The resignation of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz now means that Austin Quinn-Davidson, an openly gay woman, will be mayor of the largest city in Alaska. Berkowitz, a Democrat from a San Francisco Jewish family, said in a radio debate in 2014:
“I support the idea of adults being able to choose who they have a relationship with. Father and son should be allowed to marry, if they’re both consenting adults—if you’re defining marriage as the bundle of rights and privileges that’s now accrued to people, then yes.”
Berkowitz later remarked that the comment was a “hypothetical insinuation” and denied that he supports incest.
Quinn-Davidson, a 40-year-old attorney, was first elected to the Anchorage City Assembly in 2018 and was re-elected this year. She takes over mayoral duties starting Friday, making her the first woman and the first openly gay person to serve as mayor of Anchorage.
Quinn-Davidson told local news that her priorities as mayor will be the economy and public health issues around COVISD-19:
“To me, this is less about whether I’m a woman or whether I have a wife or a husband and more about solving the problems in Anchorage.”
Local TV news anchor Maria Athens accuses Berkowitz of posting photos of his “male genitalia” on what she called an “underage girl’s website”. Berkowitz, who is married, denied the allegations but eventually admitted to an “inappropriate messaging relationship”.
Her bio on the City of Anchorage website says that Quinn-Davidson and her wife have two dogs and one cat and enjoy spending time hiking and gardening. Since she was a teenager, Austin has followed the motto that “the purpose of life is a life of purpose”. She strives to always be courageous and act with integrity.
Pope Francis has given his most explicit support to same-sex civil unions in a move that is probably going to enrage his conservative opponents in the Roman Catholic church even more.
In an interview in a documentary film, Francesco, which premiered at the Rome film festival on Wednesday, the Pope said:
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
Directed by Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky, Francesco focuses on Francis’s papacy over the past seven and a half years, covering many of the trips he made and his handling of the sexual abuse scandals that have rattled the church. It also shines a light on issues that Francis has made a priority during his papacy: Climate Change, Poverty, Migration and Inequality.
Francis has not previously publicly backed civil unions for same-sex couples since becoming pope, although as he endorsed them when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
My friend James Martin S.J., a Jesuit priest who has argued that the church should be more welcoming to LGBTQ humans, tweeted yesterday:
“Pope Francis’s support for same-sex civil unions is a major step forward in the church’s support of LGBTQ people. It is in keeping with his pastoral approach to LGBTQ people, including LGBTQ Catholics, and sends a strong signal to countries where the church has opposed such laws.”
António Guterres, Secretary-seneral of the United Nations and a devout Catholic, said the pope’s comments were “a very positive move”. Guterres had spoken out very forcefully against homophobia and in favor of LGBTQ rights, saying that people should never be persecuted or discriminated against just for who they love.
The Ozanne Foundation, a gay Christian group, issued a statement that said:
“This will bring hope to millions of lesbian and gay couples around the world and will enable them to know that they have the pope’s blessing to be in a family, and indeed to have a right to a family. His words of comfort show a deep pastoral understanding of the pain that many LGBTQ people have gone through, and provide a significant challenge to all those who see their faith as a reason to discriminate against LGBTQ people.”
Since he was elected pope in March 2013, Francis has used a more inclusive tone towards LGBTQ people in his public statements. Soon after becoming pope, in response to a question about gay priests, he stated: “Who am I to judge?“
Last month, he told a group of parents of LGBTQ children:
“God loves your children as they are. The pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God.”