CULTURE DIGEST: U.S. military marches in gay pride parade; Rep. criticizes Pentagon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- For the first time in history, members of the U.S. military marched in uniform at a gay pride event after the Pentagon temporarily lifted its ban on service members wearing uniforms in parades.
The Department of Defense made an exception for service members who wanted to march in uniform in San Diego's Gay Pride Parade July 21 because organizers had requested it and because the event was receiving national attention, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in a video message he intended to remove as many barriers as possible to making the military a model of equal opportunity. The move came just weeks after the Pentagon for the first time observed June as gay pride month.
In a letter to Panetta July 24, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R.-Okla., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the waiver for the gay pride event.
"If the Navy can punish a chaplain for participating in a pro-life event or a Marine participating in a political rally, it stands to reason that DOD should maintain the same standard and preclude service members in uniform from marching in a gay pride parade," Inhoff wrote.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R.-Va., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also condemned the waiver, saying, "I am calling on the Defense Department to halt these dangerous exceptions to policy for political purposes. This decision was an outrageous and blatantly political determination issued solely to advance this administration's social agenda."
Dozens of soldiers, sailors and Marines in uniform marched alongside an old Army truck with a "Freedom to Serve" banner and a rainbow flag in the San Diego parade, AP reported.
Col. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told CitizenLink, "All you have to do is look at videos of the last few San Diego Gay Pride parades on YouTube to see that this event does not meet the guidelines that the DoD established in 2005 concerning the wearing of the uniform at public events. Will wearing the uniform at gay pride parades bring credit to the Armed Forces?"
GAYS SNUB ROMNEY’S RIDE CONDOLENCES -- Members of the homosexual community voiced disdain at Mitt Romney's words upon this weeks death of Sally Ride, whose lesbian status was revealed posthumously.
Ride made history as the first American woman in space as a member of the 1983 Challenger space shuttle team. More than 42 American women have flown into space since Ride's trip, according to NASA.
"Sally Ride ranks among the greatest of pioneers," Romney tweeted when Ride died this week after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. "I count myself among the millions of Americans she inspired with her travels to space."
According to Ride's company, Sally Ride Science, she is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her female partner of 27 years.
Supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community quickly tweeted their offense, citing Romney's support of the Defense of Marriage Act and other legislation considered anti-LGBT.
"Kind of despicable & grotesque that her partner of 27 years will be denied federal benefits, don't you think?" tweeted the indie-rock group Mountain Goats.
Another tweeted, "Surely the Boy Scouts, Boehner, McConnell, Romney, et al. can now explain how Sally Ride could never have been an astronaut and role model."
VA. AG WON'T CERTIFY CLINIC REGULATIONS -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will not certify exemptions for current abortion clinics from health and safety standards set in a 2011 law.
The state Board of Health voted in June to exempt existing clinics from the requirements in the new law. Cuccinelli's office announced July 16 it would not certify those regulations.
"The Board does not have the statutory authority to adopt these Regulations," Senior Assistant Attorney General Allyson Tysinger said in a letter to health officials, according to CitizenLink.
Gov. Bob McDonnell can certify the rules himself or he can return them to the Board of Health with his recommendations for changes, CitizenLink reported.
The law enacted in March 2011 requires abortion clinics to abide by the standards expected of hospitals. Abortion rights advocates heavily criticized the standards. They alleged initially the guidelines, which included size requirements for hallways, might result in the closing of 17 of the state's 21 abortion clinics.
The law is the first in the country to mandate such regulations for clinics performing first-trimester abortions.
Some Board of Health members "appear to have made a decision based on their personal politics rather than women's health and the law," said Virginia Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, CitizenLink reported.
"Requiring that Virginia's abortion centers have adequate facilities for emergency personnel to enter with emergency equipment necessary to transport patients to hospitals is simply a matter of caring about the health of women," Cobb said. "It is sad that the abortion industry is more concerned about their profits than they are about the health of women in Virginia."
Emergency regulations adopted last year for the law are now in effect.
BRITISH WOMEN ABORTING IVF DOWN SYNDROME BABIES -- More than 120 British babies conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) over a five-year period were aborted because the unborn children were diagnosed with Down syndrome.
From 2005 to 2009, government records showed 123 IVF babies were aborted because they apparently had the condition -- meaning women chose to abort their children despite going to great expense and likely waiting several years to conceive a child.
"We have to question the values of a society which focuses so greatly on adult 'wants,'" Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said of the report, according to The Daily Mail.
"That a woman pursues a baby through fertility treatment and then aborts it because it is not perfect is selfish and harsh," she said.
An estimated 90 percent of mothers in the United States and Great Britain who learn their unborn children have been diagnosed with the condition abort them.
Down syndrome normally results when a person has three copies, rather than two, of chromosome 21.
The Daily Mail reported July 15 government statistics showed 127 abortions were performed in 2009 for all reasons on children conceived by IVF and similar methods.
CHINESE AUTHORITIES FORCIBLY STERILIZE WOMAN -- Chinese officials have forcibly sterilized a 46-year-old woman, according to a new report by Women's Rights Without Frontiers.
The forced sterilization occurred in March after the woman and her husband petitioned their local government to enforce a court judgment in their favor involving the death of a daughter, according to a report she posted on the Internet and a phone conversation a Women's Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF) representative conducted with him.
When the husband filed the petition, the town government sent more than 20 men to drag her to the family planning office, where a tubal ligation was performed against her will.
The sterilization occurred though the woman could no longer bear children.
The local government told the husband his wife and he would receive the monetary judgment the court had granted if they did not report the forced sterilization, but they decided to post a report online anyway.
"This incident is evidence of what I have been saying for years: China's One Child Policy is social control masquerading as population control," WRWF President Reggie Littlejohn said in a written statement. "Its primary purpose is no longer to control fertility, but rather to control the Chinese people through terror. Family planning officials function as domestic terrorists. They extort, maim and kill with impunity, to suppress dissent of any sort."
China's coercive population control policy has gained attention in recent months with reports of abortions forced on women in their last trimester of pregnancy.
WAITRESS SUES BOSS FOR INSISTING SHE GET ABORTION -- A Virginia woman has filed suit in federal court in Roanoke against her former employer for firing her because she would not get an abortion.
Abigail Shomo alleged her boss, Leopoldo Florez Aguirre Sr., fired her as a waitress at his Mexican restaurants in Radford and Fairlawn after she refused to abort her child. Aguirre told Shomo "that in his opinion, customers did not want to see 'a belly' on their waitresses; and that customers wanted a slim young waitress," according to the lawsuit, The Roanoke Times reported July 18.
The allegation is "absolutely false," said Keith Finch, a lawyer for the restaurants' owner.
Federal judge James Turk sent the lawsuit to mediation, according to The Times.
Compiled by Erin Roach, Tom Strode and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).