to the Anglican Journal: "The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) has also passed a motion asking its bishop to allow clergy 'whose conscience permits' to bless same-sex unions." 16 More details.

  • 2011-MAY-28: Scotland: Church of Scotland ends its ban on gay clergy: The Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination, has terminated a ban on gay ministers. The ban was imposed in 2009 after negative reaction to the appointment of the first openly gay minister, Scott Rennie. The Christian Post speculates that this move might lead to the Church allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The Christian Post writes:

    "The Rev. Andrew Coghill issued a warning to the General Assembly saying that allowing gay clergy would devastate the denomination. He was given a passionate applause by the Kirk as he said the move was akin to a 'hand grenade [and] we're being asked to pull the pin out, and it will blow the church apart'." 15

  • 2011-MAY-28: United Methodist Church regional conference approved SSM resolution: The annual Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church narrowly passed a resolution to allow clergy to perform civil union and marriage ceremonies for loving committed same-sex couples. The resolution sponsors, members of Washington's Foundry United Methodist Church, didn't expect it to be approved. Rev. Dean Snyder commented: "We presented the resolution as an occasion to have a conversation. Frankly, I didn’t think it would pass. This is very exciting, very moving." The resolution will have no effect initially. However it will now pass to the Church's national conference in 2012-APR in Tampa, FL. 19

  • 2011-MAY-31: IL Civil unions: Civil unions will become available to loving, committed same-sex couples in Illinois on the following day. They will no longer be treated like roommates by the state. Their relationships will be recognized for the first time. They and their children will be at least partly protected. The enabling bill was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn (D) during 2011-JAN.

  • 2011-MAY-31: Gallup's 2011 Values and Beliefs poll reports on morality of gay or lesbian relations: In their annual poll, Gallup Inc reported that the American public considers the morality of "gay or lesbian relations" on a par with "buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur:" 56% found it morally acceptable, 39% felt it was morally wrong; 5% had no opinion or didn't answer the question. 18 

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See also events during 2011-JUNE

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Josephine Vivaldo, "Google, Woody Endorse Homosexuality in New Ad ," Christian Post, 2011-MAY-04, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  2. Cathal Kelly, "Avery stand on gay marriage only natural," The Toronto Star, 2011-MAY-10, Page S1 & S8.
  3. Cathal Kelly, "Kelly: Avery backing gay marriage seems only natural," Toronto Star,2011-MAY-09, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  4. J.K. Cassidy, "Navy Gives Green Light to Homosexual Marriage! Urge Congress to Act!," Email, Coral Ridge Ministries, 2011-MAY-10.
  5. "Revision of Chaplain Corps Tier 1 training," Chief of Navy Chaplains, 2011-APR-13, at: http://cmrlink.org/
  6. Charley Keyes, "Navy reverses itself on gay marriages on military bases," CNN, 2011-MAY-11, at: http://articles.cnn.com/
  7. Rose French, "Presbyterians to allow gays to be ordained ministers," Associated Press, 2011-MAY-11, at: http://www.startribune.com/
  8. Cathal Kelly, "Fired Sportsnet host Damian Goddard ‘stands by' tweets," The Toronto Star, 2011-MAY-11, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  9. Alex Alvarez, "Chaz Bono Tries To Explain ‘Transgender’ To A Befuddled Letterman" Mediaite, 2011-MAY-12, includes 10 minute video, at: http://www.mediaite.com/
  10. Tommy Christopher, "NN’s Don Lemon Comes Out: Publicly Acknowledges He Is Gay Via Twitter," Mediaite, 2011-MAY-16, at: http://www.mediaite.com/
  11. Sandhya Somashekhar and Peyton Craighill, "Slim majority back gay marriage, Post-ABC poll says," Washington Post, 2011-MAR-17, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  12. "Will same-sex marriage affect you personally?" Focus on the Family, 2011-MAR-13 Citizen Link® report.
  13. "For first time, majority of Americans favor legal gay marriage," Gallup Inc, 2011-MAY-20, at: http://www.gallup.com/ Image copyright © Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.
  14. Alison Matheson "Evangelical: We're Losing Fight Against Gay Marriage," The Christian Post, 2011-MAY-24, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  15. Daniel Blake, "Church of Scotland Votes to Lift Ban on Gay Clergy," The Christian Post, 2011-MAY-24, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  16. Marites N. Sison, "Same-sex blessings get the nod in Nova Scotia, PEI, Anglican Journal web site, 2011-MAY-31, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  17. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Support for Legal Gay Relations Hits New High," Gallup Inc, 2011-MAY-25, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  18. Lydia Saad, "Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is Moral Issue Dividing Americans Most. Pornography, gay relations produce biggest generational gaps," Gallup Inc., 2011-MAY-31, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  19. Daniel Blake, "Local United Methodist Church Conference OKs Same-Sex Unions," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-01, at: http://www.christianpost.com/

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JUN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson
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