Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Integrity Celebrates House Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill

April 29, 2009

Integrity Celebrates House Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill

“Integrity rejoices with the Shephard family and all who worked so hard to make today’s passage of the Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes bill possible,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA.

“In our baptismal covenant, Episcopalians promise to respect the dignity of every human being -- and in our Pledge of Allegiance, Americans pledge liberty and justice for all. This bill connects those two foundational values -- offering hope that ALL Americans will be granted both equal liberty and dignity, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. And next week Episcopal clergy will be in Washington DC with the HRC “Clergy Call for Justice” making that case in person to our elected officials.”

“As the bill heads for the Senate, its opponents are spreading absurd lies, claiming it would send pastors to jail for giving anti-gay sermons,” Russell concluded. “Integrity urges people of faith from all traditions to come together and unite against hate – to speak out against lies – to urge passage of this important legislation.”

(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President

Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Bill Passes in U.S. House of Representatives

From the AP report ...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections under a revived and expanded hate crimes bill passed by the House on Wednesday over conservatives' objections.

Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone's race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The bill, which passed 249-175, could provide a financial bonanza to state and local authorities, with grants for investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The federal government could step in and prosecute if states requested it or declined to exercise their authority.

A weaker bill died two years ago under a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama, in contrast, urged support, saying it would "enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association." Obama called for passage in the Senate, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is the chief sponsor.

The House bill added protections based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a supporter of the bill, contended it was protection for gays that drove the opposition.

"I wonder if our friends on the other side of the aisle would be singing the same offensive tune if we were talking about hate crimes based on race or religion," she said, referring to Republican opponents. "It seems to me it is the category of individuals that they are offended by, rather than the fact that we have hate crimes laws at all."

Another Step Closer to Marriage Equality in New Hampshire!

The New Hampshire Senate today voted 13 to 11 to approve a bill providing for equal marriage rights for gay couples. The New Hampshire House approved a same-sex marriage bill on March 26. The new version, passed by the Senate, must now go back to the House for concurrence. That vote will likely take place next week.

It was a dramatic victory for New Hampshire and marks the third time a state legislature - behind California and Vermont - has approved equal marriage rights bill. (California did so twice but was vetoed.) The Democratic governor, John Lynch, has said he opposes same-sex marriage but has backed off such statements more recently. If the bill survives, New Hampshire will become the fifth state in the nation to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples the same as straight couples -and the fourth to do so in the past year.

Read the rest here.

Weekly Witness For 29 April 2009

Shaping A Circle Ever Wider At Provincial Synods

John Clinton Bradley, Integrity's Acting Executive Director, has just returned from a 4-day road trip to talk to discuss LGBT issues with deputies attending provincial synods. On Saturday, April 25th, he spoke at the Province I Synod gathered in Westborough, MA. On Sunday, April 16th, he spoke at the Province III Synod gathered in Martinsburg, WV.

Neither presentation was an official part of the synod agenda, but organizers at both locations were kind enough to provide venues for hour-long presentations during free time slots.

The sessions--open to all synod attendees--were well attended. In Province I, a majority of synod attendees heard the presentation because it was held in the same room where breakfast was served. In Province III, 38 people attended.

Similar presentations will be given in early May at the synods of provinces II, V, and VII. For more information, contact Jan Adams at

Watch For Your Ballot!

Voting for Integrity USA's Board of Directors and provincial coordinators will take place during May. If your membership is current, look for your ballot in the mail around May 1st. Meanwhile, you can read candidate biographies at

Unblogged News

New York Magazine
Lone Protestor at Equality and Justice Day Is Chased Away by Children in Rainbow Tights

Buffalo News
Paterson challenges religionists on morality; Issue of gay marriage stirs intensified debate

Des Moines Register
Outside Des Moines: Marriage license applications & protest petitions

Washington Blade
Episcopal leaders look to enhance anti-gay schism

Episcopal News Service
Communion Partners statement challenges Episcopal Church polity

Episcopal News Service
MAINE: Bishop supports 'rights and obligations of civil marriage' for all state citizens

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Of Bishops & Marriage Equality

As the marriage equality movement continues to make headway across the country, Episcopal Bishops are stepping up in support.

The Episcopal Church, long ago, concluded and publicly proclaimed through its own legislative body that gay and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church. We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church, as long as the particular requirements of that office or ministry are met. And we have repeatedly affirmed our support for the human and civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. In many of our congregations, both here in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are participating in the life of the church and sharing in the work of ministry and service to their communities.

If we, as Mainers, believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, then it is in our interest to extend the rights and obligations of civil marriage to all Maine citizens. To deny those rights to certain persons on the basis of sexual orientation is to create two classes of citizens and to deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.
The Episcopal Church continues its conversations about doctrine in relation to same sex marriage and the blessing of same sex relationships, and there is yet no consensus. We continue to search for ways to honor the varied viewpoints of all our members and to provide a place of dignity and respect for each of them. Therefore, I also affirm that part of L.D. 1020 that states there will be no effort to compel or coerce any minister to act in a way contrary to his or her belief and conscience. There will certainly never be any requirement in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine to act in contravention of conscience or of church doctrine. It is my expectation that The Episcopal Church will continue to engage in this conversation for some years, even as I hope the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage will be extended to all Maine citizens.



