Monday, March 30, 2009

A New Dean for EDS (Episcopal Divinity School)

Just in from EDS via press release, this VERY good news of the unanimous election of Dr. Katherine Ragsdale as the next dean of EDS -- good news not only for EDS but for the whole church AND for LGBT folks wondering if it's possible to be out and exercise vocation in the Episcopal Church!

Katherine is a long-time friend (at my age we quit saying "old friend" :) and was an important part of our Lambeth Witness team as well as a longtime General Convention activist. Way to go, EDS -- and Congratulations, Dr. Ragsdale!

March 30, 2009, Cambridge, MA:

Mr. Brett Donham, chair of the Episcopal Divinity School Board of Trustees announced today that The Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, president and executive director of Political Research Associates and vicar of St. David’s Episcopal Church has been named the new president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School. Elected by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees, Ragsdale succeeds The Right Rev. Steven Charleston who led the seminary from 1999 to 2008.

“The Search Committee presented to the Board of Trustees The Reverend Katherine Ragsdale as its unanimous recommendation for president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School,” said Donham. “Katherine’s gifts, skills, and experience are an excellent match with the criteria established by the Search Committee, both in terms of the current challenges and opportunities at EDS, and the personal attributes we are looking for in a new leader.”

EDS trustee and search committee member, The Right Reverend Thomas Ely continued, “The Search Committee sees in Katherine the right combination of a person of immense faith, demonstrated organizational and team leadership ability, a passion for academic excellence and quality theological education, formidable development skills, and the ability to be a strong, articulate, and inspiring voice for the mission of EDS, both within the Episcopal Church and beyond. From among the many gifted candidates we interviewed, Katherine Ragsdale overwhelmingly stands out as the one best equipped and called to lead EDS into this next exciting and promising chapter of our life and mission.”

Ragsdale, a 1997 graduate of EDS, comes to the School from Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank, where she has served as president and executive director since 2005. Her leadership and development skills helped PRA successfully make the challenging transition from a founder led organization to one that continues to grow and thrive following the founder’s retirement. During her tenure, PRA has both broadened its donor base and worked with foundations to launch several new programs. Ragsdale has served on the boards of The White House Project, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice among others. She has served as vicar of St. David’s Church in Pepperell, Massachusetts since 1996.

When asked why she chose to leave PRA at this time, Ragsdale said, “EDS’ commitment to the full range of diversity and not merely to inclusion but to transformation is at the heart of my own values and commitments. I believe that EDS grounds that work in the context of deep, thorough, nuanced theological education. The thought of leading and supporting an organization doing cutting edge theology and preparing lay and ordained leadership to serve God in the church and the world is very exciting.”

EDS trustee, The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw said, “I am thrilled with the appointment of Katharine Ragsdale as the president and dean of EDS. She brings a wealth of small parish ministry to her new position and it is critical that the new president and dean be able to train and form parish priests for the growth of progressive parishes across the country. She brings a wealth of experience, talent and creativity to this new position.”

Ragsdale holds a doctor of ministry degree from Episcopal Divinity School, a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of arts degree from William and Mary. Her publications include “Not by Outrage Alone,” Dispatches from the Religious Left (Ig Publishing, 2008), “The Christian Right’s Staying Power,” with Chip Berlet, The Progressive (July 2008), Boundary Wars: Intimacy and Distance in Healing Relationships (Pilgrim Press, 1996), “The Role of Religious Institutions in Responding to the Domestic Violence Crisis,” Albany Law Review (1995), and Building Advocacy Skills (Leader Resources, 1994).

"I am elated to have the Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale join EDS as its first woman President and Dean,” commented search committee member and EDS Acting Academic Dean, Dr. Angela Bauer-Levesque. “As someone with stature in the church and in the world, she inspires excellence. Her commitments, energy, and clarity, combined with her astute analysis, her collaborative style, and her experience in fundraising will make EDS more boldly live out its purpose of educating lay and ordained leaders for the church and the world, dedicated to work for justice, foster diversity, and seek constructive change."


About Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopal Divinity School is a respected center of study and spiritual formation for lay and ordained leaders with a strong commitment to justice, compassion, and reconciliation. EDS, formed in 1974 with the merger of Philadelphia Divinity School (founded in 1857) and the Episcopal Theological School (founded in 1867), offers doctor of ministry and master’s degrees, as well as certificates in theological studies. Located on an eight-acre campus just a few blocks from Harvard Yard, EDS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine eminent theological schools, seminaries, and departments of religion.

Happy Cesar Chavez Day!

March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993

Today is holiday here in California ... Cesar Chavez Day ... and so I thought I'd share this reflection on his life and work by my All Saints colleague Lori Kizzia from this week's "Saints Alive" newsletter:
The story of Cesar Chavez resonates with greatness, humility, courage, and faith. An heroic American, born in Arizona in 1927, his life was the personification of the American Dream. Cesar Chavez overcame injustice and poverty to accomplish his ultimate success: the spending of one’s life and self in the pursuit of justice and in service to others.

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta formed the United Farm Workers Union in California in 1962. Their organizing effort grew out of the desire to bring basic human dignities to workers in the fields. Cesar himself, became a migrant farm worker instead of going to high school so that he could help to support his family, and spare his mother from working the fields. Their work to organize workers in the fields of California grew into a national movement for worker justice. The UFW continues to organize for workers’ rights and has become iconic in the labor justice movement in the United States.

Chavez left the world a better place, meeting violence with non-violence, facing inequality with empowerment, transforming oppression into dignity. A role model to millions, including workers, heads of state, peace activists, and politicians, Cesar Chavez is a national hero. Several years ago a handful of organizers in Los Angeles began a movement calling for a federal holiday to honor and celebrate Cesar Chavez and his legacy. The State of California was first in the nation to adopt a State holiday on March 31. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and a handful more, have also adopted March 31 as official state holidays to honor Cesar Chavez.

