Monday, February 28, 2011

What Albert Mohler and Barack Obama Get Right About "Gay Marriage"

Neither Albert Mohler or Barack Obama are convinced that God blesses what they call "gay marriage." Mohler -- President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- isn't likely to change his mind anytime soon. And Obama -- President of the United States -- says his views are "still evolving." But that's not the part they get right. And that's not the point of this blog.

First some background: Last Wednesday -- February 23 -- the White House announced it would no longer use the Department of Justice to defend the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and suddenly marriage equality was back at the top of the news. (Or at least IN the news ... I think Charlie Sheen-Behaving-Badly may have been at the top that day.) I got a flurry of media calls ... and everyone from USA Today to our local Channel 4 News to NPR seemed to be running stories on "what it all means."

The NPR interview I did with Barbara Bradley Hagerty (one of my favs!) included a somewhat surprising admission from Evangelical leader Albert Mohler -- about what he called "an overwhelming wave in favor of homosexuality. It's become normal in movies and sitcoms, in academia, in political and judicial circles."


Now, Mohler and I have been on opposing sides of what some have called "the culture wars" for quite some time now. It only took a quick "Google" to unearth this link to a story about the TV "point/counterpoint" interview we did back in 2003.

And so I wondered about this apparent "throwing in the towel" in the marriage equality struggle by someone so clear about what he's so clear about ... and when I did a little more "Googling" ... and came up with this piece by Mohler in today's "Christian Today:
Christians need to prepare for normalisation of gay marriage

"I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalised, legalised and recognised in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that," he said Friday on the Focus on the Family radio programme.
He's very clear he doesn't think it's a good idea. And yet his advice to other Christians who agree with him is this:
"We have to prepare our children to be in a context in which they're going to be in a playground with children who have two dads or two moms or who knows what kind of combination will come" ... and he concluded "Marriage is still an institution Christians need to save, particularly in their own community."

But Christians also need to start learning how to deal with the shifting culture and even face the fact that they may lose a few from their flock. "I think we're going to be surprised and heartbroken over how many people are going to capitulate to the spirit of the age," he noted. "We're going to find now that there may not be as many of us as we thought."
Wow again. And now we're coming to my point.

Mohler's apparent resignation to the arc of history bending toward justice on civil marriage equality does not change his mind one iota about whether those marriages are blessed by God and should be blessed by the church. And happily for him, he lives in a country where the First Amendment is going to protect his perspective until the cows come home ... or even later.

So what Mohler gets right is that marriage equality is going to happen. And what Obama gets right is that his views on the sanctity of marriage may "still be evolving" but his personal, theological perspective has absolutely nothing to do with whether the Justice Department should continue defending the indefensible "Defense of (Opposite Sex) Marriage Act" and perpetuating discrimination against Same Sex Couples.

And while I might hold out hope that the Holy Spirit will get through to Brother Mohler this side of that glass-less-darkly which is eventually going to clear up a whole lot of things for ALL of us, in the short run I am gratified that his focus seems to be shifting from polarizing and toward contextualizing.

And while I might wish that Brother Barack would quit "evolving" and get on the right side of history in the marriage equality debate, I am deeply gratified that he "gets" that equally protecting all Americans is not in any way, shape or form tied to where he comes down "personally" on this issue.

Orthodox Jews live in a country where inter-faith marriage forbidden by their faith is legal and observant Catholics manage in a nation where re-marriage after divorce is recognized by the state but not by their church. Mohler and his crowd will manage to do the same thing when same sex couples finally get the equal protection the Constitution guarantees them and the same federal protections for their marriage enjoyed by the heterosexual couple next door.

And maybe ... just maybe ... if we can get beyond "The Marriage Wars" ... we can use all the money and energy that's been poured into discriminating against gay families on one side and defending against that discrimination on the other to feed, educate and house ALL families. Now THAT'S a "new normal" worth working toward!

L.A. Times Editorial: Same-sex weddings, now

Gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry while the Proposition 8 case works its way through the system.

Although the federal courts expedited their handling of the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, the issues are far from resolved. And now that the California Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in, the case could be delayed for another year or more.

Enough already. Gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to wed while the case works its way through the system.

The state Supreme Court was asked by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on whether supporters of Proposition 8 have the right — known as "standing" — to continue with their case. It indicated that it would hear arguments late this year, with a ruling likely to follow a few months later. Meanwhile, a stay pending the outcome of the appeal has kept gay weddings from going forward. Now, however, the lawyers challenging Proposition 8 have asked the 9th Circuit to lift the stay and allow the weddings to take place. We agree that it should.

Every day that the case drags on, gay and lesbian couples who would like to marry are being deprived of their civil rights. That's not our wording; the federal trial judge decided that issue, at least for now. The denial of constitutional rights, even temporarily, is a deplorable situation that must meet high legal standards to be allowed to continue. In our view, those conditions have not been met.

First, a stay should be issued only if there is a strong likelihood that the appealing party — in this case, the supporters of Proposition 8 — will prevail in court. Yet there are serious questions about whether they even have the standing to appeal, so the outcome is very uncertain. There are other factors the courts take into account when deciding whether to keep a stay in place. Those filing the appeal must show that they would be irreparably harmed if the stay were lifted; the courts also take into account where the public interest lies. During the trial, the supporters of Proposition 8 were unable to identify any harm that would befall them if same-sex weddings took place.

Certainly it would be messy if California were to resume performing wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, only to have to stop again when another ruling comes down. But there may be no other option. Right now, same-sex couples are being deprived of their constitutional right to marry, and every indication is that unless the stay is lifted, they'll have to keep waiting for more than a year. That is real harm, and there is no valid reason to allow it to continue.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Canon Giles Fraser: "America is leading the way"

This one gets a "hat tip" to Kendall Harmon over at Titusonenine ... and it's a great window into just how different it is to be a CofE Anglican as opposed to a TEC Anglican. The "established church" nature of the Church of England comes through loud and clear in this interview ... and (in case we needed it, which we did NOT!) it's a great reminder why the separation of church and state was such a bloody good idea!

