Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bishop Christopher Responds To California Bill

Yesterday we posted the good news about the California State Senate's bill which supports Bishop Christopher in Uganda.

State Senate Calls on Federal Government to Help Stop Uganda’s Bill Criminalizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People
Equality California-sponsored resolution condemns Uganda’s draconian law persecuting LGBT people
Sacramento – The California State Senate today passed a resolution (SR 51) condemning Uganda’s bill criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 21-14 vote. Introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, the resolution urges the U.S. government to intensify its efforts to eliminate the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide as well as to take more caution when funding faith-based organizations to ensure that U.S. government funds and resources are accessible to women, minorities, and the LGBT community. Read the rest of the bill here.

Today Integrity's Vice President of National and International Affairs , Albert Ogle, who organized the bishop's visit received this email from him and he wants to share it with all those who worked so hard to make Bishop Christopher's vist to the US a tremendous success.
Dear Albert,

Thank you so much for this resolution. It is indeed a resolution that is needed as we work tenaciously towards equality for all human beings.

Best regards,
Bishop Christopher

"We still have much work to do," said Ogle, "but we are encouraged by the support given us from the secular community and especially the California State legislature and my coleagues at Equality California.

"Bishop Christopher left an impression on all those who met him whether it was people in the pews, crowds cheering in Pride parades or white house staffers....everyone is now much more aware of the crisis for LGBT folks in Uganda", said Ogle. "And we will continue this work until equality and justice for all really means ALL"

Castro admits 'injustice' for gays and lesbians during revolution

From a CNN interview...

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said he acknowledges the persecution of gays and lesbians during the Revolution in his country, according to a newspaper interview published Tuesday.

Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Cuba sent openly gay men to labor camps without charge or trial.

"They were moments of great injustice, great injustice!" Castro told journalist Carmen Lira Saade from the Mexican daily La Jornada. "If someone is responsible, it's me."

Read the rest here: http://bit.ly/bqHMnT

Monday, August 30, 2010

California Legislature Supports Bishop Christopher

"This just in from the California Legislature in support of Bishop Christopher and our solidarity with him. Thanks to my friends at EQCA and all our tour coordinators!! Let's keep up the heat on these issues!!" --
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Integrity VP of National and International Affairs.

California State Senate Calls on Federal Government to Help Stop Uganda’s Bill Criminalizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People

Equality California-sponsored resolution condemns Uganda’s draconian law persecuting LGBT people

August 30, 2010

Sacramento – The California State Senate today passed a resolution (SR 51) condemning Uganda’s bill criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 21-14 vote. Introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, the resolution urges the U.S. government to intensify its efforts to eliminate the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide as well as to take more caution when funding faith-based organizations to ensure that U.S. government funds and resources are accessible to women, minorities, and the LGBT community.

"The U.S. government must do everything in its power to stop the bill before the Uganda legislature that would lead to the criminalization and even death of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “The California Senate has taken an important step in passing this resolution, which will help raise awareness of the crisis in Uganda and will put the state on record in support of the U.S. government strengthening its efforts to end the criminalization of LGBT people worldwide.”

The resolution also encourages faith-based organizations in the U.S. to support the creation of policies in other countries that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It is egregious that radical religious leaders from our nation are working to spread fears about and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda,” said Sen. Leno. “These deplorable actions have encouraged violence, and even death against Ugandans. This resolution is a simple human rights appeal urging President Obama and our federal leaders to call for the decriminalization of LGBT people, not only in Uganda, but across the globe.”

Finally, the legislation commends Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, retired Anglican Bishop of West Uganda, for his work and ministry to create an inclusive church and society in Uganda free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the last year, Reverend Senyonjo has toured California, the United States and Europe to educate and bring attention to the hostility of the recent wave of religious-based homophobia in Uganda.
Pictured above from left to right: Geoff Kors, Exec.Dir.,Equality California; Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson;Bishop Christopher; State Senator Mark Leno; The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle.

Breaking News: The Reverend Susan McCann is Stakeholder's Chair

Integrity USA is pleased to announce the Reverend Susan G. McCann as Chair of Integrity's Stakeholders Council. Susan also serves as a member of Integrity's Board of Directors. She is currently the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Missouri, in the Diocese of West Missouri.

"Susan brings tremendous gifts to our Board and the Stakeholders Council," said Max Niedzwiecki, Integrity's Executive Director. "She took a conservative parish in Liberty, Missouri and transformed it into a radically inclusive, welcoming and affirming parish. Today, her parish, Grace Episcopal, is an Integrity Proud Parish Partner and a Believe Out Loud congregation.

Niedzwiecki continued, " She is currently the Chair of her Diocesan Listening Process. Susan's experience as a champion for inclusion models Integrity's work this triennium in dioceses and parishes throughout the Episcopal church and her insights into how to reconcile differences across divides are invaluable to our work as we move forward"

"We are very proud to have Susan as Chair of our Stakeholder's Council," said the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Vice President of Integrity's National and International Affairs. "She is a proven leader and a community builder. She has also served as a Diocesan Deanery Dean, a member of her Diocesan Council, and has served on her Diocesan Finance Committee and currently chairs the Diocesan Commision on Ministry. She is a past recipient of her community's Martin Luther King Award and she has been president of several community boards of directors.

"As Integrity looks ahead toward building up our membership and fundraising for our important work of securing blessings for same sex unions at our next General Convention in 2012, Susan's experience and input will be vital for Integrity," continued Ogle. "We are delighted that she brings a strong background in fundraising and I am proud to serve with Susan on our board."

Integrity's Stakeholders Council is made up of Provincial Coordinators, Past Presidents, the Board of Directors, Chapter Conveners, Diocesan Network Coordinators, Congregational Circle Moderators, Partner Representatives and Lifetime Members. The Stakeholders Council offers advice and counsel to the Board concerning the mission and ministry of Integrity, the organization's programs, resource development, leadership development, organizational alliances and collaborations and on any other matters, which the Board, from time to time, bring to the Council for its consideration.

McCann is married to The Ven. John H. McCann and the mother of three adult children. She fills the vacancy left by the resignation of Gretchen Renfro as Stakeholder's Chair and Integrity Board member.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Rev. Caroline Hall Speaks Out ..............

Suffer the little children to come unto me (but make sure their parents are straight)


The Rev Caroline Hall

There has always been a problem with Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 wherever you stand on the spectrum of Anglican belief. The part which most bothers LGBT Anglicans and their allies states that 'homosexual acts" are "incompatible with scripture". I'm not sure which part MOST bothers conservatives, whether it's "We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God", or the call "to minister pastorally and sensitively to all
irrespective of sexual orientation."

