Saturday, January 31, 2009
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Saturday - Part 1
I have popped in and out of a number of sessions on Safe Schools with GLSEN folk. They do a great job as most of you know and there was not much new information for me, but it did fire me up to ask groups that can to get these people into schools.
The message needs to be heard, the statistics shared and the teachers, students and parents trained.
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Friday - Part 3
We have to move forward to reverse prop 8 and we all have to do it together.
The Binder Survey provides very useful reflection on what went right and what didn't go as well and some demographic analysis for future campaigns. The most important action, however, that any individual can take is to have the conversation. Whether you are gay or straight, black or white, old or young, disabled or not... you need to have conversations at work, in your place of worship, we you gather with friends or where-ever you interact socially.
I have been promised a link to the powerpoint analysis of this survey and will make it avalable as soon as I can.
The report survey 800 people who voted on Prop 8. The margin of error is +/- 3.
Seventy-seven percent of the voters had decided how they would cast their ballot on the future of equal equal access to marriage a month before the vote. As one presenter said, "You don't plan for an earthquake or a hurrican when you are in it." Many laudible efforts were not effective because of this statistic.
The most powerful influence against prop 8 was the church, specifically the Mormon, Roman Catholic and evangeical traditions. A program to target Evangelical and more specifically predominantly Black churches, "Let California Ring," proved very effective. However when initial concieved, it was poorly funded and reached a limited audience. During the late stages of the campaign it was set up as test. Two counties were chosen and one was saturated with the campaign. It was the only county, Santa Barbara, in southern California to vote against prop 8. More on the program later.
Teasing out men and women with children and men and women without children, the results were both predictable and surprising. Both men and women without children fell very close to the posulation as a whole. The campaign for Prop 8 played the chidren up big time. "Your children will be taught about gay marriage." It was a lie, but it worked. The group that vote singificantly more in favor of prop 8 were men with children. Supposition is that they were not only afraid that there children might be "made gay" or "chose to be gay." Perhaps a powerful force here is that men might have to tallked to their kids about sex. The counter to that is, it's not about sex, it's about love... and perhaps women got that. Women with children were more likely to vote NO on 8. Here one might presume that motivation was more towrd creating a better society for children to live in. Unfortunately their move in our favor was not as strong as the men's move away from us.
These are the percentages of people who voted FOR Prop 8:
People who are LGBT: 5%
People who know people who are LGBT: 48%
People who don't know people who are LGBT: 60%
Anaylsis agumented with anaecdotal rsponse is that although knowing someone who is gay helps, it doesn't help enough. Knowing someone who is gay AND knowiing that marriage makes a difference to then does. Clearly, some LGBT people were in favor of 8. they may have issues with the institution of marriage and cannot see beyond their personal interests. But more people reported that their gay friends didn't care, so why should they. LGBT people can't just "be there," we need to have the conversation.
Despite exit polling showing 70% of black voters supported Prop 8, the figure was actually 58%. Presumably this due to a closer affiliation with the church than the general population.
(When I have the link to the survey I will examine stats on other People of Color)
Taught in School:
A large majority of people who reported voting "yes," even though they thought it was unfair said it was out of fear it would be taught in school.
Marriages on TV:
Seeing Ellen and Portia's marriage or same-sex marriage in a TV show or movie, proved to not have significantly affected anyone's vote.
The survey reported on about 8 ads that were run by various groups to oppose prop 8. On a 2 dimensional grid, they were each place by visibility and impact. The most powerful ad was a man talking about his two daughters, one gay, one straight. His message was simply, "I love both of my daughters and both my daughters deserve the right to marry."
Suprisingly, Ellen's ad was visible, but not effective. Part of the issue is timing. The ad above was aired a month before the vote. Ellen's ad was aired in the final week. As stated, 77% of the voters had decided how they would vote a month before the ballot.
Friday, January 30, 2009
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Friday - Part 2
Inter-generational story telling was a project co-sponsored by Hetrick-Martin (Harvey Milk School) and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elederly). Both organizations are in NYC and this project, based on NPR's Story Corps, brought together 3 older men and 3 youth to share stories LGBT people in different eras.
Why are inter-generational programs of value?
- Provide opportunities for sharing, like the one above.
- Help develop and help train leadership for the future.
- Youth learn history
- Dymystifying the other. Older folks perceptions of youth, and youth perceptions of the older LBGT community
- Intentional. This won't just happen organically.
Another program highlighted was "M-squared: Movement and Masculinty." Choreographer, Rita Jaroslow, at 60, decided that she wanted to extend her work with movement at SAGE to an exploration of masculinity with younger and older members of the community.
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Friday - Part 1
Passing Notes – Sex Ed in School.
Youth Advocacy Center
A twenty-something leader opened by telling us that in Alabama, where he went to school there was nothing but Abstinence Only Sex Education. Now he is HIV positive. He’s hoping he can stop some others from being in the same position.
The only sex education funded by the Federal Government is Abstinence Only Sex Education(AOSE). One Hundred Sixty-Six Million Dollars spent for AOSE ($50 million from Title V and $116 million from Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE)) and not a dime for Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE). Currently about half of the states refuse this money because of the restriction, but times are getting harder.
