Friday, February 10, 2012

Dispatches from the Holy War: 02/10

The pastor of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, Michael Demastus, created a minor tempest in a teapot this week by posting his Sunday sermon title, “Gay is not OK,” on the church signboard. Somebody snapped a photo, posted it on Facebook and the rest is history --- sort of.

The Des Moines Register reported, the news spread, an anti-Fort Des Moines Church of Christ Facebook page appeared, the volume of rude comments on its own page caused the church to disable Facebook, etc., etc.

Now it appears there’s the potential for a Sunday standoff at the church door --- the “Gay is not OK” crowd inside, the “Gay is OK” crowd outside with, perhaps, a contingent of police to pass the peace. What fun.

I got to thinking about what would happen if the churches in Chariton started taking potshots at each other on their signboards --- and admittedly we’d have to level the playing field by ensuring that all churches had comparable signs; some currently are challenged in this department.

Let’s say Sacred Heart started the fight with, “Luther was a big crybaby.” A block south at the big stone church, “At least there’s a Method to our madness” could be posted in response.

Out at St. Andrew’s, we’d add, “Catholic lite’s best: Gay bishops, women priests and wine with meals, too.”

Then at First Lutheran, “No photo identification required at our communion rail,” and at First Christian, “We’re Disciples and you’re not. So there.”

“To hell with those other Baptists” would work for at least two congregations.

That’s as far as I could go on the spur of the moment this morning, but feel free to carry it farther (be nice, however).

In the brave new world department, the Iowa Department of Public Health continues to struggle with the fact it’s probably going to have to acknowledge in its record-keeping both parents of children born to lesbian couples without forcing parents who do not actually give birth to adopt.

Polk County District Court Judge Eliza Ovrom ruled during January that the Department of Public Health must issue a new birth certificate to Melissa and Heather Gartner for their 2-year-old daughter, Mackenzie.

The state appealed that ruling last week, arguing that “it is a biological impossibility for a woman to ever establish legal paternity of a child,” which of course is true --- but then neither mother was seeking to establish paternity, just parenthood.

And male partners in heterosexual relationships who shoot blanks are routinely recognized as parents when donated sperm is used in the conception process.

In a sadder but related case, Lambda Legal has joined forces with a same-sex couple from Davenport, Jessica and Jennifer Buntemeyer, whose infant son was stillborn last September.

In this instance the Department of Public Health removed the name of the non-birth parent from the infant’s death certificate, using the same reasoning it applied in the birth certificate case.

The Buntemeyers have filed suit to have the names of both parents restored to the certificate.

It will be interesting, and I’d guess expensive, to see how these related situations are resolved.


Finally, Washington Gov. Christine Gregorie will sign Monday legislation making her state the seventh (including the District of Columbia) to legalize same-sex marriage. The Washington House passed the measure 55-43 last Monday.

And, in California, a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court decision that the state’s voter-approved “Proposition 8” gay marriage ban was unconstitutional on the rather narrow grounds that it denied gay men and lesbians a pre-existing right.

It’s always possible that the decision will not stand, but if it does it certainly would have precedent implications in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal, if the Republicans managed shepherd into our Constitution an amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Here's perhaps the most moving statement that emerged from the same-sex marriage debate in the Washington House --- by Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh.

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