Friday, December 18, 2009
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the bill Friday in a public ceremony.
The city council passed the measure Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the city. Congress has final say over D.C.'s laws, however, so the mayor's signature doesn't mean the bill immediately becomes law.
The bill must pass a 30-day period of Congressional review.
Supporters expect Congress won't touch the law and that gay couples may be able to wed in the district as early as March. Opponents, however, plan to fight the bill.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The Religion Newswriters Association surveyed more than 100 religion journalists to devise a list of 2009's top 10 religion stories. Six of them are God & Country-style faith-in-domestic-politics stories. In 2000, only three of the RNA's top ten religion stories fell into that category.
I'm guessing that the spike has to do with the increasing politization of American religion, the expanding role of faith in politics and policy, the advances and attempted advances of the gay rights movement, the shrinking number of dedicated religion reporters (hence less focus on pure religion stories), the shrinking number of U.S. foreign correspondents (hence less focus on overseas religion stories), and the media's growing interest in politico-religious controversies.
Here's the list of stories in the order selected by members of the Religion Newswriters Association:
1. President Obama pledges a new beginning in Muslim-U.S. relations and reaches out to the world's Muslims during a major speech at Cairo University.
2. Health-care reform, the No. 1 topic in Congress for most of the year, involves faith-based groups appealing strongly for action to help "the least of these," and others, such as the Roman Catholic bishops, for restrictions on abortion funding.
3. Because Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.
4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country's leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs.
5. Mormons in California come under attack from some supporters of gay rights because of their lobbying efforts in the November 2008 election on behalf of Prop. 8, which outlawed gay marriage. Later in the year, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire approve gay marriage, but it is overturned by voters in Maine.
6. President Obama receives an honorary degree and gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame after fierce debates at the Roman Catholic university over Obama's views on abortion.
7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a committed monogamous relationship, leading a number of conservative churches—known as the Coalition for Renewal—to move toward forming a new denomination.
8. The recession forces cutbacks at a great variety of faith-related organizations—houses of worship, relief agencies, colleges and seminaries, publishing houses.
9. The Episcopal Church Triennial Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops, ignoring a request from the archbishop of Canterbury. At year's end Los Angeles chooses a lesbian, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop. Earlier, an elected bishop in Upper Michigan, Kevin Thew Forrester, is rejected because of his extreme liberal views.
10. President Obama's inauguration includes a controversial invocation by Rick Warren and a controversial benediction by Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Bishop Gene Robinson.
A priest speaks over the coffin of Walter Trochez during his funeral in Tegucigalpa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. Trochez, a human rights activist who was active in the gay community, was killed Sunday in Central Park. Supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya blame security forces for his death, while police officials deny that claim. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
By FREDDY CUEVAS (AP)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran police promised to thoroughly investigate the killing of a gay rights activist who joined in protests against the June coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
The anti-coup National Resistance Front said gunmen in a car shot Walter Trochez on Sunday as he walked in downtown Tegucigalpa. Friends rushed him to a hospital, where he died.
"Trochez was an active militant in the resistance and an example of the fight against the dictatorship," the group said in a statement released on the day the victim was buried.
The front, which until recently staged daily protests to demand Zelaya's restoration to the presidency, blamed the attack "on the repressive forces that the oligarchy uses to stop the demands of the Honduran people for liberty and democracy."
Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said Tuesday that the case was "being exhaustively investigated." He named no suspects but dismissed the possibility that police were involved.
The front claimed that Trochez, 27, was often harassed and threatened by police and soldiers because of his activism on behalf of homosexuals.
A Honduran rights group said Trochez was briefly kidnapped Dec. 4 by four masked men who beat him. The assailants threatened to kill Trochez because of his participation in the anti-coup movement, the International Observatory on the Human Rights Situation said.
International rights groups have denounced widespread repression under the government of interim President Roberto Micheletti, the former congressional leader who took power after soldiers ousted Zelaya on June 28. The coup came after the president continued a campaign to change the constitution despite the Supreme Court ruling his effort illegal.
Several anti-coup activists have been killed during protests, while security forces have raided the offices of groups opposed to the Micheletti government. Police say the raids are part of investigations into homemade bombs that have periodically exploded in the Central American country since the coup.
There also have been a string of killings of government security officials and relatives of politicians, including a nephew of Micheletti, but there is no indication those slayings related the coup. Political assassinations are not uncommon in Honduras, which has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America, much of it related to the drug trade.
Months of international pressure failed to restore Zelaya to finish his four-year term, which ends Jan. 27. Diplomats are now focused on producing a deal that would allow Zelaya to leave Honduras without being arrested on treason and abuse of power charges.
On Monday, the United States and Brazil urged Micheletti to step down, saying his resignation would allow Zelaya safe passage out of Honduras.
Micheletti dismissed that idea Tuesday. He told HRN radio he planned to stay in power until the new president-elect, Porfirio Lobo, takes office next month. Lobo, a wealthy conservative rancher, won the Nov. 27 presidential election, which had been scheduled before the coup.
Zelaya, who is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, vowed in a statement not to renounce his claim to the presidency.
Last week Micheletti's government stopped two attempts by Zelaya to leave Honduras because the ousted leader refused to concede he is no longer president.
Late Tuesday, the Micheletti government said it would seek Honduras' withdrawal from a Venezuela-led trade bloc known as ALBA. The government will introduce a motion in Congress on Wednesday to have Honduras drop out of the bloc, said chief Cabinet minister Rafael Pineda.
Honduras joined ALBA in August 2008 as Zelaya sought closer relations with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — an alliance that alienated the Honduran business community and most of Zelaya's own political party.
Chavez stopped oil shipments to Honduras to protest Zelaya's ouster.
"The decision was made because some presidents who belong to ALBA. have been disrespectful and offensive against a friendly country like Honduras," Pineda said.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
CFE BOARD PRESIDENT NEIL THOMAS VOWS RENEWED COMMITTMENT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN LIGHT OF NY DEFEAT
"This vote in New York once again demonstrates that the arm of justice runs long and while today we suffer another set-back, we will one day prevail and marriage "equality will be a reality, not only in New York but throughout the world.
California Faith for Equality, along with people of faith and good conscience throughout this country are joining with the lesbian and gay community today with a renewed commitment to full equality. While our Constitution declares, "justice and liberty for all" that is what it must be - All and not just some!"
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Wall Las Memorias Project
November 19, 2009
Keith Malone, (323) 514-3282
Eastside World AIDS Day Observance
Honors the Memory of AIDS Activist & MTV’s
The Real World’ Star Pedro Zamora
With Zamora’s sister and niece in attendance, organizers of the event will launch a
campaign to ask the U.S. Postal Service to honor Zamora’s legacy with a stamp.
