Anglicans Continue Split Over Gay Issues
The Anglican Communion, a loosely bonded group that includes the Episcopal Church in the U.S., appears headed for schism in the wake of a report on how the church should proceed as the result of a worldwide uproar over the consecration of an out gay bishop in New Hampshire and the blessing of same-sex unions throughout North America.
Neither progressives nor conservatives in the church are happy with the Windsor Report.
Press reports said a commission on the issue, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh in Northern Ireland, urged the anti-gay side to tone it down, the pro-gay side to “apologize,” and for gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to withdraw from Anglican “functions.”
But the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church here in the U.S. that confirmed Robinson’s elevation last year, said that the commission report did not call for an apology, but for “an expression of regret.” Griswold told The New York Times, “I can regret the effects of something, but at the same time be clear about the integrity of what I’ve done.”
Some dioceses and parishes in the Episcopal Church throughout the U.S. have taken steps to remove themselves from Griswold’s authority, seeking to reconstitute themselves under conservative bishops, the most outspoken of whom are from Africa. The Windsor report called for the outside interference in the U.S. Episcopal Church by bishops worldwide to end.
Griswold defended his gay ministers and said he regrets that it is “unsafe” for gay clergy and laity in many parts of the communion to “speak out the truth of who they are.”
In response to the report, which asks Robinson not to participate in international Anglican gatherings such as the next Lambeth Conference in 2008, the New Hampshire bishop said, “We regret how difficult this made things in many parts of the communion. Certainly, I do not regret that my becoming a bishop has been a real blessing to me and my diocese.”
The report demanded to know from the Episcopal Church “how a person living in a same-gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ.”
“If the conservatives choose not to remain at the table, I don’t know what can be done about that,” Robinson continued. “I’m going to be at the table. The American church is going to be at the table.”
The Rev. Martin Reynolds, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in the U.K., condemned the attempt to isolate Robinson, but wrote, “We welcome the realisation that the debate on homosexuality is NOT CLOSED.”
The report called for written responses to its proposals, to be compiled into the Monmouth Report in January. For more information, go to LGCM.org
No Condoms for Half of Sexually Active Students
A new survey of 7,400 students in New York City high schools found high levels of unprotected sex. The study, conducted jointly by the city health and education departments, found 48 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse and that 24 percent of the total number of students surveyed did not use condoms when they had sex. Seventeen percent of students say that they have had four or more sexual partners.
Despite the fact that six AIDS education classes are required annually in every grade by the city and state, those regulations are more honored in the breach these days. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani got the Board of Education to ban lessons on the proper use of condoms in city classrooms in 1995, a policy that has being maintained by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently got his Education Department to delete condom lessons from a new sex education curriculum.
Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), chair of the City Council Health Committee, told the Daily News, “We ought to change what we are doing and change it quickly, before we see higher HIV rates and higher teen pregnancy rates.”
Good Things in Small Places
While the New York City Council struggles with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to get him to stop fighting rights for domestic partners of employees who work for city contractors, little Kittery, Maine’s city council has voted to extend benefits to the partners of non-union town employees. Councilor Rich Balano said, “I support this change to attract the best and brightest out there,” the Portsmouth Herald reported. The bill passed 6-1.
Out Author Hollinghurst Wins Booker Prize
Alan Hollinghurst, 50, a gay novelist who often writes on gay themes, has won the prestigious Booker Prize for his new novel, “The Line of Beauty,” which is out in the U.K. but not yet here. The award is open to authors from British commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland. This is the first time the award has gone to an out gay writer.
Hollinghurst’s new novel concerns a male graduate student living in the home of a Tory politician in the 1980s. The student has an affair with a male public employee before falling in love with a cocaine-addicted millionaire.
“The search for love, sex, and beauty is rarely this exquisitely done,” said Chris Smith, chair of the Booker judge’s panel. “This is a novel that happens to be about gay sex and gay relationships. The fact it can be considered as a perfectly valid part of contemporary fiction with without regarding that as unique shows how much times have changed.”
