Saturday, January 30, 2010


“Oh God, of Many Names and Faiths, Guide us to a new place where our faith builds bridges and creates places for healing. Amen” Rev Lesley Brogan

We see our faiths as a means to heal those who suffer, as an affirmation of the common human dignity of all of God’s people, and as a strong rebuttal of cruelty and derision attributed to God.

In this spirit, we have come together to form the American Prayer Hour, a time to pray in communion with our brothers and sisters in faith. We pray for an end to the spiritual violence continually suffered at the hands of the wrathful.

Join us at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 4, 2010 for the Los Angeles Prayer Hour hosted by the Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church,
610 E. California Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206

There is much work to do: every February, politicians and religious leaders flock to the National Prayer Breakfast. Long a tradition in the Capitol city, the National Prayer Breakfast is organized by the Fellowship Foundation, a fundamentalist Christian organization, scrutinized for their involvement in the Ugandan government’s draconian proposal to criminalize homosexuality—punishable by life imprisonment or death.

We cannot be silent or complacent at such an egregious violation of basic human rights and decency. The American Prayer Hour offers an alternative to the collusion in prayer with those who would inflict and support such unspeakable cruelty on another child of God.

Join us this Thursday, February 4th, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. Visit us online at for more information and to support the Prayer Hour.

Anchored in four key cities—Washington, DC, Dallas, Chicago and Berkeley, CA—the American Prayer Hour sees to show that hatred and extremism are contrary to the faithful, and an affront to loving religious traditions worldwide. We invite you to participate in this powerful event and encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors, congregations and families.

American Prayer Hour services are currently planned for the following cities:
Anchorage, AK (Church of Life Alaska); Berkeley-Pacific School of Religion (The Chapel); Boynton Beach, FL (Church of our Savior, MCC); Buffalo, NY(The Episcopal Diocese of Western New York-Bishop’s Chapel): Chicago, IL (Chicago Theological Seminary-The Chapel); Dallas, TX (Creating Change, Sheraton Dallas, Ballroom A); Minneapolis, MN (Plymouth Congregational , NY (The New Seminary); Washington, DC (Calvary Baptist Church, Chapel).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Defense Rests..........

The defense rested today in the Perry v Schwarzenegger Prop 8 Trial in San Francisco federal court. Judge Walker announced he'd be taking 30 days to "digest" the two weeks of testimony and set February 26th as the date he'll be ready to decide on a closing argument schedule.

So here's a foretaste of the NOT-so-heavenly banquet of Prop8 Trial post-mortem by the "Protect (our-but-not-your) Marriage" folks. I spied it yesterday on General Counsel Andy Pugno's blog which began:"Once again, religion was on trial this morning ..." No. In point of fact, what was on trial in Federal Court over these last two weeks was the abuse of religion as a weapon of mass disinformation in the 2008 Proposition 8 Campaign.

What was on trial was the use of money, resources and influence to fuel animus based bigotry by those hiding behind "freedom of religion" while attempting to inflict their view of religion on the rest of us.

What was on trial was a campaign to take rights away from gay and lesbian families based on the belief that since God does not equally bless the "lifestyle" of same sex couples then the Constitution should not equally protect them.

What was on trial was a homophobic attack on the foundational values of our constitutional democracy.

And while the defense may have rested today, in point of fact there IS no defense for allowing bigotry to trump the constitutionally protected rights of all Americans. None.

So let the "spin" begin. But remember at the end of the day it is the truth that will set us free.And what the truth can set us free to do is to stop fighting and fundraising and politicizing and demonizing in order to keep some Californians from being married and focus instead on supporting ALL Californians as we work to build stronger marriages. Stronger families. A stronger California and a stronger America.

For the truth is that families are not undermined by gay marriage. Families are undermined by poverty, joblessness, lack of health care, racism, discrimination, failing education systems and the deteriorating infrastructure of a state that should be pouring all its energy into supporting families -- not discriminating against gay and lesbian families.I rest my case.

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell is a Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA., a member of the Sponsoring Committee of CFE and a frequent CFE spokesperson.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27, 2010


Democratic Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco introduced a bill Monday to amend California's family code to "reaffirm" the separation of church and state. This bill declares that no clergy person is required to solemnize a civil marriage that is contrary to his or her faith. Leno says this bill should put to rest fears from religious groups that say they'll be forced to perform same sex marriages one day in California. Leno's bill, SB 906, is called the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act. The proposal also assures churches they won't lose tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform marriages contrary to beliefs.

"While there has never been any real possibility that anyone would be forced to marry same sex couples against their will, we believe this bill will take away that false argument in an upcoming political campaign." said Pastor Samuel M. Chu, interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality. "This bill will further define the separation bewteen church and state."

