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« Reply #450 on: March 20, 2014, 04:54:28 PM »

Westboro Baptist founder dies
by John Hanna, The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., the fiery founder of a small Kansas church who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died. He was 84.

Daughter Margie Phelps told The Associated Press that Fred Phelps died shortly after midnight Thursday. She didn't provide the cause of death or the condition that recently put him in hospice care.

Throughout his life, Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, a small congregation made up almost entirely of his extended family, tested the boundaries of free speech, violating accepted societal standards for decency in their unapologetic assault on gays and lesbians. In the process, some believe he even helped the cause of gay rights by serving as such a provocative symbol of intolerance.

Phelps believed any misfortune, most infamously the deaths of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was God's punishment for society's tolerance of homosexuality. He and his followers carried forward their message bluntly, holding held signs at funerals and public events that used ugly slurs and read "Thank God for dead soldiers." God, he preached, had nothing but anger and bile for the moral miscreants of his creation.

"Can you preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God?" Phelps asked in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press. "The answer is absolutely not. And these preachers that muddle that and use that deliberately, ambiguously to prey on the follies and the fallacious notions of their people, that's a great sin."

For those who didn't like the message or the tactics, Phelps and his family had only disdain. "They need to drink a frosty mug of shut-the-hell-up and avert their eyes," his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, once told a group of Kansas lawmakers.

The activities of Phelps' church, unaffiliated with any larger denomination, inspired a federal law and laws in more than 40 states limiting protests and picketing at funerals. He and a daughter were even barred from entering Britain for inciting hatred.

But in a major free-speech ruling in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the church and its members were protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and could not be sued for monetary damages for inflicting pain on grieving families.

Yet despite that legal victory, some gay rights advocates believe all the attention Phelps generated served to advance their cause.

Sue Hyde, a staff member at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said plenty of churches and ministers preach a message that attacks gay people. But Phelps and his family had "taken this out on the streets," forcing people to confront their own views and rousing a protective instinct in parents and friends of gays and lesbians.

"It's actually a wonderful recruiting tool for a pro-equality, pro-social acceptance movement," she said. "To the Phelps family, that is not particularly important or relevant. They are not there to save us. They are there to advise us that we are doomed."

Once seen as the church's unchallengeable patriarch, Phelps' public visibility waned as he grew older and he became less active in the church's pickets, with daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Margie Phelps — an attorney who argued the church's case before the U.S. Supreme Court — most often speaking for Westboro. In the fall of 2013, even they were replaced by a church member not related to Phelps by blood as Westboro's chief spokesman.

In Phelps' later years, the protests themselves were largely ignored or led to counter demonstrations that easily shouted down Westboro's message. A motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard arose to shield mourners at military funerals from Westboro's notorious signs. At the University of Missouri in 2014, hundreds of students gathered to surround the handful of church members who traveled to the campus after football player Michael Sam came out as gay.

Phelps' final weeks were shrouded in mystery. A long-estranged son, Nate Phelps, said his father had been voted out of the congregation in the summer of 2013 "after some sort of falling out," but the church refused to discuss the matter. Westboro's spokesman would only obliquely acknowledge this month that Phelps had been moved into a care facility because of health problems.

Fred Waldron Phelps was born in Meridian, Miss., on Nov. 13, 1929. He was raised a Methodist and once said he was "happy as a duck" growing up. He was an Eagle Scout, ran track and graduated from high school at age 16.

Selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy, Phelps never made it to West Point. He once said he went to a Methodist revival meeting and felt the calling to preach. Ordained a Baptist minister in 1947, he met his wife after he delivered a sermon in Arizona, and they were married in 1952.

Phelps was a missionary and pastor in the western United States and Canada before settling in Topeka in 1955 and founding his church. He earned his law degree from Washburn University in Topeka in 1964, focused on civil rights issues.

But in 1979, the Kansas Supreme Court stripped him of his license to practice in state courts, concluding he'd made false statements in court documents and "showed little regard" for professional ethics. He called the court corrupt and insisted he saw its action as a badge of honor. He later agreed to stop practicing in federal court, too.

Westboro remained a small church throughout his life, with less than 100 members, most related to the patriarch or one of his 13 children by blood or marriage. Its website says people are free to visit weekly services to get more information, though the congregation can vote at any time to remove a member who they decide is no longer a recipient of God's grace.

The church's building in central Topeka is surrounded by a wooden fence, and family members are neighbors, their yards enclosed by the same style of fence in a manner that suggests a sealed-off compound.

Most of his children were unflinchingly loyal, with some following their father into the law. While some estranged family members reported experiencing severe beatings and verbal abuse as children, the children who defended their father said his discipline was in line with biblical standards and never rose to the level of abuse.

Phelps could at times, in a courtly and scholarly manner, explain his religious beliefs and expound on how he formed them based on his reading of the Bible. He could also belittle those who questioned him and professed not to care whether people liked the message, or even whether they listened. He saw himself as "absolutely 100 percent right."

"Anybody who's going to be preaching the Bible has got to be preaching the same way I'm preaching," he said in 2006.

Despite his avowedly conservative views on social issues, and the early stirrings of the clout Christian evangelicals would enjoy within the Kansas Republican Party, Phelps ran as a Democrat during his brief dabble as a politician. He finished a distant third in the 1990 gubernatorial primary, and later ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and Topeka mayor.

It was about that time that Westboro's public crusade against homosexuality began. The protests soon widened and came to include funerals of AIDS victims and any other event that would draw a large crowd, from concerts of country singer Vince Gill to the Academy Awards.

He reserved special scorn for conservative ministers who preached that homosexuality was a sin but that God nevertheless loved gays and lesbians. When the Rev. Jerry Falwell died in 2007, Westboro members protested at his funeral with the same sorts of signs they held up outside services a decade earlier for Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death in 1998.

"They're all going to hell," Phelps said in a 2005 interview of Christians who refuse to condemn gay people as he did.

It wasn't just the message, but also the mocking tone that many found to be deliberately cruel. Led by Phelps, church members thanked God for roadside explosive devices and prayed for thousands more casualties, calling the deaths of military personnel killed in the Middle East a divine punishment for a nation it believed was doomed by its tolerance for gay people.

State and federal legislators responded by enacting restrictions on such protests. A Pennsylvania man whose 20-year-old Marine son died in 2006 sued the church after it picketed the son's funeral and initially won $11 million. In an 8-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2011 that the First Amendment protects even such "hurtful" speech, though it undoubtedly added to the father's "already incalculable grief."

"The Westboro Baptist Church is probably the vilest hate group in the United the State of America," Heidi Beirich, research director for the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Associated Press in July 2011. "No one is spared, and they find people at their worst, most terrible moments of grief, and they throw this hate in their faces. It's so low."
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« Reply #451 on: April 04, 2014, 02:25:05 PM »

Brendan Eich's forced resignation from Mozilla shows a huge turning point in the acceptance of gay equality and rights. Not only is it no longer cool to be anti-gay, but it could cost you your job.


Mozilla CEO Brenden Eich steps down after Prop 8 donation outcry
By Douglas Ernst

Brendan Eich, the co-founder of Mozilla, has stepped down as CEO over the controversy that erupted after his $1,000 pledge in support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8 became widely known.

“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read a statement from Mozilla. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

Mr. Eich, the inventor of the Javascript programming language, tried to quell the calls for his resignation in late March shortly after taking up the position, stating: “I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. […] I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results.”

