Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weddings and Commitments

While the Rev. Janie Spahr is being reprimanded from doing what she was called to do--perform weddings, which is what we ministers do--there are these stories of those who are now wedded to one another. From the

Christina Goodridge Page and Jennifer Ruth Mayer celebrated their partnership on Saturday with a commitment ceremony in Pescadero, Calif. Leong Ping Foong, a friend of the couple, led the ceremony in the lodge at Costanoa, a resort.

Elizabeth Gilliam

Ms. Page (left), 41, is the director of climate and energy strategy at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Calif. She graduated from Brown and received a master’s in environmental management from Yale. She is a daughter of Cassandra Nickerson Blattner of Wellesley, Mass., and James G. Page of Newton, Mass., and is a stepdaughter of Louise Knapp Page and of David J. Blattner Jr.

Ms. Mayer, 40, is the director of strategic planning in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery; she works in the agency’s San Francisco office. She also graduated from Brown and received an M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the daughter of Marjorie MacClellan Mayer of Arlington, Va., and the late James I. Mayer.

And this:

Janet Maureen Gillespie and Pamela Louise Simpson were married Saturday in Holderness, N.H. The Rev. Mary E. Haddad, an Episcopal priest, performed the ceremony at the Chocorua Island Chapel.

The couple met as graduate students at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., from which Ms. Gillespie earned a master’s in voice performance and pedagogy and Ms. Simpson received a master’s in music education and choral conducting.

Ms. Gillespie (left), 46, is a vocal and general music teacher at Irvington Middle School and Irvington High School, public schools in Irvington, N.Y. In 2007 and 2001 and for several years in the 1990s, she was a member of the chorus at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy. She graduated from Bennington College.

She is the daughter of Catherine L. Gillespie and James H. Gillespie, both of Phoenix. Her father retired as a claims supervisor there with the American States Insurance Company. Her mother, who is also retired, was a secretary in the Arizona Department of Economic Security in Phoenix. Ms. Gillespie is the stepdaughter of Helen M. Gillespie.

Ms. Simpson, 50, is the performing arts department leader and the choral music director at the Bronxville School, a public school in Bronxville, N.Y. She is also the associate conductor at Umbrian Serenades, a summer choral program in Spoleto. Ms. Simpson graduated from Duquesne University, and in 1985 and 1986 was a Fulbright scholar at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, from which she received a diploma in music and movement education.

She is a daughter of Charlotte L. Simpson and Robert B. Simpson, who live in Sarasota, Fla., and in Waterville Valley, N.H. Ms. Simpson’s father retired as the principal of Newfound Regional High School in Bristol, N.H. Her mother, who is also retired, was the director of health services at the New Hampton School, a college preparatory school in New Hampton, N.H.

Ms. Simpson’s previous marriage ended in divorce.



Friday, August 27, 2010

75% Americans Believe LGBT People Should Be Permitted To Be in the Military Service

How's that for proof that times' are a'changing!

From Talking Points Memo:

A new CBS News poll shows that 75% of Americans believe gay men and lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military.

Only 19% are opposed to having gay or lesbian service members. That's about the same percent of the country that believes President Obama is Muslim.

Interestingly, a smaller group, 64%, supports gay men and lesbians serving "openly" in the military. And among veterans and current service members, 61% support allowing gay people to serve.

The military is currently undertaking a review of how best to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces. The review includes surveying service members on how they feel about serving alongside gay people.

Their report is due in December, but some in Congress are pushing to repeal the law before then.


Ken Mehlman, Meet Rev. Janie Spahr, a Hero

The Rev. Janie Spahr, a minister in the PCUSA who happens to also be a lesbian, was charged with violating her ordination vows today because she married a lesbian couple in the state of CA when such marriages were allowed. She did this act, performing this marriage, as an act of her ordination vows and sense of calling. After all, don't we ministers do weddings?