More later ... today is getting caught-up-on-what-didn't-get-done-because-of-vestry/staff retreat days away ... but check out the video ... and then (if your stomach is strong and you have your patience on!) ... go over and check out the comments on Titusonenine where the poor dears can NOT seem to let go of their obsession with what we "mean" when we say "monogamy." (They quit letting me comment over there a year-or-so ago, otherwise I'd weigh in and try to set the record [so-to-speak] straight ... again. Oh well ... off to the dry cleaners, the auto club and the grocery store instead!)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This is the day that the Lord has made ...

... let us rejoice and be glad in it!

It isn't a day that looks like days usually do around here ... what with the snow on the foothills and all ... and the thermometer creeping UP to 40 degrees ... but it's the day that the Lord has made so let's rejoice!

Rejoice with the All Saints Vestry & Staff who are half-way through an extrarordinarily challenging, fruitful and exciting vestry retreat with great speakers and tremendous energy for mission.

Rejoice in the new "Guibord Center Religion Inside Out" -- a groundbreaking interfaith project
launching today in Los Angeles.

Rejoice with our friend Jeff Martinhauk who is preparing for ordination to the diaconate next month and rejoice with everyone coming up around him in planning that celebratory milestone in his journey.

And rejoice with IT and her wife who will have their marriage blessed today at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego. Rejoice with that cathedral congregation as they witness their vows and participate in that blessing, rejoice in Scott and Allisyn as they preach and preside and rejoice in the sacrament that is the outward and visible sign of God's inward an spiritual grace for all.

And again I say: REJOICE!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NPR's "All Things Considered"

Delighted to have had the chance to talk about marriage equality on NPR's "All Things Considered" with the always-fabulous Barbara Bradley Hagerty ... especially interested to hear that Al Mohler appears to have "thrown in the towel" on the marriage equality issue. Listen in.

Point of Personal Privilege

We just got the CD with the photos from Sunday's visit by Desmond Tutu and can you tell just a little how thrilled I am in this particular shot? Thanks to Cyrus Davis for capturing and sharing! (It was an AMAZING day!)

[photo credit: Cyrus Davis]

Just for the record: "Weddings @ All Saints Church"

I just got a call from a reporter who "was confused."

"Do you guys DO weddings or not?" he asked. And there it was ... a great, on-a-silver-platter chance to set the record straight (so to speak!) So here you go ... direct from our ASC website:

At All Saints Church we understand Holy Matrimony to be a physical and spiritual union, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind and will, and with intent that it be life-long. Our commitment to the sacrament of marriage being celebrated within the community of faith informs our policy of offering weddings for members of the parish.

We are committed to treating equally all couples presenting themselves for the rite of Marriage. Effective June 2, 2009, the Vestry of All Saints Church unanimously passed a marriage resolution stating that All Saints is called to make the sacrament of marriage equally available to all couples, and that All Saints clergy will not sign civil marriage certificates for any couples, until the right to civil marriage is available to all couples. Read the resolution.
And then I added this note:
We have not been serving as “agents of the state” on civil marriage since 2009. We still do weddings … lots of them … but we only do the sacramental part of the marriage blessing … we leave the civil part of the marriage contract to a judge or justice of the peace. We’re looking forward to getting back to being able to offer both equal blessing AND equal protection to all our couples … and yesterday’s DOMA decision takes us another step closer to that.

I think it’s a really important distinction to separate the civil marriage struggle from the sanctity of marriage fight. The First Amendment gives us the freedom to make decisions within our own faith communities which marriages we will or will not bless. And nothing that happens in the civil marriage equality arena impacts that one way or the other. Hope that clears it up. If not, give me a call …
Stay tuned ... and meanwhile, here are some pictures worth the proverbial 1000 words:

In the news ...

Today's going to be a busy day getting ready for our annual vestry/staff retreat where we'll be off campus for two days together -- welcoming new vestry members and working on program and budget issues for the year ahead. But here's a quick look at some of the news this morning on the still-happening marriage equality front:

Andrew Sullivan has what looks to me to be a great analysis of the legal implications of yesterday's White House DOMA policy shift. You can read that here --and I'm interested in what legal-beagle types think about his assessment.

USA Today has a piece in their online edition entitled "Gay marriage advances: Overdue justice or moral chaos?"Clearly I come down on the "overdue justice" side of the equation, and appreciated getting this quote in:

It is good news for those who support Family Values that Value All Families. And it is great news for those who are part of a growing Protect Marriage Movement committed to Protecting All Marriages... What the White House said today is that it is unconstitutional to defend some marriages and not others."
The article ends with this question:
THINK ABOUT IT: What difference does your neighbor's marriage make in your life? Are your marriage -- or divorce or live-together -- choices up for scrutiny?
You can follow this link to go weigh in if you've got a few minutes to spare.

Finally, I started the morning with an interview with Barbara Bradley Hagerty (one of my favorite NPR people!) on reactions to the DOMA decision as well as to the marriage equality momentum we're seeing. It's slated to air this afternoon on All Things Considered. Tune in if you have time! And now ... back to my regularly scheduled life!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Remember that "arc of history that bends toward justice?"

Today someone hit the "fast forward" button!

It started with this announcement from Washington:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama ordered his administration on Wednesday to stop defending the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage, a policy reversal that could have major implications for the rights and benefits of gay couples.
Followed by this one from Maryland:
Senate Bill 116, The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, passed a second reading in the Maryland State Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 23 ... which means that the bill will receive its third and final reading tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 24.
And then this one from Hawai'i:
Less than a year after seeing the push for civil unions vetoed, gay rights advocates cheered as Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions and making Hawaii the seventh state to grant such privileges to same-sex couples.
It's called "momentum" ... and let's pause and give thanks for it! For a couple of minutes. And then let's get back to work. There are still miles to go before we rest ... before liberty and justice for all really means "all" ... before equal protection equally protects everybody equally ... before "Protect Marriage" means "Protect All Marriages" ... not just the heterosexual ones.
But today -- today is the day the arc of history bent a little further than expected -- and it is the day that the Lord has made ... so let us not neglect to rejoice and be glad in it!

