Saturday, May 31, 2008

From TEC "Oval Office"

Some VERY important insights from House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson about the upcoming Lambeth Conference in general and Archbishop Rowan Williams in particular, as reported on "Daily Episcopalian:"

I think that the Archbishop has given up trying to get our bishops to take an independent stand on the future of the moratorium of same sex blessings for instance, and is now moving to “plan B” and turning his attention to encouraging our bishops to understand their “distinctive charism” as bishops, perhaps in a new way.

I envision Archbishop Rowan pondering in, to use his word, “puzzlement” why these bishops of the Episcopal church don’t just stand up and exercise their authority as bishops like most of the rest of the bishops in the Communion do. Why would our bishops “bind themselves to future direction for the Convention?”

Some of us in TEC in the past have thought that perhaps the Archbishop and others in the Anglican Communion do not understand the baptismal covenant that we hold foundational. Perhaps they just don’t “get” the way we choose to govern ourselves; the ministers of the church as the laity, clergy and the bishops, and that at the very core of our beliefs we believe in the God- given gifts of all God’s people, none more important than the other, just gifts differing.

We believe that God speaks uniquely through laity, bishops, priests and deacons. This participatory structure in our church allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment.

But I think our governance is clearly understood. I just don’t think the Archbishop has much use for it.


Thanks to President Anderson for the clarity of this analysis, for her willingness to "speak truth to power" AND for the very important reminder to our bishops to pay attention to the man behind the curtain! She concludes:

The joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of our belief that God speaks uniquely through laity, priests and deacons and bishops. It is thus crucially important that our bishops go to Lambeth knowing what we think about the current state of the proposed Anglican covenant.

Make sure your bishop hears from YOU!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking News: CA Field Poll Supports Marriage Equality

Signaling a generational shift in attitudes, a new Field Poll on Tuesday said California voters now support legal marriage between same-sex couples and oppose a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

By 51 to 42 percent, state voters believe gay couples have the right to marry, according to a May 17-26 poll of 1,052 registered voters.

However, the same poll revealed a California electorate that remains sharply divided over gay marriage – split by age, political affiliation, religion and the regions where they live.

The poll was taken after the May 15 California Supreme Court decision overturning a state ban on same-sex marriages. The results marked the first time in more than 30 years of state polling that a majority of Field Poll respondents favored making gay marriage legal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Q. What's the Episcopal Church doing marching in Pride Parades?


From the OHC Lectionary Blog, this witness from the sermon preached last Sunday at St. Paul's, Tustin CA:
I prayed to ask God if there really could be a Christian church out there that would truly accept me, as the traditional hymn says “Just As I Am.” It was about this time I began hearing in the national news about the stir being caused by the Episcopal church ordaining a gay bishop.
I knew absolutely nothing about the Episcopal church but I truly felt joy in hearing this news. For me and hundreds like me it was not just national news--it was Good News."

Then something quite amazing happened. I had moved back into the West Hollywood area and it was June. Time for the annual gay parade.

Now this is an event that I personally run from. I found it pedantic. But when you live just one block from Santa Monica Blvd you have to give in to the tens of thousands of people who show up for a visit. Having secured my parking space for the weekend I wasn’t going to give it up under any circumstances.

So on that June Sunday I walked the 2 blocks from my home to Santa Monica Blvd to be a casual observer of the day's celebration.The Gay Pride Parade offered every group and organization you would expect. But there was one group that took my breath away.

In this wild and party atmosphere I looked down the boulevard to see literally hundreds of smiling, peaceful Episcopalians carrying signs saying "God loves you and we welcome you." It was a very powerful moment for me. And one that gave me courage to tiptoe back into a Christian church."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Huron says yes to same-sex blessings

The Anglican Journal is reporting:

Huron says yes to same-sex blessings
May 26, 2008 -- London, Ontario

The diocese of Huron’s annual synod, or governing convention, voted on May 26 to ask the bishop to give clergy permission to bless same-sex marriages.

The margin in favour was 72 per cent in both clergy and lay houses (97 clergy in favour, 36 against; 227 lay people in favour, 87 against).

Bishop Bruce Howe, the diocesan bishop, said he “gave concurrence” to the motion based on the percentage in favour but he added he intended to consult with other bishops before acting on the vote.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sherrod receives Honorary Doctoral Degree from EDS



May 25, 2008, CAMBRIDGE, MA – Episcopal Divinity School celebrated its 2008 Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2008 at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ms. Katie Sherrod, lay woman, and consulting editor for Church Publishing, received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her significant contributions to the struggle for a just Church and a just society. For 30 years Sherrod has worked as a journalist, writer, producer, commentator, advocate, and agitator to promote human rights, particularly combating the interlocking oppressions of racism, sexism, and heterosexism.


Ms. Katie Sherrod, freelance writer and television producer in Fort Worth, Texas, is an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and for battered women. "You are a pioneer," said Nancy Davidge, Director of Communications, who presented Sherrod with her degree. "Your seven part series on rape in the 1970s changed the rape laws in Texas and led to the establishment of the first rape crisis center in that state." Davidge continued, "Following your example, women in newsrooms around the country began to report about rape in a transparent and compelling way, and the rape crisis movement was born in no small part due to your efforts." In recent years, Sherrod has been a spokesperson for LGBT inclusion, and for the mainstream voice of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth. "You don’t give up. Even when faced with verbal abuse, threats, and ridicule, you proclaim the Gospel message is for everyone, and especially for the least, the last, the lost, and the forgotten."