A coalition across the country is working to advance March 31 into a national federal holiday to bring the life and work of Cesar Chavez fully into the nation’s consciousness. Click here to sign a petition to add your voice to that coalition and make "Cesar Chavez Day" a national holiday.

¡Sí se puede!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The "Blue" Book

To repise an old childhood nursery rhyme:

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
And here is where
The Blue Book iz!

Click here for EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about "The Blue Book" (which is evidently going to be Red this year ... go figure!) described thusly in Gregory Straub's introduction:

The Blue Book of the General Convention contains the reports to the church of the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards (CCABs) of the General Convention. (The book is red this year, a color taken from the logo of this Convention’s theme, Ubuntu.) For the past three years more than 500 of our fellow church members have volunteered their time and energy to address resolutions referred to them by the 75th General Convention and to investigate, as well, areas of concern named in their canonical or authorizing mandates. I urge you to read the Blue Book in its entirety in preparation for your work in Anaheim.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

And now New Hampshire!

NH House approves gay marriage
[Associated Press]

CONCORD, N.H.—The House has voted to make New Hampshire the third state allowing gays to marry two years after they granted them the right to enter into civil unions.

The House voted 186-179 to send the bill to the Senate. The first attempt to pass the bill fell one vote short, but opponents were unable to kill it. The House then reconsidered and passed the measure.

Two years ago, the Legislature approved civil unions for gays, but some proponents of joining Connecticut and Massachusetts in allowing marriage said the time isn't right in New Hampshire

Things are lookin' up!

Checking the blogs quickly before heading to the office this morning, I noted Tituonenine was featuring this story:

Anglican Leaders Form New Church in San Jose
Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Via email): San Jose is now home to the new St. James Anglican Church. All are invited to celebrate the establishment of this community of faith. Sunday services will include a traditional mass at 9 am, and a contemporary service at 10:45 am. St. James will be meeting at the Camden Community Center at 3369 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124. St. James has joined the newly-formed Anglican Church of North America ...

The news inspired me to post the following comment:

1. Susan Russell wrote:

New church.

Newly-formed “Anglican Church of North America”

Thank God we’re part of a free country where people who don’t like what the Episcopal Church is, believes, does or lives out can leave and start their own new church so they can live out their lives of faith the way they feel so called and leave us to get on with the mission and ministry of TEC.

And thank God we’re part of a country where the rule of law keeps those who want to go do a new thing from taking the old buildings, silver, linens and prayerbooks with them.

Things are lookin’ up!

You can read the rest here ... and follow the comment thread if you dare. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It Is GOOD To Be King!

Vermont' GOP governor says he'll veto gay marriage
By DAVE GRAM – 57 minutes ago

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Jim Douglas said Wednesday he will veto a gay-marriage proposal if it passes the Legislature, the first time he has signaled such an intent before final legislative action on a bill.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference, the Republican governor said that he thought Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law, passed in 2000, provided sufficient rights to same-sex couples and that he believed "marriage should remain between a man and woman."

"For those reasons and because I believe that by removing any uncertainty about my position we can move more quickly beyond this debate, I am announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches my desk," he proclaimed.

Read the rest here ... and then let's see what all the "will of the people" folks have to say about THIS one! Or doesn't the duly elected legislature count as the "will of the people who elected them" anymore? AKA: When did we stop being having a representative system of government? (Ken Starr, feel free to weigh in any time!)

The Feast of the Annunciation

Here's a "thought for the day" on this Feast Day of the Annunciation for those who are waiting for us to "do the theology" before we move forward with the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church:

"I'm so glad Mary didn't wait for the formulation of a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'Yes' to God." -- The Reverend Canon J. Edwin Bacon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In other news ...

President Obama appoints Judge Emily C. Hewitt
Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

[American Chronicle] Judge Hewitt has served on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since her confirmation by the Senate in 1998. At the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Judge Hewitt has handled cases in all areas of the Court´s jurisdiction, chaired the court´s Rules and Building and Space Committees and served on its Management Committee. In 2006, she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve on the Financial Disclosure Committee of the United States Judicial Conference.
Prior to her appointment to the Court of Claims, Judge Hewitt was appointed general counsel to the General Services Administration during the Clinton Administration. Judge Hewitt, born May 26, 1944, in Baltimore, is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. 1966), Union Theological Seminary (M. Phil 1975) and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1978). Before entering government service, Judge Hewitt practiced from 1978 to 1993 with the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow, where she chaired the firm´s real estate department from 1987-1993.

A leader of the effort to open Episcopal ordination to women, Judge Hewitt was one of the first eleven women ordained to the Episcopal priesthood on July 29, 1974.
Judge Hewitt is married to attorney Eleanor Dean Acheson, according to a biography on the court Web site. Acheson served as an assistant attorney general for policy development in the Clinton administration, and later was director of policy and government affairs for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She is currently vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Amtrak.
Go, Emily!

-- July 29, 1974 --

Merrill Bittner [left], Emily Hewitt [right]
distribute communion in the Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia
following their ordination to the priesthood.

Colorado Court Rules for Diocese

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

A Fourth Judicial District Court judge ruled today that the $17 million stone church and other property at 631 N. Tejon Street belongs to the Episcopal Church and Colorado Diocese.

It's a defeat for Grace Church & St. Stephen's, a congregation that broke from the Episcopal Church but continued to worship at the property.

Judge Larry Schwartz issued a 28-page ruling that concluded, among other things: "The Diocese over most of its 135 years existence demonstrates a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and general church. ... The trust created through past genereations of members of Grace Church & St. Stephen's prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them."

From the Diocese of Colorado press release:

The Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, and the more than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church rejoice today that the members of the Episcopal parish will be returning to their church home as a result of a decision issued by District Court Judge Larry Schwartz. In that ruling, Judge Schwartz found that the historic property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and ordered the breakaway congregation that wrongfully took possession of the property two years ago to leave.

Episcopal Cafe is also on the story ... will keep an eye out for an ENS article likely coming soon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Freedom to Marry Bill Passes Vermont Senate


The Vermont Senate just made history, voting 26-4 to pass S.115, the freedom to marry bill.

