Equality for gay clergy advances

National News Notes

Equality for gay clergy advances
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Presbyterian Church (USA) capped its 218th biennial General Assembly, held here the last week in June, with a historic decision moving the church toward full acceptance of lesbian and gay clergy. By a margin of 54 to 46 percent, the General Assembly passed an ordination measure that could eliminate the church’s policy against gay, lesbian and bisexual Presbyterians seeking ordination.

The new policy would abolish language requiring “chastity in singleness” in favor of equal requirements for all candidates regardless of whether they are in a committed relationship. The measure must be approved by a majority of the nation’s 173 presbyteries to be enacted. That process could take up to a year and some resistance is expected.

The General Assembly rejected a measure that would have opened the door to religious marriages between same-sex couples. The denomination already allows blessings of lesbian and gay unions.

Marriage amendment makes ballot
PHOENIX, Ariz. — In the final hours of the legislative session on June 27, Arizona’s State Senate narrowly approved a measure that will place a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before voters this fall. Sixteen senators, the bare minimum required to advance the bill, voted in favor of it. Now, voters will decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. The measure passed the Arizona House in May.

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Arizona voters rejected a similar measure in 2006, making theirs the only state where an anti-gay marriage amendment has been defeated at the polls. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (pictured) of Phoenix led the successful fight against the amendment as chair of the statewide advocacy group Arizona Together.

Following the Senate vote Sinema said, “I am deeply disappointed that this referendum will be on the ballot. Arizonans have far more important issues to deal with than adding a redundant ban on marriage by same-sex couples to the state constitution. This referendum is a distraction from real priorities like education, health care, and the economy.”

Hospital sued for shocking bias
MIAMI, Fla. — In February 2007, Janice Langbehn, 39, her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, and their three children, then 9 to 13, departed their home in Lacey, Wash., headed to Miami for a gay and lesbian family cruise. Upon their arrival, an unthinkable tragedy occurred: Pond collapsed and was rushed to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital where she was diagnosed with a non-survivable aneurysm.

At the hospital, staff refused to take Pond’s medical history from Langbehn. She and the children were also refused visitation with Pond for nearly eight hours. Langbehn was told by a hospital social worker that she was “in an anti-gay city and state,” and could expect no information or acknowledgment as family. Later, Langbehn was denied Pond’s death certificate by the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner, even though it was needed for the children’s life insurance and Social Security benefits.

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital, on behalf of Janice Langbehn and her children. “There is nothing that can make up for what my children and I endured that day,” Langbehn said. “We only want the hospital to take responsibility for how they treated us and ensure that it doesn’t happen to another family.”

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Hearing on TG workplace bias
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The first-ever congressional hearing on transgender issues and gender identity discrimination in the workplace was held June 26 by the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Heath, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The hearing was coordinated by House allies including Subcommittee Chairman Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) working with a coalition of LGBT groups.

The intent of the hearing was to send a strong message to lawmakers about the need for inclusive federal workplace protections. Testimony was given by multiple speakers including retired Army Colonel Diane Schroer. The ACLU is currently representing Schroer in a lawsuit against the Library of Congress, which withdrew a job offer from Schroer when she told her future supervisor that she was in the process of gender transition.

ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders said, “Colonel Schroer’s testimony gets at core American values, those of equality and fair play. Regardless of our gender identity, we all deserve a fair shot at job opportunities and advancement.”

Trevor honors Cumming, The N
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Award-winning, out actor Alan Cumming (pictured) and The N, the 24-hour network for and about teens, were honored June 30 at the eighth annual New York City gala of The Trevor Project, the non-profit organization that operates the nation’s only around-the-clock suicide prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth.

Cumming received The Trevor Hero Award. The award honors an individual whose example, support, volunteerism and/or occupation is an inspiration to gay and questioning youth.” The actor’s many film credits include “The Anniversary Party,” “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Circle of Friends.” He has also been a series regular on Showtime’s hit lesbian drama, “The L Word.”

The N, whose award-winning shows including “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “South of Nowhere,” have broken new ground in the positive depiction of gay and questioning youth, received The Trevor Commitment Award, given annually to a deserving company or organization.

For more information on The Trevor Project, visit www.thetrevorproject.org.

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Posted by David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.