Thursday, October 30, 2014

Voices of Faith: The toll of "Christian" love on LGBTs

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Voices of Faith
From the Huff Po, a writer calls out "Christians" for the damage that they do.
Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of exclusion and isolation, of unanswered prayers to change, of destructive conversion therapies, of repeated suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith by people of faith. 
Church, this is the reality of our theology on homosexuality. 
This is the cost of our religion to the LGBT community. More accurately, it's the cost of our religion to LGBT human beings. This is the painful collateral damage that comes when we see principles and ignore people; when we refuse to give them the dignity they deserve. 
Apparently love does hurt -- really, really badly. 
The most common defense I've heard over the past 14 days from Christians who believe that being gay is both chosen and sinful has been some variation of the supposedly well-meaning "Well, we're just loving people by being honest with them by giving them the truth. Telling people the truth is loving them." 
.....
I have a crammed, bursting inbox of "truth" for you if you're interested in reading, Church. 
It's full of vile profanity, and utter contempt, and crude jokes, and physical violence, and white-hot fear. It's packed with school-hallway harassment, and city-street beatdowns, and church shunning, and workplace hazing, and brutal self-harm, and all sorts of perpetual, personal terrorism. 
And none of it looks a thing like love to me.
He goes on,
However we want to frame it or justify it, the net result of our religion to so many gay people is that entire families are being torn apart, sent to the shadows, and horribly mistreated in the name of Jesus. Real flesh-and-blood people are going through uninvited, individual Hell every day at the hands of people who claim Christ. The church's treatment of the LGBT community people has been downright sinful, and it's killing our testimony to the world. 
We're making it virtually impossible for gay people to exist in our churches, and then feeling justified in damning them for walking away from God when they leave. The truth is that so often they aren't turning away from God; they're just removing themselves from harm's way. 
We are losing credibility to those outside organized Christianity, not because we're "condoning sin" but because when the rubber meets the road, we really don't know how to "love the sinner" in any way that remotely resembles Jesus, and our "God is love" platitudes ring hollow. 
Church, this is our legacy that we are building in these days to the LGBT community and those who love them, and I assure you it's not a legacy of love. 
I don't know what the answer is for you, and I can't tell you how your theology gets expressed in the trenches of real people's lives. I only know that we as Christ's church can do better, regardless of our theological stance. We have to do better. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why tell the truth when the lies are so compelling?

You may have heard that there's a suit filed in Idaho by a wedding chapel who claims they are being threatened by the city over their refusal to marry same sex couples.  Not true.      It's a PR stunt by the right.

Mike Huckabee tells the lie:
"Remember when same-sex marriage activists used to claim that it would never infringe on other people’s religious beliefs? Well, that was a lie....Donald and Evelyn Knapp own a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, called The Hitching Post. They’re both ordained ministers and devoutly religious, so they declined to perform a same-sex wedding."
Facts are so inconvenient:
"The city of Coeur d’Alene has been contacted by a huge volume of people inquiring about our anti-discrimination ordinance, passed in 2013 by the City Council. These contacts have been a reaction to a lawsuit filed by the owners of a local marriage chapel, the Hitching Post, which claims the city has taken inappropriate action against their business for their decision to not perform same-sex marriages. In fact, the city has received no complaints about the Hitching Post and we have never threatened them. If we did get a complaint we would investigate it like any other complaint to determine if there is a legitimate violation of a city code. If we investigate it and determine that they fall within our exemption for religious corporations, we would not pursue it further because they would be exempt."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Young Catholics overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage

From Pew Research, even more evidence that the Catholic PEOPLE are gay friendly even if the Catholic BISHOPS are not.

Notice that even Catholics in their 50s show a majority in favor of marriage.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inter-racial marriage vs same-sex marriage

I've made this comparison before (e.g., here) but now someone else has managed to get it noticed more broadly.  You'll note that the slope of the two "approval" curves is very similar.  What's not similar is that if this were truly parallel, marriages between same sex partners would have been legal in ca. 1990.





