Congregations find each other
December 4th, 2013
There’s an interesting story out of Minnesota about a pastor of a predominantly African American church who lost most of his congregation after voting for recognition of marriage equality in the United Church of Christ denomination. (Star Tribune)
[Oliver] White’s struggling, nearly 20-year-old congregation saw its situation worsen in 2005 when he voted with a majority of delegates in favor of a resolution supporting gay marriage at a national UCC assembly. His vote didn’t go over well with most of the 320 Grace Community members, White said. Membership dropped to nearly 100, he says.
Last July, the church White led for 22 years — Grace United Community Church of Christ in St. Paul — closed its doors after two thirds of the congregation left because White voiced his support for same-sex marriage.
For more than a year and without much success, White searched for a place for his remaining members to worship. Then, he called Clark Memorial United Church of Christ in South St. Paul –where the older, shrinking congregation was looking for ways to save its building.
“She said, ‘We need you and you need us. Quid pro quo,’” White recalled. “I said, ‘They got a building and I got a young congregation. Maybe this could work.’”
White’s predominantly black congregation, Grace Community, now worships alongside the mostly white members of Clark Memorial Church in South St. Paul in an unusual partnership that grew out of both congregations’ advocacy for gay rights.
“I have to scratch my head and wonder, ‘Oliver, what are you doing there?’ ” said White, 71, during a recent interview. “Then I come to realize, we’re all people and if I can be an advocate for the LGBT community, then why can’t I be an advocate for bringing people together in one accord, which is what I’m trying to do.”
I’m sure the very different worship traditions are new and challenging to both congregations, but also probably quite exciting.
Filipino President ambivalent about marriage
December 4th, 2013
Filipino President Benigno Aquino remains uncommitted on the issue of marriage equality: (Rappler)
“One side of me says human rights are supposed to be universal. On the other hand, if we go into gay marriages, then of course the next step will be adoption and I don’t know if… I still have to look at it from the child’s perspective,” he said. “Is that something that is desirable in an environment for a child?”
Aquino also questioned whether it would affect the children in “understanding the world” or if it would “induce more confusion.”
His stance is the same as his original opinion from two years ago.
This could be a reflection of the position of the nation. The Philippines is heavily Catholic and (ironically) history suggests that such demographics open opportunities for marriage equality advancement.
Israel moves closer to couple recognition
December 4th, 2013
On Sunday morning the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs authorized a new bill which attempts to mend the Income Tax Act and grant same-sex couples with children the same tax exemptions enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.
“We are talking about tens of thousands of shekels given to the parents of children under 18, sums which were prevented from same-sex parents,” said MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) who proposed the bill.
In addition there are proposed bills that would allow secular marriage, including same-sex marriage. Currently in Israel all marriages are distinctly religious and are under the auspices of religious bodies, mostly Orthodox Judaism. Secular and other marriages that would not be allowed to be conducted in Israel are nevertheless recognized by the state.
Giving a boost to the movement is the endorsement of President Shimon Peres
In an interview with Ynet on Sunday while in Mexico’s Guadalajara, Peres said that “even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights.”
Peres added: “We cannot take away someone’s rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them.”
Michael Glatze marries
December 2nd, 2013
On October 26th, ex-gay writer Michael Glatze and his lovely wife Rebekah were married under the canopy of trees in a riverside park. The bride wore a gown and veil; the groom wore khakis.
I am of two minds in writing this. One the one hand, Michael Glatze has presented himself as being on “the other side” of homosexuality and as having been “healed”. His marriage is very likely going to be used by him as an evidence of his testimony. Commenting is fair game.
On the other hand, Glatze’s history of religious confusion and his bizarre racist and sexist writing suggest that he may well be suffering from mental health issues. Discussing his marriage feels a bit cruel.
I don’t know anything about his new wife Rebekah, but I wish them both much wedded bliss. I hope Glatze finds true happiness in his marriage.
