Hillsong Church’s Brian Houston Clarifies Position On Same-Sex Marriage

Megachurch pastor Brian Houston caused a stir last week by declaring that the influential and global Hillsong Church is in an “ongoing conversation” about gay marriage.

But does that mean that his convictions about homosexuality are likely to change?

Absolutely not, Houston said in a recent clarification published on Hillsong’s website.

Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.

Houston touched on the topic of same-sex marriage during a press conference on Thursday. The senior pastor acknowledged that it is tough for Christian churches with orthodox beliefs to stay relevant as gay marriage becomes legal in more states.

“It’s very easy to reduce what you think about homosexuality to just a public statement, and that would keep a lot of people happy,” Houston said on Thursday, according to an RNS transcript, “but we feel at this point, that it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us just to reduce it down to a yes or no answer in a media outlet. So we’re on the journey with it.”

Hillsong pastors have previously refused to take a stand on gay marriage -- highlighting its complexity and noting that giving a definitive "yes" or "no" has often led LGBT people to feel rejected by the Christian church.

Carl Lentz, Hillsong’s lead pastor in New York, said that his church welcomes “a lot of gay men and women” inside its doors every weekend. Lentz pointed out that Jesus himself had never made a statement about homosexuality in the Bible.

The New York Times published an article about Houston’s Thursday comments titled, “Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage.”

Houston’s clarification squashed any hopes that any shift is likely. For him, staying relevant -- and continuing to attract thousands of young people to Hillsong’s rock concert-like worship services -- means sticking with his traditional interpretation of the Bible.

“This struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ,” Houston said. “This – like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.”

This Chart Makes A Pretty Good Point About How Famous People Are Punished

These days, you don't have a to be a famous celebrity to be publicly shamed for saying or doing something horrible. Social media has made it possible for regular folks to cause Internet outrage as well.

However, you might have noticed that there's an inverse relationship between how celebs and non-famous people are punished, be it for an offensive tweet or a severe infraction of the law.

Luckily, this sad-but-true-and-therefore-funny Doghouse Diaries chart is here to break it all down for us:

doghouse diaries

So next time you're thinking about doing something terrible, you'd better get famous first.

For more funny charts and comics, head over to Doghouse Diaries.

Dear Straight Couples: Just Get Married Already

If you're a straight couple who is in love, you have my blessing. Go get hitched, you crazy kids.

Don't get me wrong; I have an immense appreciation for our allies. When Macklemore sang "Same Love" while Queen Latifah married 33 couples on live television, I honestly cried a little bit.

But when celebrity couples make empty promises to the LGBTQ community as some sort of publicity stunt, the gesture is meaningless if not insulting. I guess I could give Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie props for waiting a full eight years before breaking their promise to not get married until everyone can. I mean Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell only waited two years and used the DOMA ruling as a loophole. Now Lena Dunham has jumped on the bandwagon and I have to call bullshit.

If the self-proclaimed voice of my generation wants to make a promise like that, I just hope she intends to keep it. Otherwise, don't bother. There are plenty of other gestures that would speak just as loudly.

I mean, not even LGBTQ people are waiting to tie the knot until same-sex marriage is legal nationwide. Whenever a new state makes this inevitable change, it's met with celebration. Most couples aren't as fortunate to be able to delay marriage in the name of social protest. For them, the legalization of marriage is not just about equality, but also the security that they want to be able to offer their loved ones.

Having grown up and come out of the closet in Jackson, Mississippi, I've known a number of gay and lesbian couples that take whatever opportunity they can to make their love legal. They travel to other states just to be able to say, "I do."

But that's still not enough. I recently met an older couple who has to file mountains of paperwork to accomplish what a simple marriage would do, all so one woman who works for the state can pass her benefits on to the very sick woman she loves.

If you're in love and have the legal right to get married, don't waste that. I understand it's a gesture well intended but not everyone is so fortunate to squander their rights.

If you want to show your support, get married in a state where it's legal. Show the other states what hosting Brad and Angelina's marriage can do for their economy and tourism.

