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NEW YORK — A day before Easter, the head of New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese faced a challenge to his stance on gay rights: the resignation of a church charity board member who says he’s “had enough” of the cardinal’s attitude.

Joseph Amodeo told The Associated Press on Saturday that he quit the junior board of the city’s Catholic Charities after Cardinal Timothy Dolan failed to respond to a “call for help” for homeless youths who are not heterosexual.

“As someone who believes in the message of love enshrined in the teachings of Christ, I find it disheartening that a man of God would refuse to extend a pastoral arm” to such youths, Amodeo said in his letter to the charitable organization last Tuesday.

Phone and email requests from the AP for comment from the archdiocese were not immediately answered on Saturday.

The conflict started with a letter to Dolan from Carl Siciliano, founder of the nonprofit Ali Forney Center that offers emergency services to homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people. He said the cardinal’s “loud and strident voice against the acceptance of LGBT people” creates “a climate where parents turn on their own children.”

“As youths find the courage and integrity to be honest about who they are at younger ages, hundreds of thousands are being turned out of their homes and forced to survive alone on the streets by parents who cannot accept having a gay child,” Siciliano wrote in his letter, sent last week.

Siciliano, who is Catholic, said parents who are strongly religious are much more likely to reject children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Of the nation’s homeless youths, as many as 40 percent are LGBT, studies show.

Siciliano received a response from the cardinal in a letter dated March 28.

“For you to make the allegations and insinuations you do in your letter based on my adherence to the clear teachings of the Church is not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory,” Dolan wrote. “Neither I nor anyone in the Church would ever tolerate hatred of or prejudice towards any of the Lord’s children.”

The response prompted Amodeo to quit the board, said the 24-year-old gay Catholic who still teaches religious education to elementary school children as part of a New York archdiocese program. He’ll be doing that on Easter in a parish near Manhattan’s Union Square.

Amodeo was a member of the executive committee of the junior board of the New York branch of Catholic Charities, one of the largest global networks of charities, started in New Orleans in 1727 as an orphanage.

“Every Sunday, I teach second-graders to ‘love thy neighbor,’ but then, when we as a church have a teachable moment, we fail,” Amodeo told the AP in a telephone interview.

He said the cardinal “failed to respond to a call for pastoral assistance, to answer the question, ‘What can we do together as a church and as a people for youths who are homeless?”

Dolan leads one of the nation’s largest archdioceses — which has 2.6 million Catholics — and is president of the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Last summer during New York’s same-sex marriage debate, the prelate warned that the proposed legislation — which later passed — was an “ominous threat” to society.

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By VERENA DOBNIK

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: 12:59 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012

 

On a snowy night last January, Rick Welts had dinner in New York City’s Upper East Side with longtime friend and public-relations veteran Dan Klores.

Then 57 and the president/CEO of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, Welts revealed to Klores that he had been thinking about coming out publicly as gay.

“I didn’t know how big, how [ much of an ] impact story might have, how important of a story this might be,” Welts said.

In fact, Welts admitted he didn’t even know if it was newsworthy at all.

Klores assured him that, yes, it was definitely newsworthy—and he offered to help with his coming-out. Klores connected Welts with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dan Berry of the New York Times. “That was a holy cow moment for me,” Welts told Windy City Times, “because I didn’t know [ how big of a story it would be; ] I was just too close.”

Berry eventually spent three days with Welts in Phoenix, “and I had never been interviewed by anyone quite the way Dan did,” Welts said.

Berry had an attention to meticulous detail that was nothing short of extraordinary, Welts said. He asked Welts about past meetings that he was in, and Berry wanted to know specifics about the room where the meeting was held, what was hanging on the walls, what people were wearing, and more, not just what was discussed.

“What I purposely didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about was, what would happen after [ the story came out. ] That would have made me crazy,” Welts said.

Then, last May 15, Welts was flying from San Francisco to New York—because Berry’s story was scheduled to run on the front page of the paper the next morning. However, while some 35,000 feet in the air, the story was being posted on the paper’s website.

