Gay group will march in NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade

It has been announced that one gay group called Out@NBC-Universal, a group of gay employees at NBC, will be allowed to march under their own banner for the first time in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade next year with more allowed to apply for 2016. Catholic cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will be the parade’s grand marshal next year, has said that he welcomes the move.
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When religious beliefs and medical needs collide

Judges have a difficult job. Author Ian McEwan has a long piece where he looks at cases in the UK where the law intersected with religious beliefs. He focuses on the decisions by one appeals court judge Sir Alan Ward who seems to be a remarkably humane and thoughtful judge and how he handled two cases where he had to go against the beliefs of families and the religious institutions they belonged to.
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Great moments in understatements

The Vatican admits that it doesn’t fully understand youth culture. Really? I am so surprised. Who would have thought that adopting reactionary views towards women and the LGBT community would alienate young people? In order to combat this failure, the “Pontifical Council for Culture invited sociologists, Web experts and theologians to a three-day, closed-door event Feb. 6-9 [2013] aimed at studying “emerging youth cultures.””
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Reflections on the PA atheist conference

Last weekend’s conference in Pittsburgh of the PA atheists and humanists was a lot of fun. I have mentioned before that I am somewhat asocial but whenever I do get out to events like this, I have a good time. I met several readers of this blog who introduced themselves to me and I enjoyed talking with them during the breaks and over meals. I knew they were regular readers of my blog because as my talk slides were being readied for projection on the screen, my computer wallpaper that consists of a picture of my dog appeared briefly and they could identify him as Baxter the Wonder Dog!
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Amish convictions overturned

I have previously written about the US Attorney in our region Steven Dettelbach being an overzealous prosecutor. One example of this is his use of civil asset forfeiture laws to deprive people of their possessions without having to first convict them of any wrongdoing. Another is his use of terrorism charges against hapless individuals who were lured into plotting to blow up a local bridge. The third was his use of federal hate crime laws against 16 members of an Amish group that cut off the beards of other Amish people in an internal dispute because one sect’s leader thought that the other Amish were not sufficiently observant and pious. By stretching federal hate crime and conspiracy laws to an extreme level, Dettelbach obtained convictions and harsh sentences against the defendants in each case.
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