Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kyle, NYSPA ED, Night Crawler, The Princess Mum and The Bishop

Celebrity Sightings at Equality and Justice Day

Kyle Crawford, Alan Cumming and Prince Singh

Prince Singh and Alan Van Cappelle, Executive Director of NYS Pride Agenda

Prince Singh and Anne Hathaway's Mother!!! Yow!

100 days. So? F0!

It's an arbitrary benchmark. It is celebrated in elementary schools across the world because we happen to have a base ten number system. So in a parallel universe it could be 49th day... or 81st day... but the symbols would be different. Computer programs would celebrate the 256th day or the 4th day.

Anyhoo, let's go with 100th. How's the President doing?

Pretty darn good. Would be nice if he would celebrate his 100th day with an epiphany on marriage. Well maybe us hexadecimalists can hold out for F00.

Bishop Singh Speaks to LGBT Rally

Please excuse the jittery handheld quality of the video... just listen if you choose. BUT PLEASE LISTEN!

Here is the text:

Pride in the Pulpit address, April 28, 2009 in Albany, NY
(These remarks were made in front of the Capitol in Albany where about 2000 people gathered on April 28, 2009 for LGBT Equality and Justice Day)

Good afternoon saints! My name is Prince Singh, and I am the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. Some folks refer to me as “the Bishop formerly known as Prince.” I am honored to be here with you today and I thank the organizers for inviting me to your pulpit in the public square. I am humbled to stand in a continuum of Lay and Clergy leaders including bishops—like Bob Spears, Bill Burrell, and Jack McKelvey—in the Diocese of Rochester all of whom have helped uphold the human dignity and full inclusion of LGBT saints for the past three decades.

I am here to remind you of a creation narrative in the Hebrew scripture where we are told that everything God makes, all of creation—including human beings—is GOOD! Later, in a Gospel narrative we are reminded that we are God’s Beloved. Not only are we inherently good, we are also God’s beloved. Yes, we mess up by our selfishness, anger, greed, etc., but that’s not our essential identity. We are essentially good and deeply loved. Therefore, no matter what your family or religious leaders tell you, no matter what you tell yourself, YOU ARE GOD’S BELOVED child. No self loathing please.

I am also here to remind you that sacramental rites such as marriage are rites (R-I-T-E-S) and rights (R-I-G-H-T-S). Sacraments are visible signs of invisible grace, but it is important that we administer these sacramental rites with fairness. In other words, when we “bless” some unions and “marry” some others we end up creating an unfair gradation, a new kind of caste system of sorts where some people are more equal than others. In my circles there is debate about whether it should be blessing or marriage and I say, “We bless battleships, and we marry people.” Marriage is a sacramental rite between two people who love each other deeply enough to want to spend the rest of their lives together. That is enough of a reason to ensure that marriage is made available as a rite and as a right to gay and straight couples. Let us bear in mind that not everyone is called to marry. The divorce rate in this country, which is close to fifty percent, is enough evidence for this. Marriage is not for everyone, but needs to be available to all—whether they are gay or straight. I hope and pray that this sacred conversation will further strengthen one of the most beautiful gifts available to humankind: the gift of love.

Finally, one of the reasons I am here is because I am not gay. I have been married to my beloved Roja for seventeen years and we have two children. I would like my Gay and Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual friends to have the same privileges, and encouragement Roja and I continue to receive as a couple. When my gay brother, lesbian sister, transgender or bisexual neighbor is treated as less than anyone else, it becomes my problem, my spiritual problem. I thank all the straight people who are here to stand in solidarity with our LGBT saints. Together, I hope we can create a new future of equality, justice, harmony, and a more humane New York State. Remember, God loves you and the Episcopal Church welcomes YOU.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Generations of Integrity

Phil Nicholson, for many years the convener of Dignity-Integrity/Mid-Hudson, and Rich Angelo, the newly appointed Network Coordinator for the Diocese of Albany, meet during a Rally in Albany. Sponsored by The New York State Pride Agenda, the annual Equality and Justice Day brought together two generations of Integrity leadership. Many Episcopalians were present from across the state to lobby legislators for GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), Dignity for All Students and Marriage Equity.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NYT: Religion and Civil Marriage in NY

Pastor Flake is the spiritual adviser to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.

“I don’t care what the politicians think,” Mr. Flake, a former Democratic congressman and one of the city’s most influential religious leaders, thundered last week during a Sunday service at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Queens. “Ain’t nothing perfect about laying down and signing a license with somebody who got the same body parts you got.”

Mr. Flake went on for about two minutes, much to the delight of many in the pews, who cheered and applauded as the church organist punctuated the reverend’s words with notes from “I’ve Got a Woman,” by Ray Charles.

The sentiment, shared in many churches, would normally warrant little notice. Mr. Flake is the pastor of a predominantly black congregation in a community with a socially conservative tilt — hardly an unlikely spokesman for those opposed to same-sex marriage.

But Mr. Flake is also a mentor to the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith, who is among a handful of political leaders in Albany who will be responsible for the fate of same-sex marriage in New York.

Looking on as Mr. Flake preached that morning were Mr. Smith’s wife, Michele, and one of his senior aides, Mortimer Lawrence. Mr. Smith was not in church that day, though he is a regular.

Mr. Smith’s close relationship with Mr. Flake and the Allen A.M.E. church encapsulates the pressure the senator is experiencing from two distinct worlds — the political and the spiritual — as he strives to persuade his colleagues that they should vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

“He is both a servant of God and a servant of the state,” Mr. Flake said in a telephone interview. “It’s clearly a dichotomy one does not like to be in, but it’s clearly before him now.”

