Sunday, January 31, 2010

American Family Association Radio Host: It's Time To Imprison All Gays

Here's a new twist on

"Orange Juice! It's not just for breakfast anymore" ...

"Imprisoning Gays! It's not just for Uganda anymore!"

From "Rightly Concerned" ... a blog maintained by the American Family Association -- this post by American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer ... wherein he posts a copy of an email he wrote to a listener challenging him on his support for criminalizing homosexuality.

Fasten your seat belts! (I've added the emphasis.)

Thanks for writing me about my comments on my program regarding homosexuality. It might be worth noting that what I actually suggested is that we impose the same sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior as we do on those who engage in intravenous drug abuse, since both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I’d be curious to know what you think should be done with IV drug abusers, because whatever it is, I think the same response should be made to those who engage in homosexual behavior.

If you believe that what drug abusers need is to go into an effective detox program, then we should likewise put active homosexuals through an effective reparative therapy program. Secondly, I’m afraid you’re simply wrong about the Bible’s perspective on the law and homosexuality. Paul lists quite explicitly in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 the actions and behaviors that are the proper concern of the law:

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…”
The bottom line here is that, biblically, those “who practice homosexuality” should come under the purview of the law just as much as those who take people captive in order to sell them into slavery. You express a belief in the Scriptures, and I trust your confidence in Scripture is not selective.

If you believe all Scripture is inspired, then you are compelled to accept that legal sanctions may appropriately be applied to those who engage in homosexual behavior.

Thank you for contacting us, and I hope this response will help you think in a thorough and biblical way about this important social issue.

Bryan Fischer
Host, "Focal Point" radio program on AFR Talk, a division of the American Family Association


This is what "righteous indignation" was created for.

These are the folks sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington this Thursday.

This is why we need to mobilize on Thursday and do whatever we can to support the American Prayer Hour .

What is the American Prayer Hour? The American Prayer Hour is an affirmation of inclusive values and a celebration of diversity that is the bedrock of our nation. It is also a protest of The National Prayer Breakfast, which is hosted by The Family. This group is a secretive fundamentalist organization directly tied to the draconian “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda. We strongly urge those invited to the National Prayer Breakfast to reconsider attending the event. Instead, they can join us at our American Prayer Hour.

Visit the link above.

Support the American Prayer Hour service in your area if there is one.

Hold an American Prayer Hour service if there's not.

Get involved.

Speak up.

Make a difference.


Go do it!


For more, visit Joe.My.God and Truth Wins Out ... blogs also covering this story.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not so new news from Kentucky

Nothing really "new" here ... this list of candidates for the Bishop of Kentucky was announced earlier this week in a variety of places. I was, however, struck by the fact the journalist noted that the list of candidates was "notable for its lack of gay or lesbian candidates ... and for its lack of women."

I guess it's a small step forward that our absence is starting to be "notable" rather than our presence!

Four nominated for Kentucky Episcopal bishop
by Peter Smith -- January 29, 2010

Four married men with years of clergy experience have been nominated as finalists to be the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, succeeding the retiring Bishop Ted Gulick.

The four men — including the pastors of cathedrals in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Missouri and a former Kentucky pastor now leading a Texas church — will visit the diocese to meet with parishioners and answer their questions. An election convention is scheduled for June 5, with the new bishop’s consecration on Sept. 25.

The list of finalists is notable for its lack of gay or lesbian candidates — given the ongoing controversy involving the Episcopal Church and its global partners in the Anglican Communion over the role of gays in ministry — and for its lack of women.

The Kentucky diocese has long promoted women in ministry, and while the issue of homosexuality has been debated, the denomination and many of its congregations have supported the role of gays and lesbians in ministry.

But the Rev. Dr. Bill Watson, president of the diocese’s standing committee, said the search committee was composed of men and women and open to any candidates who qualified under Episcopal “canons,” or church law. That includes women and openly gay and lesbian candidates.

“I don’t know that there was any desire to look for any particular candidate that would be representing any kind of interest,” said Watson.

The search committee consisted of men and women who were more concerned with finding the “best and brightest,” he said.

“They were looking at and reflecting on the profiles (of the candidates) and the actual interviews with the nominees and their reflection on the life of the church,” Watson said. “That’s really what drove it. I think the process was very open, and we recruited from around the church.”

The standing committee is in charge of the bishop selection process. A separate search committee sorted through 78 names. Members interviewed numerous candidates by phone and conducted on-site visits in the home dioceses of 10 of them.

“It’s a really exciting slate of nominees,” said Watson, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in Hopkinsville, Ky. “It looks like a very well-qualified group of people. I’m delighted they’ve allowed themselves to be a part of the process.”

The candidates are:

* The Rev. David Allen Boyd, 54, pastor of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, since 2003. He served as pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church in Lexington, Ky., from 1996 to 2003 and as pastor of parishes in Wisconsin from 1986 to 1996. He and his wife, the Rev. Catherine Tyndall Boyd, have two children.

* The Very Rev. John P. Downey, 56, pastor of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie, Pa., since 1987. He has also served as pastor of other Pennsylvania parishes from 1980 to 1986. He is married to Sharon A. Downey and has three children.

* The Very Rev. William Nicholas Knisely Jr., 49, pastor of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., since 2006. He also served as a pastor in Pennsylvania and Delaware from 1991 to 2006. He and his wife, Karen McTigue Knisely, have one child.

* The Very Rev. Terry Allan White, 50, pastor of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Mo., since 2004. He also served as pastor of parishes in Illinois and Wisconsin from 1985 to 2004. He and his wife, Linda Sue White, have two children.

In 2003, simmering tensions in the global Anglican Communion exploded with the election at the Episcopal

Church’s General Convention of its first openly gay bishop — Kentucky native Gene Robinson in the Diocese of New Hampshire. All of the Kentucky diocese’s representatives voted in favor of Robinson’s appointment.

Several overseas churches declared that their communion with the American church had been broken, and some American churches and dioceses have split off.

The General Convention pledged in 2006 that the Episcopal Church would “exercise restraint” over any future gay bishop nominees. But in 2009, the convention passed a measure reaffirming Episcopal canons saying that “God has called and may call” gays and lesbians to “any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church”; at the same time, it reaffirmed the church’s commitment to Anglican unity.

Following that vote, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected an openly lesbian candidate, the Rev. Mary Glasspool, to be assistant bishop. Her election requires confirmation by other bishops and diocesan standing committees in votes scheduled through May.

The Diocese of Kentucky, led by Gulick since 1994, includes Louisville and central and western Kentucky. It has 9,856 members and an average weekly attendance of 3,781 — both down from the previous year, paralleling trends in the national denomination and several other historic Protestant groups.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Say WHAT????

Wrap up from yesterday's closing testimony at the Prop 8 Trial continues to come in. Here's a good one from today's Los Angeles Times:

[Reporting from San Francisco] - The head of a think tank on marriage and family testified at the Proposition 8 federal trial Tuesday that same-sex marriage would weaken marriage and possibly lead to fewer heterosexual marriages, more divorces and "more public consideration of polygamy."

