Thursday, March 26, 2015

Presbyterians threatened by equality opponents (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
While we are seeing "license to discriminate" laws around the south and midwest, purporting that religious freedom demands the right to discriminate against LGBT people, i want to remind you about our allies. For example the Presbyterian Church, one of the biggest mainline protestant denominations, recently came out for marriage equality and as our allies, they are now sharing the risk.

From Missouri:

Someone upset by the recent decision by Presbyterian Church (USA) to allow pastors to perform same-sex marriages has sent threatening letters to at least four churches in Missouri. 
The anonymous letters cite Scripture and prophesied that the churches would burn and that pastors would be fired because of the recent amendment to the constitution of Presbyterian Church (USA). 
“I was grieved and fearful for our pastors and churches,” said Anita Hendrix, leader of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, the denomination’s governing body that has jurisdiction over churches in the region....

Speaking about the letters, Hendrix said: “I just ask for people to pray for our churches and pray for the person who sent these letters that God might work in his or her life.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Resources to counter anti-gay "Christians"

If you look at the tabs at the top of this blog, there's one that says "Re: Theology".  It's a permanent page on this site with links to helpful resources to counter those who claim that Christianity has to be anti-gay.

The text of this blog post recapitulates that current page, as it stands today.  If you have additional resources, put them in the comments.  I will update the Theology page accordingly.

Here is a direct link to the theology page for future reference:

Tired of getting hammered by anti-gay "Christians"?  First, remember, the majority of Christians are actually pro-equality (despite what the Evangelical right or Roman Catholic bishops claim). And the Bible doesn't address our modern understanding of homosexuality.  (It's not so great on astronomy or medicine either!)  Here are some tools to fight back.

Theological resources for fighting the anti-gay Christians
1) From the Episcopal Church, "Doing the Theology":
2) Dealing with the Bible arguments:
3) The book, Reasonable and Holy: engaging same sexuality, by the Rev. Tobias Haller, BSG

4) The workbook, Reconciling Journey: a devotional workbook for gay Christians

5)  Journey towards acceptance: theologians and same sex love (PDF) by  Savitri Hensman is an overview of theological discussion and debate from the last 60 years.

6) God Believes in Love: Straight talk about gay marriage , book by Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson

Testimony from gay Christians.
1) Books
2) Films

Lots more resources on this Daily Kos diary from 2008
Also see the series of posts here on Voices of Faith Speak Out

Friday, March 13, 2015

European Parliament: same sex marriage a civil and human right

The European Parliament on Thursday called on EU member states to recognise civil unions and same-sex marriage as a civil and human right and urged governments and EU institutions to contribute to further discussion in this area....  [The European Parliament] acknowledged "the legalisation of marriage and civil unions between same-sex couples in a growing number of countries around the world, currently 17" and encouraged "the EU institutions and member states to further contribute towards reflection on the recognition of marriage or civil unions between people of the same sex as a political and social issue and a matter of civil and human rights". 
My emphasis.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Own the discrimination

In Oklahoma, the extremist legislature is working to pass a bill that would allow any discrimination as long as it's religious in  motivation.  Basically, if you claim religion, you get to be exempt from laws.  An amendment to the legislation has been proposed that would require you to post explicitly what minority groups you choose to discriminate against.

Dislike Jews?  How about blacks?  Women a problem?  What about gays and lesbians?  And of course, the group everyone opposes, the transgendered.

I say, yes.  Make them post a sign.  Make them own their bigotry:  No fags allowed. Let them be proud of it. 

The amendment to HB1371....would require religious businesses to come out of the closet.

“Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites,” the amendment states.

“The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”
Ryan Kiesel, director of ACLU of Oklahoma, also praised the amendment, saying that it “very pointedly exposes the absurdity of creating a new era of legalized segregation.”

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's not the finish line

Frank Bruni writes how, even as marriage advances, it still is a statement to be out.  THere's still an "ick" to overcome.
One especially interesting discovery in the Glaad poll was how much unease lingered even in respondents who formally approved of gay marriage or of civil unions with full benefits. Twenty percent of these people said they’d nonetheless feel uncomfortable attending a same-sex wedding.
for example,
About 30 percent of the respondents who didn’t identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender said that it would unsettle them to learn that their physician or child’s teacher did.

Close to 45 percent said that they would be uneasy about bringing a child to a same-sex wedding. Thirty-six percent feel uncomfortable when they see a same-sex couple hold hands.
He concludes,
I never lose sight of how far this country has come. My relief usually eclipses my rancor. But to celebrate or to slide into complacency is grossly premature, and it’s wrong, because I have every right to walk the streets of my neighborhood fearlessly, no matter whose fingers are interlaced with my own. Our clutch isn’t a taunt or provocation. It’s just an expression of tenderness — of basic humanity. In a world altered and advanced enough, it would be an innocuous, unnoticed part of the scenery.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Amici briefs

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on marriage equality on April 28th. Friends of the court (amici) are filing briefs to support one or the other side.