My Two Cents on Today's DOMA Announcement

I was asked if I had any "comment" to make on today's White House announcement about DOMA and it turns out I did:
Today’s decision by the White House ordering the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA (the “Defense of Marriage Act”) is good news not just for same-sex couples who have been waiting for too long for the equal protection their Constitution guarantees them -- it is good news for all Americans who believe that liberty and justice for all really means “all.”

It is good news for those who support Family Values that Value All Families. And it is great news for those who are part of a growing Protect Marriage Movement committed to Protecting All Marriages.

What the White House said today is that it is unconstitutional to defend some marriages and not others. In my congregation we have been equally blessing same and opposite sex unions since 1992, we equally married same and opposite sex couples between June and November in 2008 and we presently decline to sign civil marriage licenses for any couples until we can once again sign them for all. We rejoice that today’s decision takes us another step closer to equally protecting all our families with the rights and responsibilities extended by federal marriage laws.

“We don’t believe that God discriminates against same sex couples and we don’t believe the federal government should, either.”
PS -- I'm taping an NPR interview tomorrow morning with Barbara Bradley Hagerty ... stay tuned on that one.

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Orders End to Defense of DOMA

I heard it on NPR as I was coming back this morning from a quick run to the grocery store for the bay leaf I needed for the soup I'm making. (Yes, sometimes I stop blogging long enough to cook! :) And then when I checked online there was this "News Alert" from the NYTimes:
WASHINGTON — President Obama, in a major legal policy shift, has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that the Justice Department will now take the position in court that the Defense of Marriage Act should be struck down as a violation of gay couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

“The President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law,” a crucial provision of the act is unconstitutional, Mr. Holder wrote.
You can read the rest here ... and I'm sure there will be more news to come. But for the moment [a] let us rejoice and be glad in "another inch" reclaimed on that journey toward liberty and justice for all and [b] let us remember what our mothers taught us about good manners and thank you notes and send a note of appreciation to the White House post-haste ... you can click here to do that ... because you know for fact-certain he'll be hearing from the marriage discrimination crowd!
Ready. Set. GO!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The "both/and" of Changing Hearts & Minds AND Passing Legislation

There's been a discussion going on in one of the comment threads on this blog that I thought was worth elevating "above the fold." It's the should we be "changing hearts and minds" or "passing legislation" question. Where should our energy be?
  • In moving forward with a legislative agenda do we "lose" the folks who aren't on board yet because we're "pushing too hard?" Or ....

  • If we wait for the "middle to move" are we participating in "justice delayed" which Martin Luther King famously described as "justice denied?"
Or, as the commenter put it yesterday, "Susan, is it affirmation of the world/Christian community that you are after or just the rights?" My answer --it turns out -- is one I've been giving for ... oh, a decade or so now. And the answer is that it can't be an "either/or" ... it HAS to be a "both/and."

And here's the story I use to illustrate my argument. (Some of you will have heard it before so bear with me.)

I grew up in the Episcopal Church LOOOOONG before there we were even close to imagining that women would ever be ordained to the priesthood. Heck, they wouldn't even let girls be acolytes ... at least not when I was "acolyte age." The boys went off to serve at the altar and the girls went off to do nursery duty.

Anyway, when the ordination of women was the last-great-schism-that-was-going-to-split-the-church-and-end-civilization-as-we-know-it, I was a fairly oblivious college student paying a lot more attention to Saturday night parties than I was to Sunday morning politics ... so I pretty much skipped right past all the controversy. (It didn't seem to come up on Easter and Christmas when I showed up for church during that "young adult lapsed phase.)

When I came back to the church on a regular basis ... after the birth of my second child in 1985 ... I knew there were some women priests about but had never actually met any. (We only had a handful in the diocese at that point and none of them had made it up over the Conejo Grade.) I would have denied that I was opposed to the ordination of women ... I just didn't want a woman for my priest. For my rector. Having had absolutely no experience of a woman in that role I couldn't even imagine it ... and was of the opinion that if I wanted a priest I wanted a "real" one ...I wanted a "Father" ... because that was how narrow my vision was for what priesthood looked like.

In 1989 I was invited to go on a retreat weekend. I knew that one of the spiritual directors for the retreat would be a woman priest named Liz and -- as I've told this story on myself over the years -- I went "condescendingly open to the experience." (Which turns out to be a great set up for the Holy Spirit!) It turned out her homily the first evening of the retreat was the first time I'd ever been sorry a preacher said "Amen" and sat down. And when I experienced her presiding at the Eucharist for the first time I realized how wrong I'd been and how real a priest she was. And in 1993 I was in seminary.

Now -- here comes the point: The women who pushed the envelope and were "irregularly" ordained in Philadelphia in 1974 and in Washington in 1975 didn't change my mind or touch my heart. Neither did the legislation that passed in Minneapolis in 1976.

But if those things hadn't happened, the way would not have been paved for her to be a priest. And I wouldn't have had the chance to experience her ministry -- which changed my heart & mind and broadened my understanding of how the Holy Spirit works through women and men equally in the sacraments.

It took both. The women willing to go out on the limb & the activists willing to push the legislative agenda. AND the experience of those who followed -- living their lives, fulfilling their vocations, making God's love and justice and compassion known even to those who couldn't imagine that their lives could be vehicles for the holy.

And it's the same today. Legislation isn't going to change anybody's mind about whether my marriage is equally valid to a heterosexual marriage. Lobbying isn't going to overcome the bias that we should Focus on Some Families and Discriminate Against Others.