WHAT The late Pedro Zamora, AIDS activist and star in the third season of
MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” series will be posthumously
honored and his name will be etched on the granite panels of the AIDS
monument at Lincoln Park on the eastside of Los Angeles.
As part of the evening’s ceremony, attendees will be asked to launch a
petition drive to honor Zamora’s legacy with a stamp.
His name will be unveiled along with other names that have been
added recently. They join more than 400 names that already grace the
granite panels of Las Memorias, a 9,000 square-foot monument.
More than 500 individuals, including partners and spouses, parents,
children and others who lost loved ones to AIDS will attend the
evening’s ceremonies which include a mix of spirituality and faith,
education and prevention, and advocacy.
Pedro Zamora’s sister, Mily Zamora and her daughter
California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo
Jonathan Murray, creator of “The Real World” (MTV)
Anticipated: Members of the cast of “Pedro,” a biopic of Zamora’s life
which aired April 1 on MTV, MTV Tr3s, mtvU and Logo.
Richard Zaldivar, founder and executive director, The Wall Las
WHEN Tuesday, December 1, 2008, beginning at 7 p.m.
WHERE Lincoln Park at 3540 Mission Road in Lincoln Heights. The monument
is located directly across from the DMV offices and next to Plaza de la
ETC. The Wall Las Memorias Project (www.thewalllasmemoriasproject.org)
is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among
Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS by using the inspiration of
The AIDS Monument as a catalyst for social change.
# # #
Thursday, November 19, 2009
According to the cliché, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. LAvander Los Angeles seeks to educate the queer community on its own history so we can learn from past mistakes and continue to build on the successes of our pioneers in order to secure a brighter tomorrow. One of the great heroes of the movement on whose shoulders many of us stand is the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Church.
On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, California Faith for Equality and Roots of Equality co-hosted "A Night with Rev. Troy Perry." 25 people gathered to hear the legendary hero who married his first gay couple in 1969 and tried to sue the state of California for its recognition -- only to be laughed at and dismissed by the courts back then. No one is laughing now. Rev. Troy Perry also fasted to raise money to help defeat the Briggs Initiative -- and won! As one of the co-founders of Christopher Street West Gay Pride Parade, Troy wanted to make sure LGBT people were visible and once and for all assert that closets are for clothes! Now retired, Troy still finds time to be grand marshal at Pride parades and continues the struggle for equality and social justice.
Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, ordained with the Metropolitan Community Church and Interfaith Organizer for California Faith for Equality, asked Troy what advise he would give young people today. He responded by saying, "Young people need to stick with the movement and not just give up after one or two losses." Indeed, after Prop 8 in California and Question 1 in Maine (as well as 31 states total with discriminatory marriage/family policies), it would be easy to feel discouraged and leave the movement, but Troy, having founded MCC 41 years ago (a year before the Stonewall Riots in New York), is a living testament to the power of faith and patience. He also encouraged the LGBT community to make sure people of faith are on the forefront of this movement. This is the work that California Faith for Equality continues to embark in.
Monday, November 9, 2009
November 3rd 2009
This week, I attended two of the California Faith for Equality statewide demonstrations for equal rights in California. Orange County’s service had about 80 people present and San Diego had about 50 people for a lunchtime “60 Minutes for Equality” service. North San Diego County had over 100 people meeting on Monday evening, one of the largest gatherings in the region. I commend California Faith for Equality and her partners for this demonstration of clergy and lay opposition to the current status quo. Like it or not, clergy continue to be the gatekeepers of marriage in California, Maine and every other state in the union. The LGBT community and those who advocate for equal rights, if they have not realized this fact by now, may see the defeat of equal rights in Maine as a wake up call to engage more deeply with the religious dimensions to marriage. Until recently, the religious dimension has been strategically avoided by the equality camp. Maine has changed that.
One of the marks of a healthy marriage is tenacity and good communication. This past year has been difficult for us in California where a slim majority of the electorate stripped the constitutional rights of LGBT citizens and to limited future state sanctioned marriages between a man and a woman. In spite of this blow, the LGBT community and our allies have shown remarkable tenacity in continuing to engage voters who disagree with us. Tenacity and good communication! Equality California, one of the leading statewide movements for LGBT rights has for example continued to have over 600,0000 conversations this year and hired twenty full time field managers. They in turn train thousands of volunteers to go door by door to “Yes on 8” voters to present another story and to show the disparity in rights. This process is to be commended, as it is about engaging in deeper conversations where we are discovering meaning and community in this new engagement with one another. Much of the experience we gained in California last year was utilized in Maine and Washington, where the rights of fellow Americans are being stripped away yet again by the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership and funding. Not only are the constitutional rights of fellow Americans under threat, but the freedom of religious leaders to respond pastorally and liturgically to same gender couples continues to be compromised. 6,000 clergy in California are, (from our interpretation of scripture, from a pastoral and justice perspective), unable to function fully as pastors to all members of our congregations, even when the vast majority of our membership are willing to celebrate sacramental marriages with same gender couples. Some of us feel torn between our official role as agents of the state in officiating at weddings and being pastors to all our people, including the LGBT community. To discriminate, as enforced by the Department of Public Health’s current policy not to grant marriage licenses to same gender couples, runs contrary to many of our religious convictions of serving an inclusive faith community where all God’s children are welcomed and where the sacraments are open, (as in my Episcopal tradition), to all the baptized.
Some of us are now refusing to sign any state marriage licenses until we can sign licenses for all whom we discern to be called by God into a sacramental marriage. Others are continuing to bless and celebrate marriages of couples who come to us. Where the California electorate is almost evenly divided on this issue, the religious community cannot be forced to follow the edicts of a state department that is advocating the theological and political views of the slim majority. Either civil marriage is open to all couples, (as is the case in some states, in most European countries, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) or there needs to be a religious exemption clause that will allow the 6,000 clergy here in California to respond to the call of God and define marriage as our faith communities allow. Historically, the church defined and controlled marriage until the civil role of registering marriages was taken over by the state. Throughout this state control, the Roman Catholic Church for centuries has delineated civil and sacramental marriage. When the state dissolves a marriage in divorce, there is a portion of that contract that the Roman Catholic Church claims the state has no jurisdiction over. Hence there is a need for a process of annulment to dissolve the marriage. The Roman Catholic Church has set a precedent, and 6,000 clergy representing mainstream churches, the Jewish community and other faith traditions should learn from this tradition and apply it to our current dilemma. Historically, there is a part of the sacrament of marriage that the state does not control, that is claimed by the authority of the faith community and God alone.
Roman Catholics tenaciously hold the right to use this privilege for their own interpretation of marriage, but will they allow clergy and congregations who might share some of the similar views of what makes a sacramental marriage to do the same? In other words, can we continue to bless and sanctify same gender marriages within our faith traditions even thought they are not recognized by the Department of Heath? Can a state employee who has not professional theological or religious credential tell 6,000 clergy in California their marriages are not “sacramentally” valid?