Here are the charges brought against her today, in which she was found guilty:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) charges you, JANE ADAMS SPAHR, a minister of Word and Sacrament, with the following offenses:

  1. On or about June 20, 2008, you, JANE ADAMS SPAHR, did commit the offense of representing that a the Marjorie Taylor and Sherrie Ann Holmes, were married under the laws of the State of California in effect at that time, and thereafter signing their Certificate of Marriage as the person solemnizing the marriage. This action is in direct violation of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (GAPJC) in its Decision and Order in Disciplinary Case 218-12, Jane Adams Spahr vs. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “…officers of the PCUSA authorized to perform marriages shall not state, imply, or represent that a same sex ceremony is a marriage. Under W-4-9001, a same sex ceremony is not and cannot be a marriage.”
  2. You, JANE ADAMS SPAHR, persisted in a pattern or practice of disobedience concerning the aforementioned authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order, in that during the period between June 17, 2008 and November 3, 2008,, when same sex marriages were valid and lawful under the laws of the State of California, you represented that no fewer than fifteen such additional ceremonies you performed were marriages of the same sex.
  3. By intentionally and repeatedly acting in violation of the above-referenced authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order as set forth in Disciplinary Case 218-12, you, JANE ADAMS SPAHR, failed to be governed by polity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in violation of your ordination vows (W-4.4003e).
  4. By publicly, intentionally and repeatedly acting in violation of the Book of Order, you, JANE ADAMS SPAHR, have failed to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church (W-4.4003g).

Records and Documents in Support of Charge

  1. State of California County of Marin License and Certificate of Marriage of Sherrie Anne Holmes and Sara Marjorie Taylor;
  2. Copy of Associated Press Internet article dated June 21, 2008, describing the marriage of Sherrie Holmes and Sara Taylor and the statement of the accused at an interview following the ceremony;
  3. Decision and Order of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Disciplinary Case 218-12;
  4. Presbytery of Redwoods Member Annual Required Report – 2009, submitted by and describing ministry activities of Jane Adams Spahr during calendar year 2008.

In light of Ken Mehlman coming out, all I have to say is "Ken, meet a hero. This act of disobedience comes at a great cost to her personally and in her career. This is what a hero does: when the going gets tough, she got going, while you foisted other LGBTQ couples to live now in states with constituents that prohibit us from marrying one another. Mr. Mehlman, you are no hero."



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ken! We're So Glad!

Ken Melhman, former RNC director, finally came out.


He is not a hero or a face of change. When George W. was running in 2004, with all the Rovian anti-gay marriage amendments in state constituents driving conservatives to the poll, Ken, who was head of the Republican National Committee, was silent. A gay man, observing discrimination written into law, was silent. He did not protest. He was silent.

This is not new...nor the last...just another sad chapter by a pathetic man who hated himself for being who God created him to be.

Ken Mehlman, President George W. Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has revealed that he is gay and is working to advance the cause of same-sex marriage.

I don't think it changed much in the national debate.

Note Ed Gillespie, his co-honcho in the Republican party, and his response after Ken told him he was gay (from

He was a leading figure in the Bush White House in pushing for the party to try to appeal to black and Hispanic voters.

“I and others worked very hard to expand the party to communities that had previously not been as amenable to the Republican message,” Mr. Mehlman said. “Obviously, I look back and wish I was in the place I am today and been able to do that with the gay community.”

Mr. Mehlman’s announcement makes him apparently the most prominent Republican official to come out. Ed Gillespie, another former Republican chairman and a friend of Mr. Mehlman, said Mr. Mehlman revealed his sexual orientation to him several weeks ago. But Mr. Gillespie said it did not change his personal opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I think most Republicans believe as I do that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he said, “and will continue to believe that.”


Well: Welcome, Ken, to the light.

Now: start working: undo all the hate you bred in your life.



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adoption: Now Open to Gay Couples in the UK

There was a tussle in the United Kingdom, in which the Catholic adoption agency could discriminate against LGBTQ couples in terms of adopting children. In a world where there are lots of children who are in need of a loving home, the Catholic Church in the UK objected to LGBTQ people being adopting parent(s).

Good news: the courts decided that the Catholic agency, Catholic Care, must let LGBTQ people adopt if they meet the criteria of being good parents.

Roman Catholic adoption agency has lost its fight for the right to continue its policy of refusing to place children with same-sex couples based on religious principles.

