Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts

March 2, 2019

The Pizzeria That Booted a Gay Rabbinical Student }}Ordered to Pay {$4,500} Homophobia Can Be EXPENSIVE!


 


                             

Religion News


JERUSALEM (RNS) — An Israeli court ordered a Jerusalem pizzeria to pay $4,500 to an American rabbinical student who was ejected from its premises for being gay. 
Last August, Sammy Kanter, who is studying at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, entered the Ben Yehuda 2 pizzeria wearing a T-shirt that bore rainbow colors.
“Today, for the first time in my life, I was denied service at a pizza store for being who I am (in Jerusalem),” Kanter wrote on Facebook. “I walked in … and the guy behind the counter said, Are you gay. I said yes. He said ‘out’ and pointed at the door. My jaw dropped, and he instructed my classmates and I to leave.”
Soon afterward Kanter filed a suit in Jerusalem Small Claims Court with guidance from the Israel Religious Action Center. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in Israel.
Although Israel is considered a bastion of LGBTQ rights in the Middle East, Kanter’s experience focused a harsh spotlight on the ongoing struggle of LGBTQ people to feel at home in Jerusalem, a religiously conservative city.
While Tel Aviv holds a weeklong Pride festival each year, culminating in a large parade in the heart of the city, the opposite is true of Jerusalem, where ultra-Orthodox Jews and Muslims comprise 70 percent of the city’s population.
In 2015 an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed to death 16-year-old Shira Banki as she participated in the Jerusalem Pride march; six others also were wounded.
Last year’s Pride parade through the capital, which drew some 20,000 LGBTQ people and supporters, was guarded by 2,500 police officers.
Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, called the Kanter verdict an important one for Israeli society.
“Israel has an excellent anti-discrimination law but often, it’s a muscle that isn’t being used. If people don’t face the consequences of their bigotry they will continue to being bigots. Lawsuits like this make the muscle work and society is better for it,” Hoffman said.
A Wider Bridge, a North American LGBTQ organization building support for Israel and its LGBTQ community, said the court’s decision is a “reminder that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Israel, and that there are legal ramifications for homophobic actions. We applaud Sammy and the greater Israeli LGBTQ community for this important victory.”

February 11, 2019

Can A Business Turn Down LGBT Customers Because of Who They Are? The Question Persists





                           Image result for Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

 
The original story behind the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is both undisputed and well known: a gay couple in Colorado walked into the bakery in 2012 and asked for the wedding cake. The owner and master baker Jack Phillips declined to make a custom cake for their party because he said their union violated his religious beliefs.

The couple filed a complaint with the state's civil rights commission, which found Phillips was violating the state's anti-discrimination laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating against LGBTQ people.

The battle between the two sides, the state, and Phillips, eventually landed in the high court.

Last summer, the court narrowly sided with Phillips — and admonished the state's commission for showing animus against religion.

But because it didn't settle the looming question on whether the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom are more important than a state or city's anti-discrimination laws, similar cases are again simmering in lower courts — including Arizona and Colorado.

Among the questions: when does an invitation or a cake qualify as free speech?

"The main question is do you get to object to that kind of anti-discrimination law because it's forcing you to convey a message?" said Ilya Shapiro with the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank that has supported some businesses that have turned customers away. 

"Only two justices would have held that the baking of a custom wedding cake is protected as speech by the First Amendment," said Kaipo Matsumura, who teaches law at Arizona State University."The other justices refrained from commenting on the issue and just reserved that question for future decisions in other cases." 

In Arizona, Brendan Mahoney was one of the lawyers in town who people would call when they were fired from a job or refused a room because they were gay.

"It really happened all the time," Mahoney said.

Mahoney, who was openly gay, would explain the reality of the law in Arizona.

"There are no federal protections, no state or city protections," Mahoney said. "Your best solution is to get involved and change the law."

Mahoney eventually took his own advice.

He went to work for the city and advocated for a Phoenix law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The ordinance would apply to housing, employment, and other public accommodations — just as the law already did for categories like race, sex, marital status and religion.

The measure did ultimately prevail. More than five years later, Mahoney said the law has made a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ people.

"I think the impact was profound," he said.