But under cross-examination, David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, acknowledged that he wrote in a book in 2007 that the U.S. would be "more American on the day we permit same-sex marriage than we were on the day before."


You can read the whole article on the link above, but it left me wondering if this was really the best they could do. And no, I do NOT buy the "our witnesses were so afraid of the 'gay menace' that they were too terrified to testify." Looks more like, "we looked at what we had to offer and decided to cut our witness losses and hope the conservatives on the Supreme Court do our work for us."

Anybody else know this guy?

Just a little levity for a Thursday afternoon. (from the New Yorker a couple of weeks ago.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The defense has rested. Let the "spin" begin

The defense rested today in the Perry v Schwarzenegger Prop 8 Trial in San Francisco federal court. Judge Walker announced he'd be taking 30 days to "digest" the two weeks of testimony and set February 26th as the date he'll be ready to decide on a closing argument schedule.

So here's a foretaste of the NOT-so-heavenly banquet of Prop8 Trial post-mortem by the "Protect (our-but-not-your) Marriage" folks. I spied it yesterday on General Counsel Andy Pugno's blog which began:

"Once again, religion was on trial this morning ..."

No. In point of fact, what was on trial in Federal Court over these last two weeks was the abuse of religion as a weapon of mass disinformation in the 2008 Proposition 8 Campaign.

What was on trial was the use of money, resources and influence to fuel animus based bigotry by those hiding behind "freedom of religion" while attempting to inflict their view of religion on the rest of us.

What was on trial was a campaign to take rights away from gay and lesbian families based on the belief that since God does not equally bless the "lifestyle" of same sex couples then the Constitution should not equally protect them.

What was on trial was a homophobic attack on the foundational values of our constitutional democracy.

And while the defense may have rested today, in point of fact there IS no defense for allowing bigotry to trump the constitutionally protected rights of all Americans. None.

So let the "spin" begin. But remember at the end of the day it is the truth that will set us free.

And what the truth can set us free to do is to stop fighting and fundraising and politicizing and demonizing in order to keep some Californians from being married and focus instead on supporting ALL Californians as we work to build stronger marriages. Stronger families. A stronger California and a stronger America.

For the truth is that families are not undermined by gay marriage. Families are undermined by poverty, joblessness, lack of health care, racism, discrimination, failing education systems and the deteriorating infrastructure of a state that should be pouring all its energy into supporting families -- not discriminating against gay and lesbian families.

I rest my case.

CA State Senator Mark Leno Bill Introduces Bill Strengthening Religious Freedoms for Clergy

This is a VERY good move. Applause for Senator Leno! Here's a summary from the Capitol Weekly news report:

San Francisco state Sen. Mark Leno supports gay marriage — but he doesn’t think clergy should have to perform the ceremonies.

Leno, who is gay, is introducing legislation that says no religious leader would be forced to perform a marriage that goes against their own beliefs or that of their faith. The bill would also re-emphasize the tax-exempt status of churches, and states that they would not lose this status by refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

Leno, a Democrat, contends the bill would not actually change the law because the First Amendment already offers these protections.

Instead, Leno said, it is a clarification aimed right at the ongoing debate over Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that ended California’s brief experiment with same sex marriage. The measure won by five points after a campaign in which proponents sought to mislead voters, Leno contends.

"If you heard any number of the arguments of the proponents of Prop. 8, you would have thought there were no First Amendment right to freedom of religion," Leno said. He added at the bill would be an attempt "to put to an end some of the nonsensical statements made in support of Prop. 8."

Leno’s legislation is sponsored by the California Council of Churches, IMPACT and Equality California, which was the main group opposing Prop. 8.

That trial, now going on in federal court in San Francisco, largely centers on the issue of whether gays and lesbians constitute a historically oppressed group. The suit, brought by a legal team united conservative attorney Ted Olsen and liberal counterpart David Boies — who famously faced off in Bush v. Gore in 2000 — has sought to highlight some of the more hysterical rhetoric about the "gay lifestyle" used by people connected to the campaign.

"We strong support religious freedom and the rights of clergy to only solemnize weddings they want to solemnize," Kors said. The bill would not apply to government employees who perform weddings, who would have to treat gay and straight couples the same. It would also protect the rights of churches to reserve church facilities for their own members.

However, if a church is offered for rent to the general public, the law would require it be offered to gay couples if gay marriage became the law again in California.

"As we know from the Yes on 8 Campaign and what we’re seeing in the federal trial, many people and a lot of the right-wing groups we’re up against have lied to Californians about who has to marry people and how clergy might be arrested and churches might lose their tax-exempt status," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.

Visit the Equality California website for more information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Letter to the Editor I wish I'd written:

[via email -- thanks to Jerry Anderson!]


The 14th Amendment was adopted to ensure the constitutional rights of freed slaves and their descendents after the Civil War. There have been roughly 325 federal court cases relative to this amendment since that time. Nineteen of those cases have actually had anything at all to do with a human being. The remaining 300 or so cases have been part of the ongoing corruption process that grants “personhood” to corporations. “Corporate Personhood” is the legal concept that grants most of the rights of natural living, breathing citizens to corporations.

Under our constitution US corporations are allowed virtually every right of humanbeings including such rights as the right to marry. This “marriage/merger” concept which flies in the face of “traditional marriage” is openly embraced by conservatives who will freely grant to a profit-making business what they flatly refuse to grant to millions of our living, breathing LGBT citizens.

Did anyone hear a single conservative objection when half the major banks in our country eloped with the other half in 2008? Even corporations like Blackwater and Halliburton are allowed to serve openly in every branch of our military … unlike thousands of living breathing gay and lesbian citizens who still serve and suffer under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

What we have discovered over the course of the past year is that along with our “constitutional rights,” human persons also have the obligation to serve time in prison and in some cases be executed when they break the law. Corporations have somehow managed to avoid that unpleasantness.

In the wake of last week’s decision in the Citizens United case, corporate rights of personhood will now also include the right of corporations to buy politicians and elections with no limit on the corrupting power of their contributions. This is because corporations as “persons” must be granted free speech. This free speech right is in addition to their corporate “human right” to marry and their corporate “human right” right to serve openly in the military.

Does anyone see the irony that corporations have now been granted more “Human Rights” by the Supreme Court than millions of our own anatomically HUMAN citizens have been granted? After the last two years of outrageous corporate arrogance and greed, why is it that we have done absolutely nothing to strip those rights from corporations, yet we strip those very same rights every day from our very human LGBT soldiers and citizens?

Charlie Smith
Charleston, SC

Monday, January 25, 2010

And the plaintiffs "rest"

The plaintiffs -- those challenging Proposition 8 as an unconstitutional move to take equally protected rights away from a "vulnerable minority" -- rested their case in federal court in San Francisco today and the testimony shifted to the "expert witnesses" put forward by the defense. (And I DO use the words "expert witness" loosely!)

