Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Trial (Again) of the Rev. Janie Spahr...or Ground Hog Day

I saw this on mlp.org, and then in the Advocate.com: the Rev. Janie Spahr is facing church court again because she married couples who happened to be in the same sex in CA before Proposition 8 was passed.

This from the Advocate.com:

For the second time in less than five years, a retired Presbyterian minister faces prosecution by her church for same-sex marriages that she performed in California, with the new twist that the latest marriages were legal.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the Rev. Jane Spahr of San Francisco married 16 gay and lesbian couples in 2008 during the five-month period that same-sex marriages could legally be performed in California.

Spahr, 67, was acquitted by her church's highest tribunal in 2008 for officiating over same-sex marriages when they were not yet legal in California.

“JoAn Blackstone, who is the prosecutor, said the distinction is immaterial,” the Press Democrat reports. “The marriages may well have been legal under state law, she said, but were ‘expressly prohibited’ by the same ruling that acquitted Spahr in 2008.”

Having met Janie briefly, I am sure that she knew what she was doing when she wed these people.

But really?

In a few years, marriage between two consenting adults will be the law of the land. And churches will slowly adapt to what the Spirit is doing around the world in making it possible for people who love each other to be wed. The homophobia of this country in general, and the church in particular, is in its sunset years.

Recent poll: half of the first year class of students at UNC-Chapel Hill think that equal rights in marriage is just fine. Each year this poll has been taken, it keeps on increasing in terms of the number of students who believe this is true.

What a waste of time and money.

Meanwhile, the people of the Congo, Haiti, and even this country die of starvation, are homeless, hungry, looking for jobs, while others will throw good money at a lost cause.



Friday, March 26, 2010

Homophobia is Bloomin' All Over...

Now this shows how homophobic some are in the military service with the threat of overturning DADT.

This is going to be painful.

Joe-By-God brought us this:

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway says that if DADT is repealed, gays will have to be placed in separate barracks. "I would not ask our Marines to live with someone that is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it." Conway says unlike the other services, the Marine Corps "billets by twos" and that they'd be forced to spend money to create new one-man housing."


Can you imagine the Church doing this?



Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Prom Date and the Mom: 2nd Generation Queer!

Just got this information about the young person who wanted to go to the prom with her same sex partner in Mississippi, in which the school banned the prom!

By now, you would have to have been living on another planet not to know the story of Constance McMillen, whose Mississippi high school canceled its prom after she told officials she wanted to bring her girlfriend and wear a tux.

What most news channels have missed, however, is that Constance's mother is also a lesbian. Constance mentioned this in passing to Michaelangelo Signorile during an interview for his show on OutQ Sirius radio. (Thanks to the attentive women at Autostraddle for picking up on it.)


Click here for more.



PCUSA Board of Pensions and Same Sex Benefits

This posting on mlp.org more or less blows me away: same sex benefits for clergy couples and partners from our Board of Pensions of the PCUSA:

More Light Presbyterians Another Overture urging the Board of Pensions "to extend benefits to same-gender spouses and domestic partners of all members of its Benefits Plans and Programs," passed in the Presbytery of Boston by 45 to 22. The Presbytery of New Brunswick concurs. They join the Presbytery of New Castle.

This blows me away.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Preaching at Home Church

Homecoming is a spring, summer, and fall ritual in the South. I haven't seen it played out in the winter months as such.

Today was Homecoming Sunday for me as I preached at Valley Community Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR. My family joined 40 years ago. I was in the youth group, ran summer youth group programs, led choirs, sang in choirs, played pianos and organs, led worship, was married in the Church, my two children were baptized in the Church, and the Church witnessed both my marriage, divorce, and now still recognize and honor me as a preacher from time to time, even as an out gay Presbyterian pastor.

This is my home church.



Friday, March 19, 2010

The Hub Bub of Repealing DADT

Listening and reading the accounts of Mr. Choi in handcuffing himself to the White House fence, along with the chatter of former NATO commanders saying silly things about gay troops from the Netherlands, a moment of reflection:

As a pacifist, I'm not wild about the military services. That we are fighting for the right to be part of the military industrial complex seems sad to me, more than heroic.

