Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sign of the Times ...

... "my desk!"

AKA: Exercising "due dilegence" in response to the all-swine-flu-all-the-time news! (And yes, I wish I had stock in "Purell!" And yes, I'm still flying to Philadelphia tomorrow!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Integrity Statement on Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009

Integrity Celebrates House Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill

“Integrity rejoices with the Shephard family and all who worked so hard to make today’s passage of the Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes bill possible,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA.

“In our baptismal covenant, Episcopalians promise to respect the dignity of every human being -- and in our Pledge of Allegiance, Americans pledge liberty and justice for all. This bill connects those two foundational values -- offering hope that ALL Americans will be granted both equal liberty and dignity, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. And next week Episcopal clergy will be in Washington DC with the HRC “Clergy Call for Justice” making that case in person to our elected officials.”

“As the bill heads for the Senate, its opponents are spreading absurd lies, claiming it would send pastors to jail for giving anti-gay sermons,” Russell concluded. “Integrity urges people of faith from all traditions to come together and unite against hate – to speak out against lies – to urge passage of this important legislation.”

(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President


From the AP report ...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections under a revived and expanded hate crimes bill passed by the House on Wednesday over conservatives' objections.

Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone's race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The bill, which passed 249-175, could provide a financial bonanza to state and local authorities, with grants for investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The federal government could step in and prosecute if states requested it or declined to exercise their authority.

A weaker bill died two years ago under a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama, in contrast, urged support, saying it would "enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association." Obama called for passage in the Senate, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is the chief sponsor.

The House bill added protections based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a supporter of the bill, contended it was protection for gays that drove the opposition.

"I wonder if our friends on the other side of the aisle would be singing the same offensive tune if we were talking about hate crimes based on race or religion," she said, referring to Republican opponents. "It seems to me it is the category of individuals that they are offended by, rather than the fact that we have hate crimes laws at all."


Integrity Press Release

Another Step Closer in New Hampshire! (And meanwhile in Maine ...)

The New Hampshire Senate today voted 13 to 11 to approve a bill providing for equal marriage rights for gay couples. The New Hampshire House approved a same-sex marriage bill on March 26. The new version, passed by the Senate, must now go back to the House for concurrence. That vote will likely take place next week.

It was a dramatic victory for New Hampshire and marks the third time a state legislature - behind California and Vermont - has approved equal marriage rights bill. (California did so twice but was vetoed.) The Democratic governor, John Lynch, has said he opposes same-sex marriage but has backed off such statements more recently. If the bill survives, New Hampshire will become the fifth state in the nation to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples the same as straight couples -and the fourth to do so in the past year.

Read the rest here.

NYTimes report here.

And meanwhile in Maine:

AUGUSTA — A bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Maine is in the hands of the Legislature following an 11-2-1 vote Tuesday by the Judiciary Committee to support the measure.

As it has since it was introduced by Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, the bill, LD 1020, triggered strong emotions. One woman who opposed the measure even had to be escorted out of the hearing room Tuesday because of her loud objections over the gavel of Senate Chairman Lawrence Bliss, D-South Portland. The 11-2-1 vote constitutes a recommendation of "Ought to Pass" to the Legislature.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bishops Stepping Up

As the marriage equality movement continues to make headway across the country, Episcopal Bishops are stepping up in support.

The Episcopal Church, long ago, concluded and publicly proclaimed through its own legislative body that gay and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church. We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church, as long as the particular requirements of that office or ministry are met. And we have repeatedly affirmed our support for the human and civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. In many of our congregations, both here in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are participating in the life of the church and sharing in the work of ministry and service to their communities.

If we, as Mainers, believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, then it is in our interest to extend the rights and obligations of civil marriage to all Maine citizens. To deny those rights to certain persons on the basis of sexual orientation is to create two classes of citizens and to deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.
The Episcopal Church continues its conversations about doctrine in relation to same sex marriage and the blessing of same sex relationships, and there is yet no consensus. We continue to search for ways to honor the varied viewpoints of all our members and to provide a place of dignity and respect for each of them. Therefore, I also affirm that part of L.D. 1020 that states there will be no effort to compel or coerce any minister to act in a way contrary to his or her belief and conscience. There will certainly never be any requirement in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine to act in contravention of conscience or of church doctrine. It is my expectation that The Episcopal Church will continue to engage in this conversation for some years, even as I hope the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage will be extended to all Maine citizens.



In New York State, Bishop Prince Singh (Rochester) attended today's marriage equality rally at the Albany State House;
In Iowa, Bishop Alan Scarfe, endorsed his state’s move in support of gay marriage in a Good Friday pastoral letter to the diocese, saying the ruling “clarifies for me what the issue is that is facing the Church. Like so many who support the rights of gay and lesbian people, I thought civil unions would provide adequate protection for their relationships. I began to see things differently as I heard the arguments presented in court several months ago.” ...

In Vermont, Bishop Tom Ely "applauded the vote saying he hoped it would “inspire other states to enact comparable legislation and that ultimately the legal provisions of full marriage equality will be provided to all citizens of the United States.”..

At this point, four states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont) have legalized same-sex marriage and 10 others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with New York, Maine & New Hampshire on the cusp of marriage equality and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision..

That means TWENTY EIGHT dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jursidiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions. If you are among them, write or call your bishop TODAY and tell him or her that you are counting on them to work with us in Anaheim to put this church on the right side of history on the issue of marriage equality.
We need our bishops to KEEP stepping up ... and as we move toward General Convention and the pressure for them to step back let's make sure they're in our prayers and we're in the "inbox" encouraging them to keep on moving this church forward toward that full and equal claim its been promising the gay and lesbian faithful since 1976!

Arlen Specter to Cross the Aisle!

This comes filed under "OMG!"

Specter Switches Sides
April 28, 2009 12:09 PM

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., will announce this afternoon that he is switching to the Democratic Party.

He's taken an all-but-sure loss in the Republican primary into an almost sure hold on his seat in 2010.

Assuming Al Franken takes the Minnesota Senate seat, Democrats will have that magic number of 60 Senate votes.
Read the rest of the ABC News report here.

"What does your marriage have to do with the sanctity of mine?"

Great op-ed in today's Mansfield News Journal!