The audience, mostly youth leaders, was asked to react to how AOSE effected youth and specifically queer youth
The most prevalent reaction was, “It’s out touch with reality.” The stats are this: 46% of all high school students and 68% of seniors are sexually active, 95% of the population of the US have sex before marriage. AOSE has not turned the rising trend. And these are not the only statistics that are ignored. In Sweden where CSE is mandated K-12, for instance, teen pregnancy rates are dramatically lower than in the US.
For queer youth specifically sex ed, as it exists offers no role models. There is presentation that responsible dating is an option, as opposed to casual hook-ups. And in 48 states marriage is not an option. AOSE sets marriage as gold standard of relationship that is not available to queer youth. Sex Ed is focused on behaviors and acts, not identity, further distancing queer youth.
Nationally organized through Advocacy for Youth, various inclusive curricula are available. The Unitarian-Universalist curriculum, OWL (Our Whole Lives), was specifically mentioned.
What can youth leaders do?
- Talk to legislators.
- Look for loop-holes; when you talk about safer sex, which is mandated in many states, you have to have to talk about sex.
- Teachers must be trained. (This came from attendees)
- Make it clear that CSE includes abstinence…
- Peer-to-peer sexual health ed: It usually has to be off campus and not sanctioned.
- Provide Sex Ed 101 in other established group meetings
- Make tie in with World AIDS day, National Coming Out, Day of Silence.
- Many Youth Centers have their own programs
- Find out what IS being taught
- Partner with GSA
- Meet with teachers and TEACHERS’ UNIONS.
- Talk with doctors… Don’t try to do it on your own.
- Use anonymous peer surveys to highlight the problem.
There are good online resources, but they must be vetted. Find the ones that support CSE, Here are some that were recommended:
Youth Resources http://www.youthresources.org/
Go Ask Alice http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/
Scarlet Teens http://www.scarleteen.com/
Teen Wire http://www.teenwire.com/
Mysistuhs http://www.mysistahs.org/ (Women of Color)
The Queer Youth community needs to talk with a focused message:
- Abstinence only sex education “makes us feel invisible,” and not a part of society.
- Sex education, like all education needs to be inclusive and reality based. “We feel ‘different’ and not in a good way.”
Preident Obama has been a supporter of CSE in IL. As a US senator his record was not so good. Supporter of CSE must call him to task need to keep on him.
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Thursday - Part 5
“The moratorium on intelligence in the White House has been lifted,” declared Kate Clinton, the fabulous emcee of Creating Change 2009.
The opening plenary of Creating Change was highlighted by legendary labor leader, Dolores Huerta. Her activities with the farm workers and subsequent support of many causes have made her an icon of the labor movement. Warmly greeted by the group, she spoke to the common causes of every activist movement and wove threads of unity, especially in hard economic times, that must be tended to.
Many of the recipients of bailouts have contributed millions to the campaign to fight Free Choice for Workers, the movement that seeks to allow universal access to unions by all workers, Huetra told us, Many of these same people and institutions have contributed to the support of Prop 8.
She talked of the support we need to give to immigrant workers, reminding us that, with the exception of the First Nations, we all came form somewhere. In 1920 the majority of Americans were foreign-born. These workers are contributing billions of dollars to Social Security.
“I am praying for Ted Haggard,” said Huerta. “I pray for him to get the courage to come out. He is disgraced? By what? For having sex with a prostitute? No! For having THOUGHTS of attraction to a man.” Something is wrong here.
“We must get rid of the ignorance,” she said. According to Huerta, that ignorance is not only dangerous to LGBT youth, but also to our nations mental health.
The KKK recently held a press conference boasting that their membership is up40% thanks to their opposition to immigrations
Now that we have returned to science, Huerta asked the crowd, “What are human beings called by scientists? Homosapiens. And where did the human race begin? “ The crowd responded “Africa,” Recounting the migration of human beings across the face of the planet, she talked of some that had to travel far to the north. “They went were it was colder and their skin became pale. Now they have to use tanning beds.”
To those who would divide us I say, “We are all Africans. Get over it!”
The rallying cry of the farm workers that Huerta coined, was Sí, se puede.” Recently, when she met Barack Obama, he admitted t stealing her slogan. She said, “Yes, you did!” Of course “Sí, se puede” is Spanish for “Yes, we can!”
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Thursday - Part 4
LGBT people and their allies need to talk about their experiences and the experiences of their friends in family. This can be a coming out experience for gay and strait alike. It is an uncomfortable experience for some, but its power is documented.
In the Binder survey reported a balance shift from people who said they knew someone gay toward support of marriage equality. However many supporters of prop 8 reported, "I know someone who is LGBT and they don't care about this, so why ahould I?"
Binder's Prop 8 survey was an intense survey of 800 people who voted. It included long answer response which allowed a deeper understanding of the results.
There was a very small percentage (-5% with a +/- 3% margin of error) of LGBT people who voted for Prop 8. So presumable some of these people who "didn't care" really did. Why the disparity. Further conversation revealed, "They never said anything about it."
This is a wake up call to gay people who are out. It's not enough just to be there, you have to have the conversation.
Many states are building web sites to share the stories. One example of this can be found at OneMinuteForMarriage.com. But the most powerful story is one-on-one.
That means telling a personal story about why marriage is important to you or someone you love.
Take it as a challenge. Talk to someone about this that you have not.
It doesn't matter if you are in a state where this may happen this year or 10 years form now. Tell the story. Make a difference. Help us move toward the prize. Here's the progression: Have more conversations to WIN MORE STATES.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Thursday - Part 3
"What's happening on the DOMA front," asks a participant.
