May 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Episcopal Church ordains 2nd openly gay bishop

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Episcopal Church has ordained its second openly gay bishop.

Church spokesman Bob Williams says the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool of Baltimore was consecrated May 15 at a ceremony attended by 3,000 people in Long Beach, Calif., according to the Associated Press.

Glasspool and another female bishop are also the first two women bishops ordained in the 114-year history of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Glasspool and the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce were elected last December.

In a profile published on the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles web site, Glasspool said it was during her college years that she realized she was called to serve in the ministry. She noted it was during this same time that she realized her sexual orientation.

“Both these areas were sources of intense struggle for me, as I wrestled with such questions as did God hate me, since I was a homosexual?” she said. “Or did God love me? Did I hate — or love — myself? Was it really possible, not to mention appropriate, for women to be priests?”

After being ordained in 1981, Glasspool said she met her partner Becki Sander in Boston as she was studying for a dual degree in theology and social work. The couple has been together since 1988.

In 1992, Glasspool began a nine-year stint as rector at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Md. Glasspool said she strove to be truthful about who she was and “when asked directly about my sexuality, I responded honestly and directly.”

Glasspool became canon to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland in 2001, where she remained until becoming bishop of the Los Angeles diocese.

The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused turmoil in the church in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Breakaway Episcopal conservatives have formed a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America.

Atlanta AIDS initiative unites many to focus on policy

ATLANTA — Clergy, elected officials, the medical community, activists and advocates for HIV/AIDS prevention are joining forces to fight the epidemic in the African-American community.

The Associated Press reported that the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS is opening an Atlanta affiliate. The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, will lead the group.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that Atlanta has the 11th-highest AIDS rate in the country.

Warnock said most efforts in the city have been centered around education, treatment, prevention and basic services. The commission’s work will focus on public policy issues including legislation, school curriculum and educating clergy on addressing the disease.

Puerto Rican pleads guilty in killing of gay teen

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A man accused of decapitating a gay teenager and burning his body pleaded guilty to first-degree murder May 12 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The Associated Press reported that the case gained national attention because activists demanded that U.S. authorities prosecute it as a hate crime, with supporters holding vigils in a dozen cities including New York and Los Angeles.

Police said Juan Martinez Matos, 26, told them he hated homosexuals but that he had offered the victim cocaine in exchange for sex.

The body of 19-year-old college student Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found in November along a rural road in the southeastern mountain town of Cayey. Lopez was well known as a volunteer for organizations advocating HIV prevention and gay rights.

“Nothing is going to bring Jorge Steven back, but today, a bit of justice was done,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

Martinez’s attorney, Celimar Gracia, told Primera Hora newspaper that prosecutors dropped several weapon-violation charges in exchange for the plea.

“He felt this was the best way to end this case,” Gracia was quoted as saying.

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