Monday, May 31, 2010

NYT: A shifting litmus test at Roman Catholic seminaries

A seminary psychologist who screens applicants to the priesthood says:
"We have no gay men in our seminary at this time," said Dr. Robert Palumbo, a psychologist who has screened seminary candidates at the diocese’s Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, Queens, for 10 years. "I’m pretty sure of it." Whether that reflects rigorous vetting or the reluctance of gay men to apply, he could not say. "I’m just reporting what is," he said.


“A criterion like this may not ensure that you are getting the best candidates,” said Mark D. Jordan, the R. R. Niebuhr professor at Harvard Divinity School, who has studied homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood. “Though it might get you people who lie or who are so confused they do not really know who they are.”

“And not the least irony here,” he added, “is that these new regulations are being enforced in many cases by seminary directors who are themselves gay.”

NYT, 5/20/2010, Prospective Catholic Priests Face Sexuality Hurdles

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bishop Christopher Visits LGBT Center in San Francisco

Expelled Ugandan Bishop Ministers to LGBT

Richard A. Lindsay
"The real problem is ignorance," says retired Bishop Senyonjo, who was stripped of his pension for standing up for the spiritual dignity of LGBT people.

The distinguished cleric with gold wire-rimmed glasses, a dark suit and crimson bishop’s shirt spoke with an African accent and a twinkle in his eye, “We all know about my friend, Dr. Kinsey. Although I think I am straight, who knows? Maybe I am not as straight as I think.” His shoulder swiveled, slightly vampy with this last line, and the audience laughed.

Retired Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, 78, was playing to a sympathetic crowd at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center on Tuesday night, May 25. The delight of the audience and the esteem in which they held him is not the typical reaction Senyonjo has received since he began ministering to LGBT people nine years ago in his home country of Uganda.

Receiving his theological training in the United States, at Union Theological Seminary and Hartford Seminary, and ordained in New York City in 1964, Senyonjo served as bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Western Uganda from 1974 to 1998. After his retirement, he started a family counseling center.

In 2001, his life changed forever when he met several gay and lesbian young people who had been rejected by their churches. “They had lost jobs and been expelled from school. Some of them were on the verge of committing suicide.” Senyonjo gave them a radical message for their time and place: “If you are gay or lesbian, God made you and loves you that way, and you should accept yourselves.”

Once word of his compassionate advice reached his successors in the Anglican hierarchy in Uganda, there was a firestorm. Senyonjo was asked to “condemn” the people under his care “and convert them to something else.” Senyonjo said he would not. “I cannot see God where there is no love,” he said, “I would rather go with the truth.”

Read the rest of the story here.
Richard A. Lindsay is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has worked in media relations for Pacific School of Religion, Soulforce, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and regularly publishes reviews on religion and film, music, and television at

Religion Dispatches is a daily online magazine dedicated to the analysis and understanding of religious forces in the world today, highlighting a diversity of progressive voices and aimed at broadening and advancing the public conversation.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hope for Trans Folk from Harvey Milk

I've just returned from a rally for transgender equality in front of the Massachusetts State House organized by Join the Impact Massachusetts. Today's event was part of a week-long celebration of the legacy of Harvey Milk, who would have turned eighty years old today, had he lived.

I was one of several people who spoke on a range of topics related to pending trans legislation, from an overview of the national and state movement for trans equality, to how we are all impacted by the gender binary, trans or not. After the speeches, we marched down from the State House, to Government Center, to Downtown Crossing and then back up the State House, providing Saturday shoppers with an unexpected interlude.

I pray and, in the tradition of Harvey, hope that our legislators will hear us and finally get ENDA and the Massachusetts Trans Civil Rights Bill out of committee and passed.


JTIMA Harvey Milk Day Rally for Transgender Equality
State House Steps, Boston, MA
Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hope from Harvey Milk

In his book The Mayor of Castro Street: the Life and Times of Harvey Milk, openly gay journalist Randy Shilts (may he rest in peace) described a San Francisco Sunday morning scene in 1978 when, with Harvey Milk sitting in the back pew, the Reverend William Barcus, priest of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, got up and denounced Proposition 6. This “Briggs Initiative” called for the removal of gay and lesbian people and possibly even their supporters from working in the California public schools. In an unusual move for a priest in that context, Barcus not only spoke of the God who stands with the marginalized, not only berated the fear-mongering, dehumanizing rhetoric of the Initiative and its backers, but he also witnessed to these truths with his own life, coming out as a gay man. He challenged people to, as he put it, “morally put yourself on the line, not after the fact, not after November 7th, but now” (pp. 241-242; for more on Rev. Barcus's sermon, see this LGBT chronology for the Episcopal Diocese of California by Rev. Kathleen McAdams).

On that morning I was across the Bay in Berkeley where I grew up, possibly in Sunday school, possibly sleeping in. I had no idea of the import of what was going on across the Bay and around my state. I was a shy new kindergartener, a little girl growing up to be a transman, a spouse, a dad, an academic and an Episcopal priest. What Harvey Milk inspired in William Barcus and countless others, I too came to appreciate as one who also knows something of what it feels like to be dehumanized.

What Harvey Milk goaded us into remembering with relentless wit and grit is the crucial importance of hope. Hope. “You gotta give ‘em hope,” he said again and again. He wasn’t the biggest fan of organized religion so-called, but by God he knew how to preach. Hope, he knew, is as essential to human life as the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Without hope we shrink into ourselves, our capacities squandered, our stature cut short. Our ability to hope, as human beings, is intimately tied to our dignity.

When others deny transgender people our dignity, they attack the heart of our humanity. This happens as much in quiet, behind the scenes ways as in the bold, openly violent ways we mark every year at Trans Day of Remembrance. I am thinking of the violence of intentionally identifying us with wrong names and pronouns; the violence of quietly tossing our resumes in the proverbial circular file; of falsely telling us the apartment is already rented; of telling us we must wait our turn to ensure being treated with dignity and respect; and particularly in this climate, of shamelessly labeling legislation that would safeguard our basic civil rights a “bathroom bill.”

