Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IntgriTV Reports on: Bishops Moving Forward

President Bonnie Anderson has announced that there will be a special order "committee of the whole" discussion of B033 in the House of Deputies. Here are just a few of the bishops committed to working together to end the B033 "Season of Discrimination" against the LGBT baptized.

FAQs About Moving Beyond B033

Part 1 of 3...

Doesn't B033 automatically expire at the start of General Convention 2009?

According to a recent opinion by the Chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies:

A Resolution adopted by one General Convention remains the position of the General Convention until it (1) expires by its own terms, (2) is revoked by a subsequent act of a General Convention, or (3) is superseded by General Convention's adoption of something clearly contrary to the prior enactment even if the prior act is not explicitly revoked. A General Convention cannot bind a future General Convention, a future General Convention can always change what a prior General Convention has done.

Therefore, Resolution B033, since it did not contain language stating when it will expire, remains the position of General Convention until General Convention revokes it, adopts something contrary to it so as to supersede it, or in some way determines that it is contrary to a Church rule of a higher order such as the Constitution or Canons and is therefore null and void or of no effect.

Has B033 actually been a factor in preventing LGBT candidates from being elected to the episcopate?

Absolutely. According to an April 2, 2009 ENS feature:

"The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has told a newly formed bishop search committee that they are expected to 'honor the mind of the Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the episcopate as expressed through the General Convention.' The Standing Committee said in a posting on the diocese's bishop search website that the requirement referred to Resolution B033, passed by the Episcopal Church's General Convention in June 2006."

Until we move beyond B033, qualified candidates for the episcopate who are LGBT are being prevented from even being considered, much less elected.

There are a lot of resolutions about B033— which one does Integrity favor?

The one that will pass.

At this point, as with every General Convention, a variety of resolutions have been submitted with different approaches to the same goal: moving beyond B033. What is important is that General Convention 2009 acknowledges we have outlived “the season” we were told we needed B033 for and that we need to enforce our nondiscrimination canons when it comes to ordination.

We’ll be tracking legislation as it moves through committee and making decisions with our allies "on the ground" in Anaheim about what our legislative strategy is based on how those resolutions come forward to the floor.

My bishop says that the House Bishops won't rescind B033, so isn't working to move beyond it seems a waste of effort?

The resolutions regarding B033 will be starting in the House of Deputies so we are looking for "the senior house" to take the lead on this issue – which is usually how progress on social justice issues have happened in the Episcopal Church throughout the decades. If Integrity and our allies had waited for the House of Bishops to say they were ready to move forward on LGBT inclusion we would never have gotten started. It’s taken us 33 years to get this far and no effort to continue to move the church forward is wasted.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bringing the church to the people

This morning Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California joined Lutheran Bishop Mark Holmerud in celebrating the eucharist in the assembly area before today's San Francisco Pride parade.

Oasis California made the arrangements for the joint parade contingent.

IntegriTV Goes Live Today:

With This Segment: "General Convention: Then & Now"

More on IntegriTV Launch from the Communications Team

IntegriTV, Integrity's video presence in Anaheim will launch on Sunday, June 28th -- 10 days ahead of the start of General Convention 2009 -- with the 10 part "MARCHING TO ANAHEIM" series promoting Integrity's ministry and message.
Watch for it daily at http://www.integrityusa.org/GC2009.

"For the last 10 days of Integrity's march to Anaheim, we're reprising that theme with different content added daily, offering reflections from bishops and lay leaders, from pastors and people in the pews," said Louise Brooks, Integrity's Director of Communications.

Once the convention begins, Integrity fans from around the globe will have a front row seat to the happenings from July 7-18, in Anaheim with IntegriTV's brand-new daily news & information program produced especially for broadcast on the Integrity website.

Each day, IntegriTV will feature timely news stories and unique interviews on subjects of particular interest to equality advocates within the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. You'll want to stay tuned to IntegriTV because no where else will you find the General Convention reports specifically addressing your interests and concerns.

A passionate team of Integrity volunteers will be on the floor, in the halls and around every corner at convention working to educate attendees and encourage support for "all the sacraments for all the baptized." IntegriTV is just one of several channels created by Integrity to provide real-time updates to folks at the convention and back home. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook will also keep fans updated, as well as the regular Integrity blog. Of course, there will still be the occasional old-fashioned email update as well.

"We are thrilled that these enthusiastic volunteers are committing their time and God-given talents to the issue of equality in our church. They are bringing diverse skills to General Convention which will enable us to reach people on so many different fronts," said the Rev. Susan Russell, IntegrityUSA President.

