India: A year after 377 verdict: Long battle for civil rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

A year after 377 verdict: Long battle for civil rights still ahead

It’s been a year since the Supreme Court read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code

INDIA Updated: Sep 06, 2019 07:09 IST

Dhamini Ratnam and Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhamini Ratnam and Dhrubo Jyoti

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.
The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.(Sushil Kumar/HT FILE PHOTO)

A year ago, the Supreme Court handed victory to 34 people from across India who challenged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a British-era law that criminalized consensual, adult, same-sex relationships and fostered a climate of fear and discrimination against the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Now, petitioners and other members of the community say that although Section 377 was read down on September 6, 2018, the legal battle for their civil rights has only just begun.

According to them, the right to own and inherit property, nominate their same-sex partners on hospital and insurance forms, and receive legal recognition of same-sex relationships and marriage were some of the main demands. Other petitions pertaining to reservations for trans persons in government jobs and educational institutions, and seeking the formation of Transgender Welfare Boards, among other things, are in the works.

“When I get calls from young people all over India, they want marriage, insurance, civil and economic rights. The cap on the bottle has been removed. It will be a multi-pronged fight,” said Menaka Guruswamy, senior Supreme Court advocate and one of the lawyers in the main Section 377 case titled Navtej Johar versus Union of India.

Analysis | 377: What we won, what remains

The preparations have already begun. Lucknow-based petitioner Arif Jafar said he and his lawyers were finalizing a petition to ask for same-sex partners to be allowed to nominate each other in insurance and property documents. Hotelier Keshav Suri said he was working on a petition asking for spousal recognition and benefits — such as joint bank accounts.

“We may not immediately ask for marriage equality, because that is a longer battle but start on the lower-hanging fruit,” said the 34-year-old, who is married to a French man. “My marriage is recognised in France but not here, I want to change that,” he added, but cautioned that consultations and strategising had not happened yet.

Another petitioner, Suma, a trans woman, will soon petition the Karnataka administrative tribunal over reservations for a government position.

Bengaluru-based activist Akkai Padmashali said the past year had seen greater recognition of LGBT rights by bureaucrats, but raised issue with the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha. “If it passes in its current form, I will have no choice but challenge it in the SC,” she said.

The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.

The Human Rights law Network (HRLN) will soon file public interest litigation’s for several transgender petitioners asking states to take steps for framing social welfare schemes, including setting up Transgender Welfare Boards, providing identity cards, toilets, and free medical care, a lawyer at HRLN said.

In July, trans activist Grace Banu filed a public interest litigation in the Madras high court seeking reservation for trans persons in education and public employment. Currently, Tamil Nadu allows reservation in the Most Backward Classes category. The petition seeks separate reservation for those persons who identify as trans.

“After the Section 377 verdict, people expected things to change much faster than they have on the ground, with problems of lack of shelter homes/safe houses, sensitive police machinery, lawyers and judges still very much present. In fact, the real struggle begins after the positive court orders where the courts have reaffirmed their right to choice, and people struggle to find jobs, rented houses while facing constant emotional pressure from families to come back,” said Delhi-based lawyer Amritananda Chakravorty.

On September 6, the Delhi high court will hear a habeas corpus case involving a lesbian in her 30’s, who was allegedly separated from her partner by her family. The woman who is married and is reportedly a victim of domestic violence, has been staying at a city shelter home in the city.

Over the past 12 months, judgments in various high courts around the country expanded the scope of human rights for LGBT people. In October 2018, a trans man named Jeeva petitioned the Karnataka high court to change his name and gender on his school and college certificates. The judge directed the state’s education department to ensure that other trans persons are able to do the same without the court’s further intervention in this matter.

In April 2019, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court upheld the marriage between a man and a trans woman, who approached the court after registration authorities refused to recognize the union, saying that a trans woman couldn’t be considered a bride under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

This was the first judgment in India where the right to marry under Article 21 of the Constitution was affirmed for transgender persons, noted the Bengaluru-based Centre for Law and Policy Research.

There are other challenges, too. In October 2018, the SC dismissed a petition seeking civil rights for the LGBT community and refused to review the decision in July 2019 – saying the issue had already been dealt with in Navtej Johar vs Union of India.

Guruswamy said the next battle for LGBT rights may be a case in a district court that eventually gets bumped up to the apex court on appeal.

“Young people are already approaching district and high courts, police stations and registrars and demanding their rights. That is the way the next big case will come,” she added.