But the polls are shifting. The times are changing. And for all the stress and drama and pain and angst of the daily struggle for equality, the arc of history IS bending toward justice. And I am confident that someday ... if anybody cares to ... they will read the back-and-forths on this blog (and others!) about whether families headed by same-sex couples deserve equal protection with the same bemusement we now read the arguments about whether African American children deserved equal education or whether women could be equally called to the priesthood.

I couldn't "imagine" Holy Orders that transcended gender and so I didn't "approve" of women priests. And many can't "imagine" family values that transcend sexual orientation and so they don't "approve" of marriage equality. The good news is even when we can't imagine it, God can. And the other good news is that the Holy Spirit continues to move and inspire and challenge and equip us even when our imaginations can't imagine what She's up to next. Changing hearts & minds AND passing legislation. An inch at a time. Until the Garden of Eden grows green again. THAT'S my "final answer."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

+Desmond Day @ All Saints Church!

It was a delight and an honor to welcome back Archbishop Desmond Tutu to All Saints Church this morning. You can click here to watch his sermon on the ASC website ... and there'll be more to post later -- more photos and video and commentary. But for the moment, here are a few snaps from a Five Alarm Glory Attack Sunday @ All Saints Church!

The "Once and Future Diocese" of Fort Worth

An absolutely WONDERFUL look at the work and witness of the Diocese of Fort Worth ... produced by my friend and hero, Katie Sherrod. (You might want to get your Kleenex out before you hit "play." I'm just sayin'!)

Friday, February 18, 2011


For the first time ever we'll be "live streaming" a service from All Saints Church in Pasadena ... this Sunday, February 20th at 11:15am (PST).

God willing -- and the internet cooperating -- you'll be able to click here and join us for the service where the preacher will be +Desmond Tutu.


Celebrating Five Years of Uninterrupted Marital Bliss!

Today is the fifth anniversary of Louise & Susan's Excellent Adventure of officially living happily ever after. Five years ago today we gussied up and stood up in front of God, the rector (and rector emeritus!), our families (my 83-year old mother & son home-on-leave-from-the-army and both of our brothers, among others) and about 400 of other assorted fabulous folks for "the happiest day of our lives."

I blogged about the day the morning of the day here ... a piece that started out:
Well, today's the big day. The family is gathered, the rehearsal is behind us, the flowers are being arranged as we speak and the last minute call to the rental place has scored the in-case-it-rains-on-our-parade party tent to shelter the patio for the reception following the service. And this afternoon -- God willing and the primates notwithstanding -- my partner Louise and I will with much joy and a church full of people celebrate the blessing of the covenant of our relationship promising to love and cherish each other until death do us part.
And here we are -- five years later -- a very FULL five years later ... busy loving, honoring and cherishing ... as well as working, praying, lobbying, strategizing and organizing so that others might have the same opportunities we have had to have our love celebrated, our relationship blessed and our life together upheld and supported by the community of faith we call our spiritual home.

(And we're still working on the equal protection for the civil rights of civil marriage ... but increasingly hopeful on that front!)

It's called "having a life" ... not to be confused with "choosing a lifestyle" -- and today we're celebrating the joy of having someone to share that life with ... the good and the bad, the in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Marriage Equality Roundup

"And back to the Supremes we go ..."

So here's what happened today in California:
The California Supreme Court decided Wednesday to determine whether the sponsors of Proposition 8 have special authority to defend the anti-gay marriage initiative in court. The state high court, meeting in closed session, agreed to a request by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine the status California law gives initiative sponsors.

The court was unanimous in deciding to accept the case. The court's order set an expedited briefing schedule to permit a hearing by "as early as September." The court must rule on a case 90 days after oral argument.
And here's what one of my (attorney) Facebook Friends says that means:
This is kind of a win/win for us. If the Court finds they don't have standing, Judge Walker's opinion becomes law in CA and Prop 8 is dead. If they do have standing, we continue with the 9th Circuit with a strong case articulated in Judge Walker's opinion. If the U. S. Supreme Court hears an appeal from the 9th Circuit (whatever the opinion), we've still got a strong case.
Meanwhile, the poll numbers show majority support for marriage equality in California for the first time:
Just a few years after Californians went to the polls to pass Proposition 8, a majority of the Golden State’s voters now support equal marriage rights. 51% think same-sex marriage should be legal, and only 40% think it should be illegal. When [pollsters] last asked the question in September 2010, a 46% plurality was in support, but an almost equal 44% opposed these rights.
Finally, this news from Hawaii:
HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Legislature approved a bill on Wednesday allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, sending the measure to the state's Democratic governor, who has said he will sign it into law.

Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said he intends to sign the bill within 10 days, and civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012.
That'll do it for today. Stay tuned for news as it breaks ... and yes, I do believe a little chorus of "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow" is in order!

It's Called "CLERGY CALL"

I was invited to write a piece for "Walking With Integrity" about the upcoming HRC Clergy Call event and figured I'd go ahead and post it here as well ... the more the merrier!

Again this spring the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is mobilizing to field a great cloud of witnesses from across the country to descend en masse on our nation's capital for two days of teaching, training and lobbying. It's called "Clergy Call" -- and as a founding member of the HRC Religion & Faith Council I'm delighted to once again be making plans to be among those who will gather in Washington DC to proclaim God's love, justice and compassion (in general) and to lobby for justice for LGBT Americans (in specific.)

I'm looking forward to being able to network with clergy from all over the country as we learn from some of the best political strategists in the business about how our voices can help turn the tide on securing marriage equality, ending employment discrimination and continuing to move forward on issues that impact the LGBT community.

In 2007 here was what we looked like at our "photo op" in front of the Capitol before we headed off to pay calls on our representatives and senators.

Episcopal clergy included the Revs Kate Lewis and Pat Hendrickson ...