The Senate will hold its final vote tomorrow morning, and the House Judiciary Committee will begin its hearings.

Check out Vermont Freedom to Marry for more details.
And click here for an NPR story.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Episcopal Bishops Say 'Preoccupied' Church Missed Crisis"

With all due respect:

"Episcopal Bishops Say 'Preoccupied' Church Missed Crisis" was the headline of the Daniel Burke's RNS follow up to last week's spring meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops. The article, posted March 19, included this quote from the bishops' pastoral letter:

"In this season of Lent, God calls us to repentance," the bishops said. "We have too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs and a narrow focus that has absorbed both our energy and interest ... to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad."

It had a familiar ring to it, so I checked my archives and -- sure enough -- it sounds a lot like this quote from the last day of General Convention 2006 in Columbus:

"We spent nine days here in Columbus and we’ve done nothing substantive other than talk about where our position is in the Anglican Communion.

We have over 200 pieces of legislation that are going to fall into the abyss today because the clock is going to run out and we’re not going to talk about genocide and we’re not going to talk about evangelism and we’re not going to talk about how to bring a just peace in Iraq and we’re not going to talk about the environment and we’re not going to talk about our children.

Instead we’ve spent our whole time talking about “the church.” If the point of the church is to serve the world in God’s name we have failed – we have failed miserably – and we haven’t just failed gay and lesbian people, we’ve failed the Gospel. "

That was me ... just after the vote on B033 ... letting it all hang out for a scrum of reporters outside the Columbus Convention Center in a moment preserved for time-and-all-eternity on YouTube by Greg Griffith of Stand Firm fame. You can watch the whole 4+ minute rant here ... (and yes, I was having a bad hair day!) ... but here's my point:

What I said ... what WE said ... in Columbus is now being said by our bishops in a unanimously adopted pastoral letter: our preoccupation with the institutional church has kept us from living out the Gospel.

The question we need to ask ... each and every ONE of us ... of each and every ONE of our bishops is:

So what are we going to do about it?

What are we going to do different in Anaheim to move this church forward on the issues that call us to make God's love tangible in the name of Christ Jesus to a hurting, broken, crying out for Good News world?

What are we going to do to keep this General Convention -- and the next and the next and the next -- from being manipulated by those who want to exploit the differences on human sexuality that challenge us into divisions that distract us from our wider mission and ministry?

I think the answer is here -- also from the pastoral letter:

"We have often failed to speak truth to power," they said, "to name the greed and consumerism that has pervaded our culture, and we have too often allowed the culture to define us instead of being formed by Gospel values."

The answer is that we have too often allowed forces in our communion to define us instead of being formed by the Gospel values that inform our Baptismal Covenant -- and that we can, must and WILL stand up together in Anaheim and say we're ready to be the church God is calling us to be and get on with the work we have been given to do.

The cost of continuing to allow that work -- that mission and ministry -- to be held hostage by those who insist that we must choose between institutional unity and gospel justice is TOO great. We cannot allow what happened in Columbus to happen again in Anaheim and we must start NOW making that case ... to our bishops, to our deputies, on our blogs, on our listserves -- wherever and however we can.

The time has come.

The future is here.

It is time to repent. To turn around. To move forward.

Our bishops have written, "God calls us to repentance" -- in the Greek "metanoia" ... to turn around. Let's answer that call together by turning away from B033 ... by embracing once and for all this church's 1976 commitment to fully include its gay and lesbian baptized and then let's ALL get to work on the suffering at home and abroad that our bishops have called us to!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Vernal Equinox, Everybody!

First Rose of Spring: 2009
[Altadena CA]

Another inch forward in Vermont

Vermont Senate panel approves gay marriage bill

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A state Senate committee unanimously approved a gay marriage bill on Friday, moving Vermont one step closer to allowing same-sex couples to legally wed.

"It provides ... gay and lesbian couples the same rights that I have as a married heterosexual," said Sen. John Campbell, vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the bill.

The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners beginning Sept. 1.

The committee's vote ended an intense week highlighted by a public hearing Wednesday night in which more than 500 people swarmed the Statehouse to speak for and against allowing same-sex marriages.

If approved, Vermont would join Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only U.S. states that allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1. Both Houses, under Democratic control, are expected to pass the measure. The Senate is taking the lead and is expected to debate the bill next week. Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, has said he opposes the bill but has declined to say whether he will veto it if it reaches his desk.

Read the rest here ...

We are God’s work of art

I'm not usually here on Fridays ... it's my day off. But this week a variety of things got rearranged and so I ended up doing the Noon:Ten Eucharist and had the chance to mull this reading from Ephesians with a handful of the faithful in the All Saints chapel:

A Reading from Ephesians (2:4–10)

God, who is rich in mercy, out of great love brought us to life in Christ, even when we were dead in our sins. It is through this grace that we have been saved. God raised us up and, in union with Christ Jesus, gave us a place in the heavenly realm, to display in ages to come how immense are the resources of God’s grace and kindness in Christ Jesus.

It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and even that is not of yourselves, but the gift of God. Nor is it an award for anything you have done, so nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to do the good things God created us to do from the beginning.

I couldn't help thinking how much this passage informs the discussion here on this blog earlier this week around the platform issued by The Consultation for the upcoming General Convention and the focus of the comments on the assertion that God declared the creation "very good."
The fact that we so often fall short of doing the good things God created us to do from the beginning does NOT trump the fact that we -- and all creation -- have been declared by our creator "very good." More and more I'm convinced that how we live out our faith is directly connected to how we understand ourselves to have been created -- and whether we live out of a sense of our belovedness or of our brokenness informs not only our theology but our politics, our economics, our relationships ... the whole enchilada.
It's kind of like this story about two wolves that preachers love to use as a sermon illustration:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Likewise, there is a fight going on inside the church about whether human beings are essentially beloved or essentially broken -- and the wolf that will win that fight is also the one that we feed. Choosing to feed our belovedness rather than our brokenness focuses us on inclusion rather than exclusion; on justice rather than judgment; on compassion rather than condemnation.