It wasn’t enough, and on Thursday he officially stepped down.

“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker said in an interview Thursday morning, the technology website Recode reported. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”

Mr. Eich had insisted that his personal views did not affect his ability to lead the company, noting that Mozilla had been extremely friendly to the gay and lesbian community for years. Ms. Baker’s past experience with him seemed to validate his claims.

“That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness,” she said, Recode reported. “But I overestimated that experience.”


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« Reply #452 on: April 04, 2014, 04:55:35 PM »

If You're Against Gay Marriage, You're a Bad CEO
By Will Oremus

There was a time when supporting gay marriage made you a radical. Then there was a time when it made you a progressive. Now we’ve reached a point where not supporting gay marriage makes you unfit to lead a major Silicon Valley organization.

Some will say we’ve come too far, too fast—that it’s unfair to pillory someone for a political view that was held by the majority of Californians just six years ago. They’re wrong.

Just 10 days after he was named CEO of Mozilla Corporation, the tech company behind the popular Firefox Web browser, Brendan Eich resigned Thursday under pressure. Eich, the inventor of the Javascript programming language, was technically well-qualified to lead an organization dedicated to upholding the vitality and openness of the Web. But his personal views made him untenable as Mozilla’s leader.

I say “personal views” rather than “political views,” because that distinction is the key to understanding why Eich had to go.

In 2008, California voters narrowly passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment limiting legal marriage rights to heterosexual couples. Four years later, it came to light that Eich had been among Prop 8’s supporters, donating $1,000 to the anti-gay marriage campaign. The revelation sparked a righteous Twitter storm among technophiles, who tend to lean socially liberal regardless of their economic views. As far as I can tell, however, it did not lead to broad-based calls for Eich to resign from his post at Mozilla, where he had been Chief Technical Officer since 2005.

That changed on March 24, when a divided Mozilla board named Eich CEO. The Wall Street Journal reported that three board members resigned over the choice. Employees revolted too. And public condemnation was widespread. The online-dating site OkCupid went so far as to barricade its website for Firefox users, urging them to switch to a different browser.

Eich tried to control the damage. On March 26, he published a blog post promising to uphold Mozilla’s anti-discrimination policies, treat its employees equally, and foster an open and inclusive atmosphere. He also expressed “sorrow” at “having caused pain,” without explicitly mentioning Proposition 8. But he resisted calls to step down, and he never renounced his support for the measure. “I don't want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we've been going,” he told the Guardian. “I don't believe they're relevant.”

The notion that your political views shouldn’t affect your employment is a persuasive one. Where would we be as a democracy if Republicans were barred from jobs at Democrat-led companies, or vice versa?

But this is different. Opposing gay marriage in America today is not akin to opposing tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan. It’s more akin to opposing interracial marriage: It bespeaks a conviction that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others. An organization like Mozilla might tolerate that in an underling, and it might even tolerate it in a CTO. But in a CEO—the ultimate decision-maker and public face of an organization—it sends an awful message. That’s doubly so for an organization devoted to openness and freedom on the Web—not to mention one with numerous gay employees.

It’s an even bigger problem for a tech company in Silicon Valley, where competition for top engineers is fierce. Mozilla’s edge over goliaths like Google and Facebook is that it offers employees a chance to work for an organization whose values they can truly believe in. A bigoted boss, no matter how well-meaning, undermines that appeal.

Think for a second: If you knew your boss rated you undeserving of the same rights as everyone else based solely on your sexual orientation, would you feel good about going to work for him every day? Would you be reassured when he insisted he wouldn’t treat you any differently in the workplace just because he felt the Constitution ought to be amended to discriminate against people like you? And how would you feel if he then defended himself, as he did in the Guardian interview, by stressing the need to appease your organization’s least-tolerant constituents? From the interview:

Eich also stressed that Firefox worked globally, including in countries like Indonesia with “different opinions,” and LGBT marriage was “not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that's in the future, right now we're in a world where we have to be global to have effect.”

Actually, Mr. Eich, right now we’re in a world where you have to not be a bigot if you want to be an effective leader of an organization like Mozilla. And it’s about time.
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« Reply #453 on: April 17, 2014, 07:29:40 PM »

Lawyer who defended Calif. gay marriage ban plans daughter’s gay wedding
By Robert Barnes

The conservative lawyer who defended California’s ban on gay marriage at the Supreme Court is at work on another project: planning his daughter’s upcoming same-sex wedding ceremony.

Charles J. Cooper, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department and onetime “Republican lawyer of the year,” learned of his daughter’s sexual orientation during the legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, according to journalist Jo Becker’s soon-to-be-released book chronicling the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ashley Lininger became engaged to a woman identified in the book only as Casey just after the Supreme Court accepted the Proposition 8 case in December 2012. Cooper, a noted Supreme Court practitioner, argued the case in March 2013.

The court ruled against Cooper’s clients, saying they did not have legal standing to challenge a federal district judge’s ruling that the ban was unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages then resumed in the nation’s most populous state.

In its limited ruling, the court sidestepped Cooper’s argument that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage and that decisions about whether to allow such unions should be left to the states and voters.

Cooper told Becker that he did not think it appropriate to comment on how he would vote on the issue should he have the opportunity.

“What I will say only is that my views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it 10 years ago,” Cooper is quoted as saying.

Cooper joins a list of prominent Republicans — former vice president Richard B. Cheney and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio among them — with children whose interests are at odds with party orthodoxy on gay marriage.

Becker wrote that Cooper and his daughter spent hours discussing the case while it was ongoing and disagreed about Cooper’s view that states had reason to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions and withhold the right from same-sex couples.

“I think the most upset I got was being called an ‘experiment’ that people deserved to see the outcome of before accepting,” Becker quoted Lininger as saying. “It just made me feel — alien, I guess.”

Lininger lives in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and now one of 17, in addition to the District of Columbia, where the unions are legal. She did not want to be interviewed for this story. Cooper said the same, although he offered a statement:

“My family is typical of families all across America. We love each other; we stand up for each other; and we pray for, and rejoice in, each other’s happiness. My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

He added: “As Becker reports in her book, I told Ashley that what matters most is that I love her and she loves me.”

In the book, Cooper said he left it up to his daughter — he married her mother, Debbie, when the girl was 7 and always refers to her as his daughter — whether she wanted to go public with her engagement during the litigation.

Although it might have made the point that personal concerns are different from questions of policy, Cooper said he was relieved she decided on privacy.

“I didn’t want, and I didn’t think she wanted, for her and Casey to suddenly become the most famous lesbians in America,” Cooper told Becker. “But can you imagine how riveting it would have been if at the oral argument I disclosed this? I kind of personified what I was arguing.”

Becker is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting when she worked for The Washington Post. For her book “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” she was given unfettered access to the legal team seeking to overturn Proposition 8 — the odd-couple team of Republican Theodore Olson and Democrat David Boies — as well as the organization American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was formed to bring a case to the Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

She did not have the same access to the legal teams defending Proposition 8 and the companion case that challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But she wrote that Cooper granted her hours of interviews and allowed her to tell the story of his family.

Cooper granted few media interviews during the years-long litigation and was criticized by some conservatives for not being vigorous enough in his defense of traditional marriage.

He was haunted throughout the proceedings by a comment he made when the Proposition 8 case was at trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Walker asked Cooper how it would harm the state’s interest in encouraging heterosexual couples to marry and raise families if it also allowed same-sex couples to wed. “Your honor, my answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cooper eventually replied.

