Category: Articles

EI Welcomes Wyoming as Number 32 on the Top 50 Countdown – Tuesday 21 October 2014

 

LOVE BARS NONE

From the October 20, 1973 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 

Love bars
barring;
loving all
bars none.

 

 

The Home Depot Proposal Boys!

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Spencer’s Home Depot Marriage Proposal

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Wyoming Attorney General Says Gay Marriages Can Begin On Tuesday

Posted: Updated: 

 

(Adds challenge to Mississippi gay marriage ban)

By Dan Whitcomb

Oct 20 (Reuters) – Gay marriages can begin in Wyoming on Tuesday after the state files a formal notice that it will not appeal a judge’s order overturning a ban on same-sex matrimony, the state’s attorney general said on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl struck down Wyoming’s gay marriage ban last week, finding that it violated the U.S. Constitution, but stayed his ruling until Thursday, or sooner if the state indicated that it would not file an appeal.

“After reviewing the law and the judge’s decision that binding precedent requires recognition of same-sex marriage, I have concluded that further legal process will result in delay but not a different result,” Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael said in a statement.

Michael said that the nuptials can begin immediately after the state files a formal notice with the court stating that it would not seek that appeal. The move will bring to 32 the number of states that allow gay marriage.

“The Laramie County Clerk will be required to provide marriage licenses to otherwise qualified individuals without regard to whether the applicants are a same-sex couple,” he said, adding that he anticipated that other counties would also provide marriage licenses to gay couples.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has said that while the decision went against his personal beliefs the state would not take up the appeal as such an effort would likely fail.

The U.S. Supreme Court surprised observers this month by leaving intact lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage in five states. A day later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada were unconstitutional.

On Monday, two same-sex couples filed a federal challenge to Mississippi’s gay marriage ban, the first lawsuit of its kind in the mostly rural, Christian-conservative state.

Rebecca Bickett and her long-term partner Andrea Sanders want to get married in Mississippi, the lawsuit says, while Jocelyn Pritchett and her partner Carla Webb were wed in Maine and want their union recognized.

Defendants include Republican Governor Phil Bryant, Democratic state Attorney General Jim Hood, and Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn, who has denied gay couples’ requests for marriage licenses.

“I took an oath to uphold the law and the constitution, and that’s what I have to do,” Dunn said in response to the lawsuit.

Bryant and Hood could not be reached for comment. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Emily Le Coz in Jackson, Mississippi; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Sandra Maler, Eric Walsh and Jim Loney)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/20/gay-marriage-wyoming_n_6016644.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

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History Repeats Itself by Mary Baker Eddy – Wednesday 06 August 2014

 

Wyatt Fore, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was at the courthouse at 6 a.m.

“I’ve always been jealous of my parents, who got to see the civil rights movement firsthand,” said the 27-year-old law student at the University of Michigan. “Now, I get to be a part of history.”

Fore, who is gay and single, said the marriage issue is about more than just specific rights and benefits.

“It’s about equal rights in our society,” he said

 

http://www.heraldstandard.com/united_states_ap/court-hearing-gay-marriage-arguments-from-states/article_84211f6a-7131-57e4-86c4-72ad4141a3fd.html

 

 

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Stevie Nicks – “Stand Back” [Live In Chicago]

 

 

To order “Love is gender-blind” decals click on the link below:

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[Extract from "Message to The Mother Church" for June, 1900]

“History repeats itself”

MARY BAKER EDDY

From the September 22, 1917 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 

 

“Conflict and persecution are the truest signs that can be given of the greatness of a cause or of an individual, provided this warfare is honest and a world-imposed struggle. Such conflict never ends till unconquerable right is begun anew, and hath gained fresh energy and final victory.