But one Phoenix business argues it cannot in good conscience follow that law — because they say it violates their freedom of speech and religion.

Brush & Nib Studio designs custom invitations for events like weddings. The shop owners say making an invitation for a same-sex wedding would violate their Christian belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

"The government shouldn't be telling artists what they can and can't say," Breanna Koski, a co-owner of Brush & Nib, said. "We're challenging this law not just for us, but for all artists to be able to create freely."

The owners are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to excuse them from the city's anti-discrimination law. Those who break it face thousands of dollars in penalties — and even possible jail time.

Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against the duo, which is represented by the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom.

The influential Christian law firm also has offices in Washington, D.C. and has become nationally known for challenging nondiscrimination protections. The Alliance has logged nine high court wins in just seven years.

They also represent Colorado's baker Jack Phillips, who is again suing Colorado's commission on civil rights for harassment.

Back in 2017, the day the Supreme Court announced it was taking up the first Masterpiece case, Phillips declined to bake another cake. The cake was requested to be pink on the inside and blue on the outside, celebrating a gender transition.

Phillips said the message about sex and gender identity conflicted with his Christian religious beliefs.

"I believe that God made male and female and we don't get to choose that and we don't get to change that," he said. "And it's wrong for the state to force me to create artistic products."

The state found Phillips had violated the state's anti-discrimination law and filed an administrative complaint against him. Phillips' attorneys are seeking an injunction to halt the state from moving forward on that complaint.

"The pending case is an obvious attempt to harass the baker," said Jim Campbell, Phillips' attorney from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

While both cases make their way through lower courts, both sides anticipate the high court taking the issue up again — for the sake of clarity.

"It may very well end up at the nation's highest court again," Campbell said.

Already, powerful forces are divided.

In Arizona, the state's attorney general and Republican leadership are siding with the business, while major companies are backing the city of Phoenix. Arizona has no statewide protections for LGBTQ people.

It's a much different political reality in Colorado where the state's new Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser will defend the state against Phillips.

Weiser was elected in a giant blue wave that swept the state last year, along with a new, and openly gay, Gov. Jared Polis. Weiser says the high court, in its opinion, never challenged the state's anti-discrimination laws.

"Equality for all is something that we here in Colorado are committed to, the laws will be enforced," Weiser said. "We will just have to play a few more innings before we win this game."

February 2, 2019

Just Like They Did in Miami Cuban Evangelicals Push Back Against Gay Marriage in Cuba




An evangelical prays during a Mass at a church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. There is no official count of evangelicals in Cuba, whose people have historically been Catholics and followers of the African religions known as Yoruba or Santeria. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
    
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) 

 A Cuban government push to legalize gay marriage has set off an unprecedented reaction from the island’s rapidly growing evangelical churches, whose members are expected to widely reject a state-proposed constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum this month.

The reform is almost certain to pass by a broad margin of Cuba’s 7 million voters - language opening the door to gay marriage is only one element of the reform - but the evangelical vote could shave hundreds of thousands of votes from its victory.


With many pastors promoting “no” votes from the pulpit, the swelling evangelical rejection of the constitution is a novel development for a state that prides itself on projecting an image of ideological unanimity. Cuban government-endorsed candidates and proposals typically receive ‘yes’ votes well above 90 percent in one of last communist nations on earth, now in the 60th year of its socialist revolution.

“I can’t vote for something that goes against my principles. It’s sad but it’s a reality,” said pastor Alida Leon, president of the Evangelical League of Cuba. Hers is one of a dozen evangelical denominations that are actively speaking out against the reform. There are an estimated 100 evangelical denominations active in Cuba, 52 legally registered, and many are taking softer lines against the new constitution, or staying officially neutral. The same is true for many Catholic and non-evangelical protestant clergy. 

There is no official count of evangelicals in Cuba, whose people have historically been Catholics and followers of the African religions known as Yoruba or Santeria. The number of evangelical and non-evangelical protestants is estimated to total a million people in this country of 11 million. Among evangelical denominations with public figures on their members, the Pentecostals, Methodists and Baptists alone say they have more than 260,000 followers.

Raul Castro handed the presidency last year to Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first top Cuban leader from outside the Castro family since the revolution. Under Diaz-Canel, the Cuban government maintains its near-total control of life on the island but has made a series of concessions to interest groups including artists, entrepreneurs and evangelicals.

