Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Come with Me to Nepal! And Let's Get Married!

Just read this on towleroad.com: equal rights of marriage in Nepal. Nepal!


Read below from AFP: Nepal is doing what we cannot do in America.

Now, I've read some bloggers who say they are doing this because of economic realities of a poor nation. All right: we're a poor nation too, in the midst of a gripping recession. Imagine what would happen in all our states if there were equal rights to marriage: a boom to the economy. And now that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is accepting all the clergy they shunned, there is a glut of pastors in the ELCA looking for jobs. They can marry folks, folks!

See below.

Nepal is a place I've always wanted to do a pilgrimage on...now we can marry there too!

KATHMANDU — Nepal will this year hold its first gay pride parade, the country's only openly homosexual member of parliament told AFP on Tuesday.

Sunil Pant said he hopes up to 3,000 gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals from Nepal and neighbouring countries will march through the streets of the capital Kathmandu on August 25.

The date has been chosen to coincide with a centuries-old Hindu festival when Nepalese men traditionally dress up in women's clothing, and which has in recent years been adopted by Nepal's increasingly vocal gay community.

"We want to make this a truly international event," said Pant, a well-known gay rights campaigner. "Nepal has made so much progress on gay issues in the last few years, and we hope to spread hope and inspire others."

Two years ago, the country's Supreme Court ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee the rights of gays and lesbians after the Blue Diamond Society, a pressure group run by Pant, filed a petition.

Pant said the parade would feature live music and include elephants and horses dressed in bright colours, and would culminate with a candle-lit memorial service for victims of HIV and violence.

The festival of Gai Jatra, which falls on August 25, commemorates those who have died in the past year, although it is traditionally a colourful event, with young men dressing up and processing through town centres.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Here's to Sean and Scott!

They got married in British Columbia!

Here's from the nyt.com clipping:

Sean Kendall Murphy and Scott Wilson MacLaren were married Saturday evening at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, British Columbia. Irene Gibson, a British Columbia marriage commissioner, officiated.

Mr. Murphy (left), 41, is a senior tax manager in the mergers-and-acquisitions division of Deloitte Tax in New York. He graduated from Davidson College and received a law degree from Duke. He is the son of Karin Anderson Murphy of Charlotte, N.C., and the late Edwin F. Murphy Jr.

Mr. MacLaren, 46, is an owner of the Arroyo Fine Art Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M. (Mr. Murphy is a partner in the gallery). Until February, Mr. MacLaren was a director of retail development for the Estée Lauder Company in New York. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is the son of Joseph E. MacLaren of Courtenay, British Columbia, and the late Catherine Louise Wilson MacLaren.

Mazel tov!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Citizen Choi

There was a scene in the t.v. show "Kathy Griffin on the D List" that has soured us on Ms. Griffin. For all her talk and blather and humor--much of which we used to like--she has turned us off on this issue: in the DC rally, when then-Lt. Choi invited her to come and stand with him and handcuff herself on the gates of the White House she refused. She didn't even go with him to witness his act of bravery. Neither did Joe Solomese of HRC. Even when asked, she turned him down, saying that she didn't want to distract from the focus on him.


There was already plenty of focus on Mr. Choi, and her witness to this injustice would've impressed us even more. Mr. Choi is a hero in our eyes, and sticks up for what is right and real and true.

Kathy Griffin no longer is.

Turning of the D-List. Not that interesting anymore. It is, after all, all about Kathy and not about greater issues of justice.

As for HRC? We turned them off years ago when they refused to help me in my case against Duke because it is a "religious institution."

Mr. Choi is now citizen Choi, honorably discharged because of DADT.

Click here for more.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

NZ: What Justice in Employment Looks Like

Having been denied tenure at Duke University because I am gay--involuntarily outed I might add--there was this wonderful breath of fresh air from NZ: a coach who was fired because he is gay is being compensated by his former employer for the injustice. We don't have any laws protecting us in this nation on such a matter as this.

Here's the story from msnbc.com (of all places):
A New Zealand Christian school has been ordered to pay undisclosed compensation and apologize to a sports coach it fired because he was gay.