“Certain elements in human nature would undermine the civic, social, and religious rights and laws of nations and peoples, striking at liberty, human rights, and self-government—and this, too, in the name of God, justice, and humanity! These elements assail even the newold doctrines of the prophets and of Jesus and his disciples. History shows that error repeats itself until it is exterminated. Surely the wisdom of our forefathers is not added but subtracted from whatever sways the sceptre of self and pelf over individuals, weak provinces, or peoples. Here our hope anchors in God who reigns, and justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne forever” (p. 10).

 

 

 

Breaking – Judge Strikes Down Kentucky’s Gay Marriage Ban – 07/01/2014

 

Unconstitutional and unjust coercive legislation and laws, infringing individual rights, must be “of few days.”  The vox populi, through the providence of God, promotes and impels all true reform; and, at the best time, will redress wrongs and rectify injustice. Tyranny can thrive feebly under our government.  God reigns, and will “turn and overturn” until right is found supreme.

Mary Baker Eddy

(Miscellaneous Writings 80: 16-23)

 

 

Judge Strikes Down Kentucky’s Gay Marriage Ban

GAY MARRIAGE

A federal judge has struck down Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that gay couples have the right to marry in the Bluegrass State.

“In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted,” U.S. District court Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote in the ruling, which concluded that the state’s ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

The judge stayed the ruling pending an appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court, meaning same-sex weddings are not yet allowed in the state. However, Heyburn criticized Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) for arguing that the ban preserves the state’s birth rate and therefore contributes to Kentucky’s economic stability.

“These arguments are not those of serious people,” Heyburn wrote.

Beshear plans to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.

Earlier this year, Heyburn ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where the weddings are legal. That decision is also temporarily on hold pending legal challenges.

Tuesday’s ruling is the latest in an unbroken string of rulings in favor of marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last June.

Read the full ruling below:

Kentucky Gay Marriage

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/01/kentucky-gay-marriage_n_5548179.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

 

 

Mrs. Eddy, CSMonitor.com & The Presbyterian Church – Marriage Equality – 06/22/2014

 

Unconstitutional and unjust coercive legislation and laws, infringing individual rights, must be “of few days.”  The vox populi, through the providence of God, promotes and impels all true reform; and, at the best time, will redress wrongs and rectify injustice. Tyranny can thrive feebly under our government.  God reigns, and will “turn and overturn” until right is found supreme.

Mary Baker Eddy

(Miscellaneous Writings 80: 16-23)

 

 

‘This is the way it has always been’ is an insufficient justification to deny ‘a right as fundamental as marriage,’ Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in striking down the Wisconsin same-sex marriage ban.

By Staff writer / June 6, 2014

The Christian Science Monitor 

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After years-long debate, Presbyterians allow gay marriage ceremonies (+video)

 

The Presbyterian Church’s top legislative body voted Thursday to allow ministers to officiate gay weddings where it is legal. Some now even foresee a larger shift in favor of gay marriage among the religious.

By Gram Slattery, Staff writer 

 

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania. But few churches, synagogues or mosques allow a religious wedding for gay couples; KDKA’s Jon Delano reports.

http://launch.newsinc.com/share.html?trackingGroup=90962&siteSection=csmonitor&videoId=26288499 – VIEW THE VIDEO

Gay members of the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States will soon be able to marry at their place of worship, after the church’s governing body adopted a resolution in Detroit on Thursday.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a faith that boasts 1.8 million adherents, voted by a wide margin to allow ministers to officiate gay weddings where it is legal. It also voted to change the phrase “a man and a woman” to “two people” in the church’s official definition of marriage. Though the definitional change will need approval by the majority of the denomination’s 172 presbyteries – a process that could take more than a year – gay couples can marry in Presbyterian churches starting this Sunday.

This is a move that’s been in the works for some time. Church officials, whose ideologies span from ultraconservative to reform-liberal, have fiercely debated gay marriage over the past decade, twice voting against same-sex marriage at the church’s biennial assembly. As recently as 2008, a pro-gay marriage measure failed with 540 votes against and 161 votes in favor, as many congregants feared that ideological divisions would be fostered.