I’m honestly not sure how much transgender people were on Harvey’s radar in the late seventies, but I have no doubt that our struggle today would inspire and galvanize him. He would tell us that no matter what indignities we have suffered, no matter who might have rejected us, we do not have the option of giving up hope. In his Hope Speech, he said, “if there is a message I have to give… it's the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it's a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope.” Harvey knew his election was a foot in the door for all who are marginalized. But he also knew that the hope he inspired was not automatic. It was something he called on each person in his audience to give. And I would submit, Harvey’s legacy renders that hope as something we must also claim.

The program for his memorial service at the San Francisco Opera House contained a line from Victor Hugo that he had recently hand-copied and posted on the wall of his office: “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come” (Shilts, 286). Trans people of Massachusetts, from around the nation and indeed the world, partners, allies, families and friends, lawmakers, people of all faiths: the time for full equality for transgender people has indeed come. The time is now for all of us — and particularly, I would say, for religious leaders of all traditions— to “morally put ourselves on the line,” as Reverend Barcus put it, for the dignity that is our birthright. The time is now for our legislators beneath this gleaming dome to finally take up the Massachusetts Transgender Civil Rights Bill, and for our legislators in Washington to take up ENDA, and pass them. Thank you.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

ENS Reports on Integrity's Bishop Christopher Tour

Retired bishop criticizes anti-gay policies, calls for networking, developing Ugandan LGBT community

Senyonjo: 'God is not only for heterosexuals'

By Pat McCaughan, May 20, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] Retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Buganda has a simple, if dangerous message: "God is not only for heterosexuals … [if you are gay] accept yourself, love yourself."

Senyonjo, 78, recently kicked off a six-week speaking tour at St. Paul's Church, Pomona, in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to raise awareness about repressive anti-gay policies in Uganda, where lawmakers recently considered imposing a death penalty on gays.

He also called upon advocacy groups to network to help develop the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and other under-served communities in Uganda and to promote understanding and education.

The married grandfather of 11 has been compared to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Martin Luther King Jr. because of his outspoken gay rights activism. His advocacy was born of listening to the struggles of others, he said recently.

"The church should be on the side of those who suffer, who are persecuted and who have been misunderstood," he told about 75 people gathered at the May 11 forum in Pomona. "To me it is sad. Very often, people go to the Bible and read it the way they want to and say if you don't read the Bible this way you are out, an outcast. I know; because I've been there."

But, he added: "Christ came to bring justice and love. Culture is not static and Christ can transform culture," he said, noting "Christ's imperative was to love, not to hate your brother because he is different."

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Integrity USA's vice president for national and international affairs, said the 35-year-old LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church sponsored Senyonjo's tour.

They hope to create awareness, he said, because of Senyonjo's "witness and his speaking truth to power at a time when few will oppose what amounts to state-legislated genocide."

Senyonjo has met with groups in Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Orange County and Los Angeles, Ogle said. Other stops include Minneapolis and New York, Dublin and Belfast.

Ogle said the tour is part of a fundraising effort to support Integrity Uganda's office as well as a literacy project. Eventually, he said, the goal is "to build a coalition of progressive Ugandan organizations … to partner on such things as LGBT issues, women's rights, human rights, HIV/AIDS and democracy. We want to invite people to visit Uganda to help create awareness."

Retirement and a new ministry

Senyonjo said his ministry as chaplain to Integrity Uganda began after he retired in 1998. He was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1964 after earning a master of sacred theology degree at New York's Union Theological Seminary. He was consecrated a bishop in 1974 and served 24 years in the Diocese of West Buganda before retiring and starting a counseling service.

"One day a young priest came to me and said there were some young people who he thought needed my help. They had nowhere to turn because of their sexual orientation. They came and talked. I listened very carefully," he recalled.

Now, he said, "I am helping these people to come to terms with their sexual orientation. I know I'm doing the right thing, the work of God. I tell these young people who come to me, to be yourself … accept yourself. God knows you and God loves you. God is not only for heterosexuals."

But his self-described mission put him on a collision course with church officials. In 2006, Archbishop Henry Orombi stripped him of all church responsibilities and financial support and he is no longer recognized as a bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda.

Senyonjo described "a time in 2009 when I remained in the United States, after I started saying that homosexuals should be listened to. Things were very difficult in Uganda then, I was being told that if I went back I would be in trouble."

Eventually he returned to Uganda, only to discover that conditions had worsened.

Read the rest of the story here:

Integrity Sponsored Tour with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo continues in San Diego

From San Diego Gay & lesbian News

SAN DIEGO -- The Right Rev. Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda has risked his own life and the lives of his family, for speaking out against the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda’s Parliament.

The highly respected Anglican bishop is visiting Southern California this month and will be one of the featured speakers at San Diego’s annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast on Friday, May 21.

Senyonjo will also attend a reception in his honor, hosted by HRC San Diego and Integrity USA, from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at Top of the Park, 525 Spruce St.

The reception is part of an American and European tour by the bishop to raise awareness of the "Kill the Gays" bill being contemplated by the Ugandan legislature. That bill has been universally condemned, including by the U.S. Congress and the European Union.

Senyonjo is also speaking out about the connection between the "ex-gay" movement in the U.S. that is being exported to Africa and the rise of virulent homophobia in African nations that many blame on American evangelical missionaries.

For speaking out in Uganda in support of the LGBT community and human rights, Senyonjo was expelled in 2006 from the Church of Uganda by Archbishop Henry Orombi. Senyonjo remains chaplain to Uganda’s chapter of Integrity.

If Uganda’s controversial bill passes, Senyonjo’s ministry with Integrity would be outlawed and he could be imprisoned for lending support to gays and lesbians.

Senyonjo, 78, was ordained to the diaconate in Uganda in 1963 and to the priesthood in 1964 in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

He studied at Union Theological Seminary in 1963 and received honorary degrees from Yale Divinity School and Harford Seminary Connecticut. He became a bishop in 1974 and served in the West Buganda Diocese until his retirement in 1998.