... and me:

In 2009 we were back again ...

... with a crowd that included another great cloud of Episcopal witnesses:

And now we're gearing up for Clergy Call 2011. Let's make this the "best ever" turnout of Episcopal clergy for what I know will be another grand opportunity to put our faith into action on behalf of LGBT justice.
  • Clergy folk: check your calendar, visit the HRC website and make your plans now to be in Washington in May.

  • Lay folk: talk to your clergy, encourage them to attend, volunteer to water their plants or feed their cat or walk their dog so they can come.

  • EVERYBODY: give thanks for the work and witness of these voices who have helped move LGBT justice forward in the public arena ... for progress on marriage equality, for an inclusive Hate Crimes law and for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. And keep the prayers and support coming as we work for an inclusive ENDA, the repeal of DOMA, Just Immigration Reform and ... well, "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."
Ready. Set. GO!

We have an election!

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori elected to Anglican Communion Primates Standing Committee

From the Anglican Communion News Service February 16, 2011

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected for a three year term to the Anglican Communion Primates' Standing Committee representing Central, North and South Americas and the Caribbean.

The election was held among the Primates of the Anglican Communion during the group’s recent meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

“I am grateful to my colleagues in the Americas for their confidence, and look forward to working with partners around the Communion as we seek to heal a broken and hurting world,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “I have every hope that the primates can be models and leaders of that work, as variously-gifted members of the Body of Christ.”

Elected to the Primates' Standing Committee were:

Africa: Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak (Sudan) - alternate Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi)

Central, North, South Americas and the Caribbean: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (The Episcopal Church) - alternate Archbishop John Holder (West Indies)

Europe: Archbishop David Chillingworth (Scotland) - alternate Archbishop Alan Harper (Ireland)

Middle East and West Asia: Bishop Samuel Azariah (Pakistan) - alternate Bishop Paul Sarker (Bangladesh)

South East Asia and Oceania: Archbishop Paul Kwong (Hong Kong) - alternate Archbishop Winston Halapua (Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Here we go ... another shoe about to drop:

California Supreme Court to consider key issue in battle over same-sex marriage

February 15, 2011 8:09 pm Los Angeles Times

The California Supreme Court will decide Wednesday whether to plunge back into the legal battle over same-sex marriage.

The state high court, meeting in closed session, will review a request by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether Proposition 8’s sponsors have legal authority to defend the ballot measure.

Depending on the court’s ruling, the 9th Circuit could either dismiss the Proposition 8 appeal on procedural grounds -- limiting the case’s effect to California -- or rule on federal constitutional questions that would affect same-sex marriage throughout the country.

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8 in August, ruling after a 12-day trial that the 2008 ballot measure violated equal protection guarantees under the U.S. Constitution. Experts testified during the trial that one’s sexual orientation was largely fixed and that matrimony benefits the families of gays and lesbians.

California state officials refused to appeal the ruling. Now the 9th Circuit must determine whether Proposition 8’s sponsors,, have legal standing to challenge the trial court's decision.

-- Maura Dolan

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Time for a "Protect Marriage" Movement that Protects ALL Marriages!

Thanks to yesterday's New York Times editorial for making the case so well:
In Defense of Marriage, for All

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is indefensible — officially sanctioned discrimination against one group of Americans imposed during an election year. President Obama seems to know that, or at least he has called on Congress to repeal it. So why do his government’s lawyers continue to defend the act in court?

The law, signed by President Bill Clinton, denies married same-sex couples the federal benefits granted to other married couples, including Social Security survivor payments and the right to file joint tax returns. When December’s repeal of the noxious “don’t ask, don’t tell” law goes into effect, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans will be able to serve openly in the military but may not be entitled to on-base housing or a spouse’s burial in a national cemetery.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Justice Department lawyers have sought to distance the administration from Congress’s justifications for the marriage act, one of which was to “encourage responsible procreation.”

But just last month, the department appealed two rulings by Joseph Tauro, a federal trial judge in Massachusetts, who found that the law’s denial of benefits to married same-sex couples could not pass constitutional muster. We did not agree with some of the judge’s reasoning. He said the marriage act exceeded Congress’s powers and infringed on the state’s right to regulate marriage — an approach that could undermine many of the biggest federal social programs, including the new health care law.

But the department’s appellate brief also recycled the flimsy argument that the law had a plausible purpose in trying to maintain the federal status quo while states debated the issue of same-sex marriage. This argument was peculiar since the law overturned the federal status quo, which was to recognize all legal marriages.

Two new lawsuits, filed in Connecticut and New York, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act now offer the president a chance to put the government on the side of justice. We urge him to seize it when the administration files its response, which is due by March 11. The executive branch’s duty to defend federal laws is not inviolate. This one’s affront to equal protection is egregious.

As in the Massachusetts cases, there are two crucial questions here. The overarching one, of course, is whether it is constitutional for the federal government to deny benefits to some people who are legally married under their state’s laws. Much also depends on the standard of review. How should courts evaluate claims that a law discriminates against gay people?

On the merits, this should be an easy call. A law focusing on a group that has been subjected to unfair discrimination, as gay people have been, is supposed to get a hard test. It is presumed invalid unless the government proves that the officials’ purpose in adopting the law advances a real and compelling interest. That sort of heightened scrutiny would challenge the administration’s weak argument for upholding the act. It would also make it more difficult to sustain other forms of anti-gay discrimination, including state laws that deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

By now, such blatant discrimination should be presumed to be unconstitutional, and the Justice Department should finally say so. If conservatives in Congress want to enter the case to argue otherwise, so be it.

So here's hoping -- and praying and lobbying and organizing and fundraising and strategizing -- that next year when Valentine's Day rolls around we'll be able to celebrate not just the love between some couples but the love between ALL couples ... and that when we talk about "protecting marriage" we'll have taken more steps toward protecting ALL marriages ... not just some marriages!