"Who would have thought even a year ago we'd have such amazing technology at our fingertips to draw people even closer to the cause for equality? IntegriTV is yet another opportunity for us to deliver substantive information directly to you and introduce you to key players who are shaping issues within the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion."

To make life just a little simpler, all you have to do to keep up with Integrity at General Convention is go to the one-stop portal at:
There you can view the daily IntegriTV show, became a Facebook fan, follow along on Twitter and read the Walking With Integrity blog.



Saturday, June 27, 2009


IntegriTV comes to a screen near you! This year Integrity is taking a full audio-visual team to Convention so that you will be able to ‘be there’ in a whole new way.

Last time General Convention was held in Anaheim it was 1985. The whole Integrity operation was run on the proverbial shoestring. Dottie Fuller remembers staying in her RV in a parking lot and coming into the Integrity suite in her jeans in order to change into a set of professional clothes. At the following convention, in 1988, Integrity filmed a videotape ‘to persuade our members we should be here’ according to Kim Byham, national President. That year the budget for Integrity’s presence at Convention was $30,000. Since the value of the dollar has declined since then, $30,000 in 1988 may be the equivalent of $68,000 today .

This year we asked you to help us raise $70,000 and your generous giving shows that you no longer need ‘persuading’ that Integrity should be at General Convention. You know the value of our witness there. But not all of us can make the trek - IntegriTV brings Convention to you.

Each day there will be video blogs and interviews bringing you the highlights - and the sidelines - of Convention which is one of the biggest representative assemblies in the US.

Prepare for General Convention now by making sure that you bookmark

More info coming soon from our Communication Team ... stay tuned!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pride in the South Central Region

Pride was the first weekend in June in Kansas City. It began with a big ecumenical service in which the newly elected Province VII coordinator, the Rev. Susan McCann participated at a local MCC church on Wednesday evening, June 3, and continued throughout the weekend. Lots of activities. Lots of people. Proud Parish Partner, Grace, Liberty, served dinner at the AIDS Quilt dinner.

Fort Worth Pride planning committee moved Pride Day to October because of the heat in the Fort Worth area in June. However, Q Cinema is happy to partner once again with the Stonewall Democrats to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots with screenings of the excellent documentaries Before Stonewall and After Stonewall. Before screens at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27, with After following at 4 p.m. Both films screen at the Fort Worth Public Library screening room downtown. The address is 500 W. Third St. Admission is FREE.

Celebrate Pride with Integrity at the Houston Pride Parade Saturday 06/27/09! Our starting point: Corner of Hazard & Harold We are #21 this year! Everyone in place by 8:00 pm.

Saint Louis Pride Fest will be held in Tower Grove Park on June 27 and 28! Come visit the Diocese of Missouri Oasis/Integrity booth! On Sunday, June 28, Mass on the Grass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Arsenal and Grand in Tower Grove Park. Immediately following the service, join us for the Pride Parade!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's time to "get a backbone"

Last night Grace Cathedral in San Francisco played host to a forum on "Politics, Religion and Discourse: A Conversation about Same-Sex Marriage." Bishop Marc Andrus moderated a distinguished panel including Bishop Gene Robinson, in town from New Hampshire; Joe Tuman, a professor of Communications at San Francisco State; the Rev. Yvette Flunder of City of Refuge United Church of Christ and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-national, multi-denominational faith grouping; the Rev. Lindi Ramsden who serves as Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry in Sacarmento; and Rabbi Douglas Kahn of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

The room was packed with eager and slightly anxious listeners.

Dr. Tuman led off with a very concise and useful overview of how a California Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage a year ago, the campaign to outlaw it by way of Prop. 8 ensued, and the same California Supreme Court upheld the vote last month. He emphasized that despite upholding the new constitutional provision, the Court did not back away from its finding that LGBT people still legally constitute a "suspect class", forcing anyone choosing to discriminate against us to be subject to "strict scrutiny," essentially a refutable presumption of wrongdoing. That is, California law still protects gay equality far more vigorously than it did before this sequence of events.

Professor Tuman then offered his prescription for future efforts to repeal Prop. 8: we must remember that "my opponent in this is not my enemy." We are called to dialogue with a lot of skeptical people, including often our own families. If we do this, we can win many over.

Panelists offered their distinctive wisdom. The Rev. Flunder shared some historical perspective, describing the flexibility that Black churches under slavery had to adopt to create an ethics that responded to their members' lack of control of their own lives. She trusted that churches can likewise learn to respond to the novel social reality of contemporary loving, responsible gay and lesbian partnerships.

Bishop Robinson was his usual charming, but also bracing, self. He attributes the recent success in winning same-sex civil marriage in New Hampshire to inclusion of "unnecessary" but "reassuring" language in the law promising that no religious body will have to "marry" anyone against their beliefs. He looks forward to a time when the Church gets out of the civil marriage business.

