Friday, December 18, 2009


(AP) –WASHINGTON — The mayor of Washington has signed a bill legalizing gay marriage in the nation's capital, but it won't go into effect just yet.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the bill Friday in a public ceremony.

The city council passed the measure Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the city. Congress has final say over D.C.'s laws, however, so the mayor's signature doesn't mean the bill immediately becomes law.
The bill must pass a 30-day period of Congressional review.

Supporters expect Congress won't touch the law and that gay couples may be able to wed in the district as early as March. Opponents, however, plan to fight the bill.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


December 16, 2009 03:57 PM ET

By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

The Religion Newswriters Association surveyed more than 100 religion journalists to devise a list of 2009's top 10 religion stories. Six of them are God & Country-style faith-in-domestic-politics stories. In 2000, only three of the RNA's top ten religion stories fell into that category.

I'm guessing that the spike has to do with the increasing politization of American religion, the expanding role of faith in politics and policy, the advances and attempted advances of the gay rights movement, the shrinking number of dedicated religion reporters (hence less focus on pure religion stories), the shrinking number of U.S. foreign correspondents (hence less focus on overseas religion stories), and the media's growing interest in politico-religious controversies.

Here's the list of stories in the order selected by members of the Religion Newswriters Association:

1. President Obama pledges a new beginning in Muslim-U.S. relations and reaches out to the world's Muslims during a major speech at Cairo University.

2. Health-care reform, the No. 1 topic in Congress for most of the year, involves faith-based groups appealing strongly for action to help "the least of these," and others, such as the Roman Catholic bishops, for restrictions on abortion funding.

3. Because Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.

4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country's leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs.

5. Mormons in California come under attack from some supporters of gay rights because of their lobbying efforts in the November 2008 election on behalf of Prop. 8, which outlawed gay marriage. Later in the year, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire approve gay marriage, but it is overturned by voters in Maine.

6. President Obama receives an honorary degree and gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame after fierce debates at the Roman Catholic university over Obama's views on abortion.

7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a committed monogamous relationship, leading a number of conservative churches—known as the Coalition for Renewal—to move toward forming a new denomination.

8. The recession forces cutbacks at a great variety of faith-related organizations—houses of worship, relief agencies, colleges and seminaries, publishing houses.

9. The Episcopal Church Triennial Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops, ignoring a request from the archbishop of Canterbury. At year's end Los Angeles chooses a lesbian, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop. Earlier, an elected bishop in Upper Michigan, Kevin Thew Forrester, is rejected because of his extreme liberal views.

10. President Obama's inauguration includes a controversial invocation by Rick Warren and a controversial benediction by Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Bishop Gene Robinson.

Gay rights activist who protested Honduras coup killed

A priest speaks over the coffin of Walter Trochez during his funeral in Tegucigalpa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. Trochez, a human rights activist who was active in the gay community, was killed Sunday in Central Park. Supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya blame security forces for his death, while police officials deny that claim. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran police promised to thoroughly investigate the killing of a gay rights activist who joined in protests against the June coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

The anti-coup National Resistance Front said gunmen in a car shot Walter Trochez on Sunday as he walked in downtown Tegucigalpa. Friends rushed him to a hospital, where he died.

"Trochez was an active militant in the resistance and an example of the fight against the dictatorship," the group said in a statement released on the day the victim was buried.

The front, which until recently staged daily protests to demand Zelaya's restoration to the presidency, blamed the attack "on the repressive forces that the oligarchy uses to stop the demands of the Honduran people for liberty and democracy."

Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said Tuesday that the case was "being exhaustively investigated." He named no suspects but dismissed the possibility that police were involved.

The front claimed that Trochez, 27, was often harassed and threatened by police and soldiers because of his activism on behalf of homosexuals.

A Honduran rights group said Trochez was briefly kidnapped Dec. 4 by four masked men who beat him. The assailants threatened to kill Trochez because of his participation in the anti-coup movement, the International Observatory on the Human Rights Situation said.

International rights groups have denounced widespread repression under the government of interim President Roberto Micheletti, the former congressional leader who took power after soldiers ousted Zelaya on June 28. The coup came after the president continued a campaign to change the constitution despite the Supreme Court ruling his effort illegal.

Several anti-coup activists have been killed during protests, while security forces have raided the offices of groups opposed to the Micheletti government. Police say the raids are part of investigations into homemade bombs that have periodically exploded in the Central American country since the coup.

There also have been a string of killings of government security officials and relatives of politicians, including a nephew of Micheletti, but there is no indication those slayings related the coup. Political assassinations are not uncommon in Honduras, which has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America, much of it related to the drug trade.

Months of international pressure failed to restore Zelaya to finish his four-year term, which ends Jan. 27. Diplomats are now focused on producing a deal that would allow Zelaya to leave Honduras without being arrested on treason and abuse of power charges.

On Monday, the United States and Brazil urged Micheletti to step down, saying his resignation would allow Zelaya safe passage out of Honduras.
Micheletti dismissed that idea Tuesday. He told HRN radio he planned to stay in power until the new president-elect, Porfirio Lobo, takes office next month. Lobo, a wealthy conservative rancher, won the Nov. 27 presidential election, which had been scheduled before the coup.
Zelaya, who is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, vowed in a statement not to renounce his claim to the presidency.

Last week Micheletti's government stopped two attempts by Zelaya to leave Honduras because the ousted leader refused to concede he is no longer president.

Late Tuesday, the Micheletti government said it would seek Honduras' withdrawal from a Venezuela-led trade bloc known as ALBA. The government will introduce a motion in Congress on Wednesday to have Honduras drop out of the bloc, said chief Cabinet minister Rafael Pineda.
Honduras joined ALBA in August 2008 as Zelaya sought closer relations with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — an alliance that alienated the Honduran business community and most of Zelaya's own political party.

Chavez stopped oil shipments to Honduras to protest Zelaya's ouster.
"The decision was made because some presidents who belong to ALBA. have been disrespectful and offensive against a friendly country like Honduras," Pineda said.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


California Faith For Equality (CFE) joins all supporters of Marriage Equality who are disappointed because once again equal protection has denied to same sex couples. "Today is another blow for equality, justice and freedom for all, said the Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, President of CFE and Senior Pastor at the Metropolitian Community Church in Los Angeles.

"This vote in New York once again demonstrates that the arm of justice runs long and while today we suffer another set-back, we will one day prevail and marriage "equality will be a reality, not only in New York but throughout the world.

California Faith for Equality, along with people of faith and good conscience throughout this country are joining with the lesbian and gay community today with a renewed commitment to full equality. While our Constitution declares, "justice and liberty for all" that is what it must be - All and not just some!"