Friday, July 29, 2011

Just Say No to Absolutism

Do you remember the old joke “What’s the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist?” The answer was “You can negotiate with a terrorist.”

If you remember it then you probably also remember when it was funny. When terrorists were people you could negotiate with. When demands were made and hostages were released. That all seems a very long time ago, doesn’t it?

I don’t think that joke has been funny since 9/11 when a kind of terrorism you can’t negotiate with became real to Americans in a way we couldn’t have imagined when we were making jokes about liturgists and terrorists – who are both in their different ways absolutists.

According to Merriam Webster, “absolutism is the ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, regardless of other contexts such as their consequences or the intentions behind them.”

Absolutism is behind people who fly airplanes into buildings and send suicide bombers into marketplaces. Absolutists are so absolutely convinced of the rightness of their cause that the consequences don’t enter the equation so there is nothing left to negotiate. There is nothing to compromise on.

We’ve learned quite a bit about that “ethical view” in the Episcopal Church over the last decade. The mission and ministry of our church has, in a very real sense, been held hostage by absolutists in Anglican clothing – by those so convinced they have Sole Possession of the Absolute Truth that tearing apart the Anglican Communion rather than compromising with those with whom they differ is – well – non-negotiable.

Not that we didn’t try. To negotiate. To work through our differences. To compromise. Over and over and over again we brought our (in retrospect) naïve faith in the traditional Anglican comprehensiveness that has historically allowed us to bridge differences and to celebrate diversity. In fact I remember saying – more times than I can count – that if we Anglicans could manage to be both catholic and protestant in the 16th century, surely we could manage to be both straight and gay in the 21st.

But over and over and over again we found that there is no negotiating with an absolutist. It was a hard lesson to learn. But I think we’ve finally figured it out. And so maybe we can help John Boehner with his learning curve. Because somebody had better do something.

Because they’re cut from the same absolutist cloth – the Tea Party Zealots and the Anglican Schismatics. Just as there was no negotiating with the Schismatics who were willing to blow up the Anglican Communion if they couldn’t recreate it in their own image there is no negotiating with the Zealots who seem willing to blow up the American Economy if they can’t “get their country back.” You know the one: before FDR introduced the New Deal in the good old days of robber barons and segregation; before social security, Medicare or that pesky 14th Amendment.

Think I’m being too harsh? I’m not the only one. A couple of quotes from news reports on today’s Capitol Hill Craziness:
"They have forgotten history if they ever knew it. What I'm afraid they're doing is coming in with such zeal and absolutism, they're going to eat American's seed corn with some of these cuts." [Senator John Kerry]

"You have folks who are so black-and-white, who are so absolutist, that we are in a process now where we are on the brink.” [Senator Lisa Murkowski]
On the brink. On the edge of disaster. And to get off that edge -- away from that brink -- we're going to have to stop being so damn polite and call bullshit on the absolutism holding our constitutional democracy hostage and name invincible ignorance when we see it in action. Here’s what Paul Krugman has to say about that:
Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault … The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.
They say the truth will set you free and the truth is we can’t afford to make this problem any worse. We can’t afford to pretend you can negotiate with absolutists. And we can’t afford not to learn from our past.

If Solomon could figure out which was the true mother by who was willing to let the child be ripped in half and who was willing to compromise for the child's sake, shouldn't we be able to tell which is the true patriot by who's willing to have this country ripped apart by financial default and who's willing to compromise for the nation's sake?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My New Facebook Profile Picture

If this is what "traditional family values" look like then thanks but no thanks!

You may think they can't sink any lower ... that the rank hypocrisy of the bunch even John McCain is now calling the "tea party hobbits" holding this country hostage to their ignorant absolutist obsession with the debt ceiling can't get any worse.

But wait. There's more. There's this clip of Representative Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) ... a freshman congressman who has been out in front as a spokesperson for what my friend Jim has called the "Teajadist Movement" during the budget crisis. Turns out Mr. Walsh is as bad at managing his own money as he is at figuring out how to manage ours. Turns out he owes ... wait for it ... $117,000 in back CHILD SUPPORT.


Watch him here in action. And then ask yourself: Really, America. We can't do better than this????

Response from my congressman to my email on the budget impasse

So like everybody else (I HOPE!) I wrote my representatives ... congressional and senators ... called their offices (local and DC) ... and let them know what I think about the Debt Ceiling Debacle. Here's the reply I got just a few minutes ago from my congressional rep ... Adam Schiff (who I got to call on when I was on Capitol Hill in May for the HRC clergy lobby day.)I've added the "bold" below.

Dear Rev. Russell:

Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on the debt ceiling issue. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input.

As you know, over the last several months, Washington has been engaged in a painful debate over raising the federal debt limit. The discussion has thrust some of the most challenging fiscal issues facing the nation into the limelight, garnering a great deal of attention in the process - and rightfully so. I fully agree that it's important that we craft serious solutions for our nation's looming deficit and debt problems, which pose a threat to our long-term economic future.

The United States Constitution gives Congress the sole power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. To assist in efforts to control the country's finances, Congress created a statutory debt limit that compels Congress and the President to take deliberate action to allow further federal borrowing. The Treasury has never before faced a situation in which it was unable to pay its obligations as a result of reaching the debt limit - the debt limit has always been raised by Congress before the debt reached its ceiling.

If a default ever were to occur, it would have catastrophic effects from Wall Street to Main Street. Both directly and indirectly, many corners of the U.S. economy rely on the nation's creditworthiness, and if a default occurs, everyone will suffer. Like a homeowner who can't afford to pay a mortgage, or a consumer who misses payments on their credit card, the nation would face higher interest rates after a default, increasing the deficit. Default will also mean higher interest rates on new mortgages, tighter credit for individuals and companies, dwindling retirement funds, and slowed economic growth. After suffering through the worst recession since the Great Depression, we cannot afford to take these prospects lightly - we cannot afford to default. This would be the ultimate self-inflicted injury.

I've long advocated for commonsense solutions to the nation's growing budget problems, and as a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I have worked on implementing reasonable solutions to reduce our deficit that make cuts that will not impair our recovery or land disproportionately on the poor, that protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and that raise revenues by eliminating special interest corporate loopholes. I also favor allowing the upper-income tax cuts of the Bush Administration to expire, as it is appropriate to ask those who have prospered most over the last decade to contribute a fair share.

Unfortunately, we are currently at an impasse in the debt ceiling negotiations as a result of the unyielding insistence by some members of the House Majority that we must reduce our deficit through massive and immediate spending cuts alone: an extreme position that I cannot support.

The budget plans recently offered by the House Majority would continue an unsustainable policy of upper-income tax cuts, while turning Medicare into a voucher program. These proposals are not new and do not meet a test of basic fairness. Instead, they reflect a policy that was evident in the debate over the continuing resolution to fund the government, where the majority protected multibillion dollar tax subsidies of the oil industry while cutting home heating oil assistance to the poor.

There are a few proposals under discussion that would put our nation's fiscal house back in order, reduce the deficit by trillions of dollars, and maintain the solvency of Medicare and Social Security, while avoiding the kind of immediate, devastating cuts that would risk sending our economy back into recession. I recognize the need for compromise to resolve the issue, and the need to act as soon as possible. But I cannot support a deal that will balance the budget on the backs of our seniors or the poor and most vulnerable -- while asking nothing of millionaires and billionaires. Such a proposal does not represent the values of the American people, who have made it clear they support a balanced solution that makes cuts and raises revenues requiring a shared sacrifice.

