Saturday, January 5, 2013

Church Of England Decision To Allow Gay Bishops Draws Criticisms From Both Liberals And Conservatives, Two Lesbian Couples Legally Married Apply To Have Their Licenses Recorded In Alabama, Illinois Catholic Priest On Leave After Calling 911 To Report He Was Stuck In Handcuffs, Azealia Banks Defends Calling Perez Hilton “Messy Faggot,” Openly Gay Professional Bowler Scott Norton’s Kiss For Husband Caught By ESPN Camera Considered Landmark Moment, J.J. Watt

An update on a previous post: A decision by the Church of England to allow gay men in civil partnerships to become bishops has prompted criticism from both liberals and conservatives. Groups representing gay Anglicans have welcomed the move but questioned a requirement that the new bishops will have to be celibate. Conservative evangelicals have called the announcement "divisive,” according to the BBC. Some critics say it is undermining church teaching about homosexuality in the hope of winning public approval. The issue has divided the church since 2003 amid a row over gay cleric Jeffrey John becoming Bishop of Reading. John, now Dean of St Albans, was forced to withdraw from the role of Bishop of Reading shortly after having initially accepted it, following protests from traditionalists. He said, "If it is genuinely true that all levels of ordained ministry are now more open to gay people than they were before, then this is a very good thing." The Church of England has already agreed to allow people in civil partnerships to become clergy, provided they promised they would remain celibate. In a statement on behalf of the House of Bishops, the Right Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich said, "The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate [office of Bishop],” adding, "All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England.” The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says the latest decision to make the same provision for bishops has reignited Anglicans' most deep-seated and destructive dispute. The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said although it was a step forward, gay bishops should not have to be celibate. Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs for gay rights campaigners Stonewall, said: "I'm sure celibate gay men will be thrilled by this exciting new job opportunity, if perhaps somewhat perplexed as to how it will be policed by the Church." The Rev Colin Coward, director of the Changing Attitude group, which campaigns for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Church, said the statement "will be laughed at by the majority in this country," and added that insisting on celibacy was wrong. The Rev Ian Stubbs from Glossop, Derbyshire, cautiously welcomed the moved but said his view was "mixed,” adding, "I still find it strange that a group of people, about 40 men which will include some gay men, have decided that people can be in a partnership but not express their loving relationships sexually. It's mixed for me.” Christina Rees, a member of the Synod and the Archbishops' Council, said it was "good news" for gay male clergy, but highlighted the continuing lack of female bishops. Norman Russell, the Archdeacon of Berkshire, said the issue of homosexuality and the Church is part of a much wider cultural debate. "There's a challenge between what one might describe as the 'wisdom of the ages', which in our case is what comes to us from Judo-Christian tradition and on the other hand what we might describe as the passing wisdom of the age. The Church has clearly got to engage with the culture in which we're set, but at the same time is has got to bear witness to a wisdom which is intergenerational.” Conservative evangelicals denounced the concession outright and insisted that few people believed clergy in civil partnerships were genuinely celibate. In a statement, Michael Lawson, chairman of the Evangelical Council of the Church of England, a traditionalist group which promotes Church heritage, said: "At the very least [it] will spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age." And the Reverend Rod Thomas, a spokesman for Reform, an evangelical network which also pushes for the Church of England to be more traditional, said: "It's a very worrying development. If someone were to be appointed who was in a civil partnership, that would be a very divisive step, both within England and across the Anglican Communion. Although the Church says they would be required to declare that they are celibate as part of their appointment, the fact is that this is unenforceable." Meanwhile, Canon Chris Sugden from Anglican Mainstream said, "Since a decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church's doctrine and discipline, it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone.

In Illinois, the pastor of St. Aloysius church on Springfield’s north end has been granted a leave of absence after he called 911 from the rectory and told a dispatcher that he needed help getting out of handcuffs. “I’m going to need help getting out before this becomes a medical emergency,” Father Tom Donovan told a dispatcher who sounds a bit incredulous during the November 28 call. “You’re stuck in a pair of handcuffs?” the dispatcher asks. “(I was) playing with them and I need help getting out,” Donovan responds. Donovan told the dispatcher that he was alone in the rectory. It’s not clear exactly how he ended up in handcuffs or why he feared a medical emergency. His voice sounds garbled or muffled on the tape, and sources say that police discovered some sort of gag on the priest when they arrived. The diocese has been mum about the matter, saying only that Bishop Thomas Paprocki granted Donovan’s request for a leave of absence at some point before Christmas. The diocese knows about the incident, given that Brad Huff, an attorney for the diocese, has been given a copy of the 911 tape by the Sangamon County Emergency Telephone System Department. Kathie Sass, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Springfield, said that the diocese also has a copy of a police report on the matter. Sass would not disclose Donovan’s whereabouts or say whether he is staying at a church-affiliated location. “I wouldn’t be able to tell you where Father Donovan is,” Sass said. “There’s a matter of privacy there.” Sass said that Donovan approached Paprocki after the incident and asked for help. “He came to the bishop before anyone was aware of the incident,” Sass said. “He came to the bishop and asked for help and was granted leave.” Paprocki reviewed the police report after speaking with Donovan, and the police account was consistent with what the priest told the bishop, Sass said. Paprocki testified Thursday at an Illinois Senate Executive Committee against a proposal to legalize same sex marriage in the state. In September, 2012, he authored a column calling for careful deliberation when voting for Democrat since the Party’s platform supported “intrinsically evil” values like same sex marriage. Audio of the 911 is available at the source.

In Alabama, two couples already married in other states paid a small fee Friday afternoon to have their married licenses recorded in Mobile County Probate Court. Legally, it counts for nothing. Alabama bans same sex marriage and does not recognize legal unions from other states. Still, the couples said they believe their actions today have an important symbolic meaning. Those marriage licenses now will be on record, viewable on the Probate Court website. “It’s a good reference point to go back to legal documents,” said Kim McKeand, who married Cari Searcy in California in 2008 when same-sex marriages were legal in the Golden State. Although California voters later overturned the same sex marriage law in a referendum, the state still recognizes the marriage licenses it issue before that. The WE DO Campaign, a project of the Campaign for Southern Equality, organized Friday’s event. The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the organization’s executive director, said she was not disappointed that only two couples participated. She said they speak for many others who fear public exposure in a state that affords not legal protections against job and housing discrimination. “It’s a very brave act for a couple to be out in this way,” she said. Inside Probate Court offices, Sondra Scott and Jan Parker stepped up to the window and showed the clerk the Massachusetts marriage license that they obtained two months after same sex marriage became legal there in 2004. Parker told the clerk that she and her partner had been together for 28 years. “We would like to know what we have to do to have our marriage recognized by the state of Alabama,” she said. The clerk summoned a supervisor, who directed the couple to another window where they could make a public record of their marriage license. They paid a $5.50 fee. Outside the building, Scott and Parker said they ran a commercial laundry business in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and jumped at the chance to get legally married. “Jan and I have been together for 28 years and have two children and two grandchildren,” Scott said. Scott said their marriage status outside of a handful of states hit home when she got cancer and contemplated the implications for her spouse if she were to die. “She nursed me back to health, and that means a lot,” Scott said. A host of state and federal benefits, ranging from tax benefits to hospital visitation rights to inheritance benefits, do not apply to gay couples in Alabama. Searcy said she faced the issue when her son needed heart surgery as an infant. She said she found that she had no legal rights to administer care in the hospital or make medical decisions for the boy since McKeand is the birth mother. Searcy said she wants the same automatic rights every heterosexual married couple enjoys. “We shouldn’t be considered legal strangers,” she said. “This is my wife.” Although the state’s political environment may be hostile to same sex marriage, McKeand and Searcy said they have faced no personal discrimination since moving to Mobile from Texas. “Mobile seems to be pretty open-minded and welcoming,” McKeand said. Searcy noted that she and McKeand, who have been together for almost 16 years, both come from small towns in east Texas. “To us, Mobile is a pretty big city.” Scott said she and Parker have had similar experiences. She said that when the couple lost their business in a merger deal gone bad, they found themselves searching for a place with a lower cost of living where Social Security checks would stretch farther. She said they had talked about retiring in the South, anyway, because she originally is from Mississippi and they liked the warmer climate. “Nobody seems to judge us,” she said. Beach-Ferrara, the campaign organizer, said the group’s aim is to change marriage policy at the federal level. That would force states in the South, where she acknowledged that the prospects for marriage equality are remote, to at least honor legal marriages from other states. “We have done everything in our power to express our full equality,” she told a small but enthusiastic group of supporters waiting for the couples who emerged from the Probate Court offices.