As a bishop, Senyonjo was considered controversial because his teachings on matters of sexual ethics over the place of gays and lesbians within church and society.

In 1998, at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of all bishops and archbishops throughout the Anglican Communion, Resolution 1.10 was passed that called for a genuine listening process to voices of gays and lesbians throughout the Communion.

Yet at the same time, then Ugandan Archbishop Livingstone Nkoyonjo supported Uganda President Musevene’s call for greater criminalization against homosexuality. Bishop Christopher was the only bishop who took the full text of the Lambeth Resolution to heart when it said: “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all the baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

He not only provided a safe place for LGBT Ugandans to come to listen, be counseled and to share in the sacramental life of the church, but he also opened a therapy practice as a marriage and family counselor to support his family.

The bishop’s respect for the full interpretation of the resolution brought him censure from his own denomination. This has caused him great personal hardship and persecution in the past five years as increasing hostility towards homosexuals and progressive human rights organizations has been noticeable. Recently, local politicians and church leaders were encouraged to increase criminal penalties against known homosexuals and their supporters, including organizations like Integrity.

The bishop has remained consistently critical of this legislation and is calling upon the international community and faith communities to oppose its passage and implementation.

“I want to assure you that there is no turning back on this road to full inclusion and pastoral sensitivity to all God's people in our church and therefore, I call upon the good leadership of my Church in Uganda to respond pastorally and quickly to all these unfortunate and open-ended forms of anarchy, which only serve to dent the good image of the church,” said Senyonjo, who is married and has 11 grandchildren.

On Saturday, Senyonjo attended the ordination of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as assistant bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese of the Episcopal Church during an elaborate ceremony attended by 3,000 people at Long Beach Arena. Glasspool became only the second openly gay or lesbian bishop in the Episcopal Church in the U.S.

The bishop will be visiting these communities after departing from San Diego:

• Orange County, May 15-16 and May 21

• San Francisco, May 22-26

• Minneapolis, Minn., and Kalamazoo, Mich., May 27- 31

• New York, June 6-8 and June 13-17

• Belfast and Dublin, Ireland, June 18-21

Malawi “People Like You” Given 14 Year Sentence

From Jim Burroway's Box Turtle Bulletin:

Declaring that he wanted to protect the public “from people like you,” Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa of Blantyre Magistrates Court sentenced Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, to 14 years in prison with hard labor, the maximum sentence under Malawi law, after having found them found guilty of gross indecency and unnatural acts:

“I sentence you to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour each. That’s the maximum under the penal code,” magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa told the two men in a courtroom in the capital Blantyre.

“I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example,” the judge added.

“Malawi is not ready to see its sons getting married to its sons.”

The BBC reports that Monjeza broke down in tears when he heard the sentence, while Chimbalanga remained calm.

As they were escorted away under heavy police guard, hundreds of onlookers outside the court shouted abuse at them,. One woman reportedly yelled, “Malawi should never allow homosexuality at any cost.”

The couple’s lawyer said that they would appeal the verdict to High Court.

Human rights groups call the ruling a significant blow:

Read the rest of the blog here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Integrity President David Norgard's remarks at celebatory dinner following Glasspool consecration


At the Celebratory Dinner on the Occasion of the Consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles

15 May 2010

Good evening. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is David Norgard and I have the privilege of serving as the President of Integrity. On behalf of all of the members of the Board of Directors, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to this celebratory dinner following Mary Glasspool’s consecration as a bishop suffragan for Los Angeles. As I look around the room tonight, it is like an Episcopal version of a Hollywood red carpet event. The room is filled entirely with very special guests.

The trailblazer of the LGBT community into the House of Bishops is here, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire. Gene, if you did have any real idea about what you were getting yourself into as the first openly gay person to be elected a bishop, then probably you shouldn’t have done it because you must have been crazy! Nevertheless, the exemplary manner in which you have held your office has been an inspiration to more people than any of us will ever know. Mary will be blessed to have you as a brother in the house. Would you please stand and accept our love and appreciation on this happy day?

The Most Rev. Martin Barahona, the Primate of El Salvador, is with us. He has expressed his desire to launch the ministry of Integrity within his jurisdiction. Welcome, Bishop Barahona. Author and priest Malcom Boyd is here along with his partner and fellow author, Mark Thompson. Their works have inspired thousands. Welcome to you both. I want to acknowledge the current President of Oasis California, Tom Jackson, Cameron Partridge of TransEpiscopal, and Integrity past President, Kim Byham. Now, if I have inadvertently offended anyone by not recognizing their ecclesiastical celebrity, please forgive me. As we are wont to say in Hollywood, chalk it up to youthful naïveté. Your publicist can call me after the show. And thank you all for being here this evening but far more importantly, for doing what you do to advance LGBT equality and understanding.

Before I move on, I also want to acknowledge someone who was planning on being here but could not travel right now due to medical reasons. He is doing okay. I speak of Dr. Louie Crew who founded Integrity thirty-five years ago now. I have never asked him what he imagined he might accomplish when he published that very first edition of INTEGRITY but we can all agree that it has been nothing short of transformational. Speaking as a former chair of not one but two evangelism commissions, I dare say that his good work has brought more good news to the people and more people to the church than any number of committees or commissions.

This is not a fundraising speech but I do want to mention that Integrity is presently underway with a fundraising campaign called 100,000 Blessings. That Integrity needs to raise money is hardly news. Like any other advocacy organization, we incur expenses to do what we do. And so we rely on our members and friends and church partners for support. What is new in this particular campaign is the theme. Previous campaigns have all focused on what General Convention or the Lambeth Conference might say or do, usually with some foreboding. This current campaign is different. While the funds raised obviously go to support future work, the campaign appeals to a sense of gratitude for what has been done. It is a campaign of thanksgiving, if you will. Thus its motto, taken from Dag Hammarskjold, a past Secretary General of the United Nations: “For all that has been, thanks; for all that will be, yes.”