Just for grins, here's my version from 2012:



Monday, October 6, 2014

A quiet earthquake for marriage equality

When from out of the blue
And without any guide,
You know what your decision is....
Which is not to decide
          "On the Steps of the Palace", Stephen Sondheim
The Supreme Court today denied certiori to seven different cases involving marriage equality.  By denying cert, the court essentially says that the decisions from the lower courts stand.  This may be because those lower courts all agreed with each other, and have been falling all over themselves to find for equality.  Without a disagreement between the lower courts, there's not a conflict that requires the Supreme Court to solve.  This suits the Court, which prefers to let trends get hammered out by the states before taking a step.  

So this decision not to decide brings marriage to Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Utah.

I know, Utah.  Right?  (After what they did to us in CA it's hard not to enjoy this....)

But wait, there's more! 

The decisions came from the 4th, 7th, and 10th circuit courts of appeal, which means that other states that still have bans in those circuits are also affected, giving a total of 11.  
  • 4th: Virginia , West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
  • 7th:Wisconsin, Indiana 
  • 10th: Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas as well.
THinkProgress gives us the map.  Potentially 30 states will have equality, and 60% of the population.

It is possible (or even likely) that one of the remaining circuits will uphold a marriage ban, as those circuits tend to have more conservative judges.  And that may be the case that the Supreme Court eventually takes.

As always, the most detailed information can be found at Scotusblog.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Same sex marriage is nothing new

In the very early years of the 19th century, 30-year-old Charity Bryant and 22-year-old Sylvia Drake essentially married. 

40 years later, in 1850, Charity's nephew wrote,
If I were permitted to draw aside the veil of private life, I would briefly give you the singular, and to me most interesting history of two maiden ladies who dwell in this valley. I would tell you how, in their youthful days, they took each other as companions for life, and how this union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for forty years, during which they have shared each other’s occupations and pleasures and works of charity while in health, and watched over each other tenderly in sickness; for sickness has made long and frequent visits to their dwelling. I could tell you how they slept on the same pillow and had a common purse, and adopted each other’s relations, and how one of them, more enterprising and spirited in her temper than the other, might be said to represent the male head of the family, and took upon herself their transactions with the world without, until at length her health failed, and she was tended by her gentle companion, as a fond wife attends her invalid husband. I would tell you of their dwelling, encircled with roses, which now in the days of their broken health, bloom wild without their tendance, and I would speak of the friendly attentions which their neighbors, people of kind hearts and simple manners, seem to take pleasure in bestowing upon them, but I have already said more than I fear they will forgive me for, if this should ever meet their eyes, and I must leave the subject.
They are the subject of a new book,  Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves.

You see, we have always been here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Voices of Faith: an evangelical for marriage

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Voices of Faith
Presbyterian minister Mark Achtemeier talks to Candace Chellew-Hodge at Religion Dispatches about his new book, The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart.

I really like his description of marriage:
Marriage is this arena where we can totally give ourselves to another person in body, spirit, and life and commitment and grow in that total gift of self which winds up being an image of Jesus’ total gift of himself for us.
Achtemeier used to be ardently opposed to marriage equality, and considered being gay "like drinking poison".  But no more:
 One of the things that was powerful for me in breaking out of that mindset was testimony about the blessings that came to gay and lesbian people through their committed relationships. Early in the book I talk about a conversation with a friend who said they knew all about identifying sin in their life and repenting of it, but when they thought about marriage to their partner, that’s what brought out the best in them and helped them learn love and self-sacrifice and nothing that needed to be repented of.

That really struck me that it sounded like my marriage.

The other thing that took me a long time to wrap my mind around is that an awful lot of Evangelicals really haven’t grappled with recognizing that this is not something you could choose your way out of. There’s always this sense of, “If you really tried hard, or prayed hard enough, you could come around.” Again, my gay friends would say, “Why on earth would I choose something like this? Who needs all this trouble?”