Cooper immediately regretted his words and spent the rest of the litigation trying to take them back. What he meant by the comment, he said, was that same-sex marriage was so new and untried — “an experiment” — that the answer was impossible to know.

Becker writes about how, through the years of litigation, the opposing lawyers and plaintiffs were tied together as the case moved through the process.

Cooper and Olson are old friends, usually part of the same elite conservative legal establishment. Cooper succeeded Olson as head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan Justice Department.

Cooper said in the book that he came to especially admire the lesbian couple who challenged Proposition 8, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.

They returned the compliment in a statement about Cooper’s defense of Proposition 8 at the same time his daughter was planning to marry a woman.

“Some may find this contrast between public and private jarring, but in our opinion, loving an LGBT child unequivocally is the single most important thing any parent can do.”

The question of whether there is a constitutional right to marriage that states may not withhold from gay couples could return to the Supreme Court in time for its term beginning in October.

But it is not the Proposition 8 case that has been the impetus for an unbroken line of federal district court decisions that such bans are unconstitutional: The judges instead are relying on the court’s decision in the DOMA case, U.S. v. Windsor , that ordered the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed where they are legal.


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« Reply #454 on: April 19, 2014, 01:53:40 PM »

OOOOOOOH, sweet irony !
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« Reply #455 on: June 02, 2014, 06:08:54 AM »

Pastor Frank Schaefer never expected to speak for gay rights. His son’s gay wedding changed everything.
by  Michelle Boorstein

 To Frank Schaefer, it wasn’t three of his four children being gay that bothered him so much, it was that they looked gay. So sometimes he’d offer pointers.

“Swing your arms when you walk,” Schaefer’s son Kevin, then 16, recalls his father telling him one fall day a few years ago.

The Schaefers were window-shopping during a family trip to Boston when Schaefer stopped Kevin and his sister, Debbie, who was three years older. “Not swinging is ladylike,” he advised Kevin.

He then pointed out to Debbie that she didn’t move her hips when she walked, like most women do. Maybe, he joked, the two could switch walks?

Kevin recalls being humiliated but not angry. He understood that his father was struggling with his own feelings. Debbie just brushed her father off. He wasn’t really criticizing, she told herself — he was just making an observation.

This painful scene between a parent and a gay child is perhaps not so unusual — until you widen the frame.

The next year, Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist pastor in rural Pennsylvania, was in Boston again on a family trip. This time, he was there to officiate at the wedding of his gay son Tim — in violation of his denomination’s doctrine, which prohibits same-sex marriage.

The love of Tim and his soon-to-be-husband “is from no other source than from God,” Schaefer told some 120 people gathered that April day in 2007 at a restaurant overlooking Massachusetts Bay. The applause seemed to go on forever.


It took six years for word of Schaefer’s actions to find its way to the United Methodist Church. The church trial that followed a complaint to the bishop’s office made global news last year. In December, Schaefer’s defrocking ignited a movement that could well cause a schism in the country’s second-largest denomination, with a large group of conservative clergy a few weeks ago calling for dialogue on how to “part ways amicably.”

Meanwhile, Schaefer has become a national star in the gay equality movement — a sought-after speaker and the focus of a documentary, a play and countless stories in the news media. Yet even as he passionately advocates for gay rights, the 52-year-old Schaefer is an unlikely activist. Even now, years after the first of his three gay children came out, he talks about a continuing “evolution” in his beliefs.

All this makes the defrocked pastor an apt icon for America in 2014, when polls show a large swath of adults still have doubts about gay equality despite the whirlwind embrace of the movement by courts, governments and much of society.

“I was concerned, as many parents are, how people look at your children, that they fit in,” Schaefer says about the Boston sidewalk scene years ago. “I’m not sure there aren’t still issues deep down.”

 Growing up in northwest Germany, Schaefer got his first glimpse of homosexuality on television, when gay parades from the bigger cities were broadcast to his home town of Wuppertal. Some of the gay men appeared nearly naked as they marched, he says.

His parents were appalled.

“The kind of sex homosexual people have is perverted,” Schaefer remembers his parents saying, echoing the views of the fundamentalist Baptist church the family attended.

Back then, Schaefer didn’t question them.

When he was a teenager, his perspective broadened a bit when he met his future wife, Brigitte. Her parents rented rooms in their boardinghouse to several same-sex couples, and he befriended one of the men.

“I held on to the beliefs I was brought up with, but I suspended my judgment on actual homosexuals,” he says.

Once married, he and Brigitte moved in 1989 to Norfolk so he could work as a translator. There, Schaefer switched to a Pentecostal church because he liked the modern music and instruments. An affable guy with longish hair and an ’80s-rocker look, he found the music helped him inspire young people in particular. Soon he felt a call to ministry.

He eventually made his way in the mid-1990s to Princeton University’s seminary, where for the first time he met several gay theology students and encountered a variety of views on how to read Scripture — including on the topic of sexuality.

“I thought: So there is a whole other way of seeing this, a whole other side of the church that has something different to say about this,” he remembers.

He wound up, somewhat randomly, in an internship with the Methodist Church, a diverse mainline denomination with more than 7 million U.S. members. He was drawn by the warmth and the openness to different styles of musical worship. It fit with his desire to keep worship upbeat, to make the experience a priority.

His “spiritual personality,” according to a church ministry test: “Joy giver.”

“He likes to preach a good sermon and have a good lunch,” says the Rev. Uwe Schaefer, his younger brother, who lives in Germany. “He’s not a troublemaker.”

The Methodist Church assigned Frank Schaefer after his 1996 ordination to churches in Lebanon County, a conservative, rural part of eastern Pennsylvania known for its traditional Pennsylvania Dutch culture.

The subject of homosexuality came up just a couple of times at work, when young people rejected by their parents came to him privately.

“I remember thinking: How can people treat one another like this?” he says. “I just listened a lot because I didn’t have a lot to say on the subject. I just tried to show love and support.”

And that’s where he left it. He never would have preached a sermon about it. He would never have marched in a gay pride event. He certainly would not have officiated at a gay wedding.

 Meanwhile, his eldest son, Tim, was struggling in secret with being gay.

Each night, the teen would pray to God “to take this away from me” and cry himself to sleep. He considered suicide.

The secular and Christian cultures were telling him, Tim recalls, that his sexuality was abnormal, even perverse. Although he suspected his parents would accept him, their silence on the topic made him hesitant to share his secret with them.

Still, he and his father remained close. A youth leader at his church, Tim was around 13 when he went with his dad to one of the denomination’s annual regional meetings. The group was debating Methodist language around homosexuality, and the conversation was often contentious. Tim was struck by how few people supported gay equality.

It never occurred to Schaefer to bring the topic up with Tim on the way home. “I had the impression Tim was excited about the democratic process” of the meeting, he says. “I had no idea what he felt inside.”

Within a few years, in 2000, Schaefer got an anonymous call. Your 17-year-old son, the woman said, is gay and suicidal.

Schaefer and his wife didn’t hesitate. “We lost it in tears, hugging him. We told him we loved him so much and he did not choose this. We just affirmed him,” Schaefer says.

But for Schaefer, the crisis was just beginning. Gay equality had been an abstract idea to him until then.

“Now that my own son turned out to be gay, I was really struggling, and that came totally out of the blue for me,” he says. “I thought I had moved on on this issue long ago.”