However, Glatze’s writing in May of this year suggest that Michael Glatze is not fully reconciled with his chosen sexual identity and that Rebekah may find her new life trying. Glatze’s hypothesis is that homosexuality is a perversion of the spiritual union that should be between man and God. (WND)
Thus, since God is male and His creation – man – is male, the appropriate relationship (under the Headship of Christ) is to be satisfied in spiritual union with God. That is why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, says we have “become one spirit” with God. And, it is also why Paul describes, in Romans 1, the pattern of degradation that takes place when men turn from God. Ultimately, it results in homosexuality, because the man – seeking for a spiritual fellowship with God – positions himself either as a “god” for another man, or in the position of worshiping another man as “god.”
And with God as Glatze’s spiritual male lover, there may not be much room for Rebekah. And, to the extent there is, it will not be an equal union.
Men lead society, and women follow. What men elect to do will have an effect on the responses of women. That, also, is the natural order of things…
This simply does not have the hallmark of something that will end well.
Croatia bans gay marriage
December 1st, 2013
In an entirely expected move, the citizens of Croatia have voted to deny civil equality to their gay neighbors and relatives. (Guardian)
A majority of Croatians have voted in a referendum to ban gay marriages in what is a major victory for the Catholic Church-backed conservatives in the European Union’s newest nation.
The state electoral commission, citing initial results, said 65% of those who voted answered “yes” to the referendum question: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” About 34% voted against.
Cardinal Dolan: Church has been out-marketed
November 30th, 2013
“Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes,” he said on Meet the Press, according to a preview of the Sunday interview reported by the Associated Press. “We’ve been caricatured as being antigay.”
This is the explanation Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, gives for the reason that the United States is marching firmly in the direction of marriage equality. (The interview can be seen Sunday night on NBC’s Meet the Press.)
“When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle,” he said.
The Cardinal is correct that public image and social pressure were the factors that swept away the argument of the American Catholic Bishops and which will result in equality not only in the United States but in most of the Christian and Catholic World. But Hollywood and politicians only deserve part of the credit.
The real credit lies elsewhere.
America has come to know who Catholic Cardinals are. Media stopped giving the Church a pass and over the past decade or so the real lives of Catholic priests have been exposed.
The public has discovered that all that they feared and despised about gay people – irresponsible sexuality, a threat to their children, flaunters of law and social order – had been blamed on the wrong party. It was not Hairdresser Joe that their sons needed to be warned about, but Father Joe.
And through it all, the Bishops – in their arrogance – failed miserably in maintaining their image. They fought futile public battles to keep their crimes a secret, they threw nuns out of convents in order to raise money to pay their settlements, they put forward spokesmen who demanded that the public obey their will without question, all while parading their own wealth and power and political connections. And, in the process, the Church lost its credibility on matters of morality and social good.
And, most foolish of all, they failed to address the very real, very identifiable needs of same-sex couples. While the public was looking at a problem and seeking a solution, the Church could have endorsed civil unions as a means to address the economic and political inequalities, while holding marriage as sacred and separate.
But instead they adopted absolutism and offered nothing. And did so in very nasty terms.
The Church could have easily won the battle over the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, but they were caricatured as anti-gay and they were terribly out-marketed. By themselves.
COE working group proposes blessing same-sex couples
November 29th, 2013
The Church of England, fresh off a political campaign in which they sealed their inability to sanctify same-sex marriages, is now going to consider blessing the same unions they fought so hard not to officiate. (Mail)
Bishops should lift their official ban on ceremonies to mark civil partnerships and the relationships of gay and lesbian churchgoers, a long-awaited CofE report said.
It signalled an end to the Church’s longstanding insistence that gay relationships are sinful and less worthy than heterosexual marriage.
The report, written by former civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling and a team of senior churchmen and women, may now open the way for a reversal of the CofE’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the eventual appointment of actively homosexual priests and bishops.
The report appears to have the support of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and may reflect the intent of the church to bring it’s rules in line with the reality that such blessings are already widely conducted.