I appreciate your frustration with the continued bitter and rancorous rhetoric emanating from Washington -- and believe me, I share it. I'm also committed to doing everything I can to resolve this issue immediately and fairly, so we can avoid the terrible consequences of default.

Again, I thank you for weighing in with your concerns, and urge you to continue to express your support for a reasonable solution to this man-made crisis. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind when this issue is considered on the House Floor.

An on-going job of a Representative in Congress is to help constituents solve problems with federal agencies, access services, and get their questions answered promptly. On my website, I offer a detailed guide to the services my office can provide to you as a constituent. I also encourage you to subscribe to the Washington Update, my email newsletter which contains information on local events, my work in Washington, and even lets you weigh in on important issues through online polls. Visit me online at to subscribe. Please know that you can always reach me at (626) 304-2727 or via my website if I can ever be of additional assistance.

Thank you again for your thoughts. I hope you will continue to share your views and ideas with me.

Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress

Comment du jour on the Debt Ceiling Debacle

If Solomon could figure out which was the true mother by who was willing to let the child be ripped in half and who was willing to compromise for the child's sake, shouldn't we be able to tell which is the true patriot by who's willing to have this country ripped apart by financial default and who's willing to compromise for the nation's sake?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time to Dump the Tea Party in the Boston Harbor. SERIOUSLY!

Like everybody else I talk to I'm trying to both follow and make sense of this horrific budget train wreck unfolding before our eyes. The smartest -- albeit scariest -- thing I've read yet is this just-posted Boston Globe editorial.

And just for the record: Any resemblence between the Tea Party Whacko Idealogues so hell-bent on having their own way or the highway that they don't care who they run over in the process and the Anglican Orthodite Whacko Idealogues [ditto, ditto, ditto] ... is purely NOT coincidental. They are cut out of the same absolutist cloth and are antithetical to both constitutional democracy and Anglican comprehensiveness.

Anyway ... here's the editorial. Read it and weep. And then let's schedule our own "Dump the Tea Party in the Boston Harbor Party." Seriously!

Boehner can’t please Tea Party, but bipartisan deal could work
July 28, 2011 Boston Globe

MOST PEOPLE who saw House Speaker John Boehner’s fiery speech to the nation on Monday night assumed he had capitulated to his party’s far-right fringe. But not even that sufficed; Boehner spent much of yesterday scrambling to convince ultra-conservative House Republicans that his debt-reduction proposal goes far enough. It turns out many Tea Party adherents can’t even bring themselves to accept the speaker’s plan for $1.2 billion in cuts to discretionary spending alone, a gutting of the programs that constitute the ordinary business of government - education, transportation, energy, environmental protection - without any tax increase at all. It would also force another debt-ceiling vote in six months, in the midst of the 2012 campaign, which would give the Tea Party a whole new chance to make its demands.

Boehner’s plan would be bad for the country, but the fact that he had to delay the vote in an 11th-hour attempt to win over extremists who insist on even steeper cuts illustrates the extent to which a small faction of House members are holding the nation hostage. Whatever the outcome of the current debate - and the best to hope for now is a House-Senate compromise that at least extends the debt ceiling for two years - this Tea Party-led putsch cannot again be allowed to thwart the more balanced agenda favored by most Americans.

The far right is seeking to dominate the nation’s agenda by controlling the GOP caucus in the House. Though newly elected Tea Party supporters do not even constitute a majority of Republican House members, they can recruit enough other conservatives - some naturally aligned with the Tea Party, others fearful of right-wing primary challenges - to force Boehner to adhere to their wishes. But allowing the most extreme faction of one party in one branch of government to call the shots for the rest of the nation is not democracy in action; it’s not what was envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. Someone should alert Michele Bachmann and others who worship the Founding Fathers that those wise old souls envisioned the House as a real debating society, in which representatives worked together to find common ground, and not as a place where a minority could manipulate the rules to impose its will.

In recent decades, under the leadership of both parties, the controlling party has increasingly tightened the reins to give its leaders more leverage over the agenda. What it means, in practice, is that the legislation coming out of the House doesn’t represent the broad consensus of its membership, but rather the majority of the controlling party alone. In the current situation, a coalition of some Democrats and some Republicans could cobble together a bipartisan majority for a plan like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s. But Boehner won’t let it come before the floor for a vote. Like most other recent speakers from Newt Gingrich to Nancy Pelosi, he wants to put forward only bills geared toward his own caucus.

In Boehner’s mind, his speakership depends on his ability to push through a plan that appeals to most of his own Republican rank and file. In some ways, this has rendered him a tragic figure, struggling to persuade the extremists that a debt default would be a disaster for the country while negotiating with President Obama on a broader deal. All indications were that he and Obama, if left to themselves, could have achieved agreement on a deal that would cut discretionary spending, adjust entitlement benefits, and raise revenue by closing unfair tax loopholes. But while Obama’s Democrats were mostly open to a compromise, as were many Republicans in the Senate, the House Republicans were not. That fact, more than any substantive issue, forced the breakdown of the White House talks. Boehner had to choose: reach a broader deal with Obama, or prevent a Tea Party revolt in the House.

Now, he’s doing what most speakers would do in his position - try to appease his own troops. But this is not an ordinary moment. In this time of crisis, he has to understand that the American people want a compromise, and that he has the bipartisan votes in the House to support one. In his Monday speech, he noted that he was speaker of the entire House, not just the Republican caucus. He should keep that in mind as he tries, over the next 72 hours, to avoid a financial disaster that would be entirely self-inflicted.

It's never the wrong time to say thank you!

I can't believe it's already Wednesday and I'm finally getting to this! It was on the top of my "to do after Sunday" blog list ... and I just unburied the list from my desk. But -- as my mother would say -- it's never too late to send that thank you note ... better later than never ... so remember your manners and use the links below to join with others across the church in saying thank you to this "Gang of Four" New York Bishops!

On Sunday when civil marriage equality came to the State of New York four New York Bishops led the way on marriage equality by authorizing the clergy in their dioceses to both bless and solemnize same-sex marriages.

Pictured left, those bishops are:

Adams (Central New York)
Franklin (Western New York)
(Long Island)
Singh (Rochester)

If you're a "Facebook person" go to the "THANK YOU" page set up here to say thank you to these prophetic leaders.

If not -- or in addition -- please do consider an email or snail mail thank you note to give thanks for their witness for equality and pray that others might go and do likewise! Click on the links above for email addresses or visit the diocese websites for snail mail. Either way, make your voice heard and make your mother proud by sending a thank you note today!

What WOULD Jesus Do????

Bearing in mind I do not myself subscribe to the "Christian nation" notion, this still offers enough food for thought for those of us who are Christians in the nation that it wins my vote for Budget Dilemma Quote of the Day:
"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we have to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don't want to do it." - Stephen Colbert

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"WE DO" Support Marriage Equality at All Saints Church

It was somewhat of an "ad hoc" celebration ... started out with "let's do a Marriage Equality 101 adult ed offering" and led to "let's have wedding cake on the lawn" ... and then Zelda suggested a wedding arch and, well ... you can see that a good time was had by all.

There'll be a more complete slide show coming from the ASC Communication office ... these are just snaps we shot with my little camera. But it was a great day and it is such a privilege to be part of a congregation so ready, willing and able to step up and speak out for equality ... not to mention they're a pretty darned photogenic bunch!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Food for Thought for the Feast of Mary Magdalene

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It occurs to me that the same people who think they know what the Bible says about Mary Magdelene also think they know what the Bible says about Marriage Equality. I'm just sayin' ...