Schaefer kept returning in his head to the same questions:

Was it my fault? Did I do something wrong? What kind of life might he have? Once this comes out, what might it mean for my life? My ministry?

But Schaefer didn’t want to let on to Tim — or even his wife — about his anxiety. He was supposed to be supportive; by then, he viewed himself as a liberal. He wanted to fully affirm his son despite his deep-seated angst. He wanted to be an example to his four children — Tim, Debbie, 15, Kevin, 10, and Pascal, 6.

Privately, however, Schaefer considered leaving pastoring. For a few months, he joined a program to explore becoming a hospital chaplain, a position that often attracts progressives because chaplains minister to people of various faiths.

But he returned to the world he knew, to church.

 His concerns at the time were practical, not theological. He wanted to keep his job and expand his church, Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon. But he knew much of the congregation was older and more conservative. There was already unrest about Schaefer’s decision to have two services, one with traditional music and the other with contemporary music, and the older group felt it was being shortchanged.

By this time, in the early 2000s, gay equality had become a front-burner issue in U.S. religion. The Episcopal Church had elected Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop, triggering death threats against him and the exodus of dozens of conservative congregations. Other Protestant and Jewish denominations found their communities divided. A Methodist jury defrocked a female pastor who said she was in a relationship with a woman.

But Schaefer was unaware of this broader debate. He felt like he was alone, taking baby steps onto the ledge. His children remember him warning them when he was going to give what he deemed a “controversial” sermon, which was usually on a general social justice topic, peppered with vague terms such as “marginalized people.”

He feared backlash.

Kevin Schaefer, now 23 and a linguistics graduate student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, remembers his father telling him that Tim was gay. Kevin was around 10.

“I remember he had a pretty serious tone, sort of like: ‘Be careful of this information.’ That’s how it felt,” Kevin says in an interview. His father seemed supportive of the older brother but also as if he were still “processing things.” Kevin watched his father closely. In 2004, both he and Debbie would come out as gay, increasing Schaefer’s desire to both support his children and remain discreet, for fear of dividing his church. At the same time, Brigitte began demanding that her husband use his position to be more affirming.

“Not just of GLBT people. In our area, it was a white conservative church, and I felt we needed to speak out on a lot of things,” says Brigitte.

She put a bumper sticker on her car with a blue and yellow equal sign, the logo for the Human Rights Campaign, a group that supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The overt display disturbed Schaefer.

“I knew my congregation, and I knew this would be divisive,” Schaefer says.

Brigitte was considering going further — leaving Iona and attending a church that was more openly progressive. Schaefer was feeling heat in all directions.

 In 2007, Tim asked his father to officiate at his wedding. This was a new level of issues. He had affirmed his three gay children, but marrying his son would directly violate Methodist rules.

“We had told him: ‘You are in made in the image of God.’ [Refusing to marry him] would have been a negation of everything we had told him,” Schaefer says. But he knew his job was at stake. They decided to hold the wedding near Tim’s home, in Massachusetts, and told few people in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, he was gradually becoming more public about his views. In 2008, he gave a Father’s Day sermon about unconditional love and spoke about Tim. Frank and Brigitte joined a support group for relatives of LGBT people.

Years passed after the wedding, and the family stopped focusing on it. Then came April 2013, when a man who grew up at Iona and whose mother Schaefer had recently removed as choir director secured Tim’s wedding certificate and filed a complaint with the local bishop.

A trial would be held in November, with a church jury, at a church camp outside Philadelphia. Iona erupted and lost half of its membership. Some of Schaefer’s conservative friends felt betrayed.

“Since when is it not love to warn people of Judgment Day? Of God’s wrath? How is that judgment?” says Todd Zulick, an old friend of Schaefer’s who had volunteered as a youth pastor in his church.

Sounding hurt, he shared some of his writings on the topic, which he posts on Facebook.

One, titled “I Love Pastor Frank enough as a friend to tell him the Truth of Scripture,” says:

“Homosexuality is NOT the issue here; it can be any sin as revealed in the Bible. If we do not have an Absolute Standard then people can justify any sin. . . . We might as well throw the bible in the garbage, if each one decides what is and is not truth or sin.”

Schaefer and his attorneys determined that their best strategy was to stay away from his personal beliefs about homosexuality. They decided to focus on the fact that Schaefer was faced with denying his son — something most parents could relate to.

After all, Schaefer never expected it to come to this. He had shown for years that he was able and willing to keep his status as an LGBT supporter private, out of the church.

 During the trial in November, Schaefer stepped up to the small, makeshift stand in the hushed camp gymnasium that was used as a courtroom to give his statement. Then events took an unplanned turn.

Schaefer started talking about his congregation and how his reputation for being a bit more welcoming had drawn new people to church. He spoke about a lesbian congregant who had suffered a stroke. When she walked up to the altar for Communion, the sanctuary filled with the sound of sobbing, even from opponents of gay equality, he said.

“Even in her illness, she changed the minds and hearts,” he said, pausing before speaking again.

“I found myself being transformed into something that was totally new to me. I became an advocate,” he said.

Then Schaefer’s tone turned sharp.

“I cannot go back to being a silent supporter. I am an advocate. And I am accepting this as a calling from God," he said. Throughout the gym, people could be heard weeping.

When he was finished speaking, Schaefer reached into his pocket and took out a rainbow stole that someone had given to him before the trial. He turned to the judge.

“Is that okay, bishop, to put this on?” he asked.

“Yes,” the bishop replied.

Schaefer looked out on the crowd.

“This is what I have to do,” he said.

 This spring, Schaefer is booked to speak at churches — Methodist and otherwise — every evening for months on end. He is still flooded with letters and e-mails from around the country. They say things such as “You’re my hero” or “I wish I had a dad like you.”

Earlier in the year, Schaefer was giving a talk at Foundry United Methodist Church, in Dupont Circle, with several other United Methodist clergy members who had lost their jobs over the issue of gay equality, when someone stood in the back of the sanctuary. It was Robinson, the retired Episcopal bishop, who now lives in Washington. To someone like him, Robinson told the group, you are “saints and martyrs.”

The congregation that day presented Schaefer with a check for $31,000, money collected over a few weeks around Christmas.

At such moments, Schaefer basks in the warmth of others’ appreciation. But being a pastor is really all Schaefer feels he knows how to do. And right now, he’s a pastor without a job.

A rebel Methodist bishop in California has suggested that he come there to pastor, in what looks like defiance of the eastern Pennsylvania leaders who defrocked him a few months ago. He says he is likely to take the position if it’s formally offered.

Meanwhile, an appeals board in Pennsylvania is scheduled on June 20 to hear his request to overturn his conviction. Methodist leaders on both sides are calling for a solution to the divide. But even if the church allows him to serve again, he knows he will not go back to being the pastor he was before.

 “One thing is, I’ll never be silent again,” he said this week from Oklahoma, where he was asked to speak to United Methodist pastors.

Those in the audience at his speaking engagements sometimes ask him whether he thinks liberal religion has any future or any scriptural leg to stand on.

He answers with his usual optimism.

“These are exciting times!” he said at Foundry. “This is the time! Change is coming!”

But he also knows it comes slowly. And in truth, he’s a bit ambivalent — not about gay equality, but about taking sides. He is a mediator, a peacemaker. “I find myself dragged into a whole new role, as a spokesman for the LGBT community, dragged in by my collar so to speak,” he says.