In New York State, Bishop Prince Singh (Rochester) attended today's marriage equality rally at the Albany State House;


In Iowa, Bishop Alan Scarfe, endorsed his state’s move in support of gay marriage in a Good Friday pastoral letter to the diocese, saying the ruling “clarifies for me what the issue is that is facing the Church. Like so many who support the rights of gay and lesbian people, I thought civil unions would provide adequate protection for their relationships. I began to see things differently as I heard the arguments presented in court several months ago.” ...

In Vermont, Bishop Tom Ely "applauded the vote saying he hoped it would “inspire other states to enact comparable legislation and that ultimately the legal provisions of full marriage equality will be provided to all citizens of the United States.”
Doing the math:

At this point, four states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont) have legalized same-sex marriage and 10 others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with New York, Maine & New Hampshire on the cusp of marriage equality and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision..

That means TWENTY EIGHT dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jursidiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions. If you are among them, write or call your bishop TODAY and tell him or her that you are counting on them to work with us in Anaheim to put this church on the right side of history on the issue of marriage equality.
We need our bishops to KEEP stepping up ... and as we move toward General Convention and the pressure for them to step back let's make sure they're in our prayers and we're in their "inbox" encouraging them to keep on moving this church forward toward that full and equal claim its been promising the gay and lesbian faithful since 1976!

Same-sex couples across Iowa apply to marry

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses at government offices across Iowa on Monday, and at least one lesbian couple tied the knot in a ceremony in Des Moines.

Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe were declared "legally married" by pastor Pat Esperanaza during a ceremony in front of Polk County administrative offices in Des Moines. It didn't take long before they were referring to one another as "wife."

Earlier, the couple was able to get a judge to waive the state's three-day waiting period before marriages are considered final.

A handful of Iowa's largest counties were seeing a rush right away, but foot traffic from same-sex couples began to slow toward midmorning.

In eastern Iowa, Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter, Iowa's only openly gay recorder, said when she saw the court's declaration, "We rolled open our windows and we've been busy."

She said that within the first half hour they had accepted about a half dozen applications and had about 10 more couples waiting to file. Some waited outside on the street under a tent and sipped coffee in what Painter called a "festive atmosphere."

Painter said she and her partner plan to apply to be married this week.

Rumors surfaced over the past week that some recorders would refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples over conflicts with their personal beliefs. Some conservative groups and lawmakers were accused of trying to recruit recorders to refuse the licenses.

State agencies sent out information to recorders statewide last week saying they could be removed from their positions if they don't follow the law and issue the licenses.

Read more here.
Or here:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maine's marriage debate turns deeply religious

The Washington Blade is reporting that...

A legislative hearing to extend gay marriage to Maine took on the atmosphere of a religious revival Wednesday as ministers made impassioned speeches for and against the bill before thousands of cheering spectators packed into a civic arena.

Gay couples also took turns pleading for recognition of their partnerships, while opponents warned that state sanctioning of same-sex marriages would fracture a basic building block of society.

"This bill is fair. This bill's time has come," Damon, D-Trenton, said to a roar of approval. "It recognizes the worth and dignity of every man and every woman among us."

Gay rights activists want to get laws allowing same-sex marriage passed in all of New England by 2012, and they're already halfway there. Vermont's Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto two weeks ago to enact a same-sex marriage law. Connecticut and Massachusetts also allow gay marriage.

The earliest a Judiciary Committee vote is expected would be April 28. The bill then goes to the Senate, then the House before it could be sent to the governor's desk.

Read the Rest here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weathering the Storm

It was a GREAT privilege to be part of this video project. We shot it on SUNDAY AFTERNOON ... and now here it is -- ready to get the truth out.


Integrity Applauds "Outing" of Communion Partners Network

Integrity applauds the “outing” of both the “Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church” and the email trail between the framers and signers of a document clearly designed to continue to undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Though couched in ecclesiastical language, the statement is an entirely political document. It attempts to lay the foundation for an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert that they are not bound by the Episcopal Church’s governing body: General Convention. These bishops seek to increase their own authority, while diminishing the role of the laity and clergy in the governance of the church.

“We have been given a look at ’the men behind the curtain’ manipulating a schism driven agenda while professing to work transparently for reconciliation”, said Integrity President Susan Russell.

“To quote one long-time ally’s response to these documents, ‘This is stunning. It is remarkable to think about the plotting that is going on. In many ways I am just too naïve.’”

“This statement – and the email trail leading up to its creation – should be required reading for all who will be making decisions in good faith at our upcoming General Convention,” said Russell. “We cannot afford to be naïve about the forces working to divide this church and distract it from its call to live out the gospel in the world. And we must not accept the false choice between unity and justice being presented by the very people working behind the scenes to create disunity and foment schism.”

The argument that dioceses are independent of the Episcopal Church is novel, and a creature of convenience. It seeks to camouflage the desire of anti-gay bishops and theologians to punish the Church for consecrating an openly gay bishop and permitting the blessing of same-sex relationships in some dioceses.

The authors of these emails profess to be loyal Episcopalians, but they openly express their hope that this statement will be used in litigation by individuals who have left the Episcopal Church to join forces with virulently anti-gay bishops in other parts of the world and are attempting to take the Church’s property with them.