Conservative and liberal officials again clashed in 2012, when the same measure was voted down narrowly, 52 percent to 48 percent. But now, the numbers have reversed, with 61 percent voting in favor of the change.

“Today really affirmed my faith as a Christian, that God has been calling us to affirm marriages of same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of the More Light Presbyterians coalition, which supports the Presbyterian gay community. “Today, the church has reminded me that I am loved by God and claimed by this denomination.”

Many conservative Presbyterians, however, were vocally distraught over the vote, and the assembly’s moderator, Heath Rada, acknowledged that some assembly attendees felt “anger, wrath, pain” over the result, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Among them was the Rev. Bruce Jones of Janesville, Wis., who called it a “sad” day in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“For many of us, our understanding of Scripture is that God created marriage between a man and woman,” he said. “For the 230 years of the Presbyterian Church USA and 2,000 years of Christianity, we have defined marriage between a man and a woman, and this assembly, the highest governing body of the church, reversed that today.”

The ideological divide between conservatives and liberals has contributed to a steady decline in the church’s membership, with some congregations breaking away to join more-traditional denominations. Since 2008 alone, the church has lost about 300,000 members.

Still, the church is the second most popular form of mainline Protestantism in the US, and it counts many well-known figures, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Reagan, among its adherents.

Some commentators have even portrayed the move as a harbinger of a larger shift in favor of gay marriage among the religious.

“This is a big deal – it’s a big, official reinterpretation of what it means to be Christian and married,” wrote journalist Emma Green in a popular article on The Atlantic magazine’s website on Friday.

Among the other major faiths that officially sanction gay marriage are the United Church of Christ, Conservative and Reform Judaism, Quakerism, and Unitarian Universalism. Together with the members of the Presbyterian Church USA, the adherents of these faiths include slightly more than 5 million Americans.

• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

 

 

Idaho’s Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down By Federal Judge – 05/14/2014

 

I know that my mission is for all the earth, not alone for my dear devoted followers in Christian Science…All my work, all my efforts, all my prayers and tears are for humanity, and the spread of peace and love among mankind.
Mary Baker Eddy
 Interviewed in New York American, 1907.

 

The Trammps – Disco Inferno

 

The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Idaho’s gay marriage ban is latest to be struck down in court

Not counting Idaho, 17 states have legalized gay marriage. Idaho’s governor has said he plans to appeal the decision by a US district magistrate judge.

      Same-sex marriage supporters gather on the steps of the Idaho statehouse in Boise on Tuesday night, May 13, 2014, after US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled earlier in the day that Idaho’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
                  (Kyle Green/The Idaho Statesman/AP)

By Noelle Swan

posted May 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm EDT

A federal court overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, forcing the state not only to recognize same-sex couples married in other states, but also to permit gay and lesbian couples to legally marry in Idaho.

US District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled that the statewide ban, which voters enacted in 2006, is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights of gay and lesbian couples.

“Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted,” Judge Dale wrote in her opinion. “By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status.”

The Idaho ruling is the latest in a string of similar decisions since the US Supreme Court ruled last year that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since that ruling, no federal judge has upheld any statewide ban, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Not counting Idaho, 17 states have legalized gay marriage since Massachusetts became the first state to do so in 2003. Residents have challenged gay marriage bans in all but three of the 33 states that restrict marriage to heterosexual partners.

In Arkansas, which is also not counted among the 17 states, 400 gay and lesbian couples have received marriage licenses since a Pulaski County judge tossed out a voter-approved ban on Friday. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who has said he opposes same-sex marriage, told reporters Tuesday he thinks it will ultimately be up to the Arkansas Supreme Court to decide whether the marriages are valid. The clerks from two other Arkansas counties said they wouldn’t issue any licenses to same-sex couples until the case has been resolved by the state’s highest court.

On Monday, five couples brought suit against the State of Alaska, where voters approved a ban in 1998. And South Dakota couple Jennie Rosenkranz and Nancy Robrahn have said that they will file suit challenging that state’s ban, which was passed in 1996 and reaffirmed by constitutional amendment in 2006. Montana and North Dakota are the other two states that to date have unchallenged bans.