In December, the government softened and delayed a series of strict new controls on artistic expression and private enterprise, and stripped language out of the proposed constitution that would have paved the way for immediate legalization of gay marriage.

The constitutional change came after widespread objection from evangelical churches and non-evangelical Cubans. According to the government, 66 percent of speakers in public meetings on the constitution rose to address gay marriage, with the majority opposing it.

The altered language nonetheless eliminates the requirement that marriage take place between a man and a woman, allowing the future passage of a gay marriage. And that has prompted evangelical pastors and lay people to continue to speak out against the constitutional reform up for a “yes” or “no” on Feb. 24.

The reform maintains Cuba’s single-party political system and centrally planned economy while recognizing private property and small businesses, which have been part of the island’s economy without formal legal status for more than a decade.


A child prays during bible school at an evangelical church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
 
The long process of reforming the constitution began in April, with the formation of a commission that circulated a draft continuing the language paving the way for swift passage of gay marriage. That was heavily supported by Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela, the head of the government’s gay rights organization.

In June, four evangelical denominations, the Evangelical League, Methodists, Baptists and the Assemblies of God, circulated a letter decrying gay marriage.

This fall, as the constitutional draft was being debated in block-level meetings across the country, 11 denominations sent a letter to the National Assembly that was signed by 179,000 people and objected to gay marriage and made 15 other demands, including greater freedom of property ownership.

Leon said she delivered the letter to the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which acknowledged receipt but never delivered a formal response, although Leon and other evangelicals did meet with government officials.

Evangelical pastors also began speaking out from the pulpit and distributing Bibles in the street along with hundreds of thousands of pamphlets advocating for God’s “original plan” for unions between men and women. The Methodist Church organized “pro-family” services that drew more than 3,000 people.

In December, the National Assembly withdrew the gay marriage section in favor of softer language that allowed a future family code to establish marriage outside heterosexual relationships.

That left many Cuban Evangelicals unsatisfied.


A child holds up a bible with a sticker that reads "I am in favor of the original design " during bible school at an evangelical church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
“I’m a daughter of God. God established that man is for woman and woman is for man,” said Caridad Borges, a 31-year-old Methodist homemaker and mother of one son. “I’m going to vote against the constitution because it establishes something that I don’t agree with.”

Meanwhile, the Cuban government has launched a vigorous “yes” on state-run media and government officials’ social media accounts.

Joel Ortego Dopico, a Presbyterian pastor and secretary of the Cuban Council of Churches, said he would vote in favor of the constitutional reform but was telling members of his church to vote their conscience.

While the new constitution will be improved, he said the evangelical reaction to it was an important change in Cuban society.

“It will have a political impact in the future,” Dopico said.

______

Correspondent Michael Weissenstein contributed to this report.

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Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

December 30, 2018

A Gay Man on Staff At A Catholic Parish Then The Church Began Blaming Their Sexual Crisis on Gays




By Laurie Goodstein

[SAN DIEGO] When Antonio Aaron Bianco arrived for work at his Roman Catholic church office on a recent Monday morning, he was rattled to discover that someone had broken into the conference room and spray-painted a message in large yellow letters on the wall. It said “No Fags.”

 Antonio Aaron Bianco, an openly gay man, worked as a pastoral associate at a Catholic church in San Diego. He has faced threats and harassment.CreditCreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
       
For Mr. Bianco, a gay layman in charge of managing St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the break-in was just another terrifying omen. Two weeks earlier, someone tried to set the sanctuary doors on fire before the early Sunday Mass. Before that, a stranger swung a punch at Mr. Bianco after Mass one day. For months he had received anonymous phone calls and letters with messages like “Sodomites not welcome in the church.”

Located in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood, St. John the Evangelist is one of about 300 Catholic parishes around the country that quietly welcome gay Catholics. Although the Catholic church teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, growing pockets of the church have accepted openly gay parishioners, staff members, and even priests.

But after this summer, when the church faced renewed allegations of clergy sexual abuse, some bishops and conservative Catholic media outlets immediately blamed the crisis on homosexuality. That set off a backlash, fueling a campaign to purge the church of gay clergy members and church workers. 

