Friday, February 29, 2008
I agree with both Crain and Sullivan: the vast majority of straight-allies do not understand the constant prejudice that we, who are LGBT, face day in and day out regarding the laws of the land that do not include us at all. By and large, our straight allies have no clue as to what we are not afforded, either as single LGBT people, or people in committed relationships. I am made aware of this truth when giving book talks from ON BEING A GAY PARENT, and some people express shock when I tell them about the 1000+ laws that heterosexual married couples have that those of us in long term committed relationships do not have, all because of a $45 piece of paper called a "marriage license."
The term, "Wake Up!" is not enough. Like Crain and Sullivan, our hope is that, with our collective voices, change is afoot.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
We're Here, We're Queer...and We're Your Pastor, Your Priest, Your Rabbi, Your Youth Leader, Your Choir Director, Your Organist, Your Wedding Guru
Am I missing any class or group of people in the Church? If so, count your group infiltrated by LGBT people too. Because we are everywhere, no matter how conservative or liberal, evangelical or non-evangelical, Catholic or Orthodox, Protestant or non-denominational, African American, white, or Hispanic a church is!
Proof of that has come in the latest in the pages of the New Yorker magazine. Episcopal Bishop, the late Paul Moore, was gay. Honor Moore, the late-Bishop's daughter, has written a book on the subject. Listen to it after clicking here.
We're here, we're queer, and, well, just check the list above and circle which one you are!
Obama Targets Advertisements for the LGBT Community...And We're Waiting for McCain's Advertisements!
Barack Obama's campaign rolled out an advertisement for the LGBT community in Ohio and Texas, as reported on the advocate.com. Click here to read more.
Now what we are waiting for are the advertisements from John McCain's campaign! Perhaps Log Cabin Republicans can help him out, if need be. We missed Mike Huckabee's campaign for the LGBT community.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Gays And Social Conservatism, Ctd.
27 Feb 2008 05:04 pm
A reader writes:
I am an American expat in Italy, and I share the perspective of your other reader. There is a widespread assumption among people in America, and in Italy, that gay couples actually have most legal rights. My expat situation, thank goodness, has been facilitated by a huge multinational company, so my employer has been very supportive of doing everything possible to keep me and my partner together.
The surprise? The HR people that have been handling this all assumed that the US Government and the Italian Government would treat us as a couple! Here you have human resources PROFESSIONALS, on two sides of the Atlantic, who didn't realize that the laws of two major Western democracies abandon some families to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
In the end, the hard work of my heroic colleagues in HR have given us a modicum of household security. But they should have known that a bit of heroism would be necessary.
These readers are onto something. Most heterosexuals do not understand that it's illegal to get married in 49 states in the US for gay couples; they don't understand that even if you have a legal contract with your spouse, your legal next of kin can and will challenge it, if you die or get sick; most heterosexuals have no idea that America bars gay spouses from immigration, and bars all HIV-positive non-Americans from even entering the country (a policy that the Bush administration, for all its action on AIDS abroad, has not changed in eight long years).
The main reason for this, I think, is not so much homophobia, as the fact that most heterosexuals simply cannot imagine falling in love with someone, and being told by their own government that they cannot marry him or her. The experience of gay couples is simply beyond most straight people's experience. If it happened to any of them, there would be outrage. Splitting husbands from wives, tearing children apart from their parents, using government to attack and punish and stigmatize family life: it's unimaginable. And yet, with gay couples, it's the law. And it's government policy. And one political party routinely celebrates attacking and demonizing gay couples and using every legal tool to undermine our families and relationships.
Which means we have much, much more work to do. And only gay people can do it.
What do you think?
Washington Times updates style guide, conservatives up in arms
When the Washington Times, the conservative newspaper founded and run by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, changed its top leadership recently, observers expected that more change would be coming. They weren't wrong -- with the replacement of Executive Editor Wes Pruden by John Solomon, who has extensive experience at more mainstream media outlets, we've already seen one small but meaningful change to the paper's coverage. The Times has altered several elements of its style guide, telling staffers to use more neutral terminology instead of the doctrinaire wording and scare quotes favored by the previous editorial regime. In an e-mail memo that's been widely circulated now, one editor wrote:
All:This is good, when even more conservative publications are starting to make changes, a cultural shift that is slight but noticeable.
Here are some recent updates to TWT style.
1) Clinton will be the headline word for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
2) Gay is approved for copy and preferred over homosexual, except in clinical references or references to sexual activity.