Happy Valentine's Day, Everybody!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Dialogues in Law & Religion: The Future of Gay Marriage" @ Vanderbilt

And a good time was had by all! More later on what an honor it was to share a program with Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson and how thrilled I was that long-time friends Lori & Bruce were there to be part of the day. Pepperdine Law grads and Sewanee Seminary students they're "dialogues of law & religion" incarnate! Here are some photos ... more reflections to come!

Mubarak Steps Down

Watching history happen from a hotel room in Nashville as the chants of "Egypt is Free" greet news that Hosni Mubarak has stepped down. Amazing to watch news anchors tracking and watching a revolution unfold on Twitter & Facebook!
Prayers for all who work for justice and pray for peace!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PS -- Desmond Tutu is dropping by next week

We send out an email to the parish from All Saints just about every week, announcing who's going to be in the Rector's Forum and any other "breaking news" that folks should know about. This week's email -- about our Annual Meeting this Sunday -- went out earlier today ... and included this "PS."

Never a dull moment at All Saints Church! (Stay tuned!!)
  • Sunday, February 20, our long-time friend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be with us for the 11:15 a.m. service. For those of you who would prefer a more relaxed worship experience, I recommend the 9 a.m. service where I will be preaching.





Ed Bacon, Rector

Safe, Sound & Snowy in Nashville!

More later on the event at Vanderbilt I'm here for ...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sometimes it helps to give the "other side" a bigger microphone!

Here's a good one to end the day with ... a blog post entitled:

Maggie Gallagher’s Testimony Convinces
A Senator To Vote FOR Marriage Equality

[Maryland] – The Senate Judicial Proceedings committee heard 7 hours of testimony last night on whether or not to legalize gay marriage, including from NOM’s Maggie Gallagher. Now one Senator, who was previously a foe, has said her testimony convinced him to support marriage equality.

Senator James Brochin (D) was one of the few Democrat Senators who was opposed to gay marriage. But after listening to testimony from Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization For Marriage (NOM), he’s said that her “demonization” of gay families has convinced him that he should side with marriage equality.

Well done Maggie!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A TEACHABLE MOMENT: Holy Matrimony vs. Civil Marriage:

OR: Why the Bishop of Rhode Island Gets It So Wrong She Gets It Right

Rhode Island finds itself on the front-lines of the marriage equality battle as the House Judiciary Committee prepares for hearings on a same-sex marriage bill tomorrow (February 9th.) Last week, Bishop Geralyn Wolf, the Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island, weighed in with a statement to the online publication The Rhode Island Catholic.

It was a statement I frankly had to read a few times before I realized with some amazement that the good bishop had gotten it so stunningly wrong that she actually got it right! Let's take a look:
"As the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, I firmly support the traditional definition of marriage as the union between one male and one female. I believe that Holy Matrimony is a sacred religious rite, whose definition should not be re-interpreted by legislation or civil courts."
OK. This is the part she gets right. Which is NOT to say I agree with her about the "traditional definition of marriage." It IS to say that I also believe that "Holy Matrimony is a sacred religious rite, whose definition should not be re-interpreted by legislation or civil courts."

Not only shouldn't the legislature or courts be messing with sacred religious rites ... THEY CAN'T. See also: The First Amendment -- which guarantees freedom of religion and means we have the freedom within our various and sundry religious traditions to interpret how we define the sacred religious rite we call Holy Matrimony.

Roman Catholic priests have the freedom to refuse to marry previously divorced couples and Orthodox Rabbis have the freedom to refuse to preside at inter-faith weddings. And Bishop Wolf is as entitled to her belief that Holy Matrimony is only between "one male and one female" as I am to mine that the values that a couple bring to a marriage transcend the gender of the couple and that God blesses same and opposite sex marriages equally. How we sort that out together within our religious tradition is up to us to work out -- and in the Episcopal Church we are well and truly knee deep in the process working it out.

But (and it's a BIG "BUT" ...) ... none of that has ANYTHING to do with what the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is considering tomorrow.

What the Rhode Island Judiciary Committee is considering tomorrow is whether the equal protection of CIVIL MARRIAGE -- the contract between two people who pledge to love, honor and cherish each other til death do they part -- should be equally extended to both same and opposite sex couples.

Another way to put is: Holy Matrimony = Apple. Civil Marriage = Orange.

So Bishop Wolf gets it right: the state should not be messing with Holy Matrimony. What she gets wrong is that the church shouldn't be messing with Equal Protection.

And here's where she gets it REALLY wrong ... in the second part of her statement:
Legislators could honor the civil rights of all individuals by eliminating the term “marriage” and substituting the term “civil unions.” Religious organizations could then make their own decisions as regards to the recognition or non-recognition of these “unions.”
On first glance, that seems like a kind of radically egalitarian solution that could have some appeal. Eliminate civil marriage altogether -- give everybody civil unions. Except (and it's a BIG "EXCEPT") ... civil unions do not guarantee the more than 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities automatically granted to married heterosexual couples.

So Bishop Wolf -- in a misguided attempt to protect the already-protected-by-the-First Amendment-right to define Holy Matrimony as "the union between one male and one female" -- would take away from all Rhode Island families the protections given by federal marriage rights. Like the right to make decisions in a medical emergency. Like Social security benefits, income and estate tax benefits and disability benefits. Like inheritance rights, parenting rights and ... well, it's a very long list.

Throwing out all those rights, protections and responsibilities in order to "protect" marriage from gay and lesbian couples who both want and deserve equal protection for the life they are building together isn't protecting marriage. It's throwing out the baby out with the bathwater. The people of Rhode Island deserve better. And the Bishop of Rhode Island should know better.

Wondering WWJD re: Hate Speech???

Wonder no more!!

Check out
Matthew 5:21-22 ... the Gospel Appointed for THIS Sunday (from "The Message")
"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill."
Doesn't get much clearer than that, kids!