More than 1,700 people signed a petition started in August demanding that the archbishop of Atlanta “remove priests who promote the L.G.B.T. agenda from public ministry” and stop supporting parishes known to welcome gay people. In Chicago, a priest burned a rainbow flag and led parishioners in a “prayer of exorcism.” For the first time, protesters showed up outside an annual spiritual retreat of gay priests in Wisconsin in October. In November, bishops attending a conference in Baltimore were greeted by Catholics holding signs saying “All Homosexual Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests MUST RESIGN!”

As the church struggles to respond to the growing crisis over sex abuse — with investigations looming nationwide — gay priests and church workers have become scapegoats, even though most experts who have studied the problem in the church have found no links between sexual orientation and a propensity for abuse. At stake is whether the nascent efforts around the country to welcome gay people into the church will continue, or diminish under pressure from conservative critics.

In San Diego, at St. John the Evangelist, the pressure boiled over, with serious consequences.

Mr. Bianco, who is married to a man, spent years working to revive the dwindling church. When he started, about two and a half years ago, there were only about 40 people at a weekend Mass, said the pastor at the time, John P. Dolan, who is now an auxiliary bishop in San Diego. Many of the congregants were elderly. There were no weddings or baptisms scheduled and no religious education classes. 

                              
St. John the Evangelist is one of a few hundred Catholic churches that have quietly been extending a welcome to gay Catholics.
Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

St. John the Evangelist is one of a few hundred Catholic churches that have quietly been extending a welcome to gay Catholics.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
Working at the church was in some ways the perfect challenge for Mr. Bianco, who had studied for the priesthood in Rome for six years, but reconsidered after Pope John Paul II said that gay men should not b,e priests.

Instead Mr. Bianco took positions open to laypeople: director of religious education, Catholic school teacher, parish administrator. He briefly worked for Call to Action, a church reform group, on a project to help people fired from their jobs as Catholic school teachers, music directors, and pastoral associates because they are gay. At St. John’s, Mr. Bianco became the parish’s pastoral associate, arriving just as the church was being encouraged by Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego to start a ministry for L.G.B.T. people. 

Bishop McElroy said in a recent interview that the effort was guided by Pope Francis’ vision. “What the pope wants us to do,” Bishop McElroy said, “is build that person’s relationship to God, with love and mercy and compassion.”

Pope Francis has veered between sounding accepting and critical of L.G.B.T. people, supplying the church’s opposing flanks with plenty of ammunition.

Bishop McElroy said that the pope was steering the church toward a “middle course” between liberals who want the church “to dismantle” its teachings against homosexuality, and conservatives who want to make opposition to homosexuality “a litmus test for what makes one a faithful Catholic.”

For five months, Mr. Bianco and then-Father Dolan met with community and church members to create an outreach strategy. They left fliers on doors, and invited new members to form choirs and sing at Mass. Young families joined. Many of the new members were straight, and many Hispanic.

“L.G.B.T. people started to trickle in, but with reservations,” said Richard Peterson, a gay parishioner who leads the L.G.B.T. ministry at the church. “People older than me had been very hurt, but they began to take a chance on the church. And they told their friends.”

The changes did not sit well with some of the older members, especially a handful of traditionalists who prayed the rosary there daily, according to interviews with parishioners and staff members. In a piece on the conservative website Church Militant, two people who claimed to be parishioners — but who did not reveal their names — accused Mr. Bianco of locking out the rosary group, which he denies. The website called Mr. Bianco, Bishops McElroy and Dolan and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles part of a “homosexualist cabal” that was persecuting Catholic traditionalists. Commenters called Mr. Bianco a pederast.
Several parishioners known to be opposed to the L.G.B.T. ministry and to Mr. Bianco did not respond to requests for interviews. 

In the summer of 2017, the friction became worse when Father Dolan was made an auxiliary bishop, leaving Mr. Bianco in charge of the parish.

That’s when Mr. Bianco says he began receiving threatening phone calls at the church about every other day, from blocked numbers. There were angry notes left on his car, and one day he came out to find every tire had been punctured. A security camera captured a man with dark hair, but few other details.