Katie is a long-time member of Integrity. She is a trainer for our Inclusion Activism workshops and will be editing our daily newsletter during the Lambeth Conference. Way to go, Katie!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Weekly Witness: Looking Toward Lambeth

We are now less than 60 days from the much anticipated Lambeth Conference -- the every-ten-year gathering of Anglican bishops in Canterbury. From the 16th of July through the 3rd of August, the bishops will gather for worship, study, and conversation.
The theme of this year's Lambeth Conference is “Equipping Bishops to Fulfill Their Leadership Role in God's Mission." Integrity will be there -- along with our allies -- to give voice to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) faithful committed to God's mission in the Anglican Communion and beyond.
Our "on the ground in Lambeth team" will include:
  • some of the same media and communication experts who have helped make our General Convention presence so effective;
  • a video team preparing for daily "YouTube" updates from Canterbury;
  • a daily newsletter that will be available both on the ground in Canterbuy and on the web;
  • volunteers for the booth we'll be sharing with Inclusive Church & Changing Attitude allies in the "market place" (AKA "exhibit hall")
  • chaplains supporting our witness with opportunities for common prayer and pastoral care.
All of this, of course, costs money and our Canterbury Campaign is well launched and -- thanks to the generosity of so many of you -- inching toward our goal.
I had the privilege of being with a most energized gathering of Integrity faithful in San Diego last week and appreciated the opportunity to celebrate with them the then-only-hours-old California Supreme Court decision on marriage equality as we looked ahead to Lambeth. Next week I'll be in Seattle and then on June 8th in Massachusettes for Canterbury Campaign gatherings (other gatherings are listed here) or you can donate online here.
Integrity's message at Lambeth will be that God's mission includes all people, especially those marginalized by our societies. We work towards the day when all people are fully included in all rites and all orders of the Church and towards the realization of the Reign of God. Thus we stand within the "mainstream" of the Anglican ethos which is inclusive and tolerant of difference.
Stay tuned for further developments as we "countdown to Lambeth." And give thanks for all those who are giving so sacrifically -- of time, talent AND treasure -- to make our witness to God's inclusive love to possible!
Until next week,
All best blessings,
(The Reverend) Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA
In other news:
  • Comprehensive information on Marriage Equality in California is provided at Marriage Equality 101
  • The Presiding Bishop talks about her hopes and expectations for Lambeth Conference in Episcopal Life Online
  • Episcopal Cafe is reporting that the Presiding Bishop of the Middle East has withdrawn from the upcoming "GAFCON Conference."
For more information visit the Integrity website.

Diocese Of Idaho Moves Forward On Blessings

The June 2008 edition of the "Idaho Messenger" reports that a group of 75 people from all corner of that diocese recently developed a set of "provocative propositions" and "first action steps" for fulfilling them. Under the theme of "Inclusivity" they said:

We are a diocese whose leadership encourages and provides opportunities for all parishes to inspire, educate, and empower all members to love our neighbors as ourselves; respecting the dignity of every human being.
  • Every parish will do an assessment to see how their membership compares with the demographics of the larger community. This will lead to implementation of necessary changes.
  • Request permission from the bishop for clergy to perform same sex blessings/unions.
  • Integration of all aspects of diversity at every level of the parish, not only separate training, but also other activities such as, Sunday School, adult ed., outreach, sermons, music, committee/leadership appointments, youth and liturgy.

The provocative propositions and the next steps forward will be reviewed by the Diocesan Council on June 21, when strategies for implementation will be adopted.

Click here to read the complete article as a PDF.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Marriage for All at All Saints, Passadena

Marriage for All at All Saints Church Pasadena

All Saints Church, Pasadena rector, J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., announced today that the church will treat equally all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage. The announcement followed a special meeting of the All Saints Church Vestry, which unanimously adopted a “Resolution on Marriage Equality” [see below] in response to the May 15, 2008 ruling of the California Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision is consistent with All Saints Church, Pasadena’s identity as a peace and justice church,” said Bacon, following the historic vote. “It also aligns us with the Scriptures’ mandate to make God’s love tangible by ‘doing justice and loving mercy’ (Micah 6:8) and with the canons of our Episcopal Church that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“In this our 125th year, this morning’s decision was a natural step forward on All Saints’ lengthy journey of justice, peace, and inclusion,” Bacon concluded. “As the rector of All Saints Church, I am inspired by the visionary stride All Saints’ lay leaders took today. I am honored to serve a church where the leadership demonstrates such stirring courage to move beyond lip service about embodying God’s inclusive love to actually committing our faith community to the practice of marriage equality.

“As a priest and pastor, I anticipate with great joy strengthening our support of the sanctity of marriage as I marry both gay and straight members and thus more fully live out my ordination vow to nourish all people from the goodness of God’s grace.”

For further information contact:
Keith Holeman
Director of Communications



Adopted by the Vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California on May 22, 2008

WHEREAS, our baptismal covenant commits us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being;”

WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reveals that we are all created in God’s image and that God embraces all people as equally precious;

WHEREAS, the Vision Statement of All Saints Church, Pasadena, calls us to “embody the inclusive love of God in Christ” and our Foundational Values urge us to be “dispersed throughout this multicultural region for courageous and risk-filled work of peace and justice;”

WHEREAS, All Saints Church, Pasadena, currently blesses same-sex unions, but does not perform the rite of marriage for same-sex couples;

WHEREAS, on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued its decision holding that marriage is a “basic civil right of personal autonomy and liberty” “to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation;” and

WHEREAS, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, on June 16, 2008, the State of California will begin to license and recognize same-sex marriages;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rector, Wardens and Vestry do declare that, as of June 16, 2008, All Saints Church, Pasadena will treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.

From the Bishop of Los Angeles

Dear Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Los Angeles,
I trust by now you have had the opportunity to read my statement in response to the recent California Supreme Court decision.

Some clergy and lay leaders have contacted my office requesting information or clarification of how this decision affects what we can do, or will do, as well as what our policy on this issue will be. As publicized in the press, the State of California expects the decision to become effective 30 days after its issuance. In addition I remain on sabbatical and am scheduled to resume my regular work schedule the week of June 3.

There are canonical, prayer book, and pastoral questions which are raised and must be addressed. I have been in contact with the bishops of the Dioceses of California and San Diego and we will be working together with other bishops of California to meet and discuss how we proceed. I will keep you informed and will act with all possible dispatch while attending to the canonical and pastoral issues the decision affect.

I remind you that pastoral acts are personal decisions between clergy and members of your congregation. In the meantime please remain patient and prayerful. Thank you.

