Friday, January 19, 2018

Paying Attention

042110-friendship-cemetery-angel-Columbus-012


I wonder how many of us are indeed paying attention. It seems that this administration continues to quietly (sneakily??) try and make changes to important regulations while most people’s attention is focused on what appears to be a larger and more newsworthy event.

If you do a little research, you can learn that the Census Bureau was directed to change questions that might identify LGBTQ people. Another change was to do away with specific questions in a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) program about LGBTQ seniors. The list is longer than I can or want to cover here.

It now seems that, at least according to sources identified by several newspapers, that the newest attempt to undermine progress made by us queer folks, is to create an entire division within DHHS to support the right of health care providers to refuse to treat LGBTQ folks based on the religious beliefs of the provider. Also included in that “cover” is the right to refuse to provide abortion services.

Where is this coming from? It is more of the ultra-conservative religious right’s attempt to impose their particular brand of Christianity on the entire nation. Aside from potential constitutional issues that involve the government dictating religious issues, why should one part of Christendom be allowed to overrule the beliefs and practices of any other part in this multicultural nation of ours?

Have the rest of us who profess to follow Jesus Christ lost our voices? Have we already succumbed to attempts to disenfranchise us? I have to wonder, I really do. Are those of us who take a different view of these issues, of all religious issues, afraid to make our voices heard? Are we afraid to let those in this administration hear us and know that there is no single voice of Christians in this nation and all of us must be heard?

There was a saying, from the sixties if I recall correctly: If you are not pissed off, you are not paying attention. Seems applicable to the current situation. Perhaps our various bubbles just keep us insulated from the attacks on us as full fledged members of our society.

Integrity began its life in response to injustice against one gay male, interracial couple. Have we lost that edge? Our church has come a long way. Society has lagged behind. Our roots should give us a voice. Are we paying attention?

I keep asking the following questions thinking it might shake some out of their complacency: Whom have you contacted among those who represent your interests to express your concerns and disagreement with current administration policies? Have you emailed, tweeted, texted, called, used carrier pigeon or any other means of communication? Look in the mirror and ask yourself why not? Look in the mirror and ask yourself why you, deep down, still consider yourself a second class citizen?





















Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA ... The Episcopal Rainbow

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friends

The Integrity Window, or St. Aelred Window,
was dedicated April 2 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,
Fargo, North Dakota.
Today is the second Friday of a new year, the 12th day of January. By happenstance (or divine intervention?), January 12 is also a very important day for Integrity. It is the feast day of our patron saint, St Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx. I don’t know how much most who will read this know about Aelred, other than being our patron saint. The background information in the Episcopal Church's "Holy Women, Holy Men" (formerly known as "Lesser Feasts and Fasts") is very clear that Aelred placed great value on friendship. It also notes that the monks in his monastery were allowed to hold hands.


Some information can be found at Forward Movement and a reading for services honoring Aelred in his “Treatise on Spiritual Friendship.” Some additional resources are listed on Integrity's web site at http://www.integrityusa.org/aelred. In the figure shown above, the Integrity Window, or St. Aelred Window, was dedicated April 2 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Fargo, North Dakota.


Obviously I would view the information about Aelred from a different mindset than someone who is not queer. Regardless of that, it is very difficult not to find at a very minimum a “gay friendly” aspect of Aelred’s teachings. Yet our society, and the church of course, has not really owned that possibility. How many do we know who just cannot find a thing supportive of anything “gay” in Scripture or the teachings of the church over the centuries? It’s not surprising. The queer folks had to hide in order to survive. And a straight guy is rarely going to see anything other than “straightness” when he looks at something.


So as this new year begins, I urge us all to look for, nurture, and support the type of friendship Aelred describes and taught in his monastery. Who knows? That might be a way forward in a society that seems to keep us stuck in one way of viewing things.






















Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA ... The Episcopal Rainbow





P. S. Thoughts for the upcoming week: think about how our lives as queer folks has changed in the last year. What gains have been pushed back, altered, or stalled? What have we done to make our feelings about that known to those whose job description is to serve the people.