First Published: Sep 06, 2019 05:27 IST

A Transgender Woman Who Was Attacked in Dallas Last Month Has Been Found Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

A Transgender Woman Who Was Attacked in Dallas Last Month Has Been Found Dead

Muhlaysia Booker spoke at a rally in Dallas last month after she was attacked in a parking lot. On Saturday, she was found dead. Credit Ryan Michalesko/The Dallas Morning News

Last month’s attack took place on April 12, shortly after Ms. Booker was involved in an automobile accident in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

video of the episode showed a man the authorities identified as Mr. Thomas repeatedly punching a woman on the ground as she struggled. Other men in the crowd kicked her before a group of women helped her get away. The police said that people in the crowd shouted anti-gay slurs during the beating, and that Ms. Booker was hospitalized with a concussion and a fractured wrist.

Attacks on transgender people have been rising, according to advocacy groups. At least 26 transgender people were killed in the United States last year, most of them black transgender women, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group. The group has listed three transgender people who were killed in 2019 — not including Ms. Booker — and all were black women who were fatally shot.

Those numbers may understate the problem because local officials are not required to report such killings to any central database, and because the police sometimes release incorrect names or genders, making it difficult to know that a homicide victim was transgender.

At a news conference after she was attacked last month, Ms. Booker stood on a podium and faced a group of supporters, several of whom carried signs in support of transgender people.

“This has been a rough week for myself, the transgender community and also the city of Dallas,” Ms. Booker said.

“This time, I can stand before you,” she added. “Whereas in other scenarios, we are at a memorial.”

So, Your Gay And I Don’t Agree With Your Life Style, So What

 

Here in the U.S. far to many people have become one issue oriented whether it be in their politics or in their personal lifestyle. So many people these days decide on who they like, love or hate over how that person believes on just one issue. Take politics, many people vote Republican because of the Republican platform stance on gun rights while many other people vote Democratic because of that same issue. Just as many people vote for Democrats and against Republicans because of the abortion issue. Those for it will vote for the Democrat and those against abortion will vote for the Republican.

 

Concerning the issue of ‘Gay rights’ and ‘LGBT rights’ when it comes to political parties here in the U.S. most people who are for these ‘rights’ do seem to be Democrats as Democrats do seem to be more pro-LGBT-Gay rights than what the Republicans are. But now, let us get to individual issues, lets put this on a personal level, just between you and me. First I will fire off my salvo’s so that there will be no doubt where I stand on these issues. This is best being there is no way that I can possibly speak for you. All I can do here is to pretend that you are a person that thinks totally ‘liberal’ about the ‘Gay’ issues.

 

Growing up, I to the best of my knowledge didn’t know any Gay kids, yet as an adult I did learn of some kids that were actually Gay, I was just unaware of it. My ‘kid days’ were back in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s and back then this was definitely a ‘Closet’ issue, kids would have been beaten up for less than this. So, in the 1980’s some of these kids ‘came out’ as young adults. Living in a closet for years within ones own family would have to have been such a difficult thing to have to do. I am sure that if I had been Gay and my Dad would have found out he would literally have beaten me to death, no doubt about it. Now, my wife was born in 1965, she only had one brother, he was born in 1963, he died from Aids in 1992 at the age of 28. This is something that devastated their family of six. He ‘came out’ at the age of 18 and even his Mom tried to run over him with the family car. Needless to say he moved out of the house at age 18, 9 1/2 years later, he was dead. I never met him as he died 7 years before I ever met his sister yet I do honestly believe that we would have gotten along quite well as long as he didn’t do ‘gay’ thing right in front of me. I’m just being honest, yet it seems that he was a kind and decent person who would not have thrown his ‘gayness’ into people’s faces, just as I would never have belittled him for being gay.

 

Now I try to be the best Christian servant of God that I know how to be and my wife said that her brother knew that the Bible says that acting out on ones gay tendencies is a sin. She said her brother did not want to be gay, he simply was. He tried dating girls but he just wasn’t interested, it would have been like a straight guy trying to date another guy to prove that they are gay when they weren’t. My wife believes that being gay or being bi is a chemical issue in the brain that a person cannot have ‘spanked or beaten’ out of them. In other words, if you are gay, your gay.