Yours in Christ,
J. Jon Bruno, Bishop
Diocese of Los Angeles

A Jihad for Love

Fourteen centuries after the revelation of the holy Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islam today is the world's second largest and fastest growing religion. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma travels the many worlds of this dynamic faith discovering the stories of its most unlikely storytellers: lesbian and gay Muslims. Filmed over 5 1/2 years, in 12 countries and 9 languages, A Jihad for Love comes from the heart of Islam. Looking beyond a hostile and war-torn present, this film seeks to reclaim the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad, which can mean 'an inner struggle' or 'to strive in the path of God'. In doing so the film and its remarkable subjects move beyond the narrow concept of 'Jihad' as holy war.

View the trailer on YouTube...

More information...

The director's blog...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer Seminar with James Alison

Internationally renowned gay theologian, Dr. James Alison, will be teaching a summer seminar series titled: "NEXUS MYSTERIORUM: God/Church/Bible & Homosexuality" from July 7th thru 17th at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

Visit the Edgewood College website for more information.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marriage Equality 101

What does it mean? What's going to happen next? Who said what and when?

Here's an attempt to gather up resources for answering some of those questions -- as well as providing background information on the decision and opportunities for action moving forward. Bookmark this blog post for a "one stop shop" on resources, commentaries and developments regarding marriage equality in California. We'll be updating it as new information comes in.

The Decision:
Download a PDF of the court decision banning discrimination against gay & lesbian couples
May 15th California Supreme Court Decision

In the news:
A sampling of news pieces related to the historic court decision:
Pasadena Star News: Area gay, lesbian couples to wed (5/15/08) What it means and doesn’t mean (5/15/08)
New York Times: California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban (5/16/08)
LA Times: California chief justice interview (5/18/08)
LA Times: Coming to grips with same-sex marriage ruling (5/20/08)
LA Times: City attorney weighs in (5/20/08)
Christian Century (June 2008)
Supreme Court Ruling survives legal challenge (6/4/08)

Responses from key civic leaders:
L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Presidential primary candidates McCain, Obama & Clinton

In the church:
Statements & reactions from:
Bishop Bruno (Diocese of Los Angeles)
Bishop Andrus (Diocese of California)
Bishop Mathes (Diocese of San Diego)
Integrity Press Release
Integrity “Weekly Witness”
Marriage for All at All Saints Church Pasadena (5/22/08)
"Marriage 101" Panel Discussion (Video -- 5/18/08)
All Saints Rector, Ed Bacon (Video -- 5/25/08)
Pastoral Letter from Bishop of California (+Marc Andrus)
Bishop of El Camino Real offers Guidelines for Blessings (+Mary Gray Reeves)

Organizations committed to full equality and working to secure the rights guaranteed by the CA Supreme Court decision:

Equality for All
The Equality for All campaign is a large and diverse coalition of civil rights, faith, choice, labor and community of color organizations working to stop and defeat any ballot measure that would allow discrimination against LGBT Californians and deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

HRC: Human Rights Campaign
Equality California

Lambda Legal

“The other side of the aisle:”
Keeping an eye on those opposed to the ruling and working to overturn it with a November ballot initiative:
The California Marriage Protection Act (text of proposed November ballot initiative)
Protect Marriage:
Statement by the California Catholic Conference of Bishops
Save California

Monday, May 19, 2008

Letter to the Editor

The Very Reverend Scott Richardson, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego, shares this Letter to Editor he submitted to his local paper in response to the California Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. We are posting it here in the hopes that others might "go and do likewise."

May 17, 2008

Dear Editor,

When I served at All Saints Church in Pasadena I had the opportunity and honor to preside at several services wherein couples of the same gender made life-long vows to one another.

We did not call these liturgies “marriages” but they approximated that rite, both in the preparation for the service and in the ceremony itself. Families were not undermined, children were not confused, marriages were not threatened, and society did not implode.

Here’s what did happen in each case: two people, deeply in love, promised to order their life together around our oldest and most cherished values – mutual regard, fidelity, and commitment.

I applaud the recent decision of our state’s Supreme Court and pray that every Californian will soon know the same joy I experienced by supporting all couples, gay and straight, who wish to live according to these sacred precepts.

(The Very Reverend) Scott Richardson, Dean
Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Sunday, May 18, 2008

+San Diego Speaks ...

Bishop Mathes' Statement on CA Supreme Court Ruling
(via email)
May 17, 2008

While visiting the Diocese of El Salvador, I learned of yesterday's ruling by the California Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to receive a California marriage license. With efforts already underway to place a constitutional amendment on November's ballot banning such marriages, it is clear that this issue will continue to permeate our political life.

I support the Supreme Court's decision and oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture.

While supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, I am mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the communion. I ask all people of the diocese to hold the court's decision gently. Prayerfully remember that God has placed his children, who share different perspectives on same-sex relationships, next to each other in church every Sunday.

As Archbishop Rowan Williams said, "our baptism puts us in solidarities not of our own choosing." Let us be good stewards of these solidarities and teach each other, and the wider community, how to listen and learn from each other as we accept the Court's decision to allow equal access to the institution of marriage.

The Right Reverend James R. Mathes
Bishop of San Diego

Californians react to court decision legalizing gay marriage

This Episcopal News Service article by Pat McCaughan quotes from +Jon Bruno, +Marc Andrus, and Susan Russell...

Here's the portion quoting Susan...

Time for the church to be prophetic
But the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, an organization of Episcopalians committed to full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] persons, called the ruling a huge step forward for "marriage and the sanctity and importance of marriage and against bigotry and separation."

She said it is now time for the church to "be as prophetic as the state of California has been."

"I am convinced the church should do no less. When we baptize, there are no conditions on those baptisms," Russell declared.

She recalled a friend whose comments are posted on her blog, who is a "Florida attorney, who happens to be a straight, white, male, libertarian-leaning-conservative Episcopalian" who called the court's decision conservative.

"There is no judicial innovation here, just the recognition that, under well established law, marriage is a fundamental right and that for a statute abridging that right to pass constitutional muster, the government must demonstrate a compelling state interest served by that restriction," her unnamed friend is quoted as saying.

Russell, who is associate priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, said the church is hosting a panel discussion about the ruling at 10:15 am on Sunday, May 18. Panel members will include Russell, attorney Bob Long, activist Dave Frick, and parish Peace & Justice director Lori Kizzia.

