Anti-LGBTQ Christian group buys shuttered gay bar building

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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A Christian group that considers homosexuality to be immoral has bought a building that until late last year housed one of Ohio’s oldest gay bars.

The Blade reports property records show the Bretz Nightclub building in Toledo was bought last month for $148,000.

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Reality TV star resigns from anti-gay Christian group amid molestation reports, judge orders records destroyed

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas police have destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into reality TV star Josh Duggar, a spokesman said May 22, a day after the 27-year-old resigned his role with a prominent anti-gay, conservative Christian group amid reports about sexual misconduct allegations from when he was a juvenile.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which obtained the offense report before its destruction, reports Duggar was accused of fondling five girls in 2002 and 2003. Duggar issued an apology May 21 on Facebook for unspecified bad behavior as a youth and resigned his role as executive director for FRC Action, the tax-exempt legislative action arm of the Washington-based Family Research Council.

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First pride parade in Cyprus draws thousands

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – Several thousand people turned out for Cyprus’ first gay pride parade on May 31, exceeding the expectations of organizers who said the event’s popularity shows that Cypriots are shedding their conservative attitudes.

One of the organizers, ACCEPT-LGBT Cyprus President Costas Gavrielides, said he was overwhelmed because he had expected just a few hundred people to attend the event in the heart of the capital Nicosia.

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8.1.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185Working on the cover story for this issue of Watermark, I was reminded of my own journey toward the acceptance of my sexuality. Like so many, I was told that gay people “choose” who they are because of a blatant disrespect for God.

Even though in my heart I knew that was a ridiculous claim, the message was preached so often that eventually, I believed it. In middle school, when I first noticed other young men-and those hunky men on television-I kept telling myself to quit “choosing” to fantasize about these icons of masculinity. For a short period in college, I ignored my feelings and focused my energy on a Christian campus group. I hoped that activity would help distract me from the men on campus long enough to find that “nice girl” who would steal my attention and my heart.

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U.S. court splits on campus Christian argument

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U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared to split sharply last week on whether a law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group because it will not let gays join.

The court heard oral argument from the Christian Legal Society, which wants recognition from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as an official campus organization with school financing and benefits.

The San Francisco school turned them down, saying no recognized campus groups may exclude people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.

The Christian group requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle” as being inconsistent with the statement of faith.

A federal judge threw out the Christian group’s lawsuit claiming its U.S. constitutional rights of association, free speech and free exercise had been violated, a decision that was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a two-sentence opinion in 2004.

The case could clarify whether religious-based and other private organizations that want federal funding have the right to discriminate against people who do not hold their core beliefs. The court is expected to rule later this year.

Gay couples marry in our nations capitol

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One bride wore a knee-length lace dress and pearls. The other bride wore a yellow shirt and white suit. And when a pastor pronounced them “partners in life this day and for always” Tuesday, they hugged and smiled in front of wedding guests and nearly a dozen TV cameras and reporters.

On the first day same-sex couples could marry in Washington, brides Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend were the first of three couples taking the plunge in morning ceremonies at the offices of the Human Rights Campaign, which does advocacy work on gay, lesbian and transgender issues. Other ceremonies were planned throughout the day.

“Today was like a dream for me,” Young said.

The Rev. Darlene Garner married her partner, the Rev. Candy Holmes, both of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Christian group that primarily serves the gay and lesbian community.

“Equality and justice for all now includes us,” Garner said.

Fifteen licenses were picked up in the first hour the marriage bureau was open and two couples quickly got married and returned to pick up their certificates, courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said. More couples were also coming Tuesday to apply for licenses.

Rebecca and Delia Taylor picked up their license early Tuesday and immediately were married outside the courthouse by a minister friend. The couple said they long ago exchanged rings and considered themselves married. Still, they were grinning after picking up their certificate back inside the courthouse following the ceremony.

“We’ve referred to each other as wives,” Rebecca Taylor said. “It’s just a legal document, so if anything happens to one of us, we have rights.”

But Delia Taylor said she found it moving to recite the vows. “My parents have a wonderful marriage,” she said.

Young and Townsend married in a room with about 100 guests sitting on white chairs and standing next to bouquets of white snapdragons and yellow chrysanthemums, roses and carnations. A cellist played before the ceremony, and cream and gray programs announced the names of the three pairs along with: “Congratulations to the couples on this historic day.”

D.C. bakery Cakelove supplied a three-tiered butter-cream frosted cake with a fresh strawberry filling for each couple.

About 150 couples were eligible to pick up marriage licenses Tuesday after applying on the first day the licenses were made available. Many of them stood in line for four or more hours last Wednesday. Townsend and Young were the first in line that day.

The District of Columbia is the sixth place in the country permitting same-sex unions. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue same-sex couples licenses.

Couples had a variety of plans for their ceremonies. One couple planned to marry Tuesday at All Souls Church, the Unitarian Universalist house of worship where Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill legalizing the unions in December. District residents Eva Townsend and Shana McDavis-Conway said they were planning a wedding Tuesday by their plot in a community garden, where they have grown carrots and potatoes.

Other couples said they already had ceremonies and would simply wed at the courthouse, which has space for about 15 people in a ceremony room. Most of those celebrations will take place during the weeks of March 22 and March 29, courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said.

Normally, the courthouse hosts four to six weddings a day, but over the next several weeks they are expecting 10 to 12 per day because of the demand for same-sex ceremonies. Some courtrooms and judge’s chambers may be used for the ceremonies, with the couple’s OK. The court’s official marriage booklet has been updated so that the ceremony will end by pronouncing the couple “legally married” as opposed to “husband and wife.”