News items affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals & transsexuals
2011-JUNE-01 to 10: Accelerating steps toward
equality etc., after DOMA decision in early 2011
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.
See also the previous essay describing events during the second half of 2011-MAY
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.
Developments toward marital equality and a lessening of discrimination against sexual minorities:
- 2011-JUN-01: MD: Methodist clergyperson offers break church rules by marrying same-sex couples: Minister Rev. Bruce Robbins, of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis read a statement titled: "Equality for All in Christian Marriage" to the 2011 Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church on JUN-01. In it, Bruce commits to marry loving, committed same-sex couples. By the end of the day, 40 Methodist clergy had cosigned the statement. By JUN-03, the total reached 70. According to the Christian Post, it says in part:
"We joyfully affirm that we will offer the grace of the Church’s blessing to any prepared couple desiring Christian marriage. ... "We are convinced by the witness of others and are compelled by Spirit and conscience to act. We thank the many United Methodists who have already called for full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church. ... We repent that it has taken us so long to act. ... We realize that our church’s discriminatory policies tarnish the witness of the Church to the world, and we are complicity [sic]. We value our covenant relationships and ask everyone to hold the divided community of the United Methodist Church in prayer." 4
The United Methodist News Service reported that Bishop Sally Dyck said that supporting the principle of same-sex unions by signing a statement did not break any church rules. However, if a clergyperson actually officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony, it would be a chargeable offense.
- 2011-JUN: USA: Old Navy had sale on Gay Pride T-shirts: Old Navy announced a sale on "Love Proudly: Pride 2011" T-shirts at select U.S. stores. The sale was to run from JUN-01 t JUN-30 or until they sold out. All were gone within a few hours of store opening on the morning of JUN-01. The company seems to have drastically underestimated the demand.
- 2011-JUN-01: USA: Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" album sold over 1 million copies in its first week: Since 1991, only 17 albums have sold a million copies in a single week. Lady Gaga's new album is one, with sales of 1,108,000 copies. During the Grammy awards show, she emerged from a giant plastic egg to sing this song, which is being called the "gay anthem." Part of the lyrics say: "It doesn't matter if you love him or Capital H-I-M/ just put your paws up/ because you were born this way baby." Another part says: "There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are ‘cause He made you perfect, babe. So hold your head up, girl and you you’ll go far, listen to me when I say 'I’m beautiful in my way,' cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way."
She has said about her life: ""It's about constantly walking towards the light in my life, but always clutching onto the light while peering towards the devil in the back."
Other folks have more skeptical opinions:
- Matt Philbin, managing editor of the conservative Culture and Media Institute, said: "As a liberal, she's happy to assert that God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't, as long as it furthers the social agenda of her gay fan base."
- Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said: "This is a stunt. She is trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances."
- Her album seems to have struck a nerve in Lebanon at least: it has been banned as being "offensive to Christianity."
- 2011-JUN-01: USA: A bit of unintentional humor about confusing denigration and degeneration: The Christian Post (CP) posted a report on "immoral sins" as determined by a recent Gallup Inc. poll. The pollsters asked a representative sample of American adults whether they considered a particular action to be moral or immoral. Some activities were: cloning animals, physician assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, fornication, gambling, abortion, extramarital affairs, homosexual relations, etc. I'm glad that I wasn't one of the subjects that they polled, because I would be inclined to respond: "It depends upon the exact circumstances" to most of the questions. The majority felt that "... divorce (69%), ... sex outside of marriage (60%) and ... having children outside of marriage (54%)" were morally acceptable behaviors. Having homosexual relations and wearing fur coats were were both rated as moral by 56% of the population.