Russell said there is a huge backlog of people who have had unions blessed and now want to exercise their civic opportunities for marriage, too.

"It's very exciting for us to consider what our role in that will be and what our opportunities will be," she added.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Canterbury Campaign Update #5

Dear Friends:

Several Canterbury Campaign events are coming up soon. You are cordially invited to attend any of the functions listed below. Many thanks go to our several gracious hosts across the country.

Bruce Colburn
Development Coordinator

17 May in San Diego
This Saturday from 3:00 until 5:00 in the Club Room of the Coral Tree Plaza,
3635 Seventh Avenue
Reception and briefing by the Rev. Susan Russell, Integrity President
RSVP to Tony Lucero at or 619-231-0436
Hosted by Integrity/Diocese of San Diego Network

30 May in Seattle
Friday from 5:30 until 7:30 at Diocesan House, 1551 Tenth Avenue East
Reception and briefing by the Rev. Susan Russell, Integrity President
RSVP to David Swim at or 206-932-2457
Hosted by Integrity/Puget Sound

8 June in Salem, MA
Sunday from 2:00 until 4:00 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 24 St. Peter’s Street
Reception and briefing by the Rev. Susan Russell, Integrity President
RSVP to Paul Bresnahan at or 978-317-3400
Hosted by Integrity/North Shore

12 June in Kirkwood MO
Thursday from 6:30 until 8:30 at the Clark’s Cottage, 12624 Big Bend Road
Reception and briefing by Barbi Click, Integrity South Central Regional Vice President
RSVP to Heidi Clark at or 314-984-0709
Hosted by Heidi, Mike and Becket Clark and Dave Malek & Mark Brennan

21 June in Houston
Saturday from 3:00 until 6:00 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1805 W Alabama
Reception and briefing by Jeff Martinhauk, Integrity Treasurer
RSVP to John Michael Lee at or 713-443-2106
Hosted by Integrity/Houston

California Supreme Court legalizes same-gender marriage; Integrity hails decision

Episcopal News Service quote's extensively from Integrity President Susan
Russell in this article...

I had planned to use this space this week to share some of our plans for Integrity's witness at the Lambeth Conference in July, but the "breaking news" of yesterday's California Supreme Court decision has "bumped" that story. So stay tuned til next week on the Lambeth news front! (And if you're in San Diego, come let's talk about it on Saturday afternoon, where I'll be the guest of Integrity San Diego. )
While yesterday's positive action by the California Court was not completely unexpected, I think it is safe to say the scope of the ruling surpassed what had even been hoped for. For those unfamiliar with the journey we've traveled to this point in California on the issue of marriage equality, here's a note from Integrity's Field Organizer, Jan Adams:
We need to kill the meme that this decision has anything to do with "judicial activism." The legislature, twice, has passed bills approving gay marriage rights. That's legislative action. The only reason those bills did not become law is that the Governor, the executive, vetoed them, deferring to the Court.
Now that the Court has spoken, the executive says he will not oppose the decision. Gay marriage has made the rounds of the system and jumped the normal procedural hurdles. Now we may need a vote of the people -- a campaign we are forced to struggle through. But that will only be AFTER we've played by all the rules. Our opponents want to change the rules because they don't like the outcome the rules have rendered.
Sounding vaguely familiar? Why yes it is -- because it's the same "change the rules when you don't like the outcome" strategy the schismatics have used in the Episcopal Church, attempting to shift the debate they lost on the American Church playing field to the global Anglican Communion.
Speaking of the church, I'm getting questions about what this all means for the Episcopal Church in general and for Integrity's legislative agenda toward General Convention in specific. This morning I was interviewed by a reporter who asked about our plans for GC09 ... would we now be "pushing for marriage?"

I told her that our goal was the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments and marriage equality was certainly part of that goal.

AND, as there were a variety of ways to reach that goal, we would be continuing to be open to how the Holy Spirit was going to work to lead us there. There are a number of different resolutions already wending their way toward Anaheim, we're working hard with allies in both the House of Deputies AND the House of Bishops to move the Episcopal Church forward and we're confident there will be forward movement.

I told her that I am convinced that the decision yesterday by the California Supreme was a huge step forward toward "liberty and justice for all" in the civil arena and that I'll be looking for the Episcopal Church to "go and do likewise" and take another step forward toward the full and equal claim it has promised the gay and lesbian faithful since 1976.
Finally, I want to share with you the following evaluation of the Court ruling I received this morning from a Florida attorney -- who just happens to be a straight, white, male, libertarian-leaning-conservative Episcopalian (and one of my best friends.) He writes:
The amazing thing about the opinion, much to the dismay of the religious right I'm sure, is just how conservative it is. I well remember the decisions that came out of the Rose Bird court many years ago, that frequently strained logic and common sense, but this opinion is actually a well-reasoned and rational application of precedent and the law as it exists under the California state constitution.
There is no judicial innovation here, just the recognition that, under well established law, marriage is fundamental right and that for a statute abridging that right to pass constitutional muster, the government must demonstrate a compelling state interest served by that restriction.
I am certainly no fan of judges who usurp the proper function of the Legislature (the primary concern of the dissenters here), but this decision simply acknowledges that the present statutory scheme creates two systems under which the State of California recognizes this type of permanent relationship between couples, giving one the time honored and respected name of marriage and the other the sterile, bureaucratic-ese name of "domestic partnership."
One is clearly preferable to the other (ask any fundamentalist which they would prefer) and under California law, at least, offering the first arrangement to one group of people while not offering it to another, violates the constitutional requirement that, for the most part, people must be treated the same.
See also "respect the dignity of every human being" and "love your neighbor as yourself."
This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Until next week,
All best blessings,
(The Reverend) Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA

Next week: An update on plans for our witness at Lambeth Conference (honest!)
For more information about Integrity, or to contribute online to Integrity's Canterbury Campaign, visit the Integrity website.

