Gays

Will Justice Kennedy go against gay rights? The Los Angeles Times sure hopes not

Will Justice Kennedy go against gay rights? The Los Angeles Times sure hopes not

Much of this week’s news is the Supremes and gay marriage, so what could be a better introduction than a piece on the man who will probably be the swing vote in this great debate?

We are, of course, talking about Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who was profiled Monday in the Los Angeles Times, the day before oral arguments. The Times is a natural medium to look at considering that Kennedy’s career took an interesting turn in Sacramento. That’s where he issued a ruling that wondered out loud if homosexual acts between consenting adults might be a constitutional right.

The article begins as follows:

Anthony M. Kennedy was a 44-year-old appeals court judge in Sacramento -- a Republican appointee and happily-married Catholic -- when he first confronted the question of whether the Constitution protected the rights of gays and lesbians.
His answer in 1980 did not make him a gay rights hero. Kennedy upheld the Navy’s decision to discharge three service members for “homosexual acts.”
But less noticed in that somewhat reluctant opinion -- unusual for its time, just two weeks before Ronald Reagan was elected president -- were the doubts Kennedy raised about the constitutionality of laws criminalizing gay sex.  

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How does the Washington Post frame its gay-marriage story? Take a guess

How does the Washington Post frame its gay-marriage story? Take a guess

The Washington Post plays a classic Frame Game in its advance story yesterday on the Supreme Court's plans to consider making same-sex marriage a basic right.

Ostensibly, the story is about "High stakes as Supreme Court considers same-sex marriage case," as the headline reads. But it's written almost entirely from the viewpoint of gay marriage and its earnest advocates, who simply want their rights. Proponents of traditional marriage, meanwhile, are reduced to stark cutouts, good for little more than background and foils for the "right" side.

Consider the lede:

When a federal judge declared same-sex marriage legal in Florida earlier this year, it should have changed the way Bruce Stone does his job. The estate-planning attorney had for years helped gay couples patch together legal documents to try to approximate some of the protections enjoyed by heterosexual spouses.
But with the Supreme Court about to decide later this year whether that court decision and others ought to stand, Stone isn’t taking any chances. He is still writing up those power-of-attorney forms and setting up trusts out of state, and he has some stark advice for his gay clients: “Do not get married here in Florida.”
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over whether gay couples have a constitutional right to get married. But if the court rules against that right, the ability to decide reverts back to the states, and Florida and others might just slam the door.

This article bears several marks of issue framing:

* The American Civil Liberties Union is named without any labeling, but Liberty Counsel "defends conservative Christian values."

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Washington Post on GOP speeches: Sharp on spotting holes, weak on filling them

Washington Post on GOP speeches: Sharp on spotting holes, weak on filling them

Gotta hand it to the Washington Post. They got it right, right in the headline: "Lots of prayer but not many specifics at GOP summit in Iowa."

A dozen Republican presidential hopefuls came under the Post's microscope in its coverage of the GOP's Iowa blitz. They talked vaguely about social values and how their faiths sustain them. But seldom did they connect the two as public policy. And the Post, unfortunately, didn't press them.

Too bad, because the lede was pretty promising:

WAUKEE, IOWA — Religious liberty came up again and again as potential Republican presidential candidates gave stump speeches in a packed suburban mega-church on Saturday night. Many in the crowded field have struggled to find just the right way to discuss controversial social issues -- like immigration, abortion and income inequality -- without hurting their chances of becoming the next president.
Looming over the broad proclamations of the need to protect religious views is the national debate about the balance between reducing discrimination and upholding religious freedom, sparked by a controversial Indiana law signed this spring. But, as with other issues, most politicians did not get into specifics on how to strike that balance.
Doing justice to everyone in the crowded field, as the article aptly calls it, is a tough job for less than 900 words. But the Post manages by nimbly picking representative quotes from the candidates.

Mike Huckabee says the nation is "criminalizing Christianity." Ted Cruz decries "religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level." Both Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal say they'd attend a same-sex wedding of a loved one, even though they oppose the practice themselves. Scott Walker reads a favorite devotion, and Rick Perry tells what his Christian faith means to him.

