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A member of North Carolina’s Providence Road Baptist Church defended Pastor Charles L. Worley to Anderson Cooper last night, saying she agreed with her reverend’s notoriously anti-gay sermon which called for putting gays and lesbians behind electrified fences to eventually die off.

“Of course people are going to take it and make it their own way and make it what they want to, but I agree with what the sermon was and what it was about,” Stacey Pritchard told the CNN host.

When Cooper asked about Worley’s specific request for an electrified fence, Pritchard noted, “Maybe that’s what he felt like should be done…just to make the short of it, yes I agree with him.”

Despite Cooper’s statements about the Holocaust as well as more recent accounts of horrific anti-gay violence taking around the world, Pritchard nonetheless seemed confused as to why Worley’s statements would create such a controversy. “People keep — once again — harping, harping, harping on the electric fence, this and that,” she noted. “It’s about the homosexuals and it’s wrong, that’s what it’s about.”

She concluded, “This is a pastor that speaks the word of God. Anybody can take it any way they want to, and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to. They can turn around and go on!”

Footage of Worley’s sermon quickly went viral on the Internet, and had already been viewed 689,000 times by this week, according to Reuters. A peaceful public protest is planned for Saturday, and organizers say they are now expecting up to 2,000 people to attend, McClatchy is reporting.

View Worley’s original May 13 sermon, along with some other statements made about LGBT people by right-wing pundits below:

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Washington (CNN) Kevin Kloosterman, a former Mormon bishop, said he “came out” last year just not in the way that many people associate with coming out.

“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” Kloosterman said in an interview with CNN.

Though not speaking on behalf of the church, the then-bishop stood in front of a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered.

Donning a suit and tie, Kloosterman was visibly shaken, struggling to find the right words as tears welled up in his eyes.

“I’m sorry deeply, deeply sorry,” Kloosterman told the group in a speech that was captured on video. “The only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes with your loved ones, with your wards (Mormon congregations), with your leaders. And encourage them in this repentance process.”

Kloosterman’s apology was just one example of what many Mormons and church watchers see as a recent shift in the Mormon community’s posture toward gays and lesbians, including by the official church itself.

Though the church’s doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed, and the church remains opposed to same-sex marriage, many say the church is subtly but unmistakably growing friendlier toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including voicing support for some gay rights.

Students at the church-owned Brigham Young University recently posted an “It Gets Better” video about the gay and lesbian community there, while a gay Mormon in San Francisco was selected last year for a church leadership position.

A new conference series on gay and lesbian Mormons the same one Kloosterman addressed last year is seeing an uptick in popularity.

Church spokesman Michael Purdy would not comment on whether church members are changing their stance toward gay and lesbian issues but said in an e-mail message: “In the Church, we strive to follow Jesus Christ who showed immense love and compassion towards all of God’s children.”

Purdy wrote, “If members are becoming more loving and Christ-like toward others then this can only be a positive development.”

  • Gay rights activists hold hands in protest in front of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July 2009.

‘It is definitely getting better’

The Brigham Young students who taped the pro-gay video this month were contributing to a popular video series meant to inspire hope in young people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality identity.

The video featured students telling stories of being gay at Brigham Young, sharing tales of heartache, loss and even suicide.

“It kind of is a very different world to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, a fifth-year senior and acting president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction, the group that posted the video.

“We put out the message for youth that are going through this, and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago, and it gets better and there is a place for you,” she said.

Though chastity is a requirement at Brigham Young, gay and lesbian students say they are under more scrutiny. The school’s honor code says that “homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates” the code.

But Jensen said reaction to the video, which has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Carri Jenkins, an assistant to Brigham Young’s president, told CNN that the production of the video is not a violation of the honor code and that the students will not be punished.

The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

Jensen said that while gay and lesbian Mormons face a tough road, she sees a shift toward greater acceptance. It is definitely getting better within the church, she said. “They are not so quick to judge. They understand that they don’t understand everything. I am glad I can be a little part of it.”

Some scholars of Mormonism, such as Columbia University’s Richard Bushman, said they see the very existence of such a gay rights group at Brigham Young as a step toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.

“The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,” Bushman said. “Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgment that is really that last decade I would say.”

Most gay Mormons point to 2008’s push for Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state but has faced legal challenge in the courts, as a low point in the relationship between the church and gay and lesbian community.