We have seen the future ... and it looks like Malcolm!

I got this story the other day in an email from Lorrie Jean at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center ... and was DELIGHTED to see it picked up as a news story!
In an effort to teach a 7-year-old boy named Malcolm the importance of improving the world around him, he was given $140 to donate to the charity of his choice.

After hearing a story on the radio about the mistreatment of gays and lesbians, he selected two charities — the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

In a letter to the center, Malcolm wrote, “I am sending you this money because I don’t think it’s fair that Gay people are not treated equally.”
So let me just say: Check it out, all you "Protect the Children" anti-equality folks! Here comes a new generation of children who know that "liberty and justice for all" really means ALL!

We have seen the future ... and it looks like Malcolm!

Read the rest here ...

Honored to be heading to Vanderbilt later this week ...

... for this GREAT opportunity to work and witness!

Thanks to the folks at Vanderbilt for putting this together and for inviting me to be part of what is shaping up to be a great event!

Monday, February 07, 2011

So here's MY question ...

... Can you blame him for hiding the way some of his followers have been behaving?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Speaking of "letting your light so shine!"

I loved the lessons today ... especially the Gospel about being salt and light. It's one I got in a BIG old argument with my homiletics professor over in seminary so I've always had a soft spot in my heart for it. But that's a story for another day. The story that's caught my eye tonight is this one ... a story from the Huffington Post about our friends over at Hollywood United Methodist who had their Marriage Equality sign vandalized last week:

I loved their response:
The attempt to silence Hollywood UMC's historic support for gay rights has in fact given the church a larger platform for their message. This Sunday, the church will be consecrating and then posting a new banner in response to the act. It reads: "Dear vandals, you can cut the word 'equality' out of a banner, but you can't cut the message out of the church. We will always believe in marriage equality." To the larger Los Angeles community, Reverend Kathy Cooper-Ledesma says, "come on in. Everyone is welcome here--we would love to have you as part of this congregation to help change the world." To the vandals, Cooper-Ledesma says, "we're praying for you."
And then just a few minutes ago this photo came into my email inbox (thanks, Nick!):

So Bravo, Hollywood United Methodist! And well done, Kathy Cooper-Ledesma! I'm proud to have you as a sister in the struggle (and a Facebook Friend!) and hope this light you're shining out into the darkness of discrimination will be a beacon of God's love, justice and compassion to those seeking it in your neck of the woods.

Diocese of East Carolina Says "Thanks But No Thanks" to Proposed Anglican Covenant

I'm getting ready to head out to the Super Bowl Party our GALAS group (Gays And Lesbians All Saints) is hosting ... (Go, Packers!) ... but wanted to post his one quick "breaking news" bit from the Diocese of East Carolina (with thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton for the link and lead!)

As recorded on the Diocese of East Carolina website under "Resolutions Adopted" was this one ... with LOTS of "whereases":

RESOLUTION #1 - A Resolution on the Anglican Communion Covenant

WHEREAS, the 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church adopted Resolution DO20 inviting dioceses and congregations “to consider the Anglican Covenant proposed draft as a document to inform their understanding and commitment to our common life in the Anglican Communion;” and

WHEREAS the 127th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina adopted Resolution 1, encouraging the Diocese “to study the final draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant in 2010” and “that delegates to the 128th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina be strongly encouraged “ to come prepared to discuss and act on the Anglican Communion Covenant”; and

WHEREAS the Anglican Communion Covenant presents the Communion with “a statement of faith, mission and interdependence of life which is consistent with its own life and with the doctrine and practice of the Christian faith as it has received them.”(Anglican Communion Covenant 4.1.2 {hereinafter ACC}); and

WHEREAS we believe the Anglican Communion Covenant raises the four “Instruments of Unity” to the status of governing bodies with unprecedented power (ACC 3.1.4, and 3.2.11); and

WHEREAS the Anglican Communion Covenant states that when “questions arise relating to the meaning of the Covenant, or about the compatibility of an action by a covenanting Church with the Covenant” and that “(s)uch questions may be raised by a Church itself, another covenanting Church or the Instruments of Communion”(ACC4.2.3), but no process is outlined for raising, receiving or dealing with such questions; and

WHEREAS the Anglican Communion Covenant provides no right of appeal to the judgment of the newly empowered Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion; and

WHEREAS the express purpose of the Anglican Communion Covenant express purpose is to aid in “proclaim(ing) more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4.3,13)”(ACC Preamble) yet can be read as creating a Church of full members, second class members and former members.(ACC 4.2.7); and

WHEREAS this The Episcopal Church has, since 1789, enjoyed a church polity which is democratic in form and the Anglican Communion Covenant asks that we submit our processes of discernment to the will of an ill-defined body without checks and balances;

[WHEW! Finally ...!]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this 128th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina requests that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to express our thanks to the drafters of the Anglican Communion Covenant for their diligence; and

[That's the "Thanks" part ...]

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this 128th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina requests that the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church express our earnest desire, without approval of the Covenant as presented at this time, to continue in conversation concerning issues of the Communion with our fellow Churches of the Anglican Communion; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this 128th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina requests that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to express our desire that any future Covenant presented to this The Episcopal Church represent more truly, and with greater clarity and full recognition of voices of laity and clergy, our Anglican tradition and Christian faith.

[And those are the "No Thanks" parts!]

Well done, East Carolina! May others "go and do likewise!"

The Lessons Appointed for Today:

Here are the lessons we just heard in church ... I'll post a link to Ed's GREAT sermon later. But for now ... read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these ancient calls to action from the spiritual ancestors who aligned their lives with God's love, justice and compassion. And let us not shrink from reclaiming the scriptural heritage that grounds us in the tradition we inherit as we grow into God's future. [PS -- The translation is "The Message" ... considered to be from the "evangelical" part of our tradition. Just an FYI.]