Welts’ life was changing, literally, right below him.

“I had no idea what was going to happen [ when the story was released ] . It was very surreal,” he said.

Before meeting with Berry, Welts came out privately with several key colleagues and friends within the NBA, including Commissioner David Stern; the Suns’ top player, perennial All-Star Steve Nash; and Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime friend Bill Russell.

All stood behind Welts—personally and professionally.

Welts also, as he was set to leave San Francisco on that Sunday, emailed about 100 in his inner circle, including family, friends and business associates. He wanted each to know personally that the story was breaking.

“What I never could have anticipated [ once the story was published ] was the reaction I received from the general public,” said Welts, who has received thousands of emails and more than 100 handwritten letters, plus countless voice-mail messages.

The rich and famous—such as Charles Barkley—reached out and supported Welts. Unknown people from obscure parts of the world also supported him.

Welts is the highest-ranking executive in men’s professional sports to acknowledge publicly that he is gay.

The response to Welts’ coming-out, about eight months later, has been 100-percent positive and supportive, he said.

“I do think last year was kind of a watershed [ year ] , in terms of the discussion [ particularly about gays in sports ] ,” said Welts, whose coming-out, interestingly, coincided with that of CNN anchor Don Lemon.

Welts’ revelation also led to the coming out of ESPN Radio announcer Jared Max in New York.

Also last spring, the NBA initiated a relationship with GLSEN to broadcast public-service announcements ( PSAs ) during the NBA playoffs. In fact, when Welts returned to Phoenix from New York, two Phoenix Suns players—Grant Hill and Jared Dudley—were filming the PSA.

Despite the PSAs, Kobe Bryant was caught uttering an anti-gay comment during a broadcast last spring, and Chicago Bulls superstar Joakim Noah also spat anti-gay venom during a game in 2011.

“It was an amazing series of events” in a short period of time, Welts said, “and I do think it raised the quality of the dialogue pretty significantly over that period.”

Four months after the New York Times story, Welts resigned from the Suns, telling team officials he was determined to mesh his personal and professional lives. He moved to the Bay Area to be closer to his partner, Todd Gage, but Welts’ retirement was short-lived. He was soon hired by the Golden State Warriors as the team’s president and COO.

Welts, with about 40 years of experience in the league, is back in the game—energized and excited to bring a winning team back to Northern California.

“I think the interview I had for this job was fascinating to me as a gay man because it was the first time in my life, in a professional environment, that I ever sat down with a potential employer who completely knew my story beforehand,” Welts said.

Welts was two hours into the interview with the two primary owners of the Warriors before one casually—almost matter-of-factly—asked about that New York Times story and its affect, particularly with the team owners in Phoenix.

Welts’ coming-out was a non-issue with Phoenix—and his orientation is a non-issue with Golden State.

“Perhaps there’s a lessening of the real or perceived barriers of what there is between sexual orientation and sports,” said Welts, who, in mid-January, said he finally is close to catching up with the correspondences he’s received since last May when he came out.

He printed out every email, a stack that’s now about a foot high, perhaps more. He’s saving each, though isn’t exactly sure what for.

“If there was, or is, the ability to affect the life of somebody who had lived the [ kind of ] life that I had lived, [ and ] was struggling to know whether they could pursue what they really felt was their passion in life because of who they were, and this could change their opinion or give them hope that they really could be successful and happy, then whatever else would come my way would be worth it,” Welts said.

He was expecting at least 10 percent of all post-coming-out correspondences to be negative, anti-gay, perhaps even hate mail or death threats.

But not one has come, which he said is, “completely shocking.”

“I was prepared for something different, and that’s been the best part of the experience,” Welts said. “Now it’s a case of, what do I do with that.”

Welts said he left the Suns with the intentions of not working for a while, perhaps writing a book or expanding his work as a public speaker. Until the Warriors came calling. Now the book is on hold, though he definitely plans to write one, eventually.

The Suns’ owner actually called the Warriors to suggest/recommend they contact Welts.