In Idaho, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) has said that he plans to appeal Tuesday’s decision.

“In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Governor Otter said in a statementaccording to the Associated Press. “Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Dale argued in her written opinion that the American public does not have the right, even by majority decision, to restrict the rights of others.

“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” she wrote. “[T]he facts are clear and the law teaches that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens, which neither tradition nor the majority can deny.”

Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State’s Gay Marriage Ban – 05/10/2014

 

“Justice waits, and is used to waiting; and right wins the everlasting victory.”

Mary Baker Eddy

 (Miscellaneous Writings (p. 277)

 

“This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza

 

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At Notre Dame, If You Can Play, You Can Play

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The Notre Dame Athletics Department show their support for the You Can Play Project.

 

Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State’s Gay Marriage Ban

AP  | by  ANDREW DEMILLO
Posted: Updated: 

 

* Photo – Courtesy of allposters.com

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A judge on Friday struck down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, saying the state has “no rational reason” for preventing gay couples from marrying.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of same-sex couples. He didn’t put his ruling on hold as some judges have done in other states, opening the door for same-sex couples in Arkansas to begin seeking marriage licenses, though it was not clear whether that would happen before Monday.

“This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office said he would appeal the ruling and asked Piazza to suspend it during that process.

“We respect the Court’s decision, but, in keeping with the Attorney General’s obligation to defend the state constitution, we will appeal,” spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

Piazza issued his ruling late Friday, about half an hour after the marriage license office in Pulaski County closed.

Arkansas courthouses typically aren’t open on weekends, but with the state in its early-voting period for a May 20 primary, several clerks’ offices will be open Saturday. However, clerks reached by The Associated Press after Piazza issued his ruling said they hadn’t been formally notified of it and weren’t prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses.

At least one couple who sued over the ban said they hoped to wed quickly. Kathy Henson said she and her girlfriend Angelia Buford planned to seek a marriage license in neighboring Saline County as soon as offices opened.

“We think that (Piazza) did a really great job and that he ruled on the right side of history,” Henson said.

The ruling came a week after McDaniel announced he personally supports gay marriage rights but would continue to defend the constitutional ban in court. Sadler said McDaniel sought the stay because “we know that questions about validity of certain actions will arise absent a stay.”

The amendment was passed in 2004 with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters. Piazza’s ruling also overturns a 1997 state law banning gay marriage.

In his decision, Piazza cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 decision that invalidated laws on interracial marriage.

“It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice,” Piazza wrote, referring to that ruling. “The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since then, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down some of the same-sex marriage bans that were enacted after Massachusetts started recognizing gay marriages in 2004.

Federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In all, according to gay-rights groups, more than 70 lawsuits seeking marriage equality are pending in about 30 states. Democratic attorneys general in several states — including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and Kentucky — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights, praised the ruling.

“This victory is an essential step on the journey toward full equality for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native.

But the leader of the group that campaigned for the ban said the judge was undermining the will of voters.

“This ruling undermines marriage because once people start redefining marriage, there seems to be no place to stop,” Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox said.

McDaniel, a Democrat in his final year as attorney general, is the first statewide elected official in Arkansas to support marriage equality.

___

Associated Press Writers Christina Huynh and Kelly Kissel contributed to this report

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/arkansas-gay-marriage-ban_n_5298379.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

 

Federal Judge To End Ohio Ban On Recognizing Gay Marriages – 04/04/2014

 

It is a moral understanding today that gay people are no different and that gay, married couple’s relationships are not significantly different than the relationship of straight, married couples.

Roberta A Kaplan

UNITED STATES V WINDSOR ATTORNEY

 

 

edithwindsor

 

 

 

Federal Judge To End Ohio Ban On Recognizing Gay Marriages

AP

 by  AMANDA LEE MYERS

Posted: 04/04/2014 12:47 pm EDT

Updated: 04/04/2014 2:51 pm EDT

  

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal judge said Friday that he will strike down Ohio’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage, a move that stops short of forcing Ohio to perform same-sex weddings but will make the state recognize gay couples legally wed elsewhere.

Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Black said. “(They’re) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”

The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.

The Cincinnati-based legal team asked Black to declare that Ohio’s gay marriage ban is “facially unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable,” and indicated that following such a ruling, the window would be open for additional litigation seeking to force the state to allow gay couples to marry in Ohio.

Attorneys for the state argued that it’s Ohio’s sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman, that the statewide gay marriage ban doesn’t violate any fundamental rights, and that attorneys improperly expanded their originally narrow lawsuit.

“Ohio has made its own decision regarding marriage, deciding to preserve the traditional definition,” state’s attorneys argued in court filings ahead of Friday’s hearing.

They argued that prohibiting the state from enforcing its marriage ban would “disregard the will of Ohio voters, and undercut the democratic process.”

He didn’t say why he made the announcement on his ruling before he issues it. But by stating his intention ahead of his ruling, Black gave time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he does.

CSMonitor – Fred Phelps legacy . . . 03/18/2014

 

People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, their tactics were actually backfiring,” writes Kristen Hotham Carroll, a contributor to The Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community to almost a secret weapon. Their hate made us more sympathetic.

 

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The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Fred Phelps legacy: Should Westboro Baptist founder be picketed?

With reports that Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps is near death, some gay-rights advocates are conflicted. In the end, they say, his actions actually helped their cause.

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Counterprotesters use flags to screen those attending a military funeral in Lamar, Mo., from Westboro Baptist Church protesters (seen in the background) in this 2010 photo.
(Emily Younker/The Joplin Globe/AP/File)

By , Staff writer / March 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm EDT

For most of the past 20 years, gay Americans dreaded Fred Phelps Sr. and the “God hates fags” pickets by members of his Westboro Baptist Church, a congregation that believes that disciples who do not attack those they see as sinful will themselves be punished by God.

But amid reports that Mr. Phelps is now seriously ill at a TopekaKan., hospice facility,  some religion experts and gay activists are suggesting that the gay rights movement may ultimately owe Phelps a debt of gratitude for his leadership of one of the most controversial small churches in America.

Instead of turning America against gays and same-sex unions, they argue, Phelps may have instead helped to draw attention to the subject of religious intolerance and its impact on fellow Americans.

“We should give thanks for [Fred Phelps’] gift to American society,” writes Mark Silk, a religion professor Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. “So what’s the gift? It’s that he made religious hostility to homosexuality repulsive.

Mr. Silk’s comment comes amid a social media debate over whether those whom Phelps targeted during his nearly 60 years as leader of the church should themselves picket Phelps’s eventual funeral. Westboro became synonymous with the evangelical backlash to gay marriage, strands of which still persist as states and federal courts battle over state laws and amendments that ban gay marriage.

In late February, for instance, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have given new protections to religious business owners to turn down gay customers, which critics saw as an invitation to discriminate against gay people.

In the past year, eight US states have legalized gay marriage, and the US Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has to recognize same-sex marriages from states where the practice is legal. Last month, Kentucky’s attorney general made news when he said he would not appeal a federal court ruling striking down that state’s constitutional ban on gay marriages.

But while it’s impossible to pin down Westboro’s exact role in changing attitudes around gay marriage, what’s unmistakable is that support for gay marriage among religious Americans has gone up sharply over time and especially in the last year.

Support for gay marriage has gone up 11 percentage points since last year among black Protestants (to 43 percent), and up 7 points just in the last year (to 62 percent) among white mainline Protestants. Support, however, remains flat among Catholics (59 percent) and Evangelicals (23 percent), according to the most recent survey by the Pew Research Center.