Here's a great summary by Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign on what the testimony so far has demonstrated:

“This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.” -- Rick Jacobs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Rick Jacobs, Chair of the Courage Campaign Institute, issued the following statement on the Prop 8 campaign videos and documents introduced into evidence in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. The new evidence shows how the Prop 8 campaign tried to link marriage equality to incest, bestiality, pedophilia and polygamy:

“This morning’s evidence made the Prop 8 side’s strategy crystal clear — use fear and lies to promote hate. It is horrifying that Prop 8 proponents would compare marriage equality to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and imply that marriage equality will open the door to pedophilia, incest and bestiality.”

“Ron Prentice, Andrew Pugno and their Prop 8 team — with the highly capable and apparently deeply cynical leadership of Frank Schubert — created a permanent campaign to scare voters into believing that same-sex marriage would threaten children, undermine America and lead to every form of illicit behavior imaginable.”

“This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.”

“Finally, this morning we saw indisputable, documented evidence in the form of emails and videos that Ron Prentice and Protect Marriage coordinated closely and relied upon the Catholic Church, the LDS Church, the Family Research Council, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and the National Organization for Marriage to get Prop. 8 on the ballot and to win through a campaign of lies.”

“Last week, the Supreme Court erased decades of precedent by ruling that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to speech. Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”

Via the Prop 8 Trial Tracker web site, the Courage Campaign Institute has brought the proceedings to the public in real time, garnering more than 1.1 million views and helping fuel an online community of “Trial Trackers” posting more than 11,000 comments to date. Check it out here.

Favorite "tweet" on #prop8 today:

RT @NCLRights: Miller saying he has seen some data abt why people voted for prop 8 but he can't remember what or where.
(See also: No wonder the Prop 8 defense fought the broadcasting of this trial so hard! Transcripts are now up online here.)

If you're in the neighborhood ...

... consider spending part of your Valentines Day with the Diocese of L.A. Program Group on LGBT Ministry at our Mardi Gras-in-the-Cathedral party benefiting Haitian Earthquake Relief!

Good cause. Great fun. "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez"


Check out this feature in today's Times Online -- a GREAT antidote to the "sky is falling" crowd insisting that the church is dying, the end is near and -- oh, yes ... blame the women and gays. Brava Lucy Broadbent -- and Ruth Gledhill! Thanks for some good news on this good Monday!

From The Times
January 26, 2010
"God's Not Dead: How L.A. fills the pews and we don't"
Lucy Broadbent

It’s not that I am especially pious. Believe me, I was mostly praying for cashmere this Christmas. As the old joke goes: Am I religious? No, I’m Church of England. But I have a confession to make: I do go to church, and not just at Christmas either. I go all the time. Even on weekdays sometimes.

I’m aware that such an admission is rather like owning up to being a trainspotter these days, but then I don’t have to put up with the desolate aisles and empty pews that most of you have become familiar with in Britain — where the best that can be hoped for on a Sunday is a faint whiff of incense and three old ladies and a homeless person singing watery hymns.

According to a report published tomorrow there is a sharp decline in religious belief in Britain. Half the population now calls itself Christian, down from two thirds in 1983. At the same time, the proportion who confess to “no religion” has increased from just under a third to more than four in ten. If Jews and Muslims are included, non-Christians now represent 7 per cent of the population, up from 2 per cent 25 years ago.

I hate to sound as if I’m boasting, but at the Anglican church my family attends in Los Angeles, you have to go early if you want a seat. Rather like being at a football match when your team has just won, the sheer numbers alone leave you with a spring in your step and a song on your lips.

St James Church, which sits at the intersection of an affluent middle-class neighbourhood, and many poorer communities in LA, is an Episcopal Church, that is the American equivalent of the Church of England. But, unlike its British cousins, it is packed because it goes out of its way to create a community in a big, sprawling city. There’s a supper club on Wednesday nights, set up with the intention of giving mums a night off, and a chance for families to make friends.

There is also an elementary school, a nursery school and a reasonably priced child-care centre for working families. Then there’s the aerobics classes in the church hall — always popular; boy scout meetings — my son won’t miss one; and a soup kitchen for the homeless. Sometimes, if you are trying to raise a family, it’s hard to stay away from the place.

When I moved to LA a dozen or so years ago, religion was incidental to my life. Unless on a turbulent aircraft, indifference beckoned. There were a few childhood memories of Sunday school and sitting in a pew with a children’s Bible. But religion had slipped into cobwebbed disuse as soon as the teen years took over. Spirituality? Well, I listened to reggae music at parties. If I’d stayed in Britain, I’d probably have become another of the lost Christians.

But the combination of having children and moving to the US changed everything. It led to finding a school for my boys that happened to be attached to an Episcopal church, which meant there were all-school chapel services, and care for the spiritual well being of a child, not just academic achievement — something with which we were familiar from our own childhoods. Subconsciously, my husband and I were probably seduced by the similarities the school had with memories of England.

We started attending the church. Our eldest joined the choir. The hymns were the same, even if they got the tunes wrong, and the words of the service were as I remembered them growing up in a village in Hertfordshire 40-odd years before.

While churches in England have, for the most part, modernised their services in an attempt to attract bigger crowds — some of them becoming painfully evangelical and happy clappy — the Episcopal church in the US still uses the older, traditional liturgies, the ones that I remember nostalgically. It was these superficial trappings that appealed to us originally. My husband, who writes music for a living, is a sucker for a choir — but it is the values that we found there that has really kept us coming back.

At our church, it is not unusual to see children with two mums or two dads, sitting next to Koreans, African-Americans, Hispanics, as well as many white middle-class families. There are monied people from Beverly Hills, rubbing shoulders with artists from downtown. Gay people next to straight. It’s jolly, social and somehow has a relevance to everyone’s life. It reflects an acceptance of all, the kind of value I’d like my children to have. And it is a community. Spirituality, I believe, comes from acknowledging that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.

My father, who lives in London and used to take me to church as a child, no longer attends church. He compares sitting in an empty church with being a sole diner in a restaurant — miserable. What’s on offer in church has no connection to his life any more. Instead he goes to a business networking group to find community and carries his own ideas of spirituality inside his head. My mother (now separated from my father) still attends church, but she is one of only seven who attend regularly in her village. There are so few in the congregation, they all sit in the choir stalls.

I am now largely embarrassed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who took it upon himself to advise the bishops of the diocese of LA against electing the Rev Canon Mary D. Glasspool to be a bishop, because she happens to be openly gay.

I asked our rector, the Rev Paul Kowalewski, why his church was always full. “We are part of a community,” he says. “In a big city like Los Angeles, people are looking for a community. We give them the welcome they are looking for.”

Hope in SW London

Tomorrow’s report will make grim reading on the decline of faith in Britain. The analysis by Professor David Voas, for the National Centre for Social Research of the 4,486 interviews in the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey, points to the steepest fall being among those who attend worship ceremonies in the Church of England.

Average Sunday attendance in 2007 fell to 978,000 compared with 1.2 million in 1983.

Voas says: “The declining Christian share is largely attributable to a drift away from the Church of England.” In church circles the accepted wisdom is that the decline can be linked to a move in liberal congregations away from biblical orthodoxy.