A number of the bishops who have reportedly signed on to this statement are members of the "Communion Partners Bishops’ Network." When founded, this group pledged to work transparently and in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in attempting to reconcile those of differing theological views. These emails make clear that the group instead was working surreptitiously to undermine the Bishop of Colorado, and seeking to set up a system of episcopal oversight controlled entirely by the Communion Partners.

The work of reconciliation in the Anglican Communion was thoroughly compromised by a theologian and a bishop named in this correspondence who used their positions on important Communion-wide bodies to advance the agenda of the Communion Partners network. The Rev. Ephraim Radner, who is copied on these emails and whose name appears on the statement, helped draft the proposed Anglican Covenant. Bishop Gary Lilibridge, who the emails suggest offered advice on drafting the statement, was a member of the Communion’s Windsor Continuation Group.

Both bodies produced documents that create significant impediments to the full inclusion of LGBT Christians in the Church, while the proposed covenant removed obstacles to the inclusion of anti-gay churches, dioceses and parishes in the councils of the Communion.

The emails concerning the Diocese of Colorado make clear that this group will use the proposed Anglican Covenant as a tool for moving individual congregations out from under the authority of their diocesan bishops. This strategy can be employed not only in the Episcopal Church, but across the Anglican Communion.

"It is time for The Episcopal Church to "just say no" to the forces working to divide it and get on with bringing people into the work and witness of the gospel," concluded Russell. "Our Lord promised us that the truth will set us free. Our prayer is that knowing more now about the truth of what is going on behind the scenes of the Communion Partners Network will indeed set us free to get with the work of being the church in the world for ALL God's beloved human family."

Unblogged News Roundup

Boston Globe
Clergy lend voices to marriage debate
NY Times
GLAAD Award Winners

Washington Post
Gay group GLAAD honors best in media

Concord Monitor (NH)
Robinson says church should avoid civil marriages

LA Times
Gay Episcopal bishop says civil and religious marriage should be separate

LA Times
Gay Episcopal bishop visits Studio City,0,5041616.story

Christian Century
Vermont is fourth state to approve gay marriage

The Desert Sun Palm Beach
President focused on gay issues

Wilmington News Journal
Bishop's words misstated on black, gay struggles

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marriage in Massachusetts

Debunking the Myths!

#1 -- Churches and other religious institutions will be forced to marry same-sex couples

#2 -- Religious institutions can face penalties such as law suits or loss of tax exempt status if they refuse to marry same-sex couples

#3 -- Marriage as we know it will be destroyed

"Massachusettes can prove that what people feared has not come about. The only thing that has transpired is that people who love each other now have the same rights as other people who love each other."

Write Congress

Storytelling Event w/ Bishop Andy Doyle

Wednesday April 22, 2009 * 6:00 - 8:00 PM
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

c/o Christ Church Cathedral * 1117 Texas Street * Houston, Texas 77002 *

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekly Witness For 20 April 2009

Board Meets Online

Integrity USA's Board of Directors traditionally meets meets twice each year. The board agreed to hold it's spring 2009 meeting virtually rather than incarnationally to reduce travel costs and carbon emissions. Using a combination of FreeConferenceCall and GoToMeeting, the board convened electronically on Friday, April 17th. Below are the major outcomes....
  • Minutes from the autumn 2008 meeting in Las Vegas were approved.
  • A budget for 2009 was adopted. It assumes a total income of about $270,000 and total expenses of around $313,000. Integrity's reserves will be almost depleted over the year to cover the deficit.
  • Credit cards with set spending limits were authorized for key staff and the president--in some cases replacing unrestricted debit cards.
  • Integrity/Princeton and Integrity/Southern Nevada were decertified. The decertification process was started for Integrity/Austin. The in-formation status of Integrity/Western Michigan and Integrity/Dallas was not renewed. The dissolution of Integrity/Kansas City was acknowledged.

Through My Eyes

The Gay Christian Network has just released a new documentary, that tells the story of young Christians impacted by the church's ongoing homosexuality debate. It's 45-minutes long and aimed especially at reaching non-welcoming churches.

Watch the trailer on YouTube...

Click here to buy a copy thru Integrity's Amazon store!

Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-sexuality

This new book by Tobias Stanislas Haller addresses the conflict over homosexuality within the Anglican tradition, demonstrating that the church is able to provide for and support faithful and loving relationships between persons of the same sex, not as a departure from that tradition, but as a reasonable extension of it.

It offers a carefully argued, but accessible means of engagement with Scripture, the Jewish and Christian traditions, and the use of reason in dealing with the experience and lives of fellow-Christians. Unlike most reflections on the topic of homosexuality, Reasonable and Holy examines same-sex relationships through the lens of the traditional teaching on the "ends" or "goods" of marriage: procreation, union, the upbuilding of society, the symbolic representation of Christ and the Church, and the now often unmentioned "remedy for fornication." Throughout, it responds to objections based on reason, tradition and Scripture.

Click here to buy a copy thru Integrity's Amazon store!

Mazal Tov!

Former Integrity treasurer George Casper (left) and his husband Fred Mazyck (right) on their wedding day in Massachusetts. In accordance with the diocesan guidelines of their bishop, Tom Shaw, they had a civil ceremony followed by an ecclesiastical one.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Faith-Based Community Organizing Training: May 1-3, Walnut Creek, CA

This event is open to inclusion activists from all denominations. Integrity USA encourages Episcopalians in that region of the country to consider attending. Download the registration form at!