Azealia Banks started her weekend off on a caustic note, engaging in a Twitter beef with up-and-comer Angel Haze that soon spilled over to involve celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and a gay slur. The battles began on Thursday, when Haze, a Michigan-born rapper who released her EP Reservation, in July, apparently took exception to Banks' tweeted assertion that people who were not born and raised in New York should not claim to be New Yorkers. Haze tweeted a diss track, On The Edge to Banks, and Banks responded on Friday morning with her own track, No Problems. On Friday afternoon, Haze released Shut The Fuck Up, which she called the "last diss track you'll ever hear from me." Between tracks, the two rappers fired insults at each other, with Haze referring to Banks as a "charcoal-skinned bitch" and Banks declaring, "I'm bout to rip this bitch's head off and toss it in the cauldron." Other Twitter users weighed in on the dispute, including Perez Hilton, who took Haze's side. This prompted the inflammatory post from Banks: "lol what a messy faggot you are." She soon attempted to clarify her use of the slur: "A faggot is not a homosexual male. A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There's a BIG difference," she explained. She later refined her message with a word that she recently told Rolling Stone was a sign of her affection for her gay fans: "When I said acts like a female I should've said acts like a cunt." Saturday afternoon, Banks – who released a proper single, BBD, just before the diss-track feud began – attempted to dismiss the controversy. "Really not as moved by this f word thing as u all want me to be," she tweeted. "As a bisexual person I knew what I meant when I used that word."

In November, Scott Norton won a pro bowling tournament in Las Vegas. On December 30, ESPN featured a telecast of that tournament, the Chameleon Championship. Norton, who is gay, celebrated his triumph with his husband while ESPN’s cameras rolled. Jim Buzinski, who writes for Outsports.com, spoke with Bill Littlefield about the significance of the December broadcast of a November bowling tournament won by a fellow with whom relatively few sports fans are likely to be familiar. “ESPN showed Scott kissing his husband, Craig Woodward, on the broadcast and referred to Craig during the broadcast as Scott’s husband or spouse,” Buzinski said. “I think it was a first in broadcast history of them showing a same-sex couple kissing with an athlete. I thought it was unique that ESPN did not shy away from it. The event was in November, and so they had plenty of time to edit it – they easily could have edited out the kiss and just shown him with his family or something, but they chose not to. They thought it was part of the story, and they addressed it as part of the storyline. So ... It was pretty cool but it’s still something that a lot of people are not used to, so that’s why it’s news.” Buzinski said the response to his article has been overwhelming, with several other media outlets picking up the story. However, not all of the reaction has been positive. “People, they often say, ‘Why do you have to flaunt it?’ or, ‘Why do you have to shove it in our face?’” Buzinski said. “It kind of jars people; And so I think that some of the comments, you know, that we’ve gotten that have been negative towards it are people who really still can’t process the idea that in 2012, you can get married in parts of this country. Scott is legally married to his husband and ESPN treated it as a simple fact, as if they would have if he was married to a woman.” Even though most of the country doesn’t know Norton, or about the kiss, Buzinski said the moment could break new ground for gay athletes. “If it happened on an NFL broadcast, if we ever had – we first have to have an openly gay NFL player, which in itself would be a huge story – I think it would be a much bigger story, just because of the nature of the NFL,” Buzinski said. “I do think somewhat it’s a watershed moment because this is something that happened and the world didn’t end, and I think that’s the big thing that a lot of people are seeing, that this stuff shouldn’t affect them if they’re opposed to it.”

The super sexy J.J.Watt (he has one of the most visible penis lines in the NFL) in action leading the Houston Texans to victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday 19-13 in an AFC wildcard game. The Texans play the New England Patriots next Sunday.

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