I recently married a couple who were legally married in California but did not have a religious ceremony. They told me they did not feel “married”. They wanted a ceremony where they could demonstrate their love and commitment in front of friends and family and they wanted a religious leader there to perform the ceremony. We planned a sacramental marriage, and even though it was not a legal service (no state forms to sign), for everyone present. This was an actual marriage and in the eyes of the community present, Aaron and Rusty moved from being a partnered couple to being married.
One of the ways forward and avoid the 50/50 popular vote “standoff” that we will soon find ourselves in may be for the religious and state communities to come to terms with the complexity of this issue and to develop an agreed simple solution. The constitution should allow for all responsible adult citizens to marry the person they love and want to spend the rest of their lives with. The state will remain responsible for the registration of all marriages through the existing licensing process. The religious community should also be allowed to define marriage as they understand it and not be forced to do something which is contrary to that understanding. Even though the larger Christian church has no agreed definition of marriage (or divorce), there is agreement that the state should not use its civil authority to impose the theological and political views of a slim majority upon everyone.
Shannon Minter, the attorney who argued the case for same gender marriages before the Supreme Court would invite us all to appeal to our consciences and to invite those couples who are currently denied their full civil rights to indeed live as if we were married. More and more couples in California and other states, as a common act of conscience and in defiance of a great social injustice, (often portrayed with a religious mask of orthodoxy) will come to us seeking God’s blessing and the blessing of the friends and community. We cannot be totally defined by a department of state, or by the will of the slim majority. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion is core values in our democracy and the pillars of church and state must always stand apart.
Dr. Margaret Farley, a Roman Catholic ethicist from Yale in her book “Just Love” gives us some insights into what a new and inclusive ethic for marriage might look like. She creates a 21st century model of what it means to live in and to bless a “sacramental marriage” that is built upon her Roman Catholic background and broader Christian experience. Her model applies to heterosexuals principally, but is inclusive of same gender couples.
Principle 1: Self determination –is an affirmation by each partner of what it means to be a person rather than “scooping you into my agenda”. This demands the ethic of mutual respect for persons as ends in themselves and not to harm them “unjustly”) Farley has worked in difficult contexts like Africa where gender inequality is one of the major reasons for the increase of HIV infection in women. Her context is compelling as she notes this principle has been dangerously absent in many heterosexual relationships.
Principle 2: Respect for the autonomy of the other –ensuring the free consent of sexual partners. This should include truth telling and promise keeping.
Principle 3: Equality of Power which ensures the protection of the vulnerability of the other to allow for possibilities of growth.
Principle 4: Commitment –an enduring love in which each person can learn to be faithful and hope-full.
Principle 5: Fruitfulness, which in traditional Roman Catholic teaching was focused solely on reproduction of children. Farley expands this model to talk about both the creation of children and the possibility of being called in a “fruitful” sacramental relationship the care of other people’s children. How do we create institutions that create safety and security for future generations? For Farley, non procreative relationships for heterosexual and same gender couples can be fruitful and therefore sacramental.
Farley is one ethicist who is struggling with traditional church teaching and the possibilities a new ethic for sacramental marriage. Her emerging framework is both challenging to heterosexuals who seek to live out sacramental marriages and to same gender couples who may be called to the same holy lives. Dare the state or the church tell us that we should not affirm and bless them on their journeys? She also challenges us to think more deeply about what makes a marriage successful, like tenacity and good communication as I addressed earlier. Love can help a married coupled but it is often not enough to sustain the challenges faced by two human beings. She challenges us to inject the concept of justice into our ethic of marriage as a more stable and helpful concept. Equality in marriage is not only something we should wish for the LGBT community, but equality may be an essential antidote to breaking the contemporary pattern of one in two American marriages failing. Most clergy see our work to connect all people with one another and to affirm our inclusion in a mysterious creation, that we believe has meaning purpose and we experience that more clearly in deep loving relationships. The struggle for marriage equality for LGBT people is connected to this larger search for meaning and love and to discover helpful ethical frameworks that hold people and families together. To attempt to exclude us or prevent us from fulfilling this vocation with, LGBT couples, our faith communities, families and allies, I believe is to do a great disservice to this higher calling.
Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is Vice President for National Affairs with Integrity and serves on the California Council of Churches Impact Board. He serves as clergy in St. Paul’s Cathedral San Diego and works for Equality California.
Between 80-100 people gathered at Church of the Foothills Disciples of
Christ/United Church of Christ for a time of prayer/reflection/and
inspiration to keep the faith for equality. Religious leaders and secular
activists and organizers came together for an evening of support and sharing
of incredible stories of courage and overcoming discrimination and pain.
Beth Severson and the Unison Interfaith Choir of Orange County made a debut
performance, singing "For Good" from Wicked, The Musical, and "One Power--"
a song reminding us of our common humanity. There was also a point when
Misha Houser shared a moving Gaelic song, encouraging us to draw from the
light of the candles and chalice into our hearts to warm our spirit and
illuminate our path.
Some of the comments from the evening include:
"I know one day soon we are going to have marriage equality and look back on
events like tonight and remember how they brought our community together."
"It was a joy to come out singing for marriage equality, something very dear
to my heart!"
"It was a beautiful service."
Thursday, November 5, 2009
“ People voting on the issue of gay marriage are not voting against homosexuality, they are voting in favor of time-in-memorial tradition that falls into the most basic category of preservation of the species (reproduction). ”
By Mary Frances Schjonberg, November 04, 2009
Episcopal Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen T. Lane said Nov. 3 that he joins the "many Episcopalians [who] are deeply grieved" by Maine voters' rejection of that state's same-gender marriage law.
At 1 a.m. Nov. 4, with 87 percent of the state's precincts reporting, 52.8 percent of Mainers had voted to repeal the law, versus 47.2 percent who voted to keep it, according to the Portland, Maine, Press Herald newspaper.
In a statement posted on the diocese's website, Lane said that many faithful Episcopalians "had hoped that they and their families might enjoy the recognition and protections afforded heterosexual couples."
"The rejection of the law also feels like rejection of them as persons. I join in their grief that the right of same-gender couples to enter into a lifelong, monogamous marriage has been denied," he continued. "At the same time I know there are other faithful Episcopalians who are thankful about the election results. I understand that this matter has been a matter of conscience for them."
In April, Lane had submitted testimony in favor of the then-proposed law during a legislative hearing. Maine Governor John Baldacci signed the law in May, but it never took effect because of a petition drive that succeeded in placing the question on the fall general election ballot.
Lane said in his statement that after the governor signed the law he began work on a set of guidelines for clergy to use with legal same-gender marriage. "These guidelines will not be distributed," he said. "However, I will continue to work with a small group to consider the ways we may support the faithful, monogamous relationships of faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians."