Correction to Greek ‘straights only’ domestic partners proposed
November 26th, 2013
Earlier this month we reported that Greece had been found guilty of discrimination for their domestic partnership registry which explicitly excludes same-sex couples. Now changes have been proposed. (Greek Reporter)
Dimokratiki Aristera (DIMAR), submitted an amendment to Parliament, which brings changes in Law 3719/2008 regarding the cohabitation agreement aimed to stop the discrimination against couples of the same-sex.
The amendment was submitted in the draft law of the Ministry of Justice “Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the General Assembly of the United Nations.”
DIMAR holds about 5% of the votes in Parliament.
Kentucky jury fines gay couple for protesting in marriage office
November 26th, 2013
In January of this year, Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James went down to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office (Kentucky) to request a marriage license. When they were denied, they refused to leave until such time as their civil rights were honored.
At the end of the day they were arrested for trespass.
Today a jury found them guilty and levied a fine. (Courier-Journal)
A Jefferson County jury Tuesday convicted a gay couple of trespassing for refusing to leave the county clerk’s office after they were denied a marriage license — fining them a penny for their crime.
And look who showed up
November 21st, 2013
While most protest to the marriage bill was celebrating an exorcism, the Chicago Police cordoned off a space in front of the UIC Forum – where the signing ceremony was being held – for protest, should anyone wish to do so. And look who showed up, our old buddy Peter LaBarbera, the head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.
Poor, poor Peter. He looks a bit lonely.
(photo shamelessly stolen from Joe.My.God)
Stolam mea est pulchellus
November 21st, 2013
While the marriage bill was being signed, those who oppose equality as being contrary to the procreative purpose of marriage met in Springfield at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to join celibate Bishop Thomas Paprocki for a rather unusual response: an exorcism.
Speaking in a language that has for 1,000 years been spoken only by those who vow not to marry, Paprocki commanded that “every unclean sprit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort and faction” be gone.
But evidence suggests that the command may not have been effective as he himself did not immediately disappear in a puff of purple smoke
Marriage is law in Illinois
November 21st, 2013
Yesterday Illinois Governor Pat Quinn took pens in hand and signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law. (Trib)
Playing master of ceremonies during an hourlong event, the re-election-seeking Democratic governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs. He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that the administration said President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 — a speech on the cusp of the Civil War that called on Americans to heed “the better angels of our nature.”
But it was another Lincoln speech that Quinn referenced as he spoke to about 2,300 supporters gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“In the very beginning of the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois said that our nation was conceived in liberty. And he said it’s dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that’s really what we’re celebrating today,” he said. “It’s a triumph of democracy.”
The ceremony also featured Greg Harris, primary sponsor of the bill, and others including Judy Baar Topinka, the only state-wide elected Republican in Illinois.
Quinn’s signature brings the total number of states with legalized same-sex marriage to 16 (plus the District of Columbia) and the total number of people living in an equality state to 115 million, or 38% of the US population.
In addition, three states (Oregon, Nevada, and Colorado) offer Domestic Partnerships with all of the state rights and obligations, but none of the Federal.
The law is slated to go into effect on June 1, 2014. However, Sen. Don Harmon (D – Oak Park) is considering a bill which would make the law effective immediately.
Daddy needs a new pair of shoes
November 20th, 2013
Nike Inc. has formed a PAC to support marriage equality and seeded it with $280,000 from the company and its executives.
“We are committed to diversity and inclusion and strive to treat our employees equally,” the company said in a statement. “We believe that diversity drives innovation and allows us to attract and retain world class talent. For Oregon businesses to attract and retain the best talent, we need fair and equitable laws that treat all Oregonians equally and prevent discrimination.”
This additional boost of funds shows the seriousness with which Oregon business, activist, and faith alliance have towards overturning Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Currently Oregon United for Marriage has collected 115,080 signatures of the 116,284 needed to get on the 2014 ballot (though they will need to collect a healthy margin to allow for some invalidations).
Last week the Oregon Episcopal Diocese voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality, joining many ministers and churches from UCC, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish and other faith groups.