Mormons make up 2% of California’s population, but they contributed half of the $40 million war chest used to defend Proposition 8, according to a Time magazine report.

The church’s Proposition 8 activism angered many gay rights groups around the country, with some labeling the church “bigoted,” “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”

But church officials pushed back against the perception that the Proposition 8 backlash has provoked a Mormon softening on gay and lesbian issues.

“Many positive relationships have come from the Church’s experience in supporting traditional marriage in California,” Purdy, the church spokesman, said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.

Purdy draws a distinction between being against same-sex marriage and against equality for gays and lesbians.

He reiterated that the church was “strongly on the record as supporting traditional marriage,” but he said its stance should never be used as justification for violence or unkindness.

“The Church’s doctrine has not changed but we certainly believe you can be Christ-like, loving and civil, while advocating a strongly held moral position such as supporting traditional marriage,” Purdy wrote in an e-mail message.

“We do not believe that strong support of traditional marriage is anti-gay,” he wrote. “We love and cherish our brothers and sisters who experience same gender attraction. They are children of God.”

Church doctrine says that sex outside marriage is a sin and can lead to excommunication. Since gay people cannot be married in the church, any sex for them would be premarital and, therefore, sinful.

“The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear,” the church’s website says. “It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.”

Openly gay and a church leader

Mitch Mayne seems to relish his role as a lightning rod.

Mayne, an openly gay Mormon who blogs about homosexuality and the church, received the calling a term Mormons use for being invited into a church position in August.

Mayne is now executive secretary in a San Francisco ward of the church.

“I view myself as gay and being completely whole as being gay,” Mayne said.

Many observers of Mormonism say Mayne’s calling marked a unique moment in church history. Purdy said that Mayne’s appointment is “not unique,” but it’s hard to find precedent for an outspokenly gay executive secretary.

Mayne said he sees his job as building bridges with the gay community in San Francisco and showing them “there are pockets in the Mormon Church where you can be yourself.”

The biggest obstacle toward building those bridges is the threat of excommunication, said Mayne, who told CNN that in some wards just being gay can lead to expulsion from the church.

According to church doctrine, a formal disciplinary council can be called at the request of church leader.

While the leaders of the church mandate councils called for murder, incest or apostasy, it has a long list of reasons to call a disciplinary council.

According to the church’s website, the list of reasons includes “abortion, transsexual operation, attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations. …”

Some wards are observing that guidance while others aren’t, Mayne said.

“Here in the Bay Area … we are no longer seeking out LGBT members of the church and excommunicating them,” Mayne said. “Our role is to bring people closer to the Savior, so if we are routinely excommunicating people, then we are really not doing our job.”

Mayne said he believes the challenge is to convince church leaders that they don’t ever have to excommunicate gay members.

And he said the Proposition 8 campaign was the “least Christ-like thing we have ever done as a church.”

“Not only did we alienate gays and lesbians, but we alienated their parents, their friends, those who support them the ripple effect went way beyond the gay community, and I don’t think we were prepared for such a negative fallout,” Mayne said. “I think the church deserved the black eye they received.”

He added, “As a result of that really horrible time, I think we are entering a really good time to be a gay Mormon. It is getting better.”

‘Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off’

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks, the City Council of Salt Lake City listens. At least the council seemed to in 2009 when it voted on an ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgendered residents in housing and employment.

“The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage,” church spokesman Michael Otterson told the council.

Shortly after the church’s expression, the City Council approved the measure unanimously.

Many gay rights activists said they saw the move as an olive branch after the Proposition 8 debate.

“The tone and the culture is evolving, and the way the LGBT people are being treated is changing. I don’t think the church’s policy has caught up to that change in culture,” said Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “The Mormon church hasn’t gotten nearly as politically involved as they had since 2009.”

Though Murray sees the church lobbying for anti-discrimination laws as a positive step, he said the church’s shift is more about style than substance.

“It is going to take a lot of intentional effort to actually prove they are different,” Murray said. “That burden, because of the really public nature of their support of Prop 8, falls harder on the Mormon church than others.”

Joanna Brooks, a popular Mormon blogger and president of Mormon Stories, a nonprofit group that facilitates conversations on Mormon issues, echoes Murray’s sentiments.

She said she sees the church’s stance as challenging gay Mormons to choose between the religion they most likely grew up with and their desire for romantic companionship.

“Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off,” she said, adding that the church can’t make it that “either you are gay or you are Mormon, or either you support gay rights or you support the church.”