“They keep on saying that I have an agenda, but the only agenda I had was to bring people to Christ,” said Mr. Bianco in an interview. “I know that sounds kind of hokey, but that’s why I started this work. I do believe that everyone is welcome.”

Mr. Bianco’s work began to show. In October 2017, the pews were packed with people attending a special Mass for gay Catholics and their friends and families. It was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of “Always Our Children,” a pastoral message by a committee of American bishops that many regard as their most accepting statement ever about gay people.

Local politicians and dignitaries came. Bishop McElroy issued an apology for how the church had treated L.G.B.T. people.

“There were tears all over the place,” said Tom Kirkman, a participant in the L.G.B.T. ministry, who wrote an account of the Mass for a local gay newspaper. “I was very pleased, because I had graduated from a Catholic school, I taught the faith for 18 years, and I felt unwanted. So it was a very welcoming feeling.” 

Protesters also attended the Mass, but soon after, the threats gradually died down. Mr. Bianco said, “I believed they were leaving me alone.”

St. John the Evangelist is in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood.
Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times 


St. John the Evangelist is in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
But everything changed after this past summer, when a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a report documenting sexual abuse by hundreds of priests. That followed allegations that the former cardinal of Washington had sexually abused boys and adult men studying to be priests.

In the fall, Bishop McElroy held “listening sessions” in parishes about the abuse scandal. Some in attendance shouted at him to fire Mr. Bianco and to pledge not to ordain gay priests. The bishop said he had responded that all priests have to remain celibate, adding, “I’m not going to discriminate against men who are homosexual in orientation.”

At St. John’s, the pace of the threats increased, church staff members said. After the attempted arson and the break-in, the church installed security doors. The San Diego Police Department confirmed that there have been at least five police reports made about incidents at St. John’s, and they are investigating two, including the attempt to punch Mr. Bianco, as hate crimes.

Mr. Bianco said F.B.I. agents have met with him and appear to be investigating the incidents. The local F.B.I. field office in San Diego declined to comment.

Articles showing pictures of Mr. Bianco, with his husband and his late mother, appeared in articles in Church Militant and another website read by conservatives called Lifesite News.

When they published his home address, that was the last straw for Mr. Bianco. Fearing for his safety, he submitted his resignation to Bishop McElroy. Mr. Bianco said that while the people who run the websites likely did not perpetrate the attacks, “their unfounded rhetoric and lies about me” may have incited others.

Bishop McElroy said he accepted the resignation with “great regret” because Mr. Bianco had been effective in ministry. In a statement printed on the front of the weekly bulletin at St. John’s, the bishop said, “There is nothing Christian or Catholic about the hateful and vile people whose persecution of Aaron Bianco drove him from his ministry.”

At Sunday Mass the next week, a young, straight Hispanic father whom Mr. Bianco had counseled was baptized a Catholic. Mr. Bianco was gone, but more than two dozen members of the L.G.B.T. ministry he had started were there in the pews.

A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 30, 2018, New York Times


August 23, 2018

A Jesuit Priest Before Pope's Visit to Ireland Says LGBT Have Been Treated by The Church as Lepers

World Meeting of Families hears LGBT Catholics have been ‘deeply wounded’

Father James Martin speaking at the World Meeting of Families in the RDS, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Father James Martin speaking at the World Meeting of Families in the RDS, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
 
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People from the LGBT+ community have been treated like “lepers” within the Catholic Church, a high profile American Jesuit priest has said. 
Speaking at the World Meeting of Families festival in Dublin, Fr James Martin said gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics had been “deeply wounded” by the church. Fr Martin, a high profile Jesuit priest from New York, was delivering a talk on how the Church could be more welcoming to the LGBT community. 
“LGBT parishioners have been made to feel excluded from the Church for so so long, that any welcoming experience can be life changing for them,” he said. LGBT Catholics were routinely “mocked, excluded, [AND]condemned” in their parishes, he said. 
“They are as much a part of the Church as Pope Francis, your local bishop, your pastor, or anybody, it’s not a question of making them Catholic, they already are,” he said. 
Fr Martin’s more liberal views are controversial within the Church, and a lay Catholic group had called for him to be removed from the speaker line-up for the World Meeting of Families event. The Irish branch of Tradition, Family, Property (TFP) had sent a letter to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, asking him to remove the cleric from the list of speakers. 
“Sadly many people still believe people choose their sexual orientation, despite the testimony of almost every psychiatrist, biologist, and the lived experience of LGBT people,” Fr Martin said, adding it was “not a sin to be LGBT”.