I realized recently that I have been a member of Integrity for nearly as long as Integrity has existed. I joined during my college days, shortly after I joined the Episcopal Church. The landscape was very different then. I belonged to a parish whose leadership believed in healing homosexuals of their identity. When the Denver General Convention (the first one that is) magnanimously voted to recognize homosexual persons as “children of God,” those of us whose ontological validity had hung in the balance were relieved. Existence was a victory.

It was also a beginning – a beginning, to borrow Nelson Mandela’s title, of “a long walk to freedom.” Consider what we have been through. Educational materials were prepared that put lesbian and gay people in a good light and then later pulled from distribution. Theological reports were commissioned that concluded that gay people were nice, indeed very nice, but nonetheless not suitable for ordination or marriage, especially to each other. Some diocesan bishops took bold moves and started to ordain persons who identified openly as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Others, however, made equally bold moves in the opposite direction and stopped issuing chalice bearer and lay reader licenses to persons known to be practicing homosexuals.

There was pain. There was confusion. There was frustration…and anticipation. There was sweat and tears and work and prayer and moments of elation and moments of despair, moments of koinonia, that is of a profound sense of community, and moments when the words of the psalmist came to mind: “Had it been my adversary who taunted me, then I could have borne it…but it was you…my own familiar friend.” There was one constant. Through it all, Integrity was always, always there. And ultimately, there was also progress – progress toward that most basic principle of respecting the dignity of every human being. After B033 in Columbus, there was D025 in Anaheim. After an exhortation to restraint from Canterbury, there was an orderly and joyous election in Riverside.

Ironically, although perhaps understandably, there has been enough good news that some say the struggle is over, the work is done. As I meet people hither and yon across the church I hear some say with regard to Integrity’s mission, “Yes, there is much to be thankful for but not all that much more to work for, is there?” Legislative victories tend to ring with a definitive air in an era of 24-hour news cycles.

But if legislative victories are the end of a journey of a thousand miles, turning those victories into living realities surely requires an expedition of double that length. I say this not to diminish the joy of this day but rather to strengthen our resolve for the days to come.

Friends, of course we have much to celebrate. Yet we also still have much to do. We are at a milestone – a major one, a glorious one – but it is does not mark the finish line. The work must go on. In congregations where a mother is still afraid of coming out as the parent of a lesbian daughter for fear of being shunned, the work must go on. In dioceses that have never yet had a real conversation with – or even about – transgender people, much less respected their dignity, the work must go on. In the military that still operates under the insidious policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” ruining lives and diminishing the armed forces’ own capabilities, the work must go on. In the thirty-one states with anti-gay marriage laws now, the work must go on. In a society and its media in which the negation of our humanity is labeled as “conservative” and not as “unjust and unacceptable,” the work must go on.

Friends, it is meet and right that we rejoice tonight and enjoy our fellowship with one another. It is good to give thanks. It is good to praise Mary and rejoice with her. “For everything that has been, [let us give] thanks.” Yet it is also a time to ask her to continue to work with us in a new way. Our prayer today has been that she might receive power and strength and encouragement for the road ahead. May it be the prayer we offer for every one of us here tonight…because the work must go on. “For everything that will be, [let us say] yes.”


Friends, I mentioned that we are underway now with our 100,000 Blessings Campaign. We are looking to raise $100,000. At the same time, we are collecting something else just as important. We are gathering stories about how the work of Integrity has been a blessing in the lives of individuals and families and congregations over the past 35 years. As I mentioned, I have been a member for a very long time. I have an abundance of stories I could share myself but I would like to share just one with you now.

I entered the Ordination process during the late seventies, while I was in college. At that point, I was rather new to the Episcopal Church but, through fortuitous circumstances, I had joined Integrity almost concurrently. Not long before the process moved from the parochial to the diocesan level, my sponsoring rector posed a question to me that, in my naïveté, was totally unexpected. Out of genuine care and concern for me, he gave me a choice: I could proceed without identifying as a gay man, in which case he anticipated that the process would go smoothly. Or, I could be out, in which case the outcome was uncertain. Knowing what I knew, though – about myself, about my new gay friends in the church, about ministry being a matter of telling the truth that leads to the way and the life, I felt there was no decision to make. To be other than out was too much of a compromise of myself, my friends, and what I knew to be real and good. And so that is how I proceeded. I paid a price in those early years for being out as a priest. There were search committees who said they just couldn’t talk to me and others who could not imagine me being in their social circle. One even compared me to a murderer. More than one bishop told me I would never work in his diocese (which I later did, by the way). Yet overall, after twenty-five years of ordained ministry, gratitude for what has been has far surpassed regret over what might have been. The people I have been privileged to know, including some in this very room, have been among the profoundest joys of my life. Truly, I have come to believe what the psalmist has always said, “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk with Integrity.”

That is my story of blessing. In the spirit of 100,000 Blessings, I invite some of you now to name that for which you give God thanks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Leg of Bishop Christopher Senyonjo's US Speaking tour a big success in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California (May 17, 2010)--Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, the Ugandan bishop who was inhibited from performing of his duties as a priest and bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda as a result of his support of Integrity Uganda and the greater LGBT community, completed a successful week in the Los Angeles area.

 The retired Bishop met with secular and church leaders to inform and educate them about the plight of the LGBT community in Uganda. He remains one of the few voices in Uganda who has spoken out against the importation of homophobia from the US, the draconian "Anti-Homosexuality" bill pending in the Ugandan parliament and what needs to happen to change the climate of hatred and discrimination in Africa.

Those who heard Bishop Christopher speak enjoyed an historic opportunity to hear the personal witness of a courageous man of faith who has proclaimed God's inclusive love and spoken truth to power in Uganda. Bishop Christopher has been a valiant straight ally of the LGBT community and has experienced firsthand the cost of discipleship for his work and witness. He brought words of both hope and challenge of all those working for equality and inclusion in the church.