Hollinghurst gets a $90,000 prize—and a big boost in sales for his novel. Among his previous novels are “The Swimming Pool Library” and “The Folding Star.”
Green Arrow Gets HIV-Positive Sidekick
For the first time, a mainstream comic book is dealing with AIDS. Mia, the teen runaway who works with the Green Arrow, was revealed this week to have contracted HIV during her time as a street prostitute. Judd Winnick, who supervises the writing of the comic book, told the Associated Press that Mia’s diagnosis with HIV pushes her to want to do more in fighting crime with the Green Arrow.
“He allows her to slap on a costume and become his sidekick,” Winnick said. “It’s not about a death wish, but she can’t fool around any more. This is about an abbreviated life span. It is about having life focus.”
Now that Mia is going to be Green Arrow’s crime fighting partner, with the moniker Speedy, she will join DC Comics’ “Teen Titans” who also include Robin, Batman’s young sidekick.
Fighting “Crystal Mess”
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has launched a new campaign to combat the epidemic of crystal meth abuse among gay men. Titled “Crystal Mess” and created by Templin Brink Design, it includes such messages as “Crystal plays more tricks than you can,” “Hot? Not,” and “You’re in for a bumpy ride,” with images of crystal meth users.
The campaign, targeted to the city’s gay Castro district, says that gay male users of crystal meth are 400 percent more likely to be infected with HIV than gay men in general.
Irish Consider Partner Rights
While most U.S. states have moved to ban same-sex marriages in recent years, Catholic Ireland is moving toward limited recognition of the rights of gay couples. A committee of the Irish Parliament is considering an overhaul of the nation’s family law, including gay partner rights.
Denis O’Donovan, the committee chair, told the Toronto Globe and Mail, “If you look at the provisions for the family in the constitution, they were written when women were seen as being tied to the kitchen sink.” He promised “an objective look” at the legal recognition of gay couples, with the goal of passing legislation this July.
Ireland only legalized divorce in 1997. Change there has been driven by the nation’s participation in the European Union as well as a rebellion against the Catholic Church hierarchy, which has been engulfed in sexual scandals in recent years.
Progress in South Australia
While the federal government in Australia voted this year to ban same-sex marriage, the state of South Australia is considering a civil union bill for gay couples, the first for any of this nation’s states. The author of the bill, Mark Brindal, of the Liberal party that went along with the conservative government’s banning of same-sex marriage nationally, told ABC Online, “You might be same-sex attracted, you might define your family different to the way I’ll define my family, but that doesn’t mean that I should marginalise you or deprive you of rights that every human being’s entitled to.”
Gentile Urged to Come Out (Indirectly)
City Council Member Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) denies he sexually harassed his male chief of staff and says he is not gay. But, the New York Post reported, when he spoke at an unrelated forum at Pace University he was confronted by fliers all over the student union “urging homosexuals to go public.”
Out gay civil rights attorney Tom Shanahan revealed in Gay City News recently that he had a sexual relationship with Gentile several years ago. Part of Gentile’s defense against the sexual harassment charge is that he is not homosexual. The two men may have to testify before a City Council committee investigating the harassment charges and, the Post reported, one of them could be charged with perjury given their conflicting stories.
Dead Anti-Gay Preacher was Mentally Ill
Harry Hammond of Bournemouth, England died this year before he could challenge a fine against him for “homophobic preaching,” Gay.comUK reported. When 20 of his fellow preachers gathered for an anti-gay rally in his memory, they were met by many more counter-protestors from Bourne Free, the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group. The ministers are fighting what they see as the movement of their town toward becoming a “gay mecca.”
Hammond’s granddaughter asked the conservative Christian Voice group not to use his name, saying that his anti-gay preaching was a result of his mental illness.
A spokesperson for the preachers said the low turnout on his side was due to the fact that “everyone seems to be terrified of offending the homosexuals.” If only.
Andy Humm is a co-host of “Gay USA” seen Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107, simulcast at mnn.org channel 34, and on Directv nationwide._
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com