But further, Robinson urged the LGBT movement to "get a backbone." He believes we need to understand more deeply that the movement for full equality of all people is a long process. We stand today on the shoulders of people who have been through these struggles before us; others will come after and stand on the shoulders of the LGBT movement we are now part of.

Monday, June 22, 2009

265 Is Disgraceful

As of this week, an estimated 265 service members will have lost their jobs
under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since January 20.

That's when President Obama and the new Congress came to town promising
change -- change they've failed to deliver, certainly with respect to
repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Every day they wait to act, another service member is fired simply because
of his or her sexual orientation.

We're marching to the White House this Saturday to call on President Obama
to show leadership on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Even though you're not near
Washington, you can join this effort by telling your friends why 265 is
disgraceful -- and why we've got to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":


Like those who drew a line in the sand 40 years ago at the Stonewall Inn in
New York City, we're standing up to demand action. It's past time for these
discriminatory discharges to end.

After 16 years of this nonsensical law, it's critical that President Obama
and Congress act to kill "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Together, marching, we have a real opportunity to deliver a powerful message
to the White House, to Congress, and to the American people -- and to let
our service members know they have not been forgotten.

Thank you so much for your continued support.


Ben Mishkin
Grassroots Organizer
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From today's House of Bishops/Deputies Listserve

Yes, what's published there is confidential to the list ... but when you're the one who wrote it, you're free to publish it elsewhere.

To: The HoB/D List Community
From: Susan Russell -- Kibbitzer from the Diocese of Los Angeles & President of Integrity USA

I write today to ask those who both contribute and monitor this listserve to remember is that there are those among us who have been at these conversations for a VERY long time.

I beg forgiveness from those offended by our sometime impatience at explaining ourselves one more time, at offering our relationships up to the microscope for one more look, at being asked to accept "no offense" as a footnote as if it neutralizes what has gone before it.

And I beg your indulgence by presenting -- one more time -- the following response to the question, "What does it mean for the church to give its blessing?" It is the answer we have been giving since its publication in 2003. It's the answer we'll take to Anaheim. And it's the answer we'll keep giving until -- like the persistant widow in the parable Our Lord gave us to show us how to fight injustice -- we no longer have to gird our loins and come back "one more once" to make our case.

"What Does It Mean for the Church to Give Its Blessing?" [from the 2003 "Theology of Blessing" published by the Claiming the Blessing collaborative ... still available in PDF here ]

“Blessing” is perhaps the most controversial word in the Church’s consideration of the treatment of same sex households in its midst. Because of this fact, we must take great care to be precise about what we mean when we use the word.

The following are the building blocks for a theology of blessing: Creation, Covenant, Grace, and Sacrament.

Creation itself is the fundamental act of blessing. Creation is a blessing (gift) to humankind from God and humankind blesses (gives thanks to or praises) God in return. The Hebrew word for “blessing,” barak, means at its core the awesome power of life itself. A fundamental claim of the Bible in regards to creation is that there is enough, in fact an abundance, of creation, and therefore of blessing, to go around.

“Blessing” is a covenantal, relational word. It describes the results of the hallowed, right, just relationship between God and humankind. Blessing is what happens when God and humankind live in covenant. It is important to remember here that the relationships between human beings and the relationship between God and human beings cannot be separated. “Blessing” and “justice” are inseparable biblical concepts.

When we ask for God’s blessing, we are asking for God’s presence and favor. In Christian terms this favor is what we call “grace,” God’s disposition toward us that is not dependent upon our merit, but is a sure and certain gift to the believer in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In our tradition, the Sacraments are the primary ways the grace/blessing of God is communicated to us (“a sure and certain means,” BCP, p. 857). The two “great” Sacraments “given by Christ” (BCP, p. 858) are Baptism and Eucharist. In them we see the two fundamental aspects of blessing: the blessing of life from God and the blessing of God for that life.

Five other rites are traditionally known as sacraments, but they are dependent for their meaning on the two Sacraments and are not “necessary for all persons.” A whole host of other actions in the life of the Church, and of individual Christians, are “sacramental” in nature, i.e., they mediate the grace/blessing of God and cause us to give thanks and praise/blessing to God.

In our tradition, priests and bishops have the authority to pronounce God’s blessing within the community of faith. They do so not by their own power, but as instruments of the grace (blessing) of God within the Church. Their authority to bless, too, finds its meaning in the two great Sacraments.

When the Church chooses “to bless” something it is declaring that this particular person or persons or thing is a gift/blessing from God and his/her/its/their purpose is to live in (or, the case of things, to assist in) covenanted relationship with God (and with all creation), i.e., to bless God in return.