The latter is obviously a stumbling block for former Episcopalians in Bedford, Texas where a school affiliated with ACNA turned away a four year old because she has two Moms!! "The canons of our church take a traditional stand on Christian marriage," St. Vincent's School chaplain Randall Foster said. "We didn't want to send the tacit message that we endorse the relationship. We cannot do anything that would give legitimacy to same-sex relationships." (read the article here) "St. Vincent's School as a ministry of St. Vincent's Cathedral upholds the clear teaching of the Christian faith, the Holy Bible, and the Anglican Church in North America," the Rev. Ryan Reed, dean of St. Vincent's Cathedral School, told CNN.

Integrity member Katie Sherrod, Communications Director of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has been doing some fancy footwork to help the press understand that even though the school has a sign saying that it's Episcopal and is using Episcopal property it is actually part of the province of the Southern Cone. For more details of the accreditation complications see Episcopal Cafe.

There is no way that turning away a four-year old because her parents are two legally married (in Canada) lesbians can be considered ministering '"pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation." It's blatant discrimination. Can these people be members of the same group of churches who are saying that in order to be in communion we all need to sign the proposed Covenant AND uphold Resolution 1.10?

I guess they must be reading a different version of Resolution 1.10.

(Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for their coverage of this bizarre incident.)

The Rev. Caroline Hall is the former Vice President of International Affairs for Integrity USA and is the Priest-in-Charge at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church, Los Osos, California. She is a frequent contributor to Walking With Integrity

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Believe Out Loud Power Summit | October 9-11 | Orlando FL

More than 500 national and local leaders of the welcoming church movement will be gathering in Orlando during Columbus Day weekend. Christians from all denominations who support full inclusion are expected to attend. Hosted by the Institute for Welcoming Resources, this event is designed to provide advanced knowledge and skills to those who are already working for LGBT equality in their faith communities.

Integrity USA hopes that at least 80 Episcopalians will register. All of Integrity USA's board of directors and staff members will be participating--including our new executive director, Max Niedzwiecki. Sunday afternoon is set aside for denominational caucuses; Integrity will hold its annual Stakeholders' Council meeting during this time.

You must register in advance for the Power Summit. There is no registration fee. You will, however, be given the option of purchasing a meal plan--which consists of 8 meals--for $157. In order to help as many people as possible attend the Power Summit, Integrity USA is providing meal plan reimbursements to the first 65 Episcopalians who register. To take advantage of this offer, please register for the conference first, then send your receipt [via email or mail] to Integrity USA, 620 Park Ave #311, Rochester NY 14607, info@integrityusa.org.

Visit http://www.welcomingresources.org/BelieveOutLoud.htm to learn more about the Power Summit and to register! When you register, please make sure to give your denomination as "Episcopalian."

You are responsible for your own lodging. The Power Summit will be held at the Doubletree Resort on International Drive in Orlando. The group rate is $119 per night at the hotel. If you'd also like to do some vacationing while in Orlando, this rate is also available three days before and three days after the Power Summit. The deadline for making a hotel reservation is Wednesday, September 8th. Visit http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/MCOSRDT-NGL-20101005/index.jhtml to make a hotel reservation!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Episcopalians Speak Out On Islamic Center Dispute

From the Episcopal News Service

NEW YORK: Bishop calls for 'civil, respectful discussion' concerning lower Manhattan mosque

By ENS staff August 25, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] The dispute over the planned Islamic community center and mosque in lower Manhattan should be seen as "an opportunity for a civil, rational, loving, respectful discussion," Diocese of New York Bishop Mark S. Sisk has said drawing on similar comments from Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

"The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotionally highly charged issue," Sisk said in an Aug. 24 letter to the Episcopal New York diocese. "But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents."

The plan to build the center near Ground Zero -- where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood before they were attacked and destroyed by Islamic extremists on Sept. 11, 2001 -- has drawn both criticism and support.

President Barack Obama has defended the plans, saying in mid-August that Muslims have the same rights to practice their religion "as anyone else" and that commitment to religious freedom in the United States "must be unshakeable."

The plans have also been supported by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said in an early August speech: "We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life, and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance."

Bloomberg, again, defended the proposed project during the annual Ramadan Iftar dinner he hosted Aug. 24 at Gracie Mansion, the mayor of New York's official residence.

Opponents have called the proposal “an insult to Americans” and those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and say the mosque should be moved farther away from Ground Zero. And New York Governor David Paterson has offered the project's developers state land should they agree to move the cultural center and mosque away from Ground Zero, according to news reports.

In May, the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, vicar of Trinity Church, Wall Street, spoke at a community board meeting in support of the community center, now known as Park 51.

"The mission of the center is to be peace and reconciliation, inter and intra-faith understanding," Mallonee wrote in an August 23 opinion piece for Episcopal News Service.

She described the community board meeting as "a frightening display of hatred and incivility. What I encountered there, with what I have read and heard in the months since, has only strengthened my resolve for this difficult work of reconciliation."

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the leaders of Park 51 initiative, worked with Trinity Television after 9/11 to produce a video piece to promote dialogue and mutual understanding in the wake of the terrorist attacks, Mallonee said, noting that he leads worship in a mosque -- just a few blocks from Ground Zero -- that has been there almost 30 years.

Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan are well known in the Diocese of New York as "loving, gentle people, who epitomize Islamic moderation," Sisk said in his letter. "We know that as Sufis, they are members of an Islamic sect that teaches a universal belief in man's relationship to God that is not dissimilar from mystic elements in certain strains of Judaism and Christianity. Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan are, without question, people to whom Christians of good will should reach out with the hand of hospitality and friendship, as they reach out to us. I understand and support their desire to build an Islamic center, intended in part to promote understanding and tolerance among different religions."

Monday, August 23, 2010

For Your Information............

September - December 2010 consecrations, elections

From The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

[August 23, 2010] In the next four months - September 1 to December 31- The Episcopal Church will witness the consecration of four bishops, the election of four bishops, and the canonical consent processes for four bishops-elect with one canonical consent process not yet underway.

Four consecrations for bishops, some still pending successful completion of the canonical consent process, are slated for September to December. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori plans to officiate at all the consecrations.

September 4: Diocese of Alaska: the Rev. Mark Andrew Lattime, http://www.episcopalak.org/

September 25: Diocese of Kentucky: the Rev. Terry Allen White, http://www.episcopalky.org/
(pending successful completion of the canonical consent process)

October 22: Diocese of Rio Grande: the Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Vono, http://www.dioceserg.org/

November 6: Diocese of Utah: The Rev. Canon Scott Byron Hayashi, http://www.episcopal-ut.org/
(pending successful completion of the canonical consent process)

During September - December, four bishop elections are scheduled:

September 17-18: Diocese of Springfield http://www.episcopalspringfield.org/
November 6: Diocese of West Missouri http://www.diowestmo.org/NewsEvents.asp
November 20: Diocese of Western New York http://www.episcopalwny.org/
December 4: Diocese of Northern Michigan http://www.upepiscopal.org

Canonical Consent Process
The canonical consent process is currently underway for four bishops-elect and the canonical process has not begun for one bishop-elect. The deadlines are:

- September 11: Diocese of Rio Grande: the Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Vono, elected April 24 http://www.dioceserg.org/ (has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process)

- September 25: Diocese of Alaska: the Rev. Mark Andrew Lattime, elected April 10.
http://www.episcopalak.org/ (has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process)

- November 5: Diocese of Utah: the Rev. Canon Scott Byron Hayashi, elected May 22 http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

- November 10: Diocese of Kentucky: the Rev. Terry Allen White, elected June 5 http://www.episcopalky.org/

The canonical consent process has not begun as of yet for one bishop-elect:

- Diocese of Western Kansas: the Rev. Michael Pierce Milliken, elected August 21:

A recap of the process
Upon election, the successful candidate is a Bishop-Elect. Following some procedural matters including examinations, formal notices are then sent to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.