I think it’s the willingness of gay and lesbian people in sharing their stories that finally got it through my thick head that this isn’t an optional lifestyle, it’s a given.
Yet another reason why we must continue to come out !   Minds do change!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marriage, after 70 years (video Sunday)

By now, you've heard the news of two women in Iowa who have been partners for 70 years, who got married. Oh, I can just hear the sanctity of marriage tumbling down! (NOT!) It's a very charming story.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Who takes marriage most seriously?

A columnist at the HuffPo writes about her thoughts upon attending her gay brother's wedding.  And about what she learned about "the sanctity of marriage".
Weddings mark the start of a shared union -- a lifelong partnership between two people who have chosen to make binding promises to one another. Promises that often involve agreeing to work on the marriage when it needs to be worked on and to fight for it when it needs to be fought for. 
And if I had to guess which couples would be likely to work and fight the hardest for their marriages, I would predict it to be those who have already worked hard and fought to make marrying their partners a possibility in the first place. 
.....
Marriage is, indeed, sacred. But if proponents of traditional marriage are truly worried about sanctity, doesn't taking marriage away from those who likely revere it the most -- the same-sex couples like my brother and his husband whose ceremonies are far more focused on the extreme gratitude over their ability to be legally recognized in marriage than the cosmetic details of the day -- seem to contradict what they are after?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's up to the supremes

From Scotusblog (Lyle Denniston)
With lawyers moving very rapidly, the number of appeals to the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage rose on Tuesday to seven, as state officials in Indiana and Wisconsin separately challenged a federal appeals court ruling against their bans, and lawyers for the couples planned to file immediate replies. The new cases landed at the Court five days after that decision; the states had the option of taking ninety days to file.
... 
The Court has the option of taking on either or both issues, and it also has the option of putting off any consideration for the time being, despite the heavy pressure from virtually everyone involved in the cases, who contend that the Court should not wait any longer to decide. None of the cases is a mandatory appeal. It would be highly unusual, however, for the Court to pass up all of the cases, when everyone is championing review now. 
If the Court opts to take on the controversy anytime up to mid-January, a final ruling could be expected before the new Term is completed late next June.
And guess what?  The case may well rest not on constitutional law, not on fairness, but on religious freedom.  Mark Silk at Religion News Service on an amicus brief filed for Utah:
The religious organizations make clear in their amicus brief that, besides addressing all relevant Fourteenth Amendment issues, the Utah case uniquely addresses the burden placed on religious liberty by SSM. Quoting from a 2012 letter from a coalition of anti-SSM religious leaders, they write:
Judicially redefining marriage powerfully conflicts with religious liberty because, among other reasons, such a dramatic change in the law inevitably will lead to “forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations – throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies – to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.”… 
Utah’s petition provides an opportunity to address whether avoiding religious conflicts and church-state entanglements is a sufficiently weighty reason, alone or combined with other interests, to warrant allowing States to retain the age-old definition of marriage. 
If the court did find such avoidance sufficiently weighty, I’ve no doubt that the next legal step would be to ask that all states be forbidden to permit SSM on religious liberty grounds. But the real significance of the brief, it seems to me, is that it represents an acknowledgment that SSM is becoming the law of the land, and that the battle has now moved to the securing of legal exemptions for religious objectors.
So, the logic here is that anti-gay archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's religions freedom demands that the state deny me my civil rights (not to mention any non-Catholic church's religious freedom to marry me).  The sad thing is, after Hobby Lobby, it's just what might appeal to the 5 Catholics on the bench in DC.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Because nothing says "Christian love" like wishing a child's parents dead

Honestly, can they sink any lower in inhumanity?  From Think Progress: 
In a new blog post by IFI’s Laurie Higgins this week, the group takes on a new target: the children of same-sex couples, who Higgins expects would find “joy” in imagining their parents dead. 
....Her primary concern is that children should not ever see books about same-sex families, deeming any portrayal of a same-sex couple as  “homoeroticism” and “sexual perversion.” Instead, she suggests that librarians consider adding the following kinds of books (granting the premise that such books even exist):....
  • Young adult (YA) novels about teens who feel sadness and resentment about being intentionally deprived of a mother or father and who seek to find their missing biological parents..... 
  • Picture books that show the joy a little birdie experiences when after the West Nile virus deaths of her two daddies, she’s finally adopted by a daddy and mommy.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Posnered: the 7th circuit speaks

