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The fight over gay rights

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									The fight over gay rights                                                   Time, November 1st, 2004

  Moves to give gay couples the same status as       man Catholic bastion, politicians from all par-
heterosexual ones have reopened the fault lines      ties met to discuss whether the constitution
between Europe’s religious and secular institu-      should be changed to give homosexual couples
tions. Rocco Buttiglione, a close friend and a       the same rights as heterosexual ones. In Eng-
biographer of the deceased Pope John Paul II,        land, the leaders of the worldwide Anglican
cited his Roman Catholic faith and said he con-      Communion issued a report saying that if its
sidered homosexuality a “sin” and marriage an        pro- and anti-gay factions couldn’t reconcile
institution intended to give women “the right to     their differences then “we shall have to begin to
have children and protection of a man”. Many         learn to walk apart”. In Sweden the evangelical
committee members of the European Parliament         pastor Ake Green is appealing a one-month pri-
were furious at what they considered such bla-       son sentence for preaching that homosexuality
tantly discriminatory views from a man who           represents “a deep cancerous tumour in socie-
would be tasked with defending sexual equality       ty”. In Italy the Vatican’s political influence re-
and demanded that the Commission’s President         mains strong enough to keep gay rights off the
either sack Buttiglione or move him to another       official agenda. The Italian parliament passed
post. Although Europe has a long tradition of        one of the most stringent assisted-fertility laws
protecting gay rights, Denmark was the first to      in Europe – it bans donor sperm, donor eggs
introduce registered partnerships for gay coup-      and surrogate motherhood, which same-sex
les in 1989, while Dutch legalized same-sex          couples could use to have children and limits
marriages in 2001. What’s remarkable in this         assisted-fertility treatments to “stable” hetero-
battle is how deeply each side feels itself a vic-   sexual couples.
tim of the other’s intolerance.
                                                       Church and state can still clash – with power-
  Most Christians think homosexuals should be        ful and unpredictable results. Cultural and reli-
able to get married, polls show that 60% of          gious fault lines have opened up around issues
Spaniards support legalizing gay marriage. In        like stem-cell research, therapeutic cloning,
Italy the Vatican’s political influence remains      assisted reproduction and euthanasia, but gay
strong enough to keep gay rights off the official    rights is perhaps the most divisive. In politics
agenda. It’s not just Roman Catholics, who           the only relevant issue is: are you in favor of or
struggle with gay rights; bitter rows over homo-     against discrimination? The fight over gay
sexuality have ruptured the 70-million strong        rights seems to burn for a while.
Anglican Communion. A panel set up by Arch-
bishop of Canterbury – Rowan Williams – pub-          “We haven’t seen an attack against religious
lished its recommendations on how to defuse a          freedom like this since the end of World War
crisis that boiled over when American Episco-          II. It’s a new witch-hunt”, so Carlo Giovanar-
palians consecrated an openly homosexual bis-          di, Italy’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
hop and a Canadian diocese authorized church          “What the church is doing is fighting against
blessings for same-sex unions. Those opinions          citizens. As secularism grows stronger and
may reflect popular secular opinion in some            stronger every day, the role of the Church is
parts of North America, but they have infuriated       growing smaller and smaller”
conservative Anglicans all over the world.            “The bible is very clear. We see [homosexua-
                                                       lity] as a sin”
  In Spain, where the battle rages fiercest, the      “Is homosexuality genetic or an evil force
Socialist government has launched a radical re-        playing mind games with people”
form of family law that will grant gays and les-
bians full legal status as parents and allow them        to be intended for – bestimmt sein für
to marry. The Socialist-led government will al-          faction - Splittergruppe
low homosexuals to marry and adopt children.             fertility - Fruchtbarkeit
The church has called on Spanish Catholics to            donor – Spender
fight the legislation. Pedro Almodóvar, a Spa-           clash – zusammenstoßen
nish film director, finds the clerics’ opposition        stem-cell - Stammzellen
self-defeating. In Ireland, another former Ro-           surrogate motherhood - Leihmutterschaft

Handout for report                      7th form, June 14, 2005                         Sabine Leitner
     History of the homosexual                      exchanging vows3 in two-minute ceremonies. A
                                                    conservative group, the “Campaign for
    community in San Francisco:                     California Families”, called the marriages a
  The community developed at the end of the         shame.
World War II. Thousands of soldiers came back         San Francisco’s mayor – Gavin Newsom – or-
to the US via San Francisco. A remarkable           dered the county clerks4 to begin issuing marri-
number of homosexual men stayed in the city.        age certificates to same-sex-couples, which was
A growing community grew up along “Polk             a sign of “Anti-discrimination”. Thousands of
Street” between Sutter1 and California. Later       same-sex couples were married in the city bet-
the community moved into “The Castro”2,             ween 12 February and 11 March. The court
where it remains today. California gave birth to    ruled that Newsom had overstepped his autho-
two major organizations for gay rights: “The        rity and so California’s Supreme Court annulled
Mattachine Society”, founded in 1951 by Henry       about 4,000 gay marriages that took place there.
Hay in Los Angeles, and the “Daughters of             Up to now, Massachusetts is the only state
Bilitis”, a lesbian organization established 1955   currently recognizing gay marriages. The marri-
in San Francisco. In 1969 a columnist for the       ages had no legal value, but they angered
“San Francisco Examiner” described homo-            conservative groups.
sexuals as “semi males”, “drag darlings” and          President George W. Bush strongly opposes
“women who aren’t exactly women”, which had         gay marriage and is seeking to change the US
a peaceful walkout as a consequence, but things     constitution to specify that marriage can only
got violent and the police had to step in. The      take place between a man and a woman.
rage against intolerance was ap-
pearing on all fronts. At the Natio-
nal Gay Liberation conference in
August 1970, among other thing,
the use of the term “gay” instead of
“homosexual” was introduced. By
mid 1970s the gay community
craved a more central role in city
politics. The emphasis in the gay
movement shifted abruptly in the
1980s, when the AIDS epidemic
struck the community – AIDS has
had a dramatic impact on “The
Castro”. It’s no longer the constant
party it once was. The gay com-
munity has developed its own                            Gay marriage is already banned in 38 states.
organizations, such as the “Gay Men’s Health
Crisis” to publicize information about the             Gay Pride Parade in 1996 – San Francisco
disease, available treatment and safe sex.          Sources:
                                                     http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/02/12/gay.m
  Del Marti, 83, and Phyllis Lyon, 79, who have       arriage.california.ap/
been a couple for more than 50 years, were the       http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanfra
first same-sex couple, who married legally on         ncisco/0029033660.html
February 12, 2004 in the US. Afterwards gay          http://lesbianlife.about.com/cs/wedding/a/lesb
couples were lining up at the City Hall and           iansmarry.htm
                                                     http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3560050.
                                                      stm.
1
  A settlement close to Sacramento – The             http://www.wikipedia.org/
capital of California
2                                                   3
  a street in San Francisco, which is known for         Gelübte
                                                    4
being the heart of S.F.’s gay community                 Angestellten
Handout for report                     7th form, June 14, 2005                         Sabine Leitner

								
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