Welts, now 58, spent nine years with the Suns, serving as the president and CEO for the last two seasons.

Before joining the Suns, Welts had a successful 17-year ( 1982-1999 ) career at the NBA league office in New York, where he ascended through the ranks to eventually become the league’s third-in-command as the executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties.

Welts began his career in the NBA in 1969, at age 16, as a ballboy with the Seattle SuperSonics. He spent 10 yeas with his hometown SuperSonics serving a number of roles, including director of public relations during back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals ( 1978 and 1979 ) and the team’s lone NBA championship in 1979.

His lifelong friendship with NBA icon Russell was rooted in their Seattle days.

Welts was photographed in 2011 for the popular NOH8 Campaign and was given the U.S. Tennis Association’s ICON Award.

Welts truly is a legend under the rainbow.

However, he admitted to Windy City Times, he’s still trying to figure out what he can do to best impact the LGBT community: “I feel I have an obligation to continue to be part of the discussion because of the platform I’ve been given [ in my job ] . However, I don’t know yet how to have the greatest voice.”

Welts said he has seen “a lot of progress” in the gay community. After all, he had an uncle, Dr. Bob Welts, who also was gay, though Welts didn’t find out that his uncle was gay until he was in his late-20s. The two were very close, Welts said. “Hearing his stories … clearly, I feel very blessed to be living when I am as opposed to any other time in this country’s history.”

Welts’ coming-out also impacted his 13-year-old niece, Lexie Schulte, of Indianapolis, who he said was his favorite call that he made last May when he came out publicly.

She claimed her “coolness factor” at school had gone up about tenfold when people found out that Welts was her uncle.

“I thought back to when I was 13, and I don’t think that news would have been dealt with the same way [ by ] my peers,” Welts said. “That was the best call of the day for me.”


By Ross Forman, Windy City Times 2012-04-04

MENY Logo

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Rules

California’s Prop 8 Unconstitutional
A federal appeals court panel ruled that a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California violated the US Constitution. The three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court, by a 2-1 margin, ruled that Proposition 8 served no legitimate or rational state interest other than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

The panel found Proposition 8 – passed by California voters in November 2008 by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent –  unconstitutional under the US Constitution as it took away from same-sex couples in California a state sponsored right they already had in direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause which protects minority groups from being targeted and deprived of fundamental existing rights without a legitimate state reason.

Read the full decision here: prop 8 – Decision – 9th circuit ct – NYT

The two judges in this case stated explicitly they were not deciding whether there was a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

“All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same sex-couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation ‘marriage,’…Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California.” – Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Prop 8 decision, 02/07/12

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGES IN CALIFORNIA:
As this ruling is expected to be appealed, the stay against same-sex marriages will most likely stay in place during the appeal process.

Marriage Equality New York applauds the Court’s decision and will continue to press for full marriage equality in California and across the nation.

ABC News  – Jan 24, 2012 12:57pm
gty cynthia nixon nt 120124 wblog Cynthia Nixon: Gay by Choice?

Cynthia Nixon, right, and Christine Marinoni. (Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Cynthia Nixon stands by her statement that she is gay by choice, despite the backlash she’s received from members of the gay community.

The “Sex and the City” star recently clarified remarks she made during a speech to a gay audience in which she declared, “I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.”

The remark caused a stir in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Nixon told last Sunday’s  New York Times magazine that she was pressured to change what she said, “because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice.

“For me, it is a choice,” Nixon told the Times. “I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.”

Nixon, 45, is engaged to her long-time partner Christine Marinoni, who gave birth last February to their son, Max Ellington Nixon-Marinoni.

“I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive,” she told the Times. “I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.”

Before her relationship with Marinoni, Nixon was in a 15-year relationship with college sweetheart Danny Mozes. Nixon and Mozes, who split in 2003, have two children together, 15-year-old Samantha and 9-year-old Charlie.

A year later, Nixon went public with her romance with Marinoni.