A Reading from Isaiah (58:7–12)

“What I am interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You will call out for help and I will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins. If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I will give you a full life in the emptiest of places — firm muscles, strong bones.

You will be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You will use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You will be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.”

A Reading from I Corinthians (2:7–9)

God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of God’s purposes. You do not find it lying around on the surface. It is not the latest message, but more like the oldest — what God determined as the way to bring out the best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene.

The experts of our day have not a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they would not have killed the Master of the God - designed life on a cross. That is why we have this Scripture text: No one has ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it — what has been arranged for those who love God. But you have seen and heard it because God by the Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

The Gospel According to Matthew (5:13–16)

“Let me tell you why you are here. You are here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You have lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here is another way to put it: You are here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.

God is not a secret to be kept. We are going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, do you think I am going to hide you under a bucket? I am putting you on a light stand. Now that I have put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you will prompt people to open up with God, this generous Creator in heaven.”

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Soliciting Comments on Comments

How do you discern the fine line between [A] providing an open forum for comments that engage and empower the sharing of opinions across differences and [B] providing a platform for inflammatory rhetoric that is invested not in dialogue but in division?

I'm really interested in what readers of this blog think ... particularly those of you who tell me they "read it all the time but never comment." I think I've reached my limit on the diatribe and need to rethink my "comments on comments" and come up with some "New Rules." What say ye?

Snapshots from Creating Change

Just a few snapshots from the "Creating Change" Conference in Minneapolis ... where I was delighted to have been invited to present a couple of workshops and have the chance to hang out with some of the real heroes (and "sheroes") of the LGBT movement.

This is us having JUST arrived (coat still on is clue!) at the Minneapolis Hilton and walked directly into a photo op with Mr. Pillsbury Doughboy Himself. (Boy howdy!)

Then there was a wander through the exhibit hall where we connected with Marianne Duddy-Burke -- the Executive Director of Dignity (the Roman Catholic LGBT advocacy organization) ... pictured here with Integrity Board members David Norgard and Susan McCann.

A new component of this year's Creating Change Conference was a "track" entitled "Practice Spirit: Do Justice" (that's what our workshops were part of) and on display were these stoles from "The Shower of Stoles Project" ... every one of them representing a vocation to ordained ministry denied to someone because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. What a terrible loss to the church and to the Gospel these represent!

This is Louise and me doing our "Telling Our Stories" workshop with about 20-some conference participants.

Friday evening we attended a service of Compline in rememberance of murdered Ugandan activist and Anglican David Kato.

Some organizers wondered if folks would turn out on a Friday night ... and obviously they did!

(Including MCC pastor Nancy Wilson who was just appointed to the White House faith council .. pictured here with Integrity's Albert Ogle.)

Speaking before and participating in the service were courageous Ugandan activists Frank Mugisha and Moses Mworeko. (Read my commentary on the service here.)

There was also the always great opportunity to hang out with people you only get to see at conferences, conventions and meetings. Here's Minnesotan Lee Ann Watkins with David Norgard.

Me with one of my favorite people on the planet: The Fabulous John Clinton Bradley.

With my friend Rebecca Voelkel ... Director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and my colleague on the HRC Religion Council.

And last but certainly not least, with the brilliant Dr. Sharon Groves and the Fabulous Roland Stringfellow (who clearly got the "blue memo.")

Here endeth the snapshots. (Posted from Delta Flight 2477 just about exactly over the Arizona/Nevada border heading toward Henderson and then onto LAX.)

"Please don't be discouraged. God created you. God is on your side."

I missed Rachel last night. Turns out it was a bad night to miss, because she aired a segment on the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. It's a "must watch" ... and so here's the link to the six minute feature, which you don't want to miss like I did.

I missed it because I was at a prayer vigil here at the Creating Change Conference in remembrance of David and all victims of homophobia and violence ... a prayer vigil that included the moving witness of these two courageous Ugandan leaders: Frank Mugisha and Moses Mworeko.

I hope someone taped their witness to David's life and reality of the lives they live as Ugandans under constant threat because of their sexual orientation in a place where homophobia has been fed, watered and fertilized by the Religious Right in this country.

I wish you could have felt the spirit of God's love, justice and compassion in the Minneapolis Hilton ballroom-turned-chapel as we gathered for a candlelit service of Compline sung in remembrance and celebration of David's life.

I wish you could have shared in the poignancy of the tears and embraces when the service was over and faith leaders from many traditions spoke words of hope and assurance to these young men who have been reviled and rejected by the pastors in their homeland. "We never could imagine such a thing," one of them murmured through his tears.

So that's why I missed Rachel last night ... and this morning as I'm preparing to head home I wanted to make sure and post this before I head to the airport. To share the words and wisdom of our friend and hero, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who was the lone voice of Christian love and compassion at the funeral of David Kato ... captured on video and aired on the Rachel segment.

Imagine being a gay or lesbian Ugandan and hearing these words for the first time:

"Please don't be discouraged. God created you. God is on your side." Words from an Anglican bishop whose orders are not recognized by the Anglican Church of Uganda because of his ministry to LGBT people at the grave side of a gay rights activist bludgeoned to death and then denied a Christian burial by the church whose homophobic rhetoric continues to inspire violence against LGBT people.

No wonder Jesus wept. Kyrie eleison.

+Katharine Gets White House Gig

Episcopal News Service
February 5, 2011

Presiding bishop to join Obama administration as advisory council member

By ENS staff

[Episcopal News Service] President Barack Obama announced Feb. 4 that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would be joining his administration as a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the larger community in this way," Jefferts Schori said, according to a press release from the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs. "The ability to build partnerships between civic and religious bodies can only expand our capacity to heal a broken world."

The council "brings together religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the government on how to improve partnerships," a White House press
release noted, adding that the president will announce additional members at a later date. Each council serves a one-year term.

[Delighted to note that the new council also includes MCC's Reverend Nancy Wilson. Brava!]