During the Episcopal church's July 8-17 General Convention in Anaheim, California, deputies and bishops passed Resolution C056 calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships to be considered at the next meeting of convention in 2015. Meanwhile, the resolution said, "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."
In Anaheim, Lane had sponsored Resolution B012 which asked for that permission. That resolution was melded with others and the original C056.
The Episcopal Church in Maine will continue to welcome to all people, Lane said in his statement, and "we will continue to strive for justice and peace among all people."
"Whether you are saddened or thankful, please know that you remain in my prayers," he added.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
CALIFORNIA RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL MAINE VOTE TO REPEAL SAME SEX MARRIAGE A TRAVESTY & TRAGEDY
"Today we share the sadness of the people of Maine who narrowly lost a chance to affirm equality for all, by taking away the right to marry from same sex couples. We condemn the use of lies and fear tactics used to manipulate the true issues of this race. Maine is the 31st state to block same sex marriage through a public referendum. It is tragic when Americans vote to take away the rights of their fellow Americans. We need to recalibrate our moral compass to reflect the true American values of liberty and justice for all, not just some,” said Samuel M. Chu, a Presbyterian pastor and Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality.
“Yesterday the forces of fear and hatred won in Maine. The religious right wing has once again written their theology into the state constitution,” said, Rabbi Denise Eger, President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and founding board member of California Faith for Equality (CFE). “As a rabbi, I speak out against their manipulation of our civic rights and responsibilities. As a rabbi whose faith demands inclusion, I will not allow their Christian right wing theology to affect my ability to practice my faith. This is a travesty for Maine and for our country. "
The Reverend Dr. Neil Thomas, Sr. Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles and President of the Board of CFE echoed, “Today I grieve with the same sex couples in Maine that voters succumbed to the lies and the rhetoric that, once again used faith language to deny equal rights to all of God's people. It is a sad reality that fundamentalism, specifically fundamentalist Christianity, has distorted the values and life of Jesus who, in his ministry sided with the poor, the disenfranchised and those who were a minority. While we know that today is a sad day for justice and full equality in Maine, our country and the world, CFE will continue to raise its religious voice in support of those on the margins and follow the precepts of all faith systems that preach justice, love, hope and equality.”
The Reverend Canon Susan Russell, a priest at All Saints Church, Pasadena and immediate past President of Integrity USA, a gay advocacy group in the Episcopal Church, said, "I'm surprised I can still be disappointed by those who are willing to legislate away the civil rights of other Americans. Thank God we didn't have referendums in 1954 or Brown v Board of Education would have been toast."
Pastor Chu concluded, "We are reminded today that change is always hard fought and incremental. We have lots of work to do. We must learn to embrace and engage people who are different. We must embrace the teaching of our faith traditions and love our neighbors as ourselves. We must not take away the same rights we hold dear, from other minority groups because they are different than we are. We must embrace ‘the other’, ‘the stranger at the gate’. It is truly time for love and compassion to overcome fear and hatred. We will not rest until all families, all children, all human beings have theopportunity to be recognized as equal."
California Faith for Equality is a network of over 6000 faith and religious clergy and lay leaders who support equality.
November 5, 2009
Loss in Maine Sets Back Gay-Marriage Drive
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
They had far more money, ground troops and political support, and geography was on their side, given that New England has been more accepting of same-sex marriage than any other region of the country. Yet gay-rights advocates suffered a crushing loss in Maine when voters decided Tuesday to repeal the state’s new law allowing gays and lesbians to wed, setting back a movement that had made remarkable progress nationally this year.
Maine became the 31st state to block same-sex marriage through a public referendum, a result that will force supporters to rethink their national strategy at a crucial time for the movement. With 84 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the repeal proposal had 53 percent of the vote, even though polls had indicated the race was a dead heat.
This year three other states — Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action. Maine, with its libertarian leanings, had seemed to offer an excellent chance of reversing the long national trend of voters rejecting marriage equality at the ballot box.
Some said the loss was a sign that the state-by-state approach favored by the largest gay-rights groups had failed and that the focus should move to reversing the federal ban on same-sex marriage, which Congress can reverse without voter approval. Others argued that the defeat only reinforced the need to keep winning grassroots support.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of the national gay-rights group Freedom to Marry, said the loss in Maine underscores "the fact that we need to continue those conversations and make ourselves visible as families in communities."
He added, "It shows we have just not done it long enough and deep enough, even in a place like Maine.”
But Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the conservative Christian group that is leading the charge against same-sex marriage around the country, read the outcome differently.
"It interrupts the story line that is being manufactured, that suggests the culture has shifted on gay marriage and the fight is over,” she said. “Maine is one of the most secular states in the nation, it’s socially liberal, they had a three-year head start to build their organization and they outspent us two to one. If they can’t win there, it really does tell you the majority of Americans are not on board with this gay marriage thing."
The next battlefields are New Jersey and New York, whose Democratic governors were pressing lawmakers to pass same-sex marriage bills by the end of the year, and California, where voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage last November. Gay-rights groups there will likely seek a ballot measure reversing the ban by 2012; a federal lawsuit challenging the prohibition is scheduled to go to trial in January, and is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.
Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues, said such federal litigation was the best hope for advancing same-sex marriage at this point.
"The state-by-state strategy that looked clever a few years ago has run its course," he said. "The states that were easy to get have been gotten."
In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine’s loss on Tuesday to Christopher Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, dealt another potential blow to the movement. Mr. Christie has vowed to veto any same-sex marriage bill that reaches his desk; however, Mr. Corzine could still sign a same-sex marriage bill into law if the legislature approves it before January.
The city council in Washington, D.C., also appears poised to pass a same-sex marriage law, although opponents are seeking a referendum that would ask voters to ban it.
A more long-term, complex question is whether gay-rights supporters can reverse the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in some 30 states that have enacted them since 2000. The outcome in Maine reinforces voters’ reluctance to endorse it, which national polls echo, too, though the gap is narrowing. And supporters acknowledge they would much rather avoid ballot questions.
"They tend to marginalize the group that is being targeted and inflame people’s passions in a way that is at best divisive and at worst terribly cruel," said Jennifer C. Pizer, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles. "Our founders did not intend to allow a majority to take basic rights from a minority."
Still, a group in Oregon announced Monday that it would seek a repeal of that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as 2012. Oregon voters approved the ban in 2004, and gay-rights groups have been quietly building support for a repeal.
But in general, supporters are more likely to focus on states with statutory bans on gay marriage, which legislatures can reverse without voter approval. One such state is Washington, where preliminary returns in this year’s election showed voters approving an expansion of a domestic partnership law that would give gay couples more of the state-granted rights that married couples get. "The effort there has been a steady building of support in the legislature," Ms. Pizer said. "It’s unclear when they will ascertain there’s enough public support to change the marriage law, but it’s been a gradual process that will continue."
