Why is Pope Francis The Advocate‘s ‘Person of the Year’?

Yesterday on my daily binge-reading of Advocate.com, the daily website of the country’s oldest LGBT newsmagazine, The Advocate, a headline caught my eye: The Advocate‘s Person of the Year: Pope Francis.” 

My heart sank and my brain nearly imploded. The leader of the most homophobic institution in the world with a “NOH8″ logo splashed on his cheek? Really?

Pope Francis was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year last week, and that makes a little more sense to me. TIME speaks to a greater audience than The Advocate, for one. Pope Francis has undoubtedly said and done more decent things thus far in his papacy — acknowledged the worthy humanness of female convicts and LGBT folk, conjured an image of the Catholic Church as a church of healing and acceptance, etc. — than popes who came before him, and the man certainly has a lot of influence over the estimated 1,200,000,000 Catholics in the world. For TIME, that’s something worth noting. (Maybe not grand-prize-winner-something, but fine. I’m letting it go.)

But for The Advocate? Absolutely not. I’m deeply disappointed the staff felt otherwise.

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Why Taxpayer Money is (Still) Funding Anti-Gay Private Schools

This week, Salon writer Katie McDonough published a piece about voucher systems that allow private schools with anti-LGBT policies to receive taxpayer funding, adding to the ongoing conversation about why we’re letting this stuff happen over and over again.

The story has been a hot topic for the last few weeks in light of a scandal at North Carolina’s Myrtle Grove Christian School, which was eligible for a state taxpayer-funded voucher program, even though a “Biblical morality policy” determined that no LGBT students or parents were permitted. After substantial public outcry, the school announced that it would not accept any state funding due to controversy over the anti-gay policy — it would rather continue to discriminate with private money than take government money and have to accept everybody — though it appears to remain eligible for vouchers.

As McDonough says, it’s an infuriating story, but not a new one. And we’ve gotten too accustomed to blowing it off:

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Senate Republicans Introduce Religious ‘License to Discriminate’ Bill

What do you do when someone asks you to treat everybody equally? If you’re a kindergartner, you accept and graciously share your crayons. If you’re a Senate Republican, you throw a tantrum and create a legislative loophole.

This week, 11 Senate Republicans introduced a bill called the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would prohibit federal agencies from taking away the tax-exempt status of churches and religious groups in spite of any discriminatory practices they may employ. The bill seems tailored to fight the impending “threat” of marriage equality, according to bill author Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), but it opens the door to allowing any kind of discrimination — as long as that discrimination can be backed up by “religious beliefs.”

“What I would like to do is make sure that we go out of our way to protect churches from adverse action that could be taken against them as a result of their doctrinal views of the definition of marriage,” the Utah senator said.

The bill appears to be blatantly sidestepping the post-DOMA-repeal policy that requires federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples. According to Zack Ford at ThinkProgress, the bill could provide an easy path for religious businesses, government officials, or even hospitals to deny services to same-sex couples.

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Australian Court Strikes Down Marriage Equality in a ‘Lost Opportunity,’ Says Atheist Group

Twenty-seven newlywed couples in Australia will have their marriages annulled just days after tying the knot, thanks to a recent decision by Australia’s High Court.

For five days beginning last weekend, same-sex couples could marry in Canberra after the city’s legislative assembly, called the Australian Capital Territory, passed a law in November legalizing marriage equality. But on Thursday, the Australian High Court ruled that the locally-passed law did not comply with the Federal Marriage Act — which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages — and deemed the ACT law unconstitutional.

“The Court held that the Federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same-sex marriage, and that under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same-sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the Federal Parliament,” the court said in a summary of its judgement.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples.

Not at all surprisingly, the Australian Christian Lobby and other Christian groups are at the center of the movement to take down marriage equality. Lobby member Lyle Shelton told Australia’s ABC1 that same-sex marriage is essentially a lost cause and he wants a referendum to take it completely off the table.

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Judge Rules Against Bakery Owner Who Would Rather Close Shop Than Serve Gay Couples

The owner of a Colorado bakery faces legal trouble for refusing to provide a gay couple with a wedding cake — and despite his best efforts, his religious beliefs aren’t helping him in court. Last July, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig approached Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, to bake a cake for their upcoming wedding. The [Read More...]


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