Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Proclaiming the Love of God, Not the Tyranny of God"

Thanks to Trinity Wall Street (and h/t to Episcopal Cafe) for this great little dose of Michael Curry -- making a fabulous case for the Episcopal Church's witness to God's inclusive love in an interfaith world:

Bishop Mary Goes to Washington!

Many years ago George Regas taught me that we are called to set audacious goals and to celebrate incremental victories. The full equality of LGBT people in this nation and the full inclusion of the LGBT baptized in the church IS the "audacious goal" -- and while we have miles to go before that goal is reached, there continue to be incremental victories to celebrate along the way. And today I want to celebrate one of them.

Yesterday President Obama hosted a reception for LGBT leaders at the White House ... and our Bishop Mary Glasspool and her partner Becki Sander were on the guest list. I hope we'll hear more from her directly about the experience, but for the moment I'm delighted to be able to share a couple of photos she sent.

Here's President Obama addressing the reception. You can watch a nine minute video of his remarks here ... and I commend it to you. Favorite quote: "I have delivered on what I promised. Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done. There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me. I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change. I understand that. I know I can count on you to let me know. This is not a shy group."

I think that's what they call "an understatement." And I think he knows he can count on us to "let him know." And I think he can take it when we do.

To put it in context, here's another quote -- this one from activist Dan Savage, who was also present at the reception. “I’m not one of the gay activists furious at the president because he’s not out on the furthest limb. We need to keep the pressure on and take ‘yes’ for an answer.” I would add keep the prayers AND the pressure up ... and be ready, willing and able to "take yes for an answer" when it comes.

Finally, here's my favorite: a snapshot of Mary and Becki under the East Room portrait of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Doesn't it just look like Eleanor is looking down with blessing on these two fabulous women? And when we think how far we've come since her tenure as First Lady ... well, it's clear that we have MANY incremental victories to celebrate on our way to achieving our audacious goal. So let's celebrate this one. And then let's get back to work.

From "the other side of the aisle" on the NY Marriage Vote

Keeping an eye on what "the opposition" is thinking, writing, blogging and posting is always a smart thing to do ... even when it's hard to read what gets written about "us" on the other side of the aisle. And then there are days when you find stuff that's encouraging rather than discouraging. And today was one of those. And the place was Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler's blog ... where he was evaluating the impact of last week's New York decision on marriage equality. Take a look:
It will be difficult to exaggerate the impact of New York’s move to legalize same-sex marriage. The statistics tell part of the story. New York State becomes the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage, but its population is greater than that of the other five combined. When same-sex marriage is legal in New York next month, fully one in every nine Americans will live in a state or jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legal. By any measure, this is a massive development in the nation’s legal and moral life.

Add to this the fact that California, the nation’s most populous state, is hanging in the balance as Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed by the state’s voters defining marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman, is now an issue before the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It arrived at the appellate court after a federal judge in California ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. If California is added (again) to the states with legal same-sex marriage, more than a third of the nation’s citizens will live where same-sex marriage is the law of the land... Add to this the fact that President Obama has instructed his own Attorney General not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in courts.

In the end, it is difficult to know how one can exaggerate the importance of New York’s shift on marriage. New York is not merely a highly populous state — it also includes the nation’s most significant city in terms of economics, business, and cultural influence.

The legalization of same-sex marriage represents nothing less than a moral revolution, for what the law allows and recognizes, it also approves. Last Friday was a sad day for marriage and, if the advocates of same-sex marriage are right, it was also a sign of things to come.
So there you have it. The only part I disagree with is the "sad day" comment. Rather I find it a day to rejoice and be glad in ... one that is WAY more than two steps forward on that arc of history that bends toward justice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Evolver in Chief

Lots of buzz before the president's news conference this morning about what he'd say about marriage equality, given the historic steps forward in New York this week. Of course I watched and listened.

Pressed several times for his personal views of same-sex marriage, President Obama's good natured answer was “I’m not going to make news on that today -- Good try, though.” Later, he added: “I’ll keep on giving you the same answer until I give you a different one. And that won’t be today.”

The president also outlined just what he has done for LGBT equality:
"This administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation. We have done more in the two and a half years that I been in here than the previous 43 presidents to uphold that principle, whether it's ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' making sure that gay and lesbian partners can visit each other in hospitals, making sure that federal benefits can be provided to same-sex couples, across the board - hate crimes - we have made sure that that is a central principle of this administration because I think it's a central principle of America."

"We've...filed briefs before the Supreme Court that say we think that any discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgenders is subject to heightened scrutiny. We've said that DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional."

"And so I think the combination of what states are doing, what the courts are doing, the actions that we're taking administratively all are how the process should work, Ultimately," he concluded "I think we're moving in a direction of greater equality, and I think that's a good thing."
And at this point, so do I. Think it's a good thing. And this evening I'm wondering if it isn't actually the best thing for the president to be doing at this point.

I realize this puts me at odds with some of my activist allies who want President Obama to give us a Senator Grisanti moment that will give us goose-bumps and go viral on YouTube, Who want to hear from Obama's lips the words "I support marriage equality for same-sex couples." Who want the Oval Office occupant to stop "evolving" already and step up, speak up and give us marriage equality.

Here's my take: We don't need Obama to get marriage. We need Obama to get re-elected. And if he needs to continue to "evolve" personally on marriage equality while he's supporting hate crimes legislation, repealing DADT and calling DOMA unconstitutional -- not to mention recording an "It Gets Better" video, making an LGBT Pride Month Proclamation and hosting a reception for LGBT leaders at the White House -- well, then I can wait for my goosebump moment on YouTube.

Because I think having an "Evolver in Chief" model for the nation that you can be undecided about "gay marriage" and still fight for equal protection for LGBT Americans may in the end be a gift -- not just to the marriage equality movement but to the nation as a whole. It offers a brilliant illustration of the fact that nobody -- not even the President of the United States -- gets to write their theology into our Constitution. And as the DOMA cases wend their way to the Supreme Court it gives us real hope that we can finally strike down the act that prevents our marriages from receiving the 1138 federally protected rights the opposite sex couple next door get without thinking about it.

People "evolve" about gay marriage. Presidents of the United States don't "evolve" about equal protection. Working to repeal DOMA wlll not contradict his position that marriage is a matter for the states to decide. But it will provide equal protection to married couples -- whether same or opposite sex -- and will take the federal government where it ought to be: out of the discrimination business.

So, Mr. President, thanks the remider about everything we have accomplished in this morning. Thanks for having some of my friends over for drinks this afternoon. And thanks for your continued commitment to moving in a direction of greater equality. I believe we're going to get there. I believe you're going to be on the right side of history with us. And I believe I will get goose bumps when you "evolve" to the point of giving us the different answer you weren't ready to give us today.

We're ready whenever you are. But in the meantime, keep up the good work!

Sometimes it really IS an "inch" at a time

It kind of makes me crazy that there's something to celebrate in a United Methodist pastor just getting suspended rather than defrocked for blessing the union of a same-sex couple, but hey ... progress is progress and "an inch at a time" is "an inch at a time" ... even when it's only an inch.

From the report by the United Methodist News Service:
For the first time in 20 years, a conviction for performing a same-sex union has not resulted in a United Methodist elder's defrocking or indefinite suspension.