 

No one likes to be told that the things that we do, like or believe is wrong yet reality is, some things are wrong. Regarding human laws, these laws tell us what is okay for us to do and what things will get us fined or arrested. Concerning God’s laws (sins) we are told what is okay and what things He does not want us to do. We each set up rules within our own homes and within our own minds as to what we will or will not accept as being okay. Some will not like some of the things that I am saying but O well, that’s life, deal with it. Just as I will disagree with some of you on this issue, I need to deal with it. Just because you disagree with me or I you on this issue or on a plethora of other issues does not give any of us the right to hate the other person or to physically harm the other person, to do either, is sin. Even though by Scripture the LGBT-Gay lifestyle is a sin and it is not one I personally approve of, if I hate you because you are Gay, that is a sin on me. God says that He hates the sins that we commit, but He still loves the sinner and every one of us are sinners, we may just have different sins that we commit. If I lie, that is a sin, if you act out your gay wishes, you have sinned.

 

Disapproving of each others lifestyles is just normal human ways. Are you old enough to remember how short-haired people ‘hated’ people with long hair? Or, maybe do you remember how people would ‘hate’ people who wore different style of clothes they themselves did? Hate toward one another, it is stupid, it is sinful. Just because I am hair deprived and you have long thick hair it is wrong of me to hate you, or you me. Just because I wear a pocketed T-Shirt to Church services and you wear a thousand dollar suit to Church, should we hate each other? Just as some people may have to walk to Church services or ride a bicycle while another drives a new BMW there, should we hate each other? In these areas there is also another sin to watch out for, it’s called envy. Should I hate or envy you because you are able to have a purple Mohawk hair style when I have no hair? Really, how childish, how sinful are we inside our own minds? Everyday our hate, shows all the people around us just how sinful ‘we’ are.

 

The Hypocrisy Belongs To Some In The “LGBT” Community, Not To The Chicago Cubs

The Hypocrisy Belongs To Some In The “LGBT” Community, Not To The Chicago Cubs

 

This morning I had every intent to write an article about fallen Senator John McCain and I hope that I will still have the energy to do so after I finish this article first. I got up out of bed about 4 A.M. this morning and came out to my computer aiming to write the McCain article but as is normal I read some of the events I find on my computers main pages first. You know, things like I want to know if our “Mafia in Chief President” has started anymore new wars before I try to get my day started. To the best of my knowledge he has not so I then went on to some MLB Web-Sites as I am still somewhat of a baseball fan, not as much as when I was a kid, but it is still my favorite sport. I read an article from Yahoo-Sports that changed my thoughts about my first column today. My article about John McCain is still more important to me but it is going to be a mostly ‘positive’ article and this one on the Cubs (my life long favorite team) has more negative energy in it so I have decided to write this one first, to get the negatives out of my thought patterns.

 

In an article dated yesterday afternoon (August 26th, 2018) on Yahoo-Sports written by Blake Schuster was an article about the recent trade that the Chicago Cubs made with the Washington Nationals for second baseman Daniel Murphy. Even though I have known of Mr. Murphy for several years I have only known of him from a ‘Baseball-Stats’ prospective, nothing about his personal life, either good or bad. By his stats I would say that I consider him an above average overall second baseman so I had no problem with the Cubs trading for him. But here is the ‘rub’ of the Yahoo-Sports article, evidently about 3 years ago he made some comments about the LGBT-Gay lifestyle that still to this day offends many folks who believe that this lifestyle is a perfectly fine way of life. Guess what folks, not everyone on the planet happens to agree wit you about it being an ‘okay’ way to live. Learn to deal with this reality, it is you being the hypocrites here, not Mr. Murphy.

 

About 3 years ago Mr. Murphy evidently said that he “disagreed with the gay lifestyle” so now it seems that many people in that community really do not like him. This seems to even go to the extent that they would prefer that Mr. Murphy wasn’t able to earn a living in his preferred profession as a major league baseball player. There is a rather large group of people in the Chicago land area who call themselves the “Out At Wrigley” LGBT organization. Yesterday was the ’18th annual LGBT original MLB Gay Day.’ As it turns out (I did not know of this fact until I read this Yahoo article) that one of the Ricketts family who owns the Cubs is an openly gay lady, Ms. Laura Ricketts. Some folks in the LGBT groups decided to wait to give their opinion on the trade for Mr. Murphy until Ms. Laura weighed in with her opinion on the issue. Other folks within the LGBT community there in the Chicago Land area weren’t quite so kind or patient. There will be some folks who read this article who will be mad at me and even call me a hypocrite and some other names for writing this article and for daring to have an opinion different from their own concerning the LGBT life style. My official opinion is that “I, just like Mr. Murphy, do disagree with the LGBT-Queer Lifestyle being an okay lifestyle.”