Westboro came into full public light in 1998, when the group picketed the funeral of Mathew Shephard, a murdered gay man. At its high point, the 40-member church spent $250,000 a year traveling around the country to picket. The outrage they caused helped the group’s publicity campaign, as it received news coverage even for events they only threatened to picket but never did.

There remains a lot of pent-up anger about Phelps’s long career as a religious rabble-rouser.

“Fred Phelps, you have done more to hurt the gospel, stir up hateful people, and alienate members of society than nearly anyone in the last 20 years,”writes Jayson Bradley, who blogs on religious issues.

Considered “hyper-Calvinists” by some, Westboro Baptist congregants have never actually tried to change anybody’s mind on the issue of gay marriage, says Mr. Bradley. Instead, their job has been to “spread and communicate [God’s] hatred and anger.”

Yet some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists who long feared Phelps and his picketers say they came to see Phelps and his flock in a different light as time passed.

“People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, their tactics were actually backfiring,” writes Kristen Hotham Carroll, a contributor to The Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community to almost a secret weapon. Their hate made us more sympathetic.”

As he led his largely family-clan church on picketing exploits around the country, eventually expanding to picket military funerals, Phelps cut a peculiar figure in American history.

In his early career, he was a civil rights lawyer lauded by the likes of the NAACP. Phelps’s firm represented black Kansans in civil rights lawsuits against the city of Topeka, Kansas Power & Light, and Southwestern Bell, among other cases. But he was disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1979 for unethical behavior and was forced to surrender his license to practice in federal courts in 1989.

Even before Phelps entered hospice care, Westboro Baptist Church was in a period of transition. The church excommunicated Phelps last summer after he advocated “a kinder approach between church members,” his estranged son, Nate Phelps, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

I Will Not Picket the Funeral of Fred Phelps – 03/17/2014

 

Hatred and homophobia can never be underestimated.  And the effect of someone saying “God hates fags” can never be underestimated either.  It’s a license to kill. It’s a death sentence.  It’s not funny.  It’s not OK.  It’s not something I can let go easily, because I know what it truly means.

Margaret Cho

Comedian, actor and recording artist

 

Inside (Video)the Westboro Baptist Church

Libby Phelps Alvarez describes growing up inside America’s most hate-filled congregation

 

 

I Will Not Picket the Funeral of Fred Phelps

Posted: Updated: 

 

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost’s signature lineup of contributors

In the late 1990s, I joined an LGBT rights movement called Soulforce, inspired by the principles of non-violence and social justice utilized by Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Mahatma Gandhi. One of our first direct actions was in Lynchburg, VA, where we met with Reverend Jerry Falwell, and other members of his church. Our goal was to begin a dialogue, and to try to end the hateful rhetoric that was leading to the loss of life, both through hate crimes as well as a daunting number of suicides. It was right after the Matthew Shepard murder, and emotions in the LGBT community were soaring.

At that time, for so many members of the community, living authentic and open lives was not a viable option. You could lose your job, your housing, be arrested, or even killed, just for loving the wrong person. However, it was quickly becoming evident that the cost of silence was outweighing the risk of openness and truth. The silence that saved our lives for many generations, was holding us back from living meaningful lives. While there had always been a small contingent of brave and selfless heroes of the LGBT community fighting for our rights, more and more of us were finally deciding it was time to take a stand. Soulforce resonated with me, because it addressed the source of the discrimination where it was the most prevalent, in the churches.

We gathered in Lynchburg, and although we had originally planned to have a dinner with Reverend Falwell and his supporters, at the last moment they said they could not possibly eat with us, as breaking bread with us would compromise their morality. At every turn, we were made to feel less and less human. As we arrived on site at Thomas Road Baptist Church, we were met not only by the scorn and judgment of the church members, but also by picketers from Westboro Baptist Church.

We were instructed at every point to ignore them and not to engage. That was quite hard for me at the time. I was in my early 20s, still in the beginning stages of recovering from an evangelical upbringing that taught me to ignore, suppress, and hate the person I was. Soulforce was a new form of salvation for me. I found out that God loved me and made me, just as I am. I found out there were other people like me, who believed in God and who loved God, and who were also born lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. It was the biggest joy of my life, knowing I could still have a personal relationship with God, without turning my back on the person I was born to be.

