Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Announces Gay Adoption Support: Bill Picks Up First GOP Cosponsor

Catholic bishops may believe that it is possible to serve the best interests of the child by artificially restricting the pool of potential adoptive parents, but at least one Republican congressional rep has seen the flaw in that argument. The best way to ensure the best match between a particular child and the best possible parents is to limit restrictions to the particular qualities of particular parents, not to demographic barriers based on religious ideology. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has become the first GOP representative to publicly endorse the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would outlaw discrimination in adoption decisions based on sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Announces Gay Adoption Support: Bill Picks Up First GOP Cosponsor

“It’s way past time to allow the thousands of children in foster care the opportunity to live in safe and nurturing families who are eager to adopt them,” said Ros-Lehtinen in a statement. “There are strict guidelines to ensure that the placement of these children will be regulated and that the parents will provide the protective guidance and structure that the children need.”

“My home state of Florida had discriminatory laws in place that were preventing caring parents from adoption,” she continued. “This Federal bill is a step in the right direction so that the proper match between responsible parent and needy child can take place regardless of the parent’s sexual orientation.”

Full report – Huffington Post

 

Ros-Lehtinen may be the first congressional Republican to speak up for family equality, but she will certainly not be the last. More will follow, just as some supported the repeal of DADT, and some notable Republicans are starting to support marriage equality.

Now, when will Catholic bishops also get the simple message: Every Child Deserves a Family?


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Joan of Arc: Cross-dressing Martyr

Among all the multitude of queer saints,  Joan of Arc is one of the most important. In her notorious martyrdom for heresy (a charge which in historical context included reference to her cross-dressing and defiance of socially approved gender roles), she is a reminder of the great persecution of sexual and gender minorities by the Inquisition, directly or at their instigation. In LGBT Christian history, “martyrs” applies not only to those martyred by the church, but also to those martyred by the church. In her rehabilitation and canonization, she is a reminder that the leaders and theologians of the church, those who were responsible for her prosecution and conviction, can be wrong, can be pronounced to be wrong, and can in time have their judgements overturned.(This is not just a personal view. Pope Benedict has made some very pointed remarks of his own to this effect, while speaking about Joan of Arc).  In the same way, it is entirely possible (I believe likely) that the current dogmatic verdict of Vatican orthodoxy which condemns our relationships will also in time be rejected.  We may even come to see some of the pioneers of gay theology, who have in effect endured a kind of professional martyrdom for their honesty and courage, rehabilitated and honoured by the Church, just as St Joan has been.

Joan of Arc Iinterrogation by the Bishop  of Winchester (Paul Delaroche, 1797 -1856)

Joan of Arc: Interrogation by the Bishop of Winchester (Paul Delaroche, 1797 -1856)

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Eppur si muove! (Galileo, the Church, and Absolute Truth)

“And yet it moves!” Legend has it that Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) muttered these words to himself on his way out after having been forced to recant. At issue was his work on the theory of heliocentrism – that the Earth revolves around the Sun – whence the comment “And yet it moves!” It was a theory that shook to its foundations the long-held cosmological paradigm that the Earth was flat and that the Sun and the other celestial bodies went round the Earth (geocentrism). Whether or not Galileo actually said these words, they express the exasperation of all who are forced to accept tenets that fly in the face of better reason and sounder evidence. These words fittingly represent the apparent conflict between science and religion, between reason and faith. I use the word ‘apparent’ because, in truth, the issue really is one between those who seek to know the truth, and those who want certainty at all costs, even if it means turning beliefs into irrefutable truths. I will not concern myself with other belief systems here, but will keep my focus on Christianity, and its sacred texts, the Scriptures.

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Susterma...

You were right after all (even though they’d hate to admit it)

The trial against Galileo represents a very dark chapter in the history of Christianity, more specifically, of the Roman Catholic Church. He was not the only person to face the wrath of the Church authorities. Oh, the extremes religion is prepared to go to keep its belief-system intact rather than face the possibility of development and change/growth. Thankfully, progress has been made and there is a greater understanding of the spheres of work of both science and faith, and especially the error of using the Bible to extract scientific truths. Feathers were ruffled when Darwin came forward with his theory on the evolution of the species. Here again was a theory that challenged the Genesis creation account. As far as the mainstream Christian denominations go, there is a (qualified) acceptance of the evolution theory in the explanation given to the origin and development of life here on Earth.

