Friday, September 2, 2011

PC Town Hall Examines Role of Religion in Public Policy

(Phoenix, Ariz., Sept. 2) – The role of religion in shaping government policies on gay marriage and other social issues will be discussed during the “Faith and Fairness Town Hall – God, Gays and Government,” Thursday, Sept. 15.

The event, hosted by Phoenix College Student Life and Leadership and the Phoenix College Rainbow Spectrum Club, will feature a panel of speakers drawn from clergy and lay people from the Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Mormon and Christian traditions. The moderated panel will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in Bulpitt Auditorium on the Phoenix College campus, 1202 W. Thomas Road.

“We think it’s an important dialogue,” said Angela Hughey, president of ONE Community, an interactive web and events community for gay, lesbian and allied individuals and one of the event’s coordinators. “Public sentiment toward legitimizing gay relationships has changed in the last few years. We want a good civil discourse on the topic.”

The event is free and open to the public, butt RSVP at reserve your spot. Questions for the panelists can be submitted ahead of time at the same web site.

Speakers include:

Dr. Albert Celoza, Phoenix College Chair, Liberal Arts Department. Dr. Celoza is Professor of Social Studies and Religious Ethics. In 2001, he was named the Arizona Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, Professor of Social Ethics at the Iliff School of Theology and author. Dr. De La Torre is an expert commentator on religious ethics. After a successful real estate career in Miami, Fla., he joined the seminary and eventually obtained a doctorate from Temple University in social ethics.

Ann Gray, a former Roman Catholic educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Jesuits. She is an active volunteer in the Scottsdale Unified School District and Justa Center, a non-profit group serving homeless seniors. She also works for the Scottsdale Unified School District, working with emotionally disabled children. She earned an undergraduate degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio and a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Victoria Washington, defense attorney. She works solely on death penalty cases. Along with her partner Babe, Victoria is raising three girls: a six-year-old and four-year-old twins in the Jewish tradition.

Michael Wright, a practicing attorney and former Mormon Bishop. A trial lawyer and active member of the L.D.S. Church in Mesa, Mr. Wright brings a perspective on LGBTissues that combines his heritage and knowledge of church doctrine with his experience in civil rights law.The

Town Hall will be followed by a two-day conference on Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17 at Asbury United Methodist Church, 1601 W. Indian School Road in Phoenix.

PC students will be allowed to attend Saturday’s conference events, which include a plenary session with Dr. De La Torre, workshops, and lunch. The public can also attend for $15. To register, reply to

“The interfaith movement in our country is important nationally and locally,” said Genesis Toole, Director of PC Student Life and Leadership. “Involving our students, especially theLGBT community, is crucial to the ongoing conversation on inclusiveness.”

In addition to ONE Community, the conference and Town Hall are being presented by Human Rights Campaign and No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice. Community partners are Aunt Rita’s Foundation and Echo Magazine.


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