We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to do the good things God created us to do from the beginning. So let's get on with it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Of Claiming the Blessing and "Doing the Theology"

You can bet the house on it. The closer we get to a General Convention, the more likely it is that I will open my email and find "... but you haven't done the theology" as one of the arguments against the church moving forward with fully including all the baptized in all the sacraments.

The answer, of course, is to smile gently and say, "Ah, but we have! You must have missed it. And here it is ..." And then give them a the link to the PDF of the 2002 Claiming the Blessing Theology Statement -- which also includes great pieces by Walter Brueggemann and William Countryman.

But ... just for the record ... here's the theology we've "done."


What Does It Mean for the Church to Give Its Blessing?

“Blessing” is perhaps the most controversial word in the Church’s consideration of the treatment of same sex households in its midst. Because of this fact, we must take great care to be precise about what we mean when we use the word. The following are the building blocks for a theology of blessing: Creation, Covenant, Grace, and Sacrament.

 Creation itself is the fundamental act of blessing. Creation is a blessing (gift) to humankind from God and humankind blesses (gives thanks to or praises) God in return. The Hebrew word for “blessing,” barak, means at its core the awesome power of life itself. A fundamental claim of the Bible in regards to creation is that there is enough, in fact an abundance, of creation, and therefore of blessing, to go around.

 “Blessing” is a covenantal, relational word. It describes the results of the hallowed, right, just relationship between God and humankind. Blessing is what happens when God and humankind live in covenant. It is important to remember here that the relationships between human beings and the relationship between God and human beings cannot be separated. “Blessing” and “justice” are inseparable biblical concepts.

 When we ask for God’s blessing, we are asking for God’s presence and favor. In Christian terms this favor is what we call “grace,” God’s disposition toward us that is not dependent upon our merit, but is a sure and certain gift to the believer in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 In our tradition, the Sacraments are the primary ways the grace/blessing of God is communicated to us (“a sure and certain means,” BCP, p. 857). The two “great” Sacraments “given by Christ” (BCP, p. 858) are Baptism and Eucharist. In them we see the two fundamental aspects of blessing: the blessing of life from God and the blessing of God for that life.

 Five other rites are traditionally known as sacraments, but they are dependent for their meaning on the two Sacraments and are not “necessary for all persons.” A whole host of other actions in the life of the Church, and of individual Christians, are “sacramental” in nature, i.e., they mediate the grace/blessing of God and cause us to give thanks and praise/blessing to God.

 In our tradition, priests and bishops have the authority to pronounce God’s blessing within the community of faith. They do so not by their own power, but as instruments of the grace (blessing) of God within the Church. Their authority to bless, too, finds its meaning in the two great Sacraments.

 When the Church chooses “to bless” something it is declaring that this particular person or persons or thing is a gift/blessing from God and his/her/its/their purpose is to live in (or, the case of things, to assist in) covenanted relationship with God (and with all creation), i.e., to bless God in return.

 To bless the relationship between two men or two women is to do this very thing: to declare that this relationship is a blessing from God and that its purpose is to bless God, both within the context of the community of faith. If the Church believes that same-sex relationships show forth God’s blessing when they are lived in fidelity, mutuality, and unconditional love, then this blessing must be owned and celebrated and supported in the community of faith.

Clearing up some questions:

Just what are we blessing when we bless a same-sex relationship?
We are blessing the persons in relationship to one another and the world in which they live. We are blessing the ongoing promise of fidelity and mutuality. We are neither blessing orientation or “lifestyle,” nor blessing particular sexual behaviors. “Orientation” and “lifestyle” are theoretical constructs that cannot possibly be descriptive of any couples’ commitment to one another. And every couple works out their own sexual behaviors that sustain and enhance their commitment. We don’t prescribe that behavior, whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual, except to say that it must be within the context of mutuality and fidelity.

Isn’t marriage and same-sex blessing the same thing?
That they are similar is obvious, as is taking monastic vows, i.e., blessing a vocation to (among other things) celibacy. Each (marriage, blessing unions, monastic vows) grounds a relationship that includes sexual expression in public covenant which gives them “a reality not dependent on the contingent thoughts and feelings of the people involved” and “a certain freedom to ‘take time’ to mature and become as profoundly nurturing as they can” (Rowan Williams, “The Body’s Grace,” p. 63). The question remains as to whether “marriage” is appropriately defined as the covenant relationship between a man and a woman only, as is the Church’s long tradition. The Church must continue to wrestle with this issue. To wait until it is solved, however, in order to celebrate the blessing of a faithful same-sex relationship is pastorally irresponsible and theologically unnecessary.

Is same-sex blessing a sacrament?
We can say it is sacramental. Strictly speaking in our tradition there are only two Sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist). Five other rites are commonly referred to as sacraments because of the Church’s long experience of them. But in a sacramental understanding of creation, everything in creation has the potential to be sacramental—to mediate the presence/blessing of God. Priests and bishops “pronounce” blessing on those things the community lifts up as showing forth this blessing. The New Testament word for “blessing” is eulogein, literally “to speak well of.”

Can the Church withhold blessing?
Certainly in its official, liturgical sense. Priests and bishops should only “pronounce” blessing over those things or persons the community of faith lifts up as being mediators of blessing. That means that the authority to pronounce blessing over particular persons or things can change over time within a community and vary from community to community, particularly from culture to culture. Our Anglican Communion has long said that the only truly universal “blessings” are Baptism and Eucharist (see the Lambeth Quadtilateral).


Eric B. Beresford, answer to “What would it mean for the Church to Bless Same-sex Unions?” (portions), Commission on Faith and Doctrine, Dialogue on Same-sex Unions, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, pp. 13-190.

Walter Brueggemann, “The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity,” in Deep Memory Exuberant Hope: Contersted Truth in a Post-Christian World, (Fortress, 2000), pp. 69-75.

Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Fortress Press, 1997), passim, especially pp. 341-342, 528f.

William L. Crockett, answer to “What would it mean for the Church to Bless Same-sex Unions?” (portions), Commission on Faith and Doctrine, Dialogue on Same-sex Unions, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, pp. 20-21.

Leonel Mitchell, “”Baruk Attah, Adonai Blessing,” in “Theological Aspects of Committed Relationships of Same-sex Couples: Report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music . . . for Discussion at the 73rd General Convention Meeting in Denver in 2000,” The Blue Book (Church Publishing, 2000), pp. 225-227.

Catherine M. Wallace, For Fidelity: How Intimacy and Commitment Enrich Our Lives (Vintage Books, 1999), especially chapter four.

Rowan Williams, “The Body’s Grace,” in Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies: Sexuality and the Household of God, ed. Charles Hefling (Boston: Cowley, 1996), pp. 58-68.

Testimony on marriage equality

From Vermont's Bishop Tom Ely
[photo by "Caminante"]:

On Tuesday March 18, 2009, I gave testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the Vermont Senate on the subject of religious freedom and marriage equity. Because I was attending a meeting of the House of Bishops in North Carolina that day, my testimony was delivered via a pre-recorded video message. Since this is a subject of considerable media coverage, I thought it would be good to share the written text of my testimony with you by way of my column in this edition of the Mountain Echo.

As I say in my testimony, I know that not every Episcopalian in Vermont agrees with me on the subject of marriage equity for gay and lesbian couples. I respect those differences and welcome further conversation about this matter. At the same time, there are important implications for the exercise of our pastoral ministry with gay and lesbian couples should this legislation pass and be signed into law, and I thought it was important to express my support for this initiative. In the months ahead I intend to have conversations with the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council and members of the clergy about those implications. For now, it is one step at a time, and I invite you to receive my testimony with an open heart and mind.



Testimony on marriage equality
Vermont State Senate Judiciary Committee,
March 18, 2009

Senator Sears and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

My name is Thomas Ely. I am a resident of Burlington, Vermont, and serve as Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. I have been happily married to Ann for 32 years. I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee in support of the matter before you: An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage. I especially appreciate the accommodation to my schedule and for allowing me to present my testimony by way of a pre-recorded video [recorded March 10, 2009]. From March 11-21, 2009, I am attending a meeting of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church in North Carolina, and therefore not able to be present in person.

The testimony I offer is my own, and while I believe it represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Episcopalians in Vermont, I know full well that it does not represent the view of all Episcopalians in Vermont. I want to acknowledge at the outset that our diocese, like most religious denominations, is not of one mind on the various issues concerning human sexuality that are currently part of our civil and religious discourse. I respect those differences and remain committed to conversation with those who disagree with my thinking. At the same time, I do hold strong convictions that are well known among the members of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, and my testimony today is consistent with those beliefs.

As a person of faith, my religious beliefs, grounded in the Bible and the Baptismal Covenant, have led me to speak out for human and civil rights in a broad range of areas over the years. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in resolution after resolution has, since 1976, consistently expressed its conviction that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens, and it has called upon our society to see that such protection is provided in actuality. The intent of the legislation before you is consistent with that voice from our denomination’s highest form of governance.
Vermont has lived with a certain measure of equality for gay and lesbian couples since the enactment of our current Civil Union legislation. This legislation seeks to provide an even greater measure of equality and dignity. As you well know, because of federal statues this law cannot provide a full measure of equality, but it is a step in the right direction and sends an important message to our elected leaders in Washington. I applaud those who have introduced this legislation and encourage all legislators and our governor to support it.
Marriage equality means different things to different people, but among the things it means to me is that the values I hold dear in my own marriage and in the marriages of other men and women of faith can be celebrated by all. Those values include the mutual love and support of another person in a committed life-long relationship, in which fidelity, joy, help and comfort in all circumstances can be respected and practiced, and through which the stability of family can be provided for those who choose to care and nurture children. I do not believe that this legislation will diminish, or compromise, the integrity of marriage (certainly not my marriage). Rather, I believe it has the possibility to strengthen our understanding and appreciation of marriage as we witness the love and fidelity of gay and lesbian couples alongside that of straight couples.

Finally, as the title of this bill reflects, there is a need in this legislation to affirm the principle of religious freedom that is so much a part of our society. This bill will not settle the theological debate within religious communities—but that is not your work, is it! Your work is to serve the citizens of Vermont and to assure, to the best of your ability, the civil and human rights of all of us.
You need not, nor should not, wait for a consensus to emerge among the various religious communities active within our state. That is not likely to happen for a very long time. In this case, justice delayed is justice denied. The Episcopal Church, other Christian churches, and other religious faiths all have their work to do, and each will need to live with integrity with this new law, just as we have learned to live with the conviction of our various beliefs in response to Civil Union legislation.
This will not be easy for the Episcopal Church here in Vermont and throughout our denomination. Our Canons and our Book of Common Prayer are clear in the use of marriage as between one man and one woman. Many are working to expand that understanding, but that will require the action of our General Convention. In the meantime, we here in Vermont will continue to provide the very best pastoral care we can to all couples who seek God’s blessing on their faithful, committed, monogamous relationships.
The time is right for Vermont to move forward with what is right and just for all with regard to civil marriage and the many benefits it brings to couples and to society as a whole. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for this opportunity to speak with you today.
You can thank the good bishop here for standing up and speaking out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Consultation Platform 2009

The Consultation is a coalition of thirteen independent organizations in the Episcopal Church committed to peace with justice. We come to the 2009 General Convention in Anaheim understanding clearly that The Episcopal Church is at a watershed moment in history. Therefore, it is critical that we state the imperatives of what we believe and what we are called to do.

We affirm the goodness of all creation.

We join our voices with God who declared of all Creation “It is very good.”
We honor the image of God in one another and in all of Creation.
We are inextricably linked in an interdependent web of Creation.

We have sinned and fallen short of the mark.