Sad stories

“Over the past few years I’ve heard some really sad stories from LGBT Catholics who have been made to feel unwelcome in their parishes,” he told the audience in the at-capacity hall. 
“A 30-year-old autistic man who came out to his family, and was not in any sort of relationship, told me that the pastoral association said that he could no longer receive communion in the Church, because even saying that he was gay was a scandal,” Fr Martin said.  Fr Martin, who has family roots in Screen, Co Wexford, said Church goers had a tendency to fixate on the sexual morality of LGBT Catholics, and scrutinise them on whether they were following the Church teaching on sex and marriage, more closely than heterosexual parishioners.
The Church also knew “so little about the transgender experience,” and needed to listen to and better understand trans people, he said. Fr Martin received a standing ovation from the large crowd attending the talk. 
Speaking at an earlier talk in the RDS, a Catholic academic and former politician Rocco Buttiglione, said being homosexual was “wrong.” Professor Buttiglione, of the Pontifical Lateran University, in Rome, Italy, was giving an address on family and marriage. 
Prof Buttiglione, a conservative Catholic, said modern society did not “honour” motherhood as past civilisations did. Artificial contraception had severed the link between sex and the conception of children, he said. 
“If the child does not stand in the centre of marriage, and of sex, what is the difference between a homosexual relationship and a heterosexual relationship,” he said. 
“I have some homosexual friends and I tell them, I think you are wrong, what you are doing is wrong,” he said. While he viewed his homosexual friends as “sinners,” he told the crowd he was also a sinner.

June 16, 2018

The Canadian Supreme Court Rules LGBT Rights Trump Religious Rights

                                                                                Me quiero ir al Canada.             