His ministry with Integrity Uganda could soon outlawed by the government, and Bishop Christopher could be put in prison for his support of LGBT Ugandans if Uganda's proposed "anti-homosexuality" bill becomes a law. He has strongly condemned the bill as a violation of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and a violation of the sacred bonds of the Ugandan extended family system. He calls the bill inhumane and was recently a part of a delegation to the Speaker of the House to reject the bill.

Bishop Christopher told audiences that what has sustained him during what he calls "the big storms of life" is his deep belief that the Gospel of Christ does not discriminate against anybody. He continues to spread the message that God loves everyone equally. Knowing this truth, he says, has set him free.

In coming weeks, Bishop Christopher will travel to San Francisco, Sacramento, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, DC.

Bishop Christopher's US speaking tour is sponsored by Integrity USA.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Integrity Celebrates Historic Los Angeles Ordination

May 15, 2010

Integrity celebrates with the Diocese of Los Angeles and the whole church today at the ordinations of Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce and Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool. This history making day is another important step forward toward the full inclusion of all the baptized in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church, and Integrity is honored to have been part of it.

"As we celebrate these ordinations today, we also celebrate the hard work and persistent activism of Integrity over the last 35 years," said President David Norgard. "Here in Long Beach today we are not only reaping the fruit of the work of those who have gone before us--we are planting the seeds for fuller inclusion throughout the whole church."

Also present at the festive ordination service were past-presidents of Integrity, including Bruce Garner (Atlanta), Kim Byham (Newark), and Susan Russell (Los Angeles). "As a daughter of this diocese could not be more proud that Los Angeles has responded to the call to be a headlight instead of taillight on full inclusion," said Russell. "Today the first woman Presiding Bishop in the history of the Anglican Communion ordained the first two women bishops in the history of the Diocese of Los Angeles...and the fact that one of them is a lesbian is not an 'issue' but an opportunity for us to better incarnate the wholeness of God's abundant and inclusive love."

Today is a day for celebration. And tomorrow Integrity will get back to work toward the day when the gender, orientation, identity or race of a bishop for the Church of God is no longer an "issue." For anybody. And for the time when all the sacraments will be fully available to all the baptized. For everybody.

For further information contact:
Louise Brooks, Communication Director
Integrity USA

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What would you ask?

On Friday afternoon, May 14th the Diocese of Los Angeles is holding a pre-consecration press conference.

If you had the chance to ask a question at the press conference in Long Beach what would it be? In attendance will be Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Diocesan Bishop Jon Bruno and Bishops-elect Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool. Can't guarantee we can get your question asked, but if you had the chance to ask one, what would it be?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bishops' Letter Contributes Momentum on Trans Civil Rights in MA

As the Massachusetts Judiciary Committee pushed back its deadline for reporting on the Transgender Civil Rights Bill to early June, Boston-based LGBT paper Bay Windows has reported on two new voices of support, Boston City Council and the letter sent last week by Bishops M. Thomas Shaw and Roy "Bud" Cederholm (Bishop Gayle Harris did not sign because she had not yet returned from a leave of absence). Read the whole article here. Excerpts are reposted below.

I would like to add that the article cites Virtue Online as the place from which it got the text of the letter. Virtue Online reprinted without acknowledgment my exact post (which I posted with permission from the Communications Office of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to three blogs: TransEpiscopal, Walking with Integrity, and the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality). This made it look as if Virtue Online actually had permission to post the letter, which it did not.


Transgender Rights Bill receives more support, extended deadline
by Hannah Clay Wareham
Associate Editor
Tuesday May 11, 2010

Amid resolutions and commendations, hopes are high for bill to pass.

Support for "An Act Relative to Gender-based Discrimination and Hate Crimes" (S. 1687/H. 1728), known as the Transgender Civil Rights Bill, is growing in Boston. The City Council last week passed a unanimous resolution backing the bill and joined the Episcopal Diocese of Masscahusetts in publicly voicing their support. The Transgender Rights Bill will remain under consideration by the Judiciary Committee for at least another month.

Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), said that the organization "is grateful for the continued support of the Boston City Council and hopes that our state leaders will follow this wise example and extend civil rights to our state’s transgender citizens."

The Transgender Civil Rights Bill offers crucial employment protections for transgender people and outlaw anti-transgender workplace discrimination. If the bill is passed, the category of "gender identity and expression" will be added to the Massachusetts hate crime, employment, housing, credit, public accommodations, and public education non-discrimination laws.

The legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary on May 6 extended the bill’s deadline, giving it at least another month to remain under consideration. The original deadline required that the bill be reported out of committee by May 7.

"As they say on ’Monty Python,’ we’re not dead yet," DeeDee Edmondson, political director of MassEquality, said. "The Judiciary Committee and our coalition [of organizations working together to pass the bill] now can get down to the business of producing a piece of legislation that can put transgender people back to work and bring stability and dignity to families throughout the Commonwealth."


On April 30, Episcopal Bishops M. Thomas Shaw and Roy "Bud" Cederholm of the Diocese of Massachusetts sent letters to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging the lawmakers to pass the Transgender Rights Bill. Attached were resolutions stating the full support of both the Episcopal Diocese of Masschusetts and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

"As bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, our eyes are open to the realities of transgender people and their families," Shaw and Cederholm wrote in the letter, which was subsequently printed by "Many of them serve faithfully in the congregations and ministries of our diocese, as lay people, as deacons, and as priests. They are dedicated and loving parents, children, siblings, friends, and community leaders."

The letter encouraged lawmakers to act quickly in passing the bill. "Adding gender identity and expression to the state’s nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws is no isolated concern of a special interest group," the letter read. "The disproportionate suffering of transgender people should grieve the hearts of all who love justice and liberty."