Instead, after seven hours of deliberations, a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy voted 9-4 to suspend the Rev. Amy DeLong from her ministerial functions for 20 days beginning July 1.

The jury, which is called a trial court, also sentenced DeLong to a more detailed process for a year after her suspension to "restore the broken clergy covenant relationship." At least seven votes from the trial court of five women and eight men were required to approve a penalty.

"I hope this signals to folks around the country and around the world that the United Methodists in Wisconsin aren't going to throw their gay children out," said a smiling DeLong, sitting beside her partner of 16 years, Val Zellmer.

"I hope that this is the dawning of a new day that can include openness for all people," she added.
So do I. Prayers ascending ... for all working their way toward the right side of history on LGBT equality in general and for the United Methodist Church in particular. AND for the day when the very idea of "suspending" rather than celebrating someone for blessing a same-sex marriage is unimaginable.

We'll get there. It may be an inch at a time. But we'll get there!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"A man can be wiser today than he was yesterday"

One of the most moving moments in last week’s NY Marriage Equality vote was the explanation Republican Senator Mark Grisanti gave for his vote FOR equality. Here’s the link to the YouTube excerpt from the Senate floor … spend 4:53 minutes being inspired by his courage and informed by his journey … and then encourage others to go and do likewise!

Bishop Glasspool heads to Washington DC for White House LGBT Event

Honored last night to be able to host a dinner here at Chez Brooks-Russell for the National Integrity Board -- meeting here in Pasadena this week. We were also delighted that Bishop Mary Glasspool was able to join us on the night before she was heading off to Washington DC for a date with the president.

(pictured: Susan McCann [acting treasurer & chair of the stakeholder's council]; David Cupps [administrator]; Caro Hall [president]; Louise Brooks [secretary/communication director]; Jim White [diocesan organizer]; Mary Glasspool; Jon Richardson [vice-president for nat'l affairs)

The "date with the president" is a reception at the White House for LGBT leaders in celebration of Pride Month. Here's the report from The Episcopal News Update (6/19/2011):
Bishop Glasspool to attend White House reception

Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool will be among the guests of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House reception on June 29 in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, recognizing the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Glasspool will be accompanied by her life partner, Becki Sander.
We'll be looking forward to a full report when Bishop Glasspool returns. Doing a quick "Google Search" it was easy to find that there will be a cast of (if not hundreds) at least many dozens of LGBT leaders in attendance. I was particularly impressed with the report from Portland, Maine about Kaleigh Colson -- a high school student who helped start a GSA (gay straight alliance) in her school in response to watching her gay classmates bullied into tears.

Always a cool thing to be invited to the White House -- and this year on the heels of the New York marriage decision and with the fight to overturn DOMA heating up it would be particularly interesting to be a fly on the wall ... or a guest at the reception! ... and to hear what our president has to say next about his advocacy for LGBT equality.

Here's my two cents:
People of faith "evolve" about gay marriage. Presidents of the United States don't "evolve" about equal protection. Mr. President, stepping up and working to repeal DOMA wouldn't contradict your position that marriage is a matter for the states to decide. What it would do is provide equal protection to married couples -- whether same or opposite sex -- and take the federal government out of the discrimination business. The time is now to make that happen. Just do it.
So traveling mercies to my bishop. Congratulations to the great cloud of witnesses who will gather at the White House tomorrow. And if someone has a chance to mention DOMA over cocktails ... well. I'm just sayin' ...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Confession of An Archlesbian: I Chose My Lifestyle

This just in from The New Yorker:

Governor Cuomo, in his victory speech, said that the challenge in passing “marriage equality” had been getting people to focus on the second word—equality—rather than the first one.
Which is why we need to keep up the good work in reframing the "words" from "Gay Marriage" to "Marriage Equality."

As readers of this blog will know, I'm quite clear I don't take out gay trash or pay gay taxes -- fold gay laundry or prune gay rose bushes. I don't wash gay dishes, water a gay lawn or drive a gay Volvo. (Well, some folks might argue about the Volvo but they'd lose.)

The point is I don't have a gay life ... I have a life. And if you want to call it a "lifestyle" then go ahead. And at this point I'm ready, willing and able to "confess" that it is a lifestyle that I have chosen.

That's right. I chose my lifestyle.

I've chosen to commit to the love of my life until death do us part. I've chosen to love my kids even when they make what I think are stupid decisions and don't call their mother as often as I think they ought to. I've chosen to buy a house, pay a mortgage, keep up my property taxes, vote in every election (even school board ones). I've chosen to make sure my dogs get their vaccinations on time and to keep the litter box clean (even though I'm not the cat person in the family.) I've chosen to pledge to my church, to donate to local charities, to strive to respect the dignity of every human being and to love my neighbors as myself.

All of those are choices I make that add up to a lifestyle. And those choices do not have a single thing to do with my sexual orientation or my gender identity.

At the end of the day, we ALL choose our lifestyles -- every single one of us. Some of us make smart, healthy choices and others ... well, not so much. And the choices we make transcend whether we're gay or straight; bisexual or transgender ... or some other self-identifier.

So one more time.

I don't have a gay marriage. I have a marriage.

And this isn't a gay marriage movement. It's a marriage equality movement. Emphasis -- like Governor Cuomo said -- on the second word.

And we're not going to rest until we get it. Because we've chosen a lifestyle that includes a pledge of allegiance that includes "liberty and justice for all." And there's no * after "all" that leads to a disclaimer that says "*unless you're lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."

At least that's the lifestyle I've chosen. And I'm going to keep choosing it until it's not just a pledge we make to a to flag but it's a reality we live in our nation.

Go ahead. Choose your lifestyle. Choose this day. Choose liberty. And justice. For all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just another day in Pasadena Paradise

It was a beautiful day in the All Saints neighborhood for "Faith Shared" Day ... the nationwide initiative of people of faith celebrating the common ground that unites Christians and Muslims as children of the same God.

We were honored to have in the our pulpit Dr. Maher Hathout, Founder and Senior Advisor of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and a long-time friend of All Saints Church.

Here were the readings for the day:
A Reading from Qur’an (Chapter 5, Verse 48)For each group of you We made a path to take to God and a manner to go through it. Had it been the will of God to make us all in one group, He would have done that; but He wants to test you in what He has sent to you. Then you will compete with each other in doing goodness. To God you all shall return, only then He will tell you the truth about that which you have been doing in this life.

The Good News of Jesus as written in John (13:34–35)I give you a new commandment: Love one another. And you are to love one another the way I have loved you. This is how all will know that you are my disciples: that you truly love one another.
And here's Dr. Hathout's wonderful message of love as the cement that interconnects us all as members of the same human family.

So with those final words -- "may each person walk out of these doors at the end of the service feeling that he or she is more liberated and energized to do good for others than sticking to the primitiveness of 'my religion is better than the other religion'" -- we walked out of the doors to this:

Crackpot Christians with microphones yelling from across the street -- with a LIFE SIZE Bible ... "by Jesus," no less -- that we were all going to burn in the Lake of Fire. (Note that the picture is actually TWO Crackpot Christians and one hearty All Saintser who had ventured across the street to try to engage them in conversation, hoping that if they were taking to him they wouldn't be yelling through their P.A. system.)