A graphic look at the arc of history bending toward justice

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We're getting our ducks in a row to celebrate marriage equality in New York on Sunday!

Great news from Rochester

It's a busy, busy Thursday here but wanted to take a minute to post this update from the Diocese of Rochester (h/t JCBradley!)with thanksgiving for another bishop stepping up to put the Episcopal Church on the right side of history on marriage equality!


From the Diocesan Statement issued a few hours ago:

After careful discernment and consultation, we recommend to our parish clergy that they proceed with fully welcoming all couples who seek to enter the marriage covenant of fidelity, mutuality and service. We encourage the celebration and blessing of all marriages in accordance with congregational guidelines. In doing so, we uphold the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention resolution (C056) that allows bishops to provide a "generous pastoral response" in those jurisdictions which allow for equal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. However, as with current canon law, presiding at any marriage is at the discretion of clergy.

It will take some time for the language of both and the Canons of the Episcopal Church to catch up to this new reality. In the meantime, the Bishop's office will be a resource for those seeking to celebrate and bless marriage with appropriate rites and careful preparation. We encourage clergy to do whatever work of formation and discernment necessary, in order to create consensus, as much as possible, before moving forward.

May God bless us as we move forward in the spread of the freedom for which Christ sets us free (Galatians 5:1), and may God bless all couples who are seeking to celebrate their commitment and ask the blessing of God on it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"I'd rather be right some of the time than wrong all of the time" or "Why I changed my mind about DOMA"

From DOMA hearing this a.m. -- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged that he'd voted for DOMA in 1996, but said he had been wrong -- and then quoted someone he referred to as "another senator from Illinois" -- Abraham Lincoln -- as explaining his change of position on an issue by saying, "I'd rather be right some of the time than wrong all of the time."

That's from a great feature on the hearing I just finished reading in this piece from The Atlantic -- a feature that included this summary ...
The "Respect for Marriage Act", or the DOMA repeal bill, would let the feds return to their traditional practice of recognizing any state's valid marriages -- which would include same-sex marriages made in the six states (and district of Columbia) that currently perform them.
and this context ...
What a difference 15 years makes. According to testimony in today's hearings, approximately 80,000 same-sex couples have married under their states' laws -- and (I can say this from experience) neighbors, coworkers, and family members are asking the unmarried ones when to expect the wedding. Even in states where no such marriages have been performed, every household knows of someone married to another person of the same sex -- if only Ellen DeGeneres, daytime television's new presumed queen, who delights in talking about her wife Portia deRossi.

Just as important, by now almost all the other major antigay scaffolding extant in 1996 has been dismantled. In 2003's Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court slapped down its earlier Bowers v. Hardwick decision, declaring it "was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today."

Last year, Congress passed a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," which the military is steadily inching toward enacting. Mary Bonauto of GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), one of the chief LGBT legal strategists, won the first crucial anti-DOMA round in her Massachusetts lawsuit, in which married couples are suing for federal recognition. Celebrity attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson won another round in their federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, in which voters put an end to same-sex marriages in that state. Obama's Justice Department refused this year to defend DOMA in court, calling it unconstitutional.

Former congressman Bob Barr, DOMA's prime mover, and Bill Clinton, its presidential signer, have both called for DOMA's repeal. And most important, in four major national opinion polls this year, for the first time, a majority of Americans (53 percent or more, depending on the poll) say they support same-sex marriages -- a number that will continue to increase steadily, as even Republicans under 45 overwhelmingly support marriage between two women or two men. Not surprisingly, President Obama has steadily supported DOMA repeal, and yesterday explicitly offered support to the Respect for Marriage Act, suggesting that he thinks it no threat to his reelection.
There's more ... including some great quotes and this conclusion:
And while states' laws and constitutional amendments have to be repealed as well, the federal DOMA is the most important brick in the wall. Today I could see that wall shaking.
So could I.

#repealDOMA Hearings Held by Senate Judiciary Committee

It started at 6:45am Pacific time ... so I was up early to watch online and was deeply grateful that the hearings WERE online (thank you, Senate Judiciary Committee!) I've now got a hospital visit to make, meetings to go to, two pastoral appointments and a power-point to work on for Sunday so my reflections on this morning will have to wait for later.

But this I wanted to get up before I take off for the day. Thanks to our friends at "Think Progress" -- who captured the moment and got it up on YouTube -- you, too, can enjoy what were arguably two of the best moment of an excellent hearing ... Senator Franken explaining to the Focus on the Family witness the definition of "nuclear family." (We used to have a president who couldn't pronounce nuclear ... now we have these guys who can't define it. Seriously!)

And then there was Senator Leahy getting the same FOF guy to admit that DOMA disadvantages children of same sex married parents.

If this is the best they can do, no wonder they didn't want the Prop 8 trial tapes to be released! More later, alligators!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Every Touchdown Begins With A Kickoff

So tomorrow is the day. At 9:45 a.m. EDT the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene the first-ever challenge to the "so-called" Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a hearing described thus:
NOTICE OF COMMITTEE HEARING: “S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families”
If you want to watch the hearing online here's the link

You can also watch Jay Carney "break the news" that President Obama will support the Respect for Marriage Act with this statement at the White House press briefing today ...
“I can tell you that the president has long called for legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people families, friends and neighbors,” Carney said. “He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act introduced by Sen. Feinstein and Congressman Nadler, which would take DOMA off the books once and for all. This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.”
... in this clip on YouTube:

So here's what I think. Every touchdown starts with a kickoff. No matter how far the end zone might look at the snap, the ball is now in play. And that, my brothers and sisters, is something to rejoice and be glad in!

Here's my prayer from the BCP for tomorrow (AKA "For those who Influence Public Opinion")
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous. Amen.
May God protect and inspire those who speak for our families and call our nation to live up to its high calling to be a nation of liberty and justice for all.

Let the people say, "Amen." And then let's "Play Ball!"

And the marriage equality news is coming fast and furious ...

Tuesday is a staff meeting day for us at All Saints Church ... and although in July the pace may be a little "summer slower" ... well, it's still Tuesday. And it's still a staff meeting day. Which is why I'm whirling a little to keep up with all the "Breaking News" on marriage equality in between meetings today.

So here's where you want to go to get up to date:

The New York Times has a major feature entitled "True to Episcopal Church’s Past, Bishops Split on Gay Weddings" -- and it's getting a lot of buzz for offering a thoughtful and thorough window into where The Episcopal Church "is" on marriage equality ... with the six dioceses of New York as a microcosm. Read it here.

Meanwhile, over at Friends of Jake there's a blog entitled "The Road to GC2012 Goes Through New York" engendering some sprightly debate over blessings, marriage, bishops, canons and culture. Read it here.

Integrity's commented on Walking With Integrity with this statement:

Integrity USA is gratified to see a thorough and thoughtful feature on the Episcopal Church's response on Marriage Equality in New York in yesterday’s New York Times. It provides an accurate look as to where the Episcopal Church “is” on marriage equality – and it also offers a great illustration of the reality that good people of deep faith can be on different places on their faith journey and still support equal protection of civil marriage for same and opposite gender couples. We hope that will be an encouragement to all who work for equality and especially to those who will be testifying on Capitol Hill tomorrow in the Senate hearings on replacing DOMA with the Respect for Marriage Act.

The debate about marriage equality once dominated by religious bigotry and faith-based homophobia has increasingly been balanced by progressive voices of faith stepping up and speaking out, and Integrity is proud of its 35 year history of moving the Episcopal Church forward as an opinion leader for equality.