Leno said, "While we know that religious freedom is protected under our Constitution, this legislation eliminates any confusion or doubt under state law, reaffirming that no member of clergy or church will be penalized for refusing to solemnize marriages that violate their religious tenets."

"We are confident that one day, same sex couple will be able to marry in California and we urge our clergy, faith leaders and all those who support equality for all to support this bill and contact their state representative to enlist their support, said Chu.

For more information contact:
Samuel M.Chu
Interim ExecutiveDirector
California Faith for Equality
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, January 20, 2010


Claremont School of Theology to offer conference on 'Theology After Google'"Theology After Google: How to Use the New Technologies for More Effective Ministry ... While Recognizing Their Limitations" will be the topic of a conference to be held at the Claremont School of Theology May 10 - 12.Keynote speeches and a wide range of hands-on workshops will be offered by some of the leading Christian figures in the online world, including Spencer Burke, John Franke, Adam Walker Cleveland, Bob Cornwall, Tony Jones, Jon Irvine, Dwight Friesen, and Bruce Epperly, among others. Workshops will cover the effective use of blogs, podcasts, online videos, and social networking, as well as the many resources for pastors and denominational leaders that are now available online."Theology After Google" will offer concrete ways to use the web and the new networking technologies to publicize your church, ministry, or theology work; and a deeper understanding of what theology -- Christian reflection -- is becoming and must become if it is to be effective in the age of the internet. Inexpensive rooms will be available at the nearby Hotel Claremont. A three-day registration (includes opening-night reception) is $99; Gold Star Registration $149, which includes an opening reception, lunches with the speakers, and access to the "Theo-Pub" sessions each evening for follow-up discussion with speakers and participants. (After February 10, registration will be $129, $179 for the Gold Star.)A registration form and further details may be found here. The Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House) is an affiliated program of the Claremont School of Theology.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunrise Vigil for Hope and Marriage Equality

From CFE Interim Executive Director Pastor Samuel M. Chu :

Monday, January 11, 2010
Time: 6:30am - 8:30am
Federal Court, San Francisco
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA

Join us in a vigil for equality on the morning the federal courtbegins hearing the challenge against Prop 8. Together we will sharethe spirit of courage, hope and strength that will herald in the lighton this important next chapter of our civil rights movement.

There will be LOTS of strong coffee provided to those willing to getup that early and join us. Couples are encouraged to bring copies oftheir marriage licenses, photos from their weddings or anything thatmight help illustrate the importance of marriage equality and/or ourexperiences of getting married.

Perry v Schwarzenegger, the federal trial challenging Prop 8, isscheduled to begin on Monday January 11, 2010 at 8:30am in Courtroom 6on the 17th floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 450 GoldenGate Ave. in SF. There will be very limited seating available in thecourtroom. There will be an overflow room on the 19th floorbroadcasting the proceedings.

If you can't attend, there will be a camera in the courtroom and the proceedings will be uploaded to YouTube for delayed viewing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage

Why same-sex marriage is an American value.
By Theodore B. Olson NEWSWEEK

Legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation's commitment to equal rights. It is, some have said, the last major civil-rights milestone yet to be surpassed in our two-century struggle to attain the goals we set for this nation at its formation.

This bedrock American principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives alike. The dream that became America began with the revolutionary concept expressed in the Declaration of Independence in words that are among the most noble and elegant ever written: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Sadly, our nation has taken a long time to live up to the promise of equality. In 1857, the Supreme Court held that an African-American could not be a citizen. During the ensuing Civil War, Abraham Lincoln eloquently reminded the nation of its found-ing principle: "our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Read the entire article here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Jersey Senate Defeats Gay Marriage Bill

January 8, 2010

TRENTON — The State Senate on Thursday rejected a proposal that would have made New Jersey the sixth state in the nation to allow marriages involving same-sex couples. The vote was the latest in a succession of setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country.

After months of intense lobbying and hours of emotional debate, lawmakers voted 20 to 14 against the bill, bringing tears from some advocates who packed the Senate chambers and rousing applause from opponents of the measure, who also came out in force. The vote ends the effort to win legislative approval of the measure, and sets the stage for a new battle before the New Jersey Supreme Court.

“We applaud the senators for upholding a time-tested institution: marriage,” said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, which has argued that gay marriage would weaken the social fabric by redefining one of society’s bedrock institutions.

Supporters of gay marriage had hoped to win approval for the measure before Jan. 19, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who promised to sign it, will be replaced by Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie, who opposes it.

With the effort to win legislative approval now dead, supporters of same-sex marriage vowed to focus their efforts on the state’s highest court, which in 2006 ordered lawmakers to give same-sex couples the same rights as others whether or not they called such unions marriages. The Legislature responded by enacting a civil unions law, but gay-rights leaders say that the measure still leaves them subject to discrimination when applying for health insurance or trying to visit partners in hospitals, and that they will ask the court to grant them equal treatment.