As God is my witness ... I could NOT make this up. If we had decided to spend money to get Central Casting to send over some folks to help make the point of why what Dr. Hathout said in the All Saints pulpit was so critically necessary in this broken world then they'd have sent us these guys. And we would have gotten our money's worth.

I did go over and chat with them. Briefly. It wasn't clear from their hollering whether they had come because they knew we had a Muslim in the pulpit or if they were there because we had a lesbian behind the altar. They were a little nonplussed by my question -- which I'll admit I enjoyed just a little -- and while the one with the microphone was leafing through her Bible looking for Leviticus the police came and asked to see their permit -- so I figured that was probably a good time to end the conversation.

And so I went and joined the 100 folks packed into Sweetland Hall for the Women's Community celebration of Anne Breck Peterson and her 33 years at All Saints Church with a salad luncheon complete with a harpist, Chardonnay and chocolate souffle. Like I said -- just another day in Pasadena Paradise!

Here endeth the report from my day "at work in the fields of the Lord." How was yours?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Redefinition is the Church's Business" by Michael Hopkins

It will not be news to anybody who has known me more than about 20 minutes that Michael Hopkins is one of my favorite people on the planet. I think he's one of the smartest most faithful priests in the church and a brilliant writer, savvy strategist, great pastor, kick-butt preacher, fabulous friend and ... but I digress.

Here's Michael Being Smart about Marriage-in-general and Marriage Equality-in-specific ... from his blog in response to yesterday's marriage equality in New York.

"Redefinition is the Church's Business"
by the Very Reverend Michael Hopkins

I am struck by the loud cries over the past few days and weeks about the state "redefining" marriage, this, of course, largely from religious leaders. A statement from the Roman Catholic bishops in New York last night decried that the state government had changed “radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage.” That is, frankly, just so much rhetoric.

The "understanding" of marriage has been evolving from the beginning, the chief record of which is the Bible itself. Search for a single "definition" of marriage in the biblical record and you will search in vain. You will find various understandings at various times and in various cultural settings, including Jesus' own. The church has even chosen over time not to follow Jesus' understanding, allowing for divorce (or that Roman Catholic divorce-by-another-name, annulment) in virtually every circumstance. One could argue that allowing for divorce changed the "understanding" or "definition" of marriage far more than allowing the partners to be of the same gender.

The church's job, in "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit," is constantly to be the agent of the new thing the prophets taught us God is always doing. That means "redefinition" is in our portfolio. It's the business we are in.

I am reminded of something the then Lutheran Bishop of the Washington Metro Area said to our Diocesan Convention in Washington many years ago. "Progressives in the Church need to remember that God never changes; traditionalists need to remember that God is always doing a new thing." I think this paradox is true today. In terms of marriage, it has, in fact, not changed, and we have, in fact, done a new thing.

See what I mean?

"The Morning After" in NY

Yes, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The sun is shining, the breeze is wafting, the flowers are blooming ... and there's marriage equality in New York. Woo hoo!

And while I know the journey to justice is long ... that there are miles to go before we rest ... that for all the rejoicing same-sex couples married in New York will still not have the 1138 federal protections their opposite-sex neighbors have ... etc, etc, etc ... NEVERTHELESS today is a day to rejoice and be glad that the arc of history bends a little closer to justice. And to check out the morning after reports.

New York Times has an interesting analysis of "how" the victory was won:
The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.
And great to see these statements supporting the historic legislation coming from a number of New York bishops.

New York's Mark Sisk:
It was with thanksgiving and joy that I received the news of the New York State legislature’s affirmative action on the Marriage Equality legislation that it had been debating with such intensity.

The legislation, as enacted, appears to be closely aligned with the long standing views of this Diocese that the civil rights of all people should be respected equally before the law. In terms of the issue of marriage rights for gay and lesbian people that position was made most explicit in the resolution enacted at our 2009 Diocesan Convention.

The legislature’s action in broadening the definition of marriage to include same sex unions has to do with civil law, as it properly should. It does not determine Church teaching about the nature of sacraments. That is our continuing work. However, nothing in the unfinished nature of that work should cause us to hesitate to give our most profound thanks for the step that has been taken in affording equal civil rights for our brothers and sisters.
Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano:
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”

These words taken from the promises in the Baptismal liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer can be prayed more clearly today as the Gay and Lesbian community and all of New Yorkers begin to live into the reality and joy that same gender marriage is now law in New York. To the many LGBT members of the diocese I celebrate this day with you, your loved ones and families. Today the New York Senate has helped us all move yet closer to living the reality that there are no outcasts in the church. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will engage this new law with a generous and open response allowing, under the provision of our General Convention, the use of rites for same gender marriage by priests of this diocese who believe they are called to preside at the exchange of vows, once the law has taken effect in 30 days.

Respecting the dignity of every human being will also be lived out in our continued care for those who do not celebrate this milestone in the lives of God’s people. Respecting the dignity of every human being includes those who feel a sense of loss and anger. The love and charity of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospels does not have winners and losers. We are all God’s people, redeemed and sanctified by the enormous love of God made real in Jesus Christ. Let us all move forward in the knowledge of that love and charity and more fully live into the reality of being the Body of Christ.
Rochester Bishop Prince Singh:
First, I want to celebrate the fact that our leaders in Albany have demonstrated their affirmation of the human rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons. This is a good day for New York and I am profoundly proud to be a New Yorker, an American and a follower of Christ.

Second, as a leader in the Church it is significant to celebrate what our baptismal identity affirms as God given: the human dignity of a community that has been overtly and covertly ostracized and often treated as less than others. Equal Marriage Act gives faith traditions like mine the ability to transparently enrich the definition of marriage. We will use the lenses of human dignity and loving kindness to live into a new normal where all adult lifelong-loving-commitments are treated as they should be: Holy.

Third, I want to assure members of my Diocese that no priest will be forced to bless the civil marriage of the LGBT parishioners. We already practice a provision in our polity that does not mandate a priest to officiate in the marriage of a heterosexual couple for any reason. I will be setting up a task force in our Diocese to help us chart our course to engage this journey reverently, deliberately and in congruence with Church Law.

I pray that the all New Yorkers, those who support and those who oppose this Act, will celebrate the fact that the human rights of a community have been affirmed by the state. Since no one is free until everyone is free, Marriage Equality takes us closer to our pursuit of a more wholesome society.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Marriage Equality in New York (AKA: Sometimes a watched pot actually DOES boil!)


I watched along with thousands of others as the long legislative process came to an end tonight with the 33-29 vote for marriage equality in the New York State Senate. When I logged into the live-stream there were about 8,000 viewers. By the time we got to the roll call the numbers had grown to over 47,000.

Arguably my favorite moment was when Senator Grisanti rose to say, ""I struggled with the word marriage but I also struggled with the rights of gay and lesbian couples. It boils down to a person can be wiser today than he was yesterday -- and I can't deny others the rights my wife and I enjoy."

This from a Buffalo NY Republican who ran for office on an anti-marriage equality platform. Remember that the next time someone says we're wasting our time. That hearts can't move and minds won't change. Just "Wow."