And so on Sunday we’ll be celebrating with New Yorkers as marriage equality becomes a reality in their state and we’ll be organizing to support those working to end marriage discrimination by the federal government and looking ahead to our own General Convention next year in Indianapolis. We continue to be convinced that nothing short of the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments is good enough for Jesus or for us … and we look forward to the Episcopal Church moving closer to that goal when it meets in July 2012.
In a word: BRAVO!!

FINALLY ... and this is a biggie ... breaking news from the White House is that President Obama HAS endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act. Senate Judiciary hearings are set for tomorrow on this bill that would end DOMA (the so-called Defense of Marriage Act which is actually a DISCRMINATION against some marriages act). Read about that here.

That's it for the Big News Day for now ... back to staff meeting land!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why we do what we do

From an email I had waiting for me when I got back from making hospital calls this afternoon. It's from a long-time therapist friend (and I'm changing some of the details for privacy) looking for some help with a client:
I'm working with [a client] whose parents are fundamentalist Christians. This young woman talks of suicide because she is constantly being told that God condemns homosexuality.

She made the poignant comment, "I pray to God every day to make me straight. If He's against people being gay, why doesn't He help me?"

I'm looking for easy-to-read information to give her, just so she'll understand that not all Christians believe as her parents do. She needs to know that God loves her, in spite of what her parents say. Do you have any suggestions for reading material?
You bet I do.Are there others you have to recommend? Send 'em on over and I'll add them to the list. And in the meantime won't you join me in praying for all those can't hear the message of God's love, justice and compassion over the rhetoric of God's anger, judgement and condemnation. (See also Matthew 7:10)

On freedom

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Nelson Mandela -- who turns 93 today.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

Thirty five years ago at its General Convention meeting in Minneapolis, the Episcopal Church passed this landmark resolution:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.
Some of us have been arguing that everything we've done since then to move our church forward on LGBT inclusion has been turning that full and equal claim from a resolution to a reality. And it's been tempting sometimes to ask "what part of 'full and equal' don't you get?" as we've moved forward ... a step at a time; a resolution at a time; an inch at a time.

But move ahead we have. And we are now on the verge of truly making that 1976 resolution a reality. We are less than a year now from the next meeting of our General Convention ... this one in 2012 in Indianapolis. On the agenda for that meeting will be finishing the work of authorizing liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships, continuing to work for marriage equality and moving further forward on transgender equity.

All of those are important and (IMHO) obtainable goals. And the fact that we can say that 35 years after it took a resolution of convention to say that homosexual persons were children of God ... well, let's just leave it at there's been a lot of hard work and water under the bridge to justice for all.

Arguably the leader in that work in the Episcopal Church has been Integrity ... the organization founded in 1974 by Louie Crew as a newsletter-that-grew-into-a-movement ... and that I was honored to serve as president from 2003-2009. I'm also honored to still serve ... as a member-at-large and as a member of the "Stakeholders' Council" ... and today I want to celebrate the "new and improved" leadership team ready to keep bending that arc of history toward justice.
President Caro Hall is a long-time friend, gifted preacher, pastor and academic with an extraordinary portfolio of leadership on both sides of the Anglican pond. Her knowledge and experience give Integrity exactly what it needs to continue to build on the success of the past and grow into the next phase of its organizational life.

Vice President for National Affairs Jon Richardson is young, smart, energetic and creative and was a huge asset to both our Columbus and Anaheim General Convention teams as well as part of our Lambeth 2008 witness. It is such a delight to see him stepping up into leadership at the national board level and I am confident we'll be in good hands as we head toward Indianapolis.

Vice President for Local Affairs Susan McCann is a valiant straight ally who has tremendous gifts for building bridges across difference and forming coalitions for justice at the local and regional level. She brings precisely the gifts needed at this point to continue strengthening our local and grassroots networks & alliances --including but not limited to the inter-denominational "Believe Out Loud" program.

Communication Director Louise Brooks brings years of experience as a communication and media professional to the work of "messaging" Integrity -- both internally and externally. Upcoming workshops on "multi-platform communication" and an ambitious joint education project with TransEpiscopal are but two of the projects under her direction.

● And Treasurer Elisabeth Jacobs -- the most recent addition to the current Board -- brings not only her years of experience as an active Episcopalian but her gifts as a financial professional to the work of Integrity's money manager.
And so as we gear up for the next Convention Countdown I'm going to be "counting down" with gratitude that we've got the right people in the right place at the right time. I'm going to be giving thanks for the gifts they bring -- for the diversity they represent -- and for their willingness to step up and take the baton as we keep moving toward the finish line marked "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments."

And if you want to mark your own calendars for the countdown there are currently 354 days until General Convention 2012. Tick. Tock!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bits & Pieces for Carmageddon Weekend

It's "Carmageddon" weekend here in Los Angeles ... the much publicized closure of a highly travelled portion of the 405 freeway for some construction has had the City of Angels in what my ex-husband used to call "a high state of twit." (And that was LONG before twitter!) Anyway, anybody who's anybody isn't going anywhere they don't have to this weekend ... so I've been sticking close to home and -- among other things -- doing some news surfing.

From San Diego there's this report on the San Diego Pride Parade:

Military members march for San Diego gay pride

(Reuters San Diego) - A group of U.S. service members marched in a San Diego gay pride parade on Saturday, in a demonstration organizers touted as an unprecedented step for gay and lesbian military personnel under the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The military contingent in the parade numbered about 250 people, and the former Navy operations specialist who brought the group together said many are currently in the military, while the rest are veterans. They dressed in civilian clothes.

Marine Corporal Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is on active duty and said he looks forward to next year's parade, when he believes it will be possible to march in "dress blues."

"One of my friends here has been back from Afghanistan for three days, and when he heard about the parade he said he served in uniform and he should be able to march in uniform," said Rodriguez-Kennedy, 24. [read the rest here]


From New York there's this AP report by Rachel Zoll about churches' response to upcoming marriage equality:

Churches debate whether to marry gays

(AP New York) After same-sex marriage becomes legal here on July 24, gay priests with partners in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will head to the altar. They have to. Their bishop set a nine-month deadline for them to marry or stop living together.

Next door, meanwhile, the Episcopal bishop of New York says he also expects gay clergy in committed relationships to wed "in due course." Still, this longtime supporter of gay rights says churches in his diocese are off limits for gay weddings until he receives clearer liturgical guidance from the national denomination.

The Episcopal Church blazed a trail, and enraged fellow Anglicans worldwide, in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. On same-sex marriage, Episcopal dioceses have been guided by a 2009 resolution from the General Convention, the church's top national policy body, that asked for a "generous pastoral response" to gay couples, especially in states with same-sex marriage or civil unions. However, bishops disagree about what the resolution means. Each has cited the measure when issuing dramatically different policies.

Even before the New York legislature had passed the gay marriage bill last month, Bishop Gladstone Adams, who leads the Syracuse-based Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, had asked the local liturgy committee to draft a rite for same-gender marriage. Adams said individual priests and parishes could decide whether to conduct the ceremonies. He has not yet set a policy on marriage for clergy living with same-gender partners.

In the Diocese of New York, Bishop Mark Sisk said local priests could bless couples who marry elsewhere in a civil ceremony, but could not solemnize the marriages.

"I do not believe that resolution ... empowered bishops to authorize clergy to perform such marriages," Sisk wrote in a statement. "Nor do I believe that it is appropriate for clergy to circumvent the vows we have taken by becoming separately licensed by the state to perform such marriages."