Friday, January 5, 2018

A Return To Our Roots... Our Grass Roots

Integrity began as a grassroots organization founded by Dr. Louie Crew Clay over 40 years ago, essentially as a newsletter connecting lesbian and gay (LG) folks (the current language of LGBTQ+ had not yet come into existence). Initially there was little structure and no staff. Over the years a board of directors was formed and the organization grew. Even during my first tenure as Integrity’s National President, there was no paid staff and everything was done by volunteers. We even published a regular magazine entitled “Walking With Integrity.”  Yes, it was a “hard copy” publication! Over time with the growing complexity of the organization a staff person was hired as an administrator.  The face of Integrity, however, remained the face of its volunteer leadership.

The need for an Executive Director was discerned for a season and that position as well as other positions became paid staff. Even with staff there was a need for volunteer leadership and volunteer involvement if the Integrity’s work was to be successful, particularly at the church-wide level.

The General Convention of 2015 brought decades of work to a successful culmination with the passage of legislation that put into place the last pieces of protection and inclusion of LGBTQ+ members of our Episcopal Church. The remaining work in those areas is and will continue to be achieved at the grassroots level where individuals interact with each other to help all of us see the face of Christ in each other and without condition or exception. We are at the point where minds and hearts are changed at the one-to-one level. All ministry like that is volunteer ministry.

The work of Integrity is far from done. The presence of 8 dioceses who refuse to allow same-sex marriages bears sad witness to the further needs. The current political climate continues to create more barriers to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks in society... sometimes giving voice to similar actions within the church. Again, that witness is best made at the volunteer and local level.

The Board of Directors of Integrity USA has recognized the need to shift the focus of the ongoing work away from paid staff and toward volunteers at all levels. Accordingly, December 31, 2017, marked the last day that Integrity USA had any paid staff.  Other than items of contract work, the work of Integrity will return to the hearts and hands of volunteers... and we will need all the hearts and hands we can find!

It is bittersweet to say farewell to our Administrator, Laura Zeugner. She has given her time and talents to the work of Integrity far beyond what we have been able to compensate her for doing. She has stepped in and worked with our members at all levels and taken on the work needed to keep us operating, even during some less than the best of circumstances. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I extend our heartfelt thanks to her.

As you will note elsewhere, the telephone number for Integrity USA will remain the same, just answered from a different location. The mailing address has also been changed to
P.O. Box 70605
Houston, TX 77270-0605 USA
Rest assured that Houston is a huge blue”lake” in the middle of a red state!

In closing, let me wish you a Happy 12th Day of Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a Blessed Feast of the Epiphany!












Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA


Friday, September 15, 2017

General Convention 2018: A Time to Celebrate


Donate to the General Convention 2018 fund

Less than a year from now we will have finished General Convention (GC) 2018. This is the first opportunity Integrity USA has had to actually celebrate what happened during General Convention 2015.

GC 2015 represented the accomplishment of a legislative mission that began in earnest about 26 years ago. At the Episcopal Church-wide level, canon law now exists that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity…among all of the other prohibited discriminations in the life of the church, access to the ordination process and a myriad of areas that impact the lives of all, but especially the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-plus (LGBTQ+) members of the church.

Similarly, we now have rites to celebrate same sex unions, including the first reading of changes to the language of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to make marriage rites gender neutral. These rites in conjunction with the Supreme Court ruling in July 2015, makes marriage between members of the same sex available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of the United States. We do note that the bishops of eight of the 101 domestic dioceses still do not permit same sex marriages in their dioceses, in clear violation of canon law.

The overarching mission of Integrity USA has been accomplished at the church wide legislative/canonical level. What still remains to be accomplished needs to be done at the diocesan/parish level as grass roots missionary work.

So yes it is time for celebration.

Integrity USA wants to celebrate at GC 2018 in two ways: One is in staffing a booth in the exhibit hall. The other is in sponsoring a Celebratory General Convention Eucharist. The cost of both is outside our budget. So we turn to you.

We need to raise approximately $42,500 to support our booth in the exhibit hall and to cover the expenses of a General Convention Eucharist (space rental, communion supplies, bulletins, etc., usual expenses for a large Eucharist outside our normal church setting.)          