By Dan Merica, CNN

What did MLK think about gay people?

  • We know what Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. thought about race, but what about gay rights? His life and his sermons offers clues, some say.

CNN January 16th, 2012

What did MLK think about gay people?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony magazine when he received an unusual letter.

“I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”

In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”

“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

We know what King thought about race, poverty and war. But what was his attitude toward gay people, and if he was alive today would he see the gay rights movement as another stage of the civil rights movement?

That’s not the type of question most people will consider on this Monday as the nation celebrates King’s national holiday. Yet the debate over King’s stance toward gay rights has long divided his family and followers. That debate is poised to go public again because of the upcoming release of two potentially explosive books, one of which examines King’s close relationship with an openly gay civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin.

The author of both books says King’s stance on gay rights is unclear because the Ebony advice column may be the only public exchange on record where he touches on the morality of homosexuality.

Yet King would have been a champion of gay rights today because of his view of Christianity, says Michael Long, author of, “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters,” who shared the story of King’s Ebony letter.

“Dr. King never publicly welcomed gays at the front gate of his beloved community. But he did leave behind a key for them – his belief that each person is sacred, free and equal to all to others,” says Long, also author of the upcoming “Keeping it straight? Martin Luther King, Jr., Homosexuality, and Gay Rights.”

Did King’s dream include gay people?

One person close to King, though, would disagree.

Rev. Bernice King led a march to her father’s graveside in 2005 while calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. She was joined by Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia, where she served as an elder at the time. Long, who recently settled out of court with four young men who filed lawsuits claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships, publicly condemned homosexuality.

King did not answer an interview request, but she has spoken publicly about her views.

During a speech at a church meeting in New Zealand, she said her father “did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage.”

Yet her mother, Coretta Scott King, was a vocal supporter of gay rights. One of her closest aides was gay. She also invoked her husband’s dream.

Ravi Perry, a political science professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, said King’s widow once said in a public speech that everyone who believed in her husband’s dream should “make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

There is no private or public record of King condemning gay people, Perry says. Even the FBI’s surveillance of King’s private phone conversations didn’t turn up any moment where King disparaged gay people, she says.

“If Dr. King were anti-gay, there would likely be a sermon, a speech, a recording of some kind indicating such,” she says. “And knowing how closely his phones were tapped; surely there would be a record of such statements.”

Those who say King did not condemn gays and would have supported gay rights today point to King’s theology.

Though King was a Christian minister, he didn’t embrace a literal reading of the Bible that condemns homosexuality, some historians say. King’s vision of the Beloved Community – his biblical-rooted vision of humanity transcending its racial and religious differences – expanded people’s rights, not restricted them, they say.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, who worked with King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says King would have championed gay rights today.

“Martin was a theologian,” Vivian says. “Martin starts with the fact that God loves everybody, and all men and all women were created by God. He based his whole philosophy on God’s love for all people.”

King’s relationship with ‘Brother Bayard’

Those who say King would have championed gay rights also point to King’s treatment of one of the movement’s most important leaders, Bayard Rustin.

Rustin was an openly gay civil rights leader who is widely credited with organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He was an organizational genius, the man who insisted that King speak last on the program, giving his “I Have a Dream” speech the resonance it would not have had otherwise, says Jerald Podair, author of “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer.”

“He was the kind of guy who could tell you how many portable toilets you needed for 250,000 people in a demonstration,” Podair says. “He was a details guy. King needed him for that march.”

But Rustin could do more than arrange a demonstration. He was also a formidable thinker and debater. He was born to a 15-year-old single mother and never graduated from college.

The movement was led by intellectual heavyweights like King, but even among them, Rustin stood out, Podair says. He read everything and was a visionary. One aide to President Lyndon Johnson described him as one of the five smartest men in America, says Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

“People who heard him speak were transfixed,” Podair says.

Rustin became one of the movement’s most eloquent defenders of its nonviolent philosophy, says Saladin Ambar, a political scientist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

“He was one of the few individuals not afraid to debate with Malcolm X in public,” Ambar says. “Rustin more than held his own and really challenged Malcolm to push his thinking.”

Rustin was a special assistant to King and once headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During the planning of the March on Washington, King resisted calls to jettison Rustin because he was gay, Podair says.

King, though, didn’t speak out on behalf of gay rights because he was doing all he could to hold the movement together, historians say.