I understand the kind of message this will send once eligible LGTBQ troops are allowed to be out and serving. It will have the same message as racially integrated troops.

So be it.

Fight on.




Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bishop (to be) Glasspool!

Celebrating the upcoming rituals that will make Rev. Glasspool Bishop Glasspool in the Episcopal Church!

Funny thing: after hearing about the need for bodyguards around Bishop Gene Robinson because of death threats, I hear none of these "needs" for Rev. Glasspool.

Here's the story from the LA Times:

Mary Glasspool is the first openly gay bishop approved since 2003, when the election of a gay man as bishop of New Hampshire caused such an uproar that the U.S. church, under pressure from other members of the global Anglican Communion, imposed a moratorium on such elevations. The ban was lifted last year.

Glasspool is also one of the first two women to be elected as bishops in the 114-year history of the Los Angeles diocese. The other, Diane M. Jardine Bruce, won final approval March 8.

Celebration time!



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Catholic Church: The Children

There's been much about the abuse of children in the Catholic Church by priests in the news lately, from andrewsullivan.com, to the nyt.com.

It is a sin.

It is wrong.

From the nyt.com:

His comments, rare for an official in the famously reticent Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, were part of a broader Vatican defense against a rising abuse scandal in Germany, including a case that happened on the watch of Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Over the weekend, Monsignor Scicluna told L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, that his office had examined 3,000 abuse cases in the past decade, most of them from the United States.

The ratio of 10 people handling 300 cases a year did not go over well in some quarters. “It seems like an extraordinarily paltry effort, given the scope of the crisis,” said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

In a rare interview, by telephone on Tuesday, Monsignor Scicluna acknowledged the concern. Asked if he wanted reinforcements, he said with a laugh: “I would hope we have less work. That’s my hope. Not more people, less work.”

He added that if the number of cases averaged 300 a year, “We can continue doing our job well with 10 people. The problem is: Are these numbers going to settle?”

A decade after the Roman Catholic Church in the United States was shaken by revelations of widespread sexual abuse of minors by priests, a similar phenomenon is sweeping Germany.

This week, the German church suspended a priest who had been allowed to work with children for decades after a court convicted him of molesting boys. In 1980, Archbishop Ratzinger allowed the priest to move to Munich for therapy after allegations of abuse.

Although last week the auxiliary bishop who approved the priest’s return to pastoral work stepped down, some have raised questions about Benedict’s responsibility in the matter.

“It depends what you mean by responsible,” Monsignor Scicluna said. “If he was involved in the decision, he would be. If he was not involved, it’s a responsibility that comes from his office, a ‘the buck stops here’ sort of thing.’ But I think that the person concerned has already taken responsibility for what he did; the answer to that question has already been given.”

Despite the small number of people in the Vatican working on such cases, he stressed that his office was the last step in a long process for the cases, after they have been investigated by “hundreds of canon lawyers” in dioceses worldwide.

It is wrong.

It is a sin.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Fr. Robert Carter

Today's nyt.com reported the death of the Rev. Robert Carter, a pioneer and hero among those who struggle with LGBTQ issues, faith communities, and civil rights. Known for his work in the Catholic Church (as a priest), and as an out gay man who helped create the National Gay Lesbian Task Force, Rev. Carter has left his imprint upon the very soul of many throughout this world.

From the nyt.com:

The Rev. Robert Carter, who in the early 1970s was one of the first Roman Catholic priests in the country to declare publicly that he was gay and who helped found the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, died on Feb. 22 in the Bronx. He was 82.

His death, at a Jesuit health care facility, was confirmed by the Rev. Thomas R. Slon, executive assistant to the provincial of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus.

Father Carter’s coming out was a very public one. In October 1973, Dr. Howard J. Brown, a former New York City health services administrator, announced that he was gay and that he was forming a civil rights organization for homosexual men and women. Then called the National Gay Task Force, it later became the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

An article about the group in The New York Times said: “A number of homosexual and lesbian organizations were represented on the board. One member was the Rev. Robert Carter, a Jesuit priest and professor of historical theology.”

