Monday, August 31, 2009

Oregon's Transgender United Methodist Clergyperson

I found this article today via Laurie Coffman's posting on Facebook, about a transgender United Methodist clergyperson who, in his 50s, just came out to his congregation:

Until now, there has been just one openly transgender Methodist clergyman in the U.S. to retain his ordination (That man, Drew Phoenix, 50, had his ordination challenged by members of the church after coming out publicly in 2007 to his congregation in St. John’s of Baltimore United Methodist Church in Maryland.)

Today, Sunday, Aug. 30, Weekley — who leads the congregation at the Epworth United Methodist Church in the Sunnyside neighborhood in inner Southeast Portland — became the second.

Just months after telling his own children that he was not their biological father, Weekley, who is in his late-50s, came out to his congregation of 221 members.

Standing behind his pulpit, Weekley began his usual worship service. About halfway through, he paused to share a personal message he called “My Book Report.”

He told them that in 1984, just nine years after undergoing extensive sex-reassignment surgeries, he was ordained by the Methodist Church without telling anyone of his original gender at birth.

Following his story, the congregation, who had remained silent throughout his talk, broke into thunderous applause. Church members then proclaimed their support for their pastor.

“It doesn’t change him; he’s still Reverend David, and that’s what counts,” says congregation member Robbie Tsuboi, who has been attending Epworth since 1964.

“I think it was a really, really positive reaction. From what I understand, it was 100 percent support within the church.”

Given the church’s stance on gay rights and its previous reaction to Phoenix’s revelation, Weekley hadn’t known what to expect. According to the Methodist “Book of Discipline,” performing a same-sex wedding, even in a state where it is legal, is an offense that could lead to discipline from Methodist church leaders.

Besides opposing the ordination of gay clergy, the Methodist church also will withhold church membership from anyone who is openly gay.

Fascinating situation.

What do you think?

Click here for more.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FL Gay Adoption Ban Going Before State Appeals Court

It is well known that FL has the most widespread ban against LGBTQ people adopting children. The ban is being appealed by the ACLU in FL. A judge in Nov. 2008 voted that the ban is unconstitutional. Today, the state is appealing that decision:

The state is appealing a Miami-Dade County judge’s November 2008 ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The ruling came in the case of Martin Gill, who along with his partner has adopted two young boys. The appeals court is hearing arguments Wednesday in Miami.

State attorneys say the judge essentially legislated from the bench and that state lawmakers should decide the matter. Attorneys for Gill and the two boys say the judge was expected to review the facts in detail before making her decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Gill, calls Florida’s gay adoption ban the broadest such law in the nation.

Knowing many couples and individuals who are LGBTQ who have adopted children--especially children with disabilities--some from foster home situations that were not the best place or family, and seeing these children thrive in a loving, safe environment, it is amazing that we find people fighting our right to adopt. These would be the same people who are against abortion of any kind but when a loving couple comes to adopt them who happen to be LGBTQ, the response is "nope, you cannot adopt."

Click here for more.

Give me a break.



Monday, August 24, 2009

In Minnesota!

I'm writing from Minnesota. I am staying with the community of women at St. Benedict's Monastery. This is the community of which I am an oblate, meaning that I promise to try to live the Rule of St. Benedict, and this is easier written than done.


What I've learned from my time in the pastorate the last thirteen months is that the same forces that keep people with disabilities as "outsiders" to the Church are the very same forces that keep those of us who are LGBTQ as "outsiders" to the Church. It is the same force that kept and keeps women and other minorities outside the "mainstream." Handicapism, racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism is as much a part of the fabric that the Church is located, and these "isms" are in the Church.

I once taught that the sloppiness of thinking was putting forth an argument re: people with disabilities, in which you could simply replace "people with disabilities" with "gay" and get the same argument. I still think this is kind of the case, because people with disabilities and LGBTQ have different issues, thus making arguments for inclusion a little bit more nuanced. I've had a change or heart and thought more recently in my time in the pastorate: I see the same forces of oppression work on both groups.

Thinking out loud here.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) Votes to Lift Gay Ban

While I thought (once upon a time) that the PCUSA would welcome people called to ministry who happen to be self-identifying lesbian or gay before the Episcopalians and the Lutherans, following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters in the UCC, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, moved by the Holy Spirit, have lifted the ban of LGBT people as ordained Ministers.

In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, it is clear that there was a tipping point that our churches have come to or gone through, in which people's convictions make a turn, as if a door opening on a hinge. The ordination of women was such a hinge: most denominations do it now (save for PCA, Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church, etc.), though there was a time and place that we didn't at all, basing these decisions upon a curious reading, (a.k.a., cherry picking) of Scripture.

From Reuters:
The largest American Lutheran denomination cleared the way on Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve in ministry, ending a policy that had opened leadership posts to them only if they remained celibate.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also encouraged its congregations to find ways to support or recognize members in "accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

But it did not give official sanction to gay marriage or approve any rites for such ceremonies.

Click here for more.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just In: I'm On the Board of COLAGE

Good news!

I am on the Board of Directors of COLAGE: Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere. I first heard about the organization on a PBS broadcast 10 years ago, and have followed them ever since.

Here's the notice:

I have the honor of formally extending an invitation to you to join COLAGE's Board of Directors. Congratulations! Your personal background as a strong supporter of COLAGE, passion for activism and involvement in social justice work will be assets to your work with COLAGE in this role.

I am honored and humbled to be part of this great organization!



Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Kiss That Changed the World...Sort Of

This article about the kiss that is changing the world:

The event comes after gay couples here and in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, were arrested, cited for trespassing or harassed by police for publicly kissing. In Utah, the July 9 trespassing incident occurred after a couple were observed by security guards on a downtown park-like plaza owned by the 13 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The court case was dismissed, but the kiss sparked a community backlash and criticism of the church.

"I don't think that kiss would have turned out to be the kiss heard round the world if it were not for Proposition 8," said Ash Johnsdottir, organizer of the Salt Lake City Kiss-In.

Atali Staffler, a Brigham Young University graduate student from Geneva, Switzerland, said she joined the 200 or so people who filled a downtown amphitheater for the event because she has watched her gay father and many gay friends struggle to find their place.

The 31-year-old, who was raised Mormon but is not active in the church, said the church shouldn't be involved in Prop. 8.

"I encourage them to promote the values they believe in and to defend their religious principles in advertisements, but civil rights have nothing to do with religious principles," she said.

Twenty-two people, many of them strangers to one another, gathered under the scorching sun on Washington's National Mall to participate in the national smooch. They were gay and straight, couples and singles of all ages, with placards that read "Equal Opportunity Kisser" and "A Kiss is a Not a Crime."

"This is America. A kiss on the cheek is OK," said Ian Thomas, 26, of Leesburg, Va., who organized the Washington Kiss-In. "It's got to be OK. If not, we're in serious trouble."

About 50 people, mostly gay and lesbian couples, gathered at Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta and kissed for about five minutes.

"You think that America is evolving into a gay-friendly nation," said Randal Smith, 42, "but what happened in Texas and Utah show us it's still a long way off."

National organizers say Saturday's broadly held gay rights demonstrations were not aimed specifically at the Mormon church. But observers say the church's heavy-handed intervention into California politics will linger and has left the faith's image tarnished.

"What I hear from my community and from straight progressive individuals is that they now see the church as a force for evil and as an enemy of fairness and equality," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights. Kendell grew up Mormon in Utah. "To have the church's very deep and noble history telescoped down into this very nasty little image is as painful for me as for any faithful Mormon."

Troy Williams, who is gay and grew up Mormon, said ending the tension between gays and the church requires mutual acceptance and understanding.

"For both sides to peaceably coexist, we're all going to have to engage in some very deep soul searching," said Williams, a Salt Lake City-area activist and host of a liberal radio talk show.

Click here for more.



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lutherans too? ELCA considering lifting ban on ordaining out gay (LGBTQ) clergy!

I am in OR visiting my folks, and happened to read USA Today, with news that the Lutherans--of the ELCA variety, not Missouri or Wisconsin Synods--is considering lifting the ban on ordaining out gay clergy.


While we Presbyterians did not get to this decision--though we are closer--we are watching the UCC, the Episcopalians, now the Lutherans, starting to move where the Spirit is moving them...and hopefully all of us.

Change is coming...sooner rather than later!

Click here for more.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

American Psychological Association's Latest Report on Reparative Therapy: Give It Up!

Though this report and assessment will do little to calm down "Exodus" ministries or other ministries that promise reparative therapy--turning gays into straights--the APA recently came out with its findings on reparative therapies:

In a resolution adopted 125-4 by the APA's governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called "reparative therapy," which seeks to change sexual orientation.

No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could have harmful results, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.

The report breaks ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.

"Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome," the report says.

For more click here.

Again: there will be those who discount the APA's findings. So be it.



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Britain's Quakers Ready for Same Sex Marriage

This past week, Albania made noise toward same sex union (!), and now the Quakers in the United Kingdom are making moves toward recognizing same sex marriage (thanks, Michael Barham for this tip).

From the BBC, this report:

The BBC says that the Quakers "had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life."

Ekklesia describes the debate:

The decision came after an intense week of debate and reflection at the Quakers' Yearly Meeting in York.

Emotions ran high in the discussions and several people of various views were visibly in tears. Many participants hugged each other and expressed delight as the decision was reached.

People working for equality and inclusion within other churches and faith groups will be encouraged by the decision.

Quakers are now likely to face a difficult time with the law, which currently offers same-sex couples only civil partnerships, in which no religious element is allowed.

The statement agreed by the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are otherwise known, comes 22 years after they began formal consideration of the issue.

The Quakers agreed this morning that they would “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord's work and we are but witnesses”

They further declared that “the question of legal recognition by the state is secondary”.

Quaker same-sex marriages will now be “prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded and reported to the state in the same way as opposite-sex marriages”.

There is something moving in the air.

Change is coming.

Pace! B

LGTBQ Youth Center Target of Gunman in Israel

Sad news this Sabbath morning: a lone gunman--with homophobic issues--shot three young gay teenagers in Tel Aviv, Israel yesterday, and six were badly wounded.

This from

This was a hate crime, a premeditated attack," witness Yaniv Weisman told Channel 10 TV. He said Cafe Noir, the basement club, was popular with youth.

"Those hurt were very young," he said.

Openly gay Knesset lawmaker Nitzan Horowitz said it was "without a doubt the biggest ever attack on the Israeli gay community, we are all in shock."

Witnesses told Israeli media that the gunman was dressed all in black, and described the scene as a "bloodbath."

In a land that struggles between Israelis and Palestinians, there is, within Israel, a bigotry that is known well here in the States. Homophobia and heterosexism is as insidious as racism, sexism, handicapism...and the list goes on. It is all part of the same tree, and that tree is fear and thus hatred of the Other.

Click here for more.

Pace, B