Monday, June 29, 2009

White House Support of Gays and Lesbians

Today, for the first time ever, the White House held a reception to commemorate the Stonewall riots, an event that is frequently cited as the beginning of the Gay rights movement in the United States.

Today's reception, in combination with other events, shows clear Presidential support for Gays and Lesbians. This support is coming not only in the form of rhetoric or pageantry, but through a very significant appointment in the area of education.

Kevin Jennings, the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network has been appointed Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education.

Read more about these events and their implication in our latest TwoMinuteBriefing, available by clicking here, or by visiting

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

LDS Church Urged to Reconcile with Gays and Lesbians

Describing themselves as "an organization of LDS Members, former members and others who believe in the equal value of every soul regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or worldly condition," the Committee for Reconciliation has launched a website to petition the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to reconcile with gay and lesbians.

Although the site does indicate that individuals who have been hurt by "mistreatment, misunderstanding, or demonization as a consequence of the LDS church's official policies, actions, and teachings" must reject seeking redress through hostility against the Church, most of message is directed at what they feel Church leaders must do.

Essentially they call upon the Church to disavow its teachings of homosexuality as sin, acknowledge that scriptures have been used out of context to condemn homosexuality, and repudiating reparative practices.

The site, called clearly seeks an effectual "apology" from the Church.

The website states that they are not anti-Mormon nor are they affiliated or sympathetic to anti-mormon groups or agends, but rather that they simply wish to affirm their "love and devotion to the Christian principles upon which [the] Church was founded."

This sentance implies, of course, that the Church in taking a position against homosexuality, is not abiding by or has strayed from Christin principles.

Whether intentional or not, the Committee for Reconciliation is using the technique known as "jamming" as described in the TwoMinuteBriefing Selling Homosexuality. In this case, the technique is being used to try to substitute feelings of religious conviction and commitment towards the LDS Church with feelings the the Church is bigoted, unreasonable, and hurtful. They do this by emphasizing their love of everyone, while pointing out how hurtful the Church's policies have been.

To access the Committee for Reconciliation website, click here.

To read the Salt Lake Tribune story on the Committee, click here.

To read the Deseret News story on the Committee, click here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Presidential Memo Extends Benefits to Same-Sex Partners

Today, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum extending limited benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers.

President Obama acknowledged that under current law (referring to the Defense of Marriage Act) full benefits could not be given to same-sex partners of federal workers. The President then announced his support of a bill entitled the Domestic Partner's Benefits and Obligations Act which would "guarantee these rights for all federal employees".

The President pledged to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that he believed it to be discriminatory and that it interfered with state's rights.

In stating that the memorandum he signed today would pave the way for, "long overdue progress in our nation's pursuit of equality," the President was in a sense echoing the sentiment of the California Supreme Court in its same-sex marriage decision of 2008 (In Re Marriage) in which the Court essentially noted that because all other benefits had been granted to same-sex couples, the state demonstrated that it had no vested interest in not allowing same-sex couples to exist as families, and hence should be granted the right of marriage.

TwoMinuteBriefing believes that the President is correct in saying that the signing of this memorandum today begins the paving of the road that will move us in the direction of granting full rights, including marriage, to same-sex couples at the federal level.

To read the CNN coverage of this story, click here.
To read the ABC News coverage of this story, click here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Transsexual/Transgender Rights Matter

On June 11th, various news sources announced that Chastity Bono, the only daughter of Sonny and Cher, had begun sex change procedures earlier this year.

Although the transsexual/transgender segment of the population is very small, their fight for rights, and the attention they are receiving in the media, are a significant assault both on the traditional family, and on those religious authorities and denominations that proclaim that gender is divinely assigned.

Read about this issue in the TwoMinuteBriefing - Why Transsexual/Transgender Rights Matter.

To access the PDF file, click here.

The (Mormon) Church and Gay Marriage

Time Magazine has published an article online entitled "The Church and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood?" Although already available online, the article is dated Monday, June 22, 2009.

The article describes the involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the California Proposition 8 campaign in some detail, including the theological underpinnings for its opposition to same-sex marriage.

In commenting on this article, a posting on's Salt Lake City page agrees that religions should be allowed to "fight for what they view as right". However, the article immediately goes on to quote a talk by Mark E. Peterson given at BYU in 1954 in which he warns against the "Negro" desiring not only equal rights but "absorption with the white race" through intermarriage.

The Examiner article concludes by stating that just as the "morality", as defined by the Church in 1954, opposed civil rights, the Church's "morality" opposes civil rights today. "The arguments haven't changed, only the target of discrimination."