My wounds were fresh — coming out to the rejection of my family and most of my friends, being told I was less than, a sinner, disgusting and wrong. Having the opportunity to participate in a group like Soulforce, that attacked the source of the rhetoric and the hate directly from the pulpits, was both freeing and conflicting. It was hard to love the people who had made me hate myself for so long. Adding the component of the group from Westboro Baptist Church, with their spiteful signs depicting explicit sex acts, using young children to communicate their message, and preaching a clear message of hate, made this meeting with Reverend Falwell all the more emotionally charged. We were already confronting our tormentors… those who made us hate ourselves… those who made us believe that we were mistakes… those who told us that God didn’t love us, and that we were going to hell… and as we summoned the courage to walk into the church that had famously and loudly preached against us for so many years, we were taunted and yelled at and humiliated by the picketers who shouted to us that God hates us… a message we had all worked tirelessly to heal from.

The following year, I attended a two-week non-violence summit in Cleveland, where our final event was a protest of the United Methodist Annual Convention. Reverend Jimmy Creech had just been defrocked by the Methodist Church for marrying same-sex couples. He was one of the leaders in our training. Alongside him were Soulforce founders Mel White and Gary Nixon, as well as Yolanda King, Arun Ghandi, Bob Graetz, of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and many other amazing leaders in nonviolence and social justice. It was one of the most inspiring and life changing times in my life, and once again, Westboro Baptist Church was present.

Much like in Lynchburg, emotions were blazing. We interlocked as a human chain, blocking the entrance and exit to the convention center with signs that said, “No entrance/exit without justice.” We were arrested for blocking the exit and entrance, all the while with the WBC members taunting us, and yelling hate speech toward us. We simply ignored them, praying for strength, courage and peace, and singing songs of freedom. The more they yelled at us, the louder and stronger we sang. For several blocks in downtown Cleveland that hot summer day, “We Shall Overcome” echoed through the streets, drowning out the cries of hate from the congregation from Kansas.

Years passed, the world began to change, and a funny thing happened. I started to see the value of the WBC pickets. They had moved on from just picketing LGBT people and supporters, and they were now picketing funerals for soldiers who had died defending our country. Now, not only were they hurting us, they were hurting everyone. Inspiring widespread disdain, the tides were turning. People started to feel bad for the groups they were protesting, and their tactics were actually backfiring. They didn’t seem to notice or care, as long as they were in the public eye. They went from being a dreaded enemy of the LGBT community, to almost a secret weapon. Their hate actually made us more sympathetic, and I welcomed their increasingly demented and frenzied protests.

Early on, I spent a lot of time on their website. They used to have hand drawn flyers announcing their protests, with ridiculous cartoon style drawings of whoever they were protesting, as well as nonsensical rants describing why they were protesting whatever bride of Satan or fag nation had garnered their attention that particular day. From once being a source of pain, they had almost become a source of amusement for me.

Not too long ago, I had the thought that I could only hope I lived a life that would warrant a funeral picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. I posted a Facebook status to that effect, and not long after, I noticed several others shared that sentiment, independent of my post. For quite some time, it became a pretty widespread sentiment that I saw throughout many different unique corners within social media. What a shift from the horror and hurt they caused not so many years before! A WBC picket had evolved into the badge of honor for a life well lived.

It is now 2014. Reverend Phelps is nearing death, and the world looks very different than just 15 or 16 years ago. Gay marriage will soon be legal in every state in the U.S. Signs saying “God Hates Fags” are no longer hurtful. They are more an object of amusement at best and an eye roll at worst, than anything else. I can still quickly remember a time when that wasn’t the case.