Opponents of same-sex marriage, led by the National Organization for Marriage, which contributed more than $1 million to the Maine repeal effort, said the outcome there should make lawmakers in other states nervous about endorsing same-sex marriage.
"We’re already hearing in both New York and New Jersey that they are noticing what’s happening here," Ms. Gallagher said. "Do other politicians really want to enter this particular culture war given all the stuff they are going to have to defend in the next election?"
The National Organization for Marriage is seeking to recruit two million opponents of same-sex marriage to "deploy wherever is necessary," Ms. Gallagher said, and provide a steady stream of donations. After New York and New Jersey, she said, the organization will look for other states in which to push constitutional bans.
A state ethics commission in Maine is investigating whether Ms. Gallagher’s group violated the state’s campaign finance laws by failing to disclose its donors, and Ms. Pizer, of Lambda Legal, said that if the commission finds a violation occurred, gay-rights groups will use it as ammunition in the national same-sex marriage movement.
She said gay-rights supporters would also have to hone their strategy for fighting the claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to children learning about it at school. Leaders of the repeal effort in Maine used that claim successfully, as did those in California last year.
"Sadly and unsurprisingly there’s a consistent theme that somehow gay people are a threat to children," Ms. Pizer said. "And it’s hard to prove one’s nonthreatening, honest humanity with a soundbite. You prove it through relationships, and relationships take time."
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
At Keeping the Faith - Los Angeles yesterday evening, Mormon marriage supporter Douglas Hunter reflected on the year since the passage of Prop 8:
It has been a year of hope in that for the first time many in the Mormon community who support marriage equality have expressed their views and begun to develop a community. Even if many are fearful of speaking publicly, let it be known today that there are thousands of Mormons in California who do support marriage equality.
For the full text of Douglas's speech, visit Unite the Fight.
Monday, November 2, 2009
To Maine, Washington State and Kalamazoo,
Keeping the Faith North San Diego County.
Editorial from the NY Times
Political battles this fall in six different parts of the country could have a profound impact on whether the United States will extend the promise of equal rights to those who are not allowed to marry simply because they are the same sex as their partner.
Three jurisdictions — New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia — seem tantalizingly close to securing legislative approval for measures ending the hurtful and unjustifiable exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. But in Maine, Washington State and Kalamazoo, Mich., voters are being asked on Tuesday to strip away vital rights and protections.
The dominant Election Day battleground is Maine. Last fall, forces of the religious right backed a successful ballot measure that overruled California’s top court by banning same-sex marriage. Now those forces are trying for another mean-spirited victory with Maine’s Question 1, which, if approved, would block the legalization of same-sex marriage passed by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci in May. With the outcome likely to be close, a heavy turnout by voters committed to tolerance and justice is crucial.
Washington State has yet to approve same-sex marriage. But it took a positive step last May when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that granted gay and lesbian couples the state-provided benefits that married heterosexual couples have, like the right to use sick leave to care for a partner. Voters should affirm this progress by voting yes on Referendum 71.
A third initiative, in Kalamazoo, has the potential to overturn a measure unanimously approved by the City Commission barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. Fair-minded voters should respond by voting yes to uphold the antidiscrimination law.
Following the election, attention will shift to New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, which stand a realistic chance of joining the jurisdictions where same-sex marriages are allowed.
The New York situation is particularly frustrating. Gov. David Paterson strongly supports granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry, and the State Assembly has twice passed a bill to do so. But the overdue measure has been in limbo because the Democrats who control the State Senate’s calendar keep dawdling over scheduling a recorded vote on the floor.
We do not have a precise head count. But we suspect that once the bill got to the floor, a majority of the Senate’s 62 members would recognize that same-sex marriage is a fundamental civil right. Continuing to delay a vote shows disrespect for New York citizens injured by the status quo. The time for a vote is right now.
In New Jersey, support has been building for a measure allowing same-sex marriages. Legislators should pass it during the upcoming lame-duck session. Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign the law.
In the District of Columbia, the City Council seems ready to approve a local law legalizing same-sex marriage in the shadow of the Capitol dome. That might prompt a Congressional attempt to tamper with home rule. But the fact that Congress has let stand a recent D.C. law recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere gives hope that such meddling can be avoided.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
FAITH LEADERS & SECULAR ACTIVISTS SUPPORTING MARRIAGE EQUALITY TO GATHER ACROSS THE STATE TO “KEEP THE FAITH” & MOVE FORWARD AS ANNIVERSARY OF PROP 8
WHO: Pastor Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director, CA Faith for equality
Mark Solomon, Equality California
Rick Jacobs, Courage Campaign
The Rev. Dr. Eric Lee – Southern Christian Leadership Conference -LA
The Rev. Neil Thomas, Sr. Pastor, MCC-LA
Rabbi Denise Eger, Congregation Kol-Ami
The Rev. Susan Russell, All Saints Church, Pasadena
Rev. William Briones, Nishi Hongwangi Temple
Rabbi Allen Freehling, Exec. Director, LA Human Rights Commission
Douglas Hunter, Mormon Filmmaker
Father Geoffrey Farrow, Catholic Priest
Karin Wang, Asian Pacific Islanders (API) Equality LA
Jenny Pfizer, Lawyer, Lambda Legal
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles
Sara Poloaro – Equal Roots
Tony Sweet – Radio Host & Gospel Singer
Alia Albarakah – Muslima Activist
Anne Hines – Emerson UU, Canoga Park
Pastor Jim Boline, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Santa Monica
Jim & Frank Reifsnyder-Smith and family
WHERE: Immanuel Presbyterian Church
3300 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA. 90010
WHEN 7:30 – 9pm Monday, November 2, 2009
WHY: Services and gatherings will take place across the state of California on and about the one year anniversary of the passage of Prop 8. These gatherings will celebrate progress made in the past year, both in the secular and religious communities. They will also renew support for Marriage Equality in Maine and Washington State as those states face ballot measures which would strip same-sex couples of relationship protections
For more information, go to the website: www.keepingthefaithforequality.org.
LA SPONSORS: California Faith for Equality, Equal Roots, API Equality - Los Angeles,Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Congregation Kol Ami, Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, National Black Justice Coalition, California Council of Churches, Progressive Jewish Alliance, Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at HUC-IJR, National Council of Jewish Women - Los Angeles, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, Marriage Equality USA, Courage Campaign, Equality California, More Light Presbyterians, Jews for Marriage Equality, Tikkun, and many more.
SPEAKERS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT BEFORE & AFTER EVENT
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Our Equality Movement must embrace this lesson of perseverance, sustenance and survival taught by faith communities in order to thrive beyond campaign politics.
Faith traditions are powerful examples of movements surviving and persevering over time, sometimes in the face of persecution. They survive because they ask the big questions and because they know the sustaining value of gathering in community. Across denominations, the core value in faith communities is relationship - relationship with one another, with their particular tradition and with something greater than themselves. It has sustained faith communities for thousands of years.