"I don't really understand how one man looks at another man and falls in love. The idea is alien to me. I don't really have to understand it, though; I know it happens, and I know homosexuals want to enjoy the same rights and privileges I enjoy. They're as American as I am, and as human as I am, so I don't see why they shouldn't enjoy marriage as much as I do." -- Steve Goble, Mansfield News Journal

By STEVE GOBLE -- Mansfield News Journal

Massachusetts. Connecticut. Iowa. Vermont. California, for a while, at least.

And now, Gov. David Paterson has introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. In announcing this, he pointed out gay and lesbian couples are denied numerous civil protections -- such as health care and pension rights -- because they cannot marry. He's correct, and that needs to change.

It's an uphill fight, but things are changing, aren't they?

It's a slow turnaround, though. Even in states that have approved gay marriage, the battle isn't over. Appeals, petitions and ballot issues will keep the pot stirred for a long while. Still, attitudes are slowly changing.

As events unfold, we'll all hear a lot about the sanctity of marriage. We'll be told that allowing gays the same marital rights heterosexuals enjoy will somehow obliterate that sanctity.

That argument doesn't wash for me. I apparently have one of those really cool marriages with bulletproof sanctity, in which things other people do in their relationships don't affect my marriage in the slightest.

For instance, suppose some bimbo marries a rich old geezer hoping he'll die soon and leave her a mint. That makes a mockery of marriage, if you ask me -- but it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

How about a couple of teens who go too far and end up rushing to the altar before she's showing? Sometimes such marriages turn out just fine, often they do not. Many people would agree it's probably not the ideal way to start a marriage -- but I'll wish them the best and notice that it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

Consider people who have open marriages, in which husband and wife don't worry too much about extramarital flings. It's not my idea of marriage, and it's probably not anything most Americans would condone -- but it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

The way I see it, the sanctity of my marriage depends on me and my wife. If it's sacred to us, and we keep it that way, that's all that matters. What other people do simply doesn't count in my marriage. How could it?

When considering whether to support or reject gay marriage, I ask myself whether I have any right at all to vote against it. I don't think I do, considering that other people's relationships have no bearing on my life.

Now, I don't really understand how one man looks at another man and falls in love. The idea is alien to me. I don't really have to understand it, though; I know it happens, and I know homosexuals want to enjoy the same rights and privileges I enjoy. They're as American as I am, and as human as I am, so I don't see why they shouldn't enjoy marriage as much as I do.

Some argue that if we sanction gay marriage, we'll eventually have to sanction pedophilia and beastiality, too. It's a pathetic argument -- animals and children aren't consenting adults. I'm all for protecting animals and children from abuse, but I don't see where gay marriage has anything to do with that.

Some point out the human race could hardly continue if everybody was gay -- which would make some kind of sense, I guess, if we were talking about building some magic "gay ray gun" to turn everyone homosexual. I'm fairly certain, though, we'll continue to procreate even if gays are allowed to marry.

Many will tell me all about how homosexuality is a sin. I don't know a lot about sin, but I notice theologians who supposedly do know a lot about sin exist on both sides of this issue. So, I'm willing to let God sort that part of it out if God wants.

Me? I'll just look forward to the day when we really are all equal under the law.

We are getting there, slowly.

Steve Goble is a copy editor and page designer for the News Journal. Look for his column, "It's Debatable," in the Community Conversation section every Sunday, and visit his blog on our Web site. E-mail him at


So here's my question du jour: Can anyone -- in 100 words or less -- explain just HOW my marriage undermines the sanctity of yours? Not why you think homosexuality is a sin -- not what sexual acts creep you out -- not whether or not the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks marriage equality is a good idea.

I'm after the sanctity of marriage argument because -- frankly -- I'm a big FAN of the sanctity of marriage ... and figure the more examples of life-long, loving, commited in-sickness-and-health-til-death-do-we-part relationships we have around the stronger the fabric of our society will be.

So give it your best shot ... we're all ears. "How does my marriage undermine the sanctity of yours?" Ready, set ... write!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Looking ahead a little ...

... I'm going to be "on the road" later this week. First stop:

... where I'm preaching at the Sunday evening Interfaith Service on May 3rd at Christ Church. (Will also be at Christ Church that Sunday morning ... doing an adult forum on "Equal Rites and Equal Rights: The Struggle for Same Sex Marriage" and particpating in the 11:00 a.m. service. So if you're in the area, stop by and "say hey!")

Then I go to Washington DC for the HRC sponsored "Clergy Call for Justice and Equality" -- which will include a lobby day on Capitol Hill ... like this gathering in April 2007:

This year, the line up includes Bishop Gene Robinson, Rabbi Denise Eger, the Reverend Tony Campolo, Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Fr. Richard Estrada and HRC President Joe Salmonese. Check out the schedule of events here ... and if you're anywhere near Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 5th come by and see faith in action in your nation's capital!

Grieving the loss of a giant of justice

Dr. Hassan Hathout dies at 84;
Islamic leader fostered interfaith relations

From the obituary in yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

Dr. Hassan Hathout, a physician, medical ethicist and leader of the Southern California Islamic community who was at the forefront of efforts to demystify American Muslims and build interfaith bonds, has died. He was 84.

Hathout died of natural causes Saturday at his Pasadena home, said a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, of which he was a prominent member.

He was also a leader of the Islamic Center of Southern California, where he coordinated outreach efforts for two decades. A well-regarded scholar, he wrote several books, including "Reading the Muslim Mind."

"He was one of our giants in the history of Islam in America," who urged Muslims to be "organically integrated in American society and not act as visitors" in it, Salam al Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said Sunday.

In 1998 Hathout delivered a sermon at the first White House celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the day marking the end of the Muslim holy month Ramadan. Along with Rabbi Leonard Beerman of Bel-Air's Leo Baeck Temple and the Rev. George Regas of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Hathout also helped organize the Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race, one of the first major inter-religious efforts in Los Angeles.

"As a physician he was so committed to life, he wanted to stand against anything that was going to obliterate life. He did that as a deeply religious person," Regas said Sunday.

Hathout was born in Cairo on Dec. 23, 1924. The son of a schoolteacher, he was educated at the University of Edinburgh where he earned degrees from the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He also had a doctorate of philosophy in reproductive genetics.

He taught obstetrics and gynecology in Kuwait, where he lived for 26 years before immigrating to the United States in the late 1980s.

He quickly became involved in interfaith work in Los Angeles. With Beerman and Regas, he organized weekly prayer services for Muslims, Christians and Jews during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The first service at All Saints in Pasadena drew more than 1,500 worshipers.