We fail to recognize the image of God and the Christ in others and ourselves.
We contribute by our action and inaction to a culture of greed, domination and violence.
We in The Episcopal Church are complicit in this sin.

We reaffirm the promises of our Baptismal Covenant

... to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.
... to persevere in resisting evil and, whenever we fall into sin, to repent and return to the Lord.
... to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. `
... to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.
to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being.

Therefore, we call The Episcopal Church, gathered at this 2009 General Convention, to:

Read the whole platform here.
(En Espanol aqui.)

And give thanks for activists and advocates who work together to live out their baptismal covenant by striving for peace with justice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

And now back to our regularly scheduled life

We are back home from a MOST Excellent Spring Break Weekend Away Adventure ... truly one of those grace-filled times when everything from the traffic to the weather to the dog-sitters functioned perfectly and a wonderful, restful, renewing time was had by all.

So now, as we settle back into our regularly scheduled life, it's time to play a little blog catch up.

First of all, here's the YouTube posting of Integrity's "Marching to Anaheim" video -- nine minutes of history and context for our GC09 Platform and Agenda ... along with an opportunity to contribute to same.

It was produced and directed by my brilliant partner, Louise and edited by our friend Vic ... and what an honor to be among so great a cloud of witnesses! Michael Hopkins, +Ed Browning, +Gene Robinson, Tracey Lind, Elizabeth Kaeton, +Tom Ely, Katie Sherrod, Cynthia Black ... well, I could go on and on.

So please do watch ... and consider a donation to our Anaheim Campaign ... so we can continue "Marching to Zion."

Second, a few words for those of you who are Integrity members -- (and you all SHOULD be Integrity members ... no time like the present to click here and join!) Anyway, members will have gotten notification that nominations are now open for the new 2009-2012 Integrity Board -- and so I have gotten several emails from folks asking if I'm running again and the answer is no ... couldn't even if I wanted to.

Having served a year as Director of Communications before my will-end-up-being-six-years-as-president, another term would exceed the 9-years-is-enough-for-anybody term limit our bylaws wisely include.

The GREAT news on that front is that I have today placed in nomination for President of Integrity the name of David Norgard -- a great friend, priest, pastor and advocate for justice with a resume too long to go into here. (And besides, it would only embarrass him if I went on and on, what with his being from Minnesota there-ya-know).

Suffice to say, I will never again have to hesitate for even a moment when someone asks me how I can be sure there's a God who answers prayers! David has been an answer to prayer for this Integrity Board as we've been blessed by his counsel and consultation -- and now his willingness to stand for election to lead and continue the work done by so many so faithfully over these 30+ years is grace upon grace.
Here endeth the "re-entry blog" -- more later, alligators!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


And it was morning and it was evening on the first day ...

... of our four day "weekend away" to Pismo Beach.
Regularly scheduled blogging will continue next week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New and Improved!

We launched our "All Saints Church Website 2.0" last night ...

Still some work to do on updating all the images and some of the content but it is a huge improvement and we are just thrilled to get our "new look" up and going! Kudos to those who worked so hard to get this finished (Lisa & Keith!)

Stop by and visit if you have a minute ... and have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Archaeological Dig

OK ... it definitely isn't pretty:

But it's a great illustration of what a mess we can let our "archives" get into if we're not doing the occasional "archaeological dig" to sort, file and (most importantly ... TOSS!)

So, on a recent foray in MY own archive land (spurred onto greater organization and cleanliness by the example of several office colleagues who are moving offices and therefore cleaning up under duress!) I found a file labelled "Favorite Papers" ... and it turned out to be an eclectic assortment of favorite papers from seminary.


The one that caught my fancy was an assignment to describe our "pastoral theology" ... and I read through it wondering what on earth I thought I knew about pastoral theology in seminary!

Here's an artifact from the archaeological dig:


My understanding of the role of the pastor is grounded in my understanding of ministry, which is based on the following theological understanding: God has a purpose for this creation and God is active in history bringing that purpose to pass. Ministry is choosing to participate in that purpose, which I believe is the restoration of a creation intended to be good and healthy and whole.

Jesus modeled for us what it was to live in a broken world as if it were whole. The role of the church is to be Jesus on earth: to function as the Body of Christ and to model in our own time what Jesus modeled in his: a broad, inclusive love that draws humanity and God together.

That we are still so very far from that goal can be attributed to a number of factors, but is expressed for me most clearly by Verna Dozier in "The Dream of God:"

Clergy and laity are beginning to realize that the kingdom of God will never become the reality God dreamed as long as part of the laos ["people of God"] struggles to maintain an institution while the other part drops by on holy days to participate in an archaic ritual that has no effect on the life they are leading the rest of the time.


And -- interestingly enough -- 16 years later, I'm not sure I'd change a word.

Happy Lent, Everybody!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oprah Signs All Saints Rector Ed Bacon for Regular Radio Gig

So let me just brag on my rector for a minute. (And may I just note for the record that he's too busy to read my blog, lest this be construed as sucking up! :)

The announcement was made Sunday and has just been posted to the All Saints website that Ed Bacon will be teaming up with Elizabeth Lesser to co-host three XM radio broadcasts a month for "Oprah's Soul Series" on XM Radio.

We're STILL getting calls, emails and visits from Ed's January "Gay is a Gift from God" appearance on the Oprah Show -- and are just thrilled at the opportunity presented for the proclamation of the inclusive gospel in this national platform.

It seems to me particularly timely, given the ARIS Survey released last week and in the news all over the place -- the one where "none of the above" is growing as a religion choice for many Americans.

Elizabeth Kaeton has blogged on it.
The L.A. Times has reported on it.
CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) has opined about it.

Anyway ... celebrate with us this opportunity to share the Good News we get to hear around here all the time with a wider audience. And if you have XM Radio, tune in on Monday, March 16 when Ed and Elizabeth will be talking about the spiritual challenges of this economic downturn.