Figures from organisations such as Christian Research support the widely accepted thesis that all the growth is at the evangelical end.

But closer examination of thriving churches, such as the Los Angeles church profiled here by Lucy Broadbent, show that this need not be the case.

Canon Giles Fraser, Chancellor of St Paul’s, was until recently vicar of St Mary’s, Putney, in which there is hardly enough space in the church to hold the 350 Sunday worshippers, including 100 children.

What marks this church and many others in southwest London is that they are far from evangelical, unless that is taken in its original Greek and, ironically, biblical sense of being messengers of good news.

Canon Fraser’s “gospel” for success was a book by Dr Jeffrey John on how to do church well. Dr John is now Dean of St Albans having been forced to resign as Bishop of Reading because of his sexuality.

The Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, preached at St Mary’s at the start of the 2008 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. The Inclusive Church movement that campaigns for equality for gays in the church was started there by Canon Fraser. And the motion that eventually saw the General Synod agree in 1992 that women could be ordained to the priesthood began life with a motion from the parochial church council at St Mary’s.

St Mary’s has a café on the premises and a heavily oversubscribed church school near by. Just a dozen or so children from the congregation are admitted there each year — so the school does not explain the overflowing pews, or why so many families stay even when their children don’t make it through the admissions process.

What St Mary’s and its other local thriving churches do prove is that it is possible to be inclusive as a church in England, and not only survive but thrive.

Canon Fraser says: “It is just a question of doing the basics and doing them well. It is caring for people, preaching good sermons, making sure to be organised. There is a huge children’s programme with Sunday school teachers trained in what is called Godly Play. A lot of churches in that area are not evangelical but they are full.”

Holy Trinity Brompton, in Knightsbridge, southwest London, is packed with thousands of young Christians each Sunday and is the church where the successful Alpha course began. It is another example of a growing church.

From the opposite end of the evangelical spectrum to St Mary’s Putney, HTB has a more conventional approach to church growth, which includes “planting” or founding dozens of new congregations in London, many of which also flourish and to go on to plant yet more churches.

Since the 1960s it has been part of the secular creed that “God is dead”. But in spite of surveys such as tomorrow’s, the evidence is that belief in God is anything but dead. Churches and other religions across the spectrum have continued to defy prophecies of their imminent demise and, against the statistics, the signs are that they will continue to do so.

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Cal Snow Snapsots

I know, I know ... if you're in Rochester or Chicago or Duluth you're probably laughing at our idea of "snow" ... but for Southern California it's a pretty unique thing to have it at these elevations.

So out come the cameras ... QUICK before it melts!

View from my front porch

Love this palm tree against the snow capped mountains: Classic So Cal!

Row of palms on the street-below-my-street

It won't last long, but lovely while it does!
(Particularly at this nice, safe, no-shoveling-or-plowing-necessary distance!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Logo du jour:

That's the truth of what's being offered as a defense in the Prop 8 trial in progress in San Francisco. It's not about the protection of marriage. It's about the protection of bigotry and the propagation of ignorance.

As Andrew Sullivan put it, "No wonder Maggie Gallagher wants as little sunlight in this trial as possible. Because it reveals the true motives of those who are in her movement."

Thanks to all who worked so hard to keep us "in the loop." And prayers ascending for all those working to equally protect all marriages ... to value all families ... to make "liberty and justice for all" not just the words we pledge but the reality we live.

I still can't see Russia from my house ...

... but here's the snow we could see this morning before the rains started again:

More from Prop 8 Trial Tracker: The truth that will set us free

Our friends live-blogging the Prop 8 trial are doing an amazing job of bringing what's going on inside the federal courtroom to those of us outside. While not the same as the televised coverage we'd hoped to have, their detailed, comprehensive record of the testimony is an extraordinary gift to everyone watching this trial as an historic legal defense of equal protection for ALL Americans.

This morning's post made this important contextual point:
From before this trial even began, the Prop 8 legal team has publicly said that they think the trial court’s decision is meaningless. And that may well be. Even if Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8, the order would probably be stayed pending appellate review. The trial is just the first step. It sets up the record going forward, and allows appellate judges to get a feeling for the credibility of the witnesses.
So -- just for fun -- let's take a look at the credibility of one of the witnesses. This is testimony from yesterday's witness: William Tam -- a Prop 8 architect and opponent of marriage equality. (Tam is being questioned by attorney David Boies. Analysis is by Prop 8 Tracker blogger Brian Leubitz.)

Boies: You said that you thought Prop. 8 would lead to legalizing prostitution. Why?
Tam: Measure K in SF. I saw some homosexuals hanging around there.
B: You know that Measure K has nothing to do with Prop. 8.
T: Yes.

So, his first argument was that he saw some homosexuals hanging around San Francisco’s Prop K, a poorly drafted attempt to decriminalize prostitution. Not that all people who supported Prop 8 supported Prop K, or vice versa. Just that he saw some homosexuals hanging around it. Well, as somebody intricately involved in San Francisco politics, I can assure you that many in the LGBT community opposed Prop K, including elected leaders and much of the community. Prop K had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the LGBT community or Prop 8, and Tam acknowledges that. By the way, Prop K lost by a wide margin, even in a city that Tam said was “controlled by homosexuals.”

But that line in the gay agenda that Tam thrusts upon the community pales in comparison to the offensive claim that tops off Tam’s flyer.

B: You told people that next will be legalizing sex with children. That’s the homosexual agenda. Do you believe this?
T: Yes.
T: Asks and B gives permission to talk. “I’m afraid of the liberal trend. Canada and Europe are liberal and they allow age of consent 13 or 14 and children can have sex with adults and each other.”)
B: You did not mention age of consent in the fourteen words you wrote?
T: No.
B: Age of consent has nothing to do with this [But Tam admitted that he told people that’s what would happen if 8 lost.] Age of consent did not change because of passage of ss marriage in Canada or Europe, right?
T: Canada right. I cannot say about Europe.

But this is more than merely patently offensive, it is just plain factually incorrect. And it takes just a few moments of Googling (or binging, whichever you prefer) to figure that one out. Same-sex marriage became the law of the land in Canada in 2005. At the time, the age of consent in Canada was, in fact, 14 years. However, in 2008, while same-sex marriage was legal in Canada, the age of consent was raised to 16. By Tam’s logic, he should be arguing that it is clear that the gay agenda includes an item of increasing the age of consent.

But, of course, the problem with Tam is his rejection of logic. He uses innuendo and vague emotional statements about the welfare of children, and then depends on the website of NARTH, an ex-gay group condemned by mainstream mental health professionals, over accredited, peer-reviewed scientific studies from real professionals. This has nothing to do with what is going on in the real world, but what is going on in a few small minds.


Exactly. And I am totally saving that last sentence for future reference. Let's hear it again for emphasis:

"This has nothing to do with what is going on in the real world, but what is going on in a few small minds."
The one thing I'm noticing in the reactions to the trial testimony across the board in blog comments, twitter responses and other venues is a sort of systemic naiveté at just how inane, ridiculous and utterly-without-foundation-in-fact the "facts" from the other side actually are.