“I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here. It matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not,” she told the Times about her decision to be with Marinoni.

But gay blogger and activist John Aravosis said Nixon does a disservice to the gay movement by using the word “choice.” She should have said she is bisexual, not choosing to be gay, he wrote on the AmericaBlog Gay website.

“If you like both flavors, men and women, you’re bisexual, you’re not gay, so please don’t tell people that you are gay, and that gay people can “choose” their sexual orientation, i.e., will it out of nowhere. Because they can’t,” he wrote. “Every religious right hatemonger is now going to quote this woman every single time they want to deny us our civil rights.”

Nixon recently appeared with a shaved head on “Live with Kelly.” Her new look is for her upcoming role in the Broadway play “Wit” in which she plays a professor stricken with ovarian cancer. Nixon, herself, dealt with a bout of breast cancer in 2006.

By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, January 24

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he’d veto a gay marriage bill if it reaches his desk, threatening to upend Democrats’ efforts to push through the Legislature a bill legalizing the same-sex unions.

Christie told a town hall audience in Bridgewater that an issue of such magnitude deserves to be voted on by residents, and he urged Republican lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment that would appear on a statewide ballot. The Democratic Senate president swiftly condemned that idea, saying civil rights issues should not be subject to a vote.

“This is a huge societal change … it needs a lot of consideration,” the first-term Republican governor said during the event at a Jewish community center. “There are very passionate people on both sides, so let’s have at it. Let them make their opinions known and I’ll make mine known.”

“Whether or not to redefine hundreds of years of societal and religious traditions should not be decided by 121 people in the Statehouse,” Christie added.

Christie’s statement, his most explicit on the issue, came as Democrats in the Senate were holding a hearing on gay marriage legislation. While campaigning for office, he said he thought voters should decide on any such major change in law.

During the Senate hearing, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said gay couples are being denied basic civil rights under the state’s civil union law. Sweeney was the first to testify on a bill he’s sponsoring to allow gay couples to marry.

A similar bill failed two years ago.

Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat who didn’t vote last time, has had a change of heart and is now sponsoring the legislation.

“Civil rights is not to be placed on the ballot,” Sweeney said upon hearing Christie’s comments.

Sweeney said it’s time for New Jersey to join six other states and 10 countries that sanction gay marriage.

Earlier, 127 professors from 48 law schools around the country signed a letter saying New Jersey’s civil union law cannot be fixed.

The professors, including New Jersey former Public Advocate Ron Chen, say the law granting gay couples the benefits of marriage without the title will never be equal to the right to marry.

The letter was sent to Christie, a Catholic, and the Legislature.

Christie on Monday nominated an openly gay black man to the state Supreme Court. During a news conference that followed, he said he would look at the gay marriage bill if it gained momentum, though he was unlikely to alter his opposition.

ThinkProgress By Igor Volsky on Jan 23, 2012

Ken Hutcherson, Washington’s leading anti-gay pastor, ranted against same-sex marriage in his testimony before the Senate Government Operations Committee this morning, arguing that by approving marriage equality, lawmakers would have to assume that they “know better than God”:

HUTCHERSON: I think that you are saying, as a committee and as a legislature that you know better than God, since you think that it is a very minded, bigoted, not understanding and loving thing to limit marriage to one man and one woman…If you pass this bill you’re just as narrow minded, you are just as bigoted and you’re just as unloving to everything and everyone who wants to get married outside of one man and one woman, two men and two women. But since you think God is not smart enough to make it fair, you’re saying that you’re smart enough to make it fair.

Watch it:

Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, also condemned same-sex couples for filing “petty” complaints of discrimination, including lawsuits against Bed & Breakfasts that refuse to rent a double rooms to gays and lesbians. “They would have gladly rented them separate rooms, but that was not good enough,” she remarked. Watch it:

Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced her evolution toward same-sex marriage and pledged to legalize the practice before the end of the legislative session. The state legislature is reportedly just one vote away from approving the measure.

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Two other witnesses argued that gay people live short life spans and likened gay relationships to The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) :