Monday, August 31, 2009

A message for people of faith........

From an interview with former Senator Tom Daschle from South Dakota on health care reform in Sunday's NY Times Magazine......

Do you think President Obama has done a good job of selling health care reform to the general public?

I think we have to do better at making this issue a moral imperative. I don’t think we’ve succeeded at that yet. I think the more we can bring everybody to an understanding about how this in many respects is the civil rights battle of the early part of this century — it’s a fight for the disabled, it’s a fight for the sick, it’s a fight for equal rights when it comes to health.

Monday, August 24, 2009


CFE Spokesperson, the Rev. Susan Russell commments on actions taken by the ELCA.

"Today’s action in Minneapolis is not just good news for gay and lesbian Lutherans, it is good news to all who strive for peace and justice and are committed to respecting the dignity of every human being,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA.

Read rest of article here

Saturday, August 22, 2009

News release from the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town

The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town today agreed to a resolution asking the church’s bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for gay and lesbian members of the church living in “covenanted partnerships,” taking into account the mind of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Synod of the Diocese also resolved to ask Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to appoint a working group, representing church members of varying perspectives, to engage in a “process of dialogue and listening” on issues of human sexuality in line with a “listening process” which is being.

The resolutions were passed in a session of the Synod which was held at St. Cyprian’s Church, Retreat in Cape Town.

The resolution on pastoral guidelines was proposed by the Revd Terry Lester, sub-dean of St. George’s Cathedral, who said the parish had come to be seen as “a safe space, a sort of liberated space” for gay and lesbian Christians in Cape Town. He said the cathedral needed guidelines for its pastoral care to gay and lesbian members in “faithful, committed” same-sex partnerships.

The original text of the resolution included language which some members of the Synod said would lead to the blessings of same-sex unions. This, said the Revd Dr James Harris, “will bring us into conflict with the wider Anglican Communion.” The language was later dropped.

The Revd Sarah Rowland Jones successfully proposed an amendment to the resolution which provided that the pastoral guidelines should take “due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion.”

The full text of the resolution on gay and lesbians in committed partnerships reads:

This Synod,

Affirming a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment in our parish families;

Gives thanks to God for:

* The leadership of our Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and his witness in seeking to handle these issues in a loving and caring manner; and
* The Bishops of our Province for their commitment to the unity of our Communion and Province, working together seeking God’s way of truth and reconciliation;

Notes the positive statements of previous Provincial Synods that gay and lesbian members of our church share in full membership as baptized members of the Body of Christ, and are affirmed and welcomed as such;

Affirms our commitment to prayerful and respectful dialogue around these issues, mindful of the exhortations of previous Lambeth Conferences to engage with those most affected;

Asks the Archbishop to request the Synod of Bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for those of our members who are in covenanted partnerships, taking due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion.

For immediate release August 22, 2009

“CA Faith for Equality rejoices with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as they took a giant step for equality yesterday when they adopted all four of the resolutions before their Assembly regarding the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the work and witness of the Lutheran Church," said Pastor Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director of CFE.

“This will go down in history as the summer of inclusion for two mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church and the ECLA,” said Chu. “Both have reinforced the traditional Christian value of respecting the dignity of EVERY human being.

“These bold actions signal a strong message that there are many faith communities that welcome the LGBT faithful and will no longer accept discrimination on any level.

“CFE looks forward to working with our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran Churches to strive for peace, justice and equality everywhere.”



The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the second major Christian group in a month to liberalize policies on the ministry.
By Duke Helfand

August 22, 2009

The nation's largest Lutheran denomination Friday reversed a long-standing ban on the appointment of non-celibate gays to the clergy, becoming the second major Christian group in a month to liberalize policies governing who may minister the faith.

Leaders of the 4.6-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting in Minneapolis, gave local congregations the authority to choose ministers or lay leaders who may be in "lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

The decision follows a similar action last month by officers of the Episcopal Church, who lifted a de facto ban on the consecration of partnered gay bishops.

Theologians and church analysts said both votes could influence other Protestant denominations -- including Presbyterians and United Methodists -- that are struggling to reconcile conflicts over homosexuality and the Bible.

One scholar characterized the move by the two groups as a "watershed moment in American Christianity" that could further divide churches already laboring to stem the flight of traditionalists.

"Those who have been actively campaigning for a change of this sort in the other mainline denominations will see this as a sign that they should intensify their efforts," Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, said in an e-mail. "For those of us who have opposed this on biblical grounds, it is bound to reinforce the sense that we are no longer welcome in the mainline."

Conservatives in the Lutheran church condemned the decisions by the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, saying the actions on gay and lesbian clergy run counter to Biblical teachings about marriage.

One prominent group, Lutheran CORE, called for Lutheran congregations to direct funds away from the national church and instead give to "faithful" ministries within and outside the denomination. The organization is hosting a meeting next month in Indianapolis to plan what it called a "united common future" with traditional Lutherans.

"We cannot support this departure from God's word," the Rev. Mark Chavez, the group's director, said in a statement.

The national church's presiding bishop, Mark S. Hanson, acknowledged that the change in church policies has caused strains on both sides of the debate and on others who remain undecided.

Even as Hanson described the deliberations over the issue as heartfelt, he appealed directly to those on the losing end. All Lutherans, he said, share a common faith.

"It's going to take time to sort out how we live together in light of these decisions," Hanson said in a webcast news conference. "It would be tragic if we talked away from one another. This is a time for thoughtful, engaged, prayerful, imaginative response."

Lutherans voted on the ministry policy two days after they adopted a new social statement on human sexuality that reiterated the church's definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but that also said the church had yet to reach consensus on same-sex unions.

The statement, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," had been eight years in the making and is intended to guide church members in setting policy.

More than 1,000 representatives at the national assembly debated the clerical issue for more than five hours before deciding to open the ministry to gays and lesbians who are in relationships. In the past, gays and lesbians could become clergy only if they remained chaste.

The resolution that won approval gives local Lutheran leaders "structured flexibility" to make decisions but does not require congregations to pick candidates they do not want.

The Lutheran leaders voted for related resolutions that called for the church to commit itself to recognize and support same-gender relationships and to "respect the bound consciences of all."

The resolutions drew tearful testimony from supporters and opponents, both of whom cited the Bible in their arguments.

"There are people in homosexual relationships in our churches. They live in communion," said Pastor Serena Sellers of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod. "I believe it's important to the morality of our church that we . . . give all people the opportunity to be held accountable for the choices they make."

But the Rev. Catherine Ammlung from the Delaware-Maryland Synod saw it differently.

"What had been the teaching of my church is now reduced to personal opinion," she said. "Many of us who are people of good will are left as ethical . . . freelancers."

Advocates of change rejoiced after the voting ended, saying the Churchwide Assembly had embraced greater fairness.

"Today I am proud to be a Lutheran," said Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, a gay rights group in the church.

She said gay ministers would now be "free to claim who they are and to have the love and support of a lifelong partner . . . which is all we ever asked."

Outside observers sought to put the decisions into a historical context. One academic views the inclusion of gays in church life as inevitable, and said that the uproar would eventually die down.

"As these decisions get made, it's getting clearer where they're going," said Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, a professor of practical theology and religious education at Claremont School of Theology. "You can't partition justice."

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama Administration Calls Marriage Law Unfair

From the Associated Press

August 17, 2009
The Obama administration filed court papers Monday arguing that a federal marriage law discriminates against gays, even as government lawyers continue to defend the law.

Justice Department lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The administration's response to the case has angered gay activists who see it as backtracking on campaign promises made by President Obama.

In the court papers, the administration urges law's repeal but says that in the meantime, government lawyers will continue to defend it as a law on the books.

The government's previous filing in the case angered gay rights activists who supported Obama's candidacy in part because of his pledge to move forward on repealing the law and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the military.

"The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits.

The Justice Department, she added, is obligated "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."

The law, often called DOMA, denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in other states.

Obama has pledged to work to repeal the law.

Monday's court filing was in response to a lawsuit by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who are challenging the federal law, which prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and benefiting from other federal rights connected to marriage.

Justice lawyers have argued that the law is constitutional and contend that awarding federal marriage benefits to gays would infringe on the rights of taxpayers in the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts became the first state to challenge the law in court.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Editorial from the San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Waiting til 2012 on gay marriage? Wise move
Mercury News Editorial
Posted: 08/13/2009 08:00:00 PM PDT

The day Californians overturn Proposition 8 can't come too soon. But the decision by Equality California, the state's largest gay-rights group, to delay going back to the ballot until 2012 makes perfect sense from a strategic viewpoint.

Advocates of same-sex marriage can't afford another loss with state voters, and political experts agree that there's a better chance of success in 2012 rather than 2010. Polls show support for the right of gays to marry is growing, and two more years provide advocates with time to build on that trend. In addition, younger voters tend to support marriage equality, and they're more likely to vote in the 2012presidential election.

California voters were wrong to deny a minority the equal rights that only marriage confers under state law. They should have been leading the nation in this movement, which someday will be looked upon the same way America now views granting civil rights to racial minorities: How could we ever have done otherwise?

But if waiting another two years means a surer victory, then it's the right thing to do.