Soon afterward he was visited by a subprovincial of the Jesuit order. “It seems that they were afraid I had had a psychotic break or something,” Father Carter wrote in an unpublished memoir.

Although there were calls for his expulsion by irate “Jesuits, parents and alumni of our schools,” Father Carter continued, he was not disciplined. In those days, the church and the Jesuit order were somewhat more accepting of gay people.

The church continues to hold that while homosexual attraction is “disordered,” gay people who are celibate are not inherently sinful. In 2005, however, the Vatican issued a document saying the church would not admit to a seminary or ordain “those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’ ”

Father Carter helped found the New York chapter of DignityUSA, a support group for gay Catholics. In 1972, with the Rev. John McNeill, he hosted the first meeting of the chapter at the Jesuit chapel on West 98th Street in Manhattan.

“I refer to him as the heart of Dignity,” Father McNeill, the author of “The Church and the Homosexual” (Beacon, 1976), said in an interview. “I was doing all the writing, but he was on the front line, meeting with people, counseling people.”

Peace be with us all,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

VA is NOT for Some Lovers

VA Governor and the Attorney General show their true thoughts and feelings about LGBTQ people and allies, according to the Washington Post:

RICHMOND -- Hoping to quell a growing uproar on Virginia's college campuses over gay rights, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell issued a directive to all 102,000 state employees Wednesday that prohibits discrimination in the state workforce, including on the basis of sexual orientation, and warns he will reprimand or fire anyone who engages in it.

McDonnell's directive comes a week after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) distributed a letter to the state's public colleges and universities asking them to remove references to sexual orientation from their campus nondiscrimination policies. Cuccinelli says that only the General Assembly has the authority to extend legal protections to gays.

McDonnell (R) has said he supports the legal reasoning of that opinion, which mirrored his advice on the issue as attorney general. The governor said Wednesday that he continues to believe that without legislative approval, universities and state agencies cannot issue orders that would allow employees or others to sue in state court over discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

And, in a departure from his Democratic predecessor's stance, McDonnell issued an executive order last month, which carries the force of law, on the issue of workplace discrimination that did not mention sexual orientation.

But McDonnell said Wednesday that Cuccinelli's letter had caused confusion and anger among students, college presidents and others that he could address with a clear statement opposing discrimination and a promise to use the human resources process to punish an employee found to have shown bias.

Last night on Rachel Maddow (msnbc.com), she made it clear that a directive is a "hint," a "suggestion," while an executive directive is law. The Governor made a directive, NOT an executive order.

The directive is not enough.

The Governor thinks LGBTQ people and straight allies are fools.

VA is still not for some kinds of lovers.



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Taxes and Census

I read this on andrewsullivan.com, who married his partner in Massachusetts:

Our marriage was already recognized by DC before this wonderful day. Now for the joint tax returns! Except we file a married return for state taxes and then have to say we are total strangers for the federal returns.

This is what is weird:
In some states, married LGBTQ couples can file state taxes jointly, but federal taxes? Complete strangers.

In some states and businesses, LGBTQ couples can file for joint benefits; others, we are complete strangers.

On passports and claims when flying abroad or back into the States? We couples are strangers and not family;

Census 2010? Same thing: we are strangers, roommates at best.


When will the federal government catch up with our reality?



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marriae Equality in DC: Today, March 9th.

Evan Wolfson on today's historic event via Huffingtonpost.com:

Today, surrounded by friends and family, the first same-sex couples in Washington D.C. to receive marriage licenses are celebrating their legal marriages. D.C. now officially joins the five states and eight countries that have ended exclusion from marriage. Marriage in our nation's capital marks a significant victory not only for D.C. couples who no longer need to leave home to secure the protections and responsibilities of marriage, but also for the national movement to win the freedom to marry.

This is awesome!

Congrats married couples, and a hearty well-done, DC folks!



Monday, March 8, 2010

CA Sen. Ashburn: Welcome to Life!

This is an old tired record: strongly against LGBTQ people, writing laws against equality of mariage, blah, blah, blah...turns out he's gay.

State Sen. Ashburn is but the latest in this inglorious history from salon.com:

During his time in California's Senate, Roy Ashburn voted against every single gay rights measure that came up. That made the story of his arrest two weeks ago -- he was pulled over for drunk driving after leaving a gay bar, and he had another man in the car with him -- more than a little interesting.