Faith-Based Community Organizing Training

A training opportunity to help increase the number of faith-based communities which openly welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities

May 1-3, 2009
Walnut Creek, CA

A Training Resource for Congregations Affiliated with:

* Alliance of Baptists
* American Baptist Churches USA
* Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
* Church of the Brethren
* Community of Christ
* Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
* Mennonite Church USA
* Mennonite Church Canada
* But, anyone from any denomination or church is welcome

Perhaps you are a leader (lay or ordained) in a congregation which is considering becoming welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) persons. Perhaps you are committed deeply to helping other congregations in your denomination become more welcoming of LGBT folks.
Either scenario means that this training will be very helpful to you in honing your skills and gaining more knowledge about how to help congregations through those tough conversations toward a more fully inclusive church.

What to expect from this training?

The training has been designed specifically with congregations and their leaders in mind. We will explore topics which will help you to become a more
effective leader in working with congregations on issues related to human sexuality and gender identity for the purpose of helping a congregation discern God's call to become more welcoming and inclusive, particularly of LGBT persons. Topics include:

* Faith-based community organizing techniques
* Congregational conflict theory and resolution
* Managing change in congregations well
* Effective strategies for helping congregations discern the call to
be welcoming
* Building relationships for change
* Dealing with difficult conversations around biblical material,
stereotypes, the "b" and the "t" questions, and other areas of concern
* Opportunity to build relationships with others who share your
* Personal spiritual enrichment
* Opportunity for growth and challenge
* Intense few days of hard work, laughter, and fun
* Good food

Who should come?

Anyone who is interested in seeing the Church (meaning all churches) become
more welcoming, supportive and inclusive of LGBT persons. This could

* Lay leaders
* Ordained leaders
* Denominational or judicatory leaders
* Members who care about these issues
* Leaders and members in denominational LGBT groups

The training is supported by a grant from the Arcus Foundation to a
coalition of the Affirming Disciples Alliance Inc. (GLAD - Christian Church:
Disciples of Christ); Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists (AWAB -
American Baptist Churches USA, Alliance of Baptists, & Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship); Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &
Transgender Interests (BMC); and Welcoming Community Network (WCN -
Community of Christ). However, anyone from another denomination is welcome.

Training Schedule

A skeleton schedule is as follows:


4:00 p.m. Registration Begins
5:00 p.m. Dinner
9:15 p.m. End for the Day


8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.


8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Please make every effort to arrive for the activities on Friday evening (it
sets the stage for the rest of the weekend) and stay until 2 p.m. on Sunday.
It takes time to travel to the airport from the church, if you do not run
into traffic and airports recommend arriving at least 1 - 2 hours before
your flight. Please book your flight to leave after 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

What does the training cost?

Registration fee includes training, materials, dinner on Friday, lunches on
Saturday and Sunday and snacks.

$60.00 - Registration Fee

The registration deadline is listed in the Registration Packet for each
training event. Cancellation fee is $25.00. No refunds for cancellations
after the registration deadline.


A special rate has been reserved at a hotel near the training location. Room
rates are not guaranteed after specific dates listed in the registration
packet. The rate and contact information is listed in the registration

Every effort will be made to assist in matching roommates, but we cannot
guarantee to provide you with a roommate(s).

Participants are responsible for making their own housing reservations. Be
sure to tell reservations you are with the NFO Project to get the preferred
room rate.

Other Housing Options

Limited host housing is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Every
effort to assist with transportation to and from the church will be made,
but cannot be guaranteed.

Participants requesting host housing should check the box on the
registration form indicating that request.


Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.
Airports closest to the training location are listed in the registration

Training Location

The training events are usually held at a church or seminary. The location
is included in the registration packet. The street address and web site, if
available, is also included.


* Dinner will be provided on Friday evening.
* Lunch will be provided on Saturday and Sunday.
* Please note on the registration form if you have any food
allergies/restrictions or if you need vegetarian or vegan options.


How do I register?

Download and print a copy of the registration packet for the training event
you wish to attend. Links for the registration packet for each upcoming
training are located at beginning of this page in the column to the right of
the training information.

Complete the included registration form and mail it with your check for the
registration fee, to the address below:

National Field Organizer
c/o The Institute of Welcoming Resources
810 West 31st Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408

Make check or money order payable in US funds to: Brethren Mennonite Council

The registration deadline for each training event is included in the
registration packet. Cancellation fee is $25.00. No refunds for
cancellations after the deadline indicated.

Registration Confirmation

You will receive a registration confirmation e-mail (make sure you give us
an e-mail address) or regular mail (if you do not have e-mail access).

What Else Do I Need to Know?

* Dress is casual.
* Come rested and ready for a wonderful and intense experience!


For questions or more information, contact:

Anita Bradshaw, National Field Organizer

Multiple Choice Quiz

  • A. The number of years the tradition tells us our Lord lived on this earth.
  • B. The number of years since the Episcopal Church promised full and equal claim to its gay and lesbian baptized. (General Convention 1976)
  • C. The number of years that are past long enough to wait for the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.
  • D. All of the above.