This is not a surprise to many of us who have been doing this work for lo-these-many-years within the church ... is a huge revelation to many of those hearing the essence of the arguments for the first time and realizing that this has NOTHING to do with "protecting families" and everything to do with perpetuating ignorance and bigotry.

Which is why it's so important that what's going on in San Francisco reach as wide an audience as possible.

Remember John 8:32 ... "The truth will set you free." The truth is being told in the 9th District Federal Court at this very moment. Stay tuned. Pay attention. And then let's go and do likewise.

And now ... since today is my day off and I can ... I'm going back to Trial Tracker to see what's going on. At last glance, the issue was whether homosexuality is a "disorder" and whether sexual orientation is matter of "choice." On the stand is psychologist Dr. Gregory Hererk ... being questioned about the decision in the 70's by American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its "pathological" list.

Judge: What led to the change?
Hererk: That’s a long story.
Judge: Well, we’re here for a while.

Yes. Yes we are. For as long as it takes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hmmmmm ....

If natural disasters are God's way of "getting even" do the California floods & mudslides therefore = Divine Wrath at the state for passing Proposition 8 and taking people's rights away?

Playing "the victim card" in the Prop 8 trial

Tracking the Prop 8 Trial on Trial Tracker today, the Yes on 8 folks had their victim cards out on the table this morning.

Because, you see, the real victims here are not the gay and lesbian families who are denied equal access to the equal protection of 1138 federal rights that marriage grants their separate-but-unequally-advantaged heterosexual next-door neighbors.

Nope. The real victims here -- according to the arguments being made in Federal Court in San Francisco -- are the Yes on 8 supporters who were unfairly targeted for vandalism and harassment for their position on marriage equality.
So I say, let's see their "victim cards" and raise 'em ... and here's a start: The No on 8 sign vandalized in front of St. John's Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles:

And then let's get back to arguing this case on its merits: Does or does not equal protection extend equally to all Americans?

WSJ Video of The Episcopal Church in action in Haiti

Haitian Church Steps In During Wait for Aid

In earthquake-stricken Haiti, an Episcopal bishop is providing relief to as many survivors as he can while they wait for the arrival of official aid. A Wall Street Journal video:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This one you're going to have to see to believe

So you know we have this Prop 8 trial going on here in California.

And so in-between getting my actual job done and working on the Haiti relief stuff we have going on here at All Saints Church AND keeping an eye on the weather forecasts of mudslides (heavy at times) happening in Southern California this week, I've been checking in on the "Prop 8 Trial Tracker" -- offering live blogging from the trial in San Francisco.

Lots of interesting stuff going on -- particularly today as "our" attorneys took on the LDS and Roman Catholic churches.

But what I'm writing about -- quickly here before I head out into the dark and stormy night -- is the weird twist of an inside story about the Prop 8 folks suing the Prop 8 Trial Tracker folks over the logo they're using on their website.

Here's the Trial Tracker logo:

And here's the logo from last fall's Yes on 8 campaign:

And what's the argument the Yes on 8 folks are using in their motion to get the Trial Tracker folks to drop the logo that looks ever-so-much-but-not-quite-like-theirs in an "in-your-face-we're-a-family-too" kind of way?

Wait for it.

They argue that the logo of a family made up of two woman and two children is “substantially indistinguishable” from a logo of a family made up of one man, one woman and two children.

As the Trial Tracker blog noted, "So, according to a lesbian family is “substantially indistinguishable” from a straight one? Hey, will you admit that in court? Pretty please, it would be mighty useful."

"We continue to be entertained by the Prop 8 attorneys simultaneously admitting that the two images of gay parents and straight parents are “substantially indistinguishable,” and yet failing to grasp that that the difference between the logos illuminates the core difference between their views and ours."

Honestly, folks -- you couldn't make this stuff up! Stay tuned ...

Calendar Girl

OK ... I know we lost HUGE in Massachusetts and there are mudslides in Southern California and the tragedy in Haiti continues to unfold ... but here's a little GOOD news:

Our puppy Juno is "Miss May" in the Husky Rescue 2010 Calendar! (Along with her big brother "Moose" -- her kennel name was "Maya.")

Now, if I'd known this sooner, I'd have been gotten the word out sooner, but I figure since it's ONLY January it's not too late to add a little cuteness to your life and help out the good folks at Husky Camp.

Order here.

And now we return to the regularly scheduled blogosphere ...

Meanwhile, the work of C056 begins

Episcopal Cafe is reporting that Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Chair Ruth Meyers sent a letter to all deputies and bishops outlining the work begun on liturgies for blessings as directed by GC2009 Resolution C056 -- a letter which includes in part:
As a first step, I have written to every diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church to inquire about any provisions they have made for “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church,” and any theological and liturgical resources they are commending to the congregations and clergy in their dioceses. Responses to this letter will help the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music in our development of resources for the church.
Read the whole letter here ... and keep the important work of this standing commission in your prayers!

Coming Soon to a Website Near You: MARRIAGE TRIAL.COM

Perry v. Schwarzenegger Trial Re-enactment

Here's the press release that went out Monday and got buried in my MLK Day email:

Proposition 8 Trial Re-enactment Brings Closed Proceedings to the Viewing Public

January 18, 2010 (Los Angeles) -- Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling blocking indefinitely the broadcast of a video feed from the San Francisco Federal Court trial challenging California’s Proposition 8. Within a few hours, a film production team in Los Angeles was readying a script from court transcripts, securing a courtroom set and casting actors in an effort to bring the trial to the people by way of re-enactment.

“We both jumped in and started calling all of our contacts… and never looked back,” says John Ireland, who is co-producing the “made for the web” series with actor and producer, John Ainsworth. “John and I both agreed that time is short but the time is now. We have collected a top-notch group of people to tell this story, so the world can see it.” Both men have been in the documentary and entertainment business for years.

“I was glued to the Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial Tracker when John and I started talking about producing a re-enactment to put on the web. I wanted to know what was happening in the courtroom and that’s when I knew we needed to produce this.” Ainsworth noted.

The production is using professional actors and, where possible, they are casting as close to the appearance of the real people the actors portray.

The team is being advised by constitutional law scholar and Professor, David B. Cruz, from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, which has made the replica courtroom available. He is reviewing scripts and advising on courtroom dynamics and flow. "People across the country and around the world were eager to watch this trial unfold, so I was eager to help make it accessible after the Supreme Court took the unusual step of blocking broadcast,” Cruz said.

Ireland is confident that a sizable audience is ready to tune in. He says, “There is a huge buzz on the web about this trial. I think a lot of people across our country were poised to watch the opening statements on the first day. When access was blocked, the thirst for information just grew exponentially.”

According to Ainsworth, they should have last week’s five episodes “in the can” within a few days. They will assemble a script each new trial day, notify the relevant actors and film that day’s testimony late into the night. Ainsworth adds, “We are moving swiftly, so that more Americans can see our government in action as it reviews this landmark case.”

Visit their website ... ... which is set to debut new info "any moment" ... and then help get the word out about this IMPORTANT project!


A few photos from the Los Angeles Times website ...