Ian McKellen and Gene Robinson to speak at film premiere

Episcopal Cafe reports:
There will be a British premiere of the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, on Monday evening, July 14, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the SouthBank Centre for the Arts, in Central London, on the Thames. In addition to the filmmaker, Daniel Karslake, speakers will include Sir Ian McKellen and Bishop Gene Robinson. The evening will be a celebration of the lives and ministries of gay and lesbian people, on the eve of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in Canterbury. Some of the proceeds will go toward AIDS work in Africa.

Read is all here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bishop of Los Angeles celebrates marriage ruling

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, has issued the following statement concerning today's California Supreme Court decision regarding same-gender relationships:

Today's Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being" and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been a leader in working for the rights of all people in the State of California, and that work is honored in today's ruling. The canons of our church, under "Rights of the Laity" (Canon 1:17.5), forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age. We affirm equal rights for all.

We will continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will meet in Anaheim in 2009.

I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.

To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.

J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles

Bishop of California welcomes marriage ruling

From the Episcopal Diocese of California:

Episcopal Bishop of California responds to California Supreme Court's reversal of ban on same-sex marriage

I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family.

All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions.

This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country.

Jesus tried to free his disciples from a narrow definition of what it means to be his follower. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” God affirms the good in the world outside the boundaries of religious creeds and dogmas. In this spirit, we also affirm and rejoice in this decision by the California Supreme Court precisely because we are Christians.

Clearly, this momentous decision will have ecclesial implications for the Episcopal Diocese of California. I intend to be in prayerful consultation with the people of our diocese to see how we can use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and our witness to God’s inclusive love. The Diocese of California will issue an appropriate statement in due course.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of California

Read it all here.

Integrity Applauds California Supreme Court Decision

May 15, 2008

LOS ANGELES--Integrity applauds the California Supreme Court for ruling today that it is unconstitutional to bar same-gender couples from marriage.

"The California Supreme Court today ruled in favor of marriage and against bigotry," said the Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity. "Integrity is proud to have signed the interfaith amicus brief that helped influence this decision, which we celebrate as a giant step closer to "liberty and justice for all."

Russell continued, "In 1976 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution expressing its conviction that 'homosexual persons' are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens. We applaud those who are working hard at the state and national levels to make that equal protection not just a resolution but a reality and we salute today's decision as a huge step forward toward that goal."

"As we rejoice in this movement forward on civil marriage equality, Integrity is working hard as to move the Episcopal Church forward on sacramental marriage equality," concluded Russell. "Although same-gender blessings are permitted by the Episcopal Church and are performed in a many dioceses and parishes, we believe the time has come for an official rite for blessing same-gender couples. Committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments, we will be asking General Convention to authorize such a rite a year from now in Anaheim."

PDF of decision here

Press Contact:
The Rev. Susan Russell, President
(626) 583-2741 office
(714) 356-5718 mobile

Radical Welcome

The Diocese of Los Angeles has launched a new web-presence for the diocesan Bishop's Commission on Gay & Lesbian Ministry (BCGLM) with this descriptor:

"No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, the Episcopal Church welcomes you... gay, straight, or otherwise!"

It's in the spirit of this radical welcome that the Bishop’s Commission on Gay & Lesbian Ministry, a group of laity and clergy (appointed and volunteer) from throughout the diocese, work together to represent, develop, and advance outreach and education for the full inclusion, witness, and discipleship of LGBT persons in the body of Christ.


Bishop Robinson interviewed in "Church Times"

A lengthy interview in the May 2nd Church Times with Bishop Gene Robinson included this exchange ...

What about gay priests who are quietly getting on with their ministry?
The degree of openness with which one lives one’s life is a very personal choice. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong about that. The question for any gay or lesbian person is: “Is the price that I’m paying for being quiet exceeding the benefit?” When the negative consequences of that secrecy begin to outweigh its rewards, then that’s a dilemma.

But it’s not just a personal consideration. It’s a political question.
I would say back to you, then: What is the cost to the Church of secrecy? And I think this especially true here in the Church of England. What does it say to the Church when a vicar gets into a pulpit and calls the congregation to a life of integrity, when it is so obvious to the congregation that the vicar is himself not able to grasp at that straw of integrity? There’s cost to the people themselves, and there’s a a cost to the Church.

I’ve met, what, probably 300 gay, partnered clergy here in the Church of England, and I could tell you stories that would make you weep about what life is like for them, and the fear with which they live: the difficulty in having their bishop come to dinner at their home, with their partner, have a lovely time, and the bishop be fully affirming of them — and to have the bishop say: “You know, if this ever becomes public, I’m your worst nightmare. I will see to it that you are punished.” Now that does something not just to the bishop and to the couple; that does something to the Church.

What about gay bishops? Have you had people talking to you quietly about their sexuality?

And what have you said to them?
Most of the people who have shared with me that they are indeed gay. These bishops are my age and older. Like me, they grew up in a [difficult] time — when I came out, I thought my life as an ordained person was at an end — they made their choices, and I honour those choices. I would be the last person in the world to out them. They come to me as a pastor.

How often does the issue of your sexuality come up in your normal ministry?
Oh, almost never. I keep saying to people: if you want to see what the Church is like after we’ve finished obsessing about sex, come to New Hampshire. We’re so over it. Really, we are getting on with the gospel, and this occupies almost none of it. It’s what keeps me sane.

So, 90 per cent of my time is just doing what a bishop does, and loving it. I just love this ministry. I feel like the most blessed person I know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Integrity Salutes Katie Sherrod

Episcopal Divinity School has announced that Katie Sherrod will be among those receiving Honorary Degrees at Commencement Ceremonies tomorrow in Cambridge.

From the EDS Press Release:

Katie Sherrod is a freelance writer and television producer based in Fort Worth, Texas, and a contributing editor to The Witness. She is an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and for battered women. In 1972, she wrote a newspaper series on the crime of rape, which led to the formation of the Rape Crisis Task Force, now the Rape Crisis Center. Another series she wrote on battered women was the basis for the made-for-TV movie “Battered,” and caused the formation of Women’s Haven, a United Way sponsored shelter for battered women and their children.

A pioneer among women journalists, she was the metropolitan editor of the Fort Worth Star, and was named one of Fort Worth’s Outstanding Women in 1988, and Texas Woman of the Year in 1989. In recent years she has been a spokesperson for LGBT inclusion and for the mainstream voice of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth.