He often corrects himself after using the word “evolution” to describe his spiritual journey, replacing it with “development.” Evolution might sound too judgmental.

“We’re not pushing a liberal agenda,” he told the Foundry congregation.

He thinks he can be an emissary between the liberal and conservative worlds. After all, he’s intimate with the traditional view.

“I don’t judge people struggling with this issue,” he says. “This took me many years. I just think I can help people because I’ve been through this myself. . . . We’re all struggling, aren’t we, with Scriptures and what they mean?”

Not long before, Schaefer was faced with the idea that his struggle has had some painful consequences.

In December, prompted by the church trial and its aftermath, Kevin raised the exchange he’d had with his father so many years ago on the Boston sidewalk. He remains self-conscious about his walk, he told his father, always trying to swing his arms.

“This had an impact on how I see myself,” Kevin said.

Then he started to ask Schaefer if he had a story from his childhood that had affected him in a similar way. But before he could get the question out, Kevin’s voice was choked by tears.


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« Reply #456 on: September 30, 2014, 07:10:01 AM »

Christian Baker Who Lost Her Shop After Refusing Lesbian Couple’s Wedding Cake Reveals the ‘Two Huge Lies’ She Says Our Culture Has Embraced
Billy Hallowell

A Christian baker who faced virulent protest and eventually lost her shop after refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple took to her Facebook page Monday to reveal what she says are the “two huge lies” contemporary culture has embraced.

“Our culture has accepted 2 huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them,” wrote Melissa Klein, owner of the embattled Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery. “Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.”

She concluded, “You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

Klein and her husband, Aaron, have been at the forefront of the debate surrounding whether Christian business owners who provide wedding services should be forced to serve gay and lesbian clients.

Problems for the Klein family began in January 2013 when they declined to make a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, a lesbian couple who promptly responded by filing a civil rights complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

Officials in Oregon subsequently ruled that the bakery violated Cryer’s and Bowman’s civil rights.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries released a statement on the matter, noting that the couple had filed an official complaint with the government under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 — a law that protects gays and lesbians using public venues.

“Under Oregon law, Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” read the release. “The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private business owners to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability or religion.”

In addition to potentially facing monumental fines, Melissa and Aaron Klein have also weathered some serious personal and businesses challenges as a result of their stance against gay marriage.

The Kleins appeared Friday on a panel at the Values Voter Summit, a conservative religious and political gathering, where they defended their right to decline service based on their religious objections and said that they fully operated within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.

“To be told they’re going to force me to convey a message other than what I want to convey — it flies in the face of the Constitution,” said Aaron Klein, according to the Oregonian. ”It’s a violation of my conscience. It’s a violation of my religious freedom. It’s horrible to see your own government doing this to you.”

Melissa Klein broke out into tears during the panel discussion while commenting on the situation.

As TheBlaze reported in September 2013, the Kleins were forced to close their Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery following intense scrutiny and furor among gay rights advocates that inevitably impacted business; they’re now operating out of their family home.

Additionally, the Kleins have reportedly being harassed by those opposed to their stance on the cake matter, fielding virulent emails and phone calls.

And Melissa Klein previously told TheBlaze that someone broke into the Sweet Cakes truck last September — a vehicle the family uses to advance its business.

The truck was parked in the Kleins’ driveway, which was particularly nerve-wrecking for the family, as their home is in a highly secluded area — one that is nowhere near where their former shop.

“Somebody came up into our driveway and rummaged through our truck and took stuff out,” she told TheBlaze. “The really strange thing is, they didn’t steal anything, they just made a mess. It kind of was a little creepy.”

The legal battle over the cake refusal continues, as it will soon come before an administrative law judge.
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« Reply #457 on: September 30, 2014, 11:02:23 AM »

I live in Oregon, so I am very familiar with this case. It has been an ongoing news item here. Personally, I think our state laws have gone too far. Proprietors should have the ability to choose their clientele. It is not like there aren't hundreds of other bakeries around who gladly have made a wedding cake for this couple.

In another Oregon case, a group of transsexuals had weekly meetings at a particular bar in North Portland. The owner determined that this group didn't go over well with his other regular customers. It isn't a "gay" bar. He politely and privately asked the lead person in the group to find another place to meet. They took their case to the Bureau of Labor and Industry - Civil Rights Division. The bar owner was fined and told he had no right to refuse service to this group under the law.

I fail to see how cases like these benefit the LGBT community. It seems to me it polarizes people and thus creates more hostility towards certain groups. If I owned a business, I would want to be able to decide who I wanted as clientele.

How far can this go? At 4:00 p.m. every weekday, the students at a nearby Junior High School, flood the nearby Safeway and Starbucks disrupting business. You often see 8 or 10 of them in the checkout line at Safeway accompanying one person who is buying a candy bar. Other times they literally stand around in a group in a grocery isle completely blocking passage. If you as them to let you by, they ignore you. Apparently, Safeway has no way of keeping them out of the store. Starbucks does their best to accommodate them too. I've learned to avoid patronizing either place between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
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« Reply #458 on: September 30, 2014, 05:51:18 PM »

Prime:

It is disappointing to hear that you fail to see why these cases benefit the LGBT community or that you even think of it in those terms.  To do so is misguided.  What these cases are about is equality plain and simple.  The Constitution guarantees the very equality that these business and opponents of gay marriage seek to deny. It is not the prerogative of a business to evaluate or approve of a customer’s lifestyle and that holds true whether the business is serving a Coke, selling a bicycle, or baking pastries.  Would you think it appropriate if a business sought to evaluation your lifestyle or personal/politics beliefs before selling you a product or service?

The Courts have ruled on numerous occasions that if you operate a public accommodation or business it must open to the entire public—not just members of the public that you happen to like or agree with.  If you cannot do that (in other words if you cannot abide by our Constitution) then you are in violation of the law and will be held accountable.  Trying to wrap one’s disapproval in the cloak of religion may be appropriate in, say, a Middle Eastern country, but we live in the United States, and we decided a long time ago that the Constitution trumps “religious beliefs” (which are basically invented on the fly by most people and inconsistently adhered to anyway).  For example, we have a poster here named MethylMike (GroinkTropin); in one thread he posted about his “morals” and his conservative lifestyle yet in another he practically bragged about stealing money and running up credit card debt that he never planned to repay.  I guess he never heard of “Thou shalt not steal.” Roll Eyes

Getting credit lines through banks
http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=309532.msg4419886#msg4419886

Back in 2010 we saw a similar story about a landscape company who refused a particular job “because we choose not to work with homosexuals.”  We talked about that episode here

Landscapers: We don't take gay customers
http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=105322.0

Even doctors have tried to do this... (the courts ruled against them unanimously)
Doctors accused of using faith to violate gay bias laws
http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=162423.0

Of course, one can always find another baker or landscaper, but that’s not the point.  Maybe you do not “get it” right now… but think of this as a teachable moment.  Take the time to learn the lesson.  And if you never get it, well, that’s why we have a Constitution; to protect all of us from people who don’t get it.
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« Reply #459 on: September 30, 2014, 09:22:46 PM »

It may be a constitutional mandate that businesses not discriminate against folks because of certain things, such as being gay, but the law cannot make people accept or like others whose lifestyles they disagree with.