To bless the relationship between two men or two women is to do this very thing: to declare that this relationship is a blessing from God and that its purpose is to bless God, both within the context of the community of faith. If the Church believes that same-sex relationships show forth God’s blessing when they are lived in fidelity, mutuality, and unconditional love, then this blessing must be owned and celebrated and supported in the community of faith.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weekly Witness for 16 Jun 2009

In Memory of Brooke Bushong

The Rev. Brooke Bushong, a vocational deacon in the Diocese of New York, passed away on Saturday, June 13th. She was a long-time member of Integrity/New York and the first female president of the chapter. During her administration Integrity/New York grew to over 300 members. Brooke also volunteered for Integrity during several General Conventions.

A celebration of Brooke's life on will be held on Saturday June 20th, 10 a.m., at St. Clement's Episcopal Church, 423 West 46th St., New York, NY 11036. The Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, Bishop of New York, will preside and the Rev. Dr. Mitties DeChamplain, Rector of St. Clement's, will preach. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Brooke's name to St. Clement's.

Condolences may be sent to Brook's partner, Patti O'Kane, at okbirder@msn.com.

Provincial Synod Presentations End Strong

The last two provincial synod presentations about LGBT issues during General Convention took place in the first half of June. In Province 4, former president Bruce Garner spoke to about 50 bishops and deputies at Kanuga Conference Center. In Province 6, Acting Executive Director John Clinton Bradley conversed with 30 bishops bishops and deputies in Minneapolis.

DURING THESE FINAL WEEKS BEFORE CONVENTION, IT IS VITAL THAT YOUR BISHOPS AND DEPUTIES HEAR YOUR OPINION. Ask them to move the Episcopal Church beyond B033 and forward on marriage equality. Visit http://www.integrityusa.org/all/ for more info.

The Ripple

A Flash version of Integrity's General Convention 2009 graphic novel--as well as the original PDF version--can be viewed at http://www.integrityusa.org/TheRipple/. It reviews some of the key milestone in the history of the Episcopal Church when our understanding of God's inclusive love has expanded.

A paper copy of the "comic book" will be mailed to all bishops and deputies next week. Copies will also be given away at Integrity's booth in Anaheim.

New Facebook Page Just In Time For General Convention

We are officially less than one month away until the 76th General Convention is upon us. Stay connected by becoming a fan of Integrity USA on Facebook [http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rochester-NY/Integrity-USA/115526484127].

By becoming a fan, you can get updates as they happen from the convention, watch IntegriTV--a daily feature TV show during convention, and so much more. By adding it to your News Feed (check your news feed options at the bottom of your home page by clicking 'edit options') you can keep up with the news just like status updates. You'll see feature stories from the blog, daily highlights, discussion and photos, all in one place.

Our current Facebook group page [http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2228025090] will remain up for now, but we will be focusing most of our attention towards the fan page, so please consider becoming a fan today!

Susan Russell Now On Twitter

If you use http://twitter.com/, you can now follow @revsusanrussell for tweets during General Convention!

Unblogged News

Des Moines Register
Gay marriage law's impact on Iowans subtle, yet powerful

Concord Monitor
Clergy draw lines on gay marriage

The Associated Press
Gay bishop rejoices in NH's gay marriage vote
Episcopal News Service
All Saints, Pasadena, clergy opt out of civil marriages until gay couples can legally wed

Why I Now Support Gay Marriage

Here's why we keep at it: if Tom Suozzi can change his mind, so can your neighbor, your convention deputation, your bishop or your president!

By TOM SUOZZI -- Mineola, N.Y. [source link]

WHEN I ran in the Democratic primary for governor against Eliot Spitzer in 2006, I vocally supported civil unions for same-sex couples but did not endorse equal marriage. I understood the need to provide equal rights for gays and lesbians, but as a practicing Catholic, I also felt that the state should not infringe on religious institutions’ right to view marriage in accordance with their own traditions. I thought civil unions for same-sex couples would address my concerns regarding both equality and religious liberty.

I was wrong.

I have listened to many well-reasoned and well-intentioned arguments both for and against same-sex marriage. And as I talked to gays and lesbians and heard their stories of pain, discrimination and love, my platitudes about civil unions began to ring hollow. I have struggled to find the solution that best serves the common good.

I now support same-sex marriage. This is a subject of great debate before the New York State Legislature (although the legislators there are a little distracted right now), and I hope that same-sex civil marriage will be approved within the month.

Under current New York State law, same-sex couples are deprived of access to the employment benefits, life and health insurance and inheritance laws that heterosexual couples have. If the state were to institute civil unions for same-sex couples, that discrimination would end, but we’d still be creating a separate and unequal system.