He had to constantly fend off rumors that the movement was infiltrated by communists. He was also criticized for expanding the movement to take on poverty and oppose the Vietnam War.

“The movement superseded any discussion of gay rights,” Ambar says. “King was dedicated to the cause at hand.”

With all that was going on, King couldn’t afford to wage a public campaign defending Rustin’s homosexuality, says Vivian, a SCLC colleague of King’s.

“Any employee that would employ a gay person at the time who was outwardly gay would have problems,” Vivian says. “I don’t care if you were the president of the Untied Sates, you would have trouble doing that.”

After the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin remained as King’s adviser. The two, however, drifted apart when King became more radical during the last three years of his life, says Adair, Rustin’s biographer.

When Rustin died in 1987, he was starting to receive attention from gay and lesbian activists who linked civil rights with gay rights, Podair says.

Rustin was a late convert to their cause.

“He never put it [homosexuality] front and center,” Podair says. “He never politicized it until the end of his life. He didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

It’s no longer unusual today for gay and lesbian activists to draw parallels between their struggles and King’s legacy. Vivian, King’s SCLC colleague, says the comparison is apt.

“There was a time when black people were afraid to be themselves among white people,” he says. “You had to fit a stereotype in order to be accepted. They’re going through the same thing but now they feel better about themselves.”

Vivian says the movement shouldn’t be limited to race.

“As we were freeing up black people, we’re freeing up the whole society.”

Long, author of the upcoming books on King and Rustin, says King’s vision transcended his personal limitations. Maybe he could have said more to that anonymous boy who wrote him at Ebony. But he did leave him a key to the Beloved Community– even if he didn’t realize it at the time, Long says.

Now, Long says, it’s up to those who claim King today to use that key.

“A turn of that key and a gentle push on the gate, swinging it wide open so everyone can enter into the Beloved Community,” he says. “That’s the best way to advance the legacy of Martin Luther King.”

By Ivan Watson, CNN – January 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New Turkish movie highlights homophobia in the country
  • In part the film is based in the slaying of Ahmet Yildiz, which is known as Turkey’s first honor killing
  • Directors, who were friends with the student, say Turkey has entrenched institutional homophobia
  • One of them told CNN minority communities “want to be able to live, first of all, and not be murdered”

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — In colloquial Turkish, the word zenne means male belly dancer. It is also the title of a new film that explores sexual identity while also highlighting a deadly case of homophobia in modern-day Turkey.

“The starting point was a dear friend of ours who was murdered in 2008 for being gay by his own father,” said Mehmet Binay, producer and co-director of “Zenne,” which opens in theaters across Turkey on Friday.

Binay was referring to the 2008 killing of Ahmet Yildiz, a 26-year old physics student who was gunned down in Istanbul.

Court records identify Yildiz’s father, Yahya, as the primary suspect in the killing. The father’s motive, according to a copy of the indictment, was that he “did not accept the victim to be in a gay relationship.”

More than three years after the slaying, Yildiz’s father is a fugitive, still wanted by Turkish police.

The death has since been widely referred to as Turkey’s first gay honor killing.

One of the main characters in “Zenne” is based on Ahmet Yildiz and his tragic story.

Caner Alper, the writer and other co-director of “Zenne,” was also a friend of Yildiz’s. Alper said before he died, Yildiz often spoke about receiving death threats from his family, who were trying to “cure” him of his homosexuality.

Court documents show Yildiz reported these death threats to the Turkish authorities.

In an interview with CNN this week, the filmmakers said they hoped their film would force Turkish society to debate hate crimes that target victims based on gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual identity.

“Death and murder is still on the agenda of our country. We can’t get rid of this mentality,” said Binay. “People need to tolerate each other. They need to understand that different identities can live next to each other without disturbing each other.”

Binay and Alper are not only creative partners. Shortly before the debut of their debut film at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Turkey’s most prestigious film festival, the two men announced they had been a couple for 14 years. Alper said their families advised against coming out publicly.

“They thought it would be career suicide,” he said. “Until we won five awards from the first festival that we attended.”

Despite recent critical acclaim, the filmmakers agreed Turkey still has a long way to go before it overcomes deeply entrenched institutional homophobia.

According to Article 17 of the health regulations of the Turkish Armed Forces, homosexuality is considered a “psychosexual deviance.”

All Turkish men are required to perform military service. But gay men can be exempted from conscript duty provided they first prove their homosexuality.