In order for a Bishop-Elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the Bishop-Elect’s ordination as bishop. These actions - done separately - must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.

If the Bishop-Elect receives a majority (at least 50% plus 1) of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the Bishop-Elect is one step closer. Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.

However, if the majority of the diocesan bishops do not consent, and/or the majority of the standing committees do not consent, the Presiding Bishop, in accordance with Canon III.11.5, is required to declare the election null and void. In those cases, a person elected by the diocese will not be ordained.

(See When Is A Bishop A Bishop?: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/newsline_116177_ENG_HTM.htm )

The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Diocese of Alaska: http://www.episcopalak.org/
Diocese of Kentucky: http://www.episcopalky.org/
Diocese of Northern Michigan: http://www.upepiscopal.org
Diocese of Rio Grande: http://www.dioceserg.org /
Diocese of Springfield: http://www.episcopalspringfield.org/
Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/
Diocese of West Missouri: http://www.diowestmo.org/NewsEvents.asp
Diocese of Western Kansas: http://www.westernkansasepiscopal.com/
Diocese of Western New York http://www.episcopalwny.org/

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/episcopalian
Twitter: http://twitter.com/iamepiscopalian
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/TECtube

# # # #

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Summer of Reflection: Secular leader Hails Bishop Christopher

The Struggle Abroad and at Home: Ugandan Bishop Senyonjo Is Fighting for LGBT Rights

By Andrea Shorter
Deputy Director of Marriage and Coalitions, Equality California
Reprinted by permisssion

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo is a hero. The 78-year-old civil rights leader from Uganda has paid a heavy price for speaking out for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Bishop Senyonjo is the religious leader in Uganda who is leading the fight against the country’s proposed “Kill the Gays” bill, which would allow people with previous convictions for homosexuality and people who are HIV positive to be sentenced to death. Created at the encouragement of radical right-wing Christian leaders from the U.S., including author Scott Lively and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, this hate-driven bill authorizes the country to engage in genocide of its LGBT citizens. “With the introduction of this new bill,” the Bishop has said, “there is a lot of fear what might happen… That is why we are talking against this bill. It is a draconian bill. Inhuman.”

Why are U.S. evangelicals crossing the Atlantic Ocean to try to pass anti-LGBT policies? They know that they cannot imprison LGBT people in the United States, so they are trying to spark a movement in places where our communities are less supported and less able to fight back. The LGBT movement around the globe depends on us all rallying to defeat this bill.

The Bishop has been touring internationally to raise awareness of the repression of LGBT people in his home country. He met with White House officials last week, along with Right Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in a major Christian denomination. Both men are faith allies in the movement for LGBT equality and provide an important link between religion and LGBT issues. With U.S. anti-LGBT activists encouraging prejudice and hate abroad, Bishop Senyonjo’s work in the U.S. encourages LGBT supporters to also get involved in this crisis and stop the hate.

At the end of May, the Bishop’s tour brought him to the LGBT Community Center in San Francisco, where an ecstatic audience greeted him with a standing ovation the very moment he entered the room. He shared his story of advocacy for Uganda’s LGBT community, a story that started more than ten years ago when he began to act as a counselor for people questioning or struggling with their sexual orientation. Hearing the stories of many people who were afraid and often under threats of violence for simply being who they are, he became a fierce advocate and straight ally. He helped to found an LGBT community center and began to speak out for equal rights.

During his visit to San Francisco, Bishop Senyonjo told stories of harassment and rejection that he has faced simply for being an LGBT ally. “When I was passing along the road, people said oh, there is that man, that man supports something which is wrong,” he told the crowd at the Center. “One time, one old man, I was talking to him, I said, I know these people are also loved by God. He said, ‘what do you mean by that?’ He slapped me.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

FAQs on the recent Prop 8 Decision

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, Chair of the Bishop's Program Group on LGBT  Ministry wrote this excellent summary on the recent Prop 8 decision. It contains FAQs and great talking points on the recent decision and on same sex marriage as well.

The landmark ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker issued on August 4, 2010 in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger will continue to have broad ranging impact and to be in the news and in conversations for the foreseeable future. Here are a few Q&A’s – some from actual conversations I’ve had since August 4th and some from imagined conversations I’d like to have with some of the Letters to the Editors writers, bloggers and talk show pundits. See what you think. And if you’re getting questions you’d like answers for … or if you’ve got your own list of FAQ&As then send ‘em on over! The more the merrier!

“What did Judge Walker actually rule?”

He ruled that the plaintiffs – the two couples who sued the State of California in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger -- were correct in their contention that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. From the decision:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs' objective as 'the right to same-sex marriage' would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy -- namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.

So here are some questions:

“How can one judge overrule the votes of 7 million people? Isn’t this what they call ‘judicial activism?’”

• Equal protection is a core value of a nation that pledges “liberty and justice to all” – not just some. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “equal protection” to all American citizens. That means a majority of citizens cannot take away constitutional rights from a minority.

• The Supreme Court decided decades ago that the right to marriage is a fundamental right in Loving vs. Virginia -- finding bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

• In Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, Judge Walker ruled that 52% of the population (the percentage that voted for Prop 8 in California) did not have the right to take away the fundamental right to marriage from same-sex couples.

• As for “judicial activism,” Prop 8 attorney Ted Olson has rightly noted that judicial activism is another term for a decision you don’t like.

• Another court “overruled the will of the people” in District of Columbia vs. Heller when it held that the people did not have the right to vote to take away 2nd Amendment rights by enacting gun control. We didn’t see conservative pundits talking about “judicial activism” in that ruling. You can’t have it both ways.
Bottom line: Equal protection means equal protection. Even when it’s equally protecting people you don’t like or agree with.

“I don’t care what the courts say. The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s what I believe.”

• Another key constitutional protection is in the 1st Amendment: freedom of religion. Your right to believe whatever you want about what the Bible says about anything – including marriage – is absolutely protected. So is the right of clergy people to make decisions about who they will or will not marry based on their own conscience and the dictates of their own religion.

• What is NOT protected is your right to write your theology into our Constitution. Nobody has that. And nobody should.