"First of all," we are told, "don't call it DOMA, cause it isn't." DOMA is the acronym for the federal Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits the federal government form recognizing anything but a marriage between one man and one woman. If this "defends" marriage it isn't mine.
Call it the "Discrimination in Marriage Act." It must be repealed.
More Learning from the Opposition:
When there are bumps on the road, keep on going. Direct the anger of "defeats" to learning toward the future. The opponents of Marriage Equality lose battles, but don't see it as the war. The "war" is moving in our direction. Two major court decisions, 2 jurisdictions won and 7 close.
Come together under a single goal with a plan. Recently resurrected memos from the Mormon Church reveal "the plan" was in place for Hawaii that was used in California. They planned to fund the fight but hide behind the more social accepted brands of Christianity that would be willing to partner, like the Roman Catholic Church.
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Thursday - Part 2
This morning's session was opened by marriage equality activist and lawyer, Evan Wilson. His summary of the landscape of equal access to marriage was empowering.
Fifteen years ago where were we? Still reeling from the disasterous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" episode. Only 25% of the American public favored civil unions. Most Americans could not even imagine the words "gay" and "marriage" in the same sentence. Marriage and the service in the military, 2 tropes of equality were not for gay people.
We had not even begun to weather the sustained attack of our opponents in the religious right, the Mormon and the Catholic Churches. No country had a legally recognized same sex union.
Now we are in a new era. November 5th was a new beginning. The regrets over our complacency and our disbelief in the power of the opposition to build a campaign based on fear and lies is behind us.
There is legal same-sex marrige and it is within our grasp in 7 jurisdictions. Legislation is close to passing in NY, NJ, DC, Iowa, Maine, Vermont and of course we are fighting back in CA.
We must and will WIN THESE STATES.
We must adopt what our opponents have a clear picture of what the goal is. For them it is to extricate us from society. For us it is Marriage. Anything less is simply a step along the path.
We must keep our eyes on the prize.
"Don't ask, don't tell" will be repealed. With the rights and resposibilties of full marriage at the federal level we will have access to the last institution from which we are barred.
Next installment... "Don't call it DOMA, 'cause it ain't"
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Thursday - Part 1
It's a new day and this morning's session was great. Positive ideas, positive energy. Just what the doctor ordered, and all of this born of the passage of Prop 8.
Let me first say to my friends that are People of Color that I learned many lessons about what went on before prop 8 and how to move forward. There is lots of blame to go around. Many of the presenters took full responsibility for things that went wrong and demographic groups that were not reached, but the bottom line is: It's a new day and the possibilities, the awareness of and dedication to equality has never been stronger.
If any demographic group bears the most responsibility for the suspension of marriage in California, it one to which I belong. Those identifying themselves as Christians were the strongest supporters of the proposition. A post Prop 8 Election Voter Poll conducted by David Binder revealed what I already knew. And yet my knee-jerk reaction was to be upset by the African-American community's lack of support. In my faith tradition we call that not taking care of the beam in your eye before seeing to the mote in your neighbor's eye.
This was an important moment for me on my personal journey and reduced me to tears.
The hypocrisy of the Christian community is so great. I cannot undo it by knowing that my personal experience of Christianity has been different.
Neither can I let it drive me away from what I know is right. I cannot take on the burden of a whole community, for as many of my Black colleagues said, "We didn't vote for it. Why is he blaming us?" I am sorry that I could not see that then.
I can only move forward with what I have learned toward what I know is right.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Wednesday - Part 3
Here are some of the highlights from the workshop.
Owing to the CRM: "Access" is term that we attach to disabilities, but it actually born of the civil rights movement. The ball started rolling with access to lunch counters, drinking fountains, hotels. (These are memories from my childhood in Florida.) The logical extension the ADA. Now access to civil marriage for all.
Two terms defined: White Privilige are those things which by virtue of being white are more freely available for some Americans. They extend from the concrete to the less obvious. Membership in a club to who feels safe where. White Supremacy is the cultural system that enable white privilege.
Rush's Latest: The heir apparent to a Republican Party in shambles latest rant is, "Now that we have a black President, we are supposed to just bend over." Racist and homophobic. What a guy to wrap it all up in one pack and work our fears and division.
What to do: The results of small group brainstorming of tactics that work to overcome racism.
- Name it when you see it.
- Understand your own culture, respect other's
- Coalition Building
- Learn from mistakes: Self-reflection
- Use the Power of one-on-one; mentoring
- Share space: Make sure that no message is delivered "this is not just for white people"
- Needs assessment
- Continuous evaluation of inclusiveness
- Take risks, make yourself uncomfortable
- Take ownership
- Use the power of the the purse.
Following is an outline of a model regarding group organization. It was intended for LGBT groups, but I invite you to look at it from whatever perspective you bring. It is the mode presented by the group leader and gleened from my notes. There were no handouts.
Containers for Change (sorry, but "containers" is a new buzz word for me!)
Who? Who is in the organization?
When is including POC in leadership real and not just "coloring up?" Look at who's really involved in the decision making. Shared decision making. Who gets the camera? The microphone?
"How many is enough?" is a question of white supremacy.
If you build a house and then invite someone in they will always be a guest.
- Angela Davis
Look at the US Senate. Who speaks for the people of color?
(Classism: Who speaks for the poor?)
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Wednesday - Part 2
Please read this disclaimer. What you will read here is me baring my soul and my personal struggles. If you are willing to go on this journey with me you will certainly find me immature, politically unaware, less than patient. I hope you will also find a person who wants to do the right thing. If you want to go on this journey with me, read on. I want to understand myself better.
This was a rough experience for me. I'll say that right up front. As I read through the requirements for the course, i must say that it is my fault. "For people who had two previous anti-racism trainings," it said. I assumed that that meant in any venue. I have had it through many organizations inlcluding school and church, but unless you have had anti-racism delivered by a 70+ year old radical feminist, socialist and southerner, who was a sweet, sweet person, but brutal, I guess you haven't had it. In some interesting way I think this was all payback for my formerly mentioned knee-jerk reaction that blamed an entire community for defeating Prop 8. (I know I didn't mean it that way, but it was received that way. Mea culpa)
I did get much that is useful to apply to my own situation in LGBT advocacy and in my role on boards and committees. That follows. But the experience of having white guilt shoveled on me took its toll. I stayed from 9-12:30 and from 2-3:30... but I could not make it to six. There were so many questions that I wanted to ask, but I was afraid to open my mouth. I could feel the leader drilling her way though a room of 20-30 something activists saying "here's this years big, old, dumb white guy that's gonna hate this."
Again, my fault. But most of her ideas were presented in such a way that it was off-putting. I headed to my blog knowing than someone will read it and say "White Supremacist." I also know that someone will read it and say, "Here's a guy that lives 'white privilege" but at least knows it.
I need a nap. Jet-lag. Altitude. Recent stressful events....
My next post will be about the good stuff.
From NGLTF "Creating Change", Denver
Wednesday - Part 2
"We are not living in a post-racism world," our leader clearly stated. Barack Obama has stated that his election marked a milestone in moving away from racism, but not the finish line. We were told that if we were not on board with the fact that white supremacy is not an issue, we were in the worng group.
The full day institute that opened Creating Change is focused solely on Institutionalized Racism and why it is important to us all.
Six session are being held, two for beginners(1-2 years), two for intermediate (3-5 years) and two for advanced (6+ years) of leadership in LGBT organizing. I went for the middle. After the opening statement and reflection on my reaction to Prop 8, I almost moved... but I have been at this for a long time. I was ready to own any doubts and commit to accpeting the premace in as far as I could as a white man. I am glad I stayed.
My session started with the identification of institutions. Two that I am involved directly with were included: education and religion. We then talked about specific example of white supremacy/privilege in the organization that we serve. Small groups were then established to give examples of specific ways in which organizations were working to end racism.
This is where we broke for lunch... I am headed back from the conclusion.
1) This is clearly a group of well intentioned people. We know what the right thing to do is and are looking for ways to exist in co-support of POC.
2) What about starting of a national C and HR conference with a similar full day dedicated to heterosexism?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Denver is long ways from anywhere...
I have just arrived in the Mile-High City where the NGTF "Creating Change" annual conference is about to commence. Focused on training leaders and networking, it is know to be a very practical conference. I am here thanks to the support of the NYSUT Committee on Civil and Human Rights. This promises to be a great week. Two full-day Institutes Weds. and Thursday and then a full schedule of plenary session and workshops through Sunday afternoon.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The true story of a boy who commits suicide after the assaults of his mother's religiously driven attempts to save him. It becomes clear that the mother's motivations have more to do with her than with her son, but her epiphany comes too late for her son.
Her efforts since then to atone for her sins are many. The story is, of course cautionary.
This begs two questions: Was the movie good cinema? Did it deliver the message.
Sigourney Weaver was so good at being a driven mother that she made me squirm, even against the background of a movie that made me squirm for completely different reasons. It was poorly written and poorly directed. If it had not even tried to pretend that it was more than a made for Lifetime movie it might have been less difficult. Attempts at edgy film techniques looked just like that, attempts.
The first half of the movie drove off some of the sympathetic because Weaver was so annoying, but clearly the general Lifetime audience that made it through were moved.
Page after page of responses on the Lifetime website were positive. They got it. The few that were negative said, "I didn't watch that trash! Homosexuality is a sin."
Good cinema? No. Effective? Yes. If only one person watching it learned about the harm that can be done, it was positive. That such a lack-luster movie could evoke such an emtional response makes one wonder what a well-made movie could have done with this story.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Prayers for Bobby: Drama. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Ryan Kelley and Henry Czerny. Directed by Russell Mulcahy. Written by Katie Ford. Based on the book by Leroy Aarons. 9 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime cable channel.
If "Prayers for Bobby," airing Saturday and based on the book by the late Leroy Aarons, is a tearjerker, it's not only because it's a Lifetime original film, and that's what the network does, but because the true story of Bobby Griffith is tragic.
Twenty-six years ago, when Bobby Griffith threw himself to his death from a Portland, Ore., overpass, there were fewer options for young gay and lesbian people than there are now. But even if the Walnut Creek youth were living today, it's unlikely his life would be any easier. That's because Bobby never found acceptance within his own family and, above all, from his mother, Mary, whose fundamentalism told her that her son was a sinner and that he would burn in hell unless he resisted "temptation."
Bobby kept detailed diaries which, as quoted in Aarons' book, gave the boy a voice he never had in life: "I've overheard (family members). They've said they hate gays, and even God hates gays, too. Gays are bad, and God sends bad people to hell. It really scares me when they talk that way because now they are talking about me," Bobby wrote.