To access the Time Magazine article, click here.
To access the article, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Hampshire Legalizes Same-sex Marriage

Last week, Governor John Lynch signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.

The bill signed by the Governor had been revised at his request to specify that religious organization would not be forced to participate in same-sex unions or be required to allow same-sex marriages to occur on their properties.

Still, some felt that the bill did not go far enough to protect those who object to same-sex marriages. For example, whereas religious organizations and their employees are protected from being forced to participate in same-sex marriages, florists, caterers, or photographers are not.

With regard to the signing of the bill, Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is quoted in a New York Times articles as saying, "our culture is moving to equality."

To read the New York Times story, click here.

Summit County, Utah, Will Study Giving Health Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Summit County in Utah is examining the possibility of giving health benefits to unmarried domestic partners of county employees, including same-sex partners.

Some may feel that the granting of health benefits to same-sex partners is relatively innocuous.

However, the Supreme Court of California in its 2008 decision in the In Re Marriage cases specifically sited the existence of same-sex domestic partnerships, and the privileges granted to those partnerships, as the rational for determining that same-sex couples should have the right to marry.

To view the Salt Lake Tribune story, click here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gay Marriage Supporters Sound the Warning - The Mormons are Coming!

Acting upon their sentiment that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) played a significant role in the passage of Prop. 8 in California, the Group Californians Against Hate have sought to place ads on newspaper web sites in the states of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maine warning readers that "The Mormons are coming!"

The ads were rejected by sites in three of the states, including Maine's Kennebec Journal which the Washington Post reported as feeling that the ad "borders on insulting and denigrating a whole set of people based on their religion."

Fred Karger, formerly a Republican campaign consultant and founder of Californians Against Hate, feels that Mormons are the "nicest people" and that "they do wonderful things." However, his goal "is to get them out of the same-sex marriage business and back to helping hurricane victims."

As a political strategist, he knows his numbers, and will seek to take advantage of the fact that almost 80% of Americans know or work with a gay person, while slightly less than 50% know a Mormon.

Whereas this could be viewed as a challenge to the LDS Church, it may actually be an opportunity for them to spur their members on to become overall more visible, more openly "Mormon" with their colleagues, their neighbors and their friends.

To read the Washington Post article, click here.
To read Fred Krager's comments on The Huffington Post, click here.

Cheney Favors State-by-State Decisions on Gay Marriage

The Washington Post reported this week that former vice president Richard Cheney has come out in favor of Gay Marriage as decided on a state-by-state basis.

Cheney is quoted as saying, "people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kid of arrangement they wish."

Cheney has a personal interest in the matter, given that his youngest daughter is a lesbian and has a longtime partner.

That someone as prominent in the Republican party would make such a clear statement favoring Gay Marriage brings to mind the issues discussed by TwoMinuteBriefing in its analysis, Moral Right or Political Might which noted that some Republican party insiders were encouraging the party to acquiesce on Gay Marriage in order to stay politically viable.

To read the Washington Post article, click here.
To access the TwoMinuteBriefing analysis Moral Right or Political Might, click here, or visit:

Harvard to Have a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies Endowed Chair

A New York Times article reports that Harvard will endow a chair for visiting scholars who are studying sexuality or sexual minorities. It is currently assumed that visiting professors will be invited to teach on campus for one semester.

The position has been made possible by a donation of a reported $1.5 million from the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender studies are relatively new in the U.S. The first university program in this area was started in 1986 at the City University of New York.

Harvard University believes, however, that theirs will be the first endowed, named chair in this subject.

This move by Harvard is another modest indicator of how the acceptability of Homosexuality in U.S. academic circles.

To read the New York Times story, click here.

Catholic Charities Must Allow Gay Adoption in England and Wales

On June 1st, a English Charity Tribunal (administrative court) ruled that Catholic Care must consider same-sex couples as potential foster or adoptive parents, or otherwise they could not continue to operate as an adoption agency.

Catholic Care is the social services agency of the Diocese of Leeds.

The ruling was based on an application of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

Most of the 11 other Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales have chosen to become independent "secular" agencies in order to continue operations while not violating the Catholic Church's stand regarding same-sex unions.

In January of 2007, the Church of England had expressed its opinion that the Catholic Church should be exempt from the application of this Act. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, in a joint letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that the, "rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation."


British court: Church adoption agency must include same-sex couples
Catholic charities breaking law on homosexual adotion
Church of England supports Catholic position on homosexual adoption