What troubles me is that the mentality of absolute certainty that has dogged the Christian Churches in the past seems to be rearing its head again. Or perhaps it has always been there, dormant for a time but now experiencing a revival. (more…)

Roman Catholic Church in Malta vote in favour of legalisaing divorce – Prime Minister Gonzi | Herald Sun

In Argentina, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and other countries of Europe and North America, it is usually marriage and family equality that see political battle lines drawn between Catholic bishops and other Catholics. In Malta and the Philippines, it’s divorce (and access to contraception, in the Philippines). No longer: the people of Malta have just  voted to defy the church, and permit the provision of legal divorce.

Malta votes in favour of legalisaing divorce -

VOTERS in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Mediterranean state of Malta have voted in favour of legalizing divorce, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced Sunday after a weekend referendum.

Gonzi, who campaigned against the introduction of divorce in the last European country where it is illegal, said it was now up the Mediterranean archipelago’s parliament to legalize the dissolution of marriage.

“This is not the result that I wished for, but the will of the people has to be respected and parliament should enact a law for the introduction of divorce,” the conservative prime minister said.

Malta is one of only two countries in the world – the Philippines is the other – that bans divorce. Chile was the last country to legalize divorce in 2004 after overwhelming public pressure.

Saturday’s non-binding referendum asked the island’s 306,000 mainly Roman Catholic voters whether the parliament should introduce a new law that would allow couples to obtain a divorce after four years of separation.

Herald Sun.

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Rockford Catholic Diocese Abandons “Best Interests of the Child” for Religious Ideology

Rockford Diocese is to shut down its adoption services, rather than comply with state law on equal treatment for prospective same – sex couples.  The National Catholic Register has a headline suggesting that the withdrawal of public funding for these agencies that would follow non-compliance with the law amounts to Catholics being “Penalized for Putting ‘Best Interest of the Child’ First”.  This is nonsense.

The best interests of the child demand that each one be places with the most suitable parents available. There is absolutely no empirical evidence to support the bishops’ standard claim that the most suitable parents are necessarily opposite sex married couples, and a great deal of evidence to contradict it. Even if it were true in general, it is certainly not true in all individual cases. Some biological, opposite sex parent couples are demonstrably not good parents, or there would not be so many kids requiring adoption. Conversely, adoption professionals know of countless same sex couples who have made superb parents. The evidence is that for some specific classes of children, gay parents may sometimes be the better option, or sometimes only the only parents available. To restrict artificially the pool of potential parents to married, opposite sex couples is to place a fundamentally flawed religious ideology ahead of the best interests of the child.

Among the standard, prejudiced responses to the NCR article, is this superb rejoinder:

Boston Catholic Charities was already allowing gay adoption a few years ago before gay marriage became this much of a debate and the Bishops decided it didn’t make the case against gay marriage look good.

“The implementation of the new civil-union law in Illinois is leading to a showdown between Catholic Charities as a provider of adoption services for children and a state law that places the private interest of adults over the human rights of children. Catholic Charities will actually be put in jeopardy of lawsuits and losing public funds to serve the poor if they refuse to deprive children they serve of married mothers and fathers. How crazy is that?”

Catholic Charities sought an exemption from the law for religious organizations as a matter of conscience, but the bill is bottled up in committee and not likely to pass before June 1, when the civil-union law takes effect. As the clock ticks down, the question remains as to whether Catholic Charities will be forced out of the adoption business in Illinois, as has been the case in Boston, San Francisco, Washington and other places.

To understand the issue, one must first consider who the client is when there is a child in need of adoption or foster care. Is this a service for the child or is it a service to adults seeking to acquire a child? The qualifications for the adoptive parents can be quite different depending on the answer to that question.

If the clients are the adults, the child then becomes a precious commodity. The qualification for the adoptive parent(s) is merely competence in parenting. However, if the client is the child, the process for qualifying the prospective parent is quite different, taking into account the human rights and dignity of the child.