Board members of Middleton Grange School in Christchurch — on New Zealand's South Island — will also attend courses on human rights awareness, school principal Richard Vanderpyl said Thursday.

"We're thinking of the impact on him," Vanderpyl said. "We care for him and respect him."

He said he offered to rehire the 28-year-old coach, but the man had already found a new job at another Christchurch school.

The coach, whose identity has been withheld, was employed in February to coach the girls' netball team but was dismissed when the school board discovered he was gay.

"At first I was shocked. I've never felt so small in my life," the man told New Zealand media Thursday.

"It's hard enough to go through finding yourself and accepting yourself and being 'out' in the first place. Having to go through discrimination doesn't help," he said.

When will justice such as this come to these shores?

America: come on! Argentinian gays and lesbians can wed (signed into law today), and in NZ, employment discrimination is not allowed.

Come on!

The time is now to change.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ireland! Equal Rights! Cool!

Ireland now offers LGBTQ couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples: closer to marriage equality than the States.

From the Advocate.com:
Ireland’s president, Mary McAleese, signed the country’s Civil Partnership Bill into law Monday morning, offering same-sex couples protections that include access to pensions, inheritance, and power of attorney, among others.

The bill had been making its way through the various legislative bodies and McAleese was expected to sign it sometime in August. It is not expected to take effect until the fall.

“This is a great day for Ireland. Lesbian and gay people, their parents, families, friends neighbors, colleagues can now look forward to celebrating their civil partnerships in the near future," said Kieran Rose of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. “It is a tribute to the openness and welcoming nature of Irish society and the commitment of all our legislators and is a major civil rights milestone for lesbian and gay people."

So when will the US catch up with the rest of the world.

Does it want to catch up?

Do we want it to catch up?



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Argentina: Law of the Land is Equal Marriage and Equal Rights to Adoption

So as we--a nation that promises bold leadership and being on the vanguard of human rights for all people (created equal, right?)--dither about DADT, letting DOMA die, fight state by state for the equal right to marry and adopt (Anita Bryant is coming back in OK), another country has moved ahead of us in this arena of justice:


So the UK, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc., have moved ahead of us, another nation has joined them in being place of "liberty and justice for all": Argentina. This, one of the countries that is also beholden to the image of the machismo male.

Here are the 10 nations that provide equal rights to marriage:
2001 Netherlands
2003 Belgium
2005 Spain
2005 Canada
2006 South Africa
2008 Norway
2009 Sweden
2010 Portugal
2010 Iceland
2010 Argentina

Click here for more.

And we are MIA...again.

Come on, Obama Administration! Do something heroic and brave, not tepid and incremental. Do something John McCain would never do...or Sarah Palin!



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the World, Away from the US...Life for LGBTQ People is Perilous

This from TPMMuckraker.com, about a pro-LGBTQ organization seeking a consultative role in the UN, with our support. However, there are two congressmen (Chris Smith from NJ and Trent Franks from AZ) who are trying to block our role in endorsing this group:

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has been trying since May 2007 to win accreditation from the United Nations, which would allow the NGO to have a voice at the international body. But the group's application for "consultative status" had been deferred by the status-granting NGO committee until early last month, when the committee voted to block its application.

Among the countries voting against the application: Egypt, Angola, Burundi, China, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and Sudan. In all those countries but Russia and China, LGBT people can be jailed, fined, whipped or killed if they are caught by authorities.

The committee, which has a history of voting against gay rights organizations, makes its recommendations to the Economic and Social Council, which makes the final decision on consultative status.

After last month's vote, Ambassador Susan Rice submitted a resolution to the council to consider the IGLHRC's application directly, saying the organization's "widely respected advocacy and research has given a voice to those who have long suffered in silence."

It is time to stop the violence.



PCUSA: Incrementalism as a strategy toward LGBTQ equality

Bit by bit, inch by inch, small steps all in a row we, as a Church, are moving toward equality in the PCUSA.

And the world is noticing.

