Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekly Witness For 30 January 2009

Integrity Goes To Creating Change, January 29
by Jan Adams, Claiming the Blessing Field Organizer 415-378-2050

Caption: The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force introducing the day's program at the annual Creating Change conference. Panel member Urvaishi Vaid of the Arcus Foundation looks on.

Today's opening plenary session at the huge LGBT activist meet-up in Denver bore the unwieldy title: "New Movement Messages and Strategies and Empowering People of Faith Institute." Fortunately, a truly distinguished panel rose to the challenge of speaking to the diverse group assembled for a day with many tracks. There's no way to adequately summarize their thoughts, but I'll pass along some highlights...

John D'Emilio, one of the founders of the academic discipline of gay and lesbian studies, reflected on the amazing reality that we now have an Obama presidency. He reminded the assembled queer audience that we've been a movement that projected a politics based on identity for 40 years, made great gains, and now we have a President who neither speaks nor apparently thinks in identity politics terms. Our opponents have also mobilized on identity lines, perhaps more successfully than we have, activating two groups: "evangelical Christians and the filthy rich." Instead of identity, President Obama appeals to the "the common good" and shared values. As LGBT people move forward, we need to understand our identity as contributing to a shared common good.

The Rev. Deborah Johnson of Inner Light Ministries knows how to preach it. She's convinced we're coming into a new time and we must not try to put new wine into old wineskins. So she brought some admonitions.

"There are no gay issues -- there are simply justice issues."
"If we are gay by nature, it is by God's design and it is good."
"I did not join this movement to get heterosexual privilege!"
On the last point, she urged us to remember that we face discrimination because we don't conform to "the rules" of gender and we should not be hoping to become insiders--we need to understand ourselves as being about destroying gender-based privilege, along with other forms of power over each other. She concluded:

"The world, the planet, is waiting for America to come to grips with its privilege!"
Urvashi Vaid, a former executive director of the Task Force now with the Arcus Foundation, ran through a list a ten points from which I'll only pass on a few that I caught.
  • Elections matter; we have to continue to work in them and win them.
  • Though Obama was elected, the right wing is not dead. In particular, our straight allies may not understand LGBT people still live under right wing threat.
  • The gay movement needs to adopt some new principles. "The LGBT movement must be green." We must stand against all violence, including our own nation's wars. We must stand for choice, not coercion--and that implies that we can't just say were are gay by birth--we have to affirm sexual orientation by choice as well as by nature.
  • We're not just in a struggle for civil equality; we want "moral equality." We really are a people who demonstrate that there are alternative ways to love and make families and that's good. In that sense, it is good to be against "tradition."
  • We can never give up on dismantling white supremacy in all its manifestations.
  • Let's be real: they discriminate against us because of how we have sex. We need to be able to talk about sex.
  • Members of LBGT communities suffer costly economic consequences when we are open about our orientations.
  • The LGBT movement is global--we cannot just be U.S.-centric.
  • Movements don't just happen--they advance because they get organized. LGBT organizations have email lists of some 3 million people; of these about 300,000 contribute to their groups in some way. We are many, but we are not currently all engaged in working for what we deserve. It's time to get more people moving!

Not a bad send off for a long, educational day!

Neil Houghton, Integrity's Northeastern Regional Vice President, is also attending Creating Change. You can read his reflections at

Action Alerts!

2008 Welcoming Church Survey

A new report from says there were 823 Episcopal congregations listed on their welcoming church directory at the end of 2008, a 10% increase from 2007.

Is your parish listed? If not, click here to send an e-mail message to those who maintain the database. Include your congregation's name, physical, denomination, web site URL [if you have one] and a contact email address. You can also use this eddress to update your current listing.

FYI: Unlike other denominational advocacy groups, Integrity has never launched an open and affirming parish program. The rationale of previous boards of directors has been that our goal is for ALL parishes to be welcoming and inclusive. However, the current board of directors is in conversation with the Institute for Welcoming Resources about starting a program by the end of this year.

Have You Accepted The P3 Challenge?

Speaking of welcoming congregations...

  1. Is your congregation a Proud Parish Partner [P3] of Integrity? Click here to find out!
  2. If your congregation is NOT a partner, click here to view and print a PDF invitation, share it with your rector, and ask him or her to complete and mail the response form.
  3. If your congregation IS a P3, ask your parish web editor to put a banner or button ad on your congregation's website to let readers know about your support of Integrity.

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