    The answer -- of course -- is "D" and Honest to Pete, people -- is it REALLY going to take the Episcopal Church longer to live out its commitment to full and equal claim than it did Jesus to live out his ministry on earth?

    Call your Bishops.
    Email your Deputies.
    Give to the Anaheim Campaign
    Let's add another answer to this multiple choice quiz: "The number of the year full and equal claim became a reality and not just a resolution!"


More On New Hampshire Marriage Equality

Portsmouth Herald
Gay marriage fight heats up in Senate

Meriden Record-Journal
NH Sen. Committee takes up gay marriage bill

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bishop Robinson In Studio City On April 19th

Bishop Gene Robinson will be at St. Michael's in Studio City this Sunday,
April 19th, to speak at its Adult Forum at 9:30 am. This is an impromptu
appearance. Bishop Robinson is not going to preach or celebrate, but he will
be attending the 10:30 am service.

For more information contact...

Lauren Azeltine
Communications Coordinator
St Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
3646 Coldwater Canyon Ave
Studio City, CA 91604

New Hampshire Struggles With Marriage Equality

WMUR ABC Channel 9
Opponents, Supporters Of Gay Marriage Gather For Hearing

Brattleboro Reformer
N.H. Senate committee takes up gay marriage bill

Nashua Telegraph
Panel hears spirited gay marriage debate

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day 2009: "... with liberty and justice for some."

via email from California Faith for Equality:


“As we rush to the post office to send in our tax dollars today, let us remember those gay and lesbian families who pay their taxes lawfully and faithfully, yet have been denied equality under the law by a majority of voters in California,” said Samuel M. Chu, Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality and a Presbyterian pastor. “Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have equal responsibility under the law, but not equal rights. I speak on behalf of a diversity of faith leaders committed to equality and our respective faiths all agree that to take away the rights of any minority group, as did Proposition 8 here in California, is wrong.”

Rabbi Denise Eger, of Congregation Kol-Ami in West Hollywood and one of the founding members of California Faith for Equality said, “Gay and lesbian married couples face continued discrimination at both federal and state levels. While some couples can file in their states as ‘married,’ they are required to file on the federal level as ‘single’.

Eger, President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis added, “Federal law treats same-sex couples as strangers, thereby denying them the 1,138 federal rights, benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. This is not only an affront to the dignity of their families, but to those couples who want to pay their fair share. They continue to be penalized and discriminated by this unequal treatment”.

“California Faith for Equality will continue to be a powerful and uniting force for equality for all LGBT persons,” said Chu.


For more information contact:
Samuel M Chu
Interim Executive Director California Faith for Equality

Rabbi Denise Eger
Congregation Kol-Ami

California Faith for Equality is a statewide network of clergy and lay leaders from a diversity of faith traditions who are committed to equality.

Live Webcast On GC2009

This is an excellent opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions about
moving beyond B033 and forward on marriage equality...


The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs

Live webcast to address General Convention 2009
Presiding Officers, others will field questions from audience, online

[April 14, 2009] General Convention 2009 of the Episcopal Church will be the
topic of a live webcast on Wednesday, May 13 at 8 am Pacific (9 am Mountain,
10 am Central, 11 am Eastern).

General Convention 2009 (GC09) will be held July 8-17 at the Anaheim
Convention Center in California. The webcast will originate from Anaheim,
the site of this year's General Convention.

The Episcopal Church's General Convention, held every three years, is the
bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second
largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops,
with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay
representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 700 members.

Participants in the live webcast will be: Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal
Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori; President of the House of
Deputies Bonnie Anderson; Executive Officer and Secretary of the General
Convention, the Rev. Gregory Straub; and Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese
of Los Angeles, the host diocese.

Questions will be accepted via email and from the invited guests in the

To access the live webcast, go to the Episcopal Church website:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Update from the Diocese of Fort Worth

This just in from Fort Worth:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, heir and steward of the legacy of generations of faithful Episcopalians, has this day brought suit to recover that legacy. We deeply regret that the decisions and actions of former diocesan leaders have brought us to this difficult moment.

Even before 1850 when this area was part of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, faithful Episcopalians were preaching the saving gospel of Jesus Christ as part of the Episcopal Church in North Texas. After the General Convention created our diocese in 1982, that work continued. Today we, with our Presiding Bishop, remain committed to preaching the gospel as we celebrate the sacraments, care for those in need, and strive for justice and peace. This litigation is designed to move quickly to confirm the historical right of Episcopalians to lead the diocese as stewards of its property as we in humility and hope continue the mission of the Episcopal Church here.

Please pray for patience while the legal proceedings go forward. These first steps are crucial in confirming the continuing diocese’s unbroken historic connection with the Episcopal Church and the church property. We will then proceed to deal more directly to recover and restore specific parish property. Be assured, however, both the Presiding Bishop and I are aware of your pain and frustration, as well as being committed to addressing your local concerns thoroughly.

We bid the prayers of all faithful Episcopalians and other Christians as we protect our legacy and fulfill the trust and dreams of those who have gone before.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen. [Ephesians 3:20,21]

The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., D.D.
Bishop of Kentucky and Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth

April 14, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekly Witness For 13 April 2009

The Weekly Witness is a little late because of the Holy Triduum. Happy Easter!

Slate Finalized

The Nominating Committee has finalized the list of candidates for the election that will be held during May. They are...