Los Angeles Skyline

(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times / January 18, 2010)

No, we don't know how to drive in the rain.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 18, 2010)

Ventura Pier

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / January 19, 2010)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Interesting conference coming up at the School of Theology in Claremont CA:

Theology After Google:
Leveraging New Technologies and Networks for Transformative Ministry

(from their website:) Progressive Christian theologians have some vitally important things to say, things that both the church and society desperately need to hear. The trouble is, we aren't making effective use of the new technologies, social media, and social networking. When it comes to effective communication of message, the Religious Right is running circles around us.

Hence the urgent need for a conference to empower pastors, laypeople, and the up-and-coming theologians of the next generation to do “theology after Google,” theology for a Google-shaped world. Thanks to the Ford funding, we’ve been able to assemble a stellar team of cultural creatives and experts in the new modes of communication. We are also inviting a selection of senior theologians, and well as some of the younger theologians (call them “theobloggers”) whose use of the new media (blogging, podcasts, YouTube posts) is already earning them large followings and high levels of influence.

For two and a half days, in workshops and in hands-on sessions, in lectures and over drinks, these leading figures will be at your disposal to teach you everything they know.

Find out more here ... I'm totally interested!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Biblical Marriage" in a Nutshell

(Of course we've heard this argument before, but it's great to see it so concisely argued by such an authoritative source! One of the highlights of my seminary years was the chance to audit a Ph.d seminar Rosemary Radford Ruether was leading at the Claremont School of Theology ... she rocked then and she rocks now!)

A Biblical View of Marriage: One Man and Several Women
by Rosemary R. Ruether

Recently I was reading a newspaper article about rival demonstrations for and against gay marriage. One demonstrator carried a large sign with the mantra of the anti-gay marriage movement: “Marriage=one man+one woman.” I fantasized showing up at such a demonstration with a rival sign: “A Biblical view of marriage: one man+several women.” Unlike the fundamentalists, I could not in all honesty claim this is the biblical view of marriage, but only one of several views of marriage in the Bible. A rival view is found in Luke, 20:35, where it is said that those worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven will not marry in the present age.

In Hebrew Scripture polygamy was accepted and many patriarchs had multiple wives. One pattern was to marry sisters. Lamech (Gen 4:19) married two women and Jacob married the two daughters of Laban, Leah and Rachel: (Gen. 29:16) He later took two more wives. Solomon had seven hundred wives and 300 concubines: I Kings 11:3. Ezekiel 23 even says that God married two sisters, representing the capitals of the two nations, Samaria and Jerusalem.

The point here is not to mandate either patriarchal polygamy or New Testament celibacy, but to dispute the notion that God in the Bible mandated one view of marriage, from the beginning and for all time. Rather marriage is a human arrangement which has varied over time, according to human (mostly male) views of their needs for sex, relationship, kinship alliances and progeny. In the West in the last few centuries the need to cement social alliances through marriage and to create (male) heirs has decreased, and the primary purpose of marriage has come to be seen as love, preferably between two people in a permanent relationship.

The current call for the recognition of the legal status of marriage between same sex couples is an extension of this modern concept of companionate bonding as the primary meaning of marriage. Far from threatening heterosexual marriage, it confirms this favored view of marriage.

We modern Westerners no longer have tribes and kinship networks to sustain us through our years. We want to find a beloved companion who we can count on through our lives. Even when we fail, we keep searching for that “one and only.” (Some) same sex people simply want what (most of) the rest of us want. The insistence that we should deny them that right in the name of God and the Bible has no basis in social ethics or Biblical history.

First person reflections on "Freedom Summer"

Karen Duncanwood discusses the efforts that were made to register black voters
during Freedom Summer in 1964 in Mississippi. (Bill Husa/Staff Photo)

From a feature in today's Oroville CA Mercury Register:
Karen Duncanwood was not afraid — not at the beginning, that is. Why should she be? She knew nothing of the deep South and its "definite system of terror" that kept blacks down, she said. Later, during her stint as a civil-rights worker in the summer of 1964, fear gripped her constantly.

Once, she said she and a couple of other female volunteers tried to worship at the local Episcopal Church. They wanted to participate in Communion.

Soon after they'd sat down, she said, the elders of the church tapped them on the shoulders and told them they weren't welcome.

They walked out to the church's lobby and spoke to the elders there.

Duncanwood said she explained she'd been raised Episcopalian and that she wanted to join in Communion.

She said the men reiterated they should leave. Then they pulled their hands out of their pockets, revealing that they had on brass knuckles. The women went outside and found the tires on their car slashed.

Duncanwood, who recently moved to Paradise from Trinity County, said the volunteers failed to register many blacks that summer, but they succeeded in focusing national attention on the situation in the South because their project was followed closely by national news media.

She feels very lucky to have been a part of Freedom Summer, she said. "It's been the most defining experience of my life."

Read the rest here ... and rejoice that in spite of the fact that we have miles to go before we rest, we have -- as a church and as a nation -- come many, many miles from where we were in 1964. (Thanks to Mad Priest -- via Steve -- for this one!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A two minute excerpt from Ed Bacon's MLK Sunday sermon this morning -- "Harmony With the Moral Laws of the Universe" -- making the case for marriage equality.

To hear the whole sermon, visit the All Saints Church website.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are you sitting down? From - "Why I’m Joining the Fight for Marriage Equality"

You'll totally want to read Margaret Hoover's entire argument (posted below) but here's a foretaste:

If you are uncomfortable with gay marriage, I encourage you to pay attention to this trial, the plaintiffs, the defense and the spectrum of experts, historians, psychologists, economists, political scientists, who will testify as to the effects and detriment of Proposition 8. In the words of NAACP chairman Julian Bond, “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”

Some Republicans support gay rights, but prefer progress through legislative action or majority rule at the ballot box, rather than judicial action. But what if a democratic election imposes mandates that violate a citizen’s constitutional freedom? In the event that majority rule insufficiently protects individual liberty, our system of checks and balances puts forth that it is the role of the courts, to guarantee and protect the rights to individual Americans. .
That’s why the Supreme Court, in 1967 Loving v. Virginia, legalized interracial marriage –six years after our current president was born to an interracial couple. At that time 73% of the population opposed “miscegenation.” How long would it have taken to change popular opinion, for the minority to democratically win their constitutional rights? As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously asserted, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Read it all here: - Why I’m Joining the Fight for Marriage Equality

Forward it to all your "agree to disagree" conservative friends and relatives.

Print it out and keep a copy on you for the "water cooler" conversations coming up as the Prop 8 trial continues.

And give thanks for glimmers of grace in the polemic debate that is inflicting the collateral damage of dehumanization on gay and lesbian families who once again see their lives and loves reduced to "an issue."

We're a better nation than that. And when conservative commentators on FOX News start saying so then maybe -- just maybe -- we're getting somewhere!

Update from the Diocese of Los Angeles on consent process

[The Diocese of Los Angeles - 12JAN2010] – The 120-day processes by which bishops and standing committees of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church are asked to provide formal consent to the December 2009 elections of two bishops suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles opened on January 5 and January 8, officials have confirmed.