Civil unions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples would be an equal system, but this compromise appears unlikely at the current time. Few heterosexual couples would give up their current civil marriage for a civil union. While some states would recognize civil unions for all, others would not, causing legal problems for New York couples. Advocates of same-sex marriage don’t seem in favor of such a compromise either.

According to the last census, there are an estimated 50,000 households headed by same-sex couples in New York, many who were married in other states. Those marriages are recognized by New York courts as valid. As a result, we have same-sex marriage for some in New York (albeit performed out of state) and no marriage at all for other same-sex couples.

Any change in the New York law can, and must, balance equality while making sure that religious institutions remain free to choose whether to marry same-sex couples. By following the example of Connecticut and Vermont, which included protections for religious institutions when they recently legalized same-sex marriage, we can ensure that churches are not forced to consecrate marriages they do not endorse. This will require a strong liberty clause allowing religious institutions to opt out of solemnizing same-sex marriage, which also applies to the provision of services and programs at religiously affiliated institutions.

Many civil marriages are not considered “holy matrimony” by religious institutions because they do not conform to the rules of the religious institution. Those marriages have not challenged religious liberty. We must see that civil marriage, which has always been separate from religious marriage, will remain so.

But most important, gays and lesbians have suffered too long from legal discrimination, social marginalization and even violence. They are entitled to clear recognition of their equal status as citizens of a country that is founded on the principle that we are all inherently worthy. By delivering a clear message that same-sex couples can no longer be treated as separate and unequal in New York, we will also reduce discrimination in everyday life. We will all be better for that.

Equal civil marriage should, and likely will, pass because of the public’s growing unwillingness to sustain inequality. Society will also be strengthened as more people take responsibility for one another in marriage. I now encourage others who oppose gay marriage to re-examine the reasons they do so, and to consider changing their minds too.

Tom Suozzi is the Nassau County executive.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Western South Dakota still has a long way to go

From Robbinsdale Radical:

The two most commented stories on the Rapid City Journal's Rapid Reply are:

* Black Hills Gay Pride event expands to four days (299)
* Rapid City woman likens gay activism to 1960s civil rights movement (117)

I'm torn between pride and disgust from the [online] comments as many of them are packed with hate and bigotry. Many are so bad that I am dismayed the RCJ has allowed them to be posted-- violence against my LGBT friends comes from this kind of speech.

Religion seems to come up a lot in the negative comments, especially when used as a weapon to justify prejudice...
More here...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

COMING SOON: Integrity Eucharist 2009

This year, Integrity's triennial celebration of God's inclusive love brings together two historic "firsts:"

Bishop Barbara Harris
(the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion) will preach and Bishop Gene Robinson (the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion) will celebrate at the service on Friday, July 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom of the Anaheim Hilton.

The service is open to all: bishops, deputies and visitors to the Episcopal Church's General Convention -- as well as to ecumenical and interfaith guests.

Music will be provided by the fabulous choirs of All Saints Church, Pasadena
under the direction of the extraordinary James Walker.

The service will be followed by a reception hosted by the All Saints, Beverly Hills Gay & Lesbian Fellowship.

Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience the ministry of two of the Episcopal Church's historic justice leaders in a service designed to embody the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rapid City, South Dakota, speaks on gay marriage

Remember this is a state which (barely) passed a gay marriage + civil union ban in 2006, with their neighbor to the north passing one in 2008.

Rapid City woman likens gay activism to 1960s civil rights movement

Sandy Magnavito can relate to her son's worries about the legality of his marriage.

Freddie Magnavito wed his partner, Dan, in a ceremony held three years ago at the Black Forest Inn. Recently, the couple made it legal by obtaining a domestic partnership certificate in Olympia, Wash., where they live.

But they still worry that their legal rights as a "married" couple won't be respected if they move away from Washington, one of 11 states and the District of Columbia that currently offer legal recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships.

"It's my understanding that they can still have problems when they move to another state -- that their civil union won't be recognized legally," Sandy Magnavito said.

Those problems take Sandy Magnavito back to 1970, when she was a new bride in an interracial marriage. State laws prohibiting marriage or sex between men and women of different races had been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. But as a black woman married to a white man less than three years after that decision, Magnavito was still nervous about driving across the South in 1972 on their way to the University of Texas, where her husband, Fred, was enrolled in a doctoral program.

Sandy Magnavito and her husband never encountered questions about the validity of their marriage certificate. But she worries that Freddie and Dan may have problems, with insurance coverage or medical issues that most married couples take for granted, if they move to one of the many states, including South Dakota, that officially prohibit gay unions.