From SF Chronicle (read the rest)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Click here to watch
The piece purports to be about religion and the inauguration and is introduced as being about hope. And then it turns to a conservative church that talks about the "avowed homosexual." Of course they covered the fact that this gave great hope to many others... NOT. And closed with a Psalm quote that was apparently chosen by the "reporter."
It reminded me of when I went to GC in 2003 and talked with Kyle about the news coverage he was seeing at home. It bore very little resemblance to what was actually going on.
News doesn't really seem to care much about hope, unless they can spin it to have a down side.
This is because the IRS and the NYS Dept of Taxation considers benefits for MY SPOUSE taxable. That would not be the case if we were and opposite sex couple.
Just an FYI for any who think marriage equity isn't important.
For years it was about cussin'. But now it seems to be about:
"I greet you in the name of Our Lord! Send me you bank account number."
We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
This was posted on an LGBT list-serve:
Requests flood in for 'Queen of Soul's' custom hat
By COREY WILLIAMS – 9 hours ago
DETROIT (AP) — The calls began to flood Luke Song's hat shop not long after Aretha Franklin finished belting out "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration.
Franklin, who wore a gray felt custom-designed hat from Mr. Song Millinery, has inadvertently caused an economic boom for the South Korean immigrant's store.
"We always make hats for her for high-profile events, so for us, the inauguration really was no big deal," Song told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The design for Franklin's hat came from two different hats at the store.
"She walked through the shop and said 'I want that bow (put) on that hat,'" he said. "She had the coat already, but she needed the hat to set it off."
Visit Mr. Songs Millinery on the web
(read the entire article here)
The hat has been the subject of many a silliness. It has been joked about and photo-shopped onto a everything from pictures of Christ to the US Airline jet in the Hudson River.
"Is it a bow or a turbine?" one reader quipped when I posted a picture on my Facebook page without comment. I came back with "probably not the later, as she didn't lift off"
A black woman from a committee on which I serve, followed up with a lengthy discussion of the "Crown" that African-American Women wear to church, this being a rather understated one reflecting the solemnity of the occasion. The article alludes to that. She chose gray for a hat that was originally red.
Kyle, my husband, commented on his blog that it was a disappointment that Michelle didn't follow this tradition of a beautiful "crown" at the National Prayer Service.
This inauguration was a marvelous occasion on so many levels for African-Americans. It has certainly raised my cultural understanding, and for that I thank God.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
This petition will be delivered to The Speaker of the House, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, on June 1, 2009. This year's Pride marks the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. To sign it click here.
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
We the undersigned call on you and your colleagues to mark this 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the start of the gay liberation movement by passing legislation to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to declare it the public policy of the United States that discrimination based on LGBT status is prohibited.
For forty years, the LGBT movement has asserted the simple idea that LGBT rights are civil rights. For forty years we have been told to wait our turn and not to rock the boat. But with the election of 2008, we sent a clear message to Washington. Now is our time.
As Michelle Obama said on Gay Pride Day last year, "We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union." We stand united in that struggle and will not accept any effort to roll back the protections of the Civil Rights Act. But we must insist that they be expanded in order for the Act to truly live up to its name.
Because you represent Harvey Milk's district, the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, the nexus of the LGBT community on the West Coast, you have a special role to play in defending and protecting the civil rights of LGBT people everywhere. We hope that you will fulfill that role by passing this legislation.
And to those who say we can't have equal rights now, we say "Yes we can!"
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
This established one of two key points in a sermon delivered by The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins at the National Prayer Service on January 21, 2009. (Isaiah 58:6-12, Mt 22:6-40)
One evening a grandfather was teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each person faces.
"There are two wolves struggling inside each of us," the old man said.
"One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self-pity, fear...
"The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love..."
The grandson sat, thinking, then asked: "Which wolf wins, Grandfather?"
His grandfather replied, "The one you feed."
Dr. Watkin's beautifully crafted and clearly delivered sermon asked us to think about feeding and fasting.
In calling the President to realize the important role he plays in modeling our choice of feeding wolves and choosing fasts, she brought the point home with a razor sharp moment of humor.
They turn to God, "What's going on here? We pray and we fast, but you do not bless us. We're confused."
Through the prophet, God answers, what fast? You fast only to quarrel and fight and strike with the fist...
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice... to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house . .? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly...
At our time of new beginning, focused on renewing America's promise -yet at a time of great crisis - which fast do we choose? Which "wolf" do we feed? What of America's promise do we honor?
In international hard times, our instinct is to fight - to pick up the sword, to seek out enemies, to build walls against the other - and why not? They just might be out to get us. We've got plenty of evidence to that effect. Someone has to keep watch and be ready to defend, and Mr. President - Tag! You're it!Preach it, sister.
Bishop Robinson resurrected his blog from Lambeth to report from DC on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barack Obama. The latest 3 entries are from this weekend.
Wasn't yesterday amazing?! A new day -- for all of us. Here's what it was like from my perspective.
Mark and I arrived at St. John's Episcopal Church early in the morning. Waiting in the security line, I greeted Pastor Rick Warren, who couldn't have been more gracious. Once inside, we were seated in the fifth row, with a perfect view of the service participants, and eventually, the President-Elect himself. This is not a man who fakes a faith, but one who is clearly motivated by it.