A life-long Texan, Katie lives in the Diocese of Fort Worth with her husband, Gayland Poole+. A founding member of Claiming the Blessing and long time Integrity member, Katie produced both "Women of the Table" -- a wonderful video telling the stories of women in the Episcopal Church for the ECW and "Stand in the Temple & Tell" -- another wonderful video telling the history of the movement for the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church.

She is currently involved in pre-production work on "Voices of Witness: Africa" -- a video project celebrating the witness of LGBT Anglican Africans. Her powerful prophetic voice is a gift to the WHOLE church. "Bravo!" to EDS for recognizing it and celebrating it with this well deserved honor.

(Katie's blog is Desert's Child)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Russell on +Rowan

Integrity President Susan Russell comments on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion on her blog.

Canterbury Campaign Update #4

Dear Friends:

I am delighted to announce that Integrity has received a challenge grant from a pair of very generous anonymous benefactors! Integrity will receive $10,000 for post-Lambeth work if we raise the $40,000 we need to cover the expenses of our presence and participation while at the Lambeth Conference. So, if you have not already made a contribution to this critically important effort, now would be a very good time. Go on-line and donate at To ensure that your gift counts toward meeting the challenge, please remember to indicate that your gift is for the Canterbury Campaign.

All the Lambeth Team volunteers and all the members of the Board of Directors are most grateful for the support received up to this point and now from these wonderfully generous anonymous supporters. Thanks to all!


Bruce Colburn
Acting Development Coordinator

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barbara Curry On Inclusion Activism

Integrity and Claiming the Blessing co-sponsored an Inclusion Activism workshop in Newark, NJ, 9-10 May 2008. Barbara Curry from the Diocese of Connecticut explains why she attended the workshop, what she learned, and how she will use what she learned back home...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Weekly News from Integrity USA


"Committed to the full inclusion
of all the baptized in all the sacraments."



As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, the quote I've been dwelling on this week comes from Benedictine monk Fr. Bede Griffith:

"If one starts with doctrines the arguments are endless ... But when one comes to the level of interior experience, that is where the meeting takes place ... It is in this cave of the heart that the meeting has to take place. That is the challenge."

Pentecost -- arguably the "birthday of the church" -- is also arguably the Feast of That Interior Experience. It is the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the disciples -- an interior experience that empowered them to go out into the world proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus rather than staying in that upper room worrying about when the next shoe was going to drop from the religious establishment who had "had it up to here" with the idea that God was doing a new thing.

As we celebrate yet-another-birthday-of-the-church on this Pentecost 2008, let us celebrate as well that the Holy Spirit came among us not as a doctrine to argue about or a report to "comply with" or a covenant-with-an-appendix to assent to. Rather we celebrate a Holy Spirit who came as a rush of wind, a tongue of fire and the gift of proclaiming, in many languages, the Gospel of the One who loved us enough to become one of us and called us to love each other as we have been loved. And let us be open to the same transformative power of that same Holy Spirit to enter "the cave of our heart" and enable us to go and do likewise.

Like the 1st century disciples, may we in our 21st century, be freed from fretting about the next shoe to drop from a religious institution who has "had it up to here" with the idea that God is doing a new thing and instead be empowered to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus that is in us -- in our lives, our vocations and our relationships -- in the Anglican Communion and beyond.

All best blessings,
(The Reverend) Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA

In Other News:

Recommended sermon: Can I Get A Witness? by the Reverend Michael Hopkins

Recommended viewing: +Gene Robinson on The Today Show

Recommended reading: The Presiding Bishop's Pentecost Letter


Next week: An update on plans for our witness at Lambeth Conference

For more information on any of the above, or to contribute online to Integrity's Canterbury Campaign, visit the Integrity website.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

+Gene on "Today"

By Mike Celizic contributor
updated 11:25 a.m. ET, Thurs., May. 8, 2008

Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson knows he is inviting death threats by entering into a civil union with his gay partner on the eve of his church’s biggest ecclesiastical conference. And he says it is worth it, because he is doing what God asks of him.

"When your life is at stake, you learn that there are things in life that are much worse than death," Bishop Robinson told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday in New York. "That's the great reward of being a Christian. Not living your life — that's worse than death. And if something were to happen to me, I would know that I am doing what I discern God is calling me to do.

See the video of the entire interview here...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Small c" catholic

The "early reviews" on yesterday's meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury & Pope Benedict appear to bode well for the "small c" catholic church:

From the Anglican Communion News Service:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has described his private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI yesterday in the Vatican as'friendly and informal'. They spent almost half an hour in the Pope's study discussing matters of common interest.

From the UK Guardian:
Despite his conservative views on women priests and homosexuality, Pope Benedict appears determined to bolster Williams's leadership in the name of Anglican unity.

From Episcopal Cafe:
The message ... appears to be that Rome is sticking with Canterbury as the locus of authentic Anglicanism and wants nothing to do with GAFCON, even with the presence of women clergy and bishops and gay bishops. This makes the plans for a non-Canterbury centered Anglicanism focused on the "global south" appear to be more and more a lonely outpost far from the heart of catholic unity.

Monday, May 5, 2008

+Gene Robinson on PBS's "Religion & Ethics Weekly"

In a feature that aired this weekend on PBS, +Gene Robinson was interviews by Kim Lawton about the Anglican Communion in general and his plans for both his upcoming civil union and Lambeth Conference in particular.

Click here for a link to both the transcript and a video of the interview, which concluded with this exchange:


LAWTON: Robinson says he's discouraged by the divisions and what he sees as a lack of listening across the Communion. But in his new book, IN THE EYE OF THE STORM, he writes of the spiritual lessons he has learned amid the controversy.

Bishop ROBINSON: I don't remember a time in my life when God seemed any more present, almost palpably close. Prayer has almost seemed redundant to me because God has seemed so close during all of this. It will surprise both conservatives and liberals how orthodox I am.

LAWTON: But determining what actually defines Anglican orthodoxy will be a major point of debate at Lambeth and well beyond.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Anglican Covenant

As we move toward the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the subject of the proposed "Anglican Covenant" continues to be high on the list of topics of both concern and conversation.