CP then interviewed Richard Land, president of Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, of the Southern Baptist Convention. He said that America's immoral culture is reaching a critical point. He said:
"We're seriously broken and it's getting worse and we're reaching a crisis point where we're either going to have to restore traditional American values ... or we going to see our society denigrate." [emphasis ours]
Clearly, there are two errors in the reporting. The verb "are" was omitted. The last word in the quote should probably have been "disintegrate," not "denigrate."
in the battle over equal rights for the LGBT community have been denigrating each other for years. But I am quite confident that Land worries about society itself disintegrating. 3 On the morning of JUN-05, we sent an Email to CP alerting them to the typos. Christian Post has corrected the quotation.
- 2011-JUN-03: TN: Tracy Morgan's homophobic rant, and reaction: According to the Huffington Post, Morgan allegedly delivered a "... violently homophobic on-stage rant at a standup show in Nashville," TN. His staff quickly released an apology:
"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context." 7
Tina Fey, responded:
"I'm glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments. Stand-up comics may have the right to 'work out' their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community. It also doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person. I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at "30 Rock," without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket. The other producers and I pride ourselves on 30 Rock being a diverse, safe, and fair workplace." 8
NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt also released a statement condemning Morgan's remarks. 8
- 2011-JUN-07: USA: Evangelical para-church groups may be have found a new menace: In the late 20th century, conservative Protestants used to whip up fear among their membership by attacking the communist menace. This morphed into an attack on abortion access and equal rights for the LGBT community. They may have now selected a new target to attack; one that they consider an internal threat from within the evangelical fold. The Christian Research Institute has sent out a panic call for more donations. They are facing the end of their fiscal year with a "critical financial shortfall" of about $350,000. Their new target is:
"... the world of the occult and aberrant Christian theologies spreading like wildfire through the Christian church."
"Rob Bell’s gospel of the second chance immediately comes to mind. Bell — dubbed a 'central figure' in the way this generation 'will do church in the next twenty years' — characterizes a God who does not give everyone who rejected Him in this life a second chance after death as 'cruel,' 'mean,' 'vicious,' even a 'tormentor'."
"Thus, according to Bell, everyone from Augustine to Billy Graham has been teaching a false god. Says Bell, 'If there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities. If there was an actual human dad who was that volatile, we would contact child protection services immediately'." 5
- 2011-JUN-09: MA: City of Cambridge to make quarterly payments to employees in same-sex marriages: Cambridge will begin in July to give its employees who are in same-sex marriages special payments of about $275 each quarter to offset what the city refers to as a "discriminatory federal tax." Currently, the city -- and more than 3,400 private and public employers in the U.S. -- treats all married employees equally and extends medical and health benefits to all of the employees' spouses without regard to their gender. But, because of the federal DOMA law, the federal government recognizes same-sex married couples only as roommates. Thus the spousal benefits are considered taxable income by the IRS. 9
See also events during the last 2/3rds of 2011-JUNE
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the
above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Daniel Blake, "Lady Gaga 'Born This Way' Banned by Lebanon as 'Offensive to Christianity," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-04, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Stephanie Samuel "Lady Gaga Rides Religious Spectacle to the Top of Billboard Charts," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-01, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Stephanie Samuel, "Americans Rank Top Immoral 'Sins' in New Poll," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-01, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Elena Garcia, "70 Methodist Clergy Agree to Wed Gay Couples," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-03, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Hank Hanegraaff, "Urgent Need! Please support CRI prayerfully and financially!," Christian Research Institute mailing, 2011-JUN-07.
- Rob Bell, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived," HarperOne, (2011). List price: $22.99. Amazon.com sells it for $13.79 in hardcover and $9.99 in Kindle eBook format. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- "Tracy Morgan's Homophobic Remarks In Anti-Gay Stand Up Set UPDATE: Morgan Apologizes," Huffington Post, 2011-JUN-10, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "Tina Fey On Tracy Morgan's Homophobic Rant: 'Violent Images... Disturbing To Me'," Huffington Post, 2011-JUN-11, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "Cambridge to give stipend to same-sex employees," Associated Press, 2011-JUN-09, at: http://www.bostonherald.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JUN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson