Pennsylvania Pastor Defrocked for Performing Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

The United Methodist Church proved once and for all this week that its values are completely out of line when they defrocked a pastor for performing his son’s wedding years ago.

Rev. Frank Schaefer came under fire earlier this year for officiating his son’s Massachusetts wedding back in 2007 (when same-sex marriages were already legal there). A not-so-kindhearted church member filed a complaint with the church in Pennsylvania, and last month a church jury suspended him for 30 days. He was told to use the time to reflect on whether he could “uphold the church’s Book of Discipline,” which doesn’t condone homosexuality or same-sex marriage. If he wasn’t up to the task, he’d have to resign.

The choice was clear for Schaefer; he said his belief in equal rights did not justify his resignation from his position. In exchange, he’s been defrocked, depriving him of any ecclesiastical status within the church.

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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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