His position stunned many Episcopalians. The New York diocese is considered so gay-friendly that the local chapter of the national Episcopal gay advocacy group, Integrity, focuses instead on outreach to other gay and lesbians seeking a religious community, according to Mary O'Shaughnessy, New York City coordinator for the organization.

Sisk's spokesman said the bishop won't move forward without an approved liturgy. Episcopalians are drafting prayers for blessing same-gender couples that advocates hope will be accepted next year by the General Convention.

O'Shaughnessy said she was disappointed by Sisk's decision, but said he has "unequivocally" supported gay and lesbian rights and she understands that he has a broad constituency to consider, including parishes in the diocese that lie outside of Manhattan.

Long Island Episcopal Bishop Lawrence Provenzano said there is nothing "punitive" about the nine-month period he set for clergy to marry their partners — a length of time he said was similar to an academic year. No one will be disciplined for failing to meet the deadline. Instead, he said he would handle each priest's situation on a case-by-case basis. He noted that some private employers are considering restricting domestic partner benefits to those who are legally married.

"I need to be mindful that the church has always asked people to live in committed monogamous, faithful relationships," Provenzano said. "I won't allow heterosexual clergy to live in a rectory or church housing without the benefit of marriage. When one puts it in that context, then you see how it all begins to make sense."

The Rev. Christopher Hofer, pastor of the Episcopal Church of St. Jude in Wantagh, on Long Island, said he has heard no complaints from other gay or lesbian clergy about the policy. Hofer plans a "big" August wedding in his parish with his partner of 17 years, Kerry Brady. They live in the church rectory, where on a recent evening they waited together for a messenger to deliver their wedding rings.

"I think Bishop Provenzano's statement was not only fair, but beyond generous. It gives people time, acknowledging that there's a financial component involved, and recognizing that some may not choose to live together," Hofer said. "Now that the state is recognizing civil marriage, we as priests, perhaps deacons too, who are in committed relationships, have a choice: We either live what we preach, to become civilly married, or we choose to live apart."

No other Episcopal dioceses in states with same-gender marriage have set an explicit deadline for gay clergy to marry their live-in partners.

Episcopal Bishop John Chane, of the Diocese of Washington, allowed local priests to perform same-sex marriages in parishes that approved the ceremonies, but did not ask clergy to marry or live alone. He said it wouldn't be fair, since so few states recognize the marriages, and state and federal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act are still in effect and "deny the human rights and disrespect the orientation" of gays and lesbians. He said five gay clergy have married in the Diocese of Washington since same-sex marriages started last year.

. At St. James Episcopal Church, Fordham, in the Diocese of New York, the Rev. Tobias Haller, plans to wed his male partner of more than three decades at the end of this month, but not in his parish. The couple plans a civil ceremony only.

"We had our church wedding 31 years ago," Haller said, of a private blessing they had received from a rector.

Haller said he understands and accepts Sisk's approach to the issue. The bishop meets with gay and lesbian clergy in the diocese every few months and had previously discussed his hope that they would marry their partners if they had the chance, Haller said.

"It makes sense to me," Haller said. "It's certainly a standard bishops would expect of heterosexual clergy."


Finally, the Diocese of Alabama elected themselves a new bishop ... on the first ballot!

The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan Elected 11th Bishop of Alabama

The Rt. Rev. John McKee "Kee" Sloan was elected July 16 as the 11th bishop of Alabama in the Episcopal Church. He currently is Alabama's suffragan bishop. Sloan was elected from a field of four nominees on the first ballot. He received 145 of 270votes cast in the lay order and 68 of 118 cast in the clergy order. An election required 136 votes in the lay order and 60 in the clergy order.

Pending a successful consent process, Sloan will succeed the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr., who will retire in January. The investiture is planned for January 7, 2012, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent.

More details here. Mazel tov and blessings to the diocesan-elect and to the Diocese of Alabama!

(And now I'll go check and see how Carmageddon is doing. Later, alligators!)

Inch by Inch Inspiration from "back in the day"

For preachers thinking seeds and sowers this week; for activists sowing seeds of justice and pulling out weeds of bias and bigotry; for everyone working to make the Garden of Eden grow green again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why clergy keep showin' up to fight for equality:

Because it freakin' WORKS!

This from a story just posted to the New York Times:
The passage of same-sex marriage in New York last month, just two years after its defeat here, attests to the concerted, sustained efforts by liberal Christian and Jewish clergy to advocate for it in the language of faith, to counter the language of morality voiced by foes. In so doing, they provided a kind of political and theological cover to the moderate and conservative state senators who cast the vital swing votes for a 33-to-29 margin ...

“If religious support is fractured, and supporters of the legislation can point to clergy who are on their side,” history Professor Julian E. Zelizer wrote in an e-mail, “then it’s easier to counteract the claim of religious conservatives who say there is only one answer to this question. As in previous examples, politicians draw on clergy to give themselves moral authority when taking on these kinds of social and cultural issues. We know more about how the right has done it, but liberals can do the same.”

Those previous examples, Dr. Zelizer noted, include the civil rights movement. For example, by putting their imprimatur on the cause, Roman Catholic bishops and the National Council of Churches helped persuade several conservative Republican senators to defy a Southern filibuster and ultimately pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the first of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s series of landmark laws.
Read the rest here. Me? Im going to go rest up to get back to work -- because there's nothing like affirmation that what you're doin' is workin' to give you what you need to keep on keepin' on!

Quote du jour

"The for struggle marriage equality is about more than the definition of marriage; it's about the definition of justice." - David Remnick; New Yorker Magazine

The Gospel According to Winston Churchill

"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing ... after they have exhausted all other possibilities." - Winston Churchill
It's a quote I had never heard before but it caught my attention in an NPR report I was listening to when I was out grabbing a late lunch. And now, just as I was cleaning off my desk to leave for the day, I got a new update from the L.A. Times that included some encouraging news on the budget stalemate:

Are cooler heads actually going to prevail? Is some leadership actually going to happen?

House Republicans brace for compromise on debt
GOP leaders turn to their most trusted budget expert, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), to explain to the rank and file what could happen if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.
Reporting from Washington— Republican leaders in the House have begun to prepare their troops for politically painful votes to raise the nation's debt limit, offering warnings and concessions to move the hard-line majority toward a compromise that would avert a federal default.

For weeks, GOP conservatives, particularly in the House, have issued demands about what they would require in exchange for their votes to increase the debt limit. In negotiations with the White House, Republican leaders have found those demands were unattainable. Unwilling to risk the economic and political consequences of a federal default, which could come as early as Aug. 2, they have started the difficult process of standing down.

At a closed-door meeting Friday morning, GOP leaders turned to their most trusted budget expert, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to explain to rank-and-file members what many others have come to understand: A fiscal meltdown could occur if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio underscored the point to dispel the notion that failure to allow more borrowing is an option. "He said if we pass Aug. 2, it would be like 'Star Wars,'" said Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a freshman from Tennessee. "I don't think the people who are railing against raising the debt ceiling fully understand that."
Well, maybe they do now. Maybe after all the posturing and polarizing and partisanizing they've finally exhausted all their other possibilities and will now suck it up do the right thing and find a compromise and get to work to making this country work rather than working to make their opponents look bad.

You can read the rest here. And then continue to pray without ceasing ... as our prayers of the people will say here on Sunday "…for maturity and courage for our leaders in Washington and for a circle of protection around those most in need as decisions are made regarding our nation’s budget."

As for me, I'll be finishing up cleaning up my desk and heading home with the Gospel of Winston Churchill still ringing in my ears.