Why would the couple who were refused the wedding cake want to support a business that discriminates against them. Likewise, why would the group of transsexuals I mentioned want to patronize an establishment that doesn't welcome their business. Sure the law guarantees their rights, but no law is going to make them feel welcomed or accepted. It is my opinion these laws often have the opposite affect, making business owners and others resentful that they've been forced to provide service.

Incidentally, there is a big difference between a doctor refusing medical treatment a patient simply because they are gay and a bar or a bakery refusing to serve said customer. Furthermore,  many doctors today are often very selective with regards to who they will accept as a patient. Many simply say they are not accepting new patients. For example, my wife's primary care physician is not accepting new patients, unless they are related to an existing patient. She maintains that her practice is full.

Many Gay Pride parades attract gay people who flaunt their lifestyle by exhibiting in-your-face sexual behavior and nudity in a very public setting. I might be crazy, but I fail to see how this benefits the LGBT community in anyway or helps heterosexual people accept them.

The house across the street from me sold to a lesbian couple with small children about a year ago. They have been welcomed into the neighborhood as any other family would be. This is probably because they do things like any other family around here does. They are out mowing their lawn, raking up leaves, taking out the garbage and walking the kids and their dogs around the neighborhood. In other words they blend in as opposed to standing out.
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« Reply #460 on: October 01, 2014, 04:56:38 AM »

It may be a constitutional mandate that businesses not discriminate against folks because of certain things, such as being gay, but the law cannot make people accept or like others whose lifestyles they disagree with.

Why would the couple who were refused the wedding cake want to support a business that discriminates against them. Likewise, why would the group of transsexuals I mentioned want to patronize an establishment that doesn't welcome their business. Sure the law guarantees their rights, but no law is going to make them feel welcomed or accepted. It is my opinion these laws often have the opposite affect, making business owners and others resentful that they've been forced to provide service.

Incidentally, there is a big difference between a doctor refusing medical treatment a patient simply because they are gay and a bar or a bakery refusing to serve said customer. Furthermore,  many doctors today are often very selective with regards to who they will accept as a patient. Many simply say they are not accepting new patients. For example, my wife's primary care physician is not accepting new patients, unless they are related to an existing patient. She maintains that her practice is full.

Many Gay Pride parades attract gay people who flaunt their lifestyle by exhibiting in-your-face sexual behavior and nudity in a very public setting. I might be crazy, but I fail to see how this benefits the LGBT community in anyway or helps heterosexual people accept them.

The house across the street from me sold to a lesbian couple with small children about a year ago. They have been welcomed into the neighborhood as any other family would be. This is probably because they do things like any other family around here does. They are out mowing their lawn, raking up leaves, taking out the garbage and walking the kids and their dogs around the neighborhood. In other words they blend in as opposed to standing out.

That you even pose these questions underscores that you still do not get it.  The law is not designed nor instituted to “make people accept or like others whose lifestyles they disagree with” and no one is suggesting that so I am not sure why that would be part of your rhetoric.

Why any couple would chose to patronize an unfriendly company is none of my business—and it is none of yours either.  What IS our business is that public accommodations treat all citizens equally. That is what the law requires and that is the point of these news stories and lawsuits.  It may take a generation or two (or even more) but citizens and companies must be made to understand that they operate under the laws that govern how we are allowed to treat other people.  There are still men who (to use your word) “resent” women in the workplace and maybe even women voting… there are still whites who strongly “resent” the Civil Rights protections afforded to African Americans, but for the most part, the generations of people born in the wake of legal protections surrounding those communities have a very different view of what is acceptable in our society given the laws that govern us.  The present cases are another step in that tradition.

“Why would blacks want to patronize X business where they are not welcome?”  Just as you did above, people were asking questions like that the 1950s and 1960s.   Today most people understand how hopelessly misguided that kind of thinking is.  The issue is not why someone would patronize a particular business; the issue is that businesses must treat all people equally.  There is a lesson here.  Whether or not you are ready to learn it is entirely up to you.

As for gay pride parades, I will find them objectionable when you and everyone else objects to Mardi Gras, Carnival, and similar occasions where straight people “flaunt their lifestyle by exhibiting in-your-face sexual behavior and nudity in a very public setting.”  As a bi-man, you should be more quick to see the hypocrisy here.  Sad
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« Reply #461 on: October 01, 2014, 01:43:45 PM »

Just so you know, I think that public displays of sexual behavior and sometimes acts objectionable, regardless of the event. By public I mean on public streets or anywhere where unsuspecting folks are subjected to this. I've seen videos of Carnival. I haven't noticed dudes getting their dicks sucked on the street or in the parades like you see in videos and photos of Folsom Street events, Dore Alley, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or Southern Decadence.

How these kinds of flagrant public behaviors further the acceptance of gay folks in the mainstream, eludes me.   
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« Reply #462 on: October 02, 2014, 08:12:19 AM »

I am not trying to pick a fight, but you are making less and less sense.  If you are watching Mardi Gras, Carnival, or a gay pride parade there is nothing “unsuspecting” about it.  These events, which happen on public streets, are sanctioned by the cities via permits.  They are annual events and typically happen in the same location every year.  Any reasonably informed adult knows this.  If you are watching those events it is because you have chosen to do so and there is no need to pretend that “unsuspecting folks” are being subjected to spectacles against their will.  You might as well claim that those same people were inadvertently exposed to New Year’s Eve countdown celebration or fireworks on the 4th of July.  Again, not very sensible. 

I managed to make it through all of this year (and last year, and the year before that…) without seeing one gay pride parade.  The reason is because I simply wasn’t interested and chose to train my attention elsewhere (been there done that).  If you don’t want to see the, often adult, displays at street fairs and parades you don’t have to watch them.  But let’s not play the game of “you were accidentally forced to watch explicit behavior, found it objectionable; the parades are counterproductive or should not be allowed.”  You may be interested to know that no small number of people are quite happy to live life on their own terms; they rightly insist on equal protection under the law, but they are not preoccupied with “acceptance by the mainstream.”  I cannot help but wonder if it is merely a coincidence that a bisexual man (who is now living a straight life with a woman?) is proffering arguments that essentially amount to “what will the neighbors say?”  That question may govern the choices you have made for yourself, but that is not the case for everyone.   I conclude with a return to my thesis: the issue here is equality.  It is not about why someone might choose to patronize a particular business or what happens at a parade or street fair.
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« Reply #463 on: October 02, 2014, 12:52:02 PM »

I am not trying to pick a fight, but you are making less and less sense.  If you are watching Mardi Gras, Carnival, or a gay pride parade there is nothing “unsuspecting” about it.  These events, which happen on public streets, are sanctioned by the cities via permits.  They are annual events and typically happen in the same location every year.  Any reasonably informed adult knows this.  If you are watching those events it is because you have chosen to do so and there is no need to pretend that “unsuspecting folks” are being subjected to spectacles against their will.  You might as well claim that those same people were inadvertently exposed to New Year’s Eve countdown celebration or fireworks on the 4th of July.  Again, not very sensible. 

I managed to make it through all of this year (and last year, and the year before that…) without seeing one gay pride parade.  The reason is because I simply wasn’t interested and chose to train my attention elsewhere (been there done that).  If you don’t want to see the, often adult, displays at street fairs and parades you don’t have to watch them.  But let’s not play the game of “you were accidentally forced to watch explicit behavior, found it objectionable; the parades are counterproductive or should not be allowed.”  You may be interested to know that no small number of people are quite happy to live life on their own terms; they rightly insist on equal protection under the law, but they are not preoccupied with “acceptance by the mainstream.”  I cannot help but wonder if it is merely a coincidence that a bisexual man (who is now living a straight life with a woman?) is proffering arguments that essentially amount to “what will the neighbors say?”  That question may govern the choices you have made for yourself, but that is not the case for everyone.   I conclude with a return to my thesis: the issue here is equality.  It is not about why someone might choose to patronize a particular business or what happens at a parade or street fair.