David Norgard

Secretary/Director Of Communications
Louise Brooks

Michael Cudney
David Cupps

Vice-President For National Affairs
Ian Chamberlin
Albert Ogle

Vice-President For Local Affairs
Neil D. Houghton

Stakeholders Council Chairperson
Joshua Blackwood

Stakeholders Council Vice-Chairperson
Gretchen Renfro
Mark Dexheimer Trujillo

Province 1 Coordinator
Sara Hamlen
Margaret Lias

Province 2 Coordinator
Chap James Day

Province 3 Coordinator
Mimi Walters

Province 4 Coordinator
Keith Bliven
Paul F. Hanson

Province 5 Coordinator
Deniray Mueller

Province 6 Coordinator
Gretchen R. Naugle

Province 7 Coordinator
Susan McCann

Province 8 Coordinator
Matt Haines

Biographies of each candidate will soon be available online. Contrary to earlier reports, the election will be held by mail rather than electronically. If your dues are current, you should receive a paper ballot about May 1st. Marked ballots must be postmarked by May 30th. If your dues are NOT current, visit to renew online.

Reaching Out To Deputies At Provincial Synods

Jan Adams, who is Integrity's field organizer, has been busy arranging informal meeting for LGBT-friendly deputies to be held in conjunction with spring provincial synods. We're trying to get our friends together prior to General Convention to meet each other and to hear about Integrity goals for Anaheim. A representative from Integrity or the Claiming the Blessing steering committee will be present at each meeting to talk with deputies about our plans. We'll also be sharing the wider justice platform from The Consultation.

The schedule for these meetings as we know them thus far is this:

Province I: over breakfast, Saturday morning, April 25: invitations from the Rev. Thomas Brown of Vermont and the Rev. William Exner of New Hampshire; John Clinton Bradley will attend for Integrity.

Province II: the evening of Thursday, May 7 at 9:15 pm at the hotel. Louie Crew and Nell Gibson issued the invitations; John Clinton Bradley will attend for Integrity.

Province III: the evening of April 26 around 7:30 pm at the host hotel. The Rev. Mark Harris and Eddie Vance issued the invitations; John Clinton Bradley will attend for Integrity.

Province V: the evening of May 4, 8:00 pm at the host hotel. Herb Gunn and the Rev. Elizabeth Morris Downie issued the invitations. The Rev. Cynthia Black will attend for Claiming the Blessing/Integrity.

Province VII: approximately from noon to 1 pm on Saturday, May 2 at St. Michaels and All Angels Church where the synod will have concluded. Margaret Heckendorn and Katie Sherrod issued the invitations. Fred Ellis will attend for Integrity.

Gatherings for Province IV and Province VI are not yet scheduled as those meeting are in early June.

Unblogged News

Gene Robinson #7 in LGBT Power 50

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier
Most local churches won't perform gay marriage rites

Concord Monitor
College group hosts debate on gay marriage

Burlington Free Press
Gay marriage wins by 1 vote

Barre Times Argus
Lawmakers override Douglas veto, approve gay marriage for Vermont

Hanover Dartmouth
Bishop, activist debate gay marriage

Bishop: Religion hampers gay civil rights

Episcopal News Service
Search Committee told to honor Resolution B033

Jersey Journal
From politics to the pulpit: Jim McGreevey studying theology at All Saints Church in Hoboken

Atlanta Journal Constitution
The gay bishop’ to speak at Emory

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Iowa Family Values

What a wonderful witness on " 'Behold I give you a new commandment; that you love one another!' Day"

Iowa's Family Values [NYTimes Op-ed]

IF it weren’t for Iowa, my family may never have existed, and this gay, biracial New Yorker might never have been born.

In 1958, when my mother, who was white, and father, who was black, wanted to get married in Nebraska, it was illegal for them to wed. So they decided to go next door to Iowa, a state that was progressive enough to allow interracial marriage.

My mom's brother tried to have the Nebraska state police bar her from leaving the state so she couldn't marry my dad, which was only the latest legal indignity she had endured. She had been arrested on my parents' first date, accused of prostitution. (The conventional thought of the time being: Why else would a white woman be seen with a black man?)

On their wedding day, somehow, my parents made it out of Nebraska without getting arrested again, and were wed in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 1, 1958. This was five years before Nebraska would strike down its laws against interracial marriage, and almost a decade before the Supreme Court would outlaw miscegenation laws throughout the country in Loving v. Virginia.

When the good state of Iowa conferred the dignity of civic recognition on my parents' relationship — a relationship some members of their own families thought was deviant and immoral, that the civil authorities of Nebraska had tried to destroy, and that even some of my mom's college-educated friends believed would produce children striped like zebras — our family began. And by the time my father died, their interracial marriage was seen just as a marriage, and an admirable 45-year one at that.

That I almost cried last week upon reading that the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state law banning same-sex marriage will therefore come as no surprise. I'm still struck by one thought: over the years, I've met so many gay émigrés who felt it was unsafe to be gay in so-called flyover country and fled for the East and West coasts.

But as a gay man, I can’t marry in "liberal" New York, where I'm a resident, or in "liberal" California, where I was born, and very soon I will have that right in "conservative" Iowa. Of course, the desire to define relational rights and responsibilities with a partner, to have access to the protection that this kind of commitment affords, is rather conservative. But it's a conservative dream that should be offered to all Americans.