“Even our opponents in the Legislature acknowledge that the civil-union law has not provided equal protection,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, who has led the lobbying for the past six years and wept as the bill’s sponsor, Senator Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck, introduced it.

The defeat in New Jersey, which has widely been viewed as one of the nation’s most socially tolerant states, was a significant setback for advocates of gay marriage. Last month, a similar measure was defeated in New York’s Legislature, and in November voters in Maine repealed a gay-marriage law in a referendum.

But leaders of Lambda Legal Defense Fund, which has helped coordinate gay rights causes in New Jersey and elsewhere, said they said they were confident that the court would prove more receptive than the Legislature.

“We are upset, we are disappointed, but we aren’t done fighting,” said Leslie Gabel-Brett, Lambda’s director of education and public affairs.

Opponents of gay marriage said that they, too, were prepared for a legal fight. Jon Tomicki, a leader of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage, said that legislators had already complied with the court order by enacting civil unions, and urged lawmakers to let the public cast its verdict on gay marriage in a referendum.

“In 30 other states, voters have gotten the chance to decide,” Mr. Tomicki said. “There’s no reason why New Jerseyans shouldn’t have the same right.” In nearly every instance in which gay marriage has been put up for a referendum, it has been defeated.

But supporters of gay marriage view their cause as a matter of civil rights which should be settled by the courts and Legislature, and point out that in 1915, New Jersey voters in a referendum rejected giving women the right to vote. Five years later, the 19th Amendment granted women voting rights.

Although it was not a major issue in the governor’s race, the effort to win legislative approval of same-sex marriage is widely viewed as a casualty of Mr. Corzine’s defeat in November. Some Democrats who had been receptive to the issue, and took financial and organizational support from gay activists, grew squeamish.

Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, who is scheduled to become Senate president this month, said he thought voters would look unkindly on the Legislature if it pushed for a social issue at a time of economic suffering. Senator Sweeney did not cast a vote on the measure on Thursday. In all, five senators did not vote and one was too ill to attend.

Senator Gerald Cardinale, a Republican from Cresskill, said during the debate on the Senate floor on Thursday that the results of the governor’s race were a clear indication that voters opposed gay marriage. Senator Cardinale said that although the civil unions statute was flawed, the state would be doing “violence” to the institution of marriage by changing its current definition as a union between one man and one woman.

“There are many who believe that this bill will change our entire culture,” he said, shortly before casting his “no” vote.

But Senate President Richard J. Codey, a Democrat from Essex, said that the furor surrounding gay marriage was based on the same type of unfounded fear of the unknown that was used to justify discrimination against women and racial minorities.

“One day people will look back and say, ‘What were they thinking?’ ” Senator Codey said, and, “ ‘What were they so afraid of?’ ”

After the vote, hundreds of supporters of the bill gathered in front of the State House to exchange tearful hugs and plot the next move in their effort. Among them was Christi Sturmont, who said she and her partner were dejected, but not despondent.

“We were holding out hope that we’d be able to get married and have full citizenship,” she said. “But now we’ll have to settle for second-class citizenship. For now. We’re not done fighting.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vigil Supporting Federal Case Challenging Prop 8 on Monday, Jan. 11th in San Francisco

Federal Court Case Challenging Prop 8
Monday January 11, 2010
Morning Vigil for Hope and Marriage Equality
6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Phillip Burton Federal Building Plaza 450 Golden Gate Ave in San Francisco

Join Marriage Equality USA leaders Molly McKay & Davina Kotulski and Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis, Courage Campaign leader Ksuzanne Massey, PFLAG parents Sam & Julia Thoron and Helen Laird, NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Lambda Marriage Project Director Jenny Pizer, couples who joyfully married, couples who want to marry, clergy leaders, musical performances by Veronica Klaus, Diane Larsen, local choirs and many many more!

Together we will share the spirit of courage, hope and strength that will herald in the light on this important next chapter of our civil rights movement.

There will be LOTS of strong coffee provided to those willing to get up that early and join us. Couples are encouraged to bring copies of their marriage licenses, photos from their weddings or anything that might help illustrate the importance of marriage equality and/or our experiences of getting married.

Perry v Schwarzenegger, the federal trial challenging Prop 8, is scheduled to begin on Monday January 11, 2010 at 8:30am in Courtroom 6 on the 17th floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in SF. There will be very limited seating available in the courtroom. There will be an overflow room on the 19th floor broadcasting the proceedings and it appears likely that the court will upload the trial daily to youtube - we'll do our best to keep you in the loop.

For more information and updates the vigil and court case go to People who are married and those who want to marry are asked to RSVP to for further information and briefings.

NOTE: The judge has ruled that the arguments will be videotaped and uploaded to YouTube after the hearing.