I don't think you are trying to start an argument/fight. I think we are simply having a discussion and a difference of opinion.

Of course you are right to some degree that folks who attend the above mentioned events, should have some idea what to expect. Every year in Portland, there is a naked bike ride. It is very well attended by both naked and nearly naked bicyclist as well as spectators. There was an outcry from some groups this year because they felt this event was imposing nudity on them and their children. Obviously, the cyclist ride a route, some of that route covers residential areas although it is mostly through business districts. A simple solution for these folks who are upset is to stay inside and pull the shades if they don't want to see or have their children see naked folks riding bicycles.

I have not been a spectator at any of the events you mentioned. I have seen photos and videos of Carnival in Rio, Folsom Street Fair, Dore Alley and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Judging from these photos, Carnival has some scantily clothed participants wearing wild headdresses and costumes. Folsom Street Fair and the others, again judging from the photos includes people have all manner of sexual relations in public. I seriously doubt these cities sanction this aspect of these events.

To be honest, It is not my intention to judge others. Obviously, I have a choice as to whether or not to look at these photos or if I desired, attend these events. What I am saying is that public displays of sexual acts does not exactly send the best message to others. You and I know that this does not represent all LGBT people, but it sure gives ammunition to those who speak against all things LGBT.

The laws regarding public nudity are very liberal in Oregon. Portland being a fairly large city with a good share of open-minded folks is very tolerant when it comes to nudity. The Portland Eagle (a gay leather and bear bar) is clothing optional. I see nothing wrong with this. The people who patronize this bar know exactly what to expect. Near Portland are a couple of nude beaches. One being an area of Rooster Rock and the other a beach on Sauvie's Island. There are signs indicating that they are clothing optional beaches. I also see nothing wrong with this. Technically, a person could walk down Broadway in Portland stark naked and be within the law as long as they weren't doing anything to indicate sexual behavior. I have yet to see this happen though. Not that I hang out on Broadway in downtown Portland.

When I worked at one of the high schools, a male student who dressed outrageously and kind of punkish, wearing makeup, weird hair colors and styles back in the early 90's, complained to me that other students made fun of him and treated him as an outcast. He went on to say that they didn't bother to get to know him for who he was and not how he looked. This high school was in a suburban area. The student body was very mainstream, bordering on being rednecks. Honestly what did this fellow expect? This is often the price one pays for being kind of in-your-face and outrageous. One should expect that not everyone is going to accept them.
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« Reply #464 on: October 14, 2014, 04:53:07 AM »

All institutions change and adapt to reality.  Or they become irrelevant.


In starkly different tone, Vatican report says gays should be welcome
By Tom Kington

Cardinals and bishops summoned by Pope Francis to the Vatican to discuss the modern family have said that homosexuals should be welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church and that heterosexual civil unions have “positive” aspects.

Without shifting on church doctrine, a document that was released Monday summing up views expressed halfway through a two-week synod offers a starkly different tone to the traditional Catholic take on gays and civil unions.

Homosexuals, the document states, “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” And the paper asks: “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”

The document cautions that “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman,” and highlights “the moral problems connected to homosexual unions.”

But it adds that in gay relationships, “there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.”

The document moves the Catholic Church away from its traditional insistence that even if a gay orientation is not sinful, gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” It follows Pope Francis’ response, “Who am I to judge?” when he was asked last year about his views on homosexuality.

“This marks a new pastoral style that is more compassionate and affirming,” said Father Tom Reese, an analyst at the National Catholic Reporter.

“In pastoral terms, the document ... represents an earthquake, the 'big one' that hit after months of smaller tremors,” wrote prominent Vatican expert John Thavis on his blog.

Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the U.S., told the Associated Press that the document set “a dramatic new tone from a church hierarchy that has long denied the very existence of committed and loving gay and lesbian partnerships.”

The document sums up the speeches made behind closed doors by the almost 200 prelates present in Rome. This week, bishops will hold meetings in small groups before a final document is produced at the end of the synod, which will in turn form the starting point for discussion at a follow-up synod next year.

Among the points raised in the document is a reevaluation of couples who cohabit without marrying, traditionally regarded as “living in sin,” as well as couples who choose civil weddings.

“A new sensitivity in today’s pastoral consists in grasping the positive reality of civil weddings and, having pointed out our differences, of cohabitation,” states the document.

At the synod, bishops also have been discussing the church’s refusal to give Communion to people who have divorced and remarried. Since the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce, such people are deemed to be living in sin. The document cites some bishops as saying a period of penance should be enough to allow remarried divorcees to receive Communion.

The document reflects the pope's bid to make the Catholic Church focus on a merciful rather than ideological approach to its followers and suggests that conservative defenders of doctrine have been in the minority at the synod.

But on Monday, Italian Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio said tolerance of homosexuality could not be pushed too far.

“We won’t judge homosexual couples, but we will never bless them,” he said.

Maria Madise, coordinator of the conservative Voice of the Family group, asked whether Catholic parents should now discuss cohabitation and homosexuality with their children.

“Will those parents now have to tell their children that the Vatican teaches that there are positive and constructive aspects to these mortal sins?” the AP quoted her as asking.


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« Reply #465 on: October 14, 2014, 10:42:58 AM »

Our daughter told us she just heard this on the news. It's big!
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« Reply #466 on: October 16, 2014, 01:28:13 PM »

the Pope better make sure and have his meals tasted first. the church has a history of eliminating popes that go against its established history.
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« Reply #467 on: November 18, 2014, 05:51:22 AM »

Marin photogs shut business rather than shoot same-sex weddings
By Evan Sernoffsky

Confronted over their decision not to take pictures at same-sex weddings, a Bay Area photography company opted to permanently put on its lens caps and shut its doors, according to a statement posted on the company’s website.

Urloved photography, a San Rafael husband-and-wife team, said it had recently referred a gay couple, TJ Kelsall and Thai Lam of San Francisco, to another photographer for their wedding photos because they “have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with.”

“We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day,” a statement on urlovedphotography.com reads.

California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, states that “all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities.”

The incident is only the latest of dozens of recent national disputes between gay couples and businesses who deny service while claiming religious freedom.

Last year in Oregon, a lesbian couple filed a discrimination complaint against a Portland-area bakery that refused to make them a wedding cake. In Iowa, a same-sex couple was denied a wedding venue because of the owner’s religious beliefs, KCCI-TV reported.

After getting denied by Urloved, Kelsall took the fight to Facebook.

“Great shots but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services. Stand up and say something about it,” he wrote Nov. 4 on one of the company’s postings.

The business owners, Nang and Chris Mai, apologized to the couple, then closed up shop after they said they were bombarded with nasty calls and e-mails.

“We have been flooded with hate calls, e-mails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business,” the couple wrote. “On top of that we have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business.”

The couple did not immediately return phone calls Monday.

Meanwhile, Kelsall asked supporters to back off the outraged digital bombardment.