Read the rest at the RCJ website ....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Public policy network urges support for hate crimes bill

By Lynette Wilson, June 03, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) issued an alert in May urging Episcopalians to send letters to their U.S. Senate representatives in support of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill which would reform existing hate crimes law.

"It's critical to get support behind this because finally we have a chance to get a
hate crimes bill that will include sexual orientation and gender identity," said the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, an Episcopal grassroots organization that works for full inclusion and access to rites for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people in the church. "This is the time to make it happen. We have energy behind it in the House and Senate and a White House that said it will support and sign it."

On April 29, the House of Representatives passed the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), by a vote of 249-175. The bill gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence in instances where the perpetrator has victimized a person based on his or her actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, and national origin which are currently covered.

The 1998 torture and murder of Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, brought international attention to the limitations of U.S. hate crimes statutes at the local, state and federal levels. In 2007, Congress passed bills to reform existing hate crimes law to allow state and local governments more control and accountability over such cases. But the bill, added as an amendment to the Defense Reauthorization Bill, was dropped when former U.S. President George W. Bush said he would veto the defense bill with the rider, a legislative term meaning an additional provision.

"The bill is now moving because of a confluence political serendipity: Stronger Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a president willing to sing it into law," said DeWayne Davis, EPPN domestic policy analyst, in an email message.

Conservatives and some conservative religious groups previously opposed amending the hate crimes law because they felt it would inhibit them from expressing their moral and biblical objections to homosexuality in free speech.

"For political reasons LGBT has become the wedge issue that polarizes and splits the electorate. I am hoping not only to see an end to that with this bill in Washington, but in church politics as well as we more toward our General Convention," Russell said, referring to the Episcopal Church's main legislative body that meets every three years.

In addition to including sexual and gender identity, the legislation also gives the Justice Department greater oversight of state and local criminal investigations where bias is involved, and makes grants available to fund training, prevention campaigns and to assist in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

The FBI reported 7,624 single-bias hate crime offenses in 2007. Of those, 51% were race-based. Ranked second and third were those based on religion (18%) and sexual orientation (17%) in its most recent report on hate crimes.

Russell went to Washington to lobby in support of new hate crimes legislation both in 2007 and earlier this year.

"One of the things I found working the Human Rights Campaign out of Washington was the huge percentage of people who thought sexuality and gender identity were protected," she said.
Source: http://www.episcopal-life.org/81799_108993_ENG_HTM.htm

ENS On Bishop Parsley's Secret Panel

Bishops' Theology Committee chair declines to release names of same-gender study group. Advocacy groups call decision 'insult' that goes against church's transparent governance

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
June 03, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] A group formed by Episcopal Church bishops to study the theology of same-gender relationships has begun its work, but the chair of the committee that appointed the panel refuses at least for now to identify its members, a decision that critics say is insulting and lacking in transparency.

"It has always been the committee's intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage," Diocese of Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, chair of the House of Bishops Theology Committee, said in a statement June 3. "We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them."

Parsley made the statement the day after two advocacy groups called for the theology committee to make the names public and to explain why more study of the issue was needed.

While the study is mentioned in one paragraph of the House of Bishops Theology Committee's report to the 76th General Convention, the names of the "diverse and balanced panel of theologians" the report says have been appointed to the sub-committee are not included.

The committee's report says the House of Bishop requested the study, which is described as "designed to reflect a full spectrum of views and to be a contribution to the Listening Process of the Anglican Communion, as well as to the discussion of this subject in our province." The report calls the study "a long-term, multi-step project" designed to be completed in 2011.

The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA, said in a June 2 statement that keeping the names of the theologians secret was "the height of absurdity and insult." She said that the secrecy makes the project "suspect, disingenuous and dishonest."

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, said June 2 that her organization was "saddened that the House of Bishops Theology Committee has chosen to begin this important scholarly work without making public the names of the bishops, theologians and scholars who are serving on this panel."

Parsley said in his statement that he wanted to "assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons."

The project, he said, "is designed to articulate theologically a full range of views on the matter of same sex relationships in the church's life and to foster better understanding and respectful discernment among us.

"We wish to invite any member of the church who wishes to address the panel to send comments to the Theology Committee," he continued. "We will see that these are communicated to the theologians to enrich their reflection and dialogue."

Parsley said those comments should be sent to him at hparsley@dioala.org.

Russell said that a secret study "sends a horrific message to gay and lesbian people -- both inside and outside the church" and is "utterly contrary to our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being.

"A 'closeted' sub-committee studying same-sex unions seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago," Russell said.

