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Volume 15/Issue 14

Church Support Of Gay Men, Lesbians Promised

More than 60 Madison, WI clergy issued a statement recently promising church support of gay men and lesbians. Although the statement stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage, it did promise that the clergy "commit ourselves to the encouragement of relationships that meet the test of fidelity and loving nurture." It said "we often find the term 'family values' applied to only some Christian families."

The statement was signed by clergy of the American Baptist, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Quaker, Moravian, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ. In addition, local Unitarian-Universalist and Jewish clergy signed the statement.

It began by declaring "As Christian clergy we embrace gay and lesbian persons as our neighbors. From our reading of scripture and from our pastoral experiences, we believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that homosexuality is neither sickness nor sin." The clergy said they "strongly uphold the family as the basic social unit in which we are called to live together and to give and receive nurture and support."

They said they are "saddened and concerned by the breakdown of the family that stems from various forms of infidelity, violence and failure to maintain long-term loving commitments among both heterosexual and homosexual communities."

Therefore, the clergy said, "we believe it is time to eliminate all policies and practices which create barriers and restrictions to the full participation of gay and lesbian Christians in all of the privileges and responsibilities of church membership."

The statement was released at a press conference in the First Congregational United Church of Christ. The Rev. Paul Kittlaus, senior minister of the church, said the initial statement was drafted by local Christian clergy because most of the debate about homosexuality takes place within Christianity.

Lay people and clergy of non-Christian organizations were invited to sign as a symbol of their support, however. Among the pastors of larger congregations signing were the Rev. John Fetterman, rector of Grace Episcopal Church; the Rev. Harvey Peters, pastor of Luther Memorial Church; the Rev. David Lyons, pastor of the First United Methodist Church; and the Rev. David Michael, pastor of Lake Edge United Church of Christ. The Rev. Frederick Trost, minister of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ; the Rev. Michael Schuler, pastor of the First Unitarian Society; and Rabbi Jan Brahms, of Temple Beth El, also were among the signers.

Bowers Adultery Raises Doubts About Sodomy Law

Former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers, who has aggressively defended the state sodomy law, has admitted to committing a ten-year adulterous affair, which is also illegal in the state. Since Bowers' admission, state legislators have announced plans to introduce bills to decriminalize private sexual acts between consenting adults, including sodomy, adultery and fornication.

While the latter two are misdemeanors carrying a maximum one-year jail sentence, sodomy is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, lawyer Robin Shahar, whose firing from Bowers' office after a private religious wedding with her lesbian partner was deemed constitutional in a May 30 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, has asked the court to either rehear her case or vacate the ruling. "In light of Bowers' admission, the basis for the court's decision to uphold Shahar's dismissal is on very shaky legal ground," said Michael Adams, staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Marriage Project. [from GLAAD]

"The Living Room" Benefit At Rubyfruit Jungle

All proceeds from the 8 pm, July 13 performance at Rubyfruit Jungle will benefit "The Living Room," a day center for HIV+ clientele which is sponsored by Vieux Carre Metropolitan Community Church, 1128 St.Roch Ave. "The Living Room" is also funded through community donations as well as by the Ryan White Fund. The $5 cover will include free food and a performance you won't want to miss!

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