Our side has  379 major companies, ranging from Alcoa to Apple Computer to American Airlines-- and that's just a few of the A's.
Exactly 379 corporations and employer organizations urged the Supreme Court to strike down state bans on gay marriage, according to a friend-of-the-court brief obtained by The Huffington Post. The document was expected to be filed late Thursday morning.
“Employers are better served by a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to employee relationships,” reads the brief, filed by global law firm Morgan Lewis. “Allowing same-sex couples to marry improves employee morale and productivity, reduces uncertainty, and removes the wasteful administrative burdens imposed by the current disparity of state law treatment.”
And over 300 national Republicans.
More than 300 veteran Republican lawmakers, operatives and consultants have filed a friend of the court brief at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage late Thursday.

The amicus brief, organized by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, was filed for the four same-sex marriage cases the Court will hear on April 28 that could legalize the unions nationwide. In 2013, Mehlman marshaled a similar effort for the case that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex marriage in the state.....

The brief makes a conservative case for the court to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, arguing they are “inconsistent with amici’s understanding of the properly limited role of government.”

“Although amici hold a broad spectrum of socially and politically conservative, moderate, and libertarian views, amici share the view that laws that bar same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage, with all its attendant profoundly important rights and responsibilities, are inconsistent with the United States Constitution’s dual promises of equal protection and due process,” the brief states.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Views of marriage by state

From the Public Religion Research Institute

Alabama fights

There's a phenomenon called "last place aversion" which basically says that people need someone to look down upon, and the closer they are to the bottom themselves, the more desperately they need to do so.

This explains a lot of the festering racism in this country, and I think also explains a lot of animosity against LGBT people.

THOSE people.  The ones not like us. Someone to look down upon.

What else to say about the "Christians" in Alabama who are resisting federal court orders regarding marriage equality?  Now the Alabama Supreme Court  has stepped in with lots of scare-quotes about marriage, and essentially said the federal court has no jurisdiction.
Because there is no ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether bans on same-sex couples’ marriages are constitutional, the Alabama Supreme Court stated that it is free to reach its own conclusion about the constitutionality of Alabama’s bans.
What is it about the South?  Last place aversion, indeed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kill the Gays in CA

A California attorney has filed papers for an initiative that calls for the execution of LGBT people.  Of course, it would take over 300,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, so it's not actually going to be voted on.  But even in a relatively liberal state, this is the degree of animus against LGBT people.

A clear majority of Americans now are okay with LGBT people marrying, and with LGBT people generally.  But efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination are lagging behind.  Just yesterday, we saw Charlotte, NC narrowly defeat a non-discrimination rule.

Why is it okay to discriminate against LGBT?  We would not for a minute accept someone who advocated against serving black folks, or Jews, or women.  But somehow it's okay to advocate to refuse service to LGBT.  And I'll bet you that they would also like to refuse service for practicing Muslims too.  God help a woman in a headscarf who asks a bakery for a cake for Eid, eh?

Why is it that only about 20% of Americans are Evangelical Christians of a certain political ilk, yet they manage to punch so far above their weight that they dominate the media description of "Christian"?

Meanwhile, it's best to remember that even in liberal CA, there are people who actively hate us and want us dead.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How same sex marriage will change straight marriages

An ally writes, after a pro-equality rally in a non-marriage state,
As someone who was born straight, marriage was always just laid out in front of me, ripe for the taking whenever I wanted, and even (theoretically only, honey!) as many times as I wanted to. It was never something I had to fight for, to dream about, to yearn for. The people in that room Saturday night treat marriage like a priceless treasure. That doesn't mean they don't have bad days or months or years, or don't fight over who is doing bedtime, but it is one hell of a good reminder for every marriage.

So you LGBT advocates can stop saying that same-sex marriage won't affect my marriage, because it will. In fact, it has already made my own marriage better.

Thanks, you guys.
You're welcome.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marriage opportunity: fighting the marriage gap

Writing in the Washington Monthly, Jonathan Rauch, David Blankenhorn (former equality opponent) and others argue that the marriage crisis in the US is not due to same sex marriages but due to the class limits.  Marriage is doing fine in better-off demographics, but is not doing well in poorer communities. And yet, marriage is an agent of stability and well-being, and kids really DO do better with stable, two parent families. (Sexuality is not the issue).

They argue,
Many advocates of strengthening the family, for many years, have praised the two-parent married family as a touchstone of America’s economic and moral vitality. So it is, but where marriage advocates may often have gone wrong in the past was to imply that those who could not or did not conform to the standard template—gays, single mothers, and others—were opponents rather than potential recruits. In fact, what the same-sex marriage movement shows is that gay and lesbian Americans did not want to undermine marriage: they wanted to join it.

Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the same is true of many single mothers and fathers: they are not rejecting family values so much as feeling rejected by them, or at least unable to sustain them. No doubt, there are people out there who purposefully reject social norms like marriage and parental responsibility. But they are not the typical case or the case to which public policy should primarily address itself. The constructive focus is on the many more who would like to practice family values, if only they had the social, cultural, and economic capital to do so.