Arguably my least favorite was watching legislators bend over backwards to describe and applaud the "religious exemption" amendments to the bill that ultimately made its passage possible. As person of faith it pains me that in order to get civil marriage equality we have to pander to religious bigotry. And yet as a person of politics I recognize the art of compromise in action when I see it.

I know that we gained infinitely more than we gave and at the end of the day it will be up to those of us who proclaim the Good News of God's inclusive love to do a better, louder and more proactive job of that in order to undo the perception that faith and homophobia are mutually inclusive.

Here's a start ... from the Integrity press release --
New York Says "I Do" to Marriage Equality:
Integrity is committed to the work of justice and inclusion and looks forward to the time when same-sex relationships are equally protected by our Constitution and equally blessed by our Church. But today we pause to give thanks for another step forward and offer our prayers of thanksgiving to all who’ve labored so hard to achieve this victory for justice, love and compassion.
And I liked this quote from HRC's Joe Salmonese in the email that came a few hours after the vote:
You and I both know we won't win every fight along the way. But even the most heartbreaking losses are only temporary detours on the path to full equality. When we stand together, fight smart, and refuse to give up on a dream, we will get there in the end – just as we have in New York.
That about covers it. Amen.

Equality is on the Move!

Marriage Equality bill passes in the NY Assembly by a vote of 82-37. Now onto the New York State Senate ... which is streaming its session here tonight.

Not over til it's over ... but New York is poised to be the 6th state to extend marriage equality to its citizens.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or debate this night and give your angels charge over those who vote!

Oklahoma Sally Does It Again

So today is my day off. An actual day with absolutely nothing on the agenda, schedule, calendar or Outlook task list. I can drink my morning coffee as long as I want to. Get some errands done when I feel like it. Read some more of the waste-of-time novel I picked up at the airport if I choose. Keep an eye on New York "just in case" lawmakers decide to get on the right side of history. And of course, check out the blogs. Which is where I found this one:

Sally Kern: Same Sex Marriage Will Lead to Man-Animal Marriage

It's on Towleroad (via Right Wing Watch via The Tulsa Beacon ... love that multi-platform convergence!) and quotes Oklahoma lawmaker Sally Kern who is [a] the source of the statement that homosexuals are a greater threat to America than terrorists and [b] is coming out with a new book entitled ... (wait for it) ... "The Stoning of Sally Kern." And she doesn't mean it in the "I went to college in Santa Barbara in the 70's" kind of way ... she means it in the "I'm the vitctim here" kind of way.

Check it out:
“I took a lot of heat when this all started because I said this is a lifestyle they choose,” said Kern. "They choose it in the sense that they succumb to the temptation to give into it. They are not born that way. God would not call something an abomination and make someone where they had no choice. They have the opportunity, they have the power to say no to that lifestyle.”
And ...
“I am always being accused of hating homosexuals. I don’t hate anyone. This isn’t a matter of hating someone or trying to deny them their equal rights. All American citizens have equal rights under our Constitution. This is trying to get acceptance for a behavior that is specifically mentioned in God’s Word that is wrong.”
It's kind of hard to know where to start. Or IF to start, frankly ... I mean really. Why even waste your time responding this kind of ignorant homophobic blather?

Because it IS ignorant homophobic blather -- and if we're going to erase it we've got to engage it. Whether we like it or not. So let's start with Sal -- who is absolutely entitled to her own opinion but not entitled to her own facts. And if she's the victim of anything it's her own entitlement.

And before I get any pushback on "just because she disagrees with you doesn't make her homophobic" front ... here's another quote from the Tulsa Beacon:
“The average American doesn’t understand the threat that homosexuality and the total acceptance of it into our society is to our nation,” Kern said. “We need to wake up to this threat."
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And what's the definition of "phobia?" Oh yeah ... "irrational fear."

And here's why it matters that we speak up ... no matter how tired we are of having THE SAME OLD CONVERSATION. Because -- Sally Kern notwithstanding -- we ARE changing the conversation. We are changing hearts and minds ... and votes. We are moving this country to the right side of history on LGBT equality the same way those who went before us moved this country forward on equality for women. Remember this one from Pat Robertson in 1992?
"The feministy threat is a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
Another verse of the same refrain: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

We're certainly not done with sexism yet. Or racism. Or all the other "isms" that keep us from seeking and serving Christ in ALL persons and loving our neighbors as ourselves. But there's no doubt that we're further ahead on the journey to liberty and justice for all in 2011 than we were in 1992 ... and we're going to keep moving forward, an inch at a time.

One last note for Oklahoma Sally. All American citizens DO have equal rights under our Constitution. Including equal protection in the 14th Amendment from people like you who don't get that the 1st Amendment guarantees not only freedom of religion but freedom FROM religion.

Because here's the deal. I'll defend to my last breath your right in this great nation of ours to believe any ridiculous, cockeyed, freaky-fringe thing you think you know about God's Word. And I will challenge without ceasing with my last breath, blog, tweet, email. letter-to-the-editor, sermon, speech and sound-bite your right to presume to write your theology into our Constitution.

And now I'm going to get back to that lifestyle I chose. The one where I get some laundry done ... walk my dogs ... text my kids to see what they're up to this weekend ... maybe get the car washed before I settle down on the porch to read some more of the waste-of-time novel I picked up at the airport last week. With one eye on New York.

More later, alligators!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Holy Spirit Silverlake ... Celebrating an Emergent Episcopal Presence!

Love, Love, LOVE this video celebrating the work and witness of Holy Spirit, Silverlake ... an Emergent Episcopal Community here in the Diocese of Los Angeles! Check it out ... and visit the Holy Spirit website here.

Eye on New York

The journey to marriage equality continues in New York. Towleroad posted this update from Governor Cuomo last night:
"We early on said we’re not going to advance a bill unless we’re confident that it has a good chance of success. Not that you know it’s going to succeed, because you never know until the vote is actually cast. But we’ve reached the point, the threshold where we believe there was a high likelihood of success ... so then we moved the bill.”
If you're a New Yorker take a minute to call -- or call AGAIN -- your Senator. The HRC Action Center as a link to help with that here.

Meanwhile the rest of us will keep up the prayers as we keep nudging that arc of the moral universe bending always toward justice. And in liberty and justice. For all. Not just some.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunday June 26 is "Faith Shared" Sunday!

Delighted to share in publicizing this Faith Shared event coming up on Sunday at my parish:

All Saints Church is proud to be part of the national “Faith Shared” initiative set for Sunday, June 26. Sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance & Human Rights First, the project is designed to “counter the misperception, including in the Arab and Muslim worlds, that the United States is a nation defined by the widely covered images of the marginal few who would burn a Qur’an, rather than by a proud and longstanding tradition of religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism.”

In celebration of those traditional values shared by All Saints Church and in solidarity with interfaith leaders across the country, we welcome to the pulpit Dr. Maher Hathout — founder and senior advisor of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and a co-founder of the Islamic Center of Los Angeles — as our preacher this Sunday, June 26, at both the 9:00 and 11:15 a.m. services.

For more information about Sunday’s services at All Saints Church contact Norma Sigmund at 626.583.2734 or

For more information on the Faith Shared project visit their website

Monday, June 20, 2011

Southern Baptists reject NIV Bible because "words matter" and if God had meant brother or sister he'd have said so

Seriously. You can't make this up. And sadly you don't have to.