 

There are many who may well say things along the line of “why should I give a damn about what you have to say, your just an old white boy in Kentucky.” To this I say, exactly. Why should you care what I have to say if I disagree with you, but then again why am I suppose to care what you think or feel about this issue either? Now a third line of thought on this ‘caring’ issue, why should you or I care what Mr. Murphy’s thoughts or feelings are on this issue? He is a baseball player, concerning the Cubs trade for him, only what he does on the field should matter to any of us. Now, if Mr. Murphy was wearing a bright neon tea-shirt in the pregame fielding and batting practice that blared out something like “I hate Gay people” then yes, you should probably take offence to him doing that. Personally I would take offence to him doing that myself, just as I would if he or any other player decided to wear a dress out on the field. He is there to play baseball, he is paid to play baseball, if he has an opinion that is different from yours or mine on the “Gay issue,” so what!

 

There are probably a few folks in their anger at me for not having the same opinion as their, or for daring to state my beliefs who will bring up other ‘incidents’ to see if I feel the same way toward those folks. What I am getting at is that some folks will, in their anger, say things like, well I bet you would be okay with Murphy if he was a wife beater or a child molester too, as long as he was a good baseball player. Folks, that is stupid, being a wife beater or being a child molester is actually illegal, disagreeing with you about if a person agrees with or disagrees with your LGBT lifestyle is not ‘yet’ illegal. We do have something in the Constitution of the United States (First Amendment) saying that we the people are allowed to have free speech in this Country whether you happen to like it or not. Not everyone is going to agree with you, or me, on everything, grow up, learn to deal with reality just as those who don’t agree with you also have to do!

Mennonite Church Appoints Openly Lesbian Head Pastor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

NM Mennonite Church Becomes First in Denomination to Appoint Openly Lesbian Head Pastor

(PHOTO: TWITTER / @REVERICALEA)Rev. Erica Lea

A Mennonite church in New Mexico became the first church in its denomination to select an openly LGBT person as head pastor.

The Albuquerque Mennonite Church announced Monday that it selected Erica Lea, an open lesbian, to be its new lead pastor.

Lea is a graduate of Truett Seminary at Baylor University, where she was introduced to Anabaptist theology, and has served in a missionary and pastoral capacity for over 10 years.

According to Mennonite World Review, the church stated that it stands behinds Lea’s “strong call to connect with and serve people affected by current immigration policies and racial, social and economic discrimination — as well as a call to provide a beacon and safe haven for the LGBTQ community.”

Lea’s hiring at Albuquerque Mennonite comes as she was in her third year of residency at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She served at Baptist churches in states like North Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. She also served as the interim pastor of Houston Mennonite Church while the church’s pastor, Marty Troyer, was on sabbatical, Mennonite World Review reports.

“She is passionate about strong Anabaptist ministry and brings a heartfelt theological commitment to her adopted faith family,” Troyer was quoted as saying. “While she served at Houston, our congregation experienced the best pastoral ministry has to offer: preaching, caring and management.”

“Erica is also passionate about Mennonite emphasis on peace witness and radical hospitality,” Troyer added. “Her ministry is rooted in the belief that all people are welcome, and that community is the deepest expression of God’s desires.”

According to the Mennonite World Review, Albuquerque Mennonite Church consists of about 150 members and officially became a LGBT “welcoming community” in 2007. However, it did not immediately join the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests.

“Our congregation has a majority of attenders who did not grow up Mennonite — who, like Erica, have chosen to join our faith community,” Andrew Clouse, a member of the church’s search committee, stated. “We look forward to finding more ways of articulating and sharing an Anabaptist faith that can flourish in locally derived expressions of Jesus’s call to discipleship, peacemaking and justice. We think Erica is well-equipped to help us do this.”

The website PinkMenno.org lists over 70 Mennonite Church USA congregations that are “willing to state publicly that they are welcoming to all, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

According to Sojourners, Mennonite Church USA claims over 70,000 adult members and several openly LGBT individuals serving in associate pastors roles in churches across the nation.

In February, it was reported that the Allegheny Mennonite Conference licensed an openly married lesbian woman, who is an associate pastor at a Mennonite church in Hyattsville. The pastor, Michelle Burkholder, became the third openly LGBT minister credentialed for pastoral service in the Mennonite Church USA.