It would certainly be understandable if there were members of the LGBT community, as well as so many others, who felt inclined to picket the funeral of Fred Phelps. Though the weight of his actions and pickets has dissipated over the years, there was a time when his actions and leadership cause a tremendous amount of grief for an awful lot of people. It is my hope, however, that no one will descend to the level of hatred and pettiness that seemed to fuel the last decades of his life. We would only be harming our own souls, to carry out such a callous, immoral and emotionally void action. It is my prayer that in the last moments of his life, the Reverend is able to find peace and love, as he prepares to be humbled before his maker. The time for the hurt is ending. It is time to let the healing begin. Truly, the best way to avenge hurt inflicted by our enemies is to simply forgive them, and not allow them to have a stronghold in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Fred. I forgive you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-hotham-carroll/fred-phelps-westboro_b_4976787.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Gay Marriage Ban is History – 03/15/2014

 

“At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” Judge Trauger wrote in the order.

 

 

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The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Judge calls Tenn. gay marriage ban historical ‘footnote’: Do Southerners now agree?

The South remains the most hard-line US region opposing same-sex marriage. But a recent shift in public attitudes – even in the Bible Belt – suggests that may be changing.

 

By , Staff writer / March 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm EDT
ATLANTAIn ordering an injunction against Tennessee’s ban on gay marriage, a federal judge on Friday called laws against recognizing same sex couples mere “footnotes” in history.

As the legal battle over gay rights shifts to the South, the big question now is whether Southerners have tacitly begun to agree with that notion.

The injunction ruling by Judge Aleta Trauger covers three couples who filed a lawsuit last year against the 2006 state constitutional amendment that both bans gay marriage in the state and orders officials not to recognize marriage certificates from other states. The judge has not made a final ruling in the case, but did seem to tip her hat Friday.

“At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” Judge Trauger wrote in the order.

The ruling is the fourth of its kind in the South, which remains the most hard-line region when it comes to denying people of the same sex joining in state-sanctioned unions. In Tennessee, 81 percent of voters approved the gay marriage constitutional ban in 2006.

But a recent shift in public attitudes on gay marriage – even here in the Bible Belt – suggests that a truce could be near.

Washington Post poll this week showed support for gay marriage in the South at 50 percent for the first time, compared to 59 percent support nationally. Forty-two percent of Southerners say they’re opposed to gay marriage.

“While geographic splits on same-sex marriage approval do show the South lagging other regions, it’s no longer a minority view even here, and it isn’t hard to fathom which way it’s trending,” writes Bruce Barry in the Nashville Scene.

Gay couples are filing lawsuits at a rapid pace in states where voters approved anti-gay marriage amendments to their state constitutions – Indiana, for example, saw 11 couples joining a lawsuit filed on Friday alone. The suits are coming on the heels of last year’s Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right of same-sex couples to get federal benefits. Since then, judges have struck down marriage bans in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, and Texas.

In the US, pro-gay marriage states are clustered in the Northeast and Far West; anti-gay marriage states are stacked up in the South, in the Appalachians, the Ohio River Valley, and parts of the Mountain West.

In response to Friday’s ruling in Tennessee, David Fowler, president of Family Action Council of Tennessee, said he expects attorney general Robert Cooper to appeal any final ruling against the marriage ban.

The judge “clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of the states and the citizens … to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” Mr. Fowler fumed in a statement.

But it’s not clear, given changing attitudes and legal dynamics – including US Attorney General Eric Holder telling state attorneys general they don’t have to try to uphold laws they feel are discriminatory – whether Southern officials will try to rebuff the courts.

Already, six Democratic attorneys generals have said they will not appeal court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in their states. Such hesitation has begun to spread to the South, as well. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway angered conservatives in the state when he recently signaled he will not appeal a federal pro-gay marriage ruling in his state.

“Southerners are increasingly on a journey in support of the freedom to marry,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, in a statement. “At its core, marriage is about love and family – deeply ingrained Southern values.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0315/Judge-calls-Tenn.-gay-marriage-ban-historical-footnote-Do-Southerners-now-agree