First, let us consider the state of the child up for adoption — deprived of his or her mother and father who for some reason were not able to fulfill their responsibilities to the child. Nevertheless, the child carries the flesh of these people and is a witness to their union for all of eternity. The child has not only lost a very real primordial connection associated with his or her identity, but something that is common to every person without exception and important to human flourishing.

As the child grows in age, the awareness of loss increases. Not only the connection with the persons from whom the child originated is missing, but there are also questions about siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, medical history, sense of family history and ethnic and cultural heritage. The ability, as far as possible, for a child to know and be cared for by his or her mother and father is so precious that it is an internationally recognized human right specified in the “U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Considering the child’s status, adoption is really an accommodation for this privation. It is an act of charity in which strangers make an irrevocable promise to love, to stand in for and to represent the man and woman who gave the child life and who were not able to fulfill their responsibilities. In this sense, they are not only taking on responsibility to the child, but also to the parents of the child.

It is therefore common sense that only a man can stand in for the father and only a woman can stand in for the mother of which the child was deprived.”

This point is actually never argued. Where is it every proven that two parents of opposite genders are the only people who can step in for an adoptive child?
Certainly not in any social science, this has been proven over and over, there are plenty of single people who have raised healthy children as there are gay couples. This is backed up with numerous studies.

“matter of common sense and justice for the child to expect the adoptive man and woman to first make themselves irreplaceable to each other through marriage?”

How are civil unions not two people making themselves irreplaceable to each other? How are two civilly unioned people adoption a child not making a permanent irreplaceable family with the child?
To compare gays to people looking for pets is not realistic. If there are facts or reasoning to this conclusion, it is not stated.

““best interest of the child” in the abstract, the perceptions of that can be skewed by the interest and experience of the adults making the argument.”

With the lack of any substantive arguments, facts or logic provided, this entire article is based on perceptions skewed by the person writing it.

“Reflecting on the desire we have for connection with our own mother and father and recognizing that this is a common human experience”

And gays can’t do this? And again, there is not supportive data or logic to this conclusion. I will say that very few, if any, Catholics have done a good job in raising homosexual children. To tell a child for his/her entire childhood that what s/he would grow up to be is an “objectively disordered” individual who will never be able to gratify one of his/her most powerful drives, can never have children or know what romantic love is is not “in the best interest of the child” because that drive is aimed nontraditionally. Letting such child choose based in modern family structures and biblical teachings in reference to the time has shown to be a much more humane way of facing homosexuality.

Boston Catholic Charities was already allowing gay adoption a few years ago before gay marriage became this much of a debate and the Bishops decided it didn’t make the case against gay marriage look good.

“It is therefore common sense that only a man can stand in for the father and only a woman can stand in for the mother of which the child was deprived.”

This point is actually never argued in the article. Where is it every proven that two parents of opposite genders are the only people who can step in for an adoptive child?
Certainly not proven in any social science, this has been disproven over and over. There are plenty of single people who have raised healthy children as there are gay couples. This is backed up with numerous studies.

“matter of common sense and justice for the child to expect the adoptive man and woman to first make themselves irreplaceable to each other through marriage?”

How are civil unions not two people making themselves irreplaceable to each other? How are two civilly unioned people adopting a child not making a permanent irreplaceable family first with each other and then with the child?

To compare gays to people looking for pets is not realistic. If there are facts or reasoning to this conclusion, it is not stated.

““best interest of the child” in the abstract, the perceptions of that can be skewed by the interest and experience of the adults making the argument.”

With the lack of any substantive arguments, facts or logic provided, this entire article is based on skewed perceptions of the person writing it.

“Reflecting on the desire we have for connection with our own mother and father and recognizing that this is a common human experience”

And gays can’t do this? Again, there is not supportive data or logic to this conclusion. I will say that very few, if any, Catholics have done a good job in raising homosexual children. To tell a child throughout his/her entire childhood that who s/he would grow up to be is an “objectively disordered” individual who will never be able to gratify one of his/her most powerful drives, can never have children or know what romantic love is is not “in the best interest of the child” because that drive is aimed nontraditionally and any pursuit, even contemplation would be a sin. The child then has to walk around with stygma for his entire life while being deprived of his own family potential. Letting such child choose based on modern family structures and biblical teachings with reference to the time has shown to be a much more humane way of facing homosexuality. Contrary to the above article, there is overwhelming data making it very clear that this leads to severe emotional problems.