This is why we stress marriage opportunity. Changing minds and hearts has much value, but as a social-policy goal, removing impediments to success is more achievable and less polarizing. More important, improving opportunity has been, arguably, the great unifying American idea since before the days of the Declaration of Independence. Speaking of marriage opportunity is as natural in American public conversation as speaking of social opportunity and economic opportunity. It is a goal Americans can broadly agree on.
 and gay couples are a big part of this.
Establishing marriage opportunity for gays and lesbians is an important dimension of expanding marriage opportunity in America—not only for gay and lesbian couples, but, as we’ve tried to suggest, also for the nation as a whole. Supporting gay couples who seek to form lasting unions, gay parents who seek to raise successful children, and gay young people who aspire to a future in marriage—this is part and parcel of reestablishing a culture of marriage. And it brings society that much closer to ending forever the conflict between gay rights and family values: that is, to being a society in which all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or social class, can aspire to a rich family life and a lasting marriage in a supportive community. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

A reminder: no arguments are new

Although we've covered this ground before, it's worth remembering that the arguments made against same sex marriage equality are very like those made against inter-racial marriage.

I mean, doesn't this sound familiar?
First, there's the "slippery slope" idea, which says that if we allow gay marriage, we have to allow all kinds of stuff. ..... But the argument was made by R. D. McIlwaine III, then Virginia's assistant attorney general, in Loving v. the State of Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned miscegenation laws:
It is clear from the most recent available evidence on the psycho-sociological aspect of this question that intermarried families are subjected to much greater pressures and problems then those of the intermarried and that the state's prohibition of interracial marriage for this reason stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.
Then there's the "think of the children" line, which says that kids raised by two parents of the opposite sex are better off than those who aren't. ..... McIlwaine made that case too:
Now if the state has an interest in marriage, if it has an interest in maximizing the number of stable marriages and in protecting the progeny of interracial marriages from these problems, then clearly. there is scientific evidence available that is so. It is not infrequent that the children of intermarried parents are referred to not merely as the children of intermarried parents but as the 'victims' of intermarried parents and as the 'martyrs' of intermarried parents.
And of course, other arguments are also familiar from the anti-miscegenation laws.
1) First, judges claimed that marriage belonged under the control of the states rather than the federal government. 
2) Second, they began to define and label all interracial relationships (even longstanding, deeply committed ones) as illicit sex rather than marriage. 
3) Third, they insisted that interracial marriage was contrary to God's will, and 
4) Fourth, they declared, over and over again, that interracial marriage was somehow "unnatural." 
On this fourth point--the supposed "unnaturality" of interracial marriage--judges formed a virtual chorus. .... 
The fifth, and final, argument judges would use to justify miscegenation law was undoubtedly the most important; it used these claims that interracial marriage was unnatural and immoral to find a way around the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection under the laws." How did judges do this? They insisted that because miscegenation laws punished both the black and white partners to an interracial marriage, they affected blacks and whites "equally." ....During the late 19th century, this judicial consensus laid the basis for an ominous expansion in the number, range, and severity of miscegenation laws. In Southern states, lawmakers enacted new and tougher laws forbidding interracial marriages. Seven states put miscegenation provisions in their state constitutions as well as in their regular law codes, and most raised criminal penalties to felony level.
The arc of history is indeed long. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Coming Home in China (video Sunday)

Powerful short film on coming home as gay in China. As you may know, we just celebrated Chinese New year and in China, a significant part of the holiday is going home to be with family.

Friday, February 20, 2015

One couple marries in Texas

 Ken Paxton, the newly elected Republican Attorney General for the State of Texas, has just filed a motion with the State Supreme Court to officially declare a same-sex marriage performed at the direction of a county judge null and void. Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend married in front of the Travis County courthouse Thursday morning, after one county judge struck down the Texas same-sex marriage ban, and after another county judge ordered a county clerk to issue the license.
Goodfriend is battling ovarian cancer, leading the judge to grant the order.

No sooner had the couple, together over 30 years, been legally married, than AG Paxton announced the marriage was "void." Later, he announced he was "seeking to void the marriage license issued due to the erroneous judicial order."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New poll: 63% approve of marriage equality

From CNN:
63% of Americans say that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry and have their marriages recognized by the law as valid. That's up from 49% in August 2010. Over that time, the share who see marriage as a constitutional right has climbed 15 points among Republicans to 42% and 19 points among Democrats to 75%.
What a difference a decade makes!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Unexpected results in a new poll

The polls, in fact, show that about half of likely GOP caucus and primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina said they find opposition to gay marriage either "mostly" or "totally" unacceptable in a candidate. Fifty-two percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina said opposing gay marriage is either mostly or totally unacceptable, while 47 percent of likely Iowa caucus voters agree.
Possibly because the likely GOP voters in IA, NH, and SC can include non-Republicans?  Still, it's amusing to think that the GOP candidates will have to figure out how to thread this needle.
You also have to wonder just how much of a deal-breaker gay marriage support is. The poll asked about opposition to gay marriage -- not support -- so it's a little harder to suss out just how many people would vote against a candidate who supports gay marriage. We're guessing it's still more of a voting issue for those who oppose gay marriage than those who support it -- at least on the GOP side. (For what it's worth, though, between 25 and 31 percent of likely GOP voters in each state say opposing gay marriage is "totally unacceptable" -- a number that is on-par with all of these other issues.)