Those of us whose names appear below have served as national presidents of Integrity USA. We seek your prayerful support and your financial support to help us make GC 2018 a holy celebration for the accomplishments achieved over decades of work. Will you join us?



Kim Byham
Fred Ellis
Bruce Garner
Matt Haines
Caro Hall
Michael Hopkins
David Norgard
Susan Russell

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Millstone of the Nashville Statement

In Nashville in October of 2014, I joined about fifteen LGBTQ people who were invited to a closed-door, off-the-record conversation with the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I was disappointed, this week, to recognize the names of many from that meeting on the list of anti-LGBTQ evangelical leaders who drafted the “Nashville Statement,” a comprehensive fundamentalist Christian manifesto on sexuality and gender.

That 2014 meeting went late into the night, and the discussion was intense. What I remember most clearly were the pleas and tears of some of these men in attendance (all of them were men) begging us to understand that they didn't hate LGBTQ people––saying how much it hurt them to have people call them “bigots” and “homophobes.”

We ended the evening having all promised more kindness, more listening, more respect, and more dialogue, and I, perhaps naively, hoped both sides were sincerely committed to those goals moving forward.

In the subsequent months and years that followed, and with growing intensity since the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015, they have abandoned all remaining pretense of tolerance for the LGBTQ community. Since then, they have demonized and pathologized transgender people, lobbied for bills that discriminate against LGBTQ people under the name of "religious freedom," and created a martyrdom complex for their own decreasing social relevance.

A year after the meeting in Nashville, I traveled to Louisville, for a biblical counselor's conference on what they billed as "Transgender Confusion." At the conference, one of the Nashville Statement's signees said during his presentation that any parent with a transgender child should sever ties with the child completely––that they should abandon their child for being transgender. When asked about their responsibility to LGBTQ lives––particularly the alarming numbers of LGBTQ youth lost to suicide––the panel denied culpability, smirked at the notion of their theology being toxic or harmful, and suggested that while such deaths are tragic, the reality of eternal separation from God (damnation) was far sadder.

Once again, there were tears because the issues of gender identity and sexuality supposedly represented a crisis at the very foundation of the Gospel and the social order itself (I've always believed that Jesus was the foundation of the Gospel, but I digress).

And so I'm here a couple of years later, seeing and hearing the same things from these men, all crying the same crocodile tears of "loving conviction" for people they have fought so passionately to demonize and blame for their own diminishing power and influence.

In the age and spirit of Trump, their bigotry is once again emboldened by their ties to political power. In fact, several of its prominent signatories make up the President’s faith advisory council. Much like white conservative evangelicals in the Reagan era, these desperate men feel like maybe, just maybe, they haven’t lost the culture war once and for all, and the Nashville Statement serves as proof that the old guard is still holding out.

Their 2014 and 2015 tears, confessions, and prayers have amounted to nothing more but a revived lust for dominance, subjugation, and the placing of an unbearable burden around the necks of LGBTQ Christians. There was no love in their words and tears then, nor is there any love in their words now; and without love, God cannot be present in anything they profess.

At the end of the day, I’m left to wonder what tears they’ll cry at the end of their time. Will they weep with remorse for lifetimes of cruelty when they find LGBTQ people in the Kingdom of Heaven? Or will they weep with disappointment and anger when they find that God is infinitely more loving and inclusive than they ever imagined?

Justin Davis
Queer Christian and LGBTQ Advocate


Dates: 

  • “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage” Conference 10/28-29/2014 (Start date may have been 10/27) Nashville, Tennessee, Gaylord Opry Hotel
  • “Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity” Pre-conference 10/5/2015, Louisville, Kentucky, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Homosexuality Conference: 



Transgender Conference:







Friday, August 11, 2017

Update from Texas and the Transgender "Bathroom Bill"

As the special session of the Texas Legislature winds down, I would like to make a few observations on the life lessons I have learned as a Loud Mouthed Transgender Texan of Faith.

