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British House of Commons approves same-sex marriage bill

Great Britain, parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Takasunrise0921 via Wikimedia Commons)

The British House of Commons on Tuesday approved a proposal that would allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.

The 400-175 vote came after an hours-long debate on the measure.

Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller stressed the bill “is about fairness.” She said it also protects religious freedom and registrars would receive the same protections under the law.

The European Court of Human Rights last month said religious beliefs cannot justify discrimination against same-sex couples. A registrar who said the Borough of Islington outside London unfairly disciplined her because she refused to officiate civil partnerships for same-sex couples after the United Kingdom’s civil partnership law took effect in 2005 is among the two British Christians who claimed their employers unfairly discriminated against them because of their opposition to homosexuality and relationship recognition for gays and lesbians.

Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Yvette Cooper noted President Obama’s support of marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

“Parliament shouldn’t stop people getting married simply because they have fallen in love with someone of the same sex,” she said.

Gay MP Stephen Gilbert, who represents St. Austell and Newquay in Cornwall, highlighted the struggles he said he faced when coming out as he spoke in support of the proposal that he described as “historic legislation.”

“We have a come a long way in a short space of time,” Gilbert said. “But it is absolutely right in my view that the House take the next step and deliver full equality to gay men and lesbians in this country.”

MP Nadine Dorries, who represents portions of Bedfordshire, said the bill “actually highlights the inequalities that are going to be there.”

“Marriage is based on the definition of sex,” she said.

The vote took place three days after French lawmakers approved an amendment to a same-sex marriage bill that defines marriage as between two people of the opposite or same sex. Legislators continue to debate the proposal that would extend both marriage and adoption rights to gays and lesbians.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are among the European countries that allow same-sex couples to marry. Scottish lawmakers in the coming months are also expected to consider a similar measure.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall, gay news, Washington Blade

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill (Photo courtesy of Stonewall)

“As the last piece of the legislative jigsaw providing equality for gay people in Britain, this is a truly historic step forward,” Ben Summerskill, executive of the LGBT advocacy group Stonewall said. “We’re absolutely delighted that MPs have demonstrated so overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.”

Summerskill said he expects “a tough battle” in the House of Lords on the same-sex marriage bill, but he remains optimistic about the measure’s prospects. Prime Minister David Cameron also supports the proposal.

“The size of the Commons majority seen tonight — much larger than for most normal government business — will make it very difficult for peers to suggest that the bill should be rejected,” Summerskill said.


State Department meets with LGBT travel representatives

Janice Jacobs, State Department, gay news, Washington Blade

Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, speaks at the Smart Traveler Day roundtable at the State Department on Feb. 20. (Photo courtesy of Esperanza Tilghman/State Department)

The State Department on Wednesday hosted a roundtable to discuss its efforts to provide LGBT-specific information to Americans who plan to travel overseas.

“We want all of our citizens to be informed about their destinations abroad and any particular challenges that they may face,” Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said. “We want them to know about the services that are available to them at our embassies and consulates if problems should happen, despite their precautions.”

Jacobs’ comments come five days after the Bureau of Consular Affairs added LGBT-specific information to its website that includes travel warnings, alerts and other country-specific advisories. These include references to “widespread” anti-gay discrimination in Ukraine, efforts to curb “the promotion of homosexuality” in Russian cities and an advisory that urges LGBT travelers to “consider exercising caution when visiting Estonia” because of harassment and violence those who have publicly shown affection have experienced.

The country-specific profiles also include information about HIV/AIDS travel restrictions.

“It’s important that our LGBT audiences know about the resources that we provide to help U.S. citizens travel safe and travel smart,” Jacobs said.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of Overseas Citizens Services at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, further stressed the protection of Americans “is really the department’s top priority.” She and other officials sought recommendations and other feedback on the Smart Traveler Day initiative from the roughly 50 people who attended the meeting.

“It’s a start,” Bernier-Toth said. “It’s a recognition that this is a community that is on the move, is traveling. It’s an important community, an important stakeholder for us. And we are going to make it as robust and as useful as we can possibly make it.”

White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan also spoke at the gathering.

He pointed out the initiative typifies the Obama administration’s commitment to equality for LGBT people. Raghavan specifically pointed out the extension of benefits to same-sex partners of foreign service officers, new regulations that make it easier to change gender markers on passports and the Global Equality Fund.