Later, alligators.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Comment on today's Landmark LGBT Education Legislation

The good news this morning that Governor Jerry Brown signed the FAIR Education Act into law leads me to this question: Since we’re going to teach about gays and lesbians in our schools anyway, can we have marriage equality back in California now, please?

I mean seriously. During the massively funded 2008 Prop 8 battle here in California one of the most frequent lies told by the folks supposedly protecting traditional biblical values was that marriage equality would lead to “teaching about homosexuality in our schools.”

Two big problems with that approach: the first being that lying is NOT a traditional biblical value. (I’ve checked.) The second is that the May 2008 California Supreme Court decision on marriage equality had nothing whatsoever to do with what our children are taught in school and everything to do with ending discrimination against families with same-sex parents.

The irony is that today’s landmark legislation now takes away from Prop 8 supporters what exit polls told us was their most successful campaign misrepresentation. So now that Judge Walker has ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional and the legislature has mandated fair, accurate, inclusive and respectful representation of LGBT people in history in our scholls, can we just finish the job and have marriage equality back? Please?

BREAKING NEWS from Sacramento: Governor signs Fair Education Act

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that makes California the first state in the nation to require the inclusion of the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in school history lessons and textbooks.

Governor Brown's office just issued the following statement :
SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced today that he has signed the following bill:

• SB 48 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) – Pupil instruction: prohibition of discriminatory content.
For full text of the bill click here. Here's the "gist:"
Existing law requires that when adopting instructional materials for use in the schools, governing boards of school districts shall include materials that accurately portray the role and contributions of culturally and racially diverse groups including Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups to the total development of California and the United States.

This bill would revise the list of culturally and racially diverse groups to also include Pacific Islanders, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, and persons with disabilities.
"Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans,” said Senator Mark Leno, author of the bill. “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them.’’ Leno also stressed that it would reduce bullying by educating young people about the accomplishments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community.

For your summer dining pleasure!

Love this segment from our local news station about the "Food Truck Festival" going on all summer here in Pasadena. ESPECIALLY love it because the gourmet food trucks being featured are part of a project called Chef's Center ... which helps local entrepreneurs launch food-based businesses -- a project of Episcopal Housing Alliance and Economic Development, an institution of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

So check it out if you're in the neighborhood on a Friday evening ...

Chefs Center of California
Fridays 6 - 9 p.m.
45 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena 91107

And if you're not, just give thanks for the good work of the great folks at Episcopal Housing Alliance and Economic Development!

(Bon Appétit !)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three Cheers for Proper 11A!!

Why, you ask?

Well, first it starts out with a great Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
We start out praying to the God who already knows everything we need and isn't surprised when we don't even know what to ask for ... well, it kind of puts things like dogmas and doctrines and litmus tests in perspective, doesn't it? I mean really.

I remember a sermon I preached -- oh, lots of years ago now. It was about the danger of confusing God with Monty Hall and life with an episode of "Let's Make a Deal." It was about folks who live their whole lives in fear that they're going to guess wrong ... pick wrong ... BELIEVE wrong ... and on the "last day" end up in the Lake of Fire behind the curtain instead of getting the keys to the kingdom in the box. I didn't think that's how God works then and I don't think that's how God works now ... but if I ever need a reminder then the Collect of the Day for Proper 11 is a GREAT reminder.

We've got Jacob and ladder, Psalm 139 (one of my all time favs "Thou hast searched me out and known me ...")And then there's this great reading from Matthew ... sort of Part Two of the "Sower and Seed" parable we heard last week:
Jesus put before the crowd another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, `Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"
What I love about this story is the good news that it's God's job to figure out the wheat from the weeds -- not ours.

What I ALSO love about this story is how much the disciples don't get it and need to have it explained to them.

And what I REALLY love about this story is that the church seems to have spent the last 2000+ years continuing "not to get it" ... not having "ears to listen." Instead it has too often set itself up as the the judge of who's in and who's out of God's kindgom ... of who's the wheat and who's the weed in God's garden.

So Cheers for Proper 11A. For those with ears to hear and those who are still trying to figure it out. And especially for those preaching this Sunday! ENJOY!!

On living in interesting times

Are we smack dab in the middle of that proverb about "living in interesting times" or what???

When the Claiming the Blessing coalition formed in 2002 our focus was moving the church forward on the blessing of same sex relationships. Ten years later here we are -- barely able to keep up with the paradigm shifting under our feet as both the church and the culture lurch along that arc of history bending toward justice for LGBT people.

Today over at ECafe there's a great "post in point"... a review of the different positions Episcopal bishops have taken regarding marriage equality in general and the impact of the availability of civil marriage for same-sex clergy couples in specific. You'll want to go read it yourself here ... like I did ... and add your own comments ... which I did, too. (Which is where this blog came from -- it's the comment that grew into a blog post!)

Suffice to say the responses range from the Bishop of Albany --who has taken the "not with a barge pole" approach to both civil and religious marriage equality -- to the Bishop of Long Island who is not only permitting the clergy in that diocese to serve as agents of the state by signing marriage licenses but is requiring same-sex clergy couples to marry within the next 9 months.

It is a great update -- and for me it illustrates anecdotally how critically important it is that we move forward as a church on the issue of marriage equality.

We're back in Indianapolis next summer ... the place where we voted in 1994 to end discrimination against sexual orientation in the ordination canons. So let's invoke the good "canon karma" of Indianapolis and get to work ending discrimination against same-sex couples in our marriage canons.

Let's be a church that leads the way in protecting the sanctity of all marriages.
Let's be a church that embodies family values that value all families.
Let's be part of a National Organization for All Marriages.

Anybody in? Operators are standing by. Call me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

NOAM: National Organization for All Marriages

There are lots of great organizations working toward LGBT Equality but I figure there's room for JUST one more.

I'm calling it NOAM ... the National Organization for ALL Marriages ... and hope we can get a little buzz going as we just raise up our hands together in support of the proposition that ALL marriages are created equal.

I hope we can pool our prayers, our advocacy and our energy toward supporting the Respect for Marriage Act (wending its way through Congress).

I hope we can also keep our eye on Maggie Gallagher and her National Organization for Marriage Discrimination (AKA "NOM") which is currently fundraising to remove pro-equality Republicans from office in New York. (Because we certainly don't want values like EQUALITY to catch on for heaven's sake. What kind of country do they think this is, anyway? One conceived in liberty or something?)

So jump on board! Watch this blog for upcoming events and opportunities for advocacy. And if you're a Facebook person click here to come join us. The more the merrier!

NOM(D) -- National Organization for Marriage Discrimination -- Launches NY Campaign

It's called NOM and it bills itself as the National Organization for Marriage ... and it was one of the driving forces behind the effort to unconstitutionally write discrimination into the California Constitution via the 2008 Prop 8 campaign. Which is why I'm advocating for a name change to NOM(D) ... National Organization for Marriage Discrimination.

It is a much more fitting name for an organization that embraces lying-through-your-teeth as a Biblical Value and promotes Family Values that devalue gay and lesbian families; for a deeply homophobic enterprise that has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting marriage and everything to do with perpetuating bigotry.