Mr. Smith, who went to work for Mr. Flake in 1986 as a Congressional aide, said the minister’s views on the subject have not weakened his own resolve to see same-sex marriage legalized. Though they speak nearly every day, the two men said they have not broached the topic recently.

“He knows what my position is. I know what his position is,” Mr. Smith said. “He looks at it as a religious matter, and I look at it as a legal matter.”

Mr. Smith said he arrived at his decision to support same-sex marriage two years ago when he began considering it a matter of equal rights.

Read it all

Sunday, April 26, 2009

just a simple guy

To my mates debating exlusion/inclusion as GC 2009 Approaches:

Y'all are so wonderfully gifted with your theological discussions and fancy language and all...

I'm a simple guy.

But it seems to me that the Anglican version of "the chicken and the egg is:"

How can you include someone who's bent on excluding you?

Neil Houghton
Rochester L3

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Personal Testimony in Maine

Good afternoon Senator Bliss, Representative Priest and members of the Judiciary Committee.

My name is Jarad Platt; I live in Farmington and I am here to urge you to support LD 1020. I am speaking for myself.

I am a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) employed by the Maine Office of Substance Ab use as a Treatment Specialist; I am Coordinator of Substance Abuse Treatment for the adult Maine State Prisons, the Maine Adult Drug Treatment Courts and the Maine Co_occurring Disorders Courts.

My partner is Daniel Gazette. Danny is an Administrative Assistant. We are registered as Domestic Partners in Maine and have been together for 34 years. we both work full time jobs, pay local, state and federal taxes, own a home and autos, support charities, and are integrated into the Farmington community.

We have supported each other through the critical illness of Danny's mother and the death of his father. My mother lived with us for 16 years and died at age 96 last month. When mother knew she was close to passing, she wrapped her arms around Danny's neck and whispered to him "I want you to take care of Jarad for me."

I was caretaker for Danny as he went through cancer of the larynx sugery and radiation treatments and then a heart attack. Danny was caretaker for me when I had a ruptured colon and the attendant surgeries, and a nearly fatal kidney failure and congestive heart failure. We are both fully receovered.

Our lives have always been inclusive of intense family relationships. Mother was a lifelong Baptist. Her faith and religion was not in a box. I didn't come out as a gay man until I was 35. My father had already passed, my mother immediately accepted me.

Danny was kicked out of the Arny for being gay. Danny's dad, George, didn't understand homosexuality when Danny came out to his family, so they had a tenuous relationship for a few years. At Danny's sister's wedding George gave his daughter $500; he gave Danny $10 and told him he'd get the rest when he got married. Danny told his dad he had just saved $490.

The second Christmas we were together at Danny's parents' house, his mother and father were so excited. George got out his camera, Danny's mom could hardly contain herself. Danny opened his gift, which was 2 pairs of socks. We were both confused by the excitement of his parents. Then Danny saw the corner of a piece of paper under one of the socks, and took out a check for $490.

That was love and acceptance.

My hope is that this committee and the entire Senate and House can see what George saw- love and committment worthy of marriage. Danny's mom called Monday to say she hoped that this bill would pass, that "you guys deserve this".

(Note from Louise [whose diary this is posted on]: At this point, Jarad started to get choked up. Danny, who was beside Jarad the entire time, put his hand up and placed it on Jarad's back in a beautiful and completely loving gesture of support, that made ME cry. But it calmed Jarad and steadied him enough to finish his testimony.)

I love Danny with all my heart, a love that has grown over the years we have been together. Danny tells me the same. I want my relationship with Danny to be honored. He and I are honorable people and their is no reason our lives and love don't qualify for marriage.

Please support LD 1020.

Thank you.

[posted on Pam's House Blend]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bishop Lane of Maine TESTIFIES!

From The Rt. Rev. Steve Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine.

To the Ordained and Lay Leaders of the Diocese of Maine

After considerable reflection I have decided to add my voice to the testimony being offered at the legislative hearing to be held by the Judiciary Committee on April 22, 2009 concerning L.D. 1020, "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom." As my presence is required elsewhere that day, Canon Heidi Shott will read the testimony in my stead.

I have decided to submit testimony because I believe the conversations we've had within the Episcopal Church can be of use to our wider community. I think we have something to say beyond simply "yes" or "no." I'm writing to you so that you will know exactly what I am saying and will have this information no matter what is reported in the press. My personal opinions are fairly well known on this matter, and I spoke to you about them during the election process. But I think it's essential that all of us in the diocese continue the conversation ourselves, and that all points of view be honored.

My testimony will be brief and will focus on equal rights and protection under civil law. I acknowledge continuing discussion within the church and affirm that there should be no coercion for anyone to act contrary to conscience or church doctrine.

The written version of the testimony that will be submitted to members of the Judiciary Committee may be found below. (Because of a three minute time limit on oral testimony, a shorter version will be read on Wednesday.) I welcome your response.

If you would like more information about the legislative hearing, please contact Canon Heidi Shott.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

Testimony Regarding L.D. 1020, "An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom"

Submitted by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine
Presented by Cn. Heidi Shott, Canon for Communications and Social Justice, Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Thank you Senator Bliss, Representative Priest and members of the Judiciary Committee for the opportunity to share this testimony.

I stand in support of the L.D. 1020, "An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom." I write as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, a diocese of The Episcopal Church, but this testimony is my own and does not represent a decision by the Diocese of Maine.

The Episcopal Church has been engaged in a decades' long conversation about human sexuality and the church. We have some practice in this. I have participated in discussions for more than twenty years and think the outcomes of those conversations may benefit the dialogue we're engaging in today.

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.

Video: Marraige Equality and Religion

Bullying Continues to