But as Sojourners points out, “The membership guidelines of the MCUSA define marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, categorize ‘homosexual…sexual activity as sin,’ and forbid MCUSA pastors from performing same-sex marriages.” Sojourners notes that the denomination has no plans to revisit its guidelines until 2019.

In 2015, Mennonite Church USA passed a resolution stating, “We acknowledge that there is currently not consensus within Mennonite Church USA on whether it is appropriate to bless Christians who are in same-sex covenanted unions.”

“Because God has called us to seek peace and unity as together we discern and seek wisdom on these matters, we call on all those in Mennonite Church USA to offer grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions,” the resolution, titled “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences,” states.

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Church of England Votes to Affirm Transgender People; Top Bishop Says LGBT ‘Not a Sin’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

Church of England Votes to Affirm Transgender People; Top Bishop Says LGBT ‘Not a Sin’

Jul 10, 2017 | 7:22 AM

(PHOTO: REUTERS/GARETH FULLER/POOL)The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks to the congregation during a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, in Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013.

The General Synod of the Church of England has officially passed a motion welcoming and affirming transgender people to the church. A top bishop also declared that being LGBT is “not a sin.”

“That this Synod, recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition,” the motion that passed on Sunday reads.

As the official CofE website points out, the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of welcoming transgender people, with 30 for the motion and two opposed in the House of Bishops; 127 who backed the motion and 28 against it in the House of Clergy; and 127 for and 48 against in the House of Laity.

The Rev. Christopher Newlands of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod said at the beginning of the assembly: “I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives.”

During the synod’s weekend session, the church body also backed a motion calling for a ban on what critics have called “conversion therapy” for people with unwanted same-sex attractions.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev. John Sentamu, who is one of the most senior officials in the CofE, declared: “As the world listens to us, the world needs to hear us say that LGBT orientation and identity is not a crime.”

“LGBT orientation and identity is not a sickness. And LGBT orientation and identity is not a sin,” Sentamu added, according to BBC News.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, said that he continues upholding the church’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

A number of church bodies within the Anglican Communion have challenged that definition, including The Scottish Episcopal Church, which became the first mainstream Christian denomination in the U.K. to approve same-sex marriage in June.

Concerns from Anglican conservatives over the pro-LGBT direction they say the CofE has taken has led groups such as the Global Anglican Future Conference to put forward their own “missionary bishop” to oversee traditional Anglican parishes.

GAFCON has said that the Western world is “abandoning Christian heritage,” and warned that a number of U.K. churches are “under pressure to compromise clear Christian teaching in the face of secular humanist philosophy.

“In some cases, the Gospel appears to have been watered down or even denied. Even some faithful clergy do not feel free to give clear teaching on key topics such as sexual ethics or the uniqueness of Christ,” GAFCON said earlier.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, wrote following The Scottish Episcopal Church’s decision to change its laws on marriage:

“This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin.

“It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behavior that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behavior, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.”

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Chinese Regulator Calls Homosexuality ‘Abnormal’ and Bans Gay Content From the Internet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORTUNE INTERNATIONAL)

Chinese Regulator Calls Homosexuality ‘Abnormal’ and Bans Gay Content From the Internet

Jun 30, 2017

China released a new regulation Friday banning any display of “abnormal sexual behaviors” — including homosexuality — in online video and audio content.

The regulation, published by the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA), lays out strict censorship rules for online content ranging from movies and documentaries to cartoons and educational videos, according to Reuters.

Under the new rules, content will be edited or even banned if it promotes “luxurious lifestyles,” shows “violent and criminal processes in detail,” demonstrates “obscenity” including masturbation or displays “abnormal sexual behaviors” such as homosexuality.

The regulation is seen as another step of Chinese authorities’ efforts to tighten its control over online media. Just last week, Weibo, China’s top micro-blogging site, vowed to block unlicensed videos after warnings from the government, causing its stock to plunge.

The new rules quickly sparked heated debates and oppositions on Chinese social media. Li Yinhe, China’s leading scholar and advocate of free sexuality, said in a Weibo post that under these regulations, “all audio-visual art will be revoked.”

“Trying to regulate and censor people’s desires is as absurd as trying to regulate and censor people’s appetites.”