“Zenne” depicts the degrading process its main characters endure at an army recruiting center.

In the film, military doctors perform anal examinations and hurl homophobic insults at conscripts. They also demand photos of the characters having sex with other men.

Gay rights activists say the military has long demanded graphic photo and/or video evidence from men asking to be released from military duty.

“In the photograph and the video you have to show your form and your face. Your face has to be clearly identified and another man has to be penetrating,” said Kursad Kahramanoglu, who teaches international law and human sexuality at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.

CNN asked Turkey’s defense ministry to comment on what gay rights groups claim has long been an unwritten military policy.

“The practice of asking for video and photographic evidence is out of question,” a defense ministry spokesman responded, speaking on condition of anonymity, a common practice in Turkish government bureaucracy. “I cannot confirm that it definitely did not happen, but we do not have any information that such a thing happened,” he added.

The spokesman said the current policy is for conscripts to prove their homosexuality with a doctor’s report from a private or military hospital. “The evaluation is made based on the medical report,” he said.

Less than two years ago, a senior Turkish government minister was quoted in an interview calling homosexuality “an illness … that should be treated.”

These types of statements have not stopped members of Turkey’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from demanding equal rights.

Thousands marched in a rainbow-hued gay pride parade through downtown Istanbul last July.

Some of the activists carried large posters of Ahmet Yildiz with the slogan “get the murderer.” Among those marching was Yildiz’s former boyfriend, Ibrahim Can.

“I am fighting for the rights of my lover and for all the gays and lesbians and transsexuals in the world and in Turkey. And I want the Turkish government to change the homophobic attitude in Turkey,” Can said in an interview with CNN.

LGBT activists are lobbying the Turkish government to have the constitution amended to protect the rights of Turks on the grounds of gender and sexual identity. The Turkish Constitution is currently in the lengthy process of being re-written.

Binay, meanwhile, points to what he calls remarkable progress for minority rights in Turkey over the last decade. He said: “All sorts of minorities including gays and lesbians are demanding their rights. They want recognition, they want protection by the state. They want to be able to live, first of all, and not be murdered.”

Marine fights for gay brother's right to marry(CNN) – Craig Stowell fought with the U.S. Marines in Iraq in 2004 and now is fighting for the right of gays, like his brother, to marry in New Hampshire.

“My brother and best friend, Calvin, was tormented all the way through high school because people knew he was gay,” Craig Stowell, 30, said in an online petition seeking to pressure New Hampshire legislators not to repeal the state’s 2009 law that legalized gay marriage.

In a video posted on YouTube, Calvin Stowell described being bullied as a schoolboy because he was gay. “I was constantly asked by my peers: Are you gay? You sound so gay. You walk so gay,” said the 23-year-old New Yorker, who works for a non-profit.

Craig Stowell, who is an information technology director for a cabinet maker in Claremont, New Hampshire, empathized.

“There were nights that I worried I may wake up and he wouldn’t be there any longer; crushed by the misery he was forced to endure. When New Hampshire extended marriage to gay and lesbian couples, two years ago, he finally felt accepted. He finally felt like he belonged. Since that day 1,800 loving and committed gay and lesbian couples have married.”

 

As the New Hampshire Legislature prepares to vote on whether to repeal the law, HB 437, Craig Stowell – who serves as the Republican co-chairman of Standing Up For New Hampshire Families – has launched an online campaign to keep the law as it is.

“If HB 437 passes, same-sex couples will no longer be allowed to marry,” he says in an online petition he has posted at http://www.change.org. “This mean-spirited attack is nothing more than state-sponsored bullying.”

So far, more than 75,000 people have signed it, according to Change.org.

“This campaign is resonating with people not only throughout New Hampshire, but across the country,” said Benjamin Joffe-Walt, a spokesman for Change.org, which hosts online campaigns. “Craig won’t stop defending his brother, and his campaign is inspiring thousands of others to stand up for the people they love, too.”

Craig Stowell said Calvin was his best man at his wedding, and Craig wants to be able to reciprocate. “I want the opportunity to be his best man when he finds the person he wants to marry,” he says in the petition.

But the proposed legislation says marriage between a man and a woman “predates organized government” and is in the best interest of society.