“It really shows that this is how this administration does business,” he said. “We are all about advancing equality in every place that we can find.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed in 2011 a during a speech she delivered in Geneva that “gay rights are human rights.” President Obama on the same day directed government agencies to consider a country’s LGBT rights record in the allocation of foreign aid.

The State Department in recent years has spoken out against anti-LGBT violence in Honduras, Jamaica, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other countries.

Clinton and Obama urged the Ugandan government to protect the rights of its LGBT residents following the Jan. 2011 murder of gay activist David Kato amid the debate over the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would impose the death penalty against anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. The former first lady last August honored Ugandan LGBT rights advocate Frank Mugisha and other human rights advocates at the U.S. embassy in Kampala, the country’s capital.

“Don’t ever lose context of what has been accomplished by this White House, by this secretary of State that will continue for four more years,” Charlie Rounds of the Forward Motion Group, who also chairs the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association Foundation, said. “It’s huge.”

Uganda is among the countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality. Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the seven nations that impose the death penalty upon those found guilty of same-sex sexual acts.

UNAIDS notes Australia, Israel and Singapore are among the 45 countries with travel restrictions against people with HIV/AIDS. Obama in 2009 completed the process former President George W. Bush began that lifted the ban on those with the virus from entering the country.

Bernier-Toth told the Washington Blade during the meeting the State Department rarely urges an LGBT traveler not to travel to a specific country that criminalizes homosexuality.

“The decision whether to travel is always up to the individual,” she said. “Our purpose in life is to put out that information as accurately and in a timely fashion so that people can make those smart decisions.”

IGLTA President John Tanzella added his organization tries to work with a particular destination through affiliated hotels and other travel-related businesses as opposed to boycotting them.

“There’s also gay and lesbian citizens everywhere that we eventually hurt,” he said.

Lisa Peterson of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and Ken Kero-Mentz, president of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, also attended the roundtable.


Gay Vatican suicide now documentary film

Vatican, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

St. Peter’s in Vatican City. (Photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist via wikimedia commons)

Gay activists in Italy say Italian gay writer Alfredo Ormando is credited with triggering Italy’s version of the Stonewall rebellion in 1998 when he took his own life by setting himself on fire in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to protest the Catholic Church’s condemnation of homosexuality.

A documentary film called Alfredo’s Fire, which tells the story of Ormando’s struggle to cope with anti-gay bias and religious intolerance, and the subsequent gay Vatican suicide, is intended to send a message to the Vatican and the new Pope, according Andy Abrahams Wilson, the gay American filmmaker who is nearing completion of the documentary.

“In Alfredo’s name and in the names of countless other LGBT people – from those burnt at the stake in the Middle Ages, to Alfredo’s fire, to the lives and spirits that are routinely extinguished because of the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings – may Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication signal new light and hope for all of us,” Wilson said in a statement.

He told the Blade he’s been working on the film for fifteen years, while working on other projects, and considers it a labor of love. Among other things, he hopes the 40-minute documentary will enable the tragedy of Alfredo Ormando’s death to shed light on how religious teachings can result in dire consequences for LGBT people.

The film is expected to be released in late spring or early summer, Wilson said. He plans to submit it to various international film festivals and will enter it as a potential nominee for a short film-documentary for an Academy Award.

As a conclave of cardinals from throughout the world gathers at the Vatican to select Benedict XVI’s successor, Abrahams Wilson and his non-profit film company, Open Eye Pictures of Sausalito, Calif., are making an appeal for contributions to help cover post-production costs for the film.

He said the film will be made available to faith-based organizations and LGBT groups for viewing as an educational tool to address anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.

“On January 13, 1998 Alfredo Ormando, a 39-year-old Italian writer, arrived in Rome just as the sun was rising,” a promotional write-up released by Open Eye Pictures says. “After a long journey from his native Sicily, he found his way to the empty plaza of St. Peter’s Square and, facing the entrance to the Basilica, knelt down as if to pray,” the write up says.

“He made a rapid hand gesture and suddenly was engulfed in flames. Before the Church and God, Alfredo Ormando had lit himself on fire,” the write-up says.

In letter he sent to a friend about a month before his death, Ormando said, “I hope they’ll understand the message I want to leave: it is a form of protest against the Church that demonizes homosexuality, and at the same time all of nature, because homosexuality is her offspring.”

Wilson said he began filming the documentary in 1998 shortly after Ormando’s death. He said he returned to Italy in 2000 to continue his work on the project during a week when Italian and European LGBT activists held an international LGBT Pride festival and parade in Rome. The LGBT events took place during the Catholic Church’s Year of the Jubilee in Rome celebrating 2000 years of Christianity, which attracted thousands of Catholics throughout the world.

