Wisconsin
The Madison Catholic Diocese has stoked outrage after it told priests that they should reconsider providing last rites to people in same-sex relationships, the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

A weekly newsletter to priests in the Madison Catholic Diocese by Bishop Robert Morlino’s top aide spelled out a series of “considerations” to use in deciding whether to provide funeral rites for people in same-sex unions, angering gay advocates who slammed it as offensive.
The confidential email, sent Saturday by Vicar General James Bartylla with Morlino’s backing, said rites “may be denied for manifest sinners” if providing the services would cause unavoidable “public scandal of the faithful.”
In Catholic doctrine, the word “scandal” can refer to something that is believed will lead others into sin or cause a confusion or weakening of others’ faith. Other parts of Bartylla’s message, published Sunday in a progressive Minnesota religious blog called Pray Tell, said “general considerations” priests should keep in mind if asked to perform Catholic funeral rites by the deceased’s family or same-sex partner include whether “the deceased or the ‘partner’ was a ‘promoter of the gay lifestyle.’ ”
The “attitude” of the deceased’s family members, especially toward the Church, and whether the deceased person showed “some signs of repentance before death,” also were cited as prominent considerations.

NBC15 reports on a petition asking for the Madison bishop to be removed:

This petition comes the Associated Press reports Morlino sent an email to priests suggesting “considerations” to funeral rites for people in same sex unions.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Vicar General James Bartylla sent an email to priests Saturday, with the bishop’s approval, that says rites “may be denied for manifest sinners” if they would cause unavoidable “public scandal of the faithful.”

The message laid out “general considerations” for priests asked to perform Catholic funeral rites by a deceased person’s family or same-sex partner, including whether “the deceased or the `partner’ was a `promoter of the gay lifestyle.”‘

The city of De Pere is considering adding gender identity protections to the city ordinances, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports:

A proposal to ban discrimination against transgender individuals won support Monday from more De Pere officials.
The city’s Board of Health on Monday signed off on a draft ordinance that would prohibit businesses, employers and landlords from discriminating against people who identify as transgender and gender non-binary.
While federal and state nondiscrimination laws apply to a wide range of protected classes, they do not cover gender identity and gender expression. The proposed measure would fill that gap within city limits, according to City Attorney Judith Schmidt-Lehman.

Under the proposed ordinance, anyone who claims to have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the city and violators could be fined.

Iowa
The trial against the person accused of murdering Kedarie Johnson began last week, Radio Iowa reports:

The trial gets underway today of a man accused in last year’s murder of a 16-year-old Burlington High School student.
Jorge Luis Sanders-Galvez will face a jury in South Lee County as a national spotlight is shone on the March 2016 murder of Kedarie Johnson — a popular student who identified as “gender-fluid,” meaning he sometimes identified as a woman.
Johnson was found shot to death in a Burlington alleyway.
The prosecution is expected to argue that Sanders-Galvez intended to have sex with Johnson but became enraged when he discovered that Johnson was “biologically male.”

The Des Moines Register Editorial Board praises Jeff Sessions for assigning a prosecutor in the murder investigation of Kedarie Johnson, but also criticizes him for repealing protections for transgender Americans:

A rose to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for assigning a prosecutor to the case of Kedarie Johnson, a 16-year-old gender fluid resident of Burlington, Ia.
Christopher J. Perras of the Justice Department’s civil rights division will assist Iowa officials in the prosecution of Jorge Sanders-Galvez, who is charged with first-degree murder in Johnson’s shooting death in March 2016.
The New York Times reported that the move to add Perras was “personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
Our rose is cautionary, however. Sessions has promised to “enforce hate crime laws aggressively and appropriately where transgendered individuals are victims,” as he told a summit in June. But he’s also reversed protections for transgender people, declaring that federal civil rights law “encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity, per se, including transgender status.”

Three Iowa cities earned a perfect score on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, the Des Moines Register reports:

Iowa cities are doing a better job of protecting the rights of gay and transgender residents than most U.S. cities, according to a new report from the country’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Iowa City all received perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Municipal Equality Index.
Three other Iowa cities — Des Moines, Dubuque and Sioux City — scored higher than 90 percent on the group’s assessment.
All nine Iowa cities included in the report scored higher than the national average: 57 points.

The inaugural Transgender Education Summit will be held in mid-November, KWQC reports:

Iowa Safe Schools will host its first ever Transgender Education Summit Friday, Nov. 17.
The summit will provide educators in Iowa information and tools to improve their school’s culture and climate surrounding transgender students.
“10% of transgender students will attempt suicide during their lifetimes,” Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director Nate Monson said. “This summit will provide tools and resources for educators, administrators, and schools officials on creating safe and inclusive environments for transgender students across Iowa. Furthermore, this is monumental in equipping educators with increased mental health awareness amongst students and providing active solutions for at-risk individuals. At the end of the day, it is about keeping all of our kids safe no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

South Dakota
Pierre, South Dakota, received a zero on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, and city leaders aren’t happy — but aren’t interested in changing, the Capital Journal reports:

The nation’s largest group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered [sic] civil rights, said this month that Pierre is one of 11 U.S. cities scoring zero on its Municipality Equality Index aimed at measuring the level of inclusion in city laws for LGBT people.

Pierre Mayor Steve Harding said he thinks the survey is unfair and misses the mark.
“I’m just surprised by the results,” he said when told of the survey. “We don’t discriminate against anybody. The whole city is that way.”
It appears the HRC did the survey “without even talking with anyone at the city,” Harding said.
Pierre City Commissioner Jim Mehlhaff dismissed the survey, telling the Capital Journal that Pierre, with 14,000 people, can’t be expected to have the resources that come with, say, a city of 100,000 or 1 million people.
“I find these tests that score cities and states to be very misleading. I believe South Dakota scores well behind Illinois and New Jersey on the corruption index, yet (those two states) have former governors and senators in prison or on trial for corruption.”
“I suspect if a Jewish organization scored cities based on the laws they have in place to protect Jews, we would score low on that as well,” Mehlhaff said. “We would probably score low on being welcoming to Catholics and Lutherans too.”

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The hyperbole of the Bishop was just that, yet meant to be taken literally for those seriously following it.
    Catholics of today have forgotten the namesake of their church, [Christ if you have forgotten] as he would never have the ability to be a catholic, with the laws of today’s Catholic church, and this Bishop included.

    Christ taught acceptance and LOVE ! !

  2. The hyperbole of the Bishop was just that, yet meant to be taken literally for those seriously following it.
    Catholics of today have forgotten the namesake of their church, [Christ if you have forgotten] as he would never have the ability to be a catholic, with the laws of today’s Catholic church, and this Bishop included.

    Christ taught acceptance and LOVE ! !

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