Dr. T. D. Jakes gave a magnificent sermon, based on the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, being thrown into the fiery furnace. Some of his points, on which he elaborated brilliantly: "there is no light without heat"; the three Hebrew boys were saved because they stood up! it's time we ALL stood up for what is right and good... (read it all)
This morning brought prayer where in belongs on this ceremonial weekend. It was in the National Cathedral. It was inclusive and glorious. And if you were an atheist you could opt out.
But more on that service later.
Jon and +Gene on the Daily Show.
Three public prayers were given so far as a part of Barack Obama's inaugration.
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson prayed for a President.
He invoked prayers for the trials that will certainly face any President and the nation that he will govern. A man with whom I live called it a "downer." Well we live in uncertain times, made more uncertain by the President who was flown away today. We live in scary times, made more frightening by the way we have treated the gifts of a gracious God, by the arrogance with which we have presented ourselves to the world.
The new President acknowledged this when he talked about how we must balance more carefully our mission with our ideals. We know how to be better citizens of the world. Gene Robinson prayed us into a new understanding and sensitivity of our ideal. His prayer left room for all Americans to become a part of this.
The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery prayed for a Nation.
Lowery talked about how far we have come. He told in what some have called a "racist" way that electing a black president is not the end of the journey. After giving thanks, he said, "We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right,"
He is not a young man and needs to apolgize to no one for a lack of political correctness. He has payed his dues. I cannot speak as an Asian or Native American, but as a white man I pray that white people will embrace a President of Color!
The Rev. Rick Warren prayed for a Christian America.
He was an embarrassment. He excluded a huge portion of America and the vast majority of the world. Without an iota of sensitivity to "other," he moved us back into what the Christian Right wants. Prayer in schools. The Ten Commanadments in court houses. There are so many wonderful inclusive prayers that are already written, if he was just to lazy to spend some time crating his own. The prayer attributed to St. Francis comes to mind. With a little paraphrasing it becomes:
God of many understandings, make The President an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let him sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine One, grant that our Nation may not
so much seek to be understood as to understand;
to be respected as to respect.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in being empathetic that we live in peace. Amen
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This is my choice for most quotable line in the inaugural address of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama.
The President laid the cornerstone for a new global role of the United States. He laid it firmly:
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
No one is in a better position to do the rebuilding. No one is more capable.
"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works."
The President's simple and direct words brings to a close an era where we argue over process and never get to action.
No one has more "street cred" on this.
Having highlighted these moments, I was even more impressed with the work as a whole.
And for the LGBT there is the new website of the Office of the President.
Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007
To close the ceremony, The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery's gave benediction. The co-founder with Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Leadership Conference preached it! AMEN.
What an amazing day which could not even be marred by the hubris of he who shall not be named. I have sworn that I will remain positive, and I recovered quickly. (And The President's math mistake.) More on that tomorrow, but as for today... POSITIVE.
It is a new day. This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice!
Can there be an American who is watching the throngs on the mall without feeling hope and pride. This is patriotism not jingoism. The is progress, not just movement.
Can there be anyone with personal issues that will not let them go to immerse themselves in the positive feelings of today.
It is so clear ro me that on this day God has blessed America. And this we pray that this President will take that blessing to the world, showing them an America that cares, so that we can rebuild our reputation by being citizens of the earth.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The point that it drives home is, that even in this complex world and in this complex time, and even with sophisticated software we are so nicely compartmentalized. It is clear that the world of the majority has no place for the intersection of these two sets.
It does not speak well to society and especially not well about what is labeled as Christianity.
But fear not! There is a oasis: AmericansforTruth.com.
Oops, guess not.
"There are miles to go before we rest in this journey toward being truly a nation of liberty and justice for ‘all,’” said Integrity President Susan Russell, “but when Bishop Gene Robinson took his place at the podium at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday we all moved closer toward realizing that goal. In addition to offering the invocation at Sunday’s Inaugural Concert, we are thrilled that Bishop Robinson will be among the invited guests at the prayer service on the Tuesday morning, will attend the swearing in ceremony, will view the Inaugural Parade from the Presidential viewing stand, and will attend the National Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Wednesday.
“Any disappointment that Bishop Robinson’s powerful opening prayer was not part of the HBO broadcast pales in comparison to the power of his iconic presence at the Lincoln Memorial on this historic occasion. Bishop Robinson’s invocation included prayers for patience, safety and compassion – and to 'Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.' It will echo through the ages as words of hope, vision and promise."
“We look forward to both the opportunities and challenges ahead as we enter a new era of partnership in our common commitment to overcome bias, bigotry and discrimination for all Americans.”
“We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.” -- PIC communications director Josh Earnest
My guess is that thanks to selling the rights, no one has high quality video. Maybe Barack Obama or Rick Warren will invite him up tomorrow to make up for it.
Good Story on Huffington Post
So every time a progressive voice is snubbed or fails to take the opportunity to give the Episcopal Church a "plug" I am frustrated.
The church is taking a hit for even trying to include us. The least we can do is advertise (evangelize) a Church which offers beautiful liturgy and the possibility to become the face of Christ in a hurting world.
[This is a response to my
Sunday, January 18, 2009
A dramatic opening. That's what they wanted. Trumpet fanfare.
I was moved because African-Americans have achieved so much since the time that I grew up in Florida. Jim Crow was alive and well.
