Religion News Summary Highlights for May 18, 2012

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Gaining the most media this week was President Barack Obama’s historic, public endorsement of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, and the citation of his Christian faith as a reason for his support. Faith leaders from all denominations weighed in on his speech, including Jewish groups, Unitarian Universalist churches, and many other Christian branches.   Despite some criticism from spiritual advisers to Obama and speculation surrounding voters of color, many clergy of color applauded his support.  The president’s announcement demonstrated that faith has been and often is cited as justification for LGBT equality.  President Obama is not the only politician using faith to support marriage equality, though.  In a much bolder statement, Nancy Pelosi also announced that her Catholic faith “compels” her to support marriage equality for all.

Dominic Sheahan-Stahl, who was disinvited from giving a commencement speech at his alma mater because he is gay, will address the graduating class of Sacred Heart Academy at a separate graduation event, “Live Through Love”.  This week, students at Sacred Heart Academy in Pleasant Hills, Michigan, have released a video supporting his right to speak at the ceremony (see below).  Dominic is not the only example of conflicts between official political stances of religiously affiliated schools and lay religious people who attend them.  Last Friday, Prince of Peace Catholic Academy and College Preparatory officials and the Des-Moines-based Eychaner Foundation reached an agreement on how a $40,000 dollar Matthew Shepard scholarship will be presented to a gay, Catholic senior at graduation.  This came after public outcries on behalf of Keaton Fuller, the senior recipient of the scholarship, when officials originally decided his award could not be presented at the ceremony.