In a protest at the Vatican at that time, Wilson and several American gay activists, including Rev. Mel White of the U.S. group Soul Force and members of the U.S. gay Catholic group Dignity, joined Italian gay activists in demanding that the Catholic Church modify its stance on LGBT people.

While carrying poster size photos of Ormando, the protesters planned to deliver a letter to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, according to Wilson. At the time, Ratzinger was in charge of the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which several years earlier issued a statement written by Ratzinger calling gay people “intrinsically disordered.”

Although the protesters were unable to deliver the letter to Ratzinger, Wilson said the gathering inspired him to examine the life of Alfredo Ormando through interviews with those who knew him and through his numerous writings.

Wilson said he hopes to premiere the film in Palermo, Sicily, in June, in the Italian region where Ormando was born and raised, during Italy’s 2013 National LGBT Pride celebration, which takes place in that city.


Pope announces resignation

Pope Benedict XVI, gay news, gay politics dc

Pope Benedict XVI condemned efforts to extend marriage to same-sex couples, Monday. (photo by Rvin88 via Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on Feb. 28.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said in a statement the Vatican released.

A papal conclave elected Benedict, 85, in 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II. He is the first pope to step down from the papacy since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415.

Gay Catholics and others have repeatedly criticized the pontiff for his statements against nuptials for gays and lesbians — including his description of same-sex marriage as “a manipulation of nature” during his annual Christmas message in December. He also described global efforts to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot as a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity itself” during his 2012 ‘State of the World’ address.

Benedict, who was previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, also enforced the Vatican’s moral doctrine before his election to the papacy.

He wrote in a 1986 letter that gay men and lesbians are “intrinsically disordered.” Benedict also said in the same document that gay organizations could no longer use church property.

The Vatican’s ongoing opposition to condom use as a way to stop the spread HIV/AIDS has also sparked outrage among advocates.

“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering,” the pope said. “However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan applauded Benedict’s legacy.

“Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism,” he said shortly after the Vatican released the pope’s resignation letter. “Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.”

LGBT Catholics respond to papal resignation

Marianne Duddy-Burke, president of Dignity USA, a group comprised of LGBT Catholics, is among those who said they hope Benedict’s successor will temper the Vatican’s opposition to homosexuality and reach out to the gay faithful.

“We commend Benedict for stepping down for the benefit of the church and I think now’s the time to look ahead,” she told the Washington Blade from Boston. “We would obviously be looking for a pope who is committed to ending the dehumanizing attacks on LGBT people and our families that have been the hallmarks of the last 25-plus years. We would call for our new pope to enter into a real dialogue with our community.”

Bob Miailovich, treasurer of Dignity Washington, agreed.

“He is the leader of the church,” Bob Miailovich, treasurer of Dignity Washington, added. He and other LGBT Catholics held signs along Rock Creek Parkway in 2009 as Benedict’s motorcade drove from the White House to the Vatican embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest Washington during his visit to the United States. “We disagree, but there’s still a respect. His opinion matters and we’d like for it to change because his opinion would have great effect on society.”

Former D.C. resident Phil Attey and other LGBT Catholics and advocates remain fearful, however, Benedict’s successor will be even more anti-gay than he.

“What it means to me is that the most hateful and mean spirited pope in the history of the Catholic Church is so determined to continue his reign of terror beyond his life on earth,” Attey said. “He’s going to orchestrate his succession, ensuring the next pope carries on his mission to demonize, marginalize and oppress every gay man who comes out of the closet and demands to be treated as equals among God’s children.”

Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a tweet earlier on Monday he hopes the cardinals elect a new pope “who will reform the Catholic Church, accept women priests and defend [the] dignity and rights of LGBT people.”

“Whatever comes of this, I only pray that our next pope will guide the church back to the original role of educating, helping the poor and needy and practicing the faith as intended and stop getting involved in so many political and social issues,” D.C. resident Rich Lewis added. “God is love and all Who Live in God, live in love. [I] pray that they get back to that message.”


Gay sex scandal rocks Vatican

Benedict XVI, Pope, Rome, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Benedict XVI (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One of Italy’s most respected daily newspapers has reported that Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on the same day he learned that an underground network of gay priests assigned to the Vatican organized meetings for sex and may have been subjected to blackmail.