From mlp.org, there was this citation/reference to an article in the Center for American Progress, in which the writer sees movement in our denomination with "two steps forward, one step back." That "one step back" was not fully endorsing the majority report on marriage--two persons--but honoring both majority and minority reports, which will confuse the issue...sigh...

This reflection is worthy of claiming as a good:

This overture, coupled with the earlier vote against more inclusive language for marriage, paints a picture of a church moving toward full LGBT equality but not quite able to commit to redefining the traditional understanding of marriage to which most Christian denominations have ascribed.

The Presbyterians’ progress last week got little media attention—probably because anything less than changing the definition of traditional marriage might not seem worthy of headlines. Even so, such progress is important to recognize. Not long ago, mainline churches such as the PCUSA were much more monolithic in their opposition to gay and lesbian equality. Now, according to a Pew research poll, a majority of mainline Protestants say that society should accept homosexuality.

LGBT equality in mainline Christian churches is seeming more and more sure with the progress made at this recent Presbyterian conference and polling showing increasing religious acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Claim the momentum! Now the work really has begun in the Presbytery level.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Log Cabin Republicans: Stepping Up to the Plate (in life's baseball game, even though I don't play the game well)

Found this on huffingtonpost.com, and then on towleroad.com. Log Cabin Republicans are suing the government over DADT. That's right: gay rights transcend petty politics some times.

Seems like there is a movement afoot, by the power of the Spirit (I dare to say):
A Republican gay rights group frustrated with the Obama administration's failure to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law is challenging the policy's constitutionality in federal court.

If the Log Cabin Republicans win their case, their lawyer says he will ask a federal judge to do what President Obama has so far failed to do – halt the policy immediately nationwide.

"Don't ask, don't tell" prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or are discovered to be engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their off-base homes.

"We're trying to get this changed right away. After all, there are people today fighting, dying for our country, while their constitutional rights are being violated," said attorney Dan Woods, representing the national organization whose 19,000 members include current and former military members.

Some legal experts say the trial that opens Tuesday in Riverside could not come at a worse time for Obama, who derided the policy but has failed to get it off the books since taking office last year. Not only are midterm elections approaching, but the group suing the U.S. government is Republican.

Time to build up the pressure from all ends.

Larry Kramer would be proud, yes?


Equal Right to Marry...Argentina-Style

Found this on andrewsullivan.com site.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Summing up the 219th General Assembly of the PCUSA

The advocate.com did a nice job of summing up what happened at the recent General Assembly, as well as what now has to happen in the years go come. The only thing the Advocate.com missed was same-sex benefits through the Board of Pensions.

From the advocate.com:
Delegates at the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted Thursday in Minneapolis to advance a proposal to allow gay clergy, but they decided against allowing same-sex marriages by a close margin. The gay clergy proposal now must be approved by a majority of the church’s 173 presbyteries, which rejected a similar measure two years ago.

According to the Associated Press, “Both of Thursday's votes were close. Fifty-one percent of delegates voted to shelve the proposal to redefine marriage as being between ‘two people’ instead of between ‘a man and a woman,’ just hours after 53 percent of them voted to allow non-celibate gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy.”

A motion to reconsider the marriage vote failed by a wider margin Friday, the AP reported. Church committees will spend the next two years until the next general assembly reviewing the issue.

With 2.8 million members the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the 10th largest church in the United States

Now we go to work! It will be time to educate, to draw in resources to help people understand what is marriage and what it means to have out LGBTQ clergy, etc.



Friday, July 9, 2010

PCUSA: Extended Benefits to Same Sex Partners!

Well, I'll be!

Same sex partners are now extended benefits via the Board of Pensions via the actions on the floor of the General Assembly today in Minneapolis.

Of course, we're studying what IS a same sex partner after last night's vote and denying re-consideration today.

Perhaps we should vote to re-consider again what is marriage? Just kidding.

Well, maybe not kidding.




The Kids Are All Right: The Next Movie to See!

After all the kerfuffle about DOMA, the Presbyterians deciding to study what is marriage (sigh), and the "Today" show offering us an opportunity to celebrate marriage among all, there is this film: "The Kids Are All Right".