"We've lived together for centuries with mutual reserve and hatred," he told the Daily News in 1991. "One of the positive things of the whole gulf crisis is that the three communities came together and discovered each other's faith and scriptures are so similar."

After 9/11, Hathout stepped up his efforts at bridge-building and called on Muslims to tone down anti-American rhetoric. He also spoke at Open Mosque Day, a program launched in 2002 in which more than two dozen mosques in Southern California invited non-Muslims to join in Islamic prayers, food and literature.

At one such event a few years ago, he told visitors that instead of classifying humanity by religion, he sought to view people in more basic terms: "those with a loving heart and those with a hating heart."

"He had a wonderful heart," said Dr. Omar Alfi, a physician and former chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California, who knew Hathout for 60 years. "His main point was that religion is love . . . that humans are either loving or hating people irrespective of their religion.

"That was always a very important point for him."

Hathout is survived by his wife of 56 years, Salonas; a daughter, Eba; a brother, Maher; and two grandchildren.


Dr. Hathout was a frequent guest at All Saints Church where he and his family regularly joined us as interfaith guests for our Christmas Eve services. The website dedicated to his work and witness describes Dr. Hathout as "A Man of God. A Man of Love." That is certainly how we knew him.

And so, even as we grieve with his community and his family the loss of this great leader, we rejoice in the bridges built during his life and ask God to grant us the grace to follow his example.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Let no one deceive you."

Sermon on video here.

Sermon for Easter 3B: April 26, 2009
All Saints Church, Pasadena ■ 1 John 3:1-7 ■ Luke 24:36b-48 ■

There is a quote that I’ve heard variously attributed to Karl Barth, to Billy Graham … and to Ed Bacon. And that quote is this: “A preacher should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”

I narrowed it down to Karl Barth as the original source of the quote – thanks to GOOGLE – but what I’m wondering this morning is if we don’t need to update it to reflect how we live and work and communicate in the 21st century – update it to read: “preach with the Bible in one hand and “the newspaper AND “YouTube” in the other!” And here’s what got me thinking …

If your email inbox is anything like mine, every third or fourth message lately is a link to something on YouTube that someone sends you labeled “must see” or “don’t’ miss.” Well, that’s all well and good … and I appreciate the generous impulse to share cute pet tricks and the latest political commercial parody … but it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here and I had a SERMON to write and a Covenant One class to get ready for heaven’s sake … I didn’t have time to just “click here and watch this” at the drop of an email.

But finally, they wore me down. Maybe it was the 25th forward with the same link saying “you’ve GOT to see this!” Or maybe it was Zelda Kennedy sticking her head in my office and saying, “I can’t believe you haven’t SEEN this yet!” Whatever made me do it, I finally “clicked here” … and watched in awe as a Scottish singer named Susan Boyle transported an auditorium of Brits and a panel of cynical judges to a place of hope, joy and beauty with her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Misérables.

And -- after I found my Kleenex -- I sent an email to just about everybody I know saying … you guessed it … “you’ve GOT to see this!” And then I spent a little time reflecting on just why this YouTube moment had touched such a chord with me and with so many others.

It wasn’t just the lyric of the song she sang (and no, I am NOT going to sing it for you this morning … I am no Susan Boyle!) … although they are words that speak in a deep and meaningful way of the universal human dream of love and hope and life worth living that we share with all members of our human family:

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.

But it is something more than the profound humanity of this dream that I believe touches a chord with us “no matter where we find ourselves on our journey.” I believe it moves us the way it does because it is not only a dream we all dream … it is a dream the One who created us in love -- TO love and live and dream -- has dreamed for us as well.

It’s what our friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called “God’s Dream:”

"God says to you, 'I have a dream. Please help me to realize it.’ It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts. God’s dream is that all God's children everywhere will know we belong in one family."

And yet, the world conspires to tell us that dream is not real, not possible, not attainable … that it IS “only a dream.” (Or “grow up and live with it” – as one commenter on my blog put it this week.)

And sometimes – all too often – those voices succeed in stamping out the hope and the joy – in trampling on the dream – our dream and God’s dream … as Susan Boyle sang at the end of her 15 minutes of YouTube fame:

I had a dream my life would be
So different from the hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed

“Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” How many beloved children of God dwell this morning in a place of despair and hopelessness – how many find their dream of a life worth living – of love that never dies – of a forgiving God – killed by life in a world that tells them they’re not good enough or faithful enough, that their lives and hopes and dreams do not matter, that whoever they are and wherever they find themselves on their journey they are NOT welcome – unless they shape up, follow along, fit in.

Or not. And that’s why I think this YouTube clip was up over 100 million hits (and climbing) when last I checked. Susan Boyle did NOT let life kill the dream she dreamed … if she had, she’d have never managed at the ripe-young age of 47 to walk out onto that stage and face those eye-rolling judges and incredulous audience members and let loose with a performance that didn’t just sing a song but incarnated a dream – HER dream -- and … in the process … give us all the hope that if her dream was possible, then so is ours.

As Christians, during this season of Easter we both claim and proclaim a hope – a promise – a dream – that has been called “the great Easter truth.” That Great Easter truth is not that we will be born again someday-- but that we are to be alive here and now by the power of the resurrection! And we claim in that resurrection promise the love of God for each and every one of us that the writer of I John proclaimed in the epistle this morning: “See what love God has lavished on us, in letting us be called God’s children! That is in fact what we are … and the reason that the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized God.”

And so -- with the Bible in one hand and YouTube in the other -- let’s take a look at the closing words of I John 3:1-7 … and of Les Misérables –

From John: “Let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.”

And from Les Miz: Remember the truth that once was spoken: “To love another person is to see the face of God."

Let no one deceive you – the dreams you dream – the dream WE dream here at All Saints Church – are real. Turning the human race into the human family isn’t just something Ed Bacon thought up on retreat one January … it is the dream of God, it is the foundation of our historic faith, it is God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And if the world could start recognizing that to love another person is to see the face of God – well – then it could stop killing each other over dogmas and doctrines that have nothing to do with the dream God dreamed and everything to do with how human beings have distorted it.

Let no one deceive you – the Jesus we follow KNEW that the Good News he offered was going to be met with the world’s best efforts to kill the dream God dreamed. Indeed, that’s the very story of Good Friday, isn’t it? And that’s the reason we’re Easter people … not Good Friday people: because love wins, grace trumps, Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

In that rising again, we are promised that NOTHING the world can do can triumph over the dream God dreamed for us – so there is nothing for us to fear. And freed from fear, we are freed to risk and dare and follow and witness to the truth of the risen Christ present in our lives – and invite others to come and dream with us of a world where hope is high and love will never die.