Better yet, use your money and connections to fight where it matters most. Sponsor a bill in a state that's still behind the times. Who knows? Maybe the Dax and Kristen Act will be responsible for marriage equality in Mississippi.

I don't think lawmakers will say, "Well, if legalizing same-sex marriage will allow Lena Dunham to marry her boyfriend with a clean conscience, we should do it!"

I will always be grateful for allies, no matter if they're huge celebrities or small town citizens. But making some lavish, yet empty promise does nothing but tarnish your word. If you want to show you care, actually do something. Otherwise, I hope your marital vows last longer than the ones you've made to the LGBTQ community.

GOP Official: LGBT Rights Will Allow Gays To ‘Terrorize’ Day Cares, Hospitals And Schools

Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R) warned supporters in a fundraising email Thursday that the advancement of gay rights may force businesses to implement "hiring quotas" for gay people, allowing LGBT individuals to "terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools."

"Every homosexual fired or not hired becomes a potential federal civil rights lawsuit," Delgaudio, who was elected to a fourth term in 2011 with more than 50 percent of the vote, wrote in a letter he has been circulating since 2010.

Delgaudio, who also heads the anti-gay group Public Advocate of the United States, also sounded off against marriage equality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adoption, which he warned will lead to "men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to ‘pick out’ a little boy for themselves."

The Sterling District supervisor even bashed anti-bullying legislation seeking to end discrimination and harassment of LGBT students in public schools, saying that high school children will be forced to learn "perverted sex acts as part of ‘safe sex’ education."

Delgaudio came under fire in 2010 for suggesting the Transportation Security Administration's airport security pat-down protocol was part of a "homosexual agenda" to give gay TSA screeners "pleasure from your submission."

Last year, the GOP official was also under investigation by the FBI for allegedly misusing public resources to raise money for Public Advocate of the United States.

In January, anti-Delgaudio group Citizens for Sterling filed a recall petition against the controversial supervisor, but an Arlington County judge dismissed the petition in June.

Delgaudio, who has served on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors since 1999, will face Democratic challenger Tony Barney in the November 2015 general election.

H/T Right Wing Watch

Here’s a Better Idea for the Gay Man Who Wants to Raise $150,000 for Anti-Gay Bakers

Melissa and Aaron Klein are in a heap of trouble.

The couple recently revealed that they might have to pay as much as $150,000 in fines after the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found them guilty of discriminating against a lesbian couple who wanted to order a wedding cake from them last year.

The Kleins own Sweet Cakes bakery, which, until last year, had a storefront in Gresham, Oregon. After the controversy over their refusal of service to Rachel Crier and her partner, Laurel, the couple chose to close their bakery rather than accommodate same-sex customers and moved their operation to a home bakery.

During a recent interview at the Values Voter Summit, the Kleins revealed that the fine from the state may bankrupt them, adding, "It's definitely impacted us pretty hard financially, and it's been a little stressful, but ... we have the Lord and so He's been keeping us strong."

But fear not! Their salvation may be on its way, and it's coming from the last person they'd ever have suspected would have their backs: a gay man.

That's right: Matt Stolhandske, a self-proclaimed "gay activist" and a member of the board of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, published an essay over the weekend in which he explained that he's started a fundraiser to take care of that nasty little $150,000 fine the Kleins could be facing.

Why would a gay man be looking to bail out two bigots who wouldn't sell him a cake if he were getting married? It boggles my mind too, so I'll just let Stolhandske explain it in his own words:

The Kleins say the $150,000 fee will bankrupt her family. I'm raising money to help offset that cost. I'll send whatever we raise along to the Klein family with a message of love and peace. I don't want them to suffer. But I am also pleading with them and other Christians to stop using the name of Jesus to explain to the LGBT community why we don't deserve access to the civil rights afforded to heterosexuals through the legal institution of marriage.

I hope the Kleins will accept this sign of good will. After all, they must see that our goals here are the same -- to live our lives as we see fit and be treated equally under the law.