At its recent convention in Phoenix, the largest evangelical denomination in the nation voted not to commend the 2011 New International Version (NIV) Bible because of its usage of gender-neutral language.

In the old translation of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist proclaims: "If anyone says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in the new translation, which includes more gender-neutral language.

At its annual gathering last week, members of the Southern Baptist Convention argued that changes in the new NIV Bible alter the intended theological message. Dr. Randy Stinson, dean of the School of Church Ministries at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, says evangelical Christians care deeply about every word in scripture.

"Southern Baptists, along with other evangelicals, affirm what we call the 'verbal, plenary inspiration' of scripture," he explains, "which means that we believe not just the broad thoughts of scripture are inspired by God, but every word. And so every word, when it is translated from Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, matters."
Read the rest here ... if you're so inclined. As for me, I'll be over in the chapel at the Noon Eucharist giving thanks that I belong to a tradition that takes the Bible too seriously to take it literally ... and that I claim a faith rooted in the Living Word rather than the Literal Words of God ... the Father and Mother of us all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Strength, Our Courage and Our Freedom:

Recalculating the Trinity
A Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2011

It is always an honor to preach from the All Saints pulpit and today -- Trinity Sunday -- was no exception. You can watch a video here ... or here's the text:

Our Strength, Our Courage and Our Freedom

Today is Trinity Sunday: the First Sunday after Pentecost when our church calendar gives us our annual opportunity to contemplate the "Three-In-Oneness" of God. (I know … did we win the lectionary lottery this morning or what?)

Before we even begin, let's be real clear that any time anyone tries to define the infinite nature of God in finite human terms, we run smack dab into the limits of our experience and our . But limited or not, the Trinity is an historic formula our Big Fat Christian Family arrived at to describe its experience of God and this is All Saints Church … so this morning if some of you resist being asked to formulate the mystery of God's being in this or any other way, if others mildly wonder what it's all about or if (be honest!) you’ve never given it any thought at all … wherever you find yourself there IS a place for you here.

I’m remembering when I had no choice but to give it some thought back in the days when I was a parish day school chaplain and I had to figure out what to say about the Trinity to a chapel full of students … ranging from kindergarteners to 6th graders. I found the best tool was not a creed or a text … and certainly not a theology book! It was nice big block of (wait for it ….) Neapolitan ice cream.

Is chocolate the same as strawberry? Is vanilla the same as chocolate? Are they all Ice Cream? It's the same for the Father, Son and Spirit: THEY'RE ALL GOD!

Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Actually, when I was the age of the kids in chapel it was Father, Son and Holy Ghost; probably was for many of you, as well. As a child, my images of the Trinity were pretty well and specifically defined and -- being a child of the 60's, as well as a child of the church -- they were as follows:

• GOD THE FATHER looked a lot like Charlton Heston in the "Ten Commandments" distantly poised on a mountain-top, ready to etch some profound words of wisdom in stone tablets – or maybe throw a lightning bolt or two. (I think I added in a little Zeus for good measure and dramatic flair.)
• GOD THE SON was -- of course -- Jesus: gentle and kind, usually pictured in stained glass, surrounded by small children or fluffy white lambs. With hair that looked like the Breck girl on the back of Seventeen magazine. (It was the 60’s, remember?)
• And GOD THE HOLY GHOST, well, he looked a lot like Casper "the friendly ghost" – a popular cartoon of the era. Casper with a halo, flitting about, working over-time trying to keep us all in line with what was etched on those stone tablets – and out of range of any lightning bolts.

Comfortable, familiar, even understandable images, but in retrospect not all that helpful in equipping one for a journey of faith. As I came to understand that the concept of the Trinity is our way of expressing our experience of God, I came to also understand that my childhood images needed some serious revamping. One might even say “recalculating.” But I didn’t even know where to start.

I was well into my seminary studies when a visiting priest in the parish I was serving helped jump-start the process of recalculating my Trinitarian GPS by offering the following blessing:

In the name of God, Creator of all worlds, Redeemer of all souls and Inspiration of all our lives

To “All Saints ears” those are familiar words but to me they were transformative ... words that broke open my understanding of the Trinity: not diminishing it, by any means: but giving depth and breadth and fullness to words I'd said my whole life.

• CREATOR OF ALL WORLDS: the infinite, uncreated God who brought all worlds into being.
• REDEEMER OF ALL SOULS: Jesus of Nazareth - the incarnation of God's love for us – for all of us.

Created and redeemed are basic tenets of the faith -- but if they stay just subject matter – if they remain just once-upon-a-time stories -- then they are really no more descriptive of our EXPERIENCE OF GOD than my Charlton Heston/Stained-Glass-Jesus images. Just what, then, is the point of all this creating and redeeming?

I found an answer in the Gospel reading we hear this and every Trinity Sunday - - in Jesus' final words to the disciples. "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

All nations. Every ONE? All that I have commanded you. How on earth could we be expected to fulfill such tall order? Where would we even start? That’s where that third person of the Trinity comes in -- that part of our experience of God, which inspires us to recognize and then accomplish the work we've been called to do -- the power of God working in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
And that became for me the image of the Holy Ghost that replaced Casper: God's power working in us to enable us to do all that God would have us do and be all that God would have us be.

And just as my childhood imagery proved inadequate to describe my adult experiences of God, so all the fine phrases and lofty theories are useless unless they translate into our willingness to BE God's people in the world: something we are incapable of doing without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout our scriptures, we have stories of those who God called to step out in faith -- to do things they didn't ask for and couldn't have imagined: Isaiah and Esther, Samuel and Sarah, Moses and Mary. God continues to call us today; and it is that same Holy Spirit, that "Spirit of Truth" Jesus promised the disciples, that enables and empowers us to respond, "Here I am. Send me!" to God's call.

Part of that process of "Here I Am" involves who I am: who I am as a result of my experience of God and the impact that experience has on my life. God's love has the power to transform lives, making us capable of "infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine.” Ed Bacon calls that transformation “becoming our authentic self” – and a song I learned at church camp describes that transformation like this:

I will change your name You shall no longer be called Wounded Outcast Lonely or Afraid
• I will change your name Your new name will be Confidence Joyfulness Overcoming One Faithfulness Friend of God One who seeks my face.

ONE WHO SEEKS MY FACE. The God who created us, the God who redeemed us, the God who inspires us to seek -- to journey in faith. If I had to try to sum up all that I believe God calls us to be as God's people it is to seek God's face in all that we say and do. In that seeking, we become people of joy and confidence, people who overcome obstacles . People who welcome into this community of faith those who come to us wounded and outcast, lonely and afraid: welcome them in to discover their own relationship with God and be changed by it.

For in the end, the idea -- the concept -- the doctrine of the Trinity is not about anything so much as it is about relationship. In the Genesis creation story, God says “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness." OUR image, OUR likeness. The very nature of God is to create out of relationship -- to create beings meant to be in relationship.

And what Jesus sends the disciples -- sends US -- out to do is to bring all humanity -- indeed, all creation -- back into relationship with the One who created it.

"Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

And what has he commanded us? Remember the young lawyer who asked Jesus what he needed to do? Jesus said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul -- this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these two hang all the law and the prophets." There it is in a nutshell: ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.

