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