Have any readers here every known a stable gay couple or empathized with what a gay child goes through?

Joe Providence, at

NCRegister.com.

 

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The Fervour of the Convert: Gay Marriage Opponent Jeff Angelo Turns Advocate, Marinelli’s New Bus Tour.

Two reports this morning demonstrate the fervour of new converts, as former opponents of marriage equality turn their energies to active support. Louis Marinelli’s conversion is not new, but his bus tour is. Jeff Angelo’s support is new. Both of these men insist that gay marriage should be a conservative value, both attribute their change of heart to getting to know gay couples. As same – sex couples (and their families) become increasingly visible everywhere, there will be many more of these conversion experiences, increasing the number of our straight allies.

From Gay Marriage Ban Backer To Opponent, Jeff Angelo Launches Support Campaign

Former Iowa state Senator Jeff Angelo, who once backed a gay marriage ban amendment, will helm a new group for conservatives who support gay marriage.

Angelo is expected to unveil his new group Republicans for Freedom next week, the Des Moines Register reported.

“This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people,” Angelo told lawmakers at a public hearing earlier this year. “At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends are involved in a nefarious agenda. The outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself.”

In 2006, the former Senator co-sponsored an amendment that sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the Iowa Constitution. A successful effort would have prevented the Iowa Supreme Court from legalizing the institution in 2009.

And ironically, Angelo credits getting to know married gay couples for his change of heart.

On Top Magazine

Meanwhile, Marinelli is mounting a pro-equality bus tour of Minnesota:

 

NOM Hate Bus : Going Into Reverse?

 

Former NOM staffer to bring marriage equality tour to Minnesota

Louis Marinelli, a former bus driver and organizer for the National Organization for Marriage’s anti–gay marriage tour last year, is launching his own tour — but this time he’ll be on the other side of the issue. Marinelli says it was last year’s anti-gay marriage tour that changed his mind about marriage equality. He’ll be bringing his tour in support of  marriage rights for same-sex couples through St. Paul in August.

Through the new project Marinelli tour hopes to change the minds of conservative legislators. He sees it as a counter to NOM’s anti-gay marriage tour last year, which included stops in St. Cloud and St. Paul.

“Over the course of 30 days, we traveled more than 10,000 miles to spread a discriminatory message I once believed in to oppose same-sex marriage,” he wrote. “Ironically, it was that very summer tour that led me to change my mind and come to support marriage equality.”

Minnesota Independent: News. Politics. Media.

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Civil Unions for Chile? President Pinera Sends Bill to Congress

Even in overwhelmingly Catholic Latin America, marriage equality and near equality continues to advance. Chile could be the next Catholic country to approve near-marriage, while avoiding the m-word itself. When it does so, Chile will join Argentina, which has full family equality, Mexico, where same- sex marriages contracted in the capital are recognized country – wide, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay, which all provide for civil unions, and Brazil, where there is de facto equality for same- sex couples.

Chile President Sebastian Pinera To Send Congress Gay Unions Bil

 

 

Chile President Sebastian Pinera has announced he’ll send Congress a bill legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Pinera announced his intentions in an interview published Saturday by daily El Mercurio.

The conservative lawmaker said his bill seeks to “protect and safeguard” the civil rights of couples living outside of marriage and “safeguard the dignity of those couples, whether of opposite sex or even the same sex.”

The announcement comes after Chile’s largest gay rights group MOVILH called for a national march in support of gay marriage and suggested that Pinera had not lived up to a campaign pledge to back a civil unions bill. MOVILH’s demonstration is scheduled to take place on June 25 in the nation’s capital and largest city, Santiago, starting at 3PM at the Plaza Italia

Full report:  On Top Magazine

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Vatican, Condoms and AIDS.