Imagine a world where everyone put God first and loved their neighbors as themselves. Sounds like the "as it is in heaven" part we pray for every time we pray the Lord's Prayer. Sounds like the Kingdom. And it sounds pretty darn far away from the world in which we live. A world where what a friend of mine calls "the business of outrage" dominates our national discourse

In a culture dominated by outrage, how do we as Christians offer a different way -- find a higher ground -- model the kind of relationship the Trinity calls us to? More specifically, how do we do it here -- at All Saints Church in Pasadena?

Next week our preacher will be noted Muslim leader Dr. Maher and on July 3 Rabbi Leonard Beerman – our rabbi-in-residence will preach for us as we celebrate Independence Day. So that’s a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew in the All Saints pulpit … a Trinity I could never have imagined when I thought Casper was the Holy Ghost. And what a privilege it is to part of this church!

Life and Livelihood is a new, burgeoning ministry that began as an outreach to the unemployed and underemployed seeking meaning and purpose in the “new normal” … and is transforming lives as we focus on what it is to be human beings … not human doings … defined not by what we do … by our paychecks or job descriptions or IMDB profile but by who we are.

Safe Schools and Marriage Equality … Moral Budgets and Just Immigration Reform … Ending Torture … well, the list goes on and on.

These are just some of the ways we seek and serve Christ in one another. We do it by struggling together to find healthy ways to live with disagreements; to let diverse opinions and experiences inform us rather than divide us. We do it when we're open to God's call to walk in love as Christ loved us -- rather than walking out in anger when we encounter differences. This, my brothers and sisters, is a profoundly counter-culture idea. And just as the Trinity transcends my outdated childhood images it transcends outdated labels of liberal and conservative ... progressive and reactionary ... orthodox and -- well, whatever it is they're calling us these days. It is God's call to us to wholeness -- and it is the destination we share as we move forward into God’s future.

Parishioner John Martin is leading one of our new member classes and last week he shared with me a website he found with old maps you can download. He printed out one that showed Southern California in 1915 … and although many destinations were the same … Santa Monica. Downtown L.A. The Pasadena Civic Center … the roads were all different. You literally couldn’t have gotten from-here-to-there using that 1915 map.

And I thought WHAT a great illustration of what the church is up against. The destinations are the same throughout the centuries – the wholeness God calls us to hasn’t changed but the landscape has. And just as we don’t plan a 21st century road trip using a 1915 map we don’t travel a 21st century spiritual journey using images that made sense in 1928. Or 1789. Or 325. We are called to recalculate – sometimes in ways we didn’t ask for and couldn’t have imagined.

And so as we celebrate this Trinity Sunday together, I pray that we may all be aware of the power of God working in the world; particularly in and through the people of All Saints Church. This IS a place where lives are changed -- where, fed by word and sacrament we go out to be the church in the world.

A place where the concept of the Trinity is no mere intellectual exercise but truly a way of expressing our experience of God … no matter how we name it.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Lover, Beloved, Love itself
Earth Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver
Our strength, our courage and our freedom

In a moment we will gather around this table to celebrate the reality of God's presence in our lives, and to be fed by the holy food and drink to sustain us for the journey. And at the conclusion, in the prayer of Thanksgiving, we will have the opportunity to join with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us as we pray,

"Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart."

Send us out -- confident and joyful.
Send us out -- O God, our strength, our courage and our freedom.
Send us out. Alleluia. Amen.

By George, I think he/she's GOT it!

There are actually a few people out there who GET it! As the beat goes on with the New York State struggle for marriage equality, check out this comment on the New York Daily News Blog:

seems to me that churches already have absolute discretion as to whom they will grant the sacrament of holy matrimony and they can choose to bar same sex couples from their church doors without any "carve-outs". However, they have no right to bar same sex couples from the courthouse door!
"wrpa" ... go to the head of the class!

Another reason I'm grateful to have been healed of my Anglophilia

I once suffered from an acute case of Anglophilia. I had it big time ... Royal Doulton, Earl Grey and Masterpiece Theatre ... just to name a few.

And I've been healed of it. The Windsor Report, Lambeth Conference and "Gracious Restraint" ... just to name a few ... were part of the "reparative therapy" that healed me of my irrational fondness for all things English.

And now here's another one in
today's news from across the pond an article entitled:

Church of England to approve first openly gay bishop which includes:

The legal guidance makes clear that it would be wrong for a cleric's sexual orientation to be taken into account when considering their suitability as a bishop. However, the guidance will say that homosexual clergy should be made to clarify that they are not in an active sexual relationship - effectively make a promise that they are and will remain celibate.

It would also mean candidates for a bishopric being questioned over their previous sex life and asked whether they repent having gay sex. Senior clergy responsible for selecting bishops are allowed to reject openly gay clergy who have not "expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity" and are not considered to be a focus for unity, it says.
In a word ...(well, in THREE words since it's Trinity Sunday:)

"It's A Girl"

Let's get out those buttons we wore in Columbus when +Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop -- this time in celebration of the election of

The Reverend Dr. Mariann Budde as Bishop of Washington

Mazel tov to the the bishop-elect, to the diocese, to the House of Bishops and to The Church.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update from Diocese of Washington

Prayers ascending as the Diocese of Washington elects a bishop to follow +John Chane. Here were the results of the first ballot ...

Episcopal Election in Progress:

341 cast
179 C - 90 needed
162 L - 82 needed

Abrams C 7 L 8,
Budde C 114 L 76
Candler C 31 L 40
Gould C 8 L 9
Harmon C 19 L 29

Gould withdrew after first ballot. 2nd ballot taken … will be announced after lunch break

You can watch the live stream from DC here ... (keep an eye on it for me, will you? I'm off to Santa Barbara for a wedding! :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Some bits and pieces from a busy day (weekend? life?)

Today qualified as a busy day. I was up at 5 to get to the airport by 6 for a 7am flight to Las Vegas where the HRC Leadership Summit was convening ... and I'd been invited to come speak about our work with the HRC Religion Council. Great people ... important work ... and what a privilege to be part of it!

Meanwhile, in New York marriage equality inched a little closer to reality ... here's a bit from the just-posted NYT piece:

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday that he expected same-sex marriage legislation to be approved before the end of the legislative session next week, and indicated that to win passage of the measure he is prepared to yield to Republican concerns for greater protections of religious groups.

“I am a proponent of marriage equality, and I’m working very hard to make that a reality in New York,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters on Friday as lawmakers prepared to go home for the weekend. “I am also a proponent of religious freedom, and separation of church and state, so these are both very important principles. I don’t see one in competition with the other.”
Read the rest here ... and stay tuned!

It was a quick turnaround from Vegas ... I was back to the airport by 3 and home by 5:30 ... grateful to be flying Southwest and not United (which was experiencing some kind of computer glitch that had folks lined up around the block.) Finished my "Trinity Sermon" on the plane on the way home and looking forward to kicking off a three week interfaith preaching series ... a first for All Saints Church (from our parish blog:)

This Sunday is not only Father’s Day, it’s TRINITY SUNDAY – and this year we’ll be celebrating for the next three Sundays with three very different preachers in the All Saints pulpit!

June 19 - Susan Russell will “recalculate” The Trinity in a sermon entitled "Our Strength, Our Courage and Our Freedom" at 7:30, 9:00 & 11:15.