For those seeking more information and background, the following are a few we-hope-will-be-helpful links to resources and commentary on the Anglican Covenant concept in general and the St. Andrew's Draft in particular.

Further updates will be offered on this site as the process evolves, so stay tuned ... and remember that staying informed is one of the most effective ways to stay influential on this and other important issues facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Weekly News from Integrity USA

"Committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments."


Welcome to the "launch" of this weekly update from Integrity USA!

Our goal is to create an update that will keep Integrity members in touch with the latest "breaking news" in the Episcopal Church & Anglican Communion AND informed about upcoming events and opportunities at the local and regional level.

In the weeks ahead, you can expect to hear from our Regional Vice-Presidents about the work and witness being done on behalf of the Gospel in their various regions, as well as periodic commentaries from members of our Lambeth team and allies in the wider Communion.

As we journey together toward this summer's Lambeth Conference of Bishops and then beyond toward General Convention 2009, we hope this weekly update will be one of "the ties that bind us" together in our common commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.

All best blessings,
(The Reverend) Susan Russsell
President, Integrity USA



Integrity/El Camino Real is having its initial Eucharist and Reception with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves Saturday, May 4 at 3 PM at Church of the Good Shepherd, Salinas. The Bishop will celebrate and preach, and there will be a special statement by the Reverend Caro Hall, Integrity Board Director of Anglican Communion Matters, who will discuss the coming Lambeth Conference.

Integrity Hartford and Integrity Waterbury, CT will join forces to form an Episcopal Presence at Hartford Pride on June 7. Regional VP, Neil Houghton will join them and the travel to the Boston area to join Integrity North Shore (Salem, MA) as they host Susan Russell at a fund-raiser for the Canterbury Campaign. It follows up on a very successful "Tea with Susan Russell" hosted by Integrity New York City.

In other news from the Northeast Region, a chapter is forming in Rockland County, NY just in time to be at Rockland Pride. A major theme in the NE corridor is WE ARE THE COMMUNION. Notes RVP, Neil Houghton, "Many of us in comfortable places need to be reminded that while we have made great strides, there are many that need our support across the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We need new members, parish partners and chapters to support spreading the GOOD NEWS EVERYWHERE!"


For more information on any of the above, or to contribute online to Integrity's Canterbury Campaign, visit the Integrity website.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Presiding Bishop says "same sex union ceremonies" in our lifetime

The Dallas Voice reports:
Speaking at the predominantly gay parish that was the site of her first official visit to Dallas, the leader of the Episcopal Church said Monday, April 28 that she expects the denomination to sanction same-sex union ceremonies “in our lifetimes.”

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the U.S. branch of the 80-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, also said she believes openly gay bishop Gene Robinson’s exclusion from the upcoming Lambeth Conference will only serve to increase his impact on the event.

Read it here.

Newark Inclusion Activism Workshop


We still have seats available for the Inclusion Activism workshop that will
be held May 9-10 at the Diocese of Newark's office building in Newark, NJ.
The workshop will begin at noon on Friday and end around noon on Saturday.
If would like to attend, please contact Jan ASAP at or


John Clinton Bradley



Claiming the Blessing [CTB] and Integrity are co-sponsoring a series of five
regional workshops to provide local Episcopalians with the information and
tools to be more effective advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender [LGBT] equality at the diocesan level. Workshops will run from
about noon on Friday to about noon on Saturday to enable both clergy and
laity to attend without undue conflict with their workweek. Participants
will learn about the status of LGBT issues in the Episcopal Church, the
polity of the Episcopal Church at all levels, how to elect and lobby bishops
and General Convention deputies, how to submit and pass diocesan convention
resolutions, and how to communicate effectively with a variety of target
audiences and the media.


This workshop is intended for progressive Episcopalians [clergy and laity,
gay and straight] who want to work at the diocesan level to advance LGBT
equality within the Episcopal Church. It is NOT intended for bishops or
General Convention deputies. The goal is to include at least one participant
from every domestic diocese of the Episcopal Church.


Each workshop will be led by two facilitators who experts in church polity
and in communications--the Rev. Cynthia Black of Kalamazoo, MI, and Katie
Sherrod from Fort Worth, TX.

The CTB Field Organizer will also be at each workshop to handle logistics
and to ensure that the training plan is followed.


There is no registration fee for the workshop. However, participants are
expected to pay for their own travel, lodging, and any meals not provided as
part of the workshop. Friday evening dinner, Saturday breakfast snacks and a
Saturday box lunch will be provided. A limited number of scholarships for
travel and per diem expenses will be available. Contact the CTB organizer.


Contact the CTB Field Organizer for suggestions.


To provide progressive Episcopalians with the knowledge and skills they need
to positively and effectively influence their diocesan conventions and other
diocesan decision makers on LGBT issues.


By the end of the workshop participants will be able to...

Describe the current status of LGBT equality within the Episcopal Church.
Summarize the polity of the Episcopal Church at the parish, diocesan,
provincial, and national levels.
Explain Integrity/Claiming the Blessing's strategy for advancing LGBT
equality during the current triennium.
Organize with other local, progressive Episcopalians
Network with non-LGBT's struggling for inclusion within the Episcopal Church
List resources for promoting LGBT equality within the church.
Elect and influence General Convention deputies, bishops, and other key
diocesan leadership.
Submit and pass diocesan convention resolutions to General Convention.
Develop and effectively communicate messages to your target audience.
Use local print and broadcast media.