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OTTAWA,  (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that LGBT sexual equality rights trump religious rights in an unprecedented blow against religious freedom in Canada.
In a pair of 7-2 rulings (here and here), the court ruled that it was "proportionate and reasonable" for the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario to refuse accreditation to future Trinity Western University students because the proposed Christian law school’s "community covenant" would discriminate against LGBTQ people.
"In our respectful view, the [law societies] decision not to accredit Trinity Western University's proposed law school represents a proportionate balance between the limitation on the Charter right at issue and the statutory objectives the [law societies] sought to pursue," the ruling stated.
The ruling means that future grads from Trinity Western University's law school will not be able to practice law in Ontario and B.C.
TWU, a private Christian college associated with the Evangelical Free Church, requires students to sign a commitment to refrain from any sexual activity “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
A majority of five judges, Rosalie Abella, Michael Moldaver, Andromache Karakatsanis, Richard Wagner and Clement Gascon ruled the law societies’ decisions were reasonable. 
Then-Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Malcolm Rowe agreed but for different reasons, set out in separate opinions. 
“Freedom of religion protects the rights of religious adherents to hold and express beliefs through both individual and communal practices. Where a religious practice impacts others, however, this can be taken into account at the balancing stage. In this case, the effect of the mandatory Covenant is to restrict the conduct of others,” McLachlin wrote in her opinion on the appeal by the Law Society of British Columbia.
“The LSBC’s decision prevents the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people who feel they have no choice but to attend TWU’s proposed law school. These individuals would have to deny who they are for three years to receive a legal education. Being required by someone else’s religious beliefs to behave contrary to one’s sexual identity is degrading and disrespectful.”
Justices Brown and Côté dissented, writing that the majority “betrays the promise of our Constitution that rights limitations must be demonstrably justified.”
"Under the LSBC’s governing statute, the only proper purpose of a law faculty approval decision is to ensure the fitness of individual graduates to become members of the legal profession. The LSBC’s decision denying approval to TWU’s proposed law school has a profound impact on the s. 2 (a) rights of the TWU community,” they wrote.
“Even if the LSBC’s statutory ‘public interest’ mandate were to be interpreted such that it had the authority to take considerations other than fitness into account, approving the proposed law school is not contrary to the public interest objectives of maintaining equal access and diversity in the legal profession. Nor does it condone discrimination against LGBTQ persons. In our view, then, the only decision reflecting a proportionate balancing between Charter rights and the LSBC’s statutory objectives would be to approve TWU’s proposed law school.”
Observers predicted the top court’s highly anticipated Trinity Western University decision would have far-reaching implications for faith-based institutions and their participation in society.
The seven justices who concurred in the majority decision are: McLachlin, Richard Wagner, Rosalie Abella, Michael Moldaver, Andromache Karakatsanis, Clement Gascon, and Malcolm Rowe.
The Supreme Court heard two appeals, one brought by TWU and the other by the Law Society of British Columbia, as well as arguments from a staggering 32 interveners, represented by 56 lawyers, last November 30 and December 1.
Then-Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin made an unprecedented decision in August to allow all 26 LGBTQ interveners, overruling a previous decision by Justice Richard Wagner to pare the number down to fit a traditional one-day hearing.
Underscoring the political nature of the case, McLachlin did so after LGBTQ activists took to Twitter to complain. The Court subsequently took the rare step of issuing a press release explaining the decision.
Friday’s rulings end a legal odyssey that began when TWU applied in 2012 to open a law school, but was preemptively challenged by the law societies in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
They refused to grant accreditation to TWU graduates on the grounds that the Covenant violated Charter equality provisions by discriminating against homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered persons, as well as those with a different sexual moral code.
In the case of BC, the decision was based on a binding referendum the law society held in 2014 after members demanded it rescind a decision to accept TWU graduates.
TWU fought the ruling in all provinces, arguing the Charter protects its freedom of religion.
It won in Nova Scotia and B.C., but lost in Ontario, when Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in June 2016 TWU’s covenant “is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community.”
Both TWU and B.C.’s law society appealed to the top court.
Interveners in the case included Ontario’s Liberal government, which compared Trinity’s covenant to treating LGBTQ persons as Ontario treated Jews 200 years ago by banning non-Christians from the legal profession.
Other groups intervening against TWU included West Coast LEAF; Start Proud; Egale Canada Human Rights Trust; British Columbia Humanist Association; Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans People of the University of Toronto; and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Among groups intervening for TWU were the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Association for Reformed Political Action, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, and the National Coalition of Catholic Trustees Association.
TWU fought and won a similar legal battle in 2001, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the B.C. College of Teachers could not deny accreditation to TWU education graduates because of the community covenant.
Lianne LaurenceFollow Lianne

January 29, 2018

"Family Values' Only for Straights was Discredited by Gay Marriage Today is 'Religious Freedom'


 Religous freedom is rightten on the constitution;  So why is it used agains the LGBT on civil and human rights? It sounds good and one has to do a double take. Anybody in advertising knows that logos that are succesful need to be both short nd catchy and truth has nothing to do with it as long as it rings true. The same with 'religious freedom'. No body is against it starting with the atheous. 
So why use it against a group of people? One needs a reason that sounds true to take away what has been given already. Trump has appointed people that use that phrase to take away from gays, be education in health and even the census.
Gays don't need to be counted. If the Presidency could go on for more than four years at the time, next it would be another group that gets NOT counted. You name it and it could be it. Because we are all americans, we all speak one language and we are all white. May be the writers of the constitution knew what they were doing when no specific language was assign to the new nation, unlike some countries where they had come from and they knew you can't have a nation of immigrants all looking alike and speaking alike. They knew that even pople from the south vs. the north spoke differently the same language. [adamfoxie]



WHEN MARCI BOWERS consults with her patients, no subject is off limits. A transgender ob/gyn and gynecologic surgeon in Burlingame, California, she knows how important it is that patients feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation and gender identity with their doctor, trust, and honesty being essential to providing the best medical care. But Bowers knows firsthand that the medical setting can be a challenging place for patients to be candid. That for LGBT people, it can even be dangerous.

Sen. James Lankford announces a new division on Conscience and Religious Freedom at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, January 2018.
AARON P. BERNSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES 

"I know from talking with patients that they're often denied services, not just for surgery and hormone therapy, but basic medical care," Bowers says. "I've had patients show up in an emergency room who were denied treatment because they were transgender."