Though it takes great courage for gays to marry in a handful of states now, one hopes that someday, throughout the nation, gay marriages, like my parents' union, will just be seen as marriages. It's safe to say that neither the dramas of our family, nor its triumphs, could have been possible without the simultaneously radical and conservative occasion of my parents' civil marriage in Iowa.

And so when the time comes, I hope to be married at the City Hall in Council Bluffs, in the state that not only supports my civil rights now, but which supported my parents' so many years ago.

Steven W. Thrasher is a writer and media producer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wall Street Journal: Why Gay Marriage Matters

This is a touching story that was published today in the Wall Street Journal by the brother a man who is gay. Both brothers live in Iowa. As we rejoice at the news of Iowa and now Vermont recognizing same-gender marriage as legal, here is a heterosexual's viewpoint of why this matters.

I often tell friends that a part of me is gay, even though I've been happily married to my wife for 12 years. What I mean is that in April 2003 I donated a kidney to my older brother David, who is gay. The transplant took place at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics -- and it was, in a very real sense, a miraculous event for our entire family.

So when David called me last Friday excited about the Iowa Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal, I wasn't surprised. "You know what this means, don't you?" he asked. "It means we can visit those we love when they're dying in the hospital; it means we're finally treated like family."

Most hospitals in America only allow spouses and immediate family members to visit a patient during a medical emergency, when a patient is unconscious or in critical condition after a car accident, heart attack or kidney failure, for example. These are the moments when our spouses are most needed, the moments when life and death decisions are made -- and, if necessary, goodbyes are said. My brother, whose kidneys failed when he was in his 30s, understands these moments.

Of course, this is just one example of how Friday's decision changes the lives of gay and lesbian couples in Iowa. As the court wrote in its unanimous decision, the 12 plaintiffs (six couples) expressed "the disadvantages and fears they face each day due to the inability to obtain a civil marriage in Iowa." These include: "the legal inability to make many life and death decisions affecting their partner, including decisions related to health care . . . the inability to share in their partners' state-provided health insurance, public employee pension benefits, and many private-employer-provided benefits and protections," and the denial of "several tax benefits."

Read the rest here.

Integrity Applauds Vermont Legislature

April 7, 2009

ROCHESTER, NY--Integrity USA commends Vermont lawmakers for today overriding the governor's veto of a same-gender marriage bill, making the state the fourth in the nation where gay and lesbian couples can now wed.

"This is sign of great hope to all of us working to end marriage discrimination in society and in the church," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "I hope the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will pass similar ecclesiastical marriage-equality resolutions in Anaheim during July."

"This victory in Vermont is a reminder that the Episcopal Church needs to seriously update it's marriage canons and rites," added John Clinton Bradley, Integrity's Acting Executive Director. "If we are going to continue letting our clergy act as agents of the state when performing marriages, we must allow them to marry all couples--heterosexual or homosexual--who are legally entitled to wed."

Visit for more information.

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

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Another "Onward to Anaheim" Update

On B033 & the search for a new bishop in Western New York
by President Susan Russell

The week before Holy Week is a busy one in Episcopal Church Land ... even when you DON'T have decisions on marriage equality in two states and a son home on leave from the Army. So I'm playing "catch up" this morning -- in part by highlighting this story from last week about the search for a new bishop in the Diocese of Western New York.

"Search committee told to honor Resolution B033" is the headline of the ENS piece, highlighting two important happenings in the search-for-a-new-bishop process in the Diocese of Western New York:

#1 -- The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has told a newly formed bishop search committee that they are expected to "honor the mind of the Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the episcopate as expressed through the General Convention."

Yes, this would be code for "comply with B033: no LGBT candidates welcome." To his credit, the standing committee chair is quoted as saying "rather than have the issue of B033 lurk through the whole process and then come up later in a difficult way the standing committee decided to "put the issue on the table" explicitly."

But wait: there's more.

#2 -- The Western New York Standing Committee also said in its website statement that it "strongly recommends" that the diocese's deputation to the 76th General Convention "should work for or support efforts at the 2009 General Convention to rescind Resolution B033."

So what does it all mean?

Our friends on Titusonenine are on the story now ... interestingly enough posting Point #1 but failing to note Point #2. Here's my comment from "over there:"

The post neglects to note the part of the release where the Standing Committee: “strongly recommends” that the diocese’s deputation to the 76th General Convention “should work for or support efforts at the 2009 General Convention to rescind Resolution B033.”

As I noted in to the ENS reporter on the story last week, “The Standing Committee of Western New York stands out as the tip of the iceberg of mainstream Episcopalians.”

“They are asking our bishops and deputies to release this church from the straitjacket B033 has imposed on the vocational discernment process of a diocese seeking the best candidates for their bishop—to end the era of de facto apartheid that restricts a percentage of the baptized from full inclusion in all orders of ministry. We will keep the Diocese of Western New York in our prayers as they seek and call a new pastor for their people—as well as the deputies of Western New York as we work together to end this blatant discrimination against the LGBT baptized.”

So there we have it. A diocese giving us exactly the "case in point" we need to prove our point to our bishops and deputies -- that B033 continues to have a chilling effect on the work and witness of this church. AND a diocese asking for the church to move forward and give them the freedom to work with the Holy Spirit to call the best possible pastor for the people of their diocese.