WORKSHOP AGENDA [subject to change]

Friday Afternoon
12:00 pm Registration
1:00 pm Noon Devotion
1:15 pm Welcome, and Introductions
1:45 pm The State of LGBT Equality Within the Episcopal Church
2:15 pm How the Episcopal Church Works
2:45 pm A Strategy for Advancing LGBT Equality Within the Episcopal Church
3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm Organizing at the Diocesan Level
3:45 pm Electing and Lobbying General Convention Deputies, Bishops, and
Other Key Diocesan Leaders
4:15 pm Submitting and Passing Diocesan Convention Resolutions
5:00 pm Sunset Devotion
5:15 pm Reception

Friday Evening
6:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm LGBT Episcopal Film Festival [local activists may be invited]
-Voices of Witness [44 min]
-For the Bible Tells Me So [95 min]
9:30 pm Bedtime Devotion

Saturday Morning
8:00 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 am Morning Devotion
8:45 am Allies-LGBT's Are Not Alone
9:15 am Developing and Communicating Your Message
10:00 am Break
10:15 am Using Print and Broadcast Media
11:00 am Action Planning & Evaluation
11:30 am Closing Eucharist
12:15 pm Box Luncheon


Friday evening-dinner brought in by local food providers/caterers
Saturday morning-coffee and breakfast snacks
Saturday lunch-box lunches


These workshops are made possible through a generous grant from the Arcus
Gay and Lesbian Fund.

Transgender Priest Testifies in Massachusetts

In Support of HB 1722, An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and
Hate Crimes
Massachusetts Judiciary Committee, March 4, 2008
The Reverend Cameron Elliot Partridge

My name is Cameron Partridge and I testify to you today as a Massachusetts
resident since 1995 and a transgender man. My vocation takes place in two
arenas, one as a doctoral student in the Religion, Gender, and Culture
Program at Harvard Divinity School and the other as a priest of the
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts serving in Allston/Brighton, where
transgender woman Rita Hester was murdered in 1998. I am here in support of
HB 1722 because I care deeply about the need to protect all people from
discrimination and hate crimes. I care not only because I myself would be
covered by this legislation in my secular work but also because many people
I know and work with—friends, family, students, parishioners, fellow clergy
and people of various faiths—want these protections to become law.

Since my transition from female to male six years ago, I have learned that
although many people are not well informed about transgender people, they
are able to learn, able to be respectful, and in many cases able to be
supportive, in all sorts of settings. My transition as a first year graduate
student interfaced with many different departments of the university, from
my doctoral adviser, to the Registrar, to my physicians in the university's
health services, to the people who take photos for campus identification
cards. In all cases people were more than accommodating. My favorite moment
came from the Registrar who declared "I want to welcome you to the male
gender—it's served me well." I am proud that since then Harvard has joined
the growing group of universities and corporations across the country that
are adding gender-based protections to their non-discrimination codes.
Protecting people of diverse gender identities and expressions is clearly
the right thing to do, and it also need not cause institutional confusion or
interpersonal difficulty. The world won't come to an end because we
acknowledge and protect people of various gender identities and expressions.

I am extremely fortunate to have a family that is supportive of me. But on
at least one occasion I heard concern that I might be rendering myself
"unemployable." The notion that transgender people are by definition
"unemployable" is a poisonous perception, quite ubiquitous, that this
legislation can help address. In fact, it need not be a huge deal to employ
a transgender person. Thus far I have worked both as a teaching assistant
and as a priest with no problems; in both of my lines of work, my experience
as a transman has felt like much more of an asset than a liability. The
question isn't—and shouldn't be—what unusual personal history I may have but
whether and how well I can do the job. Some of us who identify as
transgender may choose to be open while others may not. Some of us may not
have a choice. The fact that I went to a women's college, for instance, will
always show up on my resumé. But it shouldn't matter. Thus while I have been
extremely fortunate, I know I may not always be. None of us should have to
fear that we may be denied equal access to housing, to education, credit or
to jobs because our simple existence happens to challenge other people's
ideas about sexual difference. When we heard the argument earlier that
because transgender people are such a small percentage we are less worthy of
protection, I was reminded of the parable of the one sheep and the
ninety-nine. The implication of the previous speaker's remarks seemed to be
that the one sheep should be left out there. First, I disagree with that
logic, as does the parable itself: in it, the shepherd steps away from the
ninety-nine for a moment to bring back the one. But second, transgender
people are connected to so many people, as we have heard from many others
today: parents, spouses and partners, siblings, friends, colleagues,
communities of faith, all of whom are among the ninety-nine. When one of us
is snatched away, the remaining ninety-nine are injured as well. This
legislation is part of the ongoing process of making it safe for *all* of us
to become and to flourish as the people we are.

I realize that there are people of faith out there who believe that
transgender people somehow deny or distort the goodness of our creation.
What I can tell you is that for me, coming into myself as a transman has
been and continues to be a sacred journey, something for which I give thanks
and something that has opened my eyes both to the tremendous diversity of
creation and to the many ways in which humans grow and change over a
lifetime. I have been blessed to work part time in a parish and in a diocese
that really means it when it says it supports all people. So let there be no
mistake: there are many people of various faiths who are supportive of
transgender people, and there are many transgender people who are people of
faith. The baptismal covenant of my tradition calls for us to strive for
justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. As I see
it, this proposed legislation participates in that ongoing mandate, and I am
proud to support it. I urge you to support this legislation and to ensure
that the legislature has a chance to pass it. Thank you.

Bishop Spong to preach at LGBT interfaith service in Philadelphia on May 4

Christ Church, at Second and Market Streets in Philadelphia, is pleased to
welcome the Equality Forum's 4th Annual Interfaith Service on Sunday, May
4th at 4 PM.

The Equality Forum is the Philadelphia-based civil rights organization
dedicated to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

This years' sermon will be delivered by Bishop John Spong, the retired
Bishop of Newark and progressive biblical scholar, theologian and prophet
who has tirelessly called for the full inclusion of all God's children in
the Church and society. The interfaith service will feature religious
leaders from many traditions, and powerful, transcendent choral music.

For more information on visiting Christ Church, please see

For more information about the Equality Forum, please see

We hope that you will share this information with your friends and
congregations and we look forward to welcoming you to Christ Church for this
special worship service.

People of Lesbos take gay group to court over term 'Lesbian'

By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 30, 5:04 PM ET

ATHENS, Greece - A Greek court has been asked to draw the line between the
natives of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos and the world's gay women.

Three islanders from Lesbos - home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised
love between women - have taken a gay rights group to court for using the
word lesbian in its name.

One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association,
Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, "insults the identity" of the
people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

"My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our
geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no
connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.

Read the rest at:!