Geng Le, the creator of Blued, one of China’s most popular gay dating apps, and a grand marshal at this year’s NYC Pride Parade, also disagreed with the rules. He pointed to the fact that China has removed homosexuality as a mental illnesses in 2001, and that the World Health Organization had done so in as early as 1990.

“Gay Voice,” a Chinese-language LGBT non-profit magazine, said on social media that homosexuality is just as normal and should not be treated differently. “The false information in these regulations has already caused harm to the Chinese LGBT community — who are already subjected to prejudice and discrimination.”

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds from being sued.

(Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant arrives to attend B.B. King’s funeral in Indianola, Mississippi, May 30, 2015.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the panel concluded that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue the state over House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, reversing a lower court’s decision.

“The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith on behalf of the panel.

In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.

(Photo: Reuters/David McNew)A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office on Valentine’s Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.

“The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” reads HB 1523 in part.

LGBT groups and their allies denounced the legislation and sued to have it struck down. For his part, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last year banning non-essential state travel to Mississippi.

“[I]t is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination,” read Cuomo’s 2016 order.

“All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions [will] review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of Mississippi so long as there is law in effect there that permits and enshrines discrimination against LGBT citizens and unmarried individuals …” Cuomo’s order added.

Last summer, Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked Mississippi’s law from taking effect, concluding that it was “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement Thursday that he commended the panel’s ruling on the “commonsense law.”

“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Perkins.

“Today’s ruling leaves us more confident that the courts will uphold the ability of elected officials to protect the freedom of their citizens to believe and live according to those beliefs”

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Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#D4ljHrmCXmHwz8dC.99

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#0jjFfAGKXVH9qOiS.99

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted on Thursday to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, becoming the first major U.K. church to break from the Anglican majority, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

image: http://d.christianpost.com/full/111439/590-412/church-marriage.jpg
(Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters)Gay rights campaigners protest in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury during the Anglican Primates meeting in January 2016.

The change to canon law on marriage was agreed by the required two-thirds majority in each section of the synod — the bishops, clergy and laity. Sixty-seven percent of clergy and 80 percent of bishops and laity voted in favor of gay marriage.

The new clause removes the language stating that marriage is a “physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman.”

It recognizes that there are different understandings of marriage within the church and allows clergy to solemnize marriage between same-sex couples. Clergy who do not agree with gay marriage will not be obligated to go against their conscience.

“This is the end of a long journey,” said the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. “We have studied, thought and prayed.

“This is a momentous step. By removing gender from our marriage canon, our church now affirms that a same sex couple are not just married but are married in the sight of God.”

The Scottish Episcopal Church, which has over 350 churches across Scotland, is a member of the Anglican Communion — a global church body that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and rejects homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.

Responding to the controversial vote, the Church of England said that it will continue opposing gay marriage, noting that the majority of the Anglican Communion stands by its side, despite growing disagreement on the issue.

“The Church of England is unable by law to marry couples of the same sex and the teaching of the Church of England remains unchanged. However, this is a matter on which there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England,” a spokesperson said.

Ian Ferguson, of Aberdeen and Orkney, the only Scottish diocese to oppose the change to redefine marriage, lamented the vote, saying, “This is one of the saddest and most painful days for us … We are broken. This schismatic move … will cause serious harm to our unity.”

He added that some congregants “may seek alternative episcopal oversight.”

The Telegraph pointed out that the conservative Anglican group Global Anglican Future Conference had said before the vote: “If this action is taken it will further marginalize faithful Anglicans in Scotland who seek to uphold Jesus’s teaching on marriage.”

Chillingworth acknowledged that the decision is “difficult and hurtful” for those who believe redefining marriage is unbiblical and wrong. “For them this new chapter will feel like an exclusion — as if their church has moved away from them.

“So the journey which we now begin must also be a journey of reconciliation.”

He said the Scottish church body will move forward with “two honorable and historic understandings of marriage —– one which sees the marriage of same sex couples as an expression of Christ-like acceptance and welcome — and another which says that the traditional view of marriage is God-ordained and scripturally defined.”

Supporters of the change in marriage law praised the outcome of the vote, BBC News noted, with the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Edinburgh, the Right Reverend Dr. John Armes, stating: “I am very pleased for the couples who can now have their relationships recognized by the church and blessed by God.”

“I’m also pleased for what this means about our church and the way we have been able to do this. But obviously any change like this creates pain and hurt in some as well, so as a bishop of the church I feel for them.”