The agency, Catholic Care, saw its battle to limit its adoption services to heterosexual-only parents collapse in a ruling Thursday (August 19) by the powerful Charity Commission, an independent watchdog in England, although funded by the British government.

After a lengthy legal wrangle, the Charity Commission decreed that Charity Care's stance amounted to discrimination based on sexual orientation because it "departs from the principle of treating people equally."

Celebrate for all the children in the world who need parents, and for all of those who want to be loving parents.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Alike and Different

There was a game that I used to play as a music therapist, "Alike and Different" in which people would clap hands while saying "Alike and different, alike and different, we are alike, and different!" Then you would turn to the person on your right and say how you are both alike, and then to the person on your left and say how you are different.

Right now, I am giving a talk at the Arc of NC conference in Wilmington, NC. This is a group that focuses on the place and presence of people with disabilities--especially people with intellectual disabilities and challenges--in faith communities. I am in awe of the way this conference feels like an LGBTQ conference, like National Gay Lesbian Task Force, or an HRC or Pride gathering. We strut out the struggles, pains, losses we feel, as well as have conference workshops on empowerment and technology for overcoming our second class citizenry.

We are more "alike" than "different" from our peers in other groups that struggle for justice and freedom in this country.



Monday, August 16, 2010

Goin' to the Chapel...Not Yet in CA

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has put a stay on lifting the ban against equal marriage in CA.

Word is that this might be good in the long run.


This is a long slog...



Sunday, August 15, 2010

New York Times Late and Latest

Lots coming from the as I try to catch up on my reading. I am now teaching writing at North Carolina Central University, and all week has been taken up with orientation.

The first interesting article is about a "renegade priest" in a Catholic church in St. Louis, MO, who is, from my vantage point, following Jesus! Fr. Bozek had the audacity to do the following:

In the subsequent years, Mr. Bozek has become an increasingly vocal advocate for a more progressive Catholic church. In 2008 he presented parishioners with what he called his “vision,” which included the right of priests to marry, and that of women and homosexuals to become priests.

“He has opened our eyes,” said Melissa Kirkiewicz, 35. “His vision is what we perceive as the future of the church. He’s going in the direction I want to go as a Catholic.”

For many others, however, Mr. Bozek’s progressive views, coupled with his excommunication, have become too much to tolerate.

“He has his own agenda,” Grzegorz Koltuniak, 53, said after the vote. “He’s not a priest anymore, but he’s fooled everyone. Why are we even talking about religion? This is about property, but he makes it about religion.”

Mercy! I think Jesus would approve!

Then last night I went and saw the film "Eyes Wide Open," an Israeli film about a gay couple among Orthodox Jews...stunning! The poignant life story of Aaron and Ezri, in which Aaron is married and playing in the system, and Ezri, a young gay Yeshiva student. Aaron gives this incredible line to a senior rabbi in defending his love for Ezri:

Aaron, a willing participant in this system, knows the danger he is courting, and finds himself caught in a terrible dilemma, an identity crisis with no easy resolution. He risks losing the only world he recognizes — secular Israel seems as far from his corner of Jerusalem as Antarctica — or else suppressing a vital part of himself.

“I feel alive now,” he says. “I was dead before.”


Then the latest gay couple who announced their wedding in the, David and Alan:

Dr. David Scott Herszenson and Alan Emanuel Pierson are to affirm their partnership in Chicago Sunday morning at the Columbus Park Refectory, an event space in the Chicago Park District. Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler is to lead the commitment ceremony.

Mazel tov!



Thursday, August 5, 2010

Andrew Sullivan is Correct: Mr. President, are you for us or against us?

(From Costa Rica on vacation, but had to react/respond/comment on news about overturning Prop. 8):

"The president does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control."

But the whole point of this ruling is to contradict this statement. If the president does not support my right to marry, then he does not support my equality, according to the ruling. And you will note that Axelrod does not provide an argument as to why the president does not support civil marriage equality. Because the real argument would be: a) I'm too afraid of the culture war to take a stand; or b) I find the notion of two women getting married icky; or c) unlike my former congregation and whole swathes of American Christianity, my religious viewpoint demands that gay people be separated from the institution of civil marriage because it offends religious sensibilities. So which is it, Mr President? Are you really for equality or not?

I agree!