Her statement noted Resolution A167 from the 2006 meeting of General Convention, which reiterated the church's 1997 apology to "its members who are gay or lesbian, and to lesbians and gay men outside the Church, for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church."

Meyers said in her statement that "the theological study of human sexuality is essential to our common life, to our mission and evangelism, and to our ability to live out our baptismal promises" and "deserves to be no less than a model of the transparent governance that the Episcopal Church has upheld for centuries."

Commending the committee for continuing the effort to study the issues of human sexuality in the life of the church, Meyers noted three of four official Episcopal Church studies in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003 involved the House of Bishops Theology Committee. Those studies include:

  • the House of Bishops' 1994 "Continuing the Dialogue: a Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality";
  • "The Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships" report of the Standing Liturgical Commission with the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to the 72nd General Convention in 1997;
  • the liturgical commission's report to the 2000 General Convention titled "Theological Aspects of Committed Relationships of Same-Sex Couples"; and
  • the House of Bishops Theology Committee's 2003 report "The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective".

Meyers suggested that further study ought to "be enriched by common prayer" and thus called General Convention to establish a rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church. At least four resolutions to that effect have already been submitted to the convention, as well as one calling for a study of the theological dimensions of Christian marriage.

Meyers said her group was committed to praying for the members of the sub-committee "by name and to providing our assistance as they continue their work."

In addition to Parsley, the members of the theology committee during the 2007-2009 triennium were Diocese of Puerto Rico Bishop David A. Alvarez; Diocese of Tennessee Bishop John C. Bauerschmidt; Diocese of Nebraska Bishop Joe G. Burnett; Ellen T. Charry, associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary; the Rev. Dr. Sathianathan Clarke, theology professor at Wesley Theological Seminary; Stephen E. Fowl, chair of the theology department at Loyola University in Maryland; the Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb, professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary; retired Diocese of Maryland Bishop Robert W. Ihloff; Charles T. Mathewes, associate professor of religious ethics and the history of Christian thought at the University of Virginia; Dr. Joy A. McDougall, associate professor of systematic theology at Candler School of Theology; Diocese of Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller; and Dr. Kathryn Tanner, professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Source: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_108986_ENG_HTM.htm

New Hampshire Becomes 6th Marriage Equality State

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the U.S. Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, right, shakes hands with Mo Baxley in the gallery of Representatives Hall in the State house after lawmakers voted in favor of gay marriage in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Associated Press
NH gay marriage supporters rejoice

Associated Press
Governor signs bill legalizing gay marriage in New Hampshire after legislators OK revisions

National Public Radio
Governor Signs New Hampshire Gay Marriage Bill

Boston Globe
N.H. ties gay-marriage knot

Gay marriage bill signed in New Hampshire
Barre Times Argus (VT)

New Hampshire enacts gay marriage
Bennington Banner (VT)

Concord Monitor (NH)
Outside State House, the story is personal

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

But I'm still not telling you who is on the panel...

By the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Chair, Theology Committee of the House of Bishops:

In response to questions that have been raised about the panel of
theologians appointed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to
prepare a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church, I wish
to assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a
robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons.
This project has been designed in full communication with the House of
Bishops. It has always been the committee's intention to publish the names
of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe
that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to
work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom
of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue
and reflection that is taking place among them.

This project is designed to articulate theologically a full range of views
on the matter of same sex relationships in the church's life and to foster
better understanding and respectful discernment among us. It will also be a
contribution to the listening process of the larger Communion. It has
several stages and is scheduled to be complete by early 2011. We are
grateful to the distinguished theologians for their generous service to the

We wish to invite any member of the church who wishes to address the panel
to send comments to the Theology Committee. We will see that these are
communicated to the theologians to enrich their reflection and dialogue.

Comments should be directed to the chair of the committee, Bishop Henry
Parsley, at hparsley@dioala.org.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

President Obama Declares June LGBT Pride Month

Office of the Press Secretary


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Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

You can read the full proclamation on the White House website.

Integrity responds to House of Bishops' "Secret" Committee


The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. According to a report in the General Convention Blue Book, the Theology Committee has appointed "a diverse and balanced panel of theologians" but the names of these committee members are being withheld.

“If this isn’t the height of absurdity and insult I don’t know what is,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity USA, the LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. “It sends a horrific message to gay and lesbian people – both inside and outside the church. The very concept of “secret studies” elicits painful memories of secret studies done on other minority groups in the past and is utterly contrary to our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being. There is absolutely nothing dignified about a secret study of a group already being discriminated against. It is suspect, disingenuous and dishonest. ”

Russell added, “If this important work is to have any credibility whatsoever, it is critical that the work be done in a context of honesty and transparency. A "closeted" sub-committee studying same sex unions seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago.