Let no one deceive you. There are plenty of forces at work trying to kill that dream – both inside and outside the church. In the Episcopal Church, they are voices that insist that only by continuing to exclude a percentage of our members from full inclusion in all the sacraments can we maintain the unity of the church. (Never mind that leaving people out doesn’t seem to add up to “unity” – maybe it’s the way I’m doing the math.)

Meanwhile, in the secular arena, the dream that’s on the chopping block is the dream of equal access to the civil protection of marriage for couples who aren’t – as Miss California put it last week – “opposite.” (Another YouTube moment!) The good news is that progress has been made in four states – with another three coming along and the California Supreme Court decision still to be rendered. The bad news is it is way too often people of faith who are leading the charge against equality – and the other good news is that there ARE people of faith who are stepping up and speaking out – and we believe … at the end of the day … we WILL weather the storm!

Those are just the tip of the iceberg of the challenges we face -- the ones that are all over the newspaper – and YouTube – but the good news we share today is that none of those challenges are greater than the power behind us.

The love of God greater even than death. The dream of God of a human race turned into a human family. The grace of God enabling us and empowering us to be part of making that dream a reality.

Let no one deceive you … we’ve got miles to go before we rest – before that kingdom comes – before that reign is realized. But we’ve got each other as companions on the journey – we’ve got this feast of bread and wine made holy to feed us and sustain us – and we’ve got voices of inspiration like Susan Boyle – just a YouTube click away – reminding us that there is beauty that is more than skin deep -- and that there ARE dreams that life cannot kill!

Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Amen!

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread

As we celebrate this 3rd Sunday of Easter (remembering Easter is 50 DAYS ... not just a SUNDAY!) here's some food for thought to go along with the bread of life from our friend Giles Fraser, Rector of Putney, in south London.)

[Church Times: 24APR2009] THIS WEEK it is 900 years since the death of Anselm of Canterbury, argu­ably most noted for his inven­tion of the ontological argument, and for putting up the scaffolding for the theory of penal substitution, only really finished off by Calvin in the 16th century.

Now, while I think the ontological argument is a pretty harmless par­lour game for brainboxes with too much time on their hands, penal sub­stitution is a very bad thing indeed.

Some Christians get very worked up by anyone’s having a go at penal substitution. This is largely, I think, because they confuse this medieval-cum-Reformation reading of salva­tion with the gospel itself, and just cannot see that penal substitution is one reading of the text among others.

The basic idea is that human beings owe God an unpayable debt on account of their sin, and that Jesus pays off this debt by being nailed up on a cross. To many of us, this account turns God into a merciless loan shark, deaf to our pleas for forgiveness. Whatever hap­pened to “I desire mercy not sacri­fice” (Hosea 6.6, Matthew 9.13)?

Another weakness is that it gives the resurrection nothing to do in the overall scheme of human salvation. If we are saved on the cross, then there is no saving work left for the resurrection to do. Thus it gets sidelined as a spectacular after-party to the main event, which gets wrapped up on Good Friday.

That just can’t be right. Those who insist otherwise might like to take a closer look at Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo? (“Why a God-Man?”), where he sets out his understanding of salvation. It is made up of 47 mini-chapters; all have titles, but not one of them refers to the resurrection. Indeed, the resurrection hardly merits a mention throughout the whole book — a book on human salvation. No wonder so many of us find penal substitution so uncon­vincing.

My views on all this are mild and moderate compared with some of the things said about penal substitu­tion by members of the Orthodox Church. Take Dr Alex­ander Kalim­oros’s celebrated essay on Eastern Orthodox soteriology, The River of Fire, where he insists that “The ‘God’ of the West is an offended and angry God, full of wrath for the dis­obedience of men, who desires in his destructive passion to torment all humanity unto eternity for their sins, unless he receives an infinite satisfaction for his offended pride.”

This theology, Dr Kalimoros asserts, is the work of the devil, leading Western Christians to athe­ism. That may be a little strong, but it might just wake some people up to reconsider Anselm’s dubious legacy.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

RIP: A Truly Golden Girl

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur
(May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009)

Friday, April 24, 2009

"No Offense"

I know I'm supposed to be working on my sermon for Sunday.

And I am. I really am.

But part of the way I work is to weave together all the bits and pieces that have connected themselves to the texts appointed for the Sunday coming in my praying and reflecting and contemplating ... and this week one of those "bits" is Miss "No Offense" California.

Bless her heart.

It used to be we talked about preaching with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. But maybe now (with apologies to my newspaper journalist friends) we should add "with "YouTube" in the other."

So, in case you missed it, here's the transcript from the YouTube moment when Miss California was asked by Miss USA pageant judge Perez Hilton the following question:

“Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”

And Miss California gave the following answer:

“Well, I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”

You're welcome, very much, Miss California. But before you go ... could I ask a couple of follow up questions? Great!

Did you miss the part where "Americans" actually don't get to "choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage" -- that is, unless they live in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut or Iowa? (Or maybe Maine, New Hampshire and New York ... depending on how the next couple of months play out?)

Do you understand that because we do not get to "choose marriage" same-sex couples are denied 1138 federal rights that "opposite marriage couples" are automatically granted?

And did you forget the part about how in this land -- in your country -- we've got a thing called "separation of church and state" and "freedom of religion?"

That means (stay with me now!) that the response "For me it was being biblically correct" may get you some mileage on the conservative blogs but it (no offense to anybody out there) flies in the face of those core values of American democracy.

Those core values, Miss California, are intended to protect your right to believe whatever you want to about what the Bible says about marriage. They are also intended to protect the rights of those who read the Bible differently (or not at all!) from having you or anybody else inflict your theology on our democracy.

What they do not protect us from -- any of us -- is being offended by that which is offensive. And you, Miss California, offended millions of gay and lesbian couples, their friends, families, co-workers and neighbors with your ill-considered response to Mr. Hilton's question on Saturday night.

So I'm sorry your answer got boo'd. I really am. Booing is just plain bad manners (no offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised). But I'm not at all sorry -- in fact I'm encouraged -- that the judges recognized that discrmination and homophobia are not at all attractive -- on a beauty queen or on anybody else.

Maybe -- just maybe -- we're actually getting somewhere when even a beauty pageant draws the line at bigotry ... and when (no offense!) it's OK to be offended by what IS offensive. Thank you very much.