• Imagine if 52% of the voters in California were “traditional values” Muslims who believed that only sharia marriage (marriage that complies with their reading of Muslim religious law) was valid or recognized in the State of California. Wouldn’t the 14th Amendment come in pretty handy at that point? Wouldn’t you want your rights to be protected from somebody else’s theology?

Bottom line: Good people of deep faith are going to come to different conclusions about what the Bible says about many things. This is one of them. But the issue on the table is not who’s right about questions of faith. It’s who is entitled to equal protection by the Constitution when it comes to civil marriage. And the Walker ruling makes it clear that same-sex couples have that protection.

“I’ve heard that this decision will infringe on freedom of religion. Shouldn’t clergy be able to decide who they will or won’t marry without having to worry about getting sued?”

• Of course they should and they do. The 1st Amendment protects that right. Any suggestions that this decision will change those protections are completely baseless.

• For example, in the State of California we have had no-fault divorce since the 1970’s and divorced couples routinely re-marry and receive the protections afforded by civil marriage. However, a Roman Catholic couple cannot compel their priest to give them their church’s blessing on that marriage because it’s contrary to their theological practice.

• Likewise, interfaith marriages happen all the time but a rabbi cannot be compelled to preside at an interfaith wedding if it violates his or her religious conscience.

• It is exactly the same with same-sex marriages.

Bottom line: Some clergy will decide to preside at same-sex marriages and others will not. Nothing will change for those who choose not to marry same sex couples. However, those clergy whose religious conscience calls them to offer equal blessing to all couples coming to them for marriage will now be able to also offer the equal protection civil marriage gives the opposite sex couples they marry to the same sex couples they bless.

“You can give them equal rights if you want to why do you have to call it marriage? Why aren’t civil unions good enough for them?”

• Because Brown vs. Board of Education firmly established that separate is inherently unequal.

• Giving opposite sex couples the legal protections and cultural standing of marriage and offering equally protected same sex couples civil unions or domestic partnerships is inherently unjust, unequal and unfair.

• And until we overturn DOMA (the “Defense of Marriage Act”) at the federal level, no matter what we do at the state level opposite sex couples automatically receive 1138 federally protected rights that same sex couples are denied.

Bottom line: Separate-but-equal isn’t. Period.

“I’ve heard the Judge Walker is gay. How can a gay man make a fair decision on an issue like this that could potentially impact him personally?”

• Judges are trained to rule based on the finding of facts and on the law.

• By that reasoning African American judges shouldn’t rule on any case involving the civil rights of African American citizens, women judges shouldn’t rule on issues involving a woman’s right to choose and Hispanic/Latino judges should certainly not be hearing any immigration cases.

• And – it could be argued – judges in opposite sex marriages should recuse themselves from decisions involving marriage equality because they’d be unable to make a fair decision in a case about marriage.

Bottom line: If you’re resorting to attacking the sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, race, creed, marital status or any other personal characteristic of the judge it’s because you’ve run out of facts and law to argue. It’s a tribute to the strength of the ruling that the opponents of marriage equality are sinking this low.

“So what happens next?”

• The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put same-sex weddings in California on hold, while it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

• The appeals court's order trumps District Vaughn Walker's ruling that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on August 18th.

• The court also asked specifically that Proposition 8 supporters address whether they have "standing," the right to appeal to the court without a state official. (California’s governor and attorney general have both declined to appeal the decision.)

• The court will hear the appeal on December 6, 2010.

Bottom line: The arc of the history is long but it bends toward justice.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Episcopalians Take Lead on Trans Issues

Beyond Adam and Eve: Christians reach out to the transgender community
By Becky Garrison
From Religion Dispatches
When people discuss the rights of lesbians and gays in contemporary U.S. culture, and across religious denominations, the acronym "LGBT" is used as a shorthand: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. But are transgender people really being taken into account? What's the state of the struggle, where transpeople are concerned?

"Am I still your child, God?"

The Rev. Donald Schell, founder of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco recounts how this gay-positive church struggled with how to welcome a very attractive transvestite man who walked through their doors in the mid 1980s. Some straight men in the congregation felt odd when they learned the woman they'd felt attracted to was a man, while some women did not want to share the bathroom with a male—even though she dressed like a female. After a month or so this person ended up leaving the community because at this time, the church could not create a welcoming space for those on the outer fringes of the LGBT community. By the time distinguished evolutionary biologist and transwoman Joan Roughgarden came to St. Gregory's around 2002, the community had learned enough that she could call this church her home.

When the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Priest and Lead Organizer for The Crossing in Boston tries to engage the church on this issue, she finds that the liberal churches tend to be silent on transgender issues, while the more conservative churches shout that transgender people are living “a lifestyle choice” that is patently “wrong,” “evil” and “an abomination.” She says the balance needs to shift.

Whenever religious leaders deny people their basic human rights using Christianity as their justification, then we need to stand up and make our presence known that we affirm all people as created and growing into the unique image of God.

Spellers says she feels sure that, if Jesus returned today, he'd be hanging out with transsexuals. “You don't have to stretch the Gospel to get to this place. We do this because Jesus was there first. Even atheists see this Jesus and comment that we're not the kind of Christian they can write off.”

Spellers states they didn’t get involved around transgender inclusion and advocacy because they were looking for the radical welcome edge. Rather, their outreach efforts were a pastoral response to the transgendered people who joined The Crossing community. Out of about 75 people who are part of their congregation, she estimates that about a half dozen are transgendered. “If we love those who are part of our community then we need to go out and stand by them and create more inclusive communities and start the conversation,” Spellers adds.

The community told its story in a recent documentary titled The Crossing, which was shown at the 2010 Boston LGBT Film Festival. Ideally, this film coupled with a facilitation guide and trained discussion facilitators (all of them members of The Crossing community) can begin to address the misperceptions about transgendered people, such as the notion that they “chose” to live this “alternative lifestyle” or that they don't desire rich spiritual lives. Spellers hears transgendered people asking the most honest and heartrending questions about religion, like: “Who did God make me to be?” “How can I live with integrity?” and “Am I still your child, God?” Journeying with this community has deepened her own prayer life and her understanding of the links between sexual and spiritual identity.

A Transgender Civil Rights bill?

The media attention surrounding the US Episcopal Church's decision to ordain gays and lesbians to any order and bless same-sex unions overshadowed the church’s efforts to affirm transgendered people. The Episcopal Church’s passage of Resolution “D012, Support of Transgender Civil Rights” at General Convention 2009 was designed to give ecclesiological support to efforts such as the Diocese of Massachusetts advocacy campaign to pass a Transgender Civil Rights bill, which would extend nondiscrimination protection based on gender preference. This bill has remained in committee for three years—though Spellers noted that efforts by The Crossing with leaders from the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and the Interfaith Coalition for Transgendered Equality (ICTE) have prevented this bill from being killed outright.

A November 2009 survey jointly conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that ninety-seven percent (97%) of their sample reports being mistreated or harassed at work, and nearly half (47%) lost their jobs, were denied a promotion, or denied a job as a direct result of being transgender.