June 26 - long-time friend and prophetic Muslim leader Dr. Maher Hathout will preach as part of the nationwide Faith Shared celebration.

July 3 - we will welcome our Rabbi-in-Residence, Rabbi Leonard Beerman for our annual Independence Day celebration.

Don’t miss the chance to be part of this historic interfaith preaching series as we proclaim from our different traditions our common commitment to God’s love, justice and compassion.
AND ... (yes, there's more!) ... tomorrow I get to go to Trinity Church in Santa Barbara where Louise and I will be guests at the wedding of Mark Asman and William Wood ... just another day in paradise! (More later, alligators!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good News from New Westminster!

BREAKING NEWS: The Canadian Supreme Court declined the appeal from the breakaway churches. The Anglican Church gets back all its properties and the Schsmatics are out. (h/t Diana Butler Bass)

There's an article in the Vancouver Sun which begins:
VANCOUVER - The Anglican Church Bishop of New Westminster expressed relief today that the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal a B.C. trial court ruling.

The decision by the nation's top court means the trial ruling will stand, putting an end to a dispute launched by a group of dissidents who split from the Anglican Church of Canada over same-sex marriage blessings
Read the rest here. There's also a link to the Statement from long-time friend and ally Bishop Michael Ingham ... pictured here in 2004 with me and Michael Hopkins at the "Half Way to Lambeth Conference" in Manchester UK. (A lot of water under the Anglican bridege since THAT photo was taken!)

Bishop Ingham's statement includes:
The money, time, and energy taken up by this long and unnecessary conflict can now be directed back to the real work of the Church.

We are, and continue to be, respectful of genuine differences of conviction among faithful Christians. In a spirit of mutual respect, it is now time to move forward together.

No member of any congregation in this Diocese need leave the buildings in which they worship. However, the clergy who have left the Anglican Church of Canada must now leave their pulpits. I will work with these congregations to find suitable and mutually acceptable leaders, so that the mission of the Church may continue in these places.

I pray that in time these sad divisions may be healed.
Let the people say "AMEN!"

(And from the Canadian Court's mouth to the California Court's ears ... may we here in the Diocese of Los Angeles likewise be liberated from legal wranglings and freed to get on with the work and witness of the Church!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prop 8 Ruling brings “liberty & justice for all” a little closer

[Of COURSE I had a comment on today's Prop 8 ruling!]

Today’s ruling by Chief Judge James Ware rightly rejected the ridiculous effort by supporters of marriage discrimination to invalidate Judge Vaughn Walker’s Prop 8 ruling because of his sexual orientation.

“How great is it that this ruling came on Flag Day!” said the Reverend Susan Russell, a Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and the chair of the LGBT Program Group in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. “What a perfect day to take another step toward turning ‘liberty and justice for all’ from a pledge we make to our flag to a reality we live in our nation.”

“There is still much work to be done to undo the injustice of Prop 8 and to secure marriage equality for same-sex couples. But today’s ruling makes it clear that homophobia has no place in our courts and we will continue to work to make it clear it has no place in our churches.”

“What we need to build strong families is a Protect Marriage Movement that protects all marriages and a Family Values Coalition that values all families. Today’s ruling is just one step toward that goal but it is an important and encouraging one. We rejoice in it even as we look forward to the day when all married couples will have the equal protection guaranteed by our Constitution and marriage discrimination will at long last be relegated to the dustbin of history. “

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's up with the "archlesbian" thing?

So here's the deal: This year Pride Day in L.A. fell on Pentecost ... and since all our bishops were already booked and I was the best we could do for the wave-at-the-crowd person we decided to have some fun -- ergo the "Archlesbian" sign.

Now, of course I'm not actually "an archlesbian" ... much less THE Archlesbian.

But it's kind of a Genesis 50:20 thing. ("they meant it for harm but God meant it for good") It's a title I've been given over the years in some of the uber-conservative blogs and it pretty much stuck. In fact, a few years ago one of the more conservative rectors in the diocese and I found ourselves arguing on the same side of some issue ... I forget what it was at the moment. And he made the point at the microphone that who ever thought they'd see him up agreeing with the Archlesbian?

And then last month at our clergy conference -- when I had my hand up to comment on something or the other -- Bishop Bruno called on me as ... you guessed it. "Let's hear from the Archlesbian." So there you have it. That's about as official as you get in archlesbian land.

And so ... as noted above ... when we couldn't get a bishop for Pride this year since they were all booked for Pentecost we decided to go with the Archlesbian thing. And it turned out to be a great choice.

As we drove down Santa Monica Boulevard past the estimated 400,000 people gathered along the parade route it was pretty amazing to see the faces light up ... to actually hear folks reading the sign out-loud and then laughing ... clapping ... waving ... giving us a "shout out."

Next year I hope we'll have one of our bishops riding again ... and a bigger turnout since we won't be competing with Pentecost. But at the end of the day we accomplished what we set out to do: show up and make God's love tangible to the LGBT community. And from this archlesbian's perspective, that's a day's work very well done indeed!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Look at Pride Day L.A. 2011

Once again, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles joined forces with our Lutheran counterparts to celebrate Eucharist together before taking the message of God's inclusive love to the streets of West Hollywood. Here's a look at some of the great cloud of witnesses who gathered this morning:

And here are some photos of another Truly Fabulous Pride Day L.A.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thanks to the NAACP's Julian Bond for this great birthday present

Yep. Today is my birthday. And what a nice present to unwrap this morning in my email inbox: a link to this op-ed by NAACP leader Julian Bond on marriage equality:


USA.TODAY] This Sunday we celebrate the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-miscegenation laws that forbade African Americans and whites from marrying.

In the Loving case, a unanimous court held that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights of man…fundamental to our very existence and survival." The court also held that "under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State."

The Loving decision, which was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, has deep implications today for gay and lesbian couples who want that essential freedom: to marry.

My wife, Pamela Horowitz, and I were married in Virginia in 1990. Prior to the Loving decision, we could have been sentenced to time in prison for that loving act — committed in the state that likes to claim it "is for lovers."

Of course, prior to the Loving decision, the parents of the current president of the United States would have been committing a felony had they lived in Virginia.

Today, we look at anti-miscegenation laws as a stain on our history and an affront to our beliefs as Americans. In this country, we do not create separate classes of Americans based upon inherent characteristics. Sexual orientation is immutable and unchangeable. It is as much a part of our DNA as our race.

Because I have spent my life fighting to make ours a more just society for all Americans, I'm a supporter of marriage equality. I believe this to be a fight for civil rights.

Fourteen times, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that marriage is a fundamental human right. In Loving v. Virginia, the justices guaranteed that right could not be taken away because of the way we're born. Yet that's exactly what happened when California passed Proposition 8, which declared marriage valid only when between a man and a woman.

Last summer, after a lengthy trial, a federal court declared Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, saying that this discriminatory law does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution "the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples." Almost a year later, the case is on appeal, Prop. 8 still remains on the books, and a motion to throw out the case on blatantly homophobic grounds will be heard in federal district court on Monday.

Prop 8 continues to label some Americans as second class. It denies those Americans the fundamental rights afforded their fellow citizens. Like the anti-miscegenation statutes struck down 44 years ago, Prop 8 serves no purpose but to permit one group of Americans to degrade another.

