Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Get married, get fired?

From Al Jazeera (BTW, I really like their reporting)
[T]he dilemma now facing a growing number of gay couples: They can legally marry, but they may also be fired from their jobs, thrown out of their apartments and denied service at businesses because of their sexual orientation. Many say the increased visibility of same-sex partners, even in small towns in conservative states, will lead to greater acceptance of gays. But particularly in the short to medium term, it could prompt more instances of discrimination.

“I didn’t expect marriage equality to happen so quickly — and it’s a good thing. I’m not complaining,” says Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, an LGBT advocacy group. “But because you don’t have civil rights protections in place, someone even talking about their marriage could be used as grounds to terminate someone.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

You can't be "nice" and deny equality

As we move into the end game of the marriage equality issue, our opponents are trying to figure out how to live with us married LGBT folk.  (Mostly, they are trying not to , on the basis of religious freedom).

Some of them are trying to tell us there's nothing personal, that they may oppose our marriages but hey, they aren't anti-gay bigots.

Here's an oldie but a goodie, on how you can't be "nice" while denying equality. 

First, the author begins with a discussion of a writer named Halee Gray Scott , who wants to separate her anti-marriage equality views from that of a more openly homophobic man, Charles Worley.
Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.

See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice.
That sort of assumption — lumping her in with people like Charles Worley just because she wants the same legal outcome as they do — is hurtful. It wounds her feelings. Being compared to people like that is not nice.

And people should be nice to her, just as she’s being so nice to all the LGBT citizens whose legal equality she wants to nicely deny.

“I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views,” Scott writes, magnanimously.

And it’s true. She doesn’t want anyone else to approve or accept her religious perspective. All she asks is that they allow her to write it into law....
Yeah, that's the part they miss.

But the argument is that you can't be NICE and still treat people badly.
Look, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a nice person. And it doesn’t matter if your tone, attitude, sentiments and facial expressions are all very sweet, kindly and sympathetic-seeming. If you’re opposing legal equality, then you don’t get to be nice. Opposing legal equality is not nice and it cannot be done nicely.


It’d be terrific if Scott’s heartfelt plea for “a hermeneutic of grace” toward Christians who oppose legal equality had also thought to include such a presumption of grace toward the human beings whose legal equality those Christians continue to deny.

Scott wants to carve out a space in which she can be unfair, but still kind. Such a space does not exist and cannot exist.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kansas and South Carolina

We added Kansas and South Carolina this week...at least, technically, although they are still kicking and screaming.  Here's the map from ThinkProgress.

So, who's left?

A Federal Judge in Mississippi heard a case this week.

The 5th Circuit (TX, MS and LA) and 11th circuit (FL, AL, GA) have cases moving up from the states. Cases are pending in SD, ND, and NE and AR;  these haven't had federal rulings yet or circuit decisions.  MO is (like KS and SC) trying to resist the circuit ruling that applies.  In  Puerto Rico  the case  may be moving up to the 1st circuit.  (All the states in the 1st have already got marriage equality.)

I will bet that we will have 50-state marriage equality by the summer of 2016.  I think it is possible that the Supremes will hold off on a case this year.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

6th circuit signs date with SCOTUS

The Supreme Court has been silent on the subject of marriage equality, tacitly approving it by ignoring appeals requests. Since all the circuit courts thus far have found for equality, there's been no conflict for the Supremes. This has led to a huge expansion of equality to 32 states.

But today, the conservative 6th circuit broke the streak, and issued a ruling finding that marriage discrimination is okay. For some reason, the bulk of their argument is that the people should be able to decide. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote,
When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

The problem is this. The Constitution exists in part to protect the rights of unpopular minorities from the tyranny of the majority. We do not put basic rights to the ballot. If we had, schools in the South would still be segregated, inter-racial marriage would still be illegal, and husbands could control a woman's property.

This was called out in a brilliant dissent by Judge Martha Daughtrey.
The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy,” Daughtrey wrote in her dissent. “But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal: whether a state’s constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it.
This makes for a "circuit split" and the appeal to the Supremes is on its way. And then Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy must decide what they want their legacies to be.

Monday, November 3, 2014

If I have gay children .... (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
From a pastor, a promise to his children:

As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now… 
1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. 
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret. 
..... Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.....
2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them. 
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal. 
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. .... 
3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them. 
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love. ....
If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them. 
4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children. 
If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are. 
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. .....
And then he goes on to take on his fellow "Christians" who are angry or offended.

This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you. 
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions. 
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything. 
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Video Sunday: The Body of Christ

Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber asked her LGBT congregants to speak on being part of the body of Christ.  From her Facebook page:

I was asked to make a 5 minute video for an Evangelical on-line church leadership conference called The Nines http://thenines.tv/speakers/. The conference is centered on "culture clash" - including what is called "the issue of homosexuality". I conceded my time to a bunch of queer folks at church. Here is the result.
 You'll have to click through to watch this one. 

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!