Despite these alarming statistics, the Human Rights Campaign does not view transgendered issues to be a part of their action campaign for lesbian and gay rights. RD contributor and pastor Dan Schultz preaches against those who claim to be for LGBT rights but focus solely on issues pertinent to gays and lesbians — such as same sex weddings and ordinations.

Look, this is really simple. Either you accept the entire span of the LGBT community, or you don’t. More to the point, perhaps, either you spend the time getting to know the LGBT (or LGBTQQ+ community, as they say), or you don’t. You can’t say, “Well, gays and lesbians are okay, but transgendered people are weird and threatening and not deserving of protection.” The fact is that gender reassignment surgery is an accepted medical practice and legal in the United States. Scruples don’t count in making the law. So either demonstrate the legitimate policy interest in denying transgendered folk equal protection under the law, or admit that you’re caving in to moralistic bigotry. You can’t have it both ways.

The Rev. Paul Fromberg, Rector of St. Gregory’s of Nyssa offers additional insights:

The reason why trans/intersex folks have been included in the big LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies) tent has more to do with queer theory than it has to do with sexual orientation per se. Trans folks are our people because they are treated with the same blunt tool of control and oppression that all queer folk have been treated. Intersex is a more subtle inclusion in the tent, and one that is still evolving as a part of the movement. There is clearly some plain old sexism involved in why a few gay men aren't interested in trans people (of whom most are male-to-female trans). They question why a perfectly normal man would ever want to be a woman.

Connecting on a human-to-human level

The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Priest in Charge at NYC's St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery says that one of St. Mark’s gifts is to create a non-judging space that’s become a haven for artists and others in the community. They do outreach to the kids who attend Harvey Milk school, teaching LGBT youth to use art for self-expression. And they offer single-stall unisex bathrooms that allow transgendered people to use the facilities without trouble.

Varghese offers a different perspective noting that in some feminist circles, a female who transitions into a male is perceived as caving in to the patriarchal narrative. In these settings, straight women often find themselves ostracized as well because sisterhood becomes defined based on gender attraction.

The “Christian” ideal to conform to a m/f biological gender as defined by Genesis 2 informed seminars on transgender issues that Brad Sargent prepared while working as a resource/publications specialist for the ex-gay organization Exodus International. These seminars, most led by former TG/TS folk who had come to accept their birth gender, were geared to give hope to those struggling with their gender identity and seeking change to live a “biblical lifestyle,” which constituted heterosexual marriage or celibacy.

Andrew Marin, founder of evangelical-based The Marin Foundation has been working for over ten years to build a bridge between the religious and GLBT communities through scientific research, as well as biblical and social education. In his work, he distinguishes between dignifying someone’s humanity and affirming something that might not line up in a particular worldview. He adds that for either the GLBT or evangelical communities to try to force ‘the other’ to accept a theological or political perspective they don’t believe in actually represents a mob mentality. Marin distinguishes between a cultural version of reconciliation that ascribes to the innate need of having to share a common set of “right beliefs” in order to be in fellowship, with a biblical reconciliation that seeks to connect on a human to human level.

RD blogger Candace Chellew-Hodge counters this concept of reconciliation proclaiming “there is no sides when it comes to say civil rights and the KKK, there is but one side on this issue. Do we recognize people as having an inherent dignity as being part of our shared humanity?” Spellers concurs, “Part of the Anglican way of being Christian is to embrace all of life. My eyes have been tuned to see a sacramental universe and watch for Christ everywhere including in music and spaces and people that other folks have run from because they think God would never show up in those ways.”

While Varghese feels comfortable framing this debate using human rights terminology, she states that other progressives indicate a need to frame this debate using theological language. Phyllis Trible, professor of biblical studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and other biblical scholars offer an analysis the Creation story (Genesis 1) that defines that the original ‘earth creature (ha-adam)’ is not a man, nor a woman, possibly not even sexual but a human being.” Such a holistic interpretation allows for the Christian community to explore what it means to embrace those who fall outside of the narrowly defined Adam and Eve story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Summer of Reflection: Bishop Christopher's visit to SF

The Rev. John Kirkley
San Francisco, California

In August of 2007, I had the privilege of visiting with members of Integrity-Uganda in Kampala. During my two weeks there, I was continually struck by the fortitude and courage of gay and lesbian young adults who were taking great risks for the sake of human rights in their country. Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, as chaplain to Integrity-Uganda, was their spiritual mentor, pastor, and guide. His love for these young people - at great cost to his reputation and security - is an inspiration. The hospitality that he and his wife, Mary, offered to them and to me is a memory that I cherish.

It was a great joy to be able to return this hospitality when Bishop Christopher visited the San Francisco Bay Area in May. Our celebration of the feast of Pentecost was especially grand with the Bishop as the guest preacher at St. John the Evangelist y El Buen Samaritano, San Francisco. A bilingual liturgy (Spanish & English) with the Gospel lesson spoken in 14 languages was the perfect setting for Bishop Christopher's prophetic witness to the power of God's love to transcend differences and unite us in common mission.

That evening, Bishop Christopher was the guest of Bishop Marc and Sheila Andrus for a reception at their home. He spoke with humility and gratitude about the difference we can make in Uganda by opposing the anti-gay legislation proposed there. His profoundly moving stories about the need for dialogue, education, and advocacy regarding LGBT human rights in his home country underscored the importance of our continued financial support of Integrity-Uganda's work. It is a matter of life and death.

For the next two days, Bishop Christopher zoomed around the Bay Area in partnership with Equality California - speaking at the Pacific School of Religion, the San Francisco African-American Cultural Center, the San Francisco LGBT Center and City Hall. Everyone he met - politicians, activisits, reporters and religious leaders alike - came away impressed by his eloquent and passionate commitment to justice and human rights for all. He gave a very human and Christian face to the struggles of LGBT people in Uganda, a much-needed perspective for both secular and religious leaders in the United States.

Bishop Christopher made me feel proud to be a part of the Anglican Communion, and grateful for the opportunity it has afforded me to know him as my brother and friend. My prayer is that, in time, he will come to represent the future of our Communion.

The Rev. John  Kirkley was an openly gay candidate for Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Setting the Record "Straight"

By Louise Brooks
Integrity USA
Director of Communications

On Thursday Integrity USA published our press release announcing the selection of Max Niedzwiecki as our new Executive Director. In that press release I wrote that The Rev. Susan McCann, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Mo. is the first straight ally on the Integrity Board.

