So much for tolerance: David Karp of The St. Petersburg Times reports on the controversy raised after a Tampa City Council member, John Dingfelder, invited an atheist to give the invocation at this week’s council meeting. In what seems like a timely rejoinder to the arguments of pro-prayer councils, the fallout in Florida indicates nothing like respect for all faiths: three of the six council members walked out rather than listen to an invocation from someone who does not believe in God; one woman wrote Dingfelder that he had lost her vote (also telling him, “‘I also believe there is good in every soul, but I would not invite a rapist or thief to my home for dinner to prove it.'”); and the chairman of Atheists of Florida was the recipient of a hateful message left on his answering machine, telling him he needed “‘to be exterminated.'”

”’This is a beautiful, beautiful day. Today marks a triumph of decency over discrimination,'” said Maine state Rep. Benjamin Dudley at a news conference attended by Gov. John Baldacci and other state leaders. Yesterday Maine became the sixth state to recognize same-sex partnerships in some manner, following the April passage of a law sponsored by Dudley that extends inheritance rights and next-of-kin status to surviving domestic partners — gay, lesbian and heterosexual.

The Vatican solves the Venus-Mars debate once and for all with their new “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World”: “‘Every outlook which presents itself as a conflict between the sexes is only an illusion and a danger…nourished by a false conception of freedom,'” the document states. John L. Allen Jr. of The National Catholic Reporter writes that the document, which holds that male/female differences are so fundamental that they will endure even in the afterlife, also “recommends cultivation of ‘feminine values’ such as ‘listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.’ At the same time, the document insists it is not urging women to ‘a passivity inspired by an outdated conception of femininity.'”