With only a week to go (as of this writing) the chance of a “bathroom bill” getting passed by the Texas House of Representatives is getting smaller and smaller. We must stay vigilant during the remaining days of the special session and also be alert to the Governor’s next political move.

First of all, I would like to say thanks to everyone who stood with and by me in so many ways that I can never fully express the love that I felt. Standing with so many other transgender/non-binary folks and our allies gave me a glimpse of what solidarity must look like. Testifying, lobbying, and sometimes even having to justify my right to exist was both daunting and lonely. For those who bought gas, put me up for the night, supplied coffee, shared a smile, sent me an encouraging Facebook post, and most especially those who reached out and gave me a hug when I was ready to give up on the world, I say "Thanks." I may have often gotten lonely but I knew that I was never truly alone. Most of you know that I can be very high strung and emotional but one of the things that always kept me grounded was the fact that on every trip to Austin, I was able to spot out fellow Episcopalians in the crowd.

One of the sadder aspects of this battle has been both the loss of support and the lack of support that
resulted from me making a public stand. Friends and family have either strengthened their connections or have further distanced themselves from me. I mourn for the losses. For me to be a Christ-like role model, I must be honest about myself and be very public about my support for the rights of the transgender community. God in all of Her glory will not let me rest until I have stood up for every young person who has not yet found their own identity and voice. Nor will I be able to rest until I have spoken out for every trans elder in our community who is just beginning to find their voice. I will raise my voice until we can all stand together with one voice.

I have been disappointed in leaders, most especially certain religious leaders, who seem to lack the
courage to publicly stand up for all of God’s children. Showing your support silently or in ways that are so safe that it renders your support to be invisible has been the toughest realization to bear. I and others like me will carry on with or without you. In the end, you are accountable to God for your own lack of courage. I have greater respect for folks who have the courage to voice opinions that are
different than mine than I have in folks who hide in the shade and make no stand at all.

While this battle may be winding down (at least temporarily) in my part of the world, the real battle is
just beginning on two important fronts. First of all, we must reach out to those who have been damaged by the open hostility shown to so many trans folks of all ages. We must show love and real support to those who have lost faith in the decency of humankind. Secondly, we must find a way to educate those who did not stand with us and somehow find a way to work and walk together. After all, there will be further battles to fight. To make an ally out of a foe may be God’s toughest assignment yet, but imagine the things that we could accomplish together.

There are so many folks that are fighting for social justice in our country at this time. I know that you are often weary and tired, but always keep in mind that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Lastly, I ask that you pray that my own wounds will heal so that I may better see Christ in others.

S Wayne Mathis
Vice-President for Local Affairs, IntegrityUSA

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Transgender Discrimination at the Highest Levels of Government

I find myself baffled at the just plain old meanness and nastiness of the Trump Administration. Trump himself seems to delight in being mean to others. He has clearly shown himself to be what he has been all along: a bully, an insecure man who demands loyalty and cannot cope with those who do not hand over their loyalty to him. Perhaps someone should remind him that loyalty per his own oath of office and that of every federal employee is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. It is not to pledge loyalty to any single individual or group….just to the Constitution.

His stance against transgender men and women serving in the United States military is not justifiable by any logical measure. But then again, we are not dealing with logic here. Any person who wants to serve or is serving in the military should be judged by only one standard: Does she or he meet the mental and physical requirements to serve. Those are essentially the same for cisgender men and women. Why should there be a different standard for transgender men and women? There should not be. Anything else is purely and blatantly discrimination based on gender expression and gender identity. Such discrimination is wrong and unjustifiable.

Trump’s position, regardless of what his military “experts” tell him is at odds with the policies of our major allies. Canada, Australia and Israel, to name only three, all allow transgender women and men to serve in their military units. Are we really so arrogant that we think they are wrong and we are right here?

Integrity USA stands in support of transgender women and men serving in our military.

We do so with the full backing of The Episcopal Church. Canon law in The Episcopal Church prohibits discrimination against transgender women and men (as well as a host of other variations in the human expression of sexuality, ability, etc.). “The law,” so to speak is on the books and has been for several years now.