Friday morning my INBOX had an email which read: Error on the blog. It was from former Integrity Board Member Donn Mitchell and he graciously gave me his permission to post it on WWI:

Hi, Louise:I just read the press release on the new executive director and saw a rather glaring error. It described the Rev. Susan McCann as the first straight ally to serve on the national board. This is incorrect. Juli Beatty (now Juli Reddy) was a prominent member of Episcopal Church Women in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. She joined the national board in 1980 and served out at least one term. She was responsible for getting Bishop Hathaway, the diocesan at the time, to call us to do a workshop for clergy on pro-gay pastoral counseling at Calvary, Pittsburgh, in 1981 under the auspices of the Integrity Institute for Pastoral Development. Juli relocated to the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1985 and has been an active member of St. Mark's, Locust Street, Philadelphia, ever since. She continues to actively and publicly support the LGBT cause, and she is now part of the mission team to re-build the Church of St. James-the-Less, where schismatics attempted to take the parish out of the church but lost in court. I hope you will be able to find some way to give Juli the recognition she deserves. FYI, I was secretary of the national board from 1977 through 1979 and served as the executive director of the Integrity Institute from 1980 through 1982.

Donn Mitchell
Editor & Publisher, The Anglican Examiner

I did not know that! And who knew there was an Integrity Institute?

I asked Donn for Juli's contact information and he responded with this note:

I'm sure Juli would be delighted to hear from you. She's quite a colorful character. When I first met her at General Convention in 1979, she was doing a brisk business in ball gown alterations for drag queens from her little trailer in Indiana, Pennsylvania. She's very bubbly, very knowledgeable about the Episcopal Church, and very plugged into everything that's going on.

So, I called Juli Reddy immediately and apologized for the gross error. She was charming and entertaining and forgiving. We chatted for nearly an hour and she regaled me with stories from her early days with Integrity.

In brief, in 1979 Juli was a housewife and active in the Episcopal Church Women, serving as their Director of Communications. At the ECW Triennial Meeting she came across a book featuring the stories of closeted gays and it led her to conclude that any discrimination against our community was wrong. She made a bee-line to Exhibit Hall and found the Integrity booth where she met Donn Mitchell and asked how she could help. The rest is literally history.

Against the warning of a fellow ECWer, who told her that she wouldn't do her future as a leader in ECW any good if she hung out with "them", Juli went home and immediately started an Integrity Chapter in western Pennsylvania where she lived at the time.

In 1982, she joined the National Integrity Board as the first straight ally. She was an original "Believe Out Loud"-er. She worked hard for the ordination of gay clergy and still advocates for the LGBT community in Philadelphia today.

This wonderful conversation lead me to wonder if any of us (besides Louie Crew) knows our history. Who were the early pioneers who helped pave the way to where we stand today? We need to hear their stories and celebrate their work.

Donn added this about some other women who were trail blazers in Integrity:

We had a number of women involved from the very beginning. Ellen Barrett was Integrity's first vice president. Lelia Baldwin, a social worker from Utah, was on the board for the same period I was and a little bit thereafter. Connie Cohrt was elected vice president in 1979 and served until about 1983 or '84. Connie's partner, Amy Reichman, is now a deacon in the Diocese of Connecticut, and Connie maintains an active church involvement as well as a career as a financial planner.

If you know stories of leaders past, help us tell them. Please send me emails at tvprod@earthlink and help me learn about and share these great stories of our past.

And many thanks to Donn Mitchell for all his great leadership and for helping me set the record "straight".

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Max Niedzwiecki Named New Executive Director of Integrity USA

Rochester, N.Y. - August 14, 2010
Corrected version

W.R. "Max" Niedzwiecki, PhD., of New Orleans, Louisiana has been selected as Executive Director of Integrity USA, announced Board President David Norgard today

“Max Niedzwiecki is the ideal person to lead Integrity USA into the future,” Norgard said. “These are exciting times for us as Integrity works to make the legislative victories won at General Convention 2009 a reality in every diocese and parish in the Episcopal Church. Max has a longstanding history of social justice advocacy and as a builder of national network organizations.”

"I am delighted that Max has accepted the call to serve as Executive Director of Integrity,” said Dr. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity. "Over the years, Integrity has grown into a mature, non-profit, LGBT advocacy organization and Max's appointment signals a new era for us. While we will still focus our work within the Episcopal Church, we have modeled inclusion for all denominations and our leadership influences the secular community as well."

The Rev. Susan McCann, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Missouri and a straight ally said, "One of the things that attracted Max to Integrity USA was the fact that we bring together a national network of chapters and volunteers to pursue justice in their local communities and on the national stage. Max has great enthusiasm for Integrity USA’s goals which center on making the Episcopal Church fully inclusive of people who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and on bringing progressive faith-based perspectives to public debates of special concern to the LGBT community." McCann served on the committee which conducted an extensive nationwide search.

Integrity Board Member David Cupps, from Lexington, Kentucky, who also served on the search committee said, "Max brings a wealth of non-profit leadership experience to Integrity, especially as an Executive Director of organizations that unite hundreds of affiliates and volunteers together for the pursuit of common goals. I am pleased that he has joined our team, and I am excited about the gifts that he brings to our work for full inclusion in the church that we love and serve."

Before joining Integrity USA, Max served as Partner of Daylight Consulting Group, a firm specializing in making nonprofits and philanthropy more effective. At Daylight, his clients included the Ford Foundation Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice, the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Asian American Justice Center, and other organizations that support communities in their quest for dignity and basic fairness.

Max joined the Episcopal Church in 1995 and has served as Secretary of his Integrity chapter in New Orleans. He has also served as a delegate to his diocesan convention. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Boston University and a B.A. in Clinical Psychology and Asian Studies from Tufts University. He lives in New Orleans with his partner of twenty-two years.


For more information contact:

Louise Brooks

Integrity USA Director of Communications



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Bishop "Believes Out Loud"

Last week's federal court decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional gave Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno the chance to speak out -- to "believe out loud" -- about his commitment to gay and lesbian people being equally blessed by the church AND equally protected by the Constitution.

Watch Bishop Bruno's video statement here. And give thanks for the gift of bishops willing to Believe Out Loud!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Province 6 Believe Out Loud Workshop

Registration is now open for the Province 6 Believe Out Loud Provincial Workshop, which will take place September 10-11 in Denver CO. Click here for more info and to register!

P.S. We still have seats open for the Province 5 workshop that will be held August 27-28 in London OH.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

LIVE from Pasadena: "Justice & Marriage for All"

Make that "Justice and Marriage for All" -- Sunday, August 8 @ 10:15 a.m. PDT

All Saints Church in Pasadena (a "Believe Out Loud" congregation) welcomes back to their adult education hour attorney David Codell -- who is widely credited as the architect of the legal strategy that led to the 2008 California Supreme Court on marriage equality decision.

Mr. Codell will help “unpack” this week’s court decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional in an adult education hour forum entitled "Justice and Marriage for All: Part 2." The hour will include taking a look at the likely “what nexts” as we continue to work for marriage equality in California and across the country and an opportunity for Q&A.

Click here to tune in LIVE on Sunday for what promises to be an important, informative and inspirational presentation. (Or visit the All Saints website for the archived hour, which will be posted ASAP following the presentation.)