Whether it's true or not that the Indiana law spawned the religious campaign talk, that law is one of three current events the Post works into the story. The others are President Obama's negotiations with Iran and the Supreme Court's plans to start deliberating tomorrow (Tuesday) whether same-sex marriage is a matter of constitutional right or state law.

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Sign that marriage license? Ancient sacraments vs. battles over civil contracts

Sign that marriage license? Ancient sacraments vs. battles over civil contracts

This week's Crossroads podcast (click here to listen in) grew out of my latest "On Religion" column, rather than a GetReligion post, so here is a bit of background on the subject -- which is the growing debate about whether clergy in traditional faiths should continue to sign marriage licenses from the state.

If you want to know more, a good place to start is with "The Marriage Pledge," a document posted by the conservative, interfaith journal First Things. The key statement therein: "Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage."

At that point, move over and scan some of the short essays included in the journal's forum called "The Church and Civil Marriage," in which eight scholars and popular writers -- Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic -- debate the merits of religious congregations cutting the ties that bind their marriage rites to the current legal debates about marriage and sex.

As you do so, I hope you notice something interesting, which is that some people who are normally stuck under the simplistic "conservative" umbrella do not agree with one another on this issue. I will go further and say that there are progressive reasons, as well as conservative reasons, to separate civil unions and holy matrimony. This is -- no matter that the newspapers say -- not an issue that is simply left vs. right.

To demonstrate, let's play a game. The following quotations are from two Southern Baptist leaders. One is a progressive position and the other conservative. Which is which?

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San Francisco Chronicle needed more info on nuns who walked out on pro-gay leafletting

San Francisco Chronicle needed more info on nuns who walked out on pro-gay leafletting

The theological tug-of-war between the Archdiocese of San Francisco and gay advocates shows no sign of ending soon, which means there will continue to be news coverage to dig into, naturally.

The latest soldiers in this battle are a group of nuns who staged a walkout when students passed out gay-rights materials at their school. But the nuns engaged in this battle are not old fogeys. They’re savvy 20- and 30-somethings who know what to do with an iPhone and who understand the cultural wars that are unfolding on their turf. Did this crucial information make it into the story?

Listen to how the San Francisco Chronicle described what happened a week ago:

The divisions within the Bay Area’s Catholic community over gay rights hit Marin Catholic High School full force the other day, when a group of nuns walked out of their classes to protest the sponsors of a program intended to protect gay and lesbian teens from bullying.
The five members of the Dominican Sisters of Mary order exited their classrooms Friday as students began handing out flyers at the Kentfield school promoting a nationwide Day of Silence.
Their walkout came one day after 100 prominent local Catholics attracted national attention by taking out a full-page ad in The Chronicle calling on the pope to oust Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in part for trying to get teachers at Catholic schools to sign off on a morality clause that characterizes homosexual relations as “gravely evil.”

Let's keep reading, because it takes a while to get to these nuns.

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Traditional marriage champion gets respectful profile in Washington Post

Traditional marriage champion gets respectful profile in Washington Post

Champagne glasses might well have been clinking at the Heritage Foundation on April 15. That's when the Washington Post ran a massive, 2,250-word profile on the foundation's rising young star, Ryan T. Anderson -- in largely favorable terms.

Anderson, a research fellow at Heritage, cuts against the stereotype of a white-haired conservative repeating stale arguments. The 33-year-old scholar is making a bright, deep mark in the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage. And the Post is unsparing in its compliments:

His appeal in part owes something to counter-programming. A Princeton graduate with a doctorate in economic policy from Notre Dame, his views are at odds with other elite academics with whom he has so much in common. They are the opposite of those in his demographic. A devout Catholic, he nonetheless believes it a losing argument to oppose the legality of same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.
Also in his favor: He’s telegenic, an enthusiastic debater, and he can talk for hours.

Brisk-reading despite its length, the article follows Anderson to a debate at the University of Colorado’s law school. It tells how Piers Morgan and Suze Orman ganged up on him. And it reports how MSNBC's Ed Schultz had Anderson's mike cut off in frustration.