So pray for the people of Western New York as they call a new bishop.

Pray for qualified candidates with an episcopal vocation excluded from consideration because of the ill-conceived and ultimately useless resolution passed in 2006 to keep at the table those who are determined to leave anyway.

And pray for Integrity's work -- along with our allies all over this great church of ours -- as we prepare to gather in July and move the Episcopal Church "Beyond B033" and forward into God's future.


PS -- To support the Anaheim Campaign, click here to see the "Marching to Anaheim" video and make an online contribution.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Weekly Witness For 3 April 2009

Save The Date!

We're very pleased to announce that Integrity USA will be hosting the "After Anaheim" conference in St. Louis during September 9-11, 2009.

The core of the conference will be the "Building An Inclusive Church" curriculum produced by the Institute For Welcoming Resources. This workshop is designed to give inclusion activists a "toolbox" for changing hearts and minds through grace-filled, relationship-building at the parish, diocesan, provincial, and national levels of the church.

The conference will also give local and national leaders of Integrity the opportunity to debrief General Convention and together create a strategic plan for the new triennium.

Watch for details in the near future!

Ballot Almost Full

The Nominating Committee as been hard at work to fill the ballot for the upcoming election. To date they have received...

  • 1 nomination for President
  • 1 nomination for Secretary/Director of Communications
  • 1 nomination for Treasurer
  • 1 nomination for Vice-President for National Affairs
  • 1 nomination for Vice-President for Local Affairs
  • 1 nomination for Stakeholders' Council Chairperson
  • 0 nominations for Stakeholders' Council Vice-Chairperson
  • 2 nominations for Province 1 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 2 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 3 Coordinator
  • 0 nominations for Province 4 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 5 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 6 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 7 Coordinator
  • 1 nomination for Province 8 Coordinator

Two spots are still wide open. Please prayerfully consider whether you or someone you know might be called to lead our ministry during the next 3 years.

Click here for more information and to submit a nomination! The deadline for nominations has been extended until Sunday, April 5th, in order to fill the ballot. Voting will occur during May. Elected candidates will take office October 1st.

Feel free to contact Joshua Blackwood, Chairperson of the Nominating Committee, at if you have any questions about the nomination or election process.

Marching To Anaheim DVDs

Every local chapter, diocesan network, congregational circle, and proud parish partner should have received a copy of the "Marching To Anaheim" DVD this week along with a supply of Anaheim Appeal contribution envelopes. We are asking them to hold small "screening parties" to raise funds for the Integrity's presence at General Convention. As of today we have received $40,000. We need the help of local folks to reach our goal of $80,000. Please contract our Development Coordinator, Bruce Colburn, at to let him know when you will be holding your screening party.

Bruce has 20 copies left of the DVD. He will ship a DVD, along with a supply of contribution envelopes, to the first 20 people who email Bruce their name and address and promise to hold a screening party!

Integrity Commends Iowa Supreme Court [UPDATED]

April 3, 2009

ROCHESTER, NY--Integrity USA applauds the Iowa Supreme Courts' ruling today that the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.

"Iowa is now the third state where same-gender couples can marry," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "and the legislature of Vermont last night sent a bill to the governor that will do the same the same in that state. Convinced that civil marriage equality for same-gender couples is the wave of the future, Integrity calls on the Episcopal Church be on the right side of history by moving forward on ecclesiastical marriage equality during General Convention in Anaheim this July."

At least six dioceses have submitted resolutions to General Convention supporting marriage equality. "Integrity encourages all concerned Episcopalians to contact their bishops and General Convention deputies and dialogue with them about marriage equality as they prepare for Anaheim," added John Clinton Bradley, Integrity's Acting Executive Director.

Visit for more information.

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

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Western New York On B033

Standing Committee Acknowledges Authority of General Convention

In the charge delivered to the Search Committee at the retreat held on March 27-28, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western New York acknowledged the authority of the General Convention by charging to Search Committee "to honor the mind of The Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the Episcopate as expressed through the General Convention."

At issue is Resolution B-033 which was passed at the last General Convention in 2006 which states:

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it furtherResolved, That this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

However, in light of the theology shared by the Episcopal Church with the Anglican Communion in To Set Our Hope on Christ, The Standing Committee also adopted the following position:

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western New York strongly recommends to the Deputation of the Diocese that the Deputation should work for or support efforts at the 2009 General Convention to rescind resolution B-033 of the General Convention of 2006.

The Standing Committee offers its continued prayers for reconciliation in both The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion over issues of human sexuality.

Click here for source article.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

North Texas Presbyterians vote to ease rules on gay clergy

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

In a break from the past, North Texas clergy and lay leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have voted to ease the way for ordination of openly gay pastors, deacons and elders.

Clergy and lay leaders of Grace Presbytery – the regional body covering 177 churches in North Texas and other parts of the state – voted Saturday to remove constitutional language requiring that ordained officers maintain “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.”

The vote was 203-182 in favor of the change, with six abstensions, said Rob Allen, spokesman for Grace Presbytery.

The issue has come up in previous years, and Grace Presbytery has voted in favor of maintaining the barrier to ordination of gay pastors, deacons and elders.

Read the rest here!