“The vast majority of children are conceived by acts of passion between men and women – sometimes unintentionally,” it says. “Because of this biological reality, New Hampshire has a unique, distinct, and compelling interest in promoting stable and committed marital unions between opposite-sex couples so as to increase the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by both of their natural parents. No other domestic relationship presents the same level of state interest,” the bill states.

The bill was sponsored by about a dozen lawmakers. Calls and e-mails to the sponsors were not immediately returned.

“We’re encouraged that so many have stood up to say that they support this bill,” said Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage. “This is the right thing for the legislature to do, to fix what the Democrats forced down the throats of New Hampshire.”

By Kiran Khalid, CNN

Opinion polls show that the majority of Americans, and the majority of New Jerseyans, favor marriage equality for same-sex couples by Reed Gusciora

christie-gusciora-medical-marijuana.jpgGov. Chris Christie will need some convincing, but Democratic legislators claim they have public opinion on their side as they attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

“We also must recognize that society is changing for the better, making (Assembly bill) A-1 timely,” state Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) said in a Jan. 9 news release. “Opinion polls show that the majority of Americans, and the majority of New Jerseyans, favor marriage equality for same sex couples.”

Between four national polls and two Rutgers University polls, PolitiFact New Jersey found that Gusciora has the numbers to back up his argument. But two other national polls have indicated there are slightly more opponents than supporters.

“It’s not a solid majority yet, but many polls are showing a majority,” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University’s Polling Institute. “(Gusciora is) probably on safe ground with that claim, certainly here in the state of New Jersey.”

First, let’s talk about the state polls.

In each of two polls conducted last year by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, 52 percent of New Jersey residents said same-sex marriage should be legal in the Garden State. The most recent poll, which was done in October, found that 39 percent oppose legalizing same-sex marriage.

For the most recent poll, the margin of error attributed to those percentages was 4.7 percent.

“I think it is a fair statement,” said David Redlawsk, a political science professor and director of the Rutgers-Eagleton poll, referring to Gusciora’s claim. “Nationally, we’re seeing the same general trend.”

Now, let’s turn to how Americans across the nation view same-sex marriage.

Tom Hester Jr., a spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, pointed to a Gallup poll conducted in May, when 53 percent of respondents said same-sex marriage should be legal. That figure marked a nine percent increase over a 2010 poll asking the same question. The margin of error for the May poll was 4 percent.

We also found three other national polls that demonstrate similar support for same-sex marriage.

Two ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted last year put the level of support at slightly more than 50 percent. A CNN poll done in April also found that 51 percent of respondents support legalizing same-sex marriage. The margins of error for those polls was 3.5 percent.

However, when you factor in the margins of error, a majority of Americans might only support same-sex marriage based on one of those four national polls.

Also, two other national polls conducted last year suggest that opposition to same-sex marriage remains strong.

A Pew Research Center poll done in late February and early March found that 45 percent of respondents support same-sex marriage and 46 percent oppose it. That poll had a margin of error of 3 percent.

In July, a Quinnipiac University poll determined that 48 percent of registered voters would oppose a state law legalizing same-sex marriage and 46 percent would support one. The margin of error was 2 percent.

Still, both of those polls demonstrate that public support for same-sex marriage has increased. Compared to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted in April 2009, the percentage of respondents who support a state law allowing same-sex marriage has increased by 8 percent.

Hester defended Gusciora’s claim in an email: “Polls have shown support for marriage equality. Assemblyman Gusciora accurately and responsibly cited those polls. His statement was true.”

Our ruling

Gusciora claimed, “Opinion polls show that the majority of Americans, and the majority of New Jerseyans, favor marriage equality for same sex couples.”

Two state polls and four national polls show that slightly more than 50 percent of respondents support legalizing same-sex marriage. But the margins of error among those national polls could mean greater support than opposition in only one of those polls.

Two other national polls also suggest a closely divided electorate, but still show that public support for same-sex marriage has increased in recent years.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

January 5th, 2012
10:24 AM ET

A new program of the Catholic church in Hartford, Connecticut, minsters to lesbian and gay parishioners. It’s not about their sexual orientation Archdiocese of Hartford Deacon Robert Pallotti told CNN affiliate WFSB, “it’s how they act on it sexually.”

The programs asks people with same-sex attractions to abstain from having sex. Pallotti said it’s a support system that could help people avoid discrimination, and increase support from friends and family.

But the director of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective says the program is offensive.

Posted by The Editors — CNN In America
Filed under: Religion • Sexual orientation • Who we are