The Transgender Rights Bill received an intensified focus from a wide variety of mainstream media outlets after Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker pledged on Saturday, April 17, that he would veto the bill if elected.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Integrity USA sponsors Ugandan Bishop's tour to USA

May 7, 2010


Integrity USA announces Bishop Christopher Senyonjo's US tour to speak against “kill the gays” bill in Uganda.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, chaplain of Integrity Uganda, launches a speaking tour in the USA to denounce worldwide homophobia and Uganda's "anti-homosexuality bill” which could lead to Senyonjo's arrest for his support of the LGBT community. Senyonjo, one of the few Ugandan Anglican bishops or priests who strongly condemns the bill, calls it a gross violation of human rights. He is a married, grandfather of 11, and will visit California, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C.

Bishop Christopher has paid a high price for his consistent advocacy for LGBT persons. In 2006, he was stripped of all church responsibilities and financial support and he is no longer recognized as a bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda. Instead of bowing to church intimidation, his courageous response has been to speak out even more strongly for the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as the tide of persecution in Uganda is rising.

Uganda already allows imprisonment of gay people, but the proposed law would propose more harsh sentencing including the death penalty, life imprisonment, extradition and required reporting by friends and family. This new law was proposed after a series American anti-gay Evangelicals and writers visited Uganda.

Many of these anti-gay advocates call gay rights “evil” and make outrageous claims, i.e. blaming the gay community for the Nazi holocaust. Despite direct appeals and protests by pro-LGBT faith leaders across the country and recently in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., anti-gay advocates from the US will travel to Uganda to hold more rallies in support of the draconian law.

"Bishop Christopher is the Desmond Tutu of Uganda," said The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Integrity USA's VP of International Affairs, "and we support his witness and his speaking truth to power at a time when few will oppose what amounts to state-legislated genocide.”

Integrity USA, a 35 year old LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church is the sponsor of Bishop Christopher visit. Integrity Uganda could soon be outlawed if the proposed law is passed.

CITIES ON THE TOUR : Overall tour coordination: Rev, Canon Albert J. Ogle Vice President for National and International Affairs, Integrity USA 949 338 8830

Los Angeles May 10-16 Louise Brooks
Sacramento May 17-18 Rev. Brian Baker 916 446 2515
San Diego May 19-21 Rev. Canon Albert Ogle 949 338 883
Orange County May 15-16, 21 Rev. Canon Albert Ogle 949 338 8830
San Francisco May 22-26 Rev. John Kirkley 415 861 1436
Andrea Shorter 415 581 0005

Minneapolis May 27- 31 Rev. Mark Thompson;
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Black
New York June 6-8, 13-17 Rev. Patti Ackermann 917 488 9929
Washington, DC TBA


Bishop Christopher’s tour is made possible by the generous donations of members of Integrity USA, the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, Los Angeles and New York; the Domestic Workers Union of America, Equality California, Linda and Rick Miles, Changing Attitude Ireland, Human Rights Campaign and the support of many local organizations and individuals. Donations to the work of Integrity Uganda can be made online to and directed to The Hopkins Fund.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MA Bishops Send Letter to Legislators in Support of Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill

Bishops M. Thomas Shaw and Roy ("Bud") Cederholm of the Diocese of Massachusetts this week sent letters to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo pressing them to pass the state's Transgender Civil Rights bill. "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes" (House Bill #1728 and Senate Bill #1687) is slated to either make it out of the Judiciary Committee or die there for a third straight year this Friday, May 7th.

The bishops' letter follows unprecedented coverage of the bill by Boston area newspapers (including a supportive op ed by the Globe), after Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker announced that he would veto the legislation if it crossed his desk. His team handed out fliers referring to the legislation as "the bathroom bill," taking up the rhetoric of the virulently anti-LGBT group Mass Resistance (and groups battling similar legislation in other states) which tries to stoke fears that such legislation will make women and children vulnerable in bathrooms and locker rooms.

The bishops' letter (posted with permission) follows:

April 30, 2010

The Hon. Deval L. Patrick
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Governor Patrick,

We write to express our strong support for an act to add gender expression and identity to our Commonwealth’s antidiscrimination and hate crimes laws, and to ask you to work to ensure its passage.

As bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, our eyes are open to the realities of transgender people and their families. Many of them serve faithfully in the congregations and ministries of our diocese, as lay people, as deacons and as priests. They are dedicated and loving parents, children, siblings, friends and community leaders. Again and again, we hear how they have struggled against incredible odds and pressures to be true to their identity as beloved children of God, made in the image of God.

It pains us that even as transgender people claim their identities and step into newness of life, they face discrimination and violence that undermines their human dignity. A November 2009 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 97 percent of respondents had been harassed or mistreated on the job, and 26 percent had been fired for being transgender. You will recall that in November 1998, an Allston transgender woman, Rita Hester, was murdered and her killer never found. This local tragedy led to an annual Nov. 20 international Transgender Day of Remembrance, for transgender people who have died, especially those who have been killed or taken their own lives. It is fitting that our state should model amendment of life and hope for a future that is better than this sad past.

Adding gender identity and expression to the state’s nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws is no isolated concern of a special interest group. The disproportionate suffering of transgender people should grieve the hearts of all who love justice and liberty. Both the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church are on record in support of full equality for transgender people (resolutions attached).

So many of the arguments against the full inclusion of transgender people in our society are driven by unfounded fear. Transgender people are simply seeking the removal of barriers that prevent them from flourishing as full members of and contributors to society. One need not fully comprehend what it is like to walk in their shoes to provide them with the protections every citizen—every person—is due. Please act to ensure their rights.


The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

The Rt. Rev. Bud Cederholm
Bishop Suffragan


Resolution D012: Support of Transgender Civil Rights

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church supports the enactment of laws at the local, state and federal level that a) prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or the expression of one's gender identity, and b) treat physical violence inflicted on the basis of a victim's gender identity or expression as a hate crime; and be it further

Resolved, That the Secretary of Convention convey this resolution to appropriate congressional leadership to the Chair of the National Governors Association, the President of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and to the President of the U. S. Conference of Mayors.