3) The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage).
4) Moderate is approved, but centrist is still allowed.
5) We will use illegal immigrants, not illegal aliens.
Times...they are a'changin'!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
(I'm falling down laughing now, rolling on the floor.)
After I caught my breath from being in hysterics while listening and watching this clip, I realized that this passion is also caught up in the arguments that many people in churches make against us who are LGB or T, using a total of eight (8) passages in the Bible that have little to nothing to do with our modern understanding of sexuality identity, orientation, or sexual expression among gays and straights alike. For years I have been in the presence of great theologians, biblical scholars, pastors, preachers, pastoral counselors, religious educators, and ethicists, who have seemingly boundless passion against those of us in the LGBT community based solely on 8 (did I say eight?) Scripture passages that refer to nothing akin to the modern sexual mores that straight and gay people practice and live today (sorry to be repetitive...call it hint of incredulity).
Enjoy the clip! Yet also remember that it is this same passionate man, caught up and believing his only rhetoric, who spews hate against those of us in the LGBT community.
Monday, February 25, 2008
And murder is not a Christian virtuous practice, according to the Gospels. And according to the Decalogue (a.k.a., the 10 Commandments), it is not a Jewish practice. Nor is it a Muslim practice. In point of fact, I cannot think of any world religion in which out-right murder is a virtue. Can you?
On towleroad.com and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, there is a report of a killing of a 17 year-old teenager who is gay, dressed up like a woman in Ft. Lauderdale(click here). The investigation is ongoing as they seek to find out if this is a hate crime, e.g., was the young man Simmie Williams killed because he is gay.
This murder is on the heels of the young teenager, Lawrence King, who was killed in Oxnard, CA because he is gay. This was labeled a "hate crime." Click here for more.
There are the countless deaths--whether murder or suicide--of young people because they are part of families, youth groups in churches, synagogues, and mosques, going to a middle school or high school, or all alone and dealing with depression, or living a homeless life on the street, because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning youth. For some, dying and death is slow. Staying in the closet, is a form of death. For some, it is a death that is preceded by depression, which may lead to substance abuse or abuse of one's very being by denying one's sexual orientation and expression, slowly eats away at the very core of a person's being. For others, as in this situation, in which there were other people who, for whatever reason, killed these young men, death was quick. Nevertheless, when it is related to one's grappling with one's very being in a world in which many of us are not accepted simply because of who we are, it is past time to change the world in which we live.
New bumper-sticker: "Murder is not a Christian virtue."
Friday, February 22, 2008
As a pastor who has wed over one hundred couples, and as one who has been married but is now divorced, let me say that while one can get married for as little as the $45 or $50 it costs to get the marriage license (let alone the cost of a wedding), it costs a great deal more to get divorced. There are couples that I was present at their wedding who, after being in a marriage for several years, countless hours of therapy, prayers to God for help, children, jobs, extended family intrusions, decided to sign off on the marriage because the "worse" part of the "for better or for worse, in good times and bad" relationship had taken over.
I'm glad--no, relieved--that gay and lesbian couples are doing what more straight couples should do: not rush into marriage! I've married too many heterosexual couples who simply got married because they felt pushed by their families, or the great American script of "happily ever after," and the "biological clock" that determined, for some, that they should get married before having a baby. I met and married too many heterosexual couples who were in "wonder lust" or just plain lust, more than thinking sanely and with a clear head about what they were about to commit themselves to: a life together of an everlasting quality and goal.
Marriage is an important, vital, communal, relational union, in which a wedding--whether or not it is understood as a sacrament or simply a timeless ritual--makes public what two people have felt, thought, intuited, sensed, and believed in for a long time. Couples therapy before people get married is a must in my book; spending a good few years in something called an "engagement period" isn't bad either. Go on an "Engagement Encounter" weekend. It is important that couples get to know each other well--through times of celebration and the "thin times" when everything goes wrong--before saying, "Will you?" and "I do."
Separating and divorcing is miserable, not fun, and can be ugly, heart wrenching, and mostly sad...let alone what the state and federal governments, along with businesses have you do once you separate and try to divide evenly the assets a couple has together. Messy does not begin to describe what is happening when a couple divorces, gay and straight alike.
Bravo to gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender, and straight people who think seriously before they say "I do," whether in a domestic partnership, civil union, common-law marriage, or marriage. What a great habit to practice!