“This is now a period of reflection, prayer and discernment among the bishops and standing committees,” Diocesan Bishop J. Jon Bruno said of the consent process as it officially opened. “Our diocesan officers and bishops-elect will honor this process by postponing public comment, including media interviews, until after the required consents are received. We give thanks that the Holy Spirit is at work as the Church moves forward.”

The Presiding Bishop’s Office on January 5 sent letters to bishops with jurisdiction (primarily bishops diocesan) requesting consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, and on January 8 sent similar letters requesting consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce. These letters followed verification in the Presiding Bishop’s Office of reports including physical and psychological examinations.

On the same dates, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles sent letters to the Episcopal Church’s other 109 diocesan standing committees requesting consent to the elections of Bruce and Glasspool.

The Los Angeles diocesan standing committee will tabulate the responses it receives while the Presiding Bishop’s Office receives bishops’ responses and typically does not disclose related information until those results are complete and certified.

Canon III.11.4 (a) of the Episcopal Church requires that a majority of diocesan bishops and a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to each episcopal election.

These separate actions must be completed within 120 days from the day after notice of the election was sent to designated recipients, and each bishop-elect must receive a majority (at least 50% plus 1) of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees in order for ordination to proceed.

If a majority is not received from the bishops and/or the standing committees, the Presiding Bishop is required by Canon III.11.5 to declare the election null and void.

Meanwhile, the Presiding Bishop’s Office has confirmed that the 120-day consent processes will conclude on May 5 for Glasspool and on May 8 for Bruce. Their ordination to the episcopate is scheduled for May 15 at the Long Beach Arena, pending receipt of necessary consent

Friday, January 15, 2010

Picture worth 1000 words

[thanks to ann fontaine for this one!]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In celebration of the "serendipity" of the lectionary

"The Truth Will Set You Free"

For the record, I'm one of those who think "coincidence" and "serendipity" are aliases for the Holy Spirit on days -- as the old axiom has it -- that She prefers to work anonymously.

That said, I'm still mulling the connections between the lessons appointed for this coming Sunday -- which we use during the week for our Noonday Eucharist every day here at All Saints Church -- and what's going on in the state of California this week.

First, the lessons:

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from Exodus (3:7–12)

Our God said to Moses, “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt; I have heard their cries under those who oppress them; I have felt their sufferings. Now I have come down to rescue them from the hand of Egypt, out of their place of suffering, and bring them to a place that is wide and fertile, a land flowing with milk and honey – the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have watched how the Egyptians are oppressing them. Now, go! I will send you to Pharaoh, to bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God answered, “I will be with you, and this is the sign by which you will know that it is I who have sent you: after you bring my people out of Egypt, you will all worship at this very mountain.”

The Gospel According to John (2:1-11)

On the third day, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, was there. Jesus and his disciples had likewise been invited to the celebration. At a certain point, the wine ran out, and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no wine.” Jesus replied, “Mother, what does that have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” She instructed those waiting on tables, “Do whatever he tells you.” As prescribed for Jewish ceremonial washings, there were six stone water jars on hand, each one holding between fifteen and twenty-five gallons. “Fill those jars with water,” Jesus said, and the servers filled them to the brim. “Now,” said Jesus, “draw some out and take it to the caterer.”

They did as they were instructed. The caterer tasted the water – which had been turned into wine – without knowing where it had come from; the only ones who knew were those who were waiting on tables, since they had drawn the water. The caterer called the bride and groom over and remarked, “People usually serve the best wine first; then, when the guests have been drinking a while, a lesser vintage is served. What you have done is to keep the best wine until now!” Jesus performed this first of his signs at Cana in Galilee; in this way he revealed his glory, and the disciples believed in him.


What a wonderful gift for reflection and conversation -- the juxtaposition of God's call to Moses to liberate the people of Egypt from oppression with the prophetic ministry of Martin Luther King calling us to follow his example by resisting oppression in the name of God's love ... with a gospel reading about a wedding in the very week that marriage is literally on trial in federal court in San Francisco.

As my rector, Ed Bacon, might say: my, my, my.

My, my, my -- because I believe what is happening in San Francisco is nothing less than a living out of the call that we inherit from Moses and Martin Luther King and the prophets of every generation -- the call to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor by liberating the captive, giving sight to the blind and good news to the poor.

And because I am convinced that what is on trial in San Francisco is much bigger than whether or not a small percentage of Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian are entitled to say "I do."

What is at stake here is nothing less than whether or not we as Americans really believe that pledge we make about being a nation of liberty and justice for all -- whether or not we want to become a country where a bare majority can take away the equally protected rights of a minority -- and whether or not we're willing to let the lies and distortions of the rabid, religious right take our constitutional protections hostage.

Another gospel (John 8:32) tells us that "the truth will set you free" -- and the truth being told in this landmark court case is that the values that make up a marriage transcend the gender of the couple yearning to live happily ever after til death do them part.

The truth is the "traditional marriage" the Prop 8 supporters are "defending" has nothing to do with preserving those values -- fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God -- and everything to do with preserving the power of the patriarchy to dictate who is and is not entitled to the blessing of God and the protection of the constitution.

The truth is the "biblical marriage" some folks are so committed to protecting wasn't about one-man-and-one-woman as often as it was about one-man-and-as-many-women-as-he-could-afford; wasn't a covenant involving love and mutuality but a contract involving chattel and property.

The truth is the battle being fought in the court in San Francisco in 2010 is the same battle that was fought in the courts in 1967 when Loving v Virginia ended race-based legal restrictions on marriage.

The truth is marriage has changed throughout the ages and the truth is that is a GOOD thing!

And the truth is that this gospel story of the wedding feast in Cana -- sometimes pointed to by "traditionalists" as "proof" that Jesus ordained marriage between "one man and one woman" -- has absolutely nothing with who the party was for and everything to do with God's scandalous willingness to turn human expectations upside down in the service of the divine purpose of abundant, inclusive love.

Serving the best wine last. Proclaiming that the last shall be first. Healing on the sabbath. Eating with outcasts and sinners. Calling women into discipleship and putting children in the center of the circle. It's a long list.

And so what I'm wondering today is if the "best wine" at the marriage feast our surprising God of scandalous abundance hasn't saved to be served until now is the example and inspiration of same-sex relationships to those who have taken "the sanctity of marriage" for granted.

Relationships that have traded the ancient trappings of patriarchy for partnership; that model mutuality and commitment in the face of societal stigma and ecclesiastical bigotry; that do not limit relationship roles by expectations of gender based stereotypes but liberate them through calling each partner to their truest, best selves.

The truth will set us free. And what the truth about marriage can set us free to do is to stop fighting and fundraising and politicizing and demonizing in order to keep some Californians from being married and focus instead on supporting ALL Californians as we work to build stronger marriages. Stronger families. A stronger California and a stronger America.

For the truth is that families are not undermined by gay marriage. Families are undermined by poverty, joblessness, lack of health care, racism, discrimination, failing education systems and the deteriorating infrastructure of a state that should be pouring all its energy into supporting families -- not discriminating against gay and lesbian families.