Time flies when you're having Lent

Happy "Hump" Day! As the week is fast-forwarding (time flies when you're having Lent, eh???) I wanted to take a minute out to post these two resources that have helped me in my study and reflection in the past few days -- hope you'll find them helpful, too!


This week the All Saints' Lenten Toolkit reflection for Lent III is on John 2:13-21 ... Jesus and the Moneychangers ... by my colleague Christina Honchell. Don't miss it.


Last Sunday I led an adult education offering on "the clobber passages" here at All Saints. In the process of doing research for the presentation, I rediscovered Mel White's "What the Bible Says -- and Doesn't Say -- About Homosexuality" -- available online as a free PDF download in both English AND Spanish! GREAT resource ... highly recommended!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Delayed "Post Mortem" on Prop 8's Day in Court

Window into Ken Starr's California: Conceived in bigotry and dedicated to the proposition that all straight people are created equal.

So it's been a busy couple days in the neighborhood! After spending most of Thursday viewing and then "digesting" the Supreme Court oral arguments on Prop 8 both Friday and Saturday were full-to-the-brim with the All Saints Church Vestry/Staff Conference and then Sunday was ... well, Sunday.

So here I am ... back with my notes from Thursday trying to make some sense of what I saw and heard and thought:

#1 -- This is NOT an "activist court."

In some ways it is a very conservative court -- which is why the May 2008 decision on marriage equality was so extraordinary.

#2 -- It is very clear that what the petitioners (that would be OUR side) were asking the court to do is what I'm told legal people call a "first impression" thing -- and so it is a huge uphill battle.

#3 -- That said, the petitioners made exactly the arguments they needed to make:

  • This is not just about "gay marriage" but about whether a bare majority can take away fundamental rights from a vulnerable minority.

  • The people absolutely have a right to amend the constitution in California but taking away a fundamental right is not an amendment but a revision -- and that (according to how California law works) is matter for the State Legislature not a ballot initiative.

Ken Starr, who argued for the interveners (that would be the OTHER side) based his argument on the sovereignty of the people. The argument of whether or not Prop 8 constitutes an amendment or a revision seems to rise and fall on the point that in order for it to be a revision "there must be a far reaching change in the structure of government."

(Some of us think that if abandoning the foundational value of constitutional democracy that the rights of minority populations are protected by the courts from the tyranny of the majority isn't "far reaching change" then we don't want to see "far reaching change.")

Starr, however, argued that the people have the right to "act unwisely in the initiative process" EVEN saying "Yes" when the Chief Justice asked if that meant "the people" could -- through the initiative process -- remove rights like freedom of speech.

Honest. Couldn't make that up. Check it out on this You Tube Clip if you don't believe me.


"Yes" to abandoning a core, foundational identity of this nation as a constitutional democracy where the rights of minorites are protected from the tyranny of the majority and First Amendment Rights are up for grabs.

WOW! That's what we're up against, folks. And if you have been working on inclusion issues within the Episcopal Church you may be experiencing some "deja vu all over again."

Both our nation and our church claim a long history of a representative polity that depends on balance and separation of powers. Or we did the last time I checked. And both are under attack by those who want to use majority power to exclude minority members.

When I listened to Ken Starr, what I heard WAS "a far reaching change in the structure of government" -- it was nothing less than changing these United States of America into "one nation, conceived in bigotry and dedicated to the proposition that all straight people are created equal."

Californians deserve better. And so does our Constitution!

What the petitioners asked in Thursday's arguments was for the California Supreme Court to be a headlight rather than a tail light on this issue of marriage equality -- not just as a matter of justice for gay and lesbian couples and their familes but as a matter of precident for ALL minority populations who count on equal protection to protect them. And whether or not this Court is willing to rise to that challenge remains to be seen.

But here -- in a story from Mel White -- is why I think it's so crucial that either they do or WE do:


I love the Bible. I read God’s Word in it and hear God’s Word through it. But the United States is not a nation governed by the Bible. Our nation is governed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our laws were created to protect an individual’s right to disagree. If the Bible (or someone’s view of the Bible) replaces the Constitution as the law of the land, we undermine the great foundation upon which this country was built.

When I was a guest on a talk show in Seattle, I saw what might happen to me and to millions like me if a genuine literalist gained political power over this country. The other guest on the show was an independent Presbyterian pastor. When I told him that I was gay, he said without hesitation, “Then you should be killed.”

A Christian brother sentenced me to death, guided only by his literal
understanding of Leviticus 20:13.

I asked him, “Who should do the killing, you church folk?” He answered, “No, that’s the civil authorities’ job. That’s why we need to elect more good men of God into government.”

I sat there in stunned silence, until he added, “I know it must be hard for you to hear it, Dr. White—but God said it first and it’s our job to obey.”

I hope we can agree that all of us must stand together against those who would replace the Constitution with biblical law. That’s why, when I lecture on a university campus, I carry a Bible in one pocket and a Constitution in the other.


Mel should be able to count on the Constitution to protect him. And so should we.

I don't actually have a crystal ball, but I had plenty of folks on Thursday asking me to look into one, anwway.

The question I got from a Reuter's reporter after the oral arguments were completed was "Are you optimistic?"

I answered, "Always. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice. So I am ALWAYS a long term optimist ... and usually a short term realist."

Whatever happens with the California Court decision, the most important thing that happened on Thursday was the reframing of the debate going forward -- driving home the reality that what Proposition 8 means is that ANY vulnerable minorityin California is now subject to a bare majority of voters in any particular election taking away any one of their fundamental rights through an initiative process.

During the rebuttal period of the oral arguments, one of the petitioning attorneys made this argument: What if 51% of California voters should decide that only men can be appointed as a Supreme Court Justices in California? Equally qualified women could be appointed to serve on the bench with the same rights and responsibilities but would be called "Commissioners" -- in order to preserve the "traditional judiciary."

And during the press conference the day before Supreme Court hearing, the local head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference made this argument: Make no mistake about it -- if in 1954 the voters had been able by an initiative process to vote away Brown v. Board of Education, they would have done it and our schools might still be segregated.