November 20th, 2013
Having been found guilty yesterday of breaking the Methodist Book of Discipline by officiating at his son’s wedding, United Methodist minister Frank Schaefer went back before the jury today to be sentenced. But today Schaefer was defiant and dared them to do their worst. (NY Daily News)
“I have to minister to those who hurt and that’s what I’m doing,” said Schaefer.
The prosecutor, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, invited Schaefer to “repent of your actions” and pledge never again to perform a homosexual union.
“I cannot,” Schaefer replied.
His refusal to submit to the church law infuriated his accusers.
Jon Boger, who filed the initial complaint against Schaefer, was outraged by the pastor’s recalcitrance. The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.
“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines,” Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. “He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”
But Schaefer did not back down. He chided the church about hate speech and insisted that it needs to stop treating gays as “second class Christians”. In closing, he put on a rainbow colored stole, a symbol within the church of gay supporters, and said,
I cannot go back to being a silent supporter. I must continue to be in ministry with all people and speak for LGBTQ people. Members of the jury, before you decide my penalty, you need to know I wear his rainbow stole as a visible sign that this is who I am called to be.
After deliberation, the jury sentenced him to a 30 day suspension, a very lenient sentence considering the subject and Schaefer’s refusal to repent and his pledge to take this fight as his mission.
They warned him, however, not to break any rules within 30 days or he’d lose his credentials. This story may be far from over.
Schaefer found guilty
November 19th, 2013
Yesterday the United Methodist Church put Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial. (WaPo)
By the end of the day, the rare jury of 13 Methodist pastors had found Schaefer guilty on two charges: “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.” On Tuesday morning, the jury reconvened to devise Schaefer’s penalty for agreeing in 2006 to marry his son Tim, who earlier had contemplated suicide over his homosexuality.
Schaefer’s punishment will be decided today and could range from a reprimand to expulsion. And the prosecutor is seeking as severe a punishment as possible. (Sun Times)
The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who is serving as the church’s prosecutor, urged the jury in his opening statement to consider whether Schaefer will “repent of and renounce his disobedience to the (Methodist Book of) Discipline,” and promise to obey the denomination’s book of law and doctrine in the future.
Fisher told jurors that Schaefer’s disobedience couldn’t go unpunished.
“Ministers are not free to reinterpret (their) vows according to personal preference,” said Fisher, whose closing argument condemning homosexuality prompted Schaefer’s supporters to stand in silent protest in the gymnasium that served as a temporary courtroom.
“As a father, I understand the desire to show love and support to my children,” Fisher said. “It’s not always true we can do for our children everything they want us to do. True love draws boundaries.”
This line of attack does call into question the extent to which the denomination is sincere in it’s welcome and pledge of ministry to gay persons. If the crime was breaking a rule, that is one thing; but if the punishment is based on opposition to homosexuality, that is quite another.
And, finally, we now have learned the motivation behind the accuser. The mother of Jon Bolger, the man who filed the claim, was recently removed from her position as choir director.
Congratulations, Orlando Cruz
November 18th, 2013
Gay Puerto Rican boxer Orlando “El Fenómeno” Cruz on Nov. 16 married his boyfriend, José Manuel Colón, in New York’s Central Park.
Methodist minister goes on church trial for performing son’s marriage
November 18th, 2013
Unlike many other denominations, the UMC is not an American denomination; rather it is a global church with about a third of it’s membership outside the US. Ever four years, a convention of representatives meets to set it’s doctrines and policies and the issue of gay Methodists, pastors, and marriage are regularly debated. And while many Methodists are fiercely supportive of our rights, both civil and religious, the delegates from Africa and Asia uniformly oppose any movement towards acceptance.
In 2012, with 39% of delegates from outside the US, the church again confirmed the position that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and during scheduled ‘holy conversations’ on the subject, a number of participants felt that they were bullied and derided by those who oppose inclusion.