So, Holy God, set us free to follow the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, that we may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed gifts of liberty and justice.

Think you've heard it all????

Not until you've heard this, you haven't!

Pat Robertson explains [a] why the Haitian earthquake is a "blessing in disguise" and [b] why it happened in the first place. (No, you canNOT make this stuff up!)



Episcopal Relief and Development is set up to receive and distribute aid directly to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Click here to DONATE NOW ... and keep the victims, rescue teams and relief workers in your prayers as our hearts go out to all those affected by this disaster.

ENS article
Report from the Rev. Kesner Ajax -- deputy from the Diocese of Haiti

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On the Radio

Listen here to KPFK radio's Sonali Kolhatkar interviewing the Courage Campaign's Rick Jacobs and yours truly about Perry v Schwarzenegger -- the landmark trial challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The interview aired this morning here in Los Angeles.

Constitutional Democracy or Mob Rule?

When Loving v VA reached Supreme Court in 1967, more than 70% of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage.

I'm just sayin' ...

(Track the Prop 8 trial testimony with Rick Jacobs' live blog on "Prop 8 Trial Tracker")

Monday, January 11, 2010


By Rick Jacobs

[Great summary of the trial-in-progress in San Francisco by Courage Campaign's Rick Jacobs -- as posted on Prop 8 Trial Tracker. Pictured above: plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo; Kristin Perry and Sandra Steir]

Well, we’re done for today, which is kind of sad. I remember the first time I really heard anyone use the phrase “teachable moment.” Arianna Huffington said it as only she can. And it stuck with me. But then, as with so many other popular culture phrases, it became hackneyed. If someone punched a kid in the eye, it was a “teachable moment.”

Today has truly provided teaching of the first order. When do we get to see four people—two couples—relate very personal stories about marriage and love and being gay? When do we get to hear those people talk about how the Prop. 8 ads hurt them personally? When do we see the affect that stigmatizing homosexuals for millennia has had on Jeff or Sandy? And when do we get to learn from a Yale and Harvard professor that our current understanding of the form of marriage is relatively new, not biblically based and the building block of the American polity?

I just finished up a talk with a reporter who had a bad divorce. His girlfriend wants to get married; he does not. After watching today’s trial, he said he understands why she wants to marry. Too bad the right wing does not use the trial to teach the value of marriage. That’s how we strengthen not just the institution of marriage, but American civilization.

Thanks Chad Griffin and Bruce Cohen for having the vision and balls to put this together. And thanks donors who had the courage of their wallets. Thanks to the plaintiffs for putting yourselves out there, for being vulnerable. But most of all, thanks to David Boies and Ted Olson. Let us not ever underestimate the source of much of the ethos that pervades this trial. It is from Ted Olson, a lifelong Republican, George Bush II’s Solicitor General. I have known Ted for twenty five years through business dealings in the distant past. I have rarely agreed with him, but I have always respected him. And I guarantee you that the nine justices and the entire right-wing/libertarian establishments are watching Ted’s leadership on this issue.

There was an earthquake outside of San Francisco last night. Little damage was done. There was an earthquake in this courthouse today that will continue to shake the system for decades and maybe centuries to come.

So what's going on in California today, anyway?

Here's a quick lunch-break-blog with links to "stuff" of interest around the landmark case -- AKA "Perry v. Schwarzenegger" -- challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8.

Want the "back story" on how the case came to be? Read this facinating "inside baseball" piece in California Lawyer Magazine: "Challenging Prop 8: The Hidden Story"

Want to read Ted Olson's brilliant essay on why same-sex marriage is an American value? Read Newsweek's "The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage."

Want to know what Andrew Sullivan thinks about it all? Check out his blog "Ted Olson: A Conservative for Civil Rights."

Want to keep up with the testimony in spite of the ill-advised Supreme Court block on televising the proceedings? Check out the Prop 8 Trial Tracker with Live Blogging Updates from the Court.

Want to listen to a radio segment on the whole issue, including an interview with yours truly tomorrow morning? Tune in to KPFK 90.7 (in the L.A. market) or log on beginning at 8 a.m. Pacific Tuesday morning, January 12th.

Here endeth the lunch-break-blog. We now return to our regularly scheduled to-do-on-Monday list!


UPDATE: Here's a link to the text of Ted Olson's Opening Statement

All Saints Church speaks out on landmark Prop 8 trial

Here's the statement we've just sent out from the All Saints Communication office:
Disappointed in today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to block the broadcast of opening arguments in the Prop 8 trial, we are nevertheless convinced that the landmark case will help move California to the right side of history on the issue of marriage equality.

The Reverend Susan Russell -- a Senior Associate at All Saints Church and a spokesperson for California Faith for Equality -- was at the Pasadena Federal Court building this morning, hoping to hear opening arguments from the San Francisco trial.

When word that the Supreme Court had temporarily ruled in favor of the argument that witnesses opposed to marriage equality could be victims of harassment and intimidation, Russell had these comments:

“The only potential victims here are fair minded Californians who deserved to have the important issue of marriage equality tried on its merits – not tried in the court of public opinion in political campaigns designed to tell lies, distort facts and distract the voters from the real issue at hand. And that issue is whether or not we are going to continue to strive to be a nation of liberty and justice for all – not just some – Americans.”

“This last ditch effort by supporters of discrimination against gay and lesbian families is nothing less than another smokescreen fueled by the flames of homophobia.”

“As a person of faith, one of the core biblical values I claim is ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Those who argue against marriage equality should have nothing to fear from the truth – and if their arguments do not stand up to the scrutiny of our legal system then the people of California deserve to know that.”

“As a member of California Faith for Equality I stand with over 6000 faith leaders across the state who ask our courts to do the job our constitution expects them to do, and that is to preserve equal protection for all Americans.”


For further information contact Keith Holeman, Director of Communication at or 626.583.2739

The "film at eleven" from last night's local news

So it had been a FULL weekend and there was nothing other than some laundry and TV on the Sunday evening agenda -- until a call from a local news producer got me off the couch and back into my collar and suit to comment on the landmark Prop 8 court challenge beginning this morning with opening arguments by Ted Olson.

Yep. Ted Olson. THAT Ted Olson.

More to come ... but here's the "film at eleven" from last night:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MUST READ: The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage

So I thought I knew what my Sunday evening looked like. Do a little webfutzing -- fold a little laundry -- watch a little television.

Then the phone rang and now I'm out of my sweats and back in my suit-and-collar getting ready to head out to do a Channel 7 News "stand up" on tomorrow's opening arguments in the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 in the California Courts.

(See also: The Things We Do for Jesus)

In preparation for chatting with the reporter in about 45 minutes, I got handed a copy of this piece in the current issue of Newsweek: THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR GAY MARRIAGE.

Here's the link to the online article.

Go read it. Now. Really. Trust me.

Need a "tease?" OK ... here you go:

Americans who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and equal dignity before the law cannot sit by while this wrong continues. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American one, and it is time that we, as Americans, embraced it.