To summarize:

APPLES: We're working within the system to influence it.
ORANGES: They're working around the system to dismantle it.

Any questions?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


So, in case you missed a meeting, there is still much commenting going on about the "Bishops' Statement on Episcopal Polity" leaked early yesterday and then released shortly thereafter.

Matthew Davies offers a very thorough overview in his ENS feature today ... and The Chicago Consultation also issued a thoughtful statement today.

Mark Harris posted a follow-up to yesterday's flurry entitled "Cleaning Out the Stalls" on PRELUDIUM and Elizabeth Kaeton wonders "This is News?" on "Telling Secrets."

And if you want to find out what the "other side of the aisle" is saying, well ... those you can go find yourselves. Suffice to say, it's the usual comments by the usual suspects.

ANYWAY, what I want to write about today is the question I've gotten from a variety of sources that I think begs an answer. The question -- in several slightly different iterations -- goes something like this:

How is what these bishops and their buddies are doing any different than what Integrity does to influence General Convention and advance its inclusion agenda?

The answer brings me to the title of this post: It's as different as "Apples and Oranges."

And to unpack that I'm going to turn to the wisdom of my colleague (the Reverend Dr. Ruth Meyers) who answered a similar question on a listserve earlier today and has given me permission to share her response here to the comment, "Just because something is organized does not make it 'subversive'." Ruth writes:

I agree, just because something is organized doesn't make it subversive. Here is the part that seems subversive to me (from the leaked emails, as posted by the Washington Blade):

1) The CO priest will request of +SC, as a CP Bishop, a 'visitation',

2) the purpose of which is to prevent his parishioners from concluding that the only route for them is joining ACNA (which will be happening in CO soon) because their Diocesan is not foregrounding his covenant commitments and indeed has ordained an openly homosexual priest, etc, but also has said he means to create space for others' views, etc;

3) +SC will phone +O'Neil and ask that this request be honored and seek to persuade him of its importance,

4) +SC will ask +Salmon to visit, and will indicate to +CO that +Chane is using Salmon in this way in DC ...

"Importantly, +SC reminded us that he does not want to get into a quid pro quo situation that, having implemented something like this, the PB makes sure he reciprocates when SSBs pass in General Convention and he is forced to let a proponent of the same do a visitation in SC. Hence, using +Salmon."

As I understand the Delegated Episcopal Parish Oversight (DEPO) plan (commended by the 2006 General Convention in A163), the first step for a parish disagreeing with their bishop is to seek reconciliation through direct conversation. If reconciliation does not occur, then the rector and vestry may request delegated episcopal pastoral oversight, and in that case, the diocesan bishop appoints another bishop to provide that oversight. [source]

What feels subversive to me in the Communion Partners plan (as outlined in the email correspondence) are the following elements:

1) The request from the Colorado priest to the Bishop of South Carolina, rather than to his own bishop or through an appeal to the provincial leadership.

2) The efforts to keep the Bishop of South Carolina on the edges, delegating the visit to the retired bishop of South Carolina, so that the diocesan will not be forced to accept a similar visitation.


Thanks, Ruth! It "feels subversive" because ... IT IS! The good-faith offer to provide alternative pastoral oversight in order to give elbow room to thelogical minorities to continue to find a a place in this beloved church of ours is being turned into a blunt instrument to pry parishes out of their dioceses -- undermining the historic polity and unity of the Episcopal Church toward the end of "purifying" it from those who would include all the baptized equally in the Body of Christ.

And WE'RE the ones they call revisionists.


Here's the "apples and oranges" part, boys and girls: We are "out" about what we do. We lobby bishops. We caucus with deputies. We show up. We create educational resources to change hearts and minds. We tell our stories. We show up. We organize. We build common cause with other justice allies. We show up. We publish our platform. We write resolutions. We work to get them through committee. And then we work to pass them on the floor. And we keep showing up.

It's all out in the open, kids. We haven't got any secret agenda. Honest to Pete.

It's the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church.


And we're going to keep showing up until we get there.

That's something you can bet both your apples AND your oranges on.


Testimony from Maine (via "Pam's House Blend")

Posted on Pam's House Blend this moving testimony from the public hearings in Maine on marriage equality should be required reading for anybody who still doesn't "get" that marriage for gay people isn't ANY different that it is for straight people -- and the fact that couples like this are still together after all those years in SPITE of what they've had to overcome, well ... read it for yourself. And go ahead and weep if you want. The rest of us already have!

Good afternoon Senator Bliss, Representative Priest and members of the Judiciary Committee.

My name is Jarad Platt; I live in Farmington and I am here to urge you to support LD 1020. I am speaking for myself.

I am a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) employed by the Maine Office of Substance Ab use as a Treatment Specialist; I am Coordinator of Substance Abuse Treatment for the adult Maine State Prisons, the Maine Adult Drug Treatment Courts and the Maine Co_occurring Disorders Courts.

My partner is Daniel Gazette. Danny is an Administrative Assistant. We are registered as Domestic Partners in Maine and have been together for 34 years. we both work full time jobs, pay local, state and federal taxes, own a home and autos, support charities, and are integrated into the Farmington community.

We have supported each other through the critical illness of Danny's mother and the death of his father. My mother lived with us for 16 years and died at age 96 last month. When mother knew she was close to passing, she wrapped her arms around Danny's neck and whispered to him "I want you to take care of Jarad for me."

I was caretaker for Danny as he went through cancer of the larynx sugery and radiation treatments and then a heart attack. Danny was caretaker for me when I had a ruptured colon and the attendant surgeries, and a nearly fatal kidney failure and congestive heart failure. We are both fully receovered.

Our lives have always been inclusive of intense family relationships. Mother was a lifelong Baptist. Her faith and religion was not in a box. I didn't come out as a gay man until I was 35. My father had already passed, my mother immediately accepted me.

Danny was kicked out of the Arny for being gay. Danny's dad, George, didn't understand homosexuality when Danny came out to his family, so they had a tenuous relationship for a few years. At Danny's sister's wedding George gave his daughter $500; he gave Danny $10 and told him he'd get the rest when he got married. Danny told his dad he had just saved $490.

The second Christmas we were together at Danny's parents' house, his mother and father were so excited. George got out his camera, Danny's mom could hardly contain herself. Danny opened his gift, which was 2 pairs of socks. We were both confused by the excitement of his parents. Then Danny saw the corner of a piece of paper under one of the socks, and took out a check for $490.