The AIDS conference being hosted by the Vatican this weekend is worth keeping an eye on. Far too much of the commentary around AIDS and condoms as a preventive strategy degenerates into a simplistic either/or: “use condoms to prevent AIDS” (AIDS activists),  or “condoms don’t work – abstain from all sex outside of marriage” (Vatican).

Reality, as always, is more complex. The severity of the epidemic in Africa should itself be sufficient to deter people from both sides from promoting supposed solutions based in ideology – but so far, has not done so. For people in the affluent countries of Europe and North America, where infection rates are relatively low, and good health services allow the disease to be managed, it is easy to become complacent. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, where health facilities are not in the same league, and infection rates are appalling, it’s a different matter entirely. Take a look at this map, showing infection rates – and have a good look at the key: those percentages give the percentage of the total adult population infected with HIV! (That’s more than one adult in five in each of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

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JTS Ordains Its First Openly Gay Rabbi – The Sisterhood – Forward.com

Following news of Presbyterian approval for openly gay or lesbian clergy, in the US and in the Church of Scotland, from a conservative Jewish Theological Seminary we have -

JTS Ordains Its First Openly Gay Rabbi

Rachel Isaacs has known, for as long as she can remember, that she wanted to be a rabbi. But Isaacs, who on May 19 became the first openly gay rabbi of either sex to be ordained by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, knew by the time she was in college that she wouldn’t be able to become a Conservative rabbi because JTS, at the time, did not ordain gay clergy.

When the Conservative movement changed its policy five years ago, after nearly two decades of painful and divisive debate, Isaacs was in her first year of rabbinical school at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion — and deeply immersed in her studies there. “I loved my teachers and classmates and couldn’t imagine being someplace else. I was happy for the [Conservative] movement but was unsure what it meant for me personally,” she said.

After returning to the U.S. from Israel, where she learned in yeshiva and began her studies at HUC, she moved to Brooklyn and joined the Park Slope Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue with an openly lesbian rabbi (Full disclosure: I’m a PSJC member.) “My thinking shifted. It was a living expression of the Judaism I believed in and wanted to foster as a rabbi. It’s a community that is progressive and traditional and has an openly lesbian rabbi. The more I was at PSJC, the more I thought ‘this is what I want to do.’ “

“I wanted to lead a halachically observant community so decided it was best to transfer to JTS where it would be far more likely I’d be working at a congregation that kept kosher, was more Shabbat observant and had more davenning with traditional nusach — things I grew up with that were part of my personal practice,” said Isaacs, now 28.

– The Sisterhood – Forward.com.

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Transgendered Fish: He’s Not Making This Up!

When I was a young boy, my father had a habit of teasing us children mercilessly, by frequently prefacing something with the words, “When I was a little girl…..” We would try to argue with him insisting that he had never been a little girl, but a little boy.  ”How do you know?” he would reply. “You weren’t there.” Years later, I sometimes made the same claim with my two daughters, with the same predictable response. They knew I was only teasing – as an adult man, it was impossible for me to have been a little girl.

Of course, they were right, and also wrong. I never was a little girl, but for some other adult men, the claim would be true. One of my friends is a woman who was indeed a little boy, and another is now a man who was once a little girl. Gender transitions are a fact of life. In the modern world, this is sometimes accompanied by reassignment surgery, but non-surgical gender transitions have been an important feature of many human societies in history and the modern world, and also in the animal kingdom.

In California, an imaginative classroom lesson on gender diversity among animals, using the examples of fish that change gender, all-female gecko species and “boy snakes that act ‘girly’ , has provoked an outcry from the religious right:

Transgender Clownfish Raises a Stink at Oakland Elementary School

At Oakland’s Redwood Heights Elementary school, a cute and seemingly harmless lesson on gender diversity has provoked the religious right in to action. The hour-long lesson, part of a requirement that all state schools take on the subjects of gender identity and sexual orientation, used examples from nature to illustrate to fourth and fifth graders that things can be more complicated than just boys versus girls. Unfortunately that’s what the Pacific Justice Institute, defenders of your religious freedom to deny what you saw on the National Geographic Channel, have latched on to. (more…)

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