One of these days, Weblog will be able to highlight an item that has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. But what's news is news …

British Columbia court joins Ontario in allowing same-sex marriage
"And now the regular book says the man and woman may kiss," United Church minister Tim Stevenson, a homosexual member of the Vancouver City Council, said during the marriage of Tom Graff and Antony Porcino. "The two men may kiss."

Within an hour of the British Columbia Court of Appeal's decision yesterday to lift a ban on same-sex marriages, churches in the province were concluding their ceremonies.

In May the British Columbia court had ruled that banning same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, and ordered the Canadian government to change the definition of marriage to the union of "two persons to the exclusion of all others." However, it gave the government until July 12, 2004, to change its laws, and put a moratorium on gay weddings in the meantime.

The Ontario Court of Appeal's ruling last month that immediately changed that province's definition of marriage means the suspension was no longer necessary, and in fact harmful, the court ruled yesterday. "It is … apparent that any further delay in implementing the remedies will result in an unequal application of the law between Ontario and British Columbia," it said.

"That's two provinces down, and may they all fall quickly like dominoes now," Jane Hamilton, one of the lesbians involved in the B.C. lawsuit, told The Globe and Mail of Toronto.

That's precisely what conservative religious groups in Canada are worried about. Upset that the government will not appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision, two coalitions have asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

"We believe the Ontario Court of Appeal decision is deeply flawed and must face the scrutiny of the country's highest court," Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, says in a press release. "We are dismayed that the Ontario Court of Appeal would declare that heterosexual marriage, an institution which has served humankind for millennia, is unconstitutional, discriminatory and, by implication, contrary to Canadian values."

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is part of the Interfaith Coalition on Marriage, a partnership with the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops. The other petitioning group, the Association for Marriage and the Family in Ontario, is made up of Canadian advocacy organizations, such as Focus on the Family Canada.

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"Quite frankly, this is action the federal government should be taking," said Focus Vice President Derek Rogusky says. "However, given that they have abdicated their leadership and ignored the will of the public, we have no choice but to step in and appeal this fundamental issue to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Whether the two groups have standing to appeal is a matter of some debate. They were both "party intervenors," which grants them more standing than if they were "friends of the court," but less than if they were one of the main parties in the case.

More articles

More on same-sex marriage:

Gay bishop resigns in Church of England:

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Other sexual ethics articles:

  • Where does Anglican balance of power lie? | Has the Anglican Community become a democracy, in which the populous countries of the developing world now have the decisive voice? (Robert Pigott, BBC, video)

  • Lutherans struggle to accept gays | A minister's baptism of a lesbian couple's boy has divided a Durango church, leading about 60 people to quit (The Durango Herald, Colo.)

  • Gays win the numbers game | When is the Church of England going to realize that homosexuality is now more popular in Britain than Christianity? (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, London)

Bush's trip to Africa:

Faith-based initiative:

  • Faith-based leaders question administration's commitment | Church leaders who say they represent millions of mainline Protestants are accusing the Bush administration of not going far enough to address poverty across America (Fox News)

  • Also: God and taxpayers | With his faith-based initiatives, President Bush is starting to look like the Penzance police, in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, who sing that they will march against the foe but never leave the stage (Editorial, Palm Beach Post)

Church land usage cases:

  • Bible group's lesson in freedom | Group was recently allowed to return to senior center after being told it could no longer use the facility (The Times, Trenton, N.J.)

  • Town, church are urged to settle suit | A federal trial is scheduled to resume this month in the case of a Northbrook church that has sued the village after it was barred from worshiping in an industrial park warehouse (Chicago Tribune)

  • Justice dept. takes up a little church's zoning fight | Hale O Kaula, a nondenominational Christian church, would like to build a proper sanctuary, but the Maui Planning Commission, citing traffic and safety concerns, has turned it down. In response, the church has sued (The New York Times)

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Persecution and violence:

  • Report: China detains five clergy | The five were detained Tuesday in the city of Baoding when they were they were on their way to visit Rev. Lu Genjun, who was recently released from a labor camp, said the Cardinal Kung Foundation (Associated Press)

  • Catholic priest murdered in Pakistan home | George Ibrahim had received death threats after his church took over a school in eastern Pakistan (Associated Press)