Experiences like these are what make the creation of a new "Conscience and Religious Freedom" division within the US Department of Health and Human Services so troubling. Announced last week by acting secretary of HHS Eric Hargan, the division's stated purpose is to protect health care providers who refuse to provide services that contradict their moral or religious beliefs—services that include, according to the division's new website, "abortion and assisted suicide."

But the division's loose language could leave room for physicians to provide substandard care to LGBT patients—or abstain from treating them altogether. Indeed, in a statement to WIRED, an HHS spokesperson said the department would not interpret prohibitions on sex discrimination in health care to cover gender identity, citing its adherence to a 2016 court order that excluded transgender people from certain anti-discrimination protections.

That's obviously bad for the health and well-being of LGBT people, who may feel less comfortable sharing their sexual orientation or gender identity going forward—but it's bad for science, medicine, and policy, as well.

At its core, the new HHS office threatens data and understanding. Collecting facts and figures on sexual orientation and gender identity fills valuable gaps in the medical community's comprehension of LGBT patients and their public health needs, and progress on that front has accelerated in recent years. "Gathering these details has tremendous potential to improve care for LGBT people," says psychologist Ed Callahan, who in 2015 helped orchestrate the addition of fields for sexual orientation and gender identity—aka "SO/GI"—to electronic health records at UC Davis, the first academic system in the country to do so. The more data doctors and policymakers have on LGBT people, the better they can understand the institutional hurdles, social challenges, and public health risks they face as sexual minorities.


The creation of the new HHS division is but the latest development in an ongoing battle over whether and how that data is collected. As of this year, the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology requires outpatient clinics to use software that collects SO/GI information if they receive federal incentive payments for using government-certified electronic healthcare records. The Bureau of Primary Health Care requires health centers to report the sexual orientation and gender identity of their patients. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continue to encourage data collection on SO/GI.

"There’s actually been a lot of good work happening at the Veterans Health Administration," says Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute, a Boston-based center for research, training, and policy development on LGBT-related health issues. Since 2012, the VA has encouraged the collection of SO/GI data and issued directives that ensure respectful, equitable, culturally competent care for LGBT veterans. And by the end of Obama's presidency, the number of federal surveys and studies measuring sexual orientation had increased to 12, seven of which also measured gender identity or transgender status. "So the good news is that the shift to gathering these data has been underway for several years, and does continue," Cahill says.

But data collection has slowed under the Trump administration. In the past 13 months, surveys collecting data on participation in Older Americans Act-funded programs and Administration for Community Living-supported disability services have removed questions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity. In the same time span, numerous political maneuvers have sown uncertainty and distrust throughout the LGBT community. A July 2017 directive from President Trump attempted to ban transgender people from enlisting in the military, and in December policy analysts were presented with a list of banned words—including "transgender"—not to be used in official CDC budget documents. 

The Battle to Get Gender Identity Into Your Health Records
In short: Under the Trump administration, the country is simultaneously collecting fewer data and promoting conditions that leave LGBT patients wary of their healthcare providers. "These patients already face significant obstacles to accessing medical care, and I fear the implementation of these measures will only make these obstacles worse," says Stanley Vance, a pediatrician at University of California San Francisco and an expert in the care of gender nonconforming youth. "I also worry that these measures will be an institutionalized form of discrimination against patients who have been identified as a sexual minority or transgender who freely come out to their providers or through information previously entered in electronic medical records."

Even when physicians don’t overtly discriminate against gay and transgender patients, negative health care experiences are routine. Many physicians simply don't think to consider a patient's SO/GI—information they can use to not only respect their patients, but screen them for family rejection, which studies show increases the risk for depression, suicide, and high-risk sexual behaviors. Failing to acknowledge a patient's SO/GI can compound the ill effects of social stigma and inaccessibility to care for hormone therapy or gender affirmation surgery. "Across the board, LGBT patients are the group least likely to come back for further care," Callahan says. "And that often happens because of ways they are dismissed as not existing."

Of course, the reality is that LGBT people do exist, they're entitled to equitable services and care, and they deserve to be counted—sometimes literally. "It really shouldn't be political, you know? It shouldn't be a partisan issue," Cahill says. "It's about science and data and providing quality care to all patients."



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