And now they're turning their sights on New York ... launching a campaign with this fundraising letter to oust what they're calling "pro-equality Republicans." (Because being in favor of equality is a bad thing?) Check it out:
Republicans ... sold out the party's base, the party's principles, and the timeless institution of marriage. They imposed gay marriage without a vote of the people!
Newsflash for the National Organization for Marriage Discrimination:
  • The poll numbers tell us even "the base" is tired of the Chicken Little Culture Wars around LGBT equality

  • The historic principles of the GOP (and I was a registered Republican until 1992 so I know of which I speak) tell us they do NOT include writing discrimination into the Constitution (see also Barry Goldwater ... for example)

  • And history tells us "the timeless institution of marriage" has evolved down through history from a property transaction between two men (father selling daughter to husband) to the commitment of two people to love, honor and cherish until death do they part.
It's time for a Protect Marriage Movement that protects ALL marriages and a Family Values Coalition that values ALL families.

Call the NOM(D) on it's crap whenever and wherever you can ... Letters to the Editors; Comments on news blogs; Twitter, Facebook, Whatever.

Stand up. Speak out. Together we can:

End the lies.

End the madness.

End the discrimination.

(Maybe it's time to start NOAM -- the National Organization for ALL Marriages! Anybody in?)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This is our Life; This is our Faith

My sister Carissa Baldwin totally nailed it in her sermon this morning when she dared to "preach our mission statement." Yep. I want to go to THAT church!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Status of the Anglican Covenant (in a picture worth the proverbial 1000 words)

This one via "MadPriest" with thanks and prayers for those gathering at the CofE Synod meetings "across the pond." (Read Colin Coward's comments on +Rowan's opening address here.)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

"All Saints Church says 'Thank You'" -- from my parish blog

On the 3rd of July we celebrated Independence Day with prophetic preaching, powerful music ... and thank you notes.

The prophetic preaching came from our Rabbi-in-Residence Leonard Beerman ... and you can watch the video here if you missed it. The powerful music ranged from "Fanfare for the Common Man" to "Lift Every Voice and Sing" ... with some Scott Joplin as the "icing on the cake" Postlude. And the thank you notes were to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the four Republican State Senators who helped make liberty and justice for all come just a little bit closer with their leadership on marriage equality in New York.

Here's the letter we sent to Governor Cuomo ... the senators' letters were like-unto-it ... altogether signed by over 300 parish members.
Dear Governor Cuomo,

We write to express our deep gratitude for the extraordinary leadership you provided in the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in New York State.

On this day, in the life of our parish, we commemorate Independence Day and celebrate that we are now one step closer to realizing the vision captured in these words from July 4, 1776 -- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, and all (people) are created equal.”

As a faith community that believes in the image of God in every person, and in God’s love and concern for justice for all people, we celebrate this monumental achievement for civil rights. We look forward to the day when marriage is recognized and celebrated for all people, regardless of gender, and we congratulate you and the state of New York for leading that effort.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice”. We witnessed that in New York State with your extraordinary leadership.

So here's to a Sunday Well Done. To celebrating the birthday of our country by celebrating the values of justice, compassion and gratitude. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bishop Glasspool reports from the White House

Actually, it's more acurately Bishop Glasspool reporting ABOUT the White House and her visit there last month as a guest at the LGBT Pride Month Reception. I not only love the report ... I love that my DIOCESE sends this out to celebrate her good work in representing all of us in our nation's capital. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Some GOOD news from Sacramento for a change

From a news report:
The California Assembly today gave final approval to a bill sponsored by openly gay State Sen. Mark Leno that will require the state’s public schools to “fairly and accurately portray the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement and the historic contributions of the diverse LGBT community in social science instruction,” according to a release from the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

“We can’t tell our youth that it’s OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect when we deliberately deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT,” Leno said.

“This is a victory not only for the LGBT youth in California who have been fighting to be heard in Sacramento and represented in their history classes, but also for all California youth who deserve to learn a fair and accurate account of California and US history,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

GSA Network worked alongside Equality California to help pass the landmark legislation.
Here's a link to the GSA press release.

Pick your metaphor: toothpaste out of the tube: train has left the station; queers are out of the closet. Whatever you want to call it it's a sign that we are moving forward into a future where LGBT Equality WILL happen ... even if we're still moving forward an inch at a time.

Giving thanks today for this particular inch ... and for all who worked so hard to make it happen!

"We the people ..."

Now that the fireworks are over and we're done with the "how many hot dogs can you cram down your throat" contest, here's a video that celebrates some core American values worth celebrating 24/7 ... tolerance; diversity; freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion; etc, etc, etc. Great food for thought as we head toward the 10th anniversary of "9/11"

Monday, July 04, 2011

15 Years Ago Today ...

I surprised myself when I "did the math" and realized that today is both the 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the 15th anniversary of my Coming Out. That's right. I came out on the 4th of July. In the National Cathedral. And so I'm going to celebrate by re-running the blog I wrote to mark the occasion five years ago.

And then I'm going to go to the Dodger game and root for them (in spite of the McCourts) and eat a hot dog and watch some fireworks. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYBODY!


"Coming Out From the Diverse Center"
July 4, 2006

Ten years ago today at noon eastern time I was in the choir at the National Cathedral. While crowds of tourists milled about the nave of the cathedral and others gathered outside or headed toward the Mall for the fireworks festivities scheduled later it the day or lined up to see the opening-that-day film “Independence Day” (remember that one?) a remnant of us gathered in the cathedral choir for a festival celebration of the Feast of American Independence, BCP style.

The music was glorious, the lessons inspiring and the privilege of receiving Holy Communion at the altar in this amazing “house of prayer for all people” as we celebrated the birth of a nation dedicated to “liberty and justice for all” was an amazing gift I will always remember.

Oh … and I came out.

In the cathedral. On the Fourth of July. In the middle of festival Eucharist I had the great “aha” moment – the epiphany – the “I-shoulda-had-a-V8” realization that the God who had “fearfully and wonderfully” made me had made me gay. And called me to priesthood. And told me “now, go back and be the priest I called you to be.”

That’s my coming out story. I’ve told it many times before but on this actual, honest-to-God 10th anniversary it seemed worth telling again. It seemed worth reminding myself – and anybody else who wants to listen in – that I did not come out from the fringes of anything – I came out from what one might call “the diverse center.”

I came out in the context of a spiritual journey that began with my baptism at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Los Angeles in 1954 (go ahead and do the math!) and continued through Junior Choir, confirmation class, Altar Guilds and Vacation Bible Schools, ECW Boards, teas and luncheons, Diocesan Conventions, vestries and parish day school boards and finally seminary, ordination and parish ministry.

My coming out had nothing to do with a political act. It had nothing to do with a genital act. It had everything to do with the act of presenting myself, my soul and body, to be a “reasonable, holy and living sacrifice” unto the God who created me in love and called me to love others as God loved me.

It had to do with recognizing that I could not be fully present at altar if I was not fully present in myself – and it had to do with being raised in a church where +John Hines taught me that “justice is the corporate face of God’s love,” +Ed Browning told me that in the Episcopal Church there would be no outcasts and the consecration of +Barbara Harris incarnated for me the hope that this church was actually willing to live into its high calling to live out a radically inclusive gospel.

So Happy Anniversary to me – and to the scores of LGBT Episcopalians like me. We are not a fringe issue – we are part of this church – part of that diverse center Presiding Bishop Griswold called us in Columbus to listen to.

Are we a challenge to the wider church? I hope so. And I hope we continue to be. I hope that our voices of faith and witness will continue to preach, to protest and to prophesy – that we will stand in the temple and tell the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in our lives, our vocations and our relationships. That we will preach that Good News in and out of season and that we will challenge this recent lapse in moral leadership by the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church for what it is: a failure of this church we love to live up to all we know she can be.