Voted by the 223rd Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, Nov. 7-8, 2008, Hyannis:
Resolution in support of transgender civil rights and inclusion in the ministries of all the baptized

Resolved, that the 223rd Convention of the Diocese of Massachusetts supports the enactment of laws at the local, state and federal level that a) prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or the expression of one’s gender identity, and b) treat physical violence inflicted on the basis of a victim’s gender identity or expression as a hate crime; and be it further

Resolved, that the Secretary of Convention convey this resolution to the Massachusetts State Legislature, and the Massachusetts representatives in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention submit to the General Convention the following resolution: Resolved that the words “gender identity and expression” be inserted into Title III, Canon 1, Sec. 2 directly following the words “sexual orientation” and before the words “disabilities or age.”

Through the Looking Glasspool

A reflection on the election and ordination of a Los Angeles bishop
The Rev. Thomas Squiers

The internet, as far as Episcopalians were concerned, was hot on the day of March 17, as we all awaited news from the Presiding Bishop’s office that Canon Mary Glasspool had completed the consent process. This broke ground for the first lesbian to step into the episcopacy in the American branch of the Anglican Communion.

I remember one week earlier to March 17, receiving an e-mail from an Integrity board member asking if the Diocese of Fort Worth had given consent or not toward Glasspool. Unfortunately, the paperwork got mixed up in the mail and ended up in the offices of the “other” group who left the Episcopal Church in November of 2008. By the time the Fort Worth diocese received the consenting forms, Glasspool had already received the number needed toward approval for elevation. Despite the late submission, Fort Worth was still allowed to participate in the vote. Interestingly enough, from the standing committee three voted YES and two voted no and one was undecided.**

As a member of the Diocese of Fort Worth, I was looking forward to the outcome of the vote from our standing committee. First of all, I feel it would have painted a bigger picture of the future of the diocese where LGBT persons and ministry are concerned. The good news is that the standing committee was allowed to vote according to their conscience, which in former years would have been given a heavy hand by the past leadership. By three voting YES, that tells me that the Diocese of Fort Worth has certainly moved beyond the former years. Just as Mary Glasspool’s election and consecration is a turning point in the Episcopal Church, it is also a vital turning point in the Fort Worth diocese that three people consented to this election.

A few years ago, anyone on the standing committee who even hinted of wanting to support Glasspool would have been told to vote ‘no.” This type of fear and oppression is what has stagnated many in the Christian Church from moving forward. What we are experiencing now in the National Church (and slowly in the Diocese of Fort Worth), though we still have a long way to go, is a movement that has stirred the hearts of many and is releasing others from the bondage which once existed. The prejudices which have seeped into the fabric of the Church is being washed away as the Holy Spirit is (and has been) pointing our stubborn selves in the direction of the healing waters of our Baptismal Covenant.

I believe that this message was heard loud and clear at the 2009 General Convention with the passing of several pro-LGBT resolutions, one of which Canon Glasspool is soon to partake of its after effects. This message is at the heart of the Gospel of Inclusion, the Gospel that was Christ’s message for us…for all. This is a message that exposes us to the Light of God in a way that turns away darkness and allows the green blade to rise. We are the blades of green on this path.

When I was in college in the 90s, I remember the Diocese of Fort Worth talking about the Kuala Lumpur Statement on human sexuality. I remember that each congregation was “encouraged” to sign this statement as an affirmation or statement to LGBTs “You are not welcome here.” It was painful for me, one who has always been deeply in love with the Episcopal Church, to hear this language of exclusion. I can remember the day that the message on this Statement was introduced at the parish I was attending then and the confusion that ran through my mind. Though I was not “out” at the time, I feared even the thought of being gay because I knew my Church did not approve – at least on the local level.

Twenty years later, we are in a different place. The ‘statement’ now is just a historical piece of evidence of fear and hatemongering which once existed to aid as a stepping stone to an egoistic power trip for a group of middle-aged, fuchsia shirt wearing men, many of which have since been deposed by Her Grace for their desire to create schism (the others have either died, retired or resigned altogether). Twenty years later we are advancing the Gospel of Inclusion in ways many never thought was possible. This is a message of hope. This is a message of liberation. This is the message that Jesus the Teacher has been trying to get us to, as St. Benedict says “listen with the ears of our hearts.”

And so we begin to see God working God’s purpose out as the patchwork continues on this quilt of faith in the Church. We see walls which have long divided our family of brothers and sisters crumble – much like the walls of oppression that fell at Jericho, that fell at Auschwitz, that fell at Berlin. We see gay and lesbian Christians, called by God, taking their places at the Altar of Christ, leading the people as we are joined by one common cause: our Baptismal Covenant. A Covenant that is not and shall not be surrounded by walls but held together by the hearts of children, women and men – of yesterday, today and tomorrow. A Covenant that claims each of us worthy to be inheritors of the Kingdom of God and delight in the work of God on this earth, without regard to race, age, disability, expression of gender, sexual orientation, theological expression, nor any other common or not so common means by which we have been divided.

It is by this Covenant that Mary Glasspool has been brought into the Circle, by consent, of the ancient order of bishops “…who carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the Church.” [BCP, 510] And the important thing is that this work she has been called into in the church has very little to do with her sexual orientation. It is a great accomplishment of the Episcopal Church that we have come this far to recognize people of various sexual orientations, whether straight or gay. It is an even greater accomplishment that the Church recognizes women and men for their talents, what ministries they are called into, and does as Hebrews says, to exhort one another in this spirit.

It is by this accomplishment of the Church that we have much hope in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Opportunities are now open for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Episcopalians to step into leadership roles without fear of retribution. We currently have LGBT individuals in the discernment process for holy orders. Additionally, our current Provisional Bishop, Wallis Ohl, has assigned a committee for the Listening Process which will begin soon in the Diocese – an opportunity to listen to the stories of LGBT Episcopalians and explore how this diocese may seek better ways of inclusion. LGBTs are taking active roles in their churches, serving on vestries, teaching Sunday School, and serving on diocesan committees. All these developments require us to find ways to make new alliances, to work collaboratively with those who are coming from a place of fear, and to offer support and resources to help the work along.

In the New Testament reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter, we heard from St. John’s Revelation where God speaks aloud and says “Behold, I am making all things new.” That which is old is passed away. And I believe that this is what is happening in the Episcopal Church. This is what is happening in the Diocese of Fort Worth. The old ways are behind us, the new ways are here and ahead of us. God is making all things new.

So let us turn then, a family united by this Baptismal Covenant, standing arm in arm as God’s grace is poured out once again on another pilgrim who has made her way along this journey and has found favor in God’s sight. Let us rise among the green and hold our sister high in this fellowship as a cloud of witnesses of the inclusive Gospel of Christ. Let us hold fast to this truth: that Christ’s love is truly for all and bears no exceptions.

The Rev. Thomas Squiers is a Benedictine Priest of the Order of St. Michael, of which he is the Director of the Benedictine Chapter of St. Luke in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, working in conjunction with St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, MI, by way of the Confraternity of St. Benedict. He is also the Co-Convener and Chaplain of Integrity Fort Worth and directs the Healing Ministry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst, TX. He lives in the Midcities of the Fort Worth Metroplex with Jason, his spouse of ten years.

** Corrected from the original post.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bishop Gene Robinson's Letter to the Pope

As published in the Washington Post Sunday, May 2, 2010.

Your Holiness,

Though our churches differ in many ways, we believe in the same God. As your brother in Christ, it pains me to see Catholics struggle with your response to recent allegations of sex abuse by priests. Since my denomination has also battled these demons, I want to share with you what I have learned as a bishop of the Episcopal Church.

About 20 years ago, our church became aware of sex abuse by our clergy here in the United States. To our shame, we learned of it in lawsuits filed by victims alleging that some of our bishops had minimized the seriousness of the abuse and/or swept their claims under the rug. Some cases were related to the abuse of children; others involved male clergy who took advantage of their pastoral relationship with vulnerable women to manipulate them into sexual relationships. These men violated the sacred trust placed in clergy to focus on parishioners' needs and to separate those needs from their own. To prevent further such abuses of power, we moved quickly for the good of the victims and of our church.

Whether or not civil courts recognize a statute of limitations, the church must hold its clergy members accountable to their vows to be faithful shepherds of their people. In 1994, the Episcopal Church opened a two-year window of opportunity to hear complaints about priestly abuse of the pastoral relationship with adults. Just because an event occurred many years ago did not make it any less egregious, especially since perpetrators rarely have only one victim. We addressed all complaints through our canonical disciplinary process.

As for instances involving children, we have no statute of limitations on reporting abuse. Those suspected of committing child abuse are immediately reported to the civil authorities for investigation.
Rather than refusing to acknowledge our transgressions, we sought to change our church's culture -- an effort that took no small amount of courage. In my diocese in New Hampshire, and across the Episcopal Church, we perform a thorough background check on every bishop, priest or deacon who serves under my authority. We correspond with every employer the clergyperson has ever had and every bishop under whom the clergyperson has ever served to determine whether there is a history of complaints.

While procedures vary from diocese to diocese, we here in New Hampshire require six hours of abuse-prevention training for clergy, all other employees of the church (organists, parish administrators, maintenance workers), youth workers and elected parish leaders. A refresher course is required every five years. Events with and for children may never be conducted without two adults present and always in view of each other. This protects children from abusive behavior and protects adults who might be falsely charged. Many of our parishes have installed windows in the clergy office doors, so that no activity -- even private counseling -- may go unobserved.

We want many pairs of eyes watching for signs of abuse. We want everyone to know how to report suspected abuse of children and abuse of the pastoral relationship between clergy members and parishioners. We want to keep the issue before our church -- clergy and laity alike -- and to keep the conversation going.

But the thing victims most want to hear from the church, especially its leadership, is: "I am so sorry. This should never have happened to you, especially here. We are going to do everything in our power to see that nothing like this happens again." Victims live with their horrific experiences and know that their abuse can never be undone. And so they seek assurance that the church will change the system that allows abuse to go undetected and take action to hold perpetrators accountable. Child abusers do not deserve protection; they must be reported immediately to civil authorities and prosecuted.

The Christian church -- like any institution -- is as capable of sin as any individual. We have been wrong before, from the Inquisition and the Crusades down to our defense of slavery (using scripture) and our denigration of women. Over time, the church has repented for these sins and sought to change its ways. The discovery of sexual abuse by clergy is another situation that calls for the church's repentance and reform.

I would not presume to instruct you. That would be arrogant. Nor would I impose upon you advice you've not sought. But I do offer you the benefit of my experience as you seek to deal responsibly with these challenges to the integrity of your church. Your letter to the faithful in Ireland and your meeting in Malta with victims were a good start. I hope the future will bring more truth-telling, which will make your church a better, safer place.

However, I believe it is misguided and wrong for gay men to be scapegoated in this scandal. As a gay man, I know the pain and the verbal and physical violence that can come from the thoroughly debunked myth connecting homosexuality and the abuse of children. In the media, representatives of and advocates for the Roman Catholic Church have laid blame for sexual abuse at the feet of gay priests. These people know, or should know, that every reputable scientific study shows that homosexuals are no more or less likely to be child abusers than heterosexuals. Psychologically healthy homosexual men are no more drawn to little boys than psychologically healthy heterosexual men are drawn to little girls.

Sexual activity with children or teenagers is child abuse, pure and simple. Meaningful consent is impossible, by definition, for the underaged. You will not rid your church of sexual abuse by throwing homosexuals out of your seminaries or out of the priesthood. Homosexual priests have faithfully and responsibly served God throughout Catholic history. To scapegoat them and deprive them of their pulpits is a tragedy for the people they serve and for the church. Yours is a problem of abuse, not sexual orientation.

Read the rest of the letter here.

V. Gene Robinson was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. He is also a part-time senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.