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Author Jeanne Phillips, the daughter of the original advice columnist Dear Abby poses for a photo at a hotel in Century City in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 5, 2007. Dear Abby is publicly declaring her support for same-sex marriage next week in Washington, D.C. She has hinted at this in past columns, but plans to step it up in the future. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  DAMIAN DOVARGANES, AP

A letter about a couple unhappy with their gay neighbors in Tampa got little sympathy from “Dear Abby” in a column published on Wednesday.

“Gay people don’t choose to be gay; they are born that way,” Jeanne Phillips, the current author of the syndicated advice column, wrote. “They can’t change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.”

In the letter from “Unhappy in Tampa,” a woman complains of being excluded from neighborhood gatherings over her refusal to extend an invitation to two gay couples.

“While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices,” the letter read. “Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!”

The letter, which has sparked interest on social media sites, says “Unhappy in Tampa” and her husband were welcomed quickly by their neighbors after moving to Florida from a conservative community, but did not think they should compromise their values to win their neighbors’ approval.

“But really, who is the true bigot here?” it asked. “Would you like to weigh in?”

Phillips, who under the pen name Abigail Van Buren took over the original column from her mother, responded that the couple would apparently be happier in a neighborhood surrounded by people who thought the way that they did.

“But if you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here,” concluded Phillips, who in 2007 announced that she supported gay marriage. “Please don’t blow it.”

Rev. Frank Schaefer married son

Tim Schaefer is still happily married to his husband and living in Massachusetts, but his father’s career as a Methodist minister in Pennsylvania is threatened.

PHILADELPHIA —A United Methodist pastor from central Pennsylvania was defrocked after officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, a church spokesman announced Thursday.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon had already been suspended. He was scheduled to meet with church officials Thursday morning in Norristown, a Philadelphia suburb.

Schaefer was told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination’s Book of Discipline.

Schaefer performed son Tim Schaefer’s wedding at a Hull restaurant function hall, not in a church.

Schaefer says the book discriminates against gay people. He says he won’t voluntarily surrender his credentials and hopes the church has a change of heart.

Schaefer has planned an afternoon news conference. It will be held at a Methodist church in Philadelphia where an associate pastor was defrocked in 2005 for being in a lesbian relationship.


Ivan Hinton, right, gives his partner Chris Teoh a kiss after taking their wedding vows during a ceremony at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Dozens of same-sex couples from all around the country took advantage of the Australia Capital Territory’s new law allowing same-sex marriages. But the unions will be short lived: The High Court overturned the law on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.  ROB GRIFFITH, AP

SYDNEY – Australia’s highest court struck down a landmark law on Thursday that had begun allowing the country’s first gay marriages, shattering the dreams of more than two dozen same-sex newlyweds whose marriages will now be annulled less than a week after their weddings.

The federal government had challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory‘s law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area starting last Saturday.

The federal government’s lawyer had argued that having different marriage laws in various Australian states and territories would create confusion. The ACT, which passed the law in October, said it should stand because it governs couples outside the federal definition of marriage as being between members of the opposite sex.

The High Court unanimously ruled that the ACT’s law could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act, which was amended in 2004 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples. The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman,” the court said in a statement issued alongside its ruling. “That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage.”

Rodney Croome, national director of the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality, said his group knows of about 30 same-sex couples who have married since Saturday, though the actual number may be slightly higher. The ruling means their marriages are now nullified.

Outside the court in Canberra, a tearful Croome, flanked by several same-sex couples who were married in the past week, said the ruling was a defeat for marriage equality but there had been a greater victory this week.

“And that victory was the nation saw for the first time, I believe, what is really at the core of this issue – they’ve seen that marriage equality is not about protest or politics or even about laws in the constitution, ultimately. Marriage equality is about love, commitment, family and fairness,” Croome said.

The ruling comes a day after India’s Supreme Court struck down a 2009 lower court decision to decriminalize homosexuality, dealing a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India’s deeply conservative society.

Gay marriage has legal recognition in 18 countries as well as 16 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia.