Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CFE's Press Release on Appellate Court Stay on Same Sex Marriages

"Once again, 'justice delayed is justice denied', "said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality. “CFE faith leaders are saddened by today's decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that same-sex couples can not marry in California while the court considers the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban. While we are deeply disappointed, we will continue to work hard, making sure religious support is heard at every step of the court's proceedings including filing an amicus brief to the appellate court this fall.

"We are very confident that the appellate court will uphold Justice Walker's decision.The Supreme Court has affirmed in Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that marriage is a basic civil right. Justice Walker, in his own decision on August 4, 2010 said that California has no interest in discriminating against same gender couples, yet today's stay is a stay on justice.

" As faith leaders caring for members of our communities," said Chu, "we know these court proceedings have real-life consequences to and impact on thousands of couples and families and we will continue to advocate for equality for all. Our faith traditions teach that we must respect the dignity of every human being and to reduce loving gay and lesbian couples to a second class status is wrong. It is just a matter of time until our faith leaders will put their faith into action and marry loving, committed couples who echo the strong family values of their religious communities.

In the meantime, CFE will also continue to organize our faith leaders and secular partners to continue to bring our communities together to support all marriages and to value all families. We are and remain committed to 'Let freedom and wedding bells ring!' for as long as it takes "

Samuel M. Chu is available for comment: 310-988-5548

Louise Brooks, Media Coordinator ■ 626.993.4605 ■ louise@cafaithforequality.org

California Faith for Equality is a statewide network of clergy and lay leaders from a diversity of faith traditions who are committed to equality.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rabbi Denise Eger's Press Release on Jduge Walker's Stay

AUGUST 12, 2010
For More information
Call (323) 606-0996

Rabbi Denise L. Eger: “Let the weddings begin!”

(West Hollywood, CA) – Today Judge Vaughn Walker lifted the stay on marriages for gay men and lesbians effective Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 5 pm. Next week gay and lesbian couples will be able to legally wed unless proponents of Proposition 8 are able to seek a stay from the U.S. Appeals Court. There is a question of who has standing to file an appeal.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger, spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood is ready for the weddings to resume. Rabbi Eger officiated at the first wedding on June 16, 2008 at 5:01 pm for Robin Tyler and Diane Olsen on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse. During the 2008 “Summer of Love” Eger officiated at 60 weddings until they were shut down by the November 2008 passage of Proposition 8

Rabbi Eger, also President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, is looking forward to the stay being lifted next week. “Let the weddings begin!” she said when she heard the news. “This is a matter of justice and equality,” said Eger. “We thank Judge Vaughn for his courage in recognizing that all citizens ought to be able to protect their families under the law. Marriage is a civil right. As long as you have to go to the county courthouse and take out a license then this must be afforded to all citizens.” Judge Walker found that gay and lesbian couples are also protected by the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

Rabbi Eger was disappointed that it will take another week for the stay to be lifted. “My faith teaches me that all loving couples ought to be able to protect their families with the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. Reform Jewish tradition has long supported gay and lesbian civil rights. When Proposition 8 passed it kept me from practicing my faith tradition.”

Eger is the founding Rabbi of Kol Ami and was last month named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the 50 most influential women rabbis in America. In 2008 she was named by the Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jews in America for her work on gay and lesbian civil rights.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Los Angeles - August 12, 2010

"Today justice won out, said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality. “Today's decision by US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker to overturn Prop 8 and lift the stay on same gender marriages in the state of California on August 18th is a giant step toward equality.

" The Supreme Court has affirmed that marriage is a fundamental right. Justice Walker, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, last week said that California has no interest in discriminating against same gender couples. On August 18, 2010 discrimination will end and equality will become a reality.

"CFE is committed to let freedom and wedding bells ring! Our membership of over 6000 clergy are poised to perform marriages for loving gay and lesbian couples throughout the state. As people of faith. we believe these are blessed and holy relationships and we are thrilled that they can now be legally recognized marriages in the state of California.

While we realize that today's decision could be overturned by a higher court and we strongly oppose any stay on equal protection for all persons, CFE will continue to organize our faith leaders and secular partners to continue to support all marriages and to value all families.

Samuel M. Chu is available for comment: 310-988-5548

California Faith for Equality is a statewide network of clergy and lay leaders from a diversity of faith traditions who are committed to equality.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Los Angeles, California - August 11, 2010

For immediate release:

California Faith for Equality (CFE) is delighted to learn that Judge Vaughan Williams will rule tomorrow on whether marriage equality will return to California while his landmark decision in the case makes its way to an appeals court.

"CFE strongly opposes any stay on the too-long delayed guarantee of equal protection to gay and lesbian couples" said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of CFE. "Justice delayed is justice denied and we have advised our statewide network to prepare for a lift of the ban on marriage equality."

It is our deepest hope that tomorrow will be the day that our 6,000 clergy across the state of California will once again be able to offer both equal blessings and equal protection to the couples coming to them to celebrate the sanctity of their marriages. We know that the opponents of marriage equality will try everything to prevent this landmark ruling from taking effect but we stand ready as well -- ready to work with our allies committed to marriage equality and to perserve until liberty and justice for all really means all.

We will be ready tomorrow -- or whenever the stay is lifted -- because we know that we are on the right side of history and we are privileged to be part of this struggle.

Samuel Chu is available for comment: 310-988-5548

For more informationconatct:
Louise Brooks
Media Coordinator

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CFE's Rabbi Denise Eger Hails Prop 8 Ruling

From the Los Angeles Times
August 4, 2010 3:05 pm

Upon hearing of federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker's ruling on Proposition 8, 85-year-old Phyllis Lyon uttered a quiet, “Bless his heart.”

She and her lifelong partner Del Martin were the first to be married in San Francisco’s City Hall in February 2004, in a private ceremony that opened the floodgates to thousands more weddings and multiple court battles.

Martin died in 2008, 56 years after she and Lyon joined together in a lasting lovers’ union. Lyon on Wednesday called Walker’s ruling “a wonderful statement” and said she planned to stick around until this battle was ultimately won nationwide.

She and her partner, and then wife, were initially opposed to the institution of marriage as early feminists. But it became clear to them in recent years that the prohibition against such marriages made gays and lesbians second-class citizens, she said.

“It’s a step toward making people understand that we’re human beings like everybody else and we deserve the same kinds of privileges that everyone else has,” she said, “with the same names.”

Jeanne Rizzo waited outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco for Walker's ruling. She and her partner of 21 years, Pali Cooper, have been fighting from the trenches since the courts blocked the 2004 marriages and San Francisco officials closed the door right in front of them as they waited in line for a marriage license.

They became plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court case that briefly legalized the unions and wed, then began a new wave of activism to counter Prop. 8.

“I’m just so proud of us,” she said as she greeted well-wishers in the crowd. “It’s as it should be. It just proves that you really should not be leaving this to a popular vote. ... My heart is full.”

Cooper, a chiropractor, was seeing patients Wednesday but Rizzo said, “I want to go home to my wife…I can’t wait to go home and hug her.”

In Los Angeles, Rabbi Denise Eger, president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, hailed the ruling but was waiting to hear whether it would be stayed.

“I don’t think anybody’s quite clear yet on whether it means that weddings can happen,” she said a short time after the ruling was handed down. “That’s the big question, whether I as a rabbi can start officiating.”

Eger, who is married to a woman, is rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, which has a large gay and lesbian membership.

“Here’s my advice to those who have theological trouble with gay and lesbians getting married,” she said. “In our country, marriage is very much a civil right, and yet we also ensure freedom of religion -- and freedom from religion.

"And so while there are those who are more theologically to the right wing, theologically conservative, who would not support marriage for gay people from their theological perspective, the answer is: They don’t have to do them," she continued. "They have their freedom of religion in our country not to officiate. … For those of us who are theologically progressive, we also have the freedom of our religion to practice our values.”

“So it’s a very joyous day,” she said. “And I know there were many couples who wanted to get married who … are ready and I look forward to standing under the chuppah with them,” referring to the canopy used in Jewish weddings.

She added that the Board of Rabbis opposed Prop. 8, despite some dissent from its more theologically conservative members.

-- Lee Romney in San Francisco and Mitchell Landsberg in Los Angeles

Thursday, July 29, 2010


July 29, 2010

"CFE calls for good people of all faiths to speak out against the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for allowing a supporter to carry a sign painted with two nooses implying that LGBT people should 'be put to death' and quoting the Book of Leviticus from the Bible or a pastor to compare gays and lesbians to pedophiles, adulterers and alcoholics, " said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality (CFE). "We can no longer tolerate the spread of organized homophobia and spiritual violence perpetuated under the guise of 'protecting marriage'. It must be stopped."

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest, said, "We cannot allow the Bible to be used as a weapon of mass discrimination and disinformation. Good people of faith are outraged at watching their scriptures exploited to condemn the holy relationships of gay and lesbian couples that are blessed by God. As a member of CFE, I join thousands of clergy, lay leaders and congregations who support these couples, who celebrate their love, bless their relationships and lobby for their equality."

"Recent polls reveal that 51% of Californians support marriage equality," said Chu. "CFE will continue to organize a faith based response to organizations such a NOM which spew hatred and fear rather than love and acceptance. It is only a matter of time for marriage equality to become a reality. We represent more than 6000 California clergy and faith leaders committed to equality and we will continue to raise those voices up until there is liberty and justice for all."

Samuel Chu is available for comment: 310-988-5548

The Rev. Susan Russell is available for comment: 714-356-5718

Thursday, July 22, 2010



June 21st, 2010


LOS ANGELES, CA –"A new poll out today found that many Californians believe the Golden Rule supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry," said CFE Executive Director Samuel M. Chu. "This research validates the work California Faith for Equality has been doing to promote those religious voices that support marriage equality. We now have data supporting our conviction that religion can be a positive force for marriage equality. This poll found that if a vote on marriage equality were held today, 51% of Californians would support it."

Chu continued, "CFE has a membership of over 6000 statewide clergy and lay leaders who have been organizing to make religious communities a force in winning full equality, especially since the passage of Prop 8 in 2008. Most recently, we co-sponsored and supported the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, SB 906, introduced in Sacramento by Senator Mark Leno. SB 906 reaffirms that no clergy member can be required to solemnize a civil marriage contrary to his or her beliefs and that churches will not lose tax-exempt status for refusing to solemnize any marriages. This new research reports that such a bill increases the support for marriage equality from 42% to 54%. We are definitely on the right track."

Chu went on to say, "We applaud the work of the Public Religion Research Institute. Their poll reveals that most Californians believe that Prop 8 was bad for California – only 1 in 5 Californians believe Prop 8 was a “good thing” for our state. CFE plans to widely distribute these compelling poll results as well as continue to organize congregations come out for marriage equality.

"We have gained tremendous ground during the last year. We see the evidences of Californians moving toward full equality for all people and CFE will continue to work to educate as well as change hearts and minds so that the Golden Rule becomes a lived reality in our state."

The entire poll can be found at: http://www.publicreligion.org

Samuel Chu is available for comment

To reach him call: 310-988-5548


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Congrats to Rev. Neil Thomas!

California Faith for Equality is celebrating Rev. Neil Thomas, Board Chairperson, as he receives the Harvey Milk Award from Christopher Street West/LA Pride. The award is presented by Rodney Scott, President of CSW/LA Pride, on CSW's 40th anniversary.

Congrats Neil!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Kameyas: A Story of Faith and Family

California Faith for Equality volunteers Harold and Ellen Kameya share their story about faith and their family:
Twenty-two years ago, our then 20-year old daughter Valerie told us she was gay. As Sansei from Hawaii, raised in a socially conservative Japanese American culture, Valerie’s announcement devastated us. At that time, we were woefully ignorant on issues of sexual orientation, including that being gay is not a choice. As part of that ignorance, we were saddened that we would never see our daughter get married or have a family.
. . .
In 1990, we were asked to share our experiences with a group of gay Asian Americans. That meeting was a turning point for us. After we spoke, we were moved by the tears on the faces of the audience.

Read more at Asian Pacific Americans for Progress.

Friday, May 28, 2010

CFE Supporters Help Pass DADT

Last night, we made history.

Less than 24 hours ago, the House voted 234-194 to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Thanks in part to CA Faith for Equality's supporters from Representative Costa's district, Costa, who was leaning to vote No, voted Yes to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Didn't get a chance to call your representative before the vote? You can still be a part of history.

Call and thank those who voted YES because it's important they know that they made decisions both morally upright and representative of their constituents.

Call out those who voted NO because they must be reminded of their moral obligations to support human rights, especially for soldiers who are willing to die for our and their freedom.

Here's how you can call your representatives to thank them or to call them out:
Look up your representative's recorded vote.

Dial 202-224-3121, the House switchboard, to thank or to call out your representative.

Leave a message or tell the person you speak with that you are a member of that district, and that you're happy or disappointed in your representative's vote.

Email CA Faith for Equality to tell who us you called. Email Kerry at kerry@cafaithforequality.org.

Together, we won tonight, and together we will continue to win.

Your call to your representative makes all the difference.

Samuel Chu
Executive Director

California Faith for Equality Action Fund is part of the California Faith for Equality family of organizations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

CFE Organizers Meet Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

From the Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong:
In a country that is trying to pass a law that would make homosexuality punishable by the death penalty, few voices speak out in favor of justice and human rights as courageously as Retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo from West Buganda, Uganda.

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, Bishop Ssenyonjo spoke out about his country's draconian measure as not only an affront to the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights or his own country's system of extended families, but also challenges the basic Christian teaching of love and inclusion. He suggests that education is key to stemming the homophobic tide that has a grip on his country right now.

Kerry Chaplin and I represented California Faith for Equality at a lunchtime conversation hosted by Irvine United Congregational Church (UCC) in Orange County along with 30 other people. All the participants favored the concept of showing compassion in the midst of a hostile political and religious environment.
Comparisons and connections were drawn between the passage of Prop 8 here in California, support from the conservative Rick Warren and his Saddleback Church in Riverside, CA. for "ex-gay ministries," and the breakaway groups such as St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA., to the current homophobic environment in Uganda. Bishop Senyonjo encouraged supporters of equality to be vigilant about keeping the pressure on the Ugandan government, as well as working locally to affect international law.

CFE urges all persons of faith to join Bishop Christopher in his call to end homophobia and stop the spread of hatred and discrimination in Uganda and around the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Prayer for Harvey Milk Day, Every May 22nd

Created by Rabbi Lisa Edwards
Beth Chayim Chadashim
Los Angeles

Eternal One, You created us b’tzelem Elohim, in Your image, filling us – as You are filled --- with hope, hope that we might yet bring to fruition Your vision of cooperation and harmony, of wholeness and peace. You imagined such a world, Holy One, and then instilled within us the ability to imagine it too. You hope even now for such a world, Holy One, knowing You created us with the desire to give each other hope like Yours, hope that tomorrow will find us finally ready, finally able, to bring Your imagined world into being. Blessed are You, Hopeful One, creator of hope and of those who bring it to the world.

Faith Leaders to Remember Harvey Milk in Sunday Services

Faith Leaders will join secular leaders across the state of California to remember Harvey Milk in their services this weekend. May 22, 2010 is the first official Harvey Milk Day in the state of California and there will be many events honoring him throughout the state.

"We have asked congregations to join in the celebration of the life and work of Harvey Milk , the first openly gay elected official in the nation. He was a visionary and a man of great courage who took action to fight for equality for all people, " said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality. "Likewise, we have called for faith leaders to put their faith into action by following Harvey Milk's example of speaking out for all who suffer from oppression and inequality."

"I will be telling my parishioners that like Harvey Milk, I am here to recruit them to stand up for justice and equality for all, " said the Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles. Thomas is the 2010 recipient of the CSW Pride LA Harvey Milk Award.

Some of the other churches and synagogues who have committed to honor Milk in their services are: Kehilla Community Synagogue in the Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley areas; St. Victor's Catholic Community Church in Vallejo; First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park; First Congregational Riverside; Unity Fellowship Church, Riverside; and Dignity – San Diego.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010




California Faith for Equality (CFE) is proud to announce that its President and one of its founding members, Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, has been named the 2010 recipient of the coveted Harvey Milk Award.

In honoring Neil, here's what CSW LA Pride said in their press release: Reverend Neil, as he is known, is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles. He has helped create feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters for those in need, safer sex initiatives for the vulnerable, worked on better relations between law enforcement and the LGBT community, and launched a drop in center for LGBT youth. As the President of California Faith for Equality, Reverend Dr. Thomas works with an interfaith coalition to build a collective voice that will help bring about Marriage Equality in California. He is also the President of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council. Reverend Neil believes "that God is calling us all to make a difference and to reach the world, one life at a time."

(Samuel Chu & Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas)
"This award couldn't go to a more deserving person", said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of CFE. Reverend Neil is a man of deep faith who leads by the example of putting his faith into action. Like Harvey Milk, he has worked tirelessly for equality and human rights for all persons. Neil has followed Milk's marching orders that 'hope must never be silent.' We are very proud and congratulate him on this honor.

"CFE vows to continue to spread the vision and example of both Harvey Milk and Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas to continue to make a difference and champion equality for all."

California Faith For Equality is a network of over 6000 clergy and lay leaders committed to equality for all.

For more information contact:
Louise Brooks
CFE Media Relations

Monday, May 17, 2010

CFE Board President Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas named recipient of HARVEY MILK Award for 2010 CSW Pride Festival


LOS ANGELES (May 13, 2010) Christopher Street West Proudly presents the 2010 Honorees for the 40th LA PRIDE celebration June 11 - June 13, 2010.

Reverend Dr. Neil G. Thomas - Harvey Milk Award

Reverend Neil, as he is known, is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles. He has helped create feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters for those in need, safer sex initiatives for the vulnerable, worked on better relations between law enforcement and the LGBT community, and launched a drop in center for LGBT youth. As the President of California Faith for Equality, Reverend Dr. Thomas works with an interfaith coalition to build a collective voice that will help bring about Marriage Equality in California. He is also the President of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council. Reverend Neil believes "that God is calling us all to make a difference and to reach the world, one life at a time."

Other honorees are:

Jane Velez-Mitchell - Person of the Year Award.

Christopher Street West proudly names Jane Velez-Mitchell as the 2010 Person of the Year for her activism, her honesty in sharing her journey overcoming addiction, and for being an out lesbian working in national media. Velez-Mitchell currently hosts HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell." She is a veteran television news journalist and Emmy Award winner who spent more than a decade anchoring and reporting for KCAL-TV in Los Angeles.

Velez-Mitchell is a published author whose autobiography, "I Want: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life" became a New York Times bestseller. In her book, Velez-Mitchell reveals that she strives "to experience the ultimate joy and freedom that lies in compassion and being of service to other people and other living beings." In addition, Velez-Mitchell is a strong animal rights activist advocating for the humane treatment of animals.

Nadia Sutton - Morris Kight Lifetime Achievement Award

Nadia Sutton is an activist, volunteer, and inspiration to all in the LGBT community and beyond. In 1989, Nadia founded PAWS/LA (Pets Are Wonderful Support), a non-profit organization helping those affected by HIV/AIDS who had difficulty caring for their pets. Nadia is passionate about the fight for equality. She is among the first to mobilize teams of people to show up at a protest march or demonstration. Nadia is also a tireless advocate for many organizations that rely on her skill to move their mission forward. Nadia serves on the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, the West Hollywood Women's Mastermind Group, Friends of the Center for Sex and Gender Research at CSUN and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

Best in Drag Show - CSW Special Community Award

Best in Drag Show is a labor of love by a group of friends who donate their time and remarkable talents to produce a unique and entertaining event benefiting those living with HIV/AIDS. Originally called the Battle for the Tiara, the Best in Drag Show is a spoof on the Miss America Pageant. It began production in 1989, the brainchild of Patrick Rush and Alexis Pittman and has since generated over $1 million in donations. Rush has said, "We wanted to raise money for an organization that had actually helped people we knew." Celebrity judges have included Jane Lynch, John C. Reilly, Charlie Sheen, Niecy Nash, Kathy Griffin and many more.

HONOR PAC - CSW Special Community Award

Made up of a dedicated group of individuals, HONOR PAC is a voluntary, non-partisan committee whose mission is to advocate for the political empowerment of the Latina/o LGBT community. HONOR PAC supports candidates and ballot propositions that advance progressive policies that serve the unique needs and interests of those communities. HONOR PAC promotes education of LGBT issues, supports education programs for immigrant students and helps Latino LGBT youth by advancing anti-bullying legislation. HONOR PAC strives to provide access to health care and support for HIV/AIDS funding. In addition to fighting for marriage equality, it works to achieve equal protection for transgender individuals.

Guy Baldwin - Berman/Schaffer Award

Guy Baldwin is a pioneer, an educator, and an advocate in the LGBT BDSM, D/S, and Leather communities and has made a noticeable and positive impression on the lives of many. Guy was the first gay man to join the Society of Janus, an education and support organization devoted to safe and consensual BDSM. He quickly helped educate and expand the group. In 1976, while attending UCLA, he began insisting that 'taboo' erotic practices had been misunderstood by mental health-care providers. He worked to change the view and recognition among professional metal health practitioners concerning alternative or kinky sexuality. He also helped create the Kink-Aware-Professionals List, a global resource of kink-friendly medical, dental, and legal professionals.

Bamby Salcedo - Connie Norman Award

Bamby Salcedo is a transgender woman who works to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Bamby is the project coordinator for the transgender youth program at Children's Hospital LA. She previously worked as the program manager for the Transgeneros Unidas with Bienestar. Ms. Salcedo is a strong advocate and activist on issues regarding HIV prevention and economic and professional development for Latina transgender women. She has presented at many national health and HIV prevention conferences and serves in various planning committees statewide including the California HIV Planning Group (CHPG), in which she chairs the transgender working group. Ms. Salcedo is also a member of the Transgender Service Provider Network in Los Angeles. She is also the creator of the Angels of Change Calendar which provides positive and assuring images to transgender youth.

Ari Ruiz - Outstanding Youth Leader Award

Christopher Street West recognizes Ari Ruiz as an Outstanding Youth Leader. In August 2009, Ari Ruiz was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the Commission for Children, Youth and their Families. He was the youngest individual to be elected Political Vice President for the Stonewall Young Democrats. Ari worked to improve education in East Los Angeles with InnerCity Struggle. He also worked in the community of El Serano as the Outreach Coordinator for Barrio Action, which ensures that community members participate in after-school tutoring, ESL and basic computer skill building. Ari actively participates with the LAUSD as a member of Project 10.

Sheryl Lee Ralph - George Moscone Award

Christopher Street West proudly honors longtime community ally, Sheryl Lee Ralph, with the 2010 George Moscone Award. Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed actress, activist and creator. In 1990, she established the Diva Foundation (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) and created DIVAS Simply Singing!, a star-studded, fundraising extravaganza, produced by Ms. Ralph and co-starring a host of committed Divas. The annual event has helped raise millions for organizations such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Black Pride Institute and Project Angel Food. Past Diva's have included Chaka Khan, Fergie, Nancy Wilson, Loretta Devine, Melissa Manchester and Raven Symone. "Women's voices have been silent for too long in the struggle against HIV/AIDS," Sheryl says, "and their stories need to be told. Their health and well-being matter too."

West Coast Singers - Pat Parker Arts Award

Created in 1983, the West Coast Singers is the third oldest mixed-voiced chorus of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender singers in the nation. Upon its inception the organization's primary purpose was to provide a safe environment for gays and lesbians to come together and sing. The West Coast Singers have performed at many community events including: the California AIDS Lifecycle closing ceremonies, the Gay & Lesbian Center's 25th anniversary, PFLAG's 20th anniversary dinner, the GLAAD Tidings annual holiday party, the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and the Names Project presentation of the Aids Memorial Quilt at UCLA.

D.I.V.A. - Torie Osborn / Dick Michaels Media Award

D.I.V.A.: Diverse and Inclusive Visionary Artists is a grassroots, non-profit organization comprised of 2,000+ industry members dedicated to promoting the creative endeavor and maximum visibility of multi-ethnic and/or LGBT artists and professionals in the media. In 2003, Nelson Melegrito recognized the need to provide a forum for multi-ethnic LGBT artists with an alternative niche to network. In addition, D.I.V.A. events have helped raise funds and awareness for many local and national non-profit organizations


M·A·C Cosmetics - The Sheldon Andelson Award

M·A·C AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of M·A·C cosmetics, was established in 1994 and is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS funding, providing financial support to organizations working with under-served populations. As the largest corporate non-pharmaceutical giver in the arena, MAF has raised over $150 Million exclusively through the sale of M·A·C's VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass, donating 100 percent of the sale price to fight HIV/AIDS.

For more detailed information and images of the 2010 Honorees, please visit LAPRIDE.org.The Christopher Street West Board of Directors and Nominating Committee congratulate all of this year's Honorees and thank those that took the time to nominate this outstanding slate of committed individuals and organizations that live our vision of PRIDE 365: Power. Passion. Purpose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The newly formed Moral Compass to Justice Group held it's first town hall forum called: Stop The Hate: A Forum on Hate Speech & Violence on May 11th at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

The forum was moderated by Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Moral Compass to Justice group is a newly formed group of faith and lay leaders who are committed to human rights. California Faith for Equality members have been active in the formation of this group which hopes to bring together all those in the community who suffer injustice and inequality to support justice for all.

The program was opened by songs of peace and justice and equality written by Ani Zonneveld, Co-Founder of Muslims for Progressive Values

The panelists from left to right were:

Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Founder, Progressive faith Foundation; Adrian Dove, CORE, Anjelica Solas, Executive Director, CHIRLA and Commander david Doan, Chief of Detectives, LAPD.

All the panelists committed to stand together for human rights and to stand beside one another in their struggles for justice.

At the close of the forum, The Moral Compass Group was honored by the California State Assembly for their work

R to L :
Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of CLUE, Rev. Ryan Bell, Hollywood Seventh Day Adventist, the Rev. Susan Russell, All saints Church Pasadena, Sharon Groves, Human Rights Campaign, Rabbi Steven Jacobs and Rev. Eric Lee.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CFE Supports Transgender Equality - Join Us

Marriage equality is not our only call to justice.

With Harvey Milk Day approaching, we honor his legacy of fighting for the us'es - those of us pushed to the margins.

We are called to serve and to advocate for all of the us'es, and especially for transgender equality.

In order to fully support Transgender Lobby Day on Monday, May 17th, we are postponing California Faith for Equality’s Lobby Day, formerly on May 11th, to later this year (date TBA).

Register to participate in Transgender Lobby Day on Monday May 17th in Sacramento, then email California Faith for Equality at kerry@cafaithforequality.org to let us know you'll be there.

By participating in Lobby Day, you'll put your faith into action. You'll use the your experience as a faith leader and the knowledge you've gained from California Faith for Equality to be an effective advocate for transequality.

Together, we will pursue justice for all of the us'es.

Yours in the Struggle,
Samuel Chu
Executive Director

California Faith for Equality educates, supports and mobilizes California's communities of faith to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in California and to safeguard religious freedom.
For more information visit www.cafaithforequality.org or call (310) 598-5866.

Friday, April 16, 2010

CFE's Rev. Canon Susan Russell takes on Tea Party Tantrums

April 15, 2010
Pasadena, CA.

Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer
for the Pasadena Star News interviews the Rev. Canon Susan Russell, CFE and "A Moral Compass to Justice"spokesperson at press conference.

From the article in Pasadena Star News, April 16, 2010

The competing faith-based group [A moral Compass to Justice], which included Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders opposing the tea party movement, gathered at All Saints Church earlier in the day and decried racism and discrimination. They also called for an end to "violent speech and actions" they say are fostered by the tea party movement.

"We want to model American values that don't have anything to do with polarization and marginalization but have to do with liberty and justice for all," said Rev. Susan Russell, a senior associate at All Saint's Church, at a press conference Thursday.

The new interfaith initiative expects to tackle a number of key social issues, including hate crimes, poverty, education, prison reform and marriage equality, Russell said.

The group's speakers launched a scathing attack on the tea party movement, accusing at least some of its supporters of an unwillingness to accept the country's diverse range of faiths, ethnicities and cultures.

"The rhetoric of hatred, racism and discrimination being espoused by the current Tea Party Movement and the silence of many elected officials, is sadly reminiscent of an era of American history that is a blemish as it pertains to justice, that is a wound as it pertains to respect and equality," said Rev. Eric P. Lee, the California President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, during Thursday's press conference.

Last month, reports surfaced that some tea party activists outside Capitol Hill rally had shouted racial slurs at members of the Congressional Black Caucus during protests over the proposed health care bill,and that one of them, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) has been spat on by a protestor.

Another representative, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is openly gay, was reportedly called a derogatory term that referenced his sexual orientation.

An organizer of the tea party rally condemned the racial slurs as "disgraceful", telling Fox News that it was an isolated incident. They were also condemned by Republican National Chairman Michael Steele.

But leaders of the new interfaith initiative say more needs to be done.

"If you really are opposed to racism, then end it with your followers," Russell said of the tea party leadership. "Challenge those signs in your audience. Speak truth to your followers and bring them around to the values you say you are in favor of."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CFE Executive Director Samuel Chu Helps Launch of "A Moral Compass to Justice"

Pasadena - April 15th, 2010

Samuel Chu, Executive Director of CFE helps launch "A Moral Compass to Justice", a group of prominent interfaith leaders and organizers who have banned together to counter the rhetoric and racism of the Tea Party Movement.

Chu, one of the founders of this new group, and others began meeting a few months ago to see how their separate organizations could come together to support all the interlocking oppressions. At the center of all the groups is a strong sense of social justice and putting faith into action.

Their press release today stated "A Moral Compass to Justice" is a collaborative of justice-minded faith leaders calling for a faith based alternative to the environment of racism, homophobia, discrimination, and violence generated by the current Tea Party movement.

"A Moral Compass to Justice" claims social justice as a core value of all religions and faith. The new group calls for a return to the faith and values that have guided America through the social transformations that challenged discrimination and resulted in greater equality, freedom, respect and dignity for all of Americans.They urge elected officials and the American people to join them in the sacred work of setting a moral compass for justice so that there will be a more just world for all of us."
Other members of the Group Include:

Rev. Eric P. Lee, is CA State President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization co-founded by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is author of , “Marriage Equality: Proposition 8, The California Divide”, and co-producer of a 90 minute documentary on the failure of public education as it pertains to African American and Latino children titled, “Who Is Accountable?” As a civil rights activist, Rev. Lee recently took a stand against California Ballot Initiative Proposition 8 in support of marriage equality and LBGT Rights, believing that anytime one group of people is denied the same rights and privileges of others in society; it is fundamentally a denial of their civil rights. Rev. Lee is a founding member of the Stand For Security Coalition, which organized African American Security Officers into a union; Diversity Task Force member, working to reintegrate African Americans into the hotel and restaurant industries; founding member of the Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education, a collaboration of organizations that forced UCLA to change their admissions policies proven to be discriminatory and racist. Rev. Lee is also a board member of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (IJUCP) elee@sclcla.org

Dr. Sharon Groves, Deputy Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign. At HRC Sharon has overseen the creation of numerous new resources, including a weekly preaching resource, a guide to living openly in your place of worship, a curriculum that follows the movie For the Bible Tells Me So and another that helps congregations wrestle with issues of gender identity within their faith communities. She has published a number of articles on such topics and religion and marriage equality, the importance of religious advocacy within the LGBT movement and the struggle for equality within world religions. She is a lay leader at All Souls Church, Unitarian.sharon.groves@hrc.org

Rabbi Denise Eger, President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood's Reform Synagogue and is a long time Human rights activist. She holds a B.A. in Religion from the University of Southern California and a Masters Degree from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. She was ordained in 1988. She is a founder of California Faith for Equality and for Jews for Marriage Equality. She is also a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council. rabbi@kol-ami.org

Ani Zonneveld is the Co-Founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values. She is a strong advocate for human rights including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights and established MPV as one of the first Muslim organization to support such a cause. Ani has partnered up with CA Faith for Equality against Prop.8 and has been a consistent supporter for federal and state-level protection of LGBT rights. MPV is a national organization based in Los Angeles with affiliates in NY, D.C. and Ottawa.

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA and former President of Integrity, USA - an LGBT advocacy organization within the Episcopal Church. She has advocated for the ordination of gay bishops, lead the charge for the blessing of same sex unions and now a powerful spokesperson for marriage equality in CA. She is a member of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion Council and has been named of the 50 Most Influential Anglicans Worldwide by the London Sunday Telegraph. Russell has made numerous appearances on network news programs defending Marriage equality. Her blog: http://www.inchatatime.blogspot.com/. srussell@allsaints-pas.org

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Kol Tikvah in Los Angeles, Cal. Among his many social justice contributions, Jacobs served as part of the interfaith delegation to Yugoslavia with Rev. Jesse Jackson and helped to bring about the release of the captured American soldiers; he actively participated with service union workers for wage reform; and during the post-election 2000 uncertainty, Jacobs emerged as the prime force in the renewal of the Black-Jewish Coalition. For these and other activities throughout his life, Jacobs received the 2001 Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award.

Rev. Ryan Bell, Pastor at Hollywood Seventh-Day Adventist Church where he has served since June 2005. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and is now completing a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Since 2005, he and his congregation have been active in the Hollywood community and the city of Los Angeles bearing witness to God’s reign by, in part, working for solutions to some of the most intractable social problems including homelessness, affordable housing and human trafficking through advocacy and faith-based community organizing. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several books, including The Peacemaking Remnant. He blogs at http://www.ryanjbell.net/.

Rev. Arthur “Art” Lawrence Cribbs Jr., is pastor of the San Marino Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (UCC) in San Marino, CA. Rev. Cribbs’ first career was as a newscaster. In the mid-1990s, he was employed by KPIX-TV in San Francisco, where he was appointed bureau chief for the East Bay and was a special commentator during the O.J. Simpson trial. He also founded a weekly spiritual support group for non-traditional church persons and produced a weekly focus piece on persons “Making a Difference.” Rev. Cribbs began his ministerial career at age 13 as assistant pastor in his father’s church. Once the Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, Cribbs refused to conduct any marriages.

Vincent Jones, Senior Program Officer, Liberty Hill. "I led the keep-the-peace effort at my high school during the civil unrest following the Rodney King trial. I’ve been organizing people to overcome challenges or achieve shared goals ever since." Vincent staffed several political campaigns and was an aide to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and New York City Councilmember David Yassky. He was executive director of Center for Health Justice, currently serves as board co-chair of the National Teen Leadership Program and is a Camp Courage trainer. He has a B. A. in History from Swarthmore College where he was a Eugene M. Lang Scholar for Social Action and a Public Policy & International Affairs Fellow.

Rabbi Jonathan Klein serves as the Executive Director at CLUE-LA. Prior to his ordination in 1997 from Hebrew Union College, Jonathan served congregations in Flagstaff, Arizona and Rye, New York. Upon receiving his rabbinical degree, he served three years directing the Reform Jewish Movement's college program, eight years as the Allen and Ruth Ziegler Rabbinic Director of USC Hillel in Los Angeles, and a year as a Campaign Organizer and then Development Director for the Progressive Jewish Alliance. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, on the executive boards of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, Jews Against the War, and the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP).

Eddie Martinez is the Associate Director of The Wall Las Memorias Project, a non profit HIV/AIDS organization located in Los Angeles. The Wall - Las Memorias Project is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS. Martinez is a native Angelino and the child of Mexican immigrants. Martinez was a community organizer during the Prop 8 campaign. Martinez was recognized in June of 2009 by Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl as one of the “Faces of the New LGBT Movement”. This recognition is in honor the new leaders and the growing diversity of the LGBT civil rights movement. Mr. Eddie Martinez is currently sitting on the County of Los Angeles Crystal Meth Work Group and State of Califonia Office of AIDS Latino Advisory Board. He is also the chair of the Greater East Los Angeles Meth Task Force. emartinez@thewalllasmemorias.org

Louise Brooks is CEO of LEB Media, a media consulting and messaging strategy firm in Los Angeles. Her clients include authors, celebrities, politicians and faith based non-profits. Prior to forming LEB Media she was an Emmy nominated television producer and executive. Brooks is a longtime civil rights activist for gay rights and has created successful media strategies for the election of gay bishops in the church. Brooks also did crisis management for All Saints Church during its investigation by the IRS.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"A Moral Compass to Justice" -- CFE Faith Leaders Take on the Tea Party Movement on Tax Day

"A Moral Compass to Justice" is a collaborative of justice-minded faith leaders calling for a faith based alternative to the environment of racism, homophobia, discrimination, and violence generated by the current Tea Party movement.

"A Moral Compass to Justice" claims social justice as a core value of all religions and faith. The new group calls for a return to the faith and values that have guided America through the social transformations that challenged discrimination and resulted in greater equality, freedom, respect and dignity for all of Americans.

They urge elected officials and the American people to join them in the sacred work of setting a moral compass for justice so that there will be a more just world for all of us."

WHEN: 10.00AM - Thursday, APRIL 15th to counter Tea Party protests
WHERE: All Saints Church, 132 N Euclid Avenue, Pasadena 91101
WHO: (Speakers at Tuesday's Press Conference)

  • Rev. Canon Susan Russell, All Saints Episcopal Church-Pasadena
  • Rev. Eric P. Lee, CA President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Rabbi Denise Eger, President, Southern California Board of Rabbis
  • Eddie Martinez, Associate Director of The Wall Las Memorias Project
  • Ani Zonneveld, Co-Founder/President, Muslims for Progressive Values

    Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Kol Tikvah
    Dr. Sharon Groves, Asst. Dir. of Religion and Faiths Program, Human Rights Campaign
    Rev. Ryan Bell, Pastor, Hollywood Seventh-Day Adventist Church
    Vincent Jones, Senior Program Officer, Liberty Hill Foundation
    Rev. Samuel Chu, Executive Director, CA Faith for Equality
    Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, CLUE-LA
    Rev. Art Cribbs, Pastor, San Marino UCC

    CONTACT: Louise Brooks, Media Coordinator ■ 626.993.4605 ■ lebrooks@earthlink.net

Sunday, April 11, 2010

CFE seeks Operations Manager

Operations Manager
Salary: $40,000-45,000 (depending on experience) plus benefits package

Education: Bachelor (BA, BS, etc.)
Location: Los Angeles, California, 90069, United States

  • Job Category: Accounting & Finance, Administration, Employment & Human resources , Event planning, Fundraising & Development, Grants administration,
  • Management Sector: Nonprofit
  • Last day to apply: April 14, 2010
  • Type: Full time
  • Language(s): English
  • Area of Focus: Gay, Lesbian, Bi & Trans Issues, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Network of Nonprofit Organizations, Religion, Spiritual, and Metaphysical Issues, Voting, Democracy, and Civic Engagement
  • Location: 8714 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, California, 90069, United States
  • Website: http://www.cafaithforequality.org
    Sector: Nonprofit
  • Phone: (310) 598-5866
    Contact person: Kerry Chaplin Fax: (310) 854-9119

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Dear L.A. Area Faith Leaders,

California Faith for Equality is launching a new organizing training designed for clergy and lay leaders from congregations and organizations to maximize your capacity to work effectively at the intersection of LGBT equality and religion.

"Putting Faith into Action" was jointly developed by California Faith for Equality, Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-JIR, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. It is a comprehensive training which:

  • Offers concrete examples of how clergy, faith leaders and congregations can make use of organizing methods that will make marriage equality and LGBT equality a routine and evolving part of the entire congregation's ministry

  • Helps faith leaders develop a specific strategy suited for the unique cultural, theological, political makeup and mission of their given congregation or community
  • Offers extensive resources and exercises on how to assess what motivates a congregation and what may hold a leader or congregation back in working for LGBT equality

  • Provides space and technical assistance for you and your team so that you will leave the training with an actual plan of action, and to network and collaborate with other California Faith for Equality congregations and organizations in your area

We strongly encourage you to invite other leaders from your congregation and participate as a team.

One of the greatest strengths people of faith bring to the fight for equality is the deep trust and long standing relationships we have within our networks. The "Putting Faith into Action" training was created to tap into this potential power and turn it into a force for good. If we are to win full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people - to make it a moral and social mandate pervasive in all aspects of our lives - it will no doubt require the very best of what the people of faith have to offer.

Training Details:
DATE: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
TIME: 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. - (Lunch will be provided*)
LOCATION: First Congregational Church of Los Angeles
540 South Commonwealth Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020-1298
(Parking is free)

Please let us know ASAP whether or not you will be able to attend the training by responding to Kerry Chaplin at kerry@cafaithforequality.org.

* Also, please note any dietary restrictions so we can accommodate you.

Best regards,



Los Angeles- April 7, 2010
The Board of California Faith for Equality (CFE) is delighted to name Samuel M. Chu as its full-time Executive Director. The announcement, made by the Reverend Neil Thomas, President of the CFE Board and Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Los Angeles, followed an extensive search process and the selection of Chu from a slate of highly qualified candidates.

"Samuel will join us permanently after serving CFE well as our Interim Executive Director," said Thomas. "Under his leadership, CFE has grown to a statewide network of congregations, faith-based organizations, and faith leaders committed to equality. As we move forward, CFE will continue to educate, support and mobilize California's communities of faith to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and to safeguard religious freedom for all Californians."

Chu, a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong, China, has served in the Presbyterian Church and is a fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. He currently chairs One LA-Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) -- one of the nation's largest networks committed to developing leadership and power for social and economic change. In addition to serving as CFE Executive Director, Chu will also oversee the CFE Action Fund.

He offered the following comments following his appointment:

"People of faith have always worked powerfully and provocatively at the intersections of various struggles for justice and equality. I am honored to be part of CFE's commitment to continuing that tradition as we work for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in California. We know that commitment will require the very best of what people of faith have to offer and contribute -- and we look forward to partnering with our secular allies as we work together toward our common goal of equality for LGBT Californians."

"It has been my deep belief that faith should always be a force for good -- not to be used to harm or to deny a person's humanity. I am honored to continue to lead California Faith for Equality at this critical moment when we must reclaim this powerful force -- not just for those on the religious left or the religious right - but for all people."
For more information contact:
Louise Brooks

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Catholics for Marriage Equality are speaking out

From their website:

Catholics for Marriage Equality [C4ME] encompasses faithful Roman Catholics throughout the United States who through prayerful discernment are supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples. Our consciences are informed by our Catholic social justice tradition based in Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
C4ME's justice focus is same-sex marriage equality. C4ME can denote any Catholic individual or group that affirms the C4ME purpose: (1) to give hope to those who are hurt and angry by our bishops' determination to block civil marriage for same-sex couples and (2) to disseminate truthful information respectfully stating why civil marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and social justice that Catholics can support as a matter of informed conscience and political opinion.
If you are a practicing Catholic desiring further information before committing yourself to support civil marriage equality, we hope this site will be helpful in your deciding to include gay and lesbian families in the rights granted heterosexual families through civil marriage. C4ME honors the Church's theology of sacramental marriage and affirms the right of every religious body to determine who it marries and what marriages it recognizes.
C4ME's Declaration of Conscience is adapted from ones used in the Massachusetts and Maine challenges to same-sex marriage. C4ME's goal is to obtain signatures of Catholics throughout the U.S. When a bishop denounces same-sex marriage and seeks to sway public officials, our signatures will attest that the bishop does not speak for all faithful Catholics.
For more information:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Africa, a step backward on human rights

From the Washington Post
By Desmond Tutu

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.

It is time to stand up against another wrong.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

"But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?

The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.

The writer is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Lutheran bishops prepare to welcome gay clergy

March 11, 2010
by Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

(RNS) Bishops in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination have approved preliminary steps to welcome a group of openly gay and lesbian ministers as official clergy with new liturgical rites.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Conference of Bishops approved a draft proposal on Monday (March 8) for the new rites, which include prayers and the laying on of hands by the local bishop, according to the denomination's news service.

The proposal only applies to 17 pastors who had followed normal ELCA procedures for education and ordination, but remained barred from the denomination's official clergy roster because of their sexuality. The clergy are all members of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a group devoted to gay rights in the ELCA.

Last summer, the ELCA, which has about 4.6 million members, voted to change its longtime policy barring noncelibate gays and lesbians from the pulpit. The church's executive council is expected to vote on the proposed rites at its meeting in Chicago next month, when it is also expected to draw up new rules for other gay and lesbian clergy candidates.

Since the ELCA's decision to allow noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy, 62 congregations have taken the two necessary votes to leave the denomination. An additional 197 have passed one of the votes, according to the ELCA, which has 10,230 congregations in all.

In addition, financial support for the denomination hit an all-time low of about $60 million in 2009, the church announced. ELCA Treasurer Christina Jackson-Skelton said the economic recession and "disagreements within congregations" about the decision on gay clergy had contributed to the decline.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Supreme Court Refuses To Block Same Sex Marriage in DC

From the Huffington Post March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block the District of Columbia's gay marriage law, freeing the city to issue its first marriage licenses to same-sex couples the following day.

Opponents of gay marriage in the nation's capital had asked Chief Justice John Roberts to stop the city from issuing the licenses on Wednesday while they appealed. They argued that D.C. voters should have been allowed to vote on the issue. Local courts have rejected the opponents' arguments.

"It has been the practice of the court to defer to the decisions of the courts of the District of Columbia on matters of exclusively local concern," said Roberts, writing for the court.

He also pointed out that Congress could have voted to stop the city government from putting the law into effect and didn't.

Opponents have also asked city courts to allow a voter referendum on gay marriage, and they "will have the right to challenge any adverse decision ... in this court at the appropriate time," Roberts said.

The city has said Wednesday probably will be the first day same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses. Couples still will have to wait three full business days for their licenses before exchanging vows.

Same-sex marriages are also legal in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont.

Monday, March 1, 2010

JUST LOVE: A Statewide Challenge to the Ex-Gay Movement

St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego California

Saturday, March 6 2010
9 a.m. – 5p.m.


8.30 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks: Rev. Canon Albert Ogle (Vice President for National and International Affairs, Integrity USA and serves as a Director of the California Council of Churches Impact Board)

The Very Rev. Scott Richardson (Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral)

9.15 a.m.-12.30 p.m. A PANEL OF EXPERTS

A personal testimony: Joshua’s Story

Joshua Romero is the HRC Religious Liaison in San Diego. He was raised in Baptist, Assembly of God, Nazarene, and non-denominational churches. A few months after coming out to his family during his senior year at Point Loma Nazarene University, he attended a Love Won Out conference in St. Louis with his family, where he witnessed first-hand the emotional and psychological damage of the ex-gay movement on LGBT persons and their parents. His friends' stories and faith challenges have inspired him to the create Solace, a peer support group for people of faith during the coming out process.

The history and methods of the ex-gay movement

Michael Bussee, after co-founding Exodus International in 1979, left
the group and became an outspoken critic of the organization. Today
Bussee is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, a father, an evangelical Christian, and a proud gay man.

Links to Exodus International, the ex gay movement in the USA and Uganda.

Wayne Besen
, Founder of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that defends the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community against anti-gay misinformation, counters the so-called “ex-gay” industry and educates America about the lives of LGBT people, and author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth and Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on GLBT People, Politics, and Culture.

Dr. Amity Pierce Buxton, author of The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, founded the Straight Spouse Network (SSN) to support straight spouses whose partners came out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender partners and mixed-orientation or trans/nontrans couples.

Jim Burroway, writer and Editor of Box Turtle Bulletin. Jim was the first to sound the alarm on the intensifying anti-LGBT climate in Uganda that has led to a bill before the Ugandan Parliament that has sparked international outrage.

Panel Questions and Answers

12.30-1.30 p.m. LUNCH (on your own)

1.30 p.m.-4.30 p.m. AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS


This intensive Media Training is designed to help anyone interested in improving their media skills and utilizing the media more effectively to get their messages across. How do you “stay on message” or deal with difficult or awkward questions?

Louise Brooks is a former Television Producer and is a consultant with California Faith for Equality and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Louise is also the Secretary to Integrity USA and coordinated the successful media campaign at the 2009 General Convention where the Episcopal Church passed legislation to open all employment and membership opportunities to LGBT people. Louise is also the media consultant for Rev. Mary Glasspool who was recently elected ad the first openly lesbian bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

B. COMMUNITY ACTIVISM - the hard work of “changing hearts and
minds”. How can religious people on one side, address the issues
raised by religious people on the other side? Chaired by Fernando Lopez, Marriage Equality USA

We are inviting EQCA. CFE, MEUSA, PFLAG, SAME and local GSA’s to
share helpful strategies from their wealth of experience here in San Diego. This workshop is designed to equip volunteers to engage deeper issues on a personal and conversational level. These tools and talking points can be used for door to door or everyday conversations with our opponents who have a particularly religious perspective that needs to be challenged effectively.

Andrea Shorter is the Deputy Director Marriage Equality, Equality California. She is a coalition building strategist for marriage equality and long term civil and human rights movement work. Andrea’s occupations have included Director, And Marriage For All; and Deputy Executive Director, Names Project Foundation/AIDS Memorial Quilt. She studied abroad in Denmark and traveled extensively 'round the world through Europe, Holland, Russia, Israel, Palestine, and South Africa. Andrea has been a proud Castro resident for nearly 20 years and is immersed in the fight for marriage equality, particularly with faith and minority communities.

The Rev. Dr. Paul Egertson, is Senior Lecturer in Religion at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA. From 1995 through 2001 he served as Bishop of the Southwest California Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
He is on the Board of Directors of Soulforce, Inc., and a member of the Covenant Circle for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. He has received a number of awards for over 25 years of activism within the Lutheran churches on behalf of equality for LGBTQ people and resigned one month before his term of office was completed following controversy over ordaining the first openly lesbian pastor in the Lutheran Church. He and his wife Shirley have been married for 54 years and are the parents of six sons (one gay, five straight). They enjoy over a dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Activism in Religious Settings” “I will briefly discuss the Biblical issues that Judeo/Christian groups struggle with. Then describe the four various views held by Christians in regard to gay/lesbian people. Finally, I'd describe the activist process by which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was led last August to change its denominational position from a closed to a more open one. The point of all three sections would be to provide assistance to those present as they seek to activate changes of attitude among religious people”.

C. STRATEGIES FOR RECOVERY from ex-gay theology and propaganda. What can the community provide?

Carlos Marquez is Director of Public Programs and Community Affairs at the San Diego LGBT Center


Susan Guinn is the lead partner in the Law Offices of Susan Guinn in San Diego and served on the Board of Directors of Equality California. She is married to Denice Feldhaus and they have two children, Gavin and Max.

The focus of this discussion will be on how to end the misinformation that has fueled everything from personal crises in thousands of undocumented cases of teenagers, men and women trying to use ex gay therapy to the influencing of legislation in Uganda. This is a workshop for attorneys and other interested people in monitoring the damage and misinformation from a legal and strategic point of view.