In a development that has caused an uproar at the Vatican, the Rome based newspaper La Repubblica reports it received detailed information about a 300-page Vatican report on the conclusion of a nine-month internal Vatican investigation that uncovered a “faction” within the Vatican “united by sexual orientation.”

The newspaper said it had no confirmation that Benedict based his decision to resign solely on the explosive findings of the investigation. But it reported sources as saying Benedict planned to keep the findings confidential and planned to leave it up to his successor to decide how to address the matter.

“It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,” La Repubblica reported in its Feb. 21 edition while discussing Benedict’s resignation.

According to La Repubblica, the investigation was conducted by a panel of three cardinals and was launched last May after one of the Pope’s butlers was arrested for allegedly stealing Vatican correspondence and leaking it to the media.

A Vatican spokesperson, Rev. Federico Lombardi, would neither confirm nor deny the reports by La Repubblica and at least one other Italian publication, the news magazine Panorama, about the internal investigative report.

CNN reported on Saturday that another Vatican spokesperson denounced the media for reporting sensational claims that could not be substantiated and were, according to the spokesperson, an attempt to improperly influence the process for selecting a new Pope.

The report prepared by the three cardinals said their investigation uncovered an underground network of gays working at the Vatican who organized “sexual meetings” in several locations, including a sauna in Rome, a private villa just outside Rome, and a beauty salon inside the Vatican, according to La Repubblica.

The newspaper identified the cardinals who conducted the investigation as Julian Herranz of Spain; Jozef Tomko of Slovakia; and Salvatore De Giorgi, the former archbishop of Palermo.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland based group that advocates for LGBT equality within the Catholic Church, said the unfolding scandal is due, at least in part, to the Vatican’s harsh position on homosexuality.

“They have created a situation where people can’t express their sexuality in healthy ways,” he said. “They can’t even deal with their sexuality in the open. So it creates a climate of suspicion and a climate of fear.”


New Zealand lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill

New Zealand, parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

Parliament building in New Zealand (Photo by Midnighttonight via Wikimedia Commons)

New Zealand lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the country.

The 77-44 vote is the second of three votes on the proposal.

“I’m very excited, as excited as the young people,” lesbian Parliamentarian Louisa Wall, who introduced the measure, told the Associated Press after the vote. “It’s a fantastic result.”

Prime Minister John Key supports the measure.


French lawmakers to vote on gay marriage, adoption bill

France, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Hundreds of thousands of same-sex marriage supporters marched through the streets of Paris on Jan. 27. (Photo courtesy of Brian Ellner)

French lawmakers on Tuesday are expected to vote on a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

The long-anticipated vote in the country’s National Assembly will take place after lawmakers began debating the proposal on Jan. 29. Supporters and opponents of the bill have staged several marches through the streets of Paris in recent months.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are among the European countries that currently allow same-sex couples to marry.

The British House of Commons on Feb. 5 overwhelmingly approved a proposal that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in England and Wales. Scottish lawmakers are expected to debate a same-sex marriage proposal in the coming weeks.


EXCLUSIVE: Zimbabwean LGBT activist visits D.C.

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Zimbabwe

Photo courtesy of GALZ

A Zimbabwean LGBT rights advocate told the Washington Blade during an exclusive interview in D.C. earlier this month he expects his country’s government to once again crack down on gay rights groups ahead of July’s presidential elections.

“I am told President Robert Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, is going to use the issue of homosexuality as one of their campaign tools,” the activist, who asked the Blade not to publish his name because he remains afraid of potential reprisals against him, said. He added his brother and most other Zimbabweans who oppose Mugabe will ultimately vote for him because of his strong opposition to homosexuality. “I strongly believe that they will use this issue to threaten the LGBT people in Zimbabwe. And they will do everything in their power to make sure that LGBT people are punished.”

The activist, who is a member of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, which a group of gay white Zimbabweans founded in 1990 as a support organization, spoke to the Blade ahead of a scheduled March 16 referendum on a new constitution that includes an amendment that specifically bans same-sex marriage.

The State Department last August criticized the Zimbabwean government’s crackdown on LGBT rights activists after police arrested 44 GALZ members inside the group’s office in Harare, the country’s capital. The organization said authorities confiscated computers and pamphlets from the same office a few days earlier.

The activist said he received death threats after the Blade published a story on the State Department’s response to the raid. He fled to neighboring South Africa where he remained for more than a month.

“It was difficult because I was not doing what I was supposed to do when I was home,” he said. “So I went back.”