Of course Stolhandske knows this ridiculous move will be met with criticism, so he added a preemptive disclaimer:

Already I can hear the shouts from progressive and gay friends.

"You're an apologist for homophobes," they tell me. "How can you reward this anti-gay behavior? Who next will they choose not to serve? African Americans? Single mothers? Muslims? We cannot support this." To them I say: this is what an olive branch looks like. I am not rewarding their behavior, but rather loving them in spite of it. It is time for these two communities, which both cite genuine love as our motivation, to put aside our prejudices and put down our pitchforks to clear the path for progress.

Well, guess what, Stolhandske? You are an apologist for homophobes. And this kind of anti-gay behavior shouldn't be rewarded. While I don't like to see anyone suffer, this wasn't something that just happened to the Kleins. They willfully disregarded the law -- they went so far as to close their store rather than offer their services to a gay couple -- and when you break the law, there are consequences.

Besides, what kind of a message does paying for these people's fine really offer? It'd be one thing if Aaron and Melissa had shown any sign of remorse for what they did or promised to change their behavior, but they haven't, and it doesn't appear that their minds (or hearts) will change anytime soon. Instead, they'd rather lose their business and put their family in jeopardy. And now Stolhandske wants us to co-sign their hate because of some misguided mumbo-jumbo about love and acceptance.

I'd like to humbly suggest that we not do that, because telling us that we are not worthy of buying a cake from them because of whom we love or fuck isn't loving, and it isn't accepting. So, instead, here are a slew of organizations that are actively working to help people -- people who really need our help -- and who aren't actively working to make sure we stay second-class citizens as part of their missions. Pick one (or your favorite organization) and send them a donation and then tell all your friends what you did and why you did it.

The Ali Forney Center for Homeless LGBT Youth

The Trevor Project


Planned Parenthood

Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring

Doctors Without Borders


Sylvia Rivera Law Project

National Network to End Domestic Violence

Death With Dignity

The Farm Sanctuary

Raise a Child

Gay Men's Health Crisis

God's Love We Deliver

Ignazio Marino, Rome’s Mayor, Defies Italy’s Gay Marriage Ban

Rome's mayor has made a step on the right side of history by publicly defying the country's ban on same-sex marriage.

Ignazio Marino ignored the Italian ban on same-sex marriage when he registered 16 couples over the weekend whose marriages were recognized abroad.

Earlier this month Interior Minister Angelino Alfano released a statement informing legislators that any registration of foreign marriages between same-sex couples would be "voided."

Check out the clip above to hear more from HuffPost Live.

Wyoming Attorney General Says Gay Marriages Can Begin On Tuesday

(Adds details of announcement)

By Dan Whitcomb

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

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

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

Michael said that the nuptials can begin immediately after the state files a formal notice with the court stating that it would not seek that appeal.

"The Laramie County Clerk will be required to provide marriage licenses to otherwise qualified individuals without regard to whether the applicants are a same-sex couple," he said.

"Although County Clerks in other Wyoming counties are not parties to the current litigation, the Attorney General's office anticipates that marriage licenses will also be available to same-sex couples in these counties."

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

The U.S. Supreme Court surprised observers this month by leaving intact lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage in five states.

A day later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, found gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada were unconstitutional. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Sandra Maler and Eric walsh)

Debating My Gay Marriage? Don’t Do Me Any Favors

It has been a pretty raucous couple of weeks at the Vatican with bishops meeting for the Synod on Family. Pope Francis promoted an open discussion that resulted in a surprising midway document that included such language as "welcoming the homosexual" and acknowledgment that gays have "gifts to offer Christian communities," as well as the sacrifice and precious support that can be present in same-sex relations.

During the same time, a major world-wide evangelical organization called the Hillsong Church was meeting in New York. During a press conference, the founding pastor Brian Houston essentially dodged the question about same-sex marriage, saying they were "on the journey" with the question of gay marriage, and that they would not take a stance on it one way or another.

As a gay man who has been with my partner for almost 13 years and married for almost two, it felt nice to hear these two groups making an effort towards gay people.