“Thai and I consider this issue resolved and would urge you to stop posting on their FB page, Yelp, and any other social media site,” Kelsall wrote on Nov. 7 on Facebook. “Our friends, family, and the LGBT community/allies have all been amazingly supportive and active in helping to bring this matter to light. We must respect that Nang and Chris have decide to shut down their business because of their beliefs. I wish the outcome could have been different but it is what it is.”
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BayGBM
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« Reply #468 on: November 18, 2014, 06:03:05 AM »

Welcome to Urloved Photography

Recently, we received an inquiry that led to a misunderstanding which in-turn, hurt individuals and a community. Below is our official statement on the matter.

= = = = = =

We have friends in the LGBTQQ community and we have spoken with them about our situation and want to apologize for the use of certain words.

In our efforts to understand how this may have made TJ and Thai feel, we thank them for having a conversation with us and for sharing their feelings.

One of the reasons we got into the wedding photography business is to share in the joy and love on what is one of the most important days of peoples’ lives. Our business vision was to couple an art we love with the beauty of marriage.

As wedding photographers, we directly take part in capturing a couple’s love and commitment for each other. We take the medical doctor stance of if we were emergency room doctors we would want to give our best to anybody that comes through our door. It is not photographing a couple who have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with. We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day. We wanted to connect them with someone who did share their personal beliefs so that they could give them the service quality they deserve.

Unfortunately, our artistic passion for excellence and personal beliefs were misinterpreted. That was never our intent. We have been flooded with hate calls, emails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business. On top of that we have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business. We are grateful for this experience as it has caused us to think about how our personal beliefs intersect with our business practices.

We would like to thank everyone for their love and support and want to apologize to our clients whose photos have been impacted by the recent activities.
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« Reply #469 on: December 16, 2014, 05:35:48 AM »

Can’t Have Your Cake, Gays Are Told, and a Rights Battle Rises
By MICHAEL PAULSON

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Jack Phillips is a baker whose evangelical Protestant faith informs his business. There are no Halloween treats in his bakery — he does not see devils and witches as a laughing matter. He will not make erotic-themed pastries — they offend his sense of morality. And he declines cake orders for same-sex weddings because he believes Christianity teaches that homosexuality is wrong.

Mr. Phillips, whose refusal two years ago to make a cake for a gay male couple has led to a court battle now getting underway, is one of a small number of wedding vendors across the country who are emerging as the unlikely face of faith-based resistance to same-sex marriage.

The refusals by the religious merchants — bakers, florists and photographers, for example — have been taking place for several years. But now local governments are taking an increasingly hard line on the issue, as legislative debates over whether to protect religious shop owners are overtaken by administrative efforts to punish them.

In Colorado, where Mr. Phillips, 58, owns and operates a small bakery called Masterpiece Cakeshop, the State Civil Rights Commission determined that Mr. Phillips had violated a state law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation. The commission ordered Mr. Phillips to retrain all of his employees, who include his 87-year-old mother, and to produce a quarterly report detailing any refusals to bake; in response, he has stopped accepting orders for any wedding cakes while he appeals the ruling to the state courts.

“I do like doing the wedding cakes,” he said. “But I don’t like having the government tell me which ones I can make and which ones I can’t make, and trying to control that part of my life.”

In New York, an administrative law judge fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for declining to rent their upstate farmhouse, which they often rent out for heterosexual weddings, for the wedding of two women. The couple paid the fine but, in an action similar to that taken by Mr. Phillips, has stopped accepting reservations for any weddings while appealing.

There have been more than a half-dozen other instances of business owners, most citing their understanding of Christian faith, declining to provide services for same-sex weddings. They include a photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington State, a bakery in Oregon, an inn in Vermont and wedding chapels in Idaho and in Nevada. And new cases continue to arise — over the last few weeks, a wedding planner in Arizona declined to work with a lesbian couple, and a business in California refused to photograph the wedding of a gay male couple (and then closed its doors after an outcry).

The cases are largely being fought, and some say fueled, by two legal advocacy organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports same-sex marriage, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which opposes it. Each side cites bedrock American principles: First Amendment rights of religion and speech versus prohibitions in 21 states against discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

“It’s a clear, well-settled proposition that businesses who open the door to the public must serve the public,” said Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry, an organization advocating same-sex marriage. “We don’t want Americans walking into businesses and being turned away because of who they are — that’s what nondiscrimination principles mean.”

But the defenders of the shop owners argue that creating an artistically involved or personalized service for a same-sex wedding is a form of expression that should not be compelled by the government. They reject the discrimination charge, noting that many of the businesses have gay and lesbian customers, and, in some cases, employees.

“Anyone who would suggest this is not about freedom of religion doesn’t know or understand what religious liberty is about, which is the freedom to do what your conscience directs,” said Alan Sears, the president of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Mr. Sears says he has experienced his own form of bias: He says that a photographer in Southern California declined to shoot a portrait of his family for a Christmas card after discovering that Mr. Sears heads an organization that opposes same-sex marriage. Mr. Sears said he supported the photographer’s right to refuse service, just as he would support a gay baker’s right to refuse to make a cake with an anti-gay message.

Vendors thus far have accumulated a losing streak in wedding and similar cases. In Kentucky, for example, a hearing officer recently ruled against a print shop owner who refused to make T-shirts for a gay pride group.

Advocates for the vendors hope the court system will prove more sympathetic to their constitutional claims than civil rights agencies have been, even though the Supreme Court this year refused to hear an appeal from the New Mexico photographer. They are also pursuing legislation; in Michigan, the State House this month approved a measure that would protect business owners, while in South Carolina and in North Carolina, lawmakers are proposing measures allowing local officials to opt out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Like many of the religious business owners, Mr. Phillips, who attends a Southern Baptist church, says his faith guides not only his personal behavior, but also the way he runs his business. So while he says he welcomes all customers — and happily sells cookies and brownies to gays and lesbians — he says he is not comfortable pouring creative energy into confectionary centerpieces for celebrations he believes to be at odds with God’s will.

But for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the couple he turned away, the incident was a form of bias. They married in Massachusetts — same-sex marriage was not legal in Colorado at the time — but were holding their party in Denver, where they live.

“We were really shocked, because neither of us had ever been denied service before, and it was mortifying and embarrassing,” Mr. Mullins said. “I believe everyone has the right to believe whatever they want in their own heart and practice what they want in their own church, but in the ’60s, people used religious arguments to argue against interracial marriage, and I don’t think there’s any difference.”

On a recent day, as Mr. Phillips decorated what he expected would be his final wedding cake until the issue was resolved — an elegant assemblage of gray and white tiers decorated with hydrangea, calla lilies and gerbera daisies — he reflected on his unexpected role in the debate. He has been baking for a living since he got a job in a doughnut shop after high school.

Mr. Phillips said he had politely declined to bake five or six same-sex wedding cakes before the dispute with Mr. Mullin and Mr. Craig. Since then, he has received thousands of emails, some threatening and some supportive. Protesters showed up, but so did a busload of tourists who purchased pastries as a sign of support and two young women from Kansas who asked if they could pray for him.

Of course, many religious business owners are serving same-sex weddings without incident. But there are also refusals that go unreported because the couples turned away by vendors simply move on.

“It really ticked me off,” said Natalie Watson, a New Jersey lawyer who chose not to file a complaint in that state after the florist she first selected for her same-sex civil union voiced opposition to the event. “But at the end of the day, I wanted the focus to be on us, and not to go down some side street, so I didn’t do anything.”
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