Mugabe in 1995 described gay men and lesbians who showcased at the annual International Book Festival in Harare as “dogs and pigs.” Former President Canaan Banana three years later received a 10 year prison sentence after his conviction on 11 charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault against his former male employees.

The activist said Zimbabweans had been reluctant to publicly discuss homosexuality until Mugabe’s 1995 speech.

“President Mugabe was the first person in Zimbabwe to castigate the gay people and the lesbians,” he said.

Aside from the State Department, Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations have criticized the Zimbabwean government for cracking down on LGBT advocacy groups.

Peter Tatchell and two other British gay activists in 1999 tried to arrest Mugabe as his car drove through the streets of London during a personal shopping trip. He once again tried to detain the Zimbabwean president inside a Brussels hotel in 2001, but his security guards beat him.

Mugabe routinely criticizes the British government and Prime Minister David Cameron, who has previously suggested the allocation of international aid should hinge upon a country’s LGBT rights record. The activist stressed he has not heard Mugabe “state anything against” President Obama.

He also applauded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for urging the Zimbabwean government to end its crackdown on GALZ.

“To us that was a very powerful statement coming from this country,” he said, noting he feels Mugabe heeded the warning. “That was the time when our members were arrested. That was the time when our members were being followed to their homes. It just stopped miraculously because soon after that no one was arrested.”

As for GALZ, its mission continues.

The organization’s Harare office reopened to staff last month.

GALZ, which has close to 2,000 members across the country, also continues to host HIV/AIDS workshops in Bulawayo.

“When they raid our offices they think they are going to find pornographic materials,” the activist said. “When they come in there, they find it is a resource center. People are busy working.”


Church of England to allow partnered gay bishops

Gene Robinson, gay news, gay politics dc, Washington Blade

Bishop Gene Robinson became the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay Bishop in 2003, setting the stage for a decade of advances for LGBT people in the church. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Church of England on Friday announced that clergy in same-sex civil partnerships can become bishops as long as they remain celibate.

“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,” Rt. Rev. Graham James said on Friday on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England. “The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. 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. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case.”

The House of Bishops said in 2005 before a law that allowed same-sex couples to register as civil partners in the United Kingdom took effect that gay celibate men could become clergy. The body voted to extend the policy to bishops last month during a meeting outside London.

The ordination of gay bishops in the Church of England has remained controversial since Rev. Jeffrey John in 2003 became the first person in a same-sex relationship successfully nominated as bishop. He stepped down before he was to have been officially consecrated.

Gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s 2003 election sparked a firestorm of controversy that threatened to divide the broader Anglican Church — he wore a bullet proof vest during his consecration that took place inside a hockey area on the University of New Hampshire. Sharp-shooters were stationed on nearby rooftops during the ceremony, while protesters gathered outside the venue.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams barred Robinson from attending the decennial Lambeth Conference in England in 2008.

Los Angeles Bishop Mary Glasspool in 2010 became the first partnered lesbian to be ordained within the Episcopal Church. John had been considered a candidate to become Bishop of Southwark the same year, but his nomination was blocked.

LGBT rights advocates largely mocked the church’s statement — and especially its insistence on celibacy.

“We’re sure many Anglicans will be happy to hear of the church’s latest epiphany on gay clergy, although many lesbians will be disappointed that they remain unable to serve as bishops,” Ruth Hunt, spokesperson for Stonewall, an LGBT rights group in the U.K., told the Washington Blade earlier on Friday. “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.”

Reverend Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, an LGBT Anglican group, did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment. He told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the church’s statement “will be laughed at by the majority in this country.”

Conservative Anglicans criticized any effort to allow gay bishops within the church.

“That would be a major change in church doctrine and therefore not something that can be slipped out in the news,” Rev. Rod Thomas, chair of Reform, an evangelical group within the Church of England, told the BBC. “It is something that has got to be considered by the General Synod.”

The church’s announcement coincides with the British government’s plan to introduce a bill later this month to introduce a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Scottish lawmakers are expected to consider a similar measure this year.


U.S. lawmakers criticize Ukraine anti-gay bills

Ukraine, gay news, Washington Blade

Ukraine (Image public domain)

WASHINGTON — Sixty-two members of Congress on Tuesday urged Ukrainian lawmakers to reject two bills that would ban the distribution of gay-specific information and materials in public gatherings and the media.

“These proposals are a chilling threat to not only the LGBT community, but all Ukrainian citizens who deserve to live in a society where the fundamental rights of speech, expression, peaceful assembly and equality are protected,” New York Congressman Joe Crowley said.