That was love and acceptance.

My hope is that this committee and the entire Senate and House can see what George saw- love and committment worthy of marriage. Danny's mom called Monday to say she hoped that this bill would pass, that "you guys deserve this".

I love Danny with all my heart, a love that has grown over the years we have been together. Danny tells me the same. I want my relationship with Danny to be honored. He and I are honorable people and their is no reason our lives and love don't qualify for marriage.

Please support LD 1020.

Thank you.

Today is "Slay a Dragon Day"

Who Knew?

In Greek mythology, Perseus slew a monster that threatened Andromeda. Not to be outdone, the Crusaders from the 1300s told the story of Saint George. George used his magic sword to kill a dragon ... just in the nick of time to save the king’s daughter from being sacrificed to the fire-breathing beast. As the story goes, this dragon had an insatiable appetite and it was only through his deep faith that George was able to accomplish this deed.

Little factual information is known about Saint George other than his becoming a soldier and rising to a high rank under Diocletian. Because of his strong and open belief in Christianity, he was arrested, tortured and put to death at Nicomedia on this day in 303 A.D.

He was so revered by the Crusaders, that George was named Patron Saint of England in 1350 A.D. For many years, English soldiers wore the red cross of St. George on a white background as a badge; and it remains a part of the British Union flag.

The martyred hero is still honored throughout England on this day, Saint George Feast Day.

TEN YEARS: Judy Shepard Asks for Your Help

Hate Crimes Heat Up on The Hill

This "just in" from the HRC folks:

This week, the right-wing Traditional Values Coalition blanketed Congress with a "fact sheet" saying the Matthew Shepard Act would protect "bizarre sexual orientations" like bestiality and necrophilia.

Once again, facts have nothing to do with it. Dozens of states have hate crime laws, and none get into this nonsense.

But these arguments can make even supportive members of Congress uneasy about voting for the bill – and we've heard repeatedly that right-wing groups have been FLOODING Congress with calls.

Please call your representative's office today! It will make a huge difference, and it only takes about one minute:

Click here to find the phone number ...

Tell the staff member answering the phone where you're calling from, and that you'd like to urge Representative [Fill in the Blank] to work hard to pass the Matthew Shepard Act next week.

I just did it. It LITERALLY took two minutes. Please take the time to add your voice because if we're silent now, the radical right will continue to use their lies to deny LGBT equality – and so many other priorities, from marriage equality to workplace protections, will be in jeopardy. Because if we lose now, regaining our momentum will be that much harder.

We can't let the voices of hate and bigotry drown us out. We need you to pick up the phone – make one simple call – and speak up for fairness and equality.

Thanks so much for all your help.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nancy Drew and The Case of the Errant Anglican Emails

So it's been a busy couple of days over in this particular corner of the fields of the Lord.

I was still in Holy Week/Easter Recovery Mode and thought I had plenty on my plate to deal with just getting caught up on all the things on my "To Do After Easter" list ... plus the unexpected chance to be part of a Marriage Equality PSA video AND the invitation to the GLAAD Media Awards on Sunday night. Yesiree Bob, a very full dance card indeed.

And then I checked my email on Saturday night. And there -- lo and behold -- was a note with an attachment entitled "Bishops' Statement on Episcopal Polity" and including a smoking gun email trail with a very interesting glimpse behind the process of bringing this document into fruition.

It came with an introductory note from the email correspondent which included the following:

I am writing about a time sensitive situation for the national Episcopal Church. I am vaguely aware of some of the details regarding several Diocese scattered across the country who are attempting to separate from the national body of the Church.

For reasons I will never know (perhaps providential -- most likely it is that my initials are the similar as his and thus someone typed in an incorrect email) this morning I received in my email box communication from Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson and a group of his supporters about new documents that are in their final phase of planning that they plan to release soon.

Their present logic behind why they are truly independent of the national body and thus justified by history to do whatever they wish. They indicate they are going public soon. I assume you might know who would like this info to prepare an immediate response etc.

My, my, my.

What to do?

Well, turns out the recipient of the Errant Anglican Emails had reached out to several folks who are identified leaders in LGBT Land, and so after putting our heads together and discerning that the emails were in fact authentic -- and that this "Bishops' Statement" was indeed fixing to launch -- we girded our loins and did what Our Lord told us in the third chapter of the Gospel According to John was the thing to do: turned on the lights.

So now the word is out, the lights are on, the "men behind the curtain" have been "outed." And now -- in an effort to reframe the story from the lengths this bunch of division focused schismatics will go to split the church they have been unsuccessful in re-creating in their own image -- they are (of course) blaming those who have turned on the lights -- not those who have created the mess.

"But is this really news?" asked a colleague a few minutes ago in an email.

"Yes," I replied. "Yes it is."

And here's why. The quote I had in my press release is from a good friend of ours who was STUNNED by how "much plotting is going on."

"I had no idea" he said.

And what I wanted to say was "No shit, Sherlock!" ... but I didn't Because the truth is there are boatloads of well meaning, hard working, faithful Episcopalians out there who really DON'T know that while they're busy talking reconciliation and being nice to each other the other side is off doing whatever it takes to undermine us and our mission and our ministry.

Like plotting "mild kinds of extortion" and rewriting the history of the polity of the Episcopal Church to fit a scenario where they don't have to let the General Convention OR the Presiding Bishop "be the boss of them."

We need to make this news because we need to "turn on the light" and expose what's going on. And we have. And I consider that a very good day's work indeed -- even as I regret the need to have to do this particular piece of work when the world is calling us to get on with proclaiming the Year of the Lord's Favor.

Finally, I'm taking flak for being quoted using the word "cretin" in the Washington Blade. As is often the case with the secular media (and yes, I should know by now to be more careful!) context counts. And while I could and probably should have chosen my words more carefully, the context for that particular comment was exposing the actions of those who mask their homophobia, sexism and and entitlement with a veneer of civility and rapprochement that belies the lengths to which they'll go under cover of darkness to maintain their power and the status quo.

So, for the record, I do regret using the word "cretin." I regret it because cretin infers ignorance -- and I will not grant the architects of this schism the cover of ignorance.

They know precisely what they are doing. And the fact that they doth protest so much when their schemes are brought to the light only serves to make that point.

Weathering the Storm

"The truth will set you free" seems to be the theme of the day! It started with the "outing" of the "men behind the curtain" in their continued effort to foment schism in The Episcopal Church.