I urge everyone who reads this to do exactly what I have been imploring all to do for months now: call, email, write, visit your elected representatives in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Make your opinions known. Cite the canon law that governs our church. Cite basic human dignity and decency. Cite the decisions rendered by a number of courts that prohibits such discrimination.

It is time to raise some hell, my kindred in Christ. It’s time we flipped the tables of the money changers in the Temple. Our transgender kinfolk need us now more than ever.

Remember that when the civil and human rights of any begin to be chipped away by prejudice, bigotry, meanness and nastiness, there is nothing to prevent those same bigots from going after the other civil and human rights we have. Speak out. Silence will still equal death.

Bruce Garner
President, Integrity USA

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June 30 Friday Flash (reposted again)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 Friday Flash June 30 (Reposting second attempt)


This is the URL to what appears below. I'm experimenting to see if what ultimately gets posted is the same as what appears on Walking With Integrity. Being mostly a luddite with this stuff, please bear with me as I learn the processes. Thanks, Bruce


http://cts.vresp.com/c/?IntegrityUSA/ab432d90a6/0f53c7189f/2fea4c2c1d


Today is the last day of June. This brings what is traditionally known as “Gay Pride Month” to a close. The “title” has been changed through the years so that it is actually “LGBTQ+ Pride Month now to reflect our intentional recognition that it includes others than those who identify as lesbian or gay. Celebrations, parades, demonstrations have been happening all around the country with most last weekend, the traditional anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that began the civil rights movement aimed at LGBTQ+ people.


Do we have a reason to celebrate? To be proud of who we are as LGBTQ+ people, and in our case LGBTQ+ people of faith?


The answer is complex and can be answered as yes and no. Yes, because we should be justifiably proud of the enormous accomplishments that have been made in the 48 years since Stonewall. Some would say that our movement has been on the “fast track” for what has been accomplished.


No because there remains much TO accomplish for us and for women, people of color, people of differing ethnicities, different faith expressions, and basically anyone who does not identify as essentially straight white and male in this country. The political climate right now and the continued actions of both Congress and the current administration are glowing illustrations of what is still to be done….for so many.


On a positive note, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NLGTF) announced yesterday that pressure on the Administration for Community Living (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) had worked and they were restoring the questions directly related to LGBTQ senior citizens that they had planned to eliminate. See, calling, writing, contacting does work!


To reverse-paraphrase an Easter hymn: The strife is NOT over, the battles are NOT won, victory is not yet in hand.


On a more somber note, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, resigned from his last formal church role for his part in ignoring reports of sexual abuse by now disgraced and former bishop Peter Ball. It was, once again, a problem many knew about but did not address.


Peter Ball had a history of engaging in sexual abuse. Reports were ignored. While I certainly have no credentials related to psychotherapy, it has long been my personal contention that when we force someone into a box they were not intended to fit, there will eventually be an “explosion” and inappropriate actions and behavior will result.


How long have we, as a church and a society, forced women and men into the large box called the closet because of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression? Did no one ever contemplate the consequences of forcing people to appear and act differently than their authentic selves? Did no one ever consider that the pressure of the box, the closet, would eventually result in an explosion?


Human beings are human beings. We can only cope with so much pressure for so long. Hopefully we are beginning to see less and less sexual abuse as we are being allowed to be our authentic selves. The remaining question is whether we will actually be our authentic selves. As you have read and heard from me countless times now, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Ask why the work and sacrifices of so many to create a Pride Month has not moved you to act. At a recent exhibit and conversation about HIV/AIDS I was once again reminded that our silence really could mean our death.


Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA


________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org.


________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference A first-ever major conference on LGBTQ Christian history is happening on October 31-November 2 in St. Louis. Rolling the Stone Away will bring together dozens of elders, saints and prophets of the past five decades to honor their deep impact on U.S. social and religious institutions and to reflect on how this history informs our movements for justice today. "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to interact in-person with most of the movers and shakers of LGBT Christian movements," notes Conference Coordinator Mark Bowman. "This is the kind of unique gathering that you will want to be able to say 'I was there!'" Click here to see the amazing diversity of early activists that you will see there. Watch the website for updates. Reserve your place there by registering now. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends.


