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UK Archbishop: Gay Relationships comparable to marriage.

Rowan Williams,Archbishop of Cantebury, believes that gay sexual relationships can “reflect the love of God” in a way that is comparable to marriage.
Gay partnerships pose the same ethical questions as those between men and women, and the key issue for Christians is that they are faithful and lifelong, he believes.

Dr Williams is known to be personally liberal on the issue but the strength of his views, revealed in private correspondence shown to The Times, will astonish his critics.

The news threatens to reopenbitter divisions over ordaining gay priests, which pushed the Anglican Communion towards a split.

However, in an exchange of letters with an evangelical Christian, written eight years ago when he was Archbishop of Wales, he described his belief that biblical passages criticising homosexual sex were not aimed at people who were gay by nature.

He argued that scriptural prohibitions were addressed to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety. He wrote: “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.” Dr Williams described his view as his “definitive conclusion” reached after 20 years of study and prayer. He drew a distinction between his own beliefs as a theologian and his position as a church leader, for which he had to take account of the traditionalist view.

The letters, written in the autumn of 2000 and 2001, were exchanged with Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian living in his former archdiocese in South Wales, who had written challenging him on the issue.

In reply, he described how his view began to change from that of opposing gay relationships in 1980. His mind became “unsettled” by contact as a university teacher with Christian students who believed that the Bible forbade promiscuity rather than gay sex.

Dr Williams, who was ordained a priest in 1978, became a lecturer at Cambridge two years later and was appointed Dean of Clare College in 1984.

He told Dr Pitt that by the end of the 1980s he had “definitely come to the conclusion” that the Bible did not denounce faithful relationships between people who happened to be gay.

He cited two academics as pivotal in influencing his view. One of them was Jeffrey John, the celibate homosexual whom he later forced not to become Bishop of Reading after an outcry from conservatives.

In his 1989 essay The Body’s Grace, Dr Williams argued that the Church’s acceptance of contraception meant that it acknowledged the validity of nonprocreative sex. This could be taken as a green light for gay sex.

Liberals have been bitterly disappointed that a man whom they regarded as chosen to advance their agenda has instead abided by the traditionalist consensus of the majority.

In the correspondence Dr Williams wrote of his regret that the issue had become “very much politicised” and was treated by many as “the sole or primary marker of Christian orthodoxy”.

Asked to comment yesterday, Lambeth Palace quoted a recent interview in which the Archbishop said: “When I teach as a bishop I teach what the Church teaches. In controverted areas it is my responsibility to teach what the Church has said and why.”

Source: The Times (London)

Mardi Gras, Profitable - but for how long?

New Mardi Gras will announce a profit of almost $500K from the last year's activities and a range of community donations at its Annual General Meeting to be held on August 23.

Though a strong profit, MArdi Gras Annual Report marks a 3.5% growth in revenue - but is this strong enough considering the popularity of the 30th Anniversary, and will this translate past last years celebrations?

With last years Sleaze Ball being a production and themeing success, community complaints about Marketing (lack of) and appeal to a wider GLBTI market, caused Sleaze Ball to not turn a sizeable profit.

The costume party is normally the fundraiser for the next years celebrations - so will Mardi Gras adopt new financial incentives to attract memberships or continue as an event management company or return to being the provider of community events AND advocacy for GLBTI rights?

This year will be the first year that Mardi Gras will share back monies with the backers that salvaged it from financial ruin when old Mardi Gras collapsed. Entities like ACON, Queerscreen, Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby will see a portion of the profits.

It will be intersting to also see how the organisation deals with the miriad of community press that it tries to work with, including the Sydney Star Observer, who was dumped by the organisation as its long term print media partner in favour of the gloss party/scene magazine, SX.

Members are expected to be told of the organisation’s plans to move away from the business plan developed by old Mardi Gras and towards a more sustainable model, which is not as reliant on events like the Mardi Gras Party and Sleaze Ball, to raise revenue.

Plans to boost memberships by another 1500 by the end of next year, plans to combine the launch and Fair Day and the expected announcement of substantial NSW Government funding through Events NSW in the coming months are all expected to be outlined to members at the August 23 AGM.

With a new board, new chair and the key event manager and producer not continuing from last year - how do you think Mardi Gras should direct itself?

Would love to hear your comments below!

The Potbelleez Headline Sleaze Ball 2008

Tickets are now on sale for Sydney’s most spectacular costume party. Scoundrels, deviants and mutants can now secure their place for the sexiest and most creative party of the year, Sleaze Ball 2008 –Villains’ Lair.

The full line-up for the party will be announced over the coming weeks, but New Mardi Gras can now reveal the DJs who will play the Hordern Pavilion on October 4th.

Headliners the Potbelleez will be joined by Alan Thompson, Sveta, Mark Murphy and Deepchild. They will perform alongside big production shows, roving entertainment and the Project Sleazeway costume competition.

The Potbelleez are the “fastest rising stars of the dance scene” according to Rolling Stone magazine. Dishing up breathtaking DJ sets over 6 decks, the Potbelleez have proved their ability to make a dancefloor swoon.

Their biggest hit “Don’t Hold Back” was in the top 40 for 23 weeks and the last year has seen them touring widely, DJing alongside the likes of Armand Van Helden, Frankie Knuckles, Axwell and Roger Sanchez.

“The Potbelleez were one of the stars of Mardi Gras 2008 when they rocked the Forum,” said NMG Chair David Imrie. “We had no hesitation in bringing them back to give them a bigger audience in the Hordern.”

“We’ve had great feedback on this year’s theme. After the enormous success of last year’s Zirkus people’s expectations are high, but we’re confident we’ll be able to take it up a level again,” said Imrie.

Tickets are available from Ticketek outlets, at and by phone on 13 2849. Prices are $99 for New Mardi Gras members, $119 for non-members and $79 for concessions.

The Potbelleez play 2008 Mardi Gras in the Forum
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