It's just include or don't. Token stuff is nothing but frustrating.
More at Daily Kos.
But here are his challenging words from Episcopal Café.
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"It took an economic crisis to elect a black man to be president," I believe is a fair paraphrase of Chris Rock. Comedians, at least good ones, are the smartest damn people on earth. They take what pundits would bury us with and make it a quick strike of lightning.
Of course this is the truth. It takes crisis to let a paradigm shift occur. It can be viewed as a sad reality or a realistic opportunity to do what many of us know is just "right."
Prop 8 brought about anew a wakening, just like Stonewall in 1969.
Where else in our lives can we take lemons and add salt and tequila?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Megan Fox absolutely made a boring evening bearable. She was sexy, funny and frank.
After telling E! that she wanted Salma Hayek's chest she casual dismissed the absence of her boy friend because he was busy.
"I really want her boobs. Those are the most amazing boobs,” she said.
While at the Golden Globes Award, she said that she thinks she’s ugly. "I'm so painfully insecure I'm on the verge of vomiting right now," the Transformers star told E! news on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday.
Fox attended the star-studded affair alone, as her fiance Brian Austin Green decided not to attend so he could stay home and "work on his music."
"He doesn't want to be my date," she explained. "He's a man. He has an ego,” she added.What's not to love about this woman? To boot, she looked fantastic.
It will be interesting to see what kind of crowds materialize for the inauguration. If the crowd predictions didn't frighten some people away from going to DC for the inaugural weekend, the weather predictions certainly will reduce the crowds.
Being there would have been a thrill, but snuggling up with MSNBC is probably a better choice.
I found, as always, Gene Robinson's comments to be calming. There is nothing wrong with questioning the decisions of President-Elect Obama, but this weekend is a time to celebrate many, many things as we prepare for a challenging future together.
Funny, I don't remember what happened 4 years ago this weekend. Come to think of it, what happened 8 years ago?
No matter! Tuesday brings a President that I don't expect I will always agree with, but I have every confidence I will respect.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The first time through I found it a compelling story. I was engaged, but bothered by a few things. Eastwood's character seemed caricature. His grunt/growl thing was silly and got sillier. The Asian actors seemed stilted, with the exception of Ahney Her (as Sue Lor), especially the Mung gang members. These distraction culminated when Clint Eastwood began singing the title song over the credits. This was anticlimactic and gave me flashbacks to Paint Your Wagon and made me feel very old. His voice is nothing like fine wine.
Another viewing gave me a chance to see beyond the annoyances to see some delightful points. The first time through I felt horribly guilty about laughing at the epithets. It certainly was far from politically correct to enjoy this movie. But of course that was the point. Burdening ourselves with stepping on eggshells binds from a deeper insight into the human condition. We spend so much time trying not to offend some of our companions that they never become friends. And once we know we are friends we can live without fear of offense. It's a fine line, but an issue that needs to be examined. I believe that Eastwood's intent was to make that point.
This film offered the intimate view of gang violence without the recent trend of trying to make the viewer feel that he has been personally brutalized. By avoiding a heavy handed approach it allowed an authentic empathetic attachment to develop with Walt, Sue and Tao as well as the mother, who never spoke a word of English. Gang encounters took place on a neighbor corner the was made more frightening by its normality.
The ending was all the powerful for not being milked in Spielbergesque fashion.
Now just drop the song.
The National Cathedral is "The Nation's Church" and the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington because of this attitude. No, it wasn't the intention of the founders exactly, that concept was not a popular one... but it is being revealed to us in our time. The global economy is also the global spirituality. We must live together or surely we will destroy one another.
The prophetic voice of God in a gay man may be surprising to many. Shocking to some. But the prophetic voice has always come from surprising places in every religious tradition.
Understanding that these polls are not very reliable as organizations on both sides tend to encourage ballot box stuffing, the results are surprising.
I am NOT encouraging you to vote unless you are a regular reader of the site, but take a look at the article and the poll results.
My friend Don called. I had asked him to go to "Gran Torino" with me last weekend, but since he was in Greensboro... So we looked for something to see today. It boiled down to "Valkyrie" or "Bride Wars." OK... I we are not the Bride Wars kind of guys... So we settled on Tom Cruise. And then I thought about it...
After my reflections on the "Feel-Good Movie of the Decade" I called back. "I'll see Gran Torino again so you can see it." Though I did not think the movie was the best of Eastwood, and I found his performance a tad annoying, it was at least a movie with a heart and a message. If SM (or as I have come to call it, S&M) can garner a best picture nod then I have to see Gran Torino again. It was a better movie.
Monday, January 12, 2009
OK ... so here is my point, waking up after the Golden Globes gave SM Best Pictue - Drama.
It was a picture that could have made a real statement, but it missed the mark. The word "dalit" was mentioned once in the screams of the police chasing the kids in the first slum sequences.
The situation in India is so incredibly sad that I found the redemption of one slumdog by winning the lottery demeaning.
There was not one word of political comment in the acceptance for the Golden Globe speech of the idea that this slum is beyond anything that we in the US could even imagine.
This really took the shine off an otherwise exceptional movie to me... and it took me days to figure out why I wasn't on board the SD Bandwagon.
The news today from Politico is that The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is to be a part of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Good news indeed, reaction to R. Warren or not. Knowing Gene and his beliefs, I can say without equivaction, not only is there an openly gay person of faith involved in the inaugural festivities, but also an openly gay person of tolerance.