As we mark the passage of Prop 8, we implement the core practice of this lesson by gathering in community and relationship:
We hope to see you there.
On November 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, Keeping the Faith for Equality events throughout California give us this opportunity for relationship. One year later, CA Faith for Equality, Courage Campaign, Equality California, Marriage Equality USA, and many, many other organizations and faith communities are gathering not to dwell on our loss a year ago, but to embrace the lessons we learned from that loss. Visit www.keepingthefaithforequality.org to find an event in your area.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
California Faith for Equality (CFE) celebrates the signing of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill into law today, eleven years after the 21 year old gay man was brutally murdered. "Many of us take for granted that when we leave home in the morning, we will come home safely at the end of the day, said Pastor Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director of CFE. “ But, we have also been confronted by the realities of hatred and violence lurking around us. The signing of this comprehensive hate crimes bill represents a giant step toward equal rights and protection for all, regardless of their perceived identities. We dare not forget that this came too late for many who have gone before us, but we look toward a shared future with faith that our children will live in a world not dominated by fear and hatred.
“Several CFE members lobbied Capitol Hill for passage of this legislation and today, we remember in our prayers, all those who have died or have been victims of hate crimes,” said the Rev. Neil Thomas, of the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles and President of the Board of CFE.
Chu added, "California Faith for Equality celebrates this historic act and we embrace the challenge of continuing to educate all people on the value of radical hospitality. We believe that congregations are more than just cheerleaders when it comes to promoting the health and wellbeing of all members of society. We must continue to open our sanctuary doors to the vulnerable, and to confront violence and hatred against any human being or groups."
Louise Brooks, Media Coordinator ■ 626.993.4605 ■ email@example.com
Saturday, October 24, 2009
October 24, 2009
This week's announcement that the Roman Catholic Church will welcome disaffected Anglicans en masse is of primary interest to members of the two Christian communions. But this religious realignment is also a reminder to supporters of equality for women and gays and lesbians that they must literally preach to the converted if they are to win believers to their cause.
Pope Benedict XVI has offered the Anglicans a special status within Catholicism that will preserve their traditions and allow married Anglican priests to continue their ministry. Those likely to accept are animated by opposition to innovations including the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the United States, blessings for same-sex couples in Canada and the Church of England's decision to allow female bishops.
Not every dissatisfied Anglican will change churches. Nor will this development drown out voices within the Roman Catholic Church favoring full participation by women and homosexuals. But Benedict's action is part of a formidable religious backlash against gay rights that isn't confined to the pulpit; witness the lobbying by some religious leaders against same-sex civil marriages.
Under the 1st Amendment, churches in this country can't be forced to alter their doctrine or to stop preaching against the supposed immorality of homosexuality. Even so, supporters of gay rights in particular -- many of them Christians -- should try to dispel the notion that belief in God is incompatible with full equality for gays and lesbians.
Now as before the pope's action, Christians can be reminded -- as they have been by both Anglican and Catholic theologians -- that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and that church leaders, including popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion to the desirability of religious tolerance. You don't have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the church's views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.
\Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
Thursday, October 22, 2009
October 22, 2009
CFE HAILS HATE CRIME BILL, URGES PRESIDENT TO SIGN
“This is a landmark day for America as well as many faith leaders who have lobbied for the passage of hate crimes legislation,” said Pastor Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director for California Faith for Equality. “After years of debate, there will soon be new federal protections extended to people who are victimized because of their gender, gender identification, or sexual orientation, or disability. CFE urges President Obama to sign this bill as he has promised.
“We appreciate and applaud the work of Judy and Denis Shepherd and the Mathew Shepherd Foundation for their years of dedicated work to pass this legislation.
“We pray that love will prevail over hate and hate-inspired crimes will cease to exist. We look for the extended protections to take place soon so that LGBTI Americans will know that their government will protect them from violence and provide justice for victims and their families.”
Today’s 64 to 35 cloture vote and this evening’s final passage in the Senate marks a truly pivotal moment in our fight for LGBT equality. This last vote EVER on the bill happened because of the dedication of all of the people who contacted their legislators, educated their communities and gave of their time and money. But no one has worked harder than the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., for whom the bill is named. Go to HRC's website for the rest of the story.
Monday, October 19, 2009
After marching through Portland's Monument Sqaure, people of faith gather and rally for marriage equality. Here, a Catholic for marriage equality shares a prayer for families.
Yesterday, Mainers in Portland, Bangor, Auburn and Rockland rallied against discrimination and for the freedom to marry. Kerry Chaplin, California Faith for Equality's Interfaith Organizing Director, spent a week in Maine helping Katy Jayne, Organizer for the Religious Coalition, prepare for the events, which turned out about 1,000 people of faith.
"These events were successful because people of faith in Maine care about equality," shared Jayne. "California Faith for Equality's support helped to ensure we met our goals by engaging people of faith not only to attend the events, but to help organize them."
At the one year anniversary of the passage of Proposition 8, we will stand together, not looking back, but moving forward. We will celebrate the progress that has been made in the past year, both in the secular and religious communities.We will renew our support for our friends in Maine and Washington State as they face ballot measures which would strip same-sex couples of relationship protections. Through interfaith prayer, song, and reflection, we are “Keeping the Faith” for equality for all people.
To date, events are being planned in San Francisco, Oakland, North Bay, Sacramento, Davis, San Jose, Modesto, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Claremont, Orange County, and San Diego. We are also working on organizing Humboldt, Fresno, and Palm Springs.
To find or post an event, and see the Keeping the Faith Resource Kit go to: www.keepingthefaithforequality.org
Here is a partial list:
San Jose: Keeping the Faith
November 2, 2009 from 6pm to 7:30pm – First Christian Church of San Jose
Claremont "Keeping The Faith" Rally
November 2, 2009 from 6:30pm to 8pm – Memorial Park
Keeping the Faith - San Francisco
November 2, 2009 from 7pm to 9pm – St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Keeping the Faith in Belmont
November 2, 2009 from 7pm to 8pm – Congregational Church of Belmont
Oakland: "Keeping the Faith: A "Soulful" Interfaith Worship Service
November 2, 2009 from 7pm to 9pm – Lakeshore Baptist Church
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Oct 15 04:00 PM US/Eastern
HAMMOND, La. (AP) - A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist. Read rest of story here.
WITH SPECIAL GUEST JUDY SHEPARD (MATTHEW SHEPARD’S MOTHER)
AT HOLLYWOOD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
On Sunday, October 25, at 1:30pm, THE LARAMIE PROJECT: 10 YEARS LATER will be staged at Hollywood United Methodist Church in our 725 seat sanctuary. Following the performance, coffee and dessert will be served. We are proud to also be hosting a talk and book signing at 4:00 PM by Judy Shepard (mother to Matthew Shepard) author ofThe Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. Books will be available for purchase from local retailer, Book Soup.