This workshop and discussion will be led by Susan Guinn from the Law Offices of Susan Guinn in San Diego

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Want To Converse On Religion? CONTACT ARIANNA and HuffPost Religion

Arianna Huffington February 24, 2010 03:18 PM

I've always been fascinated by religion.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of my family's summer holidays on the island of Corfu. August 15 is when all of Greece pays homage to the Virgin Mary. I remember going to church on that day every year, and sitting quietly among widows in black kerchiefs and younger women smelling of summer wool and candle smoke. I would watch, enthralled, as deep faith and memories moved them to tears of grief and hope. And, in my childish way, I shared their love for her.

I believe that we are all hardwired for the sacred, that the instinct for spirituality is part of our collective DNA. I wrote about this instinct 15 years ago, and called it the fourth instinct, the one beyond survival, sex, and power. It propels us to find meaning and transcend our everyday preoccupations.

For some, it involves organized religion. For others, it's a personal spiritual quest. Seventy percent of Americans belong to a religious organization and 40 percent attend services once a week.

Yet, despite the central role religion plays in American life, all too often, when talking about it, we end up talking at each other instead of with each other. This is a shame -- especially at a time like this, when the economic struggle in so many people's lives has led to a deeper questioning of our values and priorities. Whether you are a believer or not, this is an essential conversation to have...which is why I'm delighted to announce that we are launching HuffPost Religion -- a section featuring a wide-ranging discussion about religion, spirituality, and the ways they influence our lives.

Like all our sections, HuffPost Religion will bring you the latest news -- in this case about all things religion-related -- served up in the HuffPost style. It will also be home to an open and fearless dialogue about all the ways religion affects both our personal and our public lives. And it will do so in a way that moves beyond the pigeonhole depictions of both the faithful and the agnostic we see so frequently -- and also beyond the tired assumption that God is a card-carrying member of one political party or another.

HuffPost Religion is being edited by Paul Raushenbush, an Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton University and an ordained Baptist minister. As a passionate and brilliant religious thinker, pastor, writer and college dean, Paul is ideally suited to the challenge of presenting multiple viewpoints and insights, as well as the real-world implications of religion for American life.

So, among other things, you can expect discussions about the relationship between religion and science; the role religion can play in overcoming personal obstacles and attaining a sense of well-being; the ways religion is portrayed in pop culture; how religious commitments influence politicians and key domestic policy debates; and the effect of religion on foreign policy issues and international relations.

The bloggers who will be posting on HuffPost Religion will be a great mix of religious heavyweights and up-and-coming voices in the field. Today's thought-provoking lineup includes Rev. Jim Wallis on the spiritual crisis of the recession; Deepak Chopra on the continued importance of spirituality; Eboo Patel on the crucial importance of interfaith relations; Sister Joan Chittister on the future of the Roman Catholic Church; Rabbi Or Rose on the role of religion when it comes to the environment; Dr. Eddie Glaude on the declining power of the Black Church; Sharon Salzberg on Buddhism's "middle way"; Brian McLaren on 'new Evangelicals'; and Steven Barrie Anthony on technology and spirituality.

"Ask your soul!" pleads Herman Hesse in My Belief. "Your soul will not blame you for having cared too little about politics, for having exerted yourself too little, hated your enemies too little, or too little fortified your frontiers. But she will perhaps blame you for so often having feared and fled from her demands, for never having had time to give her..."

So give a little time over to explore these questions and concerns that are at the heart of HuffPost Religion. And let us know what you think. The conversation starts now


Attn: CFE members and supporters. It's happening again. A beauty queen speaking out -- this time quoting her intrepretation the Bible -- against Marriage Equality. Now is the time for us to take back the Bible. Speak out loudly and as often as you can to counter her message.

From Hollie McKay - FOXNews.com - February 23, 2010

Miss Beverly Hills Lauren Ashley Opposes Same Sex Marriage

Former Miss California Carrie Prejean isn't the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage. Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials.

Carrie Prejean isn't the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage.

Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials.

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.' The Bible is pretty black and white," Ashley told Pop Tarts.

"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."

Ashley, 23, will be representing Beverly Hills in the Miss California pageant in November. Her statements mirror former Miss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question about same-sex marriage in last year's Miss USA pageant. At the time, Prejean said her answer opposing same sex marriage cost her the title.

SLIDESHOW: Former Miss California Carrie Prejean.

But with the Miss California Pageant still months away, and Ashley already echoing the views that got Prejean in trouble last year, is she concerned that she may ruin her chances of taking home the tiara?

"That isn't really the issue. I have a lot of friends that are gay, and ... I have a lot of friends who have different views, and we share our views together," she said. "There's no hate between me and anyone."

And according to the Miss California's state director, Keith Lewis, a contestant's personal opinion should have no bearing on the result.

"The Miss California USA system has always had a place for an individual's thoughts and opinions when it comes to all sides of political issues," Lewis told Pop Tarts. "It is an organization which empowers women, and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs."

And while Ashley has yet to meet Carrie Prejean, she is certainly a big fan.

"She is definitely a beautiful person and I love that she stood up for what she believes in. I think that's gorgeous," Ashley said. "Perez Hilton definitely overreacted a little bit. He took it personally, and I'm sure that she loves him just as much as she loves everyone else."

Ashley owns her own personal training company in Beverly Hills. And even though she parties with Paris Hilton, she tries to steer clear of doing anything too naughty. She said she plans to remain a virgin until her wedding night.

"I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke weed or cigarettes. My definition of partying is a little different," she said. "I feel like my body is the Temple of God and it's my temple so it's really good to treat it well. I also feel like sex was made for marriage. You really show your future husband or wife respect and you build a lot of trust before you get married. You don't have sex with other people, so that should definitely build trust, because you waited."

Pop Tarts has also exclusively learned that Lewis, who was pitted against Prejean in last year's gay marriage brouhaha, is writing a tell-all book under the working title "The Man Behind the Tiara."

"It is a gay man's journey through overcoming his own homophobia," Lewis said. "I was from a Southern Baptist upbringing, I was from Carrie's camp. This whole thing made me realize that I had a deep-seated guilt about who I was. Strangely enough, Carrie Prejean made me comfortable with being gay."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Latino LGBT Community Forum

Free, Saturday, February 27th, 10 am

Highland Park Cultural Center
104 N. Ave. 56, Los Angeles 90042

The Latino Equality Alliance, an alliance of LGBT Latino community organizations, is partnering with the U. S. Census Bureau, MALDEF, and other Latino ally organizations in hosting the Latino LGBT Community Forum. The bilingual community forum will provide an opportunity for LGBT individuals, friends and family members to discuss the recent developments of the LGBT civil rights movement, what's happened since Prop. 8 passed, and what we can do now to further our movement.

We will also learn more about the new Census Bureau policy to officially count married and unmarried LGBT couples. This is in response to a recent policy change by the Obama Administration. The Census designates Latinos, and now LGBT Latinos, as “hard to count” populations. As such, we are working to assure the most accurate count possible by disseminating information about the new LGBT policy, how the Census form should be filled out to assure that LGBT couples are counted and encourage participation.

Your input is important as we develop our action plans to overcome homophobia, misconceptions and myths about the LGBT community. Please join us for this special event. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided at no charge. We will also offer free "Snapshot of America" Census campaign photos for Latina/o LGBT couples and families.

Please RSVP by email to: LatinoEqualityAlliance@gmail.com