While following this story on my favorite blogs, I followed comments more thoroughly than usual. At Think Progress I noted this comment:
"On the plus side, Anglican’s seem a helluva lot more laid back than the Catholics. I wonder if they have any churches in my area. =D"There was also a link to Wikipedia's bio: allegation of inpropriety. And I responded:
This is great news indeed! Yes, [username], I am sure there are Episcopal Churches in your area. We are dealing with a number of people leaving over this issue and welcome those who join us because of it.
I was at the Convention that consented to Gene’s election. The allegations of impropriety were a last minute (literally) attempt to discredit him by the conservative forces. He is an amazing man who lives out the inclusion that he preaches. I am sure he would welcome all of you… deist and atheist alike.
My refernce to "atheist" was prompted by the many comments that religion has no place in goverment.
It made me reflect on the many, many times that I have asked myself, "Does religion really have a place in my life?" I feel the sense of exclusion that many Americans connect with the very word, "religion."
Celebrating Gene's inclusion, I still ask, "What about the Jews, the Muslims? What about women clergy? What about... ?"
Taking comfort in how far we have come and realizing how far we have to go, I know that the Episcopal Church's compass is pointing toward a "Christ Driven Life."
The atheist objection to religion seems more to do with how little faith traditions have lived out their beliefs than rejection of God. And, for the most part, that is completely understandable.
We need to reach out to all, wherever they are, and welcome them on to our journey. I truly believe that in the midst of our struggle the Epsicopal Church is better positioned than most churches to do just that.
Friday, January 9, 2009
YES, IT COULD!
From Christianity Today:
A few minutes ago, I received a letter from Saddleback's Rick Warren, who many conservative Anglicans realize has been extremely supportive of their cause.
Here's what he wrote in part to a handful of leaders:
The St. James parish is not giving up its court case and has plans to seek other legal remedy. In the meantime, other conservative Episcopal congregations or Anglican church planters might be eager to take pastor Rick up on his offer.
... [The Episcopal Church has] already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the TIME bio on Akinola.
But since last summer... I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage. ....[Our] brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.
We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.
Can I Vote on YOUR Marriage Now?
Sorry they didn't give a graphic artist some work.
The North American casts of the smash-hit musical Wicked will host cabaret performances of Defying Inequality, a special benefit evening promoting equality and civil rights, on January 12. The one-night-only events will be held simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Louisville (where the Wicked national tour is currently performing).
The events will feature incoming Elphaba Nicole Parker, Ben Cameron, Marty Thomas, Kathy Deitch, Ari Gold, The Glamazons, Mimi Imfurst, Eve Starr, Kelly King, and Brandi Chavonne Massey in New York; Eden Espinosa, Megan Hilty, Shoshana Bean and Jo Anne Worley in Los Angeles; Brian Justin Crum, Kristoffer Cusick, Bridie Carroll, Ted Ely, Heidi Kettenring and Dee Roscioli in Chicago; and Donna Vivino, Richard H. Blake, Ben Liebert and Myra Lucretia Taylor in Louisville. Headliners will also be joined by local theater performers from each respective city.
The concerts will specifically benefit Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality California, Garden State Equality and Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, all non-profit charitable organizations working to legislate equality and protect civil rights for the gay and lesbian community. Proceeds from the evening will be distributed equally among the four charities.
Here's what the AFA is up to:
"Company ignores two requests from AFA to discuss Pepsi's support of gay groups.Pepsi has given Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) a half-million dollars to help push the homosexual agenda in the workplace.
Pepsi has a long tradition of financial support for homosexual groups. According to Jacqueline Millan, director of PepsiCo Corporate Contributions, "We are delighted to continue our partnership with PFLAG...(in) promoting the necessary message of inclusion to untapped groups...and that is a crucial step toward building a healthy working environment."
Despite the fact that 30 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Pepsi continues to support the efforts by same-sex groups pushing for homosexual marriage.
AFA wrote Pepsi on October 14 and again on October 29 asking the company to remain neutral in the culture war. Pepsi didn't care enough to respond to the AFA letters. Pepsi's lack of response indicates the company plans to continue support for the homosexual agenda.
I am taking action. Drink Pepsi Week has been declared...maybe Drink Pepsi Month or Year!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Pete and Freta, Kyle's parents, hosted us twice. They are both very gracious. We spent some of that time with Kyle's bother Jeff and his wife, Pam. Really love them all!
The Spencer's were our hosts and put up with our in and outs and the dogs. Beth and Dan's party was a wonderful.
Dana and Steve hosted a mini-reunion. Angela and Bengt and Thad and Denise were there. Thad is Kyle's good friend from high school.
We drove by the Gwinnett Brave's Stadium which is under construction... hope to make it to a Red Wings game there in July.
Laura and John could n0t make that gathering, but we spent a night at their starter palace in Fayetteville. John is a developer/builder and the place is spectacular!
We spent an evening with Chip and Rick.
Publix is still the second best supermarket chain and we brought home Duke's and country ham.
Everyone is happy to be home, though. Too damn many Republicans in that state.... :-)
We saw Doubt today in our effort to squeeze in as many Golden Globe nominated films as possible. So far I'd pick Meryl and Sean... but more on that later.
In the stranger than fiction category: http://www.pinkwhitebrown.com/obama.html