Click here for the article.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Boy Scouts, which always seemed like an honorable and noble group of young men (and yes, we're all aware of the coming out stories among Scouts), embraced a faith perspective that was largely based upon a Jewish-Christian world view that excludes atheists and agnostics, let alone other faith traditions. And it wasn't until years later that it became obvious that the group did not welcome out or self-identified gays, bisexuals, and transgendered youth. While there are many Scouts who I have met later in life who were in the closet when in the Scouts, it is obvious that they too played the "don't ask, don't tell" politics of the Church and American military service.
Thus the power of the film: this was one of those films that simply reminded me, "Oh, yeah: that's another group that practices discrimination, like the some churches!"
I was reminded of this movie and movement when reading Advocate.com, and the Dallas Morning News, in which the Governor of Texas, Mr. Rick Perry, has, with another author, penned a book on the virtues of the Boy Scouts of America, which he construes is caught in the culture wars of modern American society. Click here for the article. Perry basically blames the ACLU and other groups for drawing our attention to the internal politics of the Boy Scouts of America, which they have done.
And, thankfully, we are a nation with many choices: we can go the way of the Boy Scouts of America, or Scouting for All. We are also a nation that is constantly changing, and some of those changes are an improvement: maybe one day there will be a scouting program truly for all who wish to participate.
Aware of the number of LGBT youth who commit suicide because they do not feel they belong in either their families, among friendship circles in school, in communities of faith, and not even necessarily civic groups like the Boy Scouts of America, I shake my head in dismay for all the ways our young people are excluded and shunned in this world. Through groups like GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) and other groups concerned about the youth of America, we can make a change for the better.
It is time to make a change as a nation, as a church, in other communities of faith, and in scouting programs.
Consider the following: "First, as far as I know there is no problem with lesbian women in the Halacha. So we are left with a problem about the males. Here I expect the rabbis to resolve this issue once and for all, and preferably not in the Iranian way. I’m not talking about lifting prohibitions, but rather, about social acceptance."
Asaf Wohl argues that there is such a thing as religious homosexuality:"This is because the same-sex model threatens the familiar family tradition. And from there it is a short distance to the demonic hatred many among the religious community hold towards the homo-lesbian public.
Even the argument that there is no such thing as a “religious homosexual” is baseless. If we have religious slanderers, religious thieves, and thank God, even religious murderers, why can’t we also have religious homosexuals, who don’t hurt anyone? After all, those who desecrate the Sabbath in public also deserve to be stoned, so why are you only angry at homosexuals?"
Click here for more serious fun, mudwrestling (after all, this theological argumentation is down and dirty work, but someone has to do it) and reflection as our Jewish brothers and sisters are struggling, like we are, to walk in the light of day, realizing that we are made, by our Almighty Creator, to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people of God.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Reading and Speaking Engagements Today: Chapel Hill High School and at a Presbyterian Church in Burlington, NC
So what would happen if the Church stopped pushing people out AND kept welcoming new people in?
What would Jesus think? Do? Say?
And tonight I will be in Burlington, NC, substituting for my good friend the Rev. Joe Harvard, speaking out about the place and presence of LGBT in the Church.
It is a good day to be out: being gay AND a Christian.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Most recently, my son was bullied in high school because of me and my book, ON BEING A GAY PARENT. Said one of the two bullies in his school, "You know, it (being gay) runs in the family." I already blogged about this earlier, when my son's friend told the bully how big and muscular I am, which seemed to draw to a close the bullying in the high school for or against my son.
Now there is this article in the Denver Post, about a young boy who is bullied who can, under the Colorado hate-crimes bill, bring charges against the bully. Click here to read more.
When are children taught to be bullies? At a tender age starting at birth. Who teaches children to be bullies? Often times, it would be the parents and siblings in the bully's home. Where and when do you stop bullying? Nip it in the bud: it starts at home. As do demonstrations of love: love and hate are both taught at home.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Notice here that I am not using the language of "gay marriage," because, first of all, it is not an all inclusive term, leaving out those who are lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people. Secondly: the hope and the aim is marriage for all: gay, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, or straight people.
Third: last and not least, because of the rituals of modern American society, let alone the rituals and language of communities of faith, the very language of "civil unions" is awkward, not making those of us in such a relationship legally "husbands" or "wives," but still "partners," which we are before we enter a legally sanction, state-recognized "civil union." And our children still have an awkward time knowing how to refer to our relationship if we're not necessarily a married couple in the "eyes" of the state or religious community.