The play, The Laramie Project, which premiered in February 2000, was the basis for the 2002 critically acclaimed HBO Original Film starring Camryn Manheim, Joshua Jackson and Christina Ricci. More information on the play may be found at http://www.tectonictheaterproject.org/The_Laramie_Project.html.
This sequel picks up ten years later. The attitudes and the events that have transpired over those ten years are quite shocking, as members of the Tectonic Theatre Company return to Laramie and discover that many issues are still unresolved.
Scheduled to perform are Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek), Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory), Johnny Galecki (Big Bang Theory), Pauley Perrette (NCIS), James Cromwell (Surrogates, Babe), Julie Benz (Dexter), Lisa Edelstein (House), Barrett Foa (NCIS: Los Angeles), Emmy Award-winner Christian Clemenson (Boston Legal) and Helen Shaver (The 4400).
The reading is directed by actress/ director Jillian Armenante. The Tectonic Theatre Project has granted special rights for the reading as a benefit, with all proceeds going to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. General seating tickets for the event are $25.00 and can be purchased by calling 323-874-2104, ext 303 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By Howard Mintz
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a legal challenge to Proposition 8, concluding that the ongoing courtroom battle over California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage must be resolved in a full-blown trial.
After two hours of legal sparring, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected the arguments of Prop. 8 supporters, who maintained that U.S. Supreme Court precedent and a lack of proof of constitutional violations should sidetrack a lawsuit designed to overturn the ballot measure. Instead, Walker, sensing the challenge to Prop. 8 ultimately could wind up before the Supreme Court, wants a trial to develop a full factual record, including forcing Prop. 8 supporters to justify the reasons behind a state ban on allowing gay couples to wed.
One by one, the judge shot down the legal reasons Prop. 8 lawyers presented to resolve the case now and allow the same-sex marriage ban to remain in force. In particular, the judge seemed particularly unpersuaded by Prop. 8 attorney Charles Cooper's chief argument for a state law confining marriage to heterosexual couples — that the state has an interest in protecting "traditional" marriage because of its importance to procreation in society.
"Procreation doesn't require marriage," Walker noted, citing statistics showing that a large percentage of children are born out of wedlock.
The judge's decision sets the stage for a January trial. Read the rest of the story here.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill recognizing gay marriages sanctioned in other states during the nearly five months such unions were legal in California.
Schwarzenegger says the action is consistent with a state Supreme Court ruling upholding the marriages of same-sex couples who tied the knot in California before voters approved Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment passed in November that limits marriage to a man and a woman. The bill signed by the governor late Sunday also says gay and lesbian couples who were married in other states after Proposition 8’s passage have the same rights and benefits that California grants domestic partners.
The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Click here to go to the California Faith for Equality website and add your signature to the letter of support for Dr. Lee and his courageous witness for LGBT equality.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Syd Peterson interviews Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality, Pastor Samuel Chu, on LGBT POV:
What was the one BIG emotional moment when you knew you had to get involved with this work?
In fifth grade back in Hong Kong, I “shut down” my elementary school and organized a “teach-in” and assembly to teach the students what was going on with the protests and hunger strike at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. My journey to the US also played a big part in how I see my work today: the experience of leaving behind everything I knew, everything that felt safe, and forging a new identity, new relationships and status taught me how important organizing is. And I remember feeling just angry – a kind of cold anger that I continue to find productive – around how powerless organizations and institutions like churches can be in the face of injustice and inequality. I find it unhelpful when communities come together without a serious intention of building some power. I remember the great organizer, Ernesto Cortes Jr. once told me, “Why spend the effort to organize people if you are going to lose? People can lose all on their own.”
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I am grateful for the opportunity to have supported Katy Jayne and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry. A growing progressive voice of faith, the Coalition looks to California Faith for Equality as a model of faith-centered organizing for LGBTI equality.
As the model, CA Faith for Equality is responsible for supporting the work of the Coalition, and as a an organization of shared values, it is (read: we are) responsible for acting those values. To find out how you or your faith community can support the freedom to marry in Maine, contact Katy at email@example.com.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
While approximately 80% of Jews support marriage equality, we must not wipe our hands of our responsibility to lift up those who are oppressed: Tzedek, tzedek tirdof (Deuteronomy 16:20). Justice, justice, you shall pursue! Our pursuit of justice is not over because the majority of Jews support marriage equality. On Yom Kippur, when we atone not only for our own sins, but for those of our entire community and our entire people, we take responsibility for one another. When one of us does not pursue justice, or stands in the way of justice, we are all responsible.
Driven by communal responsibility, we continue to pursue justice, healing the world by pursuing the world we want to live in.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
"Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this landwho live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constantcompanions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to theseour neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equalprotection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that everyone of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through JesusChrist our Lord. Amen."
--The Book of Common Prayer
Many Americans do not realize that under current federal law, itis entirely legal to fire, hire, demote, promote, and make all otheremployment decisions based on real or perceived sexual orientation andgender identity and expression regardless of workplace performance. Specifically, it is legal to discriminate based upon sexual orientation in29 states and based upon gender identity or expression in 38 states. Toprevent further discrimination, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) andIIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and SusanCollins (R-ME) have introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA),which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination onthe basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ENDA would prohibit employers, employment agencies, labororganizations, or joint labor-management committees from discriminatingagainst individuals on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientationor gender identity. It prohibits the use of sexual orientation and genderidentity as a basis for determining the compensation, terms, conditions, orprivileges of employment. However, the bill explicitly exempts religiousorganizations from these requirements, protecting the First Amendment andCivil Rights protections of religious organizations who consider ENDA to becontrary to their doctrines and principles. No religious organization willbe compelled to violate their doctrines and principles.
Biblical tradition teaches us that all human beings are createdin the Divine image. As it says in Genesis 1:27, "And God created humans inGod's own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female Godcreated them." Regardless of context, discrimination against any personarising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred isinconsistent with this fundamental belief. As people of faith, we firmlyoppose discrimination against all individuals, including gays and lesbians,for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us.
Clickhere to support and co-sponsor the EmploymentNon-Discrimination Act.
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Episcopal Public Policy Network
110 Maryland Ave., N.E. #309, Washington, D.C. 20002
1-800-228-0515, (202) 547-7300, FAX (202) 547-4457
On the Web: www.episcopalchurch.org/eppn
Monday, October 5, 2009
- Oct. 15th: Bishop Gene Robinson speaking in Portland
- Oct. 18th: Interfaith rallies, marches and services in Portland, Auburn and Bangor
- Nov. 1st: Interfaith vigils as the intensity of the campaign increases
Katy Jayne, Maine Civil Liberties Union and Religious Coalition Organizer, and I spent Sunday afternoon coming up with a gameplan to develop, support and promote these events. The process was exhausting, but we made organizer art.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
We are entering the Jewish holiday, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, during which Jews traditionally take our meals, even sleep, in temporary shelters reminiscent of the transitory wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
On Sukkot, it is traditional to read Psalm 27:
- 11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
- 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
- 13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Even in the two days since I arrived in Maine, it is clear that our oppressors are using the same language to bear false witness against us. The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine is standing for what is just and fair, led by that which is Holy on a path toward goodness.
On this Sukkot, let us all have the courage to be led to goodness in the face of our oppressors.
shabbat shalom and hag sameach,
Thursday, October 1, 2009
15 clergy from a diversity of faith traditions stood for marriage equality in Bangor, Maine, on the northern edge of U.S. wilderness. 7 of those clergy drove nearly an hour to participate. 5 spoke, saying, "Our Religious Coalition opposes Question 1."
When asked why she participated this time, but hadn't before, one clergyperson said, "It's their issue, so it's my issue." Because her congregants had shared with her the significance of marriage equality in their lives, she stood publicly on the lobby stairs of that Bangor church and, with her colleagues, acted for what is right and just in the spirit of her religious tradition.
May we each have the courage to know courage through the practice of compassion.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Rev. Lee explained he naturally felt that marriage equality in California is a social justice issue. Initially when he was asked what he thought of same-sex couples marrying in Los Angeles, he immediately stood up in support and he explained to us how that affected his work in the African American community.
Taking that experience, he’s written a book: “Marriage Equality: Proposition 8, The California Divide.” In it Lee describes how he found himself at odds with the leaders of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference and many of his peers in the faith community last year after speaking out against California’s Proposition 8. Yet he refuses to remain quiet.
HRC’s Religion and Faith program pulled this meeting together so that African American clergy could talk with their peers in DC about what we face in discussing LGBT equality in the African American community.
Rev. Lee noted key issues that the LGBT community should work through as we talk more about working together for each other’s causes:
Remember to give homage to the Civil Rights Movement. It’s unproductive to just say the gay civil rights movement is like the African American civil rights movement. Respect that it’s different.
Begin to work with the African American community in the trenches on social justice issues such as: battling structural inequities in education; immigration issues; and supporting policies that help lower the economic discrepancies while we fight for ENDA.
Help combat the high school dropout rate for African Americans that too often leads young people into the criminal justice system. There are many social justice programs that can help lower the rate and the LGBT community can contribute to this cause.
Rev. Lee ended by saying “There is room to create real partnerships with African Americans and in return, they will support the LGBT community on marriage equality.” Rev. Lee knows that he is at odds with the leaders of the SCLC over his support for marriage equality, but he wanted the ministers today to know that there is room to feel comfortable working together on all of our issues.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
While we believe that returning to the ballot in 2010 would be less expensive, we still conclude that at this moment, our time and resources are better spent fostering deeper dialogue, building networks, and addressing root causes. Therefore, we respectfully recommend to California Unitarian
Universalists that we refrain from signing petitions and supporting efforts to place the measure on the ballot to overturn Prop 8 in 2010.
That said, regardless of when a measure to overturn Prop 8 gathers enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, whether in 2010, 2012, or 2014, the UULM Action Network will take our place among the ever growing network of people of faith who will work to fully engage our members in a campaign to reestablish marriage equality in California. Until such time as we are back in campaign mode, we are working in close collaboration with our excellent partners at CA Faith for Equality to create educational and organizing resources to equip our congregations and clergy for these next steps on the journey. We welcome your continued engagement and look forward to deepening our ministry and our capacity to serve.
Read the entire letter here
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FAMILY DAY, 2009
Our family provides one of the strongest influences on our lives. American families from every walk of life have taught us time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest potential. Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things. Today, our children are confronting issues of drug and alcohol use with astonishing regularity. On Family Day, we honor the dedication of parents, commend the achievements of their children, and celebrate the contributions our Nation's families have made to combat substance abuse among young people.
The 21st century presents families with unprecedented challenges. Millions of women and men are struggling to balance the demands of their jobs with the needs of their families. At the same time, our youngest generation faces countless distractions in their social environment. They are coming of age in a world where electronic devices have replaced the playground, televisions have preempted conversation, and pressure to use drug and alcohol is far too prevalent. Parents bear significant stress and burdens to protect their children from harmful influences.
Read the rest here.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Iowa finds itself along with the dioceses of the five New England states where equal marriage is upheld in the forefront of the church's conversation on marriage equality. Faith communities are deciding what this means to their traditions or what it does not. Many faith communities have long awaited the chance to celebrate civil marriage for same-gender couples. The Episcopal Church has been engaged with this for more than 30 years - almost alone among churches of the Catholic tradition. That Episcopal couples were among those cited in the Iowa State Supreme Court Ruling is significant.
Of course, we are not of one mind in this. Not all my own clergy or congregations agree with my position in celebrating this opportunity for same-gender couples. But is there not a beauty in this situation? Faith communities that cannot and will not welcome or embrace these marriages have that freedom in this state and nation, even while others that do coexist beside them peacefully and lawfully. When a bishop in Southern Africa learned of the Iowa ruling, he sent me a note asking me its implications. He was concerned that we might be seen as going against the constitution now if we disallowed such marriages. He found it rather admirable that there was no such pressure upon religious institutions, and that there was a specific exemption for religious institutions to pursue their consciences.
Marriage and its significance for all people is an essential value in our social life. For every faith community, marriage exists not only to protect but to reveal the deeper connection of God's love for us. It is precisely as such that it is as important an institution to same-gender couples as it is to heterosexual couples in those same faith communities.Faith, however, demands more of us. At the recent General Convention, we heard a sermon by Bishop Stephen Charleston, a Native-American bishop. He stood before us and said in hyperbole that he "had 10 minutes to save the world." Boldly claiming his anointing as a prophet of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, he said that the alarm clock. which had been ticking away the hours toward our civilization's demise, had stopped its ticking. "The alarm bells are ringing," he said. He went on to say that unless we woke up and put aside those things that have used up our energies for the past 30 to 40 years in our disputes together, and bring the peace among human beings needed to care in common for each other and for the planet God has given us, none of what consumes our heated passions today will mean anything. The generations to come, he added, who will have to rebirth civilization on their burned up cinder of a planet, will not thank us, nor will God thank us.
I find myself considering, as a growing number have had to in recent times, the vital nature of jobs and resources to feed the married family, peace across our global communities to keep us safe in our extended families or a fair sharing of the world's goods, education and health resources to provide for all people. In seeking these things the clock is ticking, calling us to action as one, even as we disagree on marriage. These efforts, too, are how we reflect the commandment of our God to love one another as God loves us.
Contact: ascarfe@ iowaepiscopal.org