The review from the Wall St. Journal was positive. Thanks to andrewsullivan.com for pointing the way on this review: "Gay marriage is a hot-button issue, but "The Kids Are All Right" doesn't push buttons or advance an agenda. The film plays fair with love in its myriad forms, and insists on the need for close and stable connections, whatever the home's configuration may be; in that sense it's almost conservative."

Click here for more.



The "Today Show" Does What the PCUSA Can't: Marry Same Sex Couples Alongside Opposite Sex Couples

The "Today Show" is going to be open to marrying same sex couples, while the PCUSA said that the language of marriage is going to be studied for two years.

Former Moderator of the General Assembly, Freda Gardner, said that there are times when society, and not the Church, is willing to move more quickly with the Spirit: civil rights for African Americans and women, for example. So society is moving more quickly than the Church...again.

Click here for more.

Just saying...



Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Day of Celebration

First: the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), by a vote of 373 to 323, voted to take out the language in our Book of Order/Constitution that bans open and out LGBTQ people from being ordained.

Second: a judge in Boston ruled that the federal DOMA--signed by former-President Bill Clinton--is unconstitutional, an injustice against LGBTQ people.

What a day!

A step forward...or two...



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Equal Right to Marry in the PCUSA: Going Forward

Regardless of what the Governor of Hawaii did yesterday--vetoed normality for abnormality by telling couples who are in same sex relationships that they do not have the same rights as heterosexual couples--the PCUSA moved forward today, by a few inches, toward recognizing all couples in a committed relationship.

Having been at several General Assemblies, I know of the euphoria right there in the Assembly area, in which it feels like it is all going right.

Then I've been to Presbytery meetings, and watched other Presbytery meetings, in which it is all undone quickly and completely.

So I celebrate a small step or two forward.

I anticipate a step backwards soon at the Presbytery level.

Then I anticipate another step forward at the next General Assembly.

Then another waiting period for Presbyteries to ratify or deny ratification of decisions made at GA.

So here's the news article below.

Enjoy for the moment!


The Presbyterian Church USA would become the largest denomination in the nation to allow same-sex marriage if the recommendations from the Civil Unions & Marriage Committee are approved, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
"The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would become the largest denomination in the nation to allow same-sex marriage if it follows a recommendation made Tuesday by a church legislative committee.

And another church committee, gathering for the church's weeklong legislative General Assembly in Minneapolis, recommended the church begin ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.

The assembly's committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues voted 34-18 to change the definition of marriage in the church constitution to describe marriage as a covenant between "two people" rather than between "a man and a woman."

This "would recognize committed, lifelong relationships that are already being lived out by our members," said a committee statement."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ahhh...Politics! State and Church!

News today--tonight--from Hawaii: the (Republican) Governor vetoed same sex unions/civil unions in Hawaii. She wants the people to decide. So much for having legislatures.

Meanwhile, from TN, a couple, who were separate by a strange law that kept a lesbian couple apart because of their kis, were able to move back together today: Earlier this week, Tennessee's Court of Appeals for a second time struck down a judge's ruling in a child custody agreement that prevented Chandler and Mary Counce, her partner of more than 10 years, from living together.

Angel Chandler used to live in Gibson County, Tenn., but now shares a home with Counce in Black Mountain.

The so-called paramour clause was first imposed in May 2008 by Gibson County Chancellor George Ellis, prohibiting overnight stays by Counce. The restriction was not requested by Chandler's ex-husband and came despite a psychological evaluation finding no harm to their children, who are now ages 17 and 15.

Chandler and Counce first moved to Black Mountain in 2003 before moving back to Tennessee. They came back to Western North Carolina about three years ago.

“We were just looking for somewhere and it was a combination of things that we loved about Asheville,” Chandler said. “It's more open and there are a lot of things Asheville offers.”

Chandler's children have not been able to visit since June of last year when she and Counce could afford to keep separate residences. Since then, however, financial woes forced the couple to start living together again, and Chandler had to make the seven-hour drive to Tennessee where she stayed with relatives to visit her children.