And now here -- fresh off the YouTube hitlist -- is "Weathering the Storm" -- the video PSA debunking the lies in that awful "Gathering Storm" video the NOM folks put out (and everyone else is having so much fun doing paraodies of -- way to go Stephen Colbert!)

It was a GREAT privilege to be part of this video project. We shot it on SUNDAY AFTERNOON (yes, that would be like in three days ago!)... and now here it is -- ready to get the truth out!



Integrity on the "Communion Partners'" Statement on Episcopal Polity (etc.)

(Yes, this would be the "line in the sand"
I referred to a few days ago,
More to come on this one, boys and girls!)


Integrity applauds the “outing” of both the “Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church” and the email trail between the framers and signers of a document clearly designed to continue to undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Though couched in ecclesiastical language, the statement is an entirely political document. It attempts to lay the foundation for an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert that they are not bound by the Episcopal Church’s governing body: General Convention. These bishops seek to increase their own authority, while diminishing the role of the laity and clergy in the governance of the church.

“We have been given a look at ’the men behind the curtain’ manipulating a schism driven agenda while professing to work transparently for reconciliation”, said Integrity President Susan Russell.

“To quote one long-time ally’s response to these documents, ‘This is stunning. It is remarkable to think about the plotting that is going on. In many ways I am just too naïve.’”

“This statement – and the email trail leading up to its creation – should be required reading for all who will be making decisions in good faith at our upcoming General Convention,” said Russell. “We cannot afford to be naïve about the forces working to divide this church and distract it from its call to live out the gospel in the world. And we must not accept the false choice between unity and justice being presented by the very people working behind the scenes to create disunity and foment schism.”

The argument that dioceses are independent of the Episcopal Church is novel, and a creature of convenience. It seeks to camouflage the desire of anti-gay bishops and theologians to punish the Church for consecrating an openly gay bishop and permitting the blessing of same-sex relationships in some dioceses.

The authors of these emails profess to be loyal Episcopalians, but they openly express their hope that this statement will be used in litigation by individuals who have left the Episcopal Church to join forces with virulently anti-gay bishops in other parts of the world and are attempting to take the Church’s property with them.

A number of the bishops who have reportedly signed on to this statement are members of the "Communion Partners Bishops’ Network." When founded, this group pledged to work transparently and in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in attempting to reconcile those of differing theological views. These emails make clear that the group instead was working surreptitiously to undermine the Bishop of Colorado, and seeking to set up a system of episcopal oversight controlled entirely by the Communion Partners.

The work of reconciliation in the Anglican Communion was thoroughly compromised by a theologian and a bishop named in this correspondence who used their positions on important Communion-wide bodies to advance the agenda of the Communion Partners network. The Rev. Ephraim Radner, who is copied on these emails and whose name appears on the statement, helped draft the proposed Anglican Covenant. Bishop Gary Lilibridge, who the emails suggest offered advice on drafting the statement, was a member of the Communion’s Windsor Continuation Group.

Both bodies produced documents that create significant impediments to the full inclusion of LGBT Christians in the Church, while the proposed covenant removed obstacles to the inclusion of anti-gay churches, dioceses and parishes in the councils of the Communion.

The emails concerning the Diocese of Colorado make clear that this group will use the proposed Anglican Covenant as a tool for moving individual congregations out from under the authority of their diocesan bishops. This strategy can be employed not only in the Episcopal Church, but across the Anglican Communion.

"It is time for The Episcopal Church to "just say no" to the forces working to divide it and get on with bringing people into the work and witness of the gospel," concluded Russell. "Our Lord promised us that the truth will set us free. Our prayer is that knowing more now about the truth of what is going on behind the scenes of the Communion Partners Network will indeed set us free to get with the work of being the church in the world for ALL God's beloved human family."


For other background on this story see:

Thinking Anglicans: Communion Partners Forge Ahead

Mark Harris: Heads Up

Elizabeth Kaeton: Anglican Teabagging

The Washington Blade: Episcopal leaders look to enhance anti-gay schism

Times Online: Episcopal Email Conspiracy Unwrapped

Tobias Haller: BS from ACI

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Debunking the Myths:

#1 -- Churches and other religious institutions will be forced to marry same-sex couples

#2 -- Religious institutions can face penalties such as law suits or loss of tax exempt status if they refuse to marry same-sex couples

#3 -- Marriage as we know it will be destroyed

"Massachusettes can prove that what people feared has not come about. The only thing that has transpired is that people who love each other now have the same rights as other people who love each other."

Another "Line in the Sand" ...

... coming soon from Schism Central.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photos from the GLAAD Media Awards

So we had a GREAT time last night as +Gene's guests at the GLAAD Media Awards here in L.A. +Gene received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for his work to raise visibility of LGBT-inclusive voices of faith -- and we had a ring-side seat for both celebrity gawking and connecting with great friends.

More later ...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reading Assignment:

Tobias Haller's "Reasonable and Holy" ... coming soon to a bookstore near you!

You can pre-order online at Church Publishing -- where you'll also find this description:

Reasonable and Holy addresses the conflict over homosexuality within the Anglican tradition, demonstrating that the church is able to provide for and support faithful and loving relationships between persons of the same sex, not as a departure from that tradition, but as a reasonable extension of it.

It offers a carefully argued, but accessible means of engagement with Scripture, the Jewish and Christian traditions, and the use of reason in dealing with the experience and lives of fellow-Christians. Unlike most reflections on the topic of homosexuality, Reasonable and Holy examines same-sex relationships through the lens of the traditional teaching on the “ends” or “goods” of marriage: procreation, union, the upbuilding of society, the symbolic representation of Christ and the Church, and the now often unmentioned “remedy for fornication.” Throughout, it responds to objections based on reason, tradition and Scripture.
. has a "take a peek" feature enabled here ... and there's already a "Reasonable and Holy" blogspot set up ready to go.
So consider this a "reading assignment" to get ready for General Convention 2009. The work we have ahead of us ... the challenge AND opportunity we're going to embrace in Ahaheim ... is to reject the false "either/or" choice between justice and unity and the WAY we're going to do that is to plant our feet, our arguments, our strategy, our messaging and our theology firmly on the bedrock of classical Anglicanism -- and this book is part of your homework!
Ready, Set, READ!