WaPo also scans Anderson's arguments for traditional marriage: some of them garden-variety conservative, such as "sexual complementarity" and the state's interest in caring for children; some of them more novel, such as the assertion that "my definition of marriage is allowed in the Constitution":

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New York Times looks into Eureka Springs, the gay-friendliest Arkansas town

New York Times looks into Eureka Springs, the gay-friendliest Arkansas town

Before I get to that New York Times piece on gay tourism in the Ozarks, let me share a bit of first-person experience in that fascinating region.

About 18 months ago, my daughter and I visited Eureka Springs in northwest Arkansas. I felt like I’d been transported back into the 1960s as there were all manner of funky stores selling books, jewelry and other paraphernalia straight out of the hippie era. One walks down narrow winding streets past fountains and springs (it was quite the place to take the waters back in the 1880s) to stay at a historic hotel that has old-fashioned door keys the size of your wallet.

We didn’t have enough time to see the town’s famed Great Passion Play, overseen by a gigantic statue of Christ, but the chatter I heard at our B&B was that its future was in some danger. This is not an international phenomenon like the decennial Passion Play in Oberammergau, so the audience is limited for such spectacles. Churches and Christian youth groups used to getting entertainment off Netflix aren’t exactly racing to go to an outdoor theater to see a story they already know.

But the town itself was such a delight with stone Victorian houses out of "Arsenic and Old Lace," museums and tons of cool hikes through the canyon the city is located in. Plus, there's the beautiful Thorncrown Chapel just west of the city. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see that the Springs was trying other avenues to get people to visit. The Los Angeles Times just reported that one market was gay travelers. In this sort-of Bible Belt territory, not everyone is happy about that.

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'Sordid' quotes by Charles Stanley? RNS doesn't get it sordid out

'Sordid' quotes by Charles Stanley? RNS doesn't get it sordid out

No award for Charles Stanley from the Jewish National Fund tomorrow. Not because he doesn't want it, or because they changed their minds. But because a gay Jewish group pressured them to rescind it.

That's one thing. It's another when a news outfit favors the accuser.

At issue is the Jewish National Fund's Atlanta chapter, which had announced that it would present Baptist pastor Stanley with its Tree of Life Award for his longtime support for Israel. Says the Religion News Service this week:

Amid a heated debate over his vocal opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley will decline an award he planned to accept from the Jewish National Fund in Atlanta on Thursday (April 23.)
News that the longtime pastor of First Baptist Atlanta and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention would be honored by the JNF angered many Jews who pointed to his history of vitriolic anti-gay comments.
Stanley said the award was causing too much strife within the Jewish community, and for the sake of his love for Israel, he would not accept it, according to the JNF, a nonprofit that sponsors environmental and educational programs in the Jewish state.

About a third of the story is copied fairly closely from the breaking story on April 7. In that one RNS reported that another Atlanta-based group -- the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) -- had drawn up a letter condemning Stanley for opposing same-sex marriage and such.

Between the articles, RNS allows SOJOURN to let fly with punch after punch. The group's letter says Stanley “has publicly called AIDS God’s punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality and called homosexuality ‘destructive behavior.’ ” The group also cites Stanley "saying that 'God does not agree with the lifestyle of the homosexual' and that accepting gay people is 'an act of disobedience to God.' " Oh, and let's not forget Stanley’s "sordid history of virulent homophobic statements and actions."  

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NPR road trip to study bizarre citizens of North Dakota feels like a visit to the zoo

NPR road trip to study bizarre citizens of North Dakota feels like a visit to the zoo

Last week, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast the results of their recent road trip through North Dakota, one of a decreasing number of states (currently at 13) with laws opposing same-sex marriage. (Many more states had them, but courts have struck them down). In interviews around the southeastern corner of the state, reporters talked with people who were pro and con on homosexual marriage.

NPR pitched this series as “People thinking out loud about gay rights and same sex marriage.” In other places on their web site, they said it was about “religion and gay rights in North Dakota.”

In their intro, NPR quoted a Gallup poll as saying North Dakota is the ‘least gay’ state in the country at 1.7 percent of the population identifying themselves as homosexual. Washington, DC, by the way, was the ‘most gay’ in terms of people who self-identify as such at 10 percent.

The series explains itself as follows:

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