Other major members of the Anglican Communion, such as the U.S. Episcopal Church, have also voted to support gay marriage. The U.S. church was temporarily suspended from the Communion for its stance last year, but it has refused to go back on its decision despite the controversy.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said that the Scottish church has made “a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”

He pointed out that that the churches within the Communion are “autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law,” however, and said the Scottish Church’s change to canon law will be discussed at the next meetings of the primates of the Communion in Canterbury in October.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/scottish-episcopal-church-approves-gay-marriage-opponents-broken-by-move-that-harms-unity-187162/#xLyWMK81wO2zIHeE.99

Washington Post, Gay Marriage & Taiwan Christians

 

April 25, 2017

Washington Post, Gay Marriage & Taiwan Christians

Christians comprise less than 5% of Taiwan. But, according to a recent Washington Post story that read more like a commentary, they are the main obstacle to Taiwan’s becoming Asia’s first country to ratify same sex marriage.

The story fulsomely quoted Taiwanese advocates of gay marriage, but the reporter evidently either didn’t interview any opponents or didn’t find their comments sufficiently interesting to include. These unnamed opponents are instead dismissively paraphrased, accused of making claims “contrary to evidence,” at least in the reporter’s view. Supposedly they resort to “homophobic tropes” and pander to “parental fear.”

On Twitter, the reporter responded to congratulations for her slant with: “Trying my best not to report bigotry as fact.” So the views of several billion people in the world, possibly the majority of humanity, apparently don’t merit serious treatment if they clash with Western elite political correctness.

 

Meanwhile, unnamed church groups are ominously described as “well-funded” without saying by whom. Public comments by Taiwan’s justice minister opposing judicial redefinition of marriage are cited mockingly.

That justice minister belongs to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, elected to power last year led by a presidential candidate supporting gay marriage. The government seems to prefer redefining marriage through legislation rather than judicial fiat. Such legislation has been stalled due to apparently growing opposition. Unmentioned directly in the Post article, there is a multi faith coalition opposing this legislation, which includes Christians but also Buddhists and Taoists, who respectively each represent about one third of Taiwan’s population. Taiwan’s Christians are deemed “homophobic” but the more numerous religious groups are not cited.

Catholics comprise about half of Taiwan’s Christians. Their bishops have published a lengthy pastoral letter explaining why Catholic doctrine opposes same sex marriage. You can read it here. Presbyterians are the largest Protestant denomination, and although they are politically on the left and often aligned with the Democratic Progressive Party, their General Assembly has opposed same sex marriage with its own pastoral letter.

The Post article offers quotes denying allegations that same sex marriage is a Western imposition on Taiwan. Supposedly Taiwan’s sexual openness is due to its history of free spirited seafarers and their “seafaring gods.” Asian history is full of seafarers and traditional seafaring gods, on which Taiwan has no monopoly. Same sex marriage, especially conceived as a “right,” is a uniquely Western creation.

Same sex marriage as a right is also ironically a legacy of Western Christianity, especially Protestantism, with its stress on equality and individualism. Egalitarianism of persons has led to egalitarianism of sex. Taiwan is being asked to accept the social mores of Scandinavia, Holland and New England, where secularized Protestantism reigns.

And Taiwan is partly receptive, unlike the rest of Asia, because it is so Westernized. The Post article asserts same sex marriage is the logical legacy of Taiwan’s struggle against dictatorship. There’s more to the story. After losing Mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek created one party rule under his Kuomintang. But it fostered capitalism and close ties with the West, especially America. Democracy’s advent in the 1980s was the unintended but predictable result.

Taiwan because of its unique political status is arguably the least Asian of Asian countries. More than other Asian countries, it is experiencing a battle between Western individualism and traditional Asian mores centered on family. My guess is that many Taiwanese same sex marriage proponents are themselves from Protestant backgrounds and have secularized their understanding of human rights to include marriage and gender redefinition, like many in North America and Western Europe.

Here’s a postscript. Chiang Kai-shek was Methodist, and Taiwan under the Kuomintang had relative religious freedom while Communist China under Mao tried to destroy Christianity. Yet today Taiwan is at most 5% Christian (with only a few dozen Methodist churches) while Mainland China, where religion still faces restriction, is at least 5%, and some estimate approaching 10%. Under current church growth rates, China in 20 years or so may have more Christians than any other country.

Taiwan’s religious landscape and its debate over same sex marriage are far more complicated and interesting than the Post story, with its editorial caricatures, was able to admit.