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!)

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