________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________

Friday Flash June 30

This is the URL to what appears below. I'm experimenting to see if what ultimately gets posted is the same as what appears on Walking With Integrity. Being mostly a luddite with this stuff, please bear with me as I learn the processes. Thanks, Bruce http://cts.vresp.com/c/?IntegrityUSA/ab432d90a6/0f53c7189f/2fea4c2c1d Today is the last day of June. This brings what is traditionally known as “Gay Pride Month” to a close. The “title” has been changed through the years so that it is actually “LGBTQ+ Pride Month now to reflect our intentional recognition that it includes others than those who identify as lesbian or gay. Celebrations, parades, demonstrations have been happening all around the country with most last weekend, the traditional anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that began the civil rights movement aimed at LGBTQ+ people. Do we have a reason to celebrate? To be proud of who we are as LGBTQ+ people, and in our case LGBTQ+ people of faith? The answer is complex and can be answered as yes and no. Yes, because we should be justifiably proud of the enormous accomplishments that have been made in the 48 years since Stonewall. Some would say that our movement has been on the “fast track” for what has been accomplished. No because there remains much TO accomplish for us and for women, people of color, people of differing ethnicities, different faith expressions, and basically anyone who does not identify as essentially straight white and male in this country. The political climate right now and the continued actions of both Congress and the current administration are glowing illustrations of what is still to be done….for so many. On a positive note, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NLGTF) announced yesterday that pressure on the Administration for Community Living (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) had worked and they were restoring the questions directly related to LGBTQ senior citizens that they had planned to eliminate. See, calling, writing, contacting does work! To reverse-paraphrase an Easter hymn: The strife is NOT over, the battles are NOT won, victory is not yet in hand. On a more somber note, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, resigned from his last formal church role for his part in ignoring reports of sexual abuse by now disgraced and former bishop Peter Ball. It was, once again, a problem many knew about but did not address. Peter Ball had a history of engaging in sexual abuse. Reports were ignored. While I certainly have no credentials related to psychotherapy, it has long been my personal contention that when we force someone into a box they were not intended to fit, there will eventually be an “explosion” and inappropriate actions and behavior will result. How long have we, as a church and a society, forced women and men into the large box called the closet because of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression? Did no one ever contemplate the consequences of forcing people to appear and act differently than their authentic selves? Did no one ever consider that the pressure of the box, the closet, would eventually result in an explosion? Human beings are human beings. We can only cope with so much pressure for so long. Hopefully we are beginning to see less and less sexual abuse as we are being allowed to be our authentic selves. The remaining question is whether we will actually be our authentic selves. As you have read and heard from me countless times now, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Ask why the work and sacrifices of so many to create a Pride Month has not moved you to act. At a recent exhibit and conversation about HIV/AIDS I was once again reminded that our silence really could mean our death. Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org. ________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference A first-ever major conference on LGBTQ Christian history is happening on October 31-November 2 in St. Louis. Rolling the Stone Away will bring together dozens of elders, saints and prophets of the past five decades to honor their deep impact on U.S. social and religious institutions and to reflect on how this history informs our movements for justice today. "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to interact in-person with most of the movers and shakers of LGBT Christian movements," notes Conference Coordinator Mark Bowman. "This is the kind of unique gathering that you will want to be able to say 'I was there!'" Click here to see the amazing diversity of early activists that you will see there. Watch the website for updates. Reserve your place there by registering now. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends. ________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Flash June 23