In a unanimous decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal found that the marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.  What everyone is talking about is the scathing opinion by Judge Posner, a Reagan appointee who is widely considered to be one of the most influential living jurists.  From the opinion, summarizing the states' argument:
Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.
From Slate,  an analysis,
There is simply no harm, Posner writes, “tangible, secular, material—physical or financial, or … focused and direct” done to anybody by permitting gay marriage. Conservative Christians may be offended, but “there is no way they are going to be hurt by it in a way that the law would take cognizance of.” A lot of people, after all, objected to interracial marriage in 1967—but that didn’t stop the court from invalidating anti-miscegenation laws inLoving v. Virginia.

In his opinion, Posner makes these points with trenchant humor. But beneath his droll wit lies a moral seriousness that gay marriage opponents, even those on the high court, will be unable to shrug off. The modern arguments against gay marriage may be breathtakingly silly—but by mocking them, we ignore the profound harms that marriage bans inflict on gay people and their families. By placing these families at the center of his analysis, Posner restores the equal protection clause to its rightful place as the safeguard for all whom the state seeks to harm unjustly. His message for those who hope to demean gay people and their children is clear: Not on my watch.

From Twitter, the neologism Posnered, meaning to reduce an argument to rubble.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Christian anti-gay activist apologizes? Voices of Faith....

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Voices of Faith
Former activist anti-gay Randy Thomas apologizes.   He writes,
To be clear, my view of marriage in a spiritual context has not changed. I believe the wedding union of husband and wife bears the image of God uniquely..... 
What I am also trying to learn is how I can state my beliefs without being a jerk about it. ...
I have also come to believe that trying to make our secular government impose my
spiritual beliefs in this matter is not helpful or appropriate.
So, he's not a supporter per se, but he seems to get the separation of faith and civil law. I'm perfectly okay with that. It's progress.  He goes on,
The night that Prop 8 in California and Amendment 2 in Florida (both banning gay marriage) passed I was jubilant. I truly believed what we had done was right and good. ....What I didn’t make widely known was how heart-broken I was when I saw the gay community in California take to the streets. Their protests that night and in the days afterwards tugged at me. When I saw their grief-stricken faces my heart twisted in my chest. It was the first time in a long time I remember thinking, “did we do something wrong?” ...Eventually the doubt over what we had done would get louder in my mind and change from a question to a conviction; a conviction that indeed we had done something terribly wrong.
 He concludes
Today, I can honestly say that I am glad that the courts are striking down all the marriage bans across the country. It is my hope that we (Christians) can learn from the past, make the appropriate amends, and rebuild dialog and relationships with the LGBT community.
There are a number of prominent evangelicals who are coming around to being pro-marriage equality -- Brian McClaren, Steve Chalke, Rob Bell, Ken Wilson....  Most of them get rejected by their communities as apostates.  But the tide is turning.   And I would remind my fellow members of the rainbow tribe that forgiveness is a virtue.  Life is too short to hold a grudge.  Let's move ahead for justice, together.

Streak ends, as it must

A federal judge in Louisiana finds rational basis in supporting that state's marriage ban because, well, incest.  From THink progress:
Political operatives seeking to cast aspersions on Feldman’s approach to gay rights will find a lot to work with in his opinion. At one point, he describes being gay as one of several “lifestyle choices” a person can make. At another point in his opinion, he compares same-sex marriage to marriage between “aunt and niece,” “aunt and nephew,” or “father and child.” He also likens marriage equality to polygamous marriages.
He also seems a little confused about the 14th amendment, which is not limited to issues of race.  This one will head up to the 5th circuit for appeal.

Meanwhile, in this first of --what, 30?-- decisions on our side, the fundies are rejoicing with their dehumanizing, hate-filled rhetoric.