I was glad to have my relationship with Brad -- which is the most important thing in my life, which is the way I experience love, which has brought me through deaths and new births, which has made me a better Christian and a better person -- to possibly be considered as "OK" and to recognize that it might have merit in the eyes of these big religious organizations. It felt surprisingly and embarrassingly good.

However, the feeling didn't last long.

Even these modest nods towards my life appear to have been too much for the bishops and Hillsong. By the end of the week, the Catholic welcome for the homosexual had turned into a more clinical "providing for" the homosexual, and gone was any positive affirmation of same-sex relations. In a similar way, the Hillsong pastor decided that it wasn't good for business -- ahem, his faith -- to say that he wasn't clear on same-sex marriage and referred people interested in his own thoughts on homosexuality to the anti-gay writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

I guess I should be hurt, given my gladness at the initial generosity. But I have to say that this last flipping and flopping from elements within the Christian church has left me completely and finally "over it."

The idea that some random people are debating my life and my love now seems strange and insulting. While I will continue to pay professional attention to these debates, as someone who works in the media and as a member of the clergy who cares about justice for all people, on a personal level I couldn't give a shit what these people think about my life. I'm not going to give them that power.

That doesn't mean that I no longer care about my faith in God or my commitment to Christianity in general. It is not a choice between my faith and my love. They are intertwined. I have worked in Christian churches across the country where LGBT people are completely embraced and unreservedly part of the congregation on every level. My partner and I were married in an Episcopal Church and it was one of the happiest days of my life, made more sacred for us because it was in the context of the rites of the tradition. We plan on having our ashes placed next to one another in St. John's Cathedral when we die. I love my faith and how it brings Brad and me closer together.

Not caring about what certain Christians think about me and my marriage also doesn't mean that I won't want to work side by side with them on issues of poverty, peace, mental health, and international aid. The Catholic Church and evangelicals, for instance, do a lot of good in the world that I would love to promote and partner with.

However, I am done with the debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It has reached the tipping point.

The same week as the Catholic Church walked back even a modest welcome for gays and lesbians, a poll from Pew came out saying that over 85 percent of young American Catholics accept gay people, and 75 percent of them support gay marriage. Couple that with a survey done on millennials, a third of whom said they had left their religion because of the negative treatment of gays and lesbians. The conversations at Hillsong and the Synod seem more and more divorced from the reality of gay people, who are their family, friends and neighbors.

Many people who closely watched the Synod felt that within all the back and forth there were good signs for the future for gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church. And probably, there is a silver lining in Hillsong story as well. I wish them well as they work their way through the "issue" of homosexuality. But I will no longer hope for their approval. I know I was beautifully made by God and that my relationship with Brad is blessed. They can call me when the debates are over and they can (finally) see that as well.

Ryan Murphy To Follow ‘Glee’ With Comedy-Horror Show On Fox

"Glee" creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan are bringing a new comedy-horror show to Fox. The three have already begun writing "Scream Queens," an anthology series that -- in the vein of Murphy and Falchuk's other hit "American Horror Story" -- will center around a different story line each season. The show, which is set to debut in fall 2015, will feature two female leads and air in 15 hour-long episodes.

“We are having a blast writing 'Scream Queens,'" Murphy said in a statement (via Deadline.com). “We hope to create a whole new genre -- comedy-horror -- and the idea is for every season to revolve around two female leads. We’ve already begun a nationwide search for those women, as well as 10 other supporting roles.”

The announcement comes on the heels of news from earlier this month that Murphy and Falchuk will create a new "AHS" companion show, "American Crime Story." That anthology series will chronicle real-life crimes, with the first season focusing on the O.J. Simpson trial. Anthology series for everyone.

For more, head over to Deadline.com.

10 Things You Should Know About Gay Bars From A Castro Bartender

As a Castro bartender at establishments ranging from Badlands to Blackbird for nearly a decade, Yuri Kagan has seen and heard just about everything. On the eve of the publication of his book, Vodka & LimeLight, Queerty asked the drink maker-turned-author to distill 10 lessons from that experience.