June 23, 2017 Friday Flash ________________________________________ Support our Mission This week brought us the US Senate’s version of the revised health care plan that is supposed to replace the the Affordable Healthcare Act with something “better.” I’ve come to the conclusion that “better” actually means more beneficial to the profits of the health insurance industry. I see nothing in the Senate proposal that is helpful to those most in need of healthcare insurance: The poor and marginalized, including LGBTQ+ citizens of this nation. The group that will benefit most from the Senate proposal is the so-called “1 percent” of our population. Why would I bring this up here? Well so many members of Congress are very clear and concerned that people see them as having solid Judeo-Christian values. It baffles me how they could support either the House or Senate version of healthcare reform bills. Both versions are about as far from Judeo-Christian values as one could get. This is where I urge you to write to your elected representatives and express your opinion on this matter as the Senate prepares to vote next week. I wrote to both Senators from Georgia, even with the full realization that neither really cares. Both are rich and have little contact with any constituents who live at or below the poverty line. If you want to see what I said to them, please go to my Face Book page…..I posted the body of the letter there. The question continues to come up about whether or not the work and ministry of Integrity is still needed. The above is one example. Politicians need to hear something other than the religious right on issues of substance that reflect how we treat members of our society. Another reason for the ongoing need for Integrity is in the article below repeated from last week. Who would have thought that a conference on so-called “conversion therapy” would be taking place in California….in the Diocese of San Diego. The voice of Integrity needs to be heard in both faith and secular settings to debunk the myth that someone can change their sexual orientation and provide pastoral care to those who have been victimized by the practitioners of this obscene process According to a report noted in an article below, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that it is permissible for people in Mississippi to discriminate against others because of their religious beliefs. People who profess to be Christian can refuse services to LGBTQ+ folks, Muslims, people of color….essentially anyone at odds with the narrow beliefs of the service provider. The voice of Integrity is still needed in Mississippi. Presuming this case gets appealed to a higher court, the justices need to hear a voice other than the religious right. In Province IV at least two dioceses continue to refuse to marry same sex couple and will not allow LGBTQ+ members of our church to hold some positions of leadership...in violation of several articles of canon law. Even in the state of New York there is a diocese that will not marry same-sex couples and has refused to allow legally married same sex clergy to carry out their ministries in that diocese. Is there a doubt that the voice of Integrity and the voices of LGBTQ+ Episcopalians needs to be heard in the church and in secular society? Are you a member of Integrity? If so, make your voice heard and contribute to our operations. If you are not a member, we invite you to join….regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. No matter your relationship to Integrity and/or the church, the voice of more moderate people of faith needs to be heard in the deliberative processes at the national and local level in our nation. Our silence really could mean our death. So, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ________________________________________ Integrity Houston Pride Parade Integrity Houston is hosting a Pride Street Eucharist and Pride Parade, Saturday June 24th from 6 pm- Midnight. Click here to see the Facebook event for more details. ________________________________________ Integrity San Diego Protests Conversion Therapy Conference Integrity San Diego was present to protest the Restored Hope Network national conference. There was a vigil on June 15 at 5:30pm. Demonstrations of love and acceptance organized by a group of San Diego LGBTQ organizations will follow on June 16 and 17 at the sites of the hotel and conference. All are welcome to join! You are also invited to participate with St. Paul’s at San Diego Pride on July 15. And read the Integrity blog post regarding this protest, written by The Rev. Jeff Martinhauk . ________________________________________ Appeals Court Upholds MS Religious Freedom Law A federal appeals court says Mississippi can start enforcing a law that protects merchants and government employees from being forced to participate in activities that run contrary to their religious beliefs about sexuality. ________________________________________ 12 Year Old Girl Comes Out to Her Mormon Congregation Savannah, 12, made a decision this January; she was going to come out as lesbian at her Mormon Church. Nothing was going to stop her….Official church policy welcomes members of the Mormon faith that have same-sex attractions. Church teaching, however, mandates that members with same-sex attractions cannot act on those feelings. They must remain celibate and they cannot get married to members of the same sex. ________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org. ________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference Prophets young and old will tell the stories of our history and explore our future at Rolling The Stone Away conference, this October 31-November 2, 2017 in St. Louis. Rolling The Stone Away will honor elders, saints and prophets from all generations, from many Christian denominations, and mark the ground-breaking achievements, relentless commitments, and often painful sacrifices these leaders have made in religious organizations over the past five decades. Moreover, the next generation will be in the house and will shine a light on what comes next. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends. ________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________ 800-462-9498 info@integrityusa.org www.integrityusa.org