At the end of the day, Californians will have to decide what kind of California they want to live in. The arguments on Thursday, March 5 before the California Supreme Court may not end up convincing the California Court to be prophetic -- but they may serve to convince the California voters that the next rights that will be up for auction may be theirs ... and that living in a state with gay marriage is preferable to living in a state without equal protection.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

"One Gay Under God" ...

... is a podcast produced by Alicia Ross with a mission to "engage and inform a spiritual community of LBGTQ believers in their chosen faith by exploring fundamental questions of life and spirituality."
I had the honor of being a Alicia's guest for a recent podcast "The Missing Piece" (you can do the click here thing and listen to it if so called.)
The audio quality is not the best, but I appreciated the opportunity to "unpack" a little of what's been going on around here -- from the screenings of The Constant Process (which were her first questions) to the Prop 8 stuff and beyond.
Anyway, great young voice out there -- check it out!
And, since Alicia asked me for referrals for some folks who might be future guests -- if you get a call or email from Alicia Ross return it! :)
PS -- Speaking of "The Constant Process," in a quick check of Douglas Hunter's blog "Durations" this morning I found out that the film is going to be screened at BYU! (Go, Douglas!)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Me Staying On Message

"Those arguing for the overturn for the proposition were making exactly the arguments they need to make: this is not just about a handful of gay or lesbian people who want to get married, it's about whether or not we as as state want to allow a slim majority to take away rights from a minority ... It sets an extraordinarily dangerous precedent," said the Rev. Susan Russell, a senior clergy associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and the president of Integrity USA, the national Episcopal LGBT advocacy organization.

All Saints Church married 46 couples between June 17 and Nov. 4 and has been blessing gay and lesbian unions for 16 years. The church has signed on to one of the amicus briefs that was presented to the court.

Read the rest here ... and stay tuned for more.

So you want to pass propositions to take people's rights away?

Well, all right then ... bring it on!

I'm going to write something substantive about today's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Proposition 8. Really. Soon. But right now I'm pounded and need to turn my attention to our Vestry/Staff Conference that starts tomorrow morning.
So for NOW ... how about this proposition gaining speed on Facebook:
Today Ken Starr told the Supreme Court that the voters can take away the right to marry. He also says that we are all "a minority of one." So let's take away HIS right to marry!
Here is a proposed constitutional amendment to show him what it's like when his rights are taken away by the tyranny of the majority.

Proposed amendment to the California Constitution:

SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "‘Be Careful What You Tell the Supreme Court is Legal’ Act."

SECTION 2. Section 7.6 is added to Article I of the California Constitution, to read:

SEC. 7.6. No marriage between the dean of any law school located in Malibu, California, and any other person is valid or recognized in California. Any marriage entered into between such persons before the enactment of this amendment shall be null and void.

(If you're a Facebooker and want to join the "Eliminate Ken Starr's Right to Marry" Group click here.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Marriage Equality Update from California

[I just posted this over at Walking With Integrity and decided to add it here, too.]

Greetings from California ... where this week the Supreme Court will hear arguments to reject Proposition 8 as unconstitutional and return marriage equality to Californians.

Tomorrow, March 4, many of us will join Bishop Jon Bruno, who will be part of the Lambda Legal/Equality California press conference at the Los Angeles Cathedral Center at 10:00 a.m. And beginning at 5:00 p.m. supporters of marriage equality will rally in downtown Los Angeles.

Thursday morning, March 5, the arguments before the Supreme Court will be televised and streamed online ... details here. (If you need a refresher course on how-we-got-to-here and where-we-might-be-going-next, I commend the commentary from Sunday's LA Times: "Gay Marriage On Trial")

Finally, here's the most recent ad for equality making the rounds ... making the point in 33 seconds. View ... forward ... and pray for justice to roll down like water here in California that liberty and justice for all might become a little closer to being not just a pledge but a reality.

CA State Legislature Opposes Legality of Prop 8

[Source Link] California lawmakers approved two resolutions Monday opposing the legality of Proposition 8, which was passed by 52 percent of state voters in November and bans same-sex marriages.

The action comes as the state Supreme Court is to hear arguments Thursday on whether the measure should have gone through the Legislature before going to voters.

Both the Assembly and the Senate considered identical resolutions, which stated that the Legislature "opposes Proposition 8 because it is an improper revision, not an amendment, of the California Constitution."

"In my mind, this is not a marriage issue, it's a constitutional issue," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, who introduced the resolution in the lower house.

The court will hear arguments from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday and will rule within 90 days.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ed Bacon on Obama Iraq Speech: "Clear Victory for the Peace Movement"

Update on Marriage Equality Struggle in California

This is the week -- Thursday, March 5th -- that the California Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Proposition 8 case. The best summary of how-we-got-here and what-might-happen-next was in Sunday's Los Angeles Times ... a commentary entitled "Gay Marriage on Trial" ... and you'll want to read it all here ... but here's the intro:
The argument in the courtroom will be broad and abstract. Who makes law in a democracy? What should we do when laws contradict one another? Who is the ultimate sovereign in the state of California -- the people at the polls or their written Constitution or their appointed judges or their elected legislators? Can fundamental constitutional rights -- inalienable rights -- be withdrawn from one group but not another? These are big, thorny questions with implications that go well beyond whether gays are allowed to marry. What follows is a cheater's guide to the issues at hand. (See the link above!)
Meanwhile, if you're actually interested in following the arguments yourself, the California Supreme Court has a webpage set up for that -- check it out. And stay tuned. Likely to be a busy week here on the left coast!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Great Aloha Run

It's called "the Great Aloha Run" and the local news describes it as a "8.15-mile road race, the largest participatory fundraising activity in Hawaii, raising money for charitable organizations while promoting health and fitness."

Anyway, there's Jamie ... second from the left with the blue line pointing to him ... carrying, he tells me, a flag of some sort or the other. And this photo was from the front page of the local paper coverage of the February 16th event. Go, Jamie!