On Monday, Ashburn admitted to what everyone had pretty much figured out now.

"I'm gay," he said in a radio interview. "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long." The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog reports that Ashburn explained that he voted the way he did on gay rights because he felt that's what the voters of his district wanted.

Welcome to life!

Enjoy...and breathe!


Pace! B

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Sins of the Church

Churches are places for sin sick souls.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that everyone has fallen short of the glory of God.

So is there any surprise when there is a huge sin buried in the body of Christ? After all, though divinely inspired and wrought, the Church is also influenced by the worse parts of society, e.g., racism, sexism, continued poverty in the world, etc.

No surprise but a sense of woefulness as I, a Christian, ordained in the PCUSA, read this tidbit on Huffingtonpost.com, about a child rejected from a Catholic church run school because of the lesbian parents.

BOULDER, Colo. — A Catholic school in Colorado is kicking out a preschooler because the child's parents are lesbians.

The child will not be allowed to re-enroll next year at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School. The Denver Archdiocese posted a statement Friday that the parents are "living in open discord with Catholic teaching."

The statement says students in Catholic schools are expected to have parents who abide by policies of the school and church. The Archdiocese said students with gay parents in Catholic schools would become "confused." Click here for more.

The Church is wrong.

The Church is not the loving arms of Jesus unto all.

The Church has and is sinning.



Friday, March 5, 2010

VA Colleges and Universities: No More LGBTQ People

Elections do matter.

Consider VA: the new, current Governor, who in his graduate thesis scorned women and others, vowed that things changed when he was running.

Not so.

The latest attacks of his have been upon LGBTQ people, first on the state payroll, now in colleges and universities funded by the state. From Joe.My.God.:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has asked the state's public colleges and universities to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, arguing in a letter sent to each school Thursday that their boards of visitors have no legal authority to adopt such statements. In the letter, Cuccinelli (R) wrote that only the General Assembly can extend legal protections to gay state employees -- a move the legislature has repeatedly declined to take, including as recently as this week.

"It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression,' or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly," he wrote. Colleges that have included such language in their policies -- which include all of Virginia's leading schools -- have done so "without proper authority" and should "take appropriate actions to bring their policies in conformance with the law and public policy of Virginia," Cuccinelli wrote.

Wow! This is a move backward.

Now will there be a public outcry?



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ding Dong the Wedding Bells are Chiming in DC

As reported all over the blogosphere, the first marriage certificate was given to a lesbian couple in D.C. today. This is the first day to register. The first day to wed: Monday, March 9, 2010.

From towleroad.com:

Thanks to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, marriage equality is headed to Washington, DC. Gay and lesbian couples were allowed to start applying for marriage licenses first thing this morning. The District of Columbia is now the sixth place in the US where gays can marry legally and the very first located south of the Mason-Dixon line, which is notable at least in its symbolism alone.

Sinjoyla Townsend and Angelisa Young, partnered for 12 years, were the first couple to receive a same-sex marriage license. Young said that "It's like waking up Christmas morning. The marriage bureau was expected to bring in extra employees to help with the number of couples expected to apply for a license.

Due to a provision in the law, marriages cannot be held right away. Instead, "three full days must pass between the day of application to the day that the license can be issued."

This is important.

It is going to take each and every step from each corner of this country to move toward equality.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Equal Marriage in DC: Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

Let's celebrate!

This from Evan Wolfson on Facebook:

Evan Wolfson The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the freedom to marry in DC. Opponents continue to pursue an effort to put it on the ballot, but tomorrow, marriage licenses will become equally available in our Nation's capital.




Gay Dads Study: How'd We Get Those Kids?

I was part of a study of gay dads, and the initial findings of this study are out.

What was fascinating, as you will read below, is that many of us over 50 became fathers through a "heterosexual context," e.g., we were more than likley married, while those 40 and under used other methods to become dads, e.g., in vitro and adoption. And most of the young children of those who are in households where dads are 40 and below are non-white.

Go to this link for more on the study by clicking here.