So here's to Anniversaries and to Independence Day -- to everyone celebrating with BBQ, beer and fireworks our core American values of liberty and justice for all and everyone committed to our core Episcopal values of respecting the dignity of every human being. Not because we’re politically correct but because we’re gospel obedient. And here's to the diverse center -- long may it wave and long may it MAKE waves as it continues to live into the promise it inherits from Hines and Browning and Harris; from Washington and Jefferson and Madison.

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn; Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Sunday, July 03, 2011

My 2011 Independence Day Sermon

“…With Liberty and Justice for ALL!”
[Sunday, July 3, 2011 ■ 1:00 p.m. ■ Service All Saints Church, Pasadena]

While every Sunday is a special Sunday at All Saints Church today is a SPECIAL special Sunday as we celebrate the birthday of our nation – and we remember these words from the Declaration of Independence – signed 235 years ago tomorrow:
"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all “men” are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Powerful words. “No going back” words. Words that both launched a nation and charted its course. Words that frame the very essence of what it is to be an American. Words worth celebrating on the anniversary of their signing. The anniversary of our freedom.

They are also words we are still working to live up to. For it seems that in the very freedom God has given us -- as a nation, as a church and as individuals – there is also the challenge to use that freedom responsibly … not just for ourselves, but for the whole human family.

As a nation, the freedom we enjoy was bought for us by those who went before: our founding fathers and mothers who had the courage and vision to imagine a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.” They made the down payment -- in blood sweat and tears -- and subsequent generations have made “balloon payments” ever since: claiming and reclaiming that vision of a nation with liberty and justice for all.

Working to include African Americans in the proposition that all are created equal during the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement – work that still isn’t done as we continue to work to overcome racism in this country.

Expanding the vision to include women in the proposition that all are created equal -- from the Suffragettes to the Equal Rights Amendment – work that still isn’t done as we continue to overcome sexism.

Marriage equality for same-sex couples; immigration reform; equal access to health care … the list goes on and on.

But the bottom line is this: No one is truly free unless all of us are – and living into the pledge to “liberty and justice for all” that began in 1776 continues today.

Just as we continue to build a nation where liberty and justice for all is not just a pledge but a reality, we continue to build a church where the Good News of God’s love is truly available to all. Too often that work the church is called to do is hampered by internal squabbles -- quarrels about power that masquerade as debates over doctrine; fights with each other that so consume our energy we have nothing lift to give to the work of calling others to Christ.

But there are both words of hope and an example to follow in the words we heard this morning from the great American hero President Abraham Lincoln. We may be divided in this country on many issues, but the challenges we face are nowhere near what Lincoln faced as he worked to rebuild the nation after a bloody civil war.
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
That is the work we are to be about … in our country and in our church. Binding up wounds. Caring for widows and orphans. Working for lasting peace.

That was a tall order for a president trying to heal a nation in 1865 and it’s a tall order for us trying to heal the world in 2011. And yet we belong to a God who tells us over and over again that nothing is impossible. And we follow a Lord who loved us enough to become one of us to show us how to love one another. Even the people we’re not interested in loving. From today’s gospel:
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Let the love you extend be full just as the love God extends is full.
Jesus also said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me -- for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” -- words of promise that there is nothing we have to bear by ourselves: nothing too heavy for Jesus to bear with us.

“Come to me.” Jesus’ words remind me of the words on the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuge of your teeming shore.
Send these the homeless, tempest tossed, to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Words of welcome. Of invitation. Of hope. Of healing. Just as the words on our Statue of Liberty remind us who we are when we live up to our American ideals the words of our Lord of Love remind us who we are when we live up to the ideals he calls us to as Christians.

And he reminds us of the freedom we find – not in a place, but in a Person – in the One who guides us, strengthens us, feeds us, sustains us.

In a moment, we will gather around this altar to be fed -- to celebrate the freedom we’ve been given in Christ and to nourish us to go out and do the work we’ve been given to do: “born again” to be Christ’s Body in the world.

To love not just our neighbors but our enemies. And to work to be a nation where liberty and justice for all is not just a pledge but a reality – not just on our birthday as a country but every day!


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Another step forward on Liberty & Justice for ALL

It's Independence Day Weekend ... and how helpful of the 4th of July to be on a Monday this year! That gives us a nice long four-day weekend to celebrate the noble and still-in-progress experiment of being a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. Equal AND "endowed by their Creator with certainly unalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We started the weekend with friends, food and fireworks last night here in Altadena. (Thanks, Greg!) Today is get some chores done around the house and then dinner with BFFs from Santa Monica. Tomorrow is one of my favorite Sundays of the year ... where at All Saints Church we will celebrate with the propers for Independence Day, patriotic hymns and (this year) a sermon from our Rabbi-in-Residence Leonard Beerman -- all reminding us of both the privilege and the responsibility of being part of this great American Experiment. And I'll be preaching at our 1pm bi-lingual service ... a sermon entitled "Liberty and Justice for All." Finally, on Monday we'll see if we can station ourselves to get a look at the Rose Bowl fireworks down the Arroyo -- after a hotdog and some of Louise's famous macaroni salad. (Another glimpse into "scary lesbian lifestyle land.")

Meanwhile, what a delight to see this report filed last night about another step forward toward the liberty and justice for all goal: The Department of Justice putting some significant teeth into challenging the constitutionality of DOMA (the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" that is actually a Discrimination Against Some Marriages Act.") Take a look:
Today, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court employee Karen Golinski's federal court challenge, supporting her lawsuit seeking access to equal health benefits for her wife and arguing strongly that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in terms unparalleled in previous administration statements.

In a brief filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other federal defendants, DOJ acknowledged the U.S. government's "significant and regrettable role" in discrimination in America against gays and lesbians. The summary of the DOJ argument that Golinski's case should not be dismissed begins simply: "Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 ('DOMA'), unconstitutionally discriminates."

... Unlike in other cases where DOJ has stopped defending DOMA in accordance with President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder's decision that Section 3 of DOMA -- the federal definition of marriage -- is unconstitutional, DOJ lawyers today made an expansive case in a 31-page filing that DOMA is unconstitutional. Previously, the government had attached the Feb. 23 letter from Holder to House Speaker John Boehner (R) that announced the DOJ position to filings to courts about the decision to stop defending the law, but it had not laid out any more expansive reasoning.

... [the] filing does more than acknowledge the federal government's role in discrimination, going on to detail specific instances of anti-gay and anti-lesbian discrimination, including the 1950 Senate resolution seeking an "investigation" into "homosexuals and other sexual perverts" in government employment and President Dwight Eisenhower's executive order adding "sexual perversion" as a ground for "possible dismissal from government service," in the brief's words. It also details the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Service in investigations seeking information about government employees suspected of such "perversion."

The brief goes on to describe anti-gay and anti-lesbian state and local discrimination, as well as private discrimination, before discussing other considerations made by courts when deciding what level of scrutiny should be applied to laws classifying groups -- including immutability; political powerlessness; and whether the classification bears any relation to, as the brief puts it, "legitimate policy objectives or ability to perform or contribute to society."

DOJ's lawyers conclude that heightened scrutiny applies and argue how, under that heightened scrutiny, Section 3 of DOMA should be found to be unconstitutional. Heightened scrutiny, the brief details, would require that Section 3 is substantially related to an important government objective.

DOJ states: "Section 3 fails this analysis."
You can read the whole report from Metroweekly's Chris Geidner here -- and I hope you will. And bookmark this as "one to watch" as we continue to move forward toward making the goal of liberty and justice we celebrate this weekend with our friends, our food and our fireworks not just a pledge we make to our flag but a reality we live in our nation.