Mildred Loving passed away in 2008, but on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, she reflected on the impact of her case.

"I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all."

Mildred and Richard Loving were not political people — they were a committed couple who believed they should have the ability to share their lives together, just as their neighbors did.

As Mildred Loving said four year ago, "That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

And that is why Proposition 8 must not stand.

Julian Bond is on the advisory board for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, professor of history at the University of Virginia and a scholar in residence at American University.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Too great not to share.

This comes from fellow blogger Mad Priest via Elizabeth Kaeton's "Telling Secrets" ... and I just couldn't resist sharing:

Of Geese and Ganders

• Guess what's sauce for the Governmental Goose isn't sauce for the Ecclesial Gander in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s book. Pity.

Rowan Williams in
today’s “New Statesman:”
Incidentally, this casts some light on the bafflement and indignation that the present government is facing over its proposals for reform in health and education. With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context. Not many people want government by plebiscite, certainly. But, for example, the comprehensive reworking of the Education Act 1944 that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates. The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.
Me in my comment on the above:
Incidentally, this casts some light on the bafflement and indignation that the present ACO leadership is facing over its proposed Anglican Covenant. With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what communion means in such a context. Not many people want polity by plebiscite, certainly. But, for example, the comprehensive reworking of the Anglican Communion that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of wider debates. The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell
All Saints Church, Pasadena CA
Do consider visiting the link above and adding your own thoughts to the conversation over at the New Statesman.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

God is not some but all.

Some measure the sacred by a rosary of rules.

Some read the Scriptures with tweezers.

Some claim to have locked truth in the basement.

Some can count the saved on one hand.

God runs barefoot past the sign that says Keep Off The Grass

and is often a little late for church.

She has friends who raise eyebrows

and has been known

to give away her lunch money to the old lady in the park.

God is not some but all.

[a blessing today from the amazing +Steven Charleston -- via the fabulous Kay Sylvester+ -- via Facebook]


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Eight Years Ago Today ...

... the good people of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected themselves a new bishop!

I remember exactly where I was when I got the word that +Gene had been elected: getting a late start on a Saturday morning and brushing my teeth when the phone rang and my friend Peggy Reavey called to say "Are you listening to NPR? They just announced that New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson! How exciting is THAT!"

I also remember that evening when Louise and I went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday a few days early. We were just in the early-dating phase of our relationship and I almost put an abrupt end to that phase because -- as she tells the story -- all I could talk about was what had happened that morning in New Hampshire and what it meant to the church. (Not exactly the romantic dinner she'd had in mind!)

And here we are -- eight years later. Louise and I are living happily ever after and The Episcopal Church is continuing to grow into the full stature of its life as the Body of Christ where the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments is a reality and not just a resolution.

There's been a lot of water under the bridge since that Saturday morning phone call from Peggy Reavey -- and it would be beyond an understatement to say that the last eight years have been full of both opportunity and challenge. I'm sitting here thinking about Minneapolis and Plano ... about GAFCON and Nottingham ... about the Windsor Report and the Lambeth Conference ... about Columbus and Anaheim ... about B033 and C056.

And I'm also recognizing just how far we've come as a particular people of God in this Episcopal Church since June 7, 2003.

The reason Louise and I were having my birthday dinner early that year was that on June 10, 2003 I was scheduled to be at Seabury Western Theological Seminary -- where then-Integrity President Michael Hopkins and I had been granted an audience with the Bishops' Theology Committee as they were finishing up their report on human sexuality. We were summoned to Seabury because we had jumped up and down loudly and long enough about the fact that the bishops had convened a theology committee to "study" homosexuality without actually talking to any ... much less including any ... gay or lesbian people.

So they "included" us. We flew to Chicago. Found our way to Seabury Western. Waited outside in the hallway until we were summoned into a room where about 30 folks sat in a large oval with two empty chairs at one end. We had 90 minutes of conversation and then they thanked us for our time and we were ushered out.

In June 2003 that's what "including the voices of the LGBT baptized" looked like.

Since then +Gene's election was consented to by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, we've elected a woman Presiding Bishop and we've weathered the storm of reports, resolutions and recommendations urging us to turn the clock back. We've produced the Claiming the Blessing Theology Statement, Voices of Witness, To Set Our Hope on Christ and Voices of Witness: Africa.

Other qualified LGBT candidates have come forward and stood for election to the episcopate. +Mary Douglas Glasspool was elected as Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles. The Chicago Consultation has worked to bring together activists, academics and bishops take the witness to the work of inclusion here in The Episcopal Church to the wider Anglican Communion. And the SCLM has convened a team of task forces to implement Resolution C056 -- AKA "The Blessings Project" -- calling for the collection and development of liturgical and theological resources for the blessing of same-gender unions.
And LGBT voices are at the table ... not waiting outside in the hall.

What a difference eight years makes!

So here's to the Diocese of New Hampshire ... to their Bishop V. Gene Robinson ... to The Episcopal Church that continues to embrace both the challenges and the opportunities of living fully into the resolution it passed 35 years ago promising to its LGBT baptized "full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

We may not be "there yet" ... but we are infinitely closer than we were eight years ago today when my phone rang on a Saturday morning and Peggy Reavey exclaimed, "Are you listening to NPR?" Happy Anniversary, Church!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sad news from San Pedro

I heard the news on Facebook ... Canon Art Bartlett died yesterday at the age of 91 in San Pedro where he had a long and vibrant ministry dedicated to making God's love tangible to absolutely every person he encountered.

From the feature in today's "Daily Breeze:"
It didn't matter if you were homeless, addicted to drugs or a lonely sailor in town for a few days, Father Art was there to lend a hand. He helped found the Beacon House, a residential recovery program for alcoholics and addicts. He was the director for the Episcopal diocese's Seamen's Church Institute of Los Angeles, which provides aid to those working in the maritime industry. He ran a one-man campaign to collect socks to help keep the feet of the homeless dry and warm during the winter.And, as a longtime clergyman at St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Ninth Street, he helped guide thousands of faithful on their life journeys.
Count me as one of those thousands -- as I had the privilege to serve with Art at St. Peter's where I was the Associate Rector from 1998-2002.

Art was "retired" by then ... not that you'd know it from the schedule he kept. He was an assisting priest at St. Peter's and assisted both liturgically and pastorally. He and his wonderful Fran were more than just fixtures at St. Peter's -- they were family. They were the ones who brought me the tea towel that still hangs in my office as a souvenir from their visit to the Lambeth Conference in 1998. (I count it the only good thing that came out of Lambeth '98!) And after I left St. Peter's they both continued to cheerlead and follow the work for justice and inclusion for all the baptized ... they were (as George Regas would name them) two of my "balcony people."

Fran died a few years ago after a long illness and whenever I saw Art --usually at diocesan functions -- he would tear up a bit just talking about her. He was delighted when Bishop Bruno made a Canon of the Diocese --and so was I. It was a fitting tribute to his long years of faithful ministry -- and he looked very dashing in his purple cassock!

He was an extraordinarily gentle spirit and faithful pastor, teacher and justice seeker. I'm sure both heaven and his beloved Fran are happy to have him home ... but we will miss both his wit and wisdom.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.