For more information, call the All Saints communication office at 626.583.2741 or email the Reverend Canon Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication @ All Saints Church.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Integrity VP Albert Ogle's Remarks at San Diego Prop 8 Rally

 August 4th 2010

"We are part of a statewide movement of 6,000 faith leaders who support marriage equality. Today’s decision, wonderful as it is, will be appealed to higher courts. So we all still face an intolerable delay and further obstacles to implement inclusive values that are core to our understanding of what it means to be human and beloved by God. We are here today because we believe in the full inclusion of the LGBT community the life of our faith traditions, particularly to all couples who come to us seeking God’s blessing and the blessing of their community.

"Yet, without access to a State license, clergy are now still obliged to exclude same gender couples from the sacrament of marriage (and therefore the full life of the congregation) and to treat members of the community, whom we believe are created equal in the eyes of God, as unequal. For some of us, this practice contravenes the deepest core of our religious values and we must end this state-sponsored apartheid.

"As Americans, Our Federal Constitution guarantees the separation of church and State and today’s decision is a victory for our justice system and that the rights of a minority cannot be stripped away by the majority. Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling also demonstrates the success of the Olsen Boies team in presenting the facts that there is no rational basis for withholding a marriage license to LGBT couples and that heterosexual and same gender couples are capable of creating healthy and productive marriages and families alike.

"We are learning many things from this difficult and divisive issue: The day to day conversations with families, co-workers and neighbors that have been carried out by many of us and the organizations we support, are clearly bearing fruit. Here is some good news to share on the road to equality since the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008:

• Only 1 in 5 Californians believe the passage of Prop 8 was a good thing for the state.

• If a similar vote were taken today, 51% of Californian would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

• A recent poll found that nearly 58% of Californians agree that we should apply the Golden Rule (do unto others as you have them do unto you) to the issue same sex marriage....gay and lesbian couples should have the same opportunity to get married as everyone else.

We cannot rely on the courts alone to ensure marriage equality becomes a reality. Inspired by this decision, the day-to-day work of “coming out” and pressing for full inclusion and equality in the “Court of public opinion and experience” must go on so we to raise these encouraging percentage points even more.

Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision also points to the work we, as a faith community, still have to do with those who differ from us. It is troubling when the bastions of homophobia hide behind misinterpreted biblical texts and unscientific data to undermine our dignity and place in society.

Were it not for religious organizations pouring millions of dollars into the Proposition 8 campaign, I believe we would continue to have marriage equality in CA. At some point, as a religious community, we will all find a way to publically apologize to the LGBT community for the lies, misinformation and in some cases, the illegal activity that characterized part of this historic struggle for justice and truth. Judge Walker’s decision is also a victory for democracy over theocracy as this country still struggles with how we share power, authority and responsibility with each other. As people of faith, we respect those whose faith traditions differ from ours on the issue of same gender marriage. We invite them now to stand with us as fellow Americans and to put aside the rancor that has divided us during this long and difficult campaign as we work together to make a better California for ALL families.

As people of faith, we pray that the witness of our relationships will continue to change hearts and minds and to finally heal the wounds that have demonized us and divided us on the issue of marriage equality. This is difficult and time-consuming work. It also costs money and our ultimate victory will depend on how much commitment each of us can bring to these conversations from the streets and pews, in our workplaces right up to the Supreme Court of this land. These important conversations need to deepen, not end and today’s inspiring decision should not create a false sense of security that our work is over. We are proud to be here today. We are very proud of you. This has been a tough road and the journey to equality is not over yet. We are honored to be your clergy and to be a part of this great San Diegan and Statewide coalition. Thank you.

Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego
California Council of Churches Impact Boardmember
California Faith For Equality Spokesperson

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Integrity Press Release on Prop 8 Court Decision

"Today is a great day for all who believe that the protections in the US Constitution extend to all Americans,” said Louise Brooks, Integrity's Director of Communications and a resident of California who worked on the No on Prop 8 campaign. Here is a brief summary of Judge Walker's decision: 'Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.'"

" This is not our final victory. The arc of history bends toward justice and we are one step closer today. Still, there is much work left to do. The victory today in California did not happen without religious communities putting their faith into action, stepping out of their pews and into the streets, witnessing to friends, neighbors and foes alike.

"Integrity is committed to the same principle within the Episcopal Church. Our 'Believe Out Loud' campaign is aimed at increasing acceptance and support of LGBT persons, not only on the national level, but also in dioceses and parishes as well. We have been holding BOL workshops across the country to resource attendees to changes hearts and minds and votes. Now is the time to Believe Out Loud wherever your parish finds itself on its journey of faith. Nothing short of full inclusion is good enough for Jesus or for us. "

US Federal Judge to Rule Today on Prop 8 Case in California

This is openly gay Us Federal Court Judge Vaughn Walker. Today he will make history when he issues his ruling in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Prop 8 case in California. The decision will be released between 1pm and 3pm PDT.

As we await the decision, here is a Press Release with some very positive findings. Regardless of what Judge Walker says today...and we know there will be appeals all the way to the Supreme Court.......marriage equality for ALL is just a matter of time.

August 4, 2010
As Judge Rules on Prop. 8, New Survey Finds Prop. 8 Wouldn’t Pass Today

Comprehensive New Research Examines Religion Based Attitudes on Same-Sex Marriage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Californians await U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, new research has found that a similar ballot measure would not pass today, and only one-in-five say the Proposition 8 was a “good thing” for the state.

The statewide public opinion survey, conducted in June and released last month by Public Religion Research Institute, also examined the role religion plays in structuring attitudes toward same-sex marriage and a range of other issues related to rights for gay and lesbian people.

“Our research shows a significant percentage of Californians, including people of faith across the California religious landscape, say they have become increasingly supportive of gay rights over the last five years,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “If another vote similar to Proposition 8 were held now, a majority (51 percent) of Californians say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.”

Highlights of the PRRI research include:

 * If another vote similar to Proposition 8 were held tomorrow, a majority (51 percent) say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 45 percent who say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.

 * There are major religious groups on both sides of the debate over same-sex marriage in California. Solid majorities of Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants, along with a majority of white Catholics, say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry; while solid majorities of white evangelical Protestants, Latino Protestants, and African American Protestants say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.

*One factor in the growing support for same-sex marriage is the entrance of younger Californians into the voting age population. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Californians under the age of 30 say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to only 36 percent of Californians age 65 and older. These patterns persist across all major religious groups.

* Only one-in-five (22 percent) Californians believe the passage of Proposition 8 was a “good thing” for the state. Most Californians believe Proposition 8 was either a bad thing for California (29 percent) or believe it has not made any difference (45 percent).

* One-in-four Californians report that their views on rights for gay and lesbian people have become more supportive over the last five years, compared to only 8 percent who say they have become more opposed. Among religious groups, ethnic minority groups showed slightly more overall movement than white religious groups. Among black Protestants, twice as many report becoming more supportive as report becoming more opposed (27 percent vs. 13 percent); among Latino Catholics, that ratio is 3-to-1 (31 percent more supportive vs. 9 percent more opposed) over this period.