Governor Corzine of NJ is correct: he is willing to sign a marriage law for all in the state of New Jersey, but prefers not to do so in a presidential voting year, because of, well: the politics. The Republican party is already starting constitutional amendment initiatives in those states they missed in 2004, making "gay marriage" a "wedge issue" that divides voters in terms of voting a straight party line in one political party, and going for another political party.
Click here for more.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The story is a true life, real life story of Roy and Silo--male chin-strap penguins--who have a chick--Tango--and care for the young chick with tender affection...just like all male father penguins do!
Even though the principal of the school where the complaint arose, and the committees that were assigned to review the book, thought the book was fine, Superintendent Hatrick made the unilateral decision to take the book off the shelf away from children's ease of checking out the book. However, the book will be held in the "back" with the librarians/media resource staff who can let the book be read by teachers to a class. Why this decision? Because the children weren't developmentally ready for this story. Which or what developmental stage does one need to be "in" or "at" to understand the concept of "family?" Click here to learn more.
Is this not a form of censorship, hiding the book from all those who may want or need to read it? Rather than exposing children to all kinds of ways of being family, the children in this district are being deprived of knowing other ways of being family that are natural, designed by none other than God!
Let's liberate "And Tango Makes Three!"
Friday, February 15, 2008
In recent judicial actions in the Presbyterian Church (USA) regarding the ordination clause (to paraphrase) "fidelity in relationship and chastity in singleness"--which more or less means that only straight people who are living in marriage (but doesn't this now include or pertain to LGBT folks in Massachusetts who can marry? LGBT couples married abroad? How about civil unions and domestic partnerships? Are they not also a relationship of monogamy and fidelity?), or chaste (meaning celibate) in singleness (meaning you can be LGBT or straight but just not in a sexual relationship with anyone, period)--how would we treat the couple above who are living in "fidelity" in an "open relationship" marriage? They are faithful to one another, living no secret life, above-board, and beyond reproach: what about them? Can one be ordained in the PCUSA and live in an open-marriage? Can one be ordained and be LGBT as long as one is in a married relationship, at least in the state of Massachusetts?
The answer is...
Thursday, February 14, 2008
One day, hopefully soon, a worship service or two of forgiveness for this albatross-like process will have to be called for and held for making ordination of LGBT people tremendously difficult if not impossible at this time. It is for this very reason that so many clergy who are LGBT people "lie for Jesus," as one former closeted lesbian minister-professor constantly told prospective LGBT clergy at a prominent United Methodist seminary near my now-home in Carrboro, NC. The idea? Lie about being LGB or T, stay in the closet, in order to "get into the system," and make changes from within the system. The only problem was this: once in the system, a.k.a., the church, the lying LGBT minister--who had not only lied to Jesus but all those involved in the ordination track--was now living more securely in the closet, and would continue to stay in the closet because she or he wanted to rise in the rank of the United Methodist Church (or Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, name your own denomination here____), and is now addicted (yes, addicted) to the money, comforts, power, and prestige of being the soon-to-be senior pastor of a multiple staff church. When I asked one intelligent, handsome, closeted pastor to consider coming out of the closet of his parish and work with the religious non-profit, School of the Pilgrim (I am the Director), he said that we could literally not afford him. In other words, he was getting paid more for staying in the closet at his parish, even though it is killing him (softly) and thus was stuck there, because of all the economic strings attached to his life and his parish. I have simply lost count of how many colleagues and former students I know who are "whores for Jesus" (says one friend who stays in the closet because he is dependent upon the church for health care and retirement benefits in his 50s) and "lying to Jesus" just to stay in their respective jobs as clergy. They will tell me, "All I'm doing is answering the call!" But at what cost, personally and communally? Whores and liars: is that what closeted LGBT clergypersons have become in our system of church governance?
What these now-ministers forgot or were suddenly realizing was the kind of courage it would take to be out-spoken out- LGBT prophets, in which they also stopped short of making the next crucial move: "Changing the Church with Jesus." Working in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit to be exact, who still embraces us in love, desires to make the Church more inclusive of all God's people, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled, women and men, rich and poor, of all races, ethnicities, and heritages, young and old, etc.
How strong is this temptation to lie and be a whore for Jesus? Very strong. I should know: I lived it for over twenty-four years. Today, I am poorer economically, but healthier in body, mind, and spirit in the body of Christ. And with the publication of this book, I am working to change the Church with Jesus with love.