And the PCUSA continue sto work forward toward ordination of LGBTQ people. But the real action is going to be in the Presbyteries.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Response to the Usual from General Assembly (219) of the Presby. Church (USA)

How I'd have given my eyetooth to be at General Assembly. I should've gone. Enough said.

From the More Light Presbyterian Blogsite re: discussion of ordination of LGBTQ people...who are out. There are many of us who are LGBT or Q who have been ordained and served the Church faithfully, the majority doing so in the closet. But the discussion continues, with this from the "naysayers":


Most of the arguments from the open hearings about keeping G-6.0106 as it is fall into these categories: Biblical stance; Ex-gay persons raising up the possibility of change; Potential disunity in the church; Speed of progress; Opposite gender constructions of marriage only; Don’t change 2000 years of church standards.

There are those who want yet another mortorium in which no one will talk about "it," to give it a rest.



This is one of the reasons I'm glad not to be at GA: to hear and see more of this.

The time to change is past now.

Simply this: ordain-the-people-God-calls-to-leadership-now.


I'll think of something more rcreative soon.

Come on, folks: we're here and we've been doing so much work for the team.

Let's make official and overt the change that has already taken place covertly.



Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Celebrate America, But...

I celebrate America, but I am working for change in this country so that all people are given rights and opportunities to do and be amazing.

Currently, as a second class citizen, unable to wed and be in a marriage, not protected from discrimination in my career choices, housing inequalities, and other shortcomings, things are not right in this country.

But what this country does give us, gives me, is the opportunity to change things for the better, for all.

Change is coming. It is happening. But it comes with effort.



New York Times' Latest Married Folk

This Sunday's nyt.com married couples includes Mitchell Gold and Tim Scofield, Mitchell Gold of the furniture company that he and his former partner created.

The second couple (found deeper in the pile of wedding announcements) are:

Jonna Lyn Hamilton and Lindsay Claire Harrison are to be married Sunday evening at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, N.H. Nicole H. Hanrahan, a friend of the couple who was ordained as a minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism for the occasion, is to officiate.

Hats off to both couples!

Mazel Tov!



Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Moderator of PCUSA: Elder Cindy Bolbach

This is always important in getting a sense of the tenor, or the temperature, of the General Assembly of the PCUSA: Elder Cindy Bolbach is Moderator.

She has been supportive of LGBTQ concerns.

For some of us in the Church, this is great news. The GA body is set to continue the trend, the arc, of restoring justice to the Church body.

But the hard work--if this is a pro-LGBTQ assembly--comes to the Presbytery meetings, which will have to ratify any amendments to the Constitution of the Church.

The hard work is before us. I've seen this play, this movie, before.

Hard work.

As for me:
Back from the beach after days of reading and rest and therapy for one of our dogs, Toby, who had a mini-stroke in his hip last Sunday.



Ms. Kagan: Right on Both Sides

Jonathan Rauch had a fascinating op-ed in the nyt.com this morning. He first acknowledges that his marriage to his partner, held in DC, magically dissolves every time he gets on the Metro and goes back to live in VA, in which his marriage is constitutionally banned.

In his summation of Ms. Kagan's remarks before the Senate Commission, he understands that Kagan struck a balance that will sting both sides of the debate:

In her testimony, Ms. Kagan described the Supreme Court as “a wondrous institution” and the democratic process as “often messy and frustrating.” She was right, as every veteran of a civil rights struggle can attest. But she was also right to say that the court should be “properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives.” If she can turn those platitudes into a jurisprudence that respects both gay equality and judicial modesty, she will be unpopular on both sides of the marriage debate — and correct.

The case in CA is moving toward the Supreme Court...saying a prayer and holding my breath.

Click here for more.

Be Brave, Brett

Thursday, July 1, 2010

At the beach, celebrating a birthday

Celebrating another year of life!

At the beach, where the sun is coming out, the ocean is rhythmically lapping against the shore line, and we are about to take a stroll.

Life is good.