News Briefs

Imminent Vatican Purge of Gay Seminarians

The long-anticipated Vatican directive banning men active in gay life and sexuality from seminaries is expected to be released on November 29. Reports say the document will exclude “men who ‘support’ gay culture or have ‘deeply rooted’ gay tendencies,” MSNBC reported, including men who have had sex with men within the last four years.

That report said, “Some gay priests are discussing collectively staying away from the pulpit on a Sunday to show how much the church relies on them.”

A Web site has been set up called Catholics Affirming Homosexual Leadership at The organization says that it is “a group of ordained Catholic priests, both diocesan and religious, who have come together to affirm the value of our gay/lesbian clergy and religious in the face of apparent bigotry and growing intolerance,” but there are no contact names on the site, just a general e-mail.

Several gay priests and supporters are out on the Web site’s message board. They are asking the public to sign a petition to local bishops and the Vatican seeking dialogue on this issue and supporting “gay religious men and women.”

Bishop Matthew Clark, a relative moderate from Rochester, wrote a column this week saying to gay men, “We deeply value your ministry,” a pre-emptive defiance of the policy. He once celebrated a mass for gay and lesbian Catholics and was also a defender of the Reverend Charles Curran, a Catholic theologian who was censured by the Vatican for his writings on homosexuality. Clark did, however, bow to a Vatican order to remove the Catholic LGBT group Dignity from meeting on church property.


Canterbury: Can’t We All Get Along?

The Right Revered Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, told the synod of the Church of England this week that “splits over the ordination of gay priests risked rupturing” the Anglican Communion over which he presides, the U.K. Guardian reported.

Williams called for “his audience to make contact with people from other churches with opposing views, in an attempt to foster respect in spite of their differences,” the newspaper said.

In Pittsburgh last week, conservative Anglican bishops met with their sympathizers in the U.S. Episcopal Church and urged them to split with the denomination over the affirmation of gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. On November 14, a conservative Virginia parish withdrew from the Episcopal Church and put itself under the leadership of a right-wing Ugandan bishop.


Israel: Gays Seeking Marriage Must Change Law

The Israeli government told the High Court of Justice this week that same-sex couples suing to marry must appeal to the Knesset, not the courts. The government asked the court to reject the petitions of two Israeli gay couples who wed legally in Toronto and want their marriages registered at home. Their lawyers want these out-of-country marriages recognized the same way they would be for a heterosexual couple.

“The government argued that they do treat same-sex couples the same in provision of “financial and social services,” reported.

Meanwhile, the Be’er Sheva Family Court in Israel ruled this week that a lesbian can adopt the biological daughter of her partner, Ynetnews reported. “They’re a family without a doubt,” Judge Pinhas Asulin said, giving the women equal responsibility for the child.


Swedish Lutherans will Bless Gay Couples

Archbishop K.G. Hammar of the Lutheran Church of Sweden said that same-sex couples can receive blessings of their relationships in their local churches, even if the local minister objects. The church’s synod approved the blessings in October, but some ministers said it violated their consciences. Hammar said that if all the ministers of a local church refuse, they have to find another who will perform the ceremony.


Georgia College Pays for Gay Friendliness

The Georgia Baptist Convention voted this week to end its affiliation with Mercer University in Macon because it permits an LGBT student group to meet on campus. Robert White, the leader of the convention, wrote, “If there was no spiritual reason whatsoever to discourage homosexuality, certainly the blight of AIDS” should have dissuaded the school. The convention had been donating $2.4 million annually to Mercer, in addition to a $30 million gift to its nursing school several years ago, reported.


Lesbian Lawmaker Wants Marriage with Children Barred

State Representative Karla Drenner, the only out gay or lesbian legislator in Georgia, wants to change a state law that allows adult men to marry girls of any age without parental consent if the girl is pregnant. Drenner, who cannot marry her adult same-sex partner under the state Constitution, is putting forth a bill to require parties to a marriage to be at least 16 or have parental consent. “If you’re pregnant, you can get married and it doesn’t matter if you’re nine years old,” she said, according to


Gay Cop in Montana

Maybe things are getting better. Sergeant Scott Oak is an out gay cop in Missoula, Montana and has volunteered to be the liaison officer to the city’s LGBT community, the Missoulian reported. He has the full support of Police Chief Rusty Wickman, who acknowledges that the department had not done such a great job of relations between cops and gays in the past.


Savage: We Need a Privacy Amendment

Sex columnist Dan Savage argued in Wednesday’s New York Times that Democrats should go on the offensive in the battle over whether or not the U.S. Constitution protects sexual rights to privacy by pushing for a privacy amendment, saying it would “secure a right most Americans rightly believe they are already entitled to” and put Republicans on the spot if they oppose it.


Killer of Gay Man in Connecticut Wants Out

Sean Burke, 35, whose brutal murder of Richard Reihl in 1988 led to adoption of a hate crimes law in Connecticut, is asking a court in Manchester to reduce his 40-year sentence, claiming his is “back in control of his life,” News 8 reported. The Hartford state’s attorney is expected to oppose release.

Burke and Marco Perez, a fellow high school student, picked Reihl up in a Hartford gay bar. In a crime similar to the slaying of Matthew Shepard, they covered his mouth with duct tape and beat him with a log until he was dead.


Taking Your “Last Drag”

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has launched a new campaign to reduce smoking among members of the gay and lesbian community, who smoke at an estimated rate of twice the population as a whole. The New York Times reported that the approach, called “The Last Drag,” pitches messages such as “learn how to quit smoking without being scared straight. (As if you could be.)” It also sends “handsome young men in sleeveless T-shirts” into gay clubs and bars wearing and handing out stickers that say, “Breathe easier. Play harder.” The men refer smokers to free classes in gay neighborhoods. For more information on the campaign, go to


More Gay TV in New York

The Q Television Network, a paid subscriber service, is available in New York and New Jersey as of November 17 through Time Warner. The network offers five hours of live programming daily, plus reruns of LGBT-themed movies among other shows. For more information, go to


Albee on “Gay USA” and at Center

Playwright Edward Albee will be a guest on “Gay USA” on Thanksgiving at 11 p.m. on MNN, seen on Time Warner 34, RCN 107, and simulcast at channel 34. His “Seascape” is in previews on Broadway. “Gay USA” is also seen nationally through Free Speech TV on the Dish Network and other outlets throughout the week. Albee will speak at the LGBT Community Center on Monday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Times Talk series.