  • Yemeni appeals death sentence for American missionary murders | Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel's lawyers, who say the death sentence was politically motivated, asked for leniency on Monday, saying Kamel should have been tried by an Islamic court and not a civil court (Reuters)

  • Laos wants St. Paul pastor to admit to killing | A St. Paul pastor imprisoned in Laos will be released if he acknowledges guilt and drops his right to appeal, a representative of the country's Foreign Ministry said in reports published Monday (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

India's religious survey:

  • Census Director's order creates tension | An innocuous order of an IAS official on conducting a detailed study of churches and mosques in Kerala has triggered off an unnecessary controversy, generating considerable tension among the minority communities (The Hindu, India)

  • Christians not to cooperate with survey | The Christian institutions in Kerala will not cooperate with the Union government, until a satisfactory explanation was given on the need to conduct the Census survey on the Christian-Muslim places of worship, says Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil (Sify, India)

  • Christian families 'reconvert' to Hinduism | Fifty-six families in Mahasamund district in Chhattisgarh have "reconverted" to Hinduism from Christianity (PTI, India)

  • RSS now fears Pope is challenging sovereignty | The RSS termed as condemnable the statement of Pope John Paul II criticizing the laws banning conversions by force, fraud or allurement, promulgated by certain states in India, as "unjust" (The Indian Express)

  • NSCN (IM)'s conversion drive draws flak | There are now allegations that party members are allegedly on a drive to convert locals to Christianity (, India)


  • Rev. Norman J. O'Connor, 'jazz priest,' dies at 81 | During his decade at Boston University, Father O'Connor also became known as a jazz writer, contributing a weekly column to The Boston Globe and articles to Down Beat, Metronome and other magazines (The New York Times)

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  • Protest mars vigil for Venezuela cardinal | Ignacio Velasco, an outspoken leader of the Venezuelan Church and critic of President Hugo Chavez, died early Monday at the age of 74 (Associated Press)

  • Service held for slain Fort Worth pastor | Gregory Wayne Spencer, known for holding free funerals for gang members, was remembered by thousands of mourners at a memorial service Monday, two weeks after he was found hogtied and strangled in a motel room (Associated Press)

  • Iowa man drowns at Cornerstone Festival | Corey Finton, 23, was being taught to swim by a group of friends he had met at the festival (The Daily Ledger, Canton, Ia.)

Clergy and crime investigations:

  • Preacher on fraud charge | The Rev Raymond Heap, allegedly preyed on pensioners by pretending he was investing their money and they were helping the church (Liverpool Echo, England)

  • Parish seeks restitution from its former pastor | A small, historic Denver parish has accused its former pastor of filching more than $70,000 in church funds, including the bingo money (Rocky Mountain News)

  • Pastor in Gaines inquiry resigns | The pastor of a church in which University of Pittsburgh football player Billy Gaines fell to his death while intoxicated resigned last week, according to church officials (The Washington Post)

Clergy sex abuse:

  • Pastor resigns after child abuse allegations | Pastor Andy Goffinet resigned his position as senior pastor at the First Evangelical Free Church Sunday after claims of child sexual abuse (WQAD, Rock Island, Ill.)

  • Navy punishes chaplains for sexual abuse | The Navy has punished more than 40 chaplains over the last decade for offenses ranging from sexual abuse to fraud — a misconduct rate much higher than for other officers, according to documents that detail the Navy's alarm at the problem (Associated Press)

  • Beliefs: The untold fallout of the clergy abuse scandal | Patrick J. Schiltz argues that current litigation over sexual abuse by the clergy, besides posing economic peril for religious institutions, is rife with implications for religious freedom (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  • Boston church leader hires lawyer known for settlements | The move buoyed plaintiffs' lawyers (The New York Times)

  • The itinerant friar in the cathedral | The contrast could not be greater between Bishop O'Malley and his discredited predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law, who tolerated the sexual abuse of dozens of children by rogue priests (Editorial, The New York Times)

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  • Dismissal of abuse charges angers accuser | Prosecutors dismissed charges against former priest George Neville Rucker after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state law that erased the statute of limitations in many decades-old molestation cases (Associated Press)

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