Let me state the obvious: there are people in the Church and in the world who hate us because we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people, and are living in loving relationships. As my friend Richard Rodriguez reminded me this past week over a wonderful lunch-time conversation: momentum is on our side and we are going to win this argument, because love is more powerful than hate. If you need proof for my position just look at Jesus' life, death, and resurrection: call it love.
I recently received this "flash" news point from the Reconciling Ministries, made up of United Methodists, in which 75 LGBT clergypersons hope to amend their Book of Discipline, which outlaws the ordination of LGBT people. Below is the passage which this group hopes to take out of their Book of Discipline. For more information, please click here.
Paragraph 304.3 of the 2000 Discipline is a declaration of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The practice of homosexuality is a chargeable offense under 2702.1(b) of the 2000 Discipline.
Let us pray,
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
While I was meditating on the actions of Larry Craig, who is, most likely a still-closeted gay man--or at least one can come to this conclusion after reading about his past--there was a report on the AP wire regarding the Senate Ethics Committee's findings on Mr. Craig. They came to the conclusion that Mr. Craig acted "Improperly." Click here for more.
On the book tour, I met other closeted gay men and lesbian women who are pastors or are in training to become pastors, along with out-gay and lesbian clergy. In sensing the kind of work and energy it takes to stay closeted, like Mr. Craig, I have to say that there is a sense of healthiness and wholeness among the out-clergy persons. I envy these out-clergypersons, having played the game of "don't ask, don't tell" for over two decades as an ordained clergyperson in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
If only Mr. Craig had the courage to be the person God created him to be...
Monday, February 11, 2008
Welcome aboard the movement, Mormons! Click here to read more!
I've been in the Bay Area, giving readings and having a discussion about the book with the folks of PFLAG-San Francisco. Wonderful discussion!
Like the United States, there were some who were resistant of such a change. And, like the United States, some people have a hard time seeing that not allowing gay couples the right to adopt a child is an act of prejudice by the state.
So Israel is moving toward recognizing adopted children as part of a gay and lesbian couple's life legally. Now we wait for the United States to make such a bold and necessary move.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Click here to read more.
I will be reading from ON BEING A GAY PARENT at 3:00 P.M. at the PFLAG San Francisco meeting on Sunday, Feb. 10th, and then at San Francisco Theological Seminary during lunch on Mon., Feb. 11th, and than in the early evening with the PFLAG group in Redwood City. I look forward to seeing you there!
Lavender Lunch at Pacific School of Religion and Book Reading at St. John's Episcopal Church, San Francisco: Thank you!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Whose image or concept of this family as being "married man, woman and their children" is the modern family of today? Was this ever the only way of being a family? Being a family=one married man + one married woman (though the ad doesn't include a married woman) + children is, itself, the magical elixir of being a family? After all, both Oxford and Webster dictionaries have eleven definitions of the word "family."
We who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or those who are transgender, along with our straight brothers and sisters, have a choice to be any kind of family we want to be, because there is no "one size fits all" kind of family.
Or is there going to be a Constitutional amendment defining a family?
Monday, February 4, 2008
Having seen the DVD, "Trembling Before G_d," by Sandi Dubowski, following the lives of orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, this website is a wonderfully audacious event.
Friday, February 1, 2008
While hunger and homelessness blanket so many of our states, racial inequality still abounds, discrimination based on gender, race, economic class, abilities, ethnicities, heritages, and sexual orientation abound, Mr. Campfield wants to ban certain speech in the public schools.
Tell me again how this is protecting the Constitutional mandate for freedom of speech?
So are the people, who identify themselves as so-called "conservatives" today acting in a non-conservative way, again, when they believe it is necessary to amend state constitutions to make sure that marriage is between one man and one woman? Isn't this the state working over time to regulate adult relationships in both the public and personal sphere?
This morning, I woke up to the news that the state of Oregon still has not implemented a domestic partner bill, which was supposed to be implemented Jan. 1, 2008 but was delayed because of a "conservative" group petitioning a certain circuit court in order to stop the implementation of the law (click here). Meanwhile, Indiana legislators are working hard to amend their constitution to be sure marriage is between one man and one woman (click here).
Politically, OR is a blue state or leaning Democratic, while IN is a red state, or leaning Republican. Yet are both states acting liberally?
Both states are joining others who have amended the constitution of their states, making it harder for our families to feel safe and secure, and are not living up to the conservative ideals that so many so-called conservatives espouse: less intrusion by the state on our public and personal lives.
There are times that I too want us as a nation to act with a more conservative bent.