Father Matthew on "Biblical Inerrancy"

I subscribe to Father Matthew's YouTube posts but was behind on watching the latest ... thanks to Episcopal Cafe for the "Lead" ... and BRAVO, Father Matthew!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Multiple Choice Quiz

  • A. The number of years the tradition tells us our Lord lived on this earth.
  • B. The number of years since the Episcopal Church promised full and equal claim to its gay and lesbian baptized. (General Convention 1976)
  • C. The number of years that are past long enough to wait for the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.
  • D. All of the above.

    The answer -- of course -- is "D" and Honest to Pete, people -- is it REALLY going to take the Episcopal Church longer to live out its commitment to full and equal claim than it did Jesus to live out his ministry on earth?

    Call your Bishops.
    Email your Deputies.
    Give to the
    Anaheim Campaign
    Let's add another answer to this multiple choice quiz: "The number of the year full and equal claim became a reality and not just a resolution!"


Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Trinity of Videos

We've got all the All Saints sermons up online now so here are links to Good Friday and Easter Sunday -- and if you're one of the twelve people left on the planet who haven't seen Susan Boyle in action, here's your chance.


"By his wounds we are healed" -- my Good Friday sermon
"Where to find the real Jesus" -- Ed Bacon's Easter sermon
"I dreamed a dream" -- Susan Boyle's showstopping performance on "Britain's Got Talent"

Leading Combatant in Gay Marriage Fight To Head Southern California Rabbis

[Los Angeles] When Denise Eger assumes the leadership of this region’s local rabbinic association, she’ll be making history — twice over.

On May 11, Eger will become not only the first woman to lead the Board of Rabbis of Southern California — one of the nation’s largest rabbinic boards — but also the board’s first openly gay or lesbian president.

Eger, 49, serves as the rabbi of West Hollywood’s gay-and-lesbian-oriented Reform synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami, and has been active on the local board of rabbis for more than a decade. She also has been outspoken on issues of gay and lesbian rights in the Jewish community and beyond — most recently fighting against Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage ballot initiative.

Eger’s ascension to the presidency is a milestone for the 72-year-old association, whose members include Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox rabbis.

Read the rest here ... and MAZEL TOV, Denise!

And the Quote of the Week Award goes to: Jim Naughton of Episcopal Cafe for:

"GAFCON recognizing ACNA is similar to Chevy announcing that it recognizes General Motors."

From today's "The Lead" over at Episcopal Cafe: "Dog Bites Man:"

The leaders of GAFCON have found it within their hearts to recognize the schismatic organization that pays their bills. As five of the seven Primates on the GAFCON leadership council already support breakaway congregations within the Episcopal Church, this has the effect of an organization declaring that it recognizes itself. It will be interesting to see whether the mainstream media considers this news, or understands that this is similar to Chevy announcing that it recognizes General Motors.

This recognition, however, cuts against the argument made by the English and Australian branches of GAFCON that theirs is not a schismatic movement, but merely a fellowship within the Anglican Communion. By what authority does a fellowship within the Communion recognizes a group waging a campaign against existing members of the same Communion?


Good question, Jim! Any answers out there?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some "not so" Fun Facts to Know and Tell About Tax Day (from the HRC)

From the HRC "Back Story" website: A Reminder of the True Costs of DOMA

As millions of Americans file their income taxes today, a coalition of LGBT advocacy groups are calling attention to the tax inequities facing same-sex couples as a result of the state and federal laws that refuse to recognize or extend civil marriage protections to same-sex couples. Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact and the Human Rights Campaign have collectively organized a series of events at U. S. Post Offices across the nation to highlight the ongoing moral and financial costs of denying marriage equality to same-sex couples—as well as the consequences paid by all Americans as a result of these discriminatory state and federal laws.

“Each tax season, same-sex couples sit at their dining room tables and are forced to live a legal lie by checking ‘single’ despite their decades together and then arbitrarily dividing up their joint household’s income, expenses, and dependents,” said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. “Then we write checks to the IRS for social security taxes, knowing that when we die our families will not even have access to any of the family ‘safety net’ benefits provided in the form of social security survivor benefits, estate tax deferral, and other programs that we help fund through our tax dollars and that only heterosexual couples and their children will enjoy.”

“The tax inequities faced by loving, committed same-sex couples make them less able to care for each other and their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Even same-sex couples in states that do legally recognize their unions are penalized by the federal government simply for building a family with the person they love. This is an injustice that can and must end.”

“Whether couples are married, civil unioned or have no state protections under state law, all same-sex couples in the United States are treated as ‘single’ under federal law. The U.S. Census has declared that they will not recognize married same-sex couples as “married” in the 2010 Census. We cannot allow our community to be erased,” said Amy Balliett, co-founder of Join the Impact. “Tax season is yet another time where same-sex couples are reminded that despite abiding by the requirements of American citizenship by paying our taxes, we are still are treated as second class citizens.”

A study produced by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) debunks the myth that granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry would cost the government money. In fact, it would save taxpayer dollars. Same-sex couples aren’t the only ones paying for marriage discrimination, all taxpayers fund this discrimination which amounts to as much as $1 billion nationwide. Click here to read the CBO study.

Tax Day: "... with liberty and justice for some."

via email from California Faith for Equality:


“As we rush to the post office to send in our tax dollars today, let us remember those gay and lesbian families who pay their taxes lawfully and faithfully, yet have been denied equality under the law by a majority of voters in California,” said Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality and a Presbyterian pastor. “Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have equal responsibility under the law, but not equal rights. I speak on behalf of a diversity of faith leaders committed to equality and our respective faiths all agree that to take away the rights of any minority group, as did Proposition 8 here in California, is wrong.”

Rabbi Denise Eger, of Congregation Kol-Ami in West Hollywood and one of the founding members of California Faith for Equality said, “Gay and lesbian married couples face continued discrimination at both federal and state levels. While some couples can file in their states as ‘married,’ they are required to file on the federal level as ‘single’.

Eger, President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis added, “Federal law treats same-sex couples as strangers, thereby denying them the 1,138 federal rights, benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. This is not only an affront to the dignity of their families, but to those couples who want to pay their fair share. They continue to be penalized and discriminated by this unequal treatment”.

“California Faith for Equality will continue to be a powerful and uniting force for equality for all LGBT persons,” said Chu.


For more information contact:
Samuel M Chu
Interim Executive Director California Faith for Equality

Rabbi Denise Eger
Congregation Kol-Ami

California Faith for Equality is a statewide network of clergy and lay leaders from a diversity of faith traditions who are committed to equality.