“Integrity calls on the entire House of Bishops to not only ask for the publication of the names of those participating in this study, but to clarify the process itself. We want to know why it will take until 2011 for this committee to come up with a theological response to a reality we have been living out in the Episcopal Church for a generation now.

And we want to know how a church that can pass a resolution in 2006 “reiterating its apology “on behalf of the Episcopal Church to its members who are gay or lesbian, and to lesbians and gay men outside the Church, for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church,” can then conscience secret committees “studying” our lives and relationships as if we were laboratory animals. What part of maltreatment by the Church doesn’t the House of Bishops get?


See also:

The Episcopal Cafe
The Chicago Consultation



contact: Rebecca Wilson, 330-524-2067, rebeccaswilson@sbcglobal.net

CHICAGO, June 2, 2009--Ruth Meyers, professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Chicago, released this statement today in her role as co-convener of the Chicago Consultation:

The report of the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops, included on page 51 of the Blue Book for the 76th General Convention, states that the committee has been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. According to the report, the Theology Committee has appointed "a diverse and balanced panel of theologians" that has already begun its work.

The church's history of homophobia is largely based on cultural prejudice that has resulted in inaccurate and incomplete interpretations of biblical texts. Therefore, the Chicago Consultation commends the House of Bishops on its desire to continue the decade-and-a-half long study of human sexuality in the life of the church, especially in light of four recent official Episcopal Church studies--released in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003. Three of these previous studies have, in fact, involved the House of Bishops Theology Committee[1].

Continued scholarly work, done with particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in committed, life-long, monogamous unions of faithful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, can liberate the church to discern more fully the work of the Spirit in all life-long unions of fidelity and mutual love. So that further study can be enriched by common prayer, we call upon General Convention to enrich this new theological work by establishing a common rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church.

However, we are saddened that the House of Bishops Theology Committee has chosen to begin this important scholarly work without making public the names of the bishops, theologians and scholars who are serving on this panel. The theological study of human sexuality is essential to our common life, to our mission and evangelism, and to our ability to live out our baptismal promises. Such important work deserves to be no less than a model of the transparent governance that the Episcopal Church has upheld for centuries.

As theologians, priests, bishops and laypeople from across the Episcopal Church, we call upon the House of Bishops Theology Committee to release at once the names of those serving on the panel it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. We commit to praying for them by name and to providing our assistance as they continue their work.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church's historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.


[1] 1994 Continuing the Dialogue: a Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality (The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, 1994).

1997 "The Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships," in Report of the Standing Liturgical Commission with the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to the 72nd General Convention (1997 Blue Book, p. 285-300).

2000 "Theological Aspects of Committed Relationships of Same-Sex Couples," in the Report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to the 73rd General Convention (2000 Blue Book, pp. 205-232).

2003 "The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective," a Report of the Theology Committee to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, March 2003 (2003 General Convention Journal, p. 780-788).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekly Witness for 1 June 2009

With General Convention only a month away, Integrity USA is hard at work...

Videos Released On LGBT Issues In Anaheim

We posted two new videos to YouTube over the weekend.

"With God's Help" explains why the Episcopal Church needs to move beyond its de facto moratorium on additional gay and lesbian bishops during General Convention 2009.


"Becoming an 'Ubuntu' People explains why the Episcopal Church must move forward on marriage equality in Anaheim.


Please help us "virally distribute" these videos by posting them on your blog or social networking page.

Both videos will be mailed on a single DVD to active bishops and General Convention deputies within the next week.

The Ripple

We also posted a new "graphic novel" on our website over the weekend. "The Ripple" tells the story of Stuart--an ordinary Episcopalian who is weary of our denomination's conflict over LGBT equality.

Click here to read "The Ripple" as a PDF!

"The Ripple" is currently being printed. A paper copy of will be mailed to active bishops and General Convention deputies later this month.

June Episcopal Life Ad

The June issue of Episcopal Life is out. It includes the 5th advertisement in a series from Integrity USA about LGBT issues at General Convention.

2nd Quarter InfoLetter

The current edition of Integrity InfoLetter was distributed a couple of weeks ago. It was sent electronically to all members for whom we have an email address on file. It was mailed in paper format to those members who have not provided us with an email address.

Click here to read the newsletter as a PDF.

Unblogged News

Pasadena Star-News
Pastor vows not to perform weddings until Prop. 8 is repealed

Episcopal News Service
Lesbian elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm

Episcopal News Service
California Supreme Court outlaws gay marriage—except for 18,000 already-wed couples

Anglican Journal
Diocese of Huron moves toward same-sex blessings but not nuptials