After the convention, the many within the church in the US began a stage of discontent. Several regional conferences express dissatisfaction with the decision, and in Washington and Minnesota they encouraged voters to support marriage equality on the ballot.
Many others, supported by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, are rebelling against the rules. In Pennsylvania, over 30 UMC ministers pledged to defy the Methodist Book of Discipline and to jointly officiate at a same-sex wedding. They are making the stand in support of a fellow Pennsylvania minister, Frank Schaefer, who went on trial today.
Six years ago Schaefer’s son Tim asked him to officiate at his wedding. Schaefer agreed and for six years no one complained. Then a few weeks before the statute of limitations ran, a congregant who was “dismayed and shocked” to learn about the event pressed charges. (yahoo)
A United Methodist minister who officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he broke his pastoral vows.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon entered his plea at the beginning of a high-profile church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania that is rekindling debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.
Schaefer contends that the Methodist Book of Discipline also directs pastors to address the needs of their flock, including gay members and that this was an act of love, not of rebellion.
This trial is being closely watched both within and without the church, including by several other ministers who are also up for trial.
Depending on the outcome of this trial – and others – the United Methodist Church could be in for some tumultuous years. The church is growing rapidly in Africa and the Philippines while it is decreasing in the United States. While support is growing locally, the delegation is increasingly from parts of the world where gays are treated with open contempt, allowing the anti-gay minority in the US to punish those who stand up for justice and mercy.
Hawaii marriage bill signed
November 13th, 2013
Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed the marriage equality bill into law this morning, describing the law as part of Hawaii’s “legacy of aloha.”
At a signing ceremony at the Hawai’i Convention Center’s Liliu Theater, the governor told dozens of invited guests and state lawmakers that the marriage equality bill was the “epitome of the First Amendment in action.”
Hawaii is the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to allow gay marriage. Illinois is expected to become the 16th state later this month when Gov. Pat Quinn signs a marriage equality bill into law in Chicago.
Gay couples can get married in Hawaii as soon as Dec. 2. Clergy can refuse to perform gay weddings. Churches and other religious organizations can deny goods, services and facilities for gay weddings and receptions if it violates religious beliefs.
I understand that the beach, the palm trees, and the tropical forest have already announced that they have no religious objections. Poi is on board, as is the ukulele and luau.
Marriage clears last procedural hurdle, heads to Governor
November 12th, 2013
The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday legalizing gay marriage, putting Hawaii a signature away from becoming a same-sex wedding destination.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called lawmakers to a special session for the bill and has vocally supported gay marriage, has said he would sign the measure. It will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.
Senators passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused. Cheers erupted inside and outside the gallery when the vote was taken, with a smattering of boos.
European Court of Human Rights finds that Greece must allow same-sex civil partnerships
November 7th, 2013
In the evolution of thinking on marriage equality in Europe, several nations started with a marriage-lite structure, a recognition of couples which stopped short of full rights and obligations of marriage. Ironically, this proved to be popular with some straight couples who wanted a less formal structure, an intro-level recognition while they decided whether they wanted a full marriage.
In 2008, to meet the demand for limited couple recognition, Greece decided, “Yes, let’s do that gay couple thing… but with a twist.” So they created civil partnerships, a formalization of rights of cohabiting couples and – turning the idea on its head – they specifically excluded gay couples.
Several same-sex couples challenged the law in the European Court of Human Rights and the decision has been made. (AFP)
Civil unions should not be reserved for heterosexual couples, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday, condemning Greece for creating a “life partner” legal category that excludes gays.
Judges in Strasbourg said that authorities in Orthodox Christian Greece had not offered “convincing and weighty reasons capable of justifying the exclusion of same-sex couples” when passing a 2008 law.
The judges noted that a
European Union member of the Council of Europe need not offer marriage rights or even couple recognition to same-sex couples. But if they create new structures as an alternative to marriage, they cannot make restrictions based on sexual orientation.
The ruling applies to Greece and possibly to Lithuania, which also offers straights-only non-marriage couple recognition.
[NOTE: The heading was revised]