* An overwhelming majority of Californians, and majorities of all major religious groups except Latino Protestants, say they both favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from job discrimination and favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military (75 percent and 69 percent respectively). A majority (56 percent) of Californians favor adoption rights for same-sex couples.

* There is a striking Catholic-Protestant divide within the California Latino community on public policy issues related to gay and lesbian people. A majority of Latino Catholics (57 percent) say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couple to marry, compared to just 22 percent of Latino Protestants.

 * Mainline Protestants are the only major religious group that is more likely to hear positive than negative messages about homosexuality from their clergy.

* The messages about homosexuality that Californians hear at their place of worship are correlated with their views on same-sex marriage. Among Californians who report hearing negative messages from their clergy, few (19 percent) support same-sex marriage. In contrast, among Californians who report hearing positive messages from their clergy, fully 6-in-10 say gay and lesbian people should be allowed to marry, an additional 22 percent support civil unions, and less than 1-in-5 (18 percent) say there should be no legal recognition for same-sex relationships.

“Our research confirms clergy and religious groups continue to play an influential role in policy debates about the rights of gay and lesbian people,” said Daniel Cox, Director of Research for Public Religion Research Institute. “But one of the most interesting findings in this survey was the significant number of respondents who report they would support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry if the laws offer reassurances about their religious freedom concerns.”

The bilingual (Spanish and English) poll of 3,351 adults in California, including oversamples of 350 African Americans and 200 Latino Protestants, represents the most comprehensive portrait of religion and attitudes on same sex marriage and other gay and lesbian issues since Proposition 8 was approved. The survey was conducted among a random sample of Californians by telephone between June 14 and June 30, 2010, by Public Religion Research Institute and was funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund with additional support provided by the Ford Foundation.

The full survey report and topline questionnaire, along with audio and transcript of the press conference, is available from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Public Religion Research Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Speaking of Claiming the Blessing.........San Diego & Maryland Move Ahead

A note from Robert Heylmun - Integrity Diocesean Organizer, San Diego.....

Bishop Jim Mathes Authorizes Sam Gender Blessings in Diocese of San Diego

I have the great pleasure to tell you wonderful news. Several weeks ago, Bishop Mathes sent a letter to the clergy of the Diocese of San Diego authorizing same gender blessings.

It is a great step forward for all of us in God’s church, and indeed a moment to celebrate. For those who may not have been engaged in the struggle for inclusion as long as others of us have, let me tell you again, there were times when many of us never thought we’d see this day – at least not in San Diego. Do we still have work to do? Sure. But I wanted to share this news with you that an important barrier to full inclusion in our church has finally fallen. Hallelujah!

For those of you who may wish to take advantage of this wonderful news, I would invite you to contact The Rev. Canon Allisyn Thomas. It was important to the Bishop (and to everyone involved in this process) that blessings for same-gender couples would by and large mirror those for straight couples (that is, use the same pre-marital counseling process, obtain the necessary permission, and so on). You can reach Allisyn through the Cathedral office at 619-298-7261 or via e-mail at thomasa@stpaulcathedral.org.

Finally, if you are so moved, I would invite you to send a letter or email to Bishop Mathes thanking him for his decision and courage. This old Navy town is second only to Orange County as a conservative voting block in most elections and needless to say, the Diocese of San Diego is not of one mind on this issue. I am grateful that Bishop Mathes wants to watch over us as we take this momentous step forward. I for one commend him for taking this stand, and for wishing to be our pastor, and I hope you would join me in saying thank you.

Bishop James Mathes        bishopmathes@edsd.org
Diocese of San Diego
2728 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103

The decision by the Rt. Rev. James Robert Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, reflects the recommendations of the diocese’s Holiness in Relationships Task Force Report [PDF].

And this from Former Inetgrity VP, The Rev. Caroline Hall.......
Generosity Expands to Maryland and San Diego

I hear it was a great Pride weekend in San Diego. Two of my good friends, Brian and Dennis marched in the parade with the contingent from St Paul’s cathedral. Then on Sunday, during her sermon, the Rev. Allisyn Thomas said that with the approval of Bishop James Mathes , St Paul’s will now be able to bless the unions of same-gender couples! Her announcement was met with great joy by many in the cathedral which has a broad and inclusive congregation.

The Bishop of San Diego is requiring parishes who wish to offer blessings to have studied the diocesan report, Holiness in Relationships, and their clergy have to get permission from the bishop. Since St Paul’s has already studied the report, they’re ready to go!

And now the Diocese of Maryland has also declared a generous response, with the Bishop’s Guidelines Regarding the Blessing of Same-Gender Unions posted on the Maryland diocesan website. Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton is taking a slightly different tack from his colleague in San Diego by giving the discretion entirely to the clergy rather than involving the parish.

To all of you in Maryland and San Diego who are now planning the big day, felicitations and please send photos.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Integrity Celebrates Eighth Anniversary of Claiming the Blessing

Eight years ago yesterday, August 1, 2002, Claiming the Blessing (CTB)officially opened its office doors at All Saint's Church in Pasadena, California.

CTB took it's name from Genesis 12:2 where God says to Abraham: "I will bless you so that you will be a blessing." and outlined this mission in their 2002 Theology statement :The General Convention of the U.S. Episcopal Church resolved in 1976 that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church.”

Since that time great strides toward realizing that “full and equal” claim have been taken. There are a growing number of places in the church where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) persons are welcomed, affirmed in their ministries and blessed in their committed relationships. There are, however, many more places where they are still not fully included in the life of the church. A coalition of leading justice organizations in the Episcopal Church — Integrity, Beyond Inclusion and diocesan Oasis ministries — along with numerous individual leaders, are determined to see the 1976 resolution become a reality.

To that end, this partnership, called “Claiming the Blessing” (http://www.claimingtheblessing.org/), has committed itself to obtaining approval at the 2003 General orgConvention of a liturgical rite of blessing, celebrating the holy love in faithful relationships between couples for whom marriage is not available, enabling couples in these relationships to see in each other the image of God.

At General Convention 2003, liturgical rites took a back seat to securing consents to the historic election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, although progress was made with the passage of Resolution C051 recognizing "that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions."

Another major step forward was Resolution C056 -- adopted in 2009 in Anaheim and calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex relationships to be presented to General Convention 2012 in Indianapolis.

So as CTB looks ahead, there is still work to do to make that 1976 resolution a reality. And Integrity is proud to continue be part of the collabortive process of making that happen.

Claiming the Blessing will meet in Fort Worth, August 5-7. Board Member and Communications Director Louise Brooks and Acting Executive Director John Clinton Bradley will represent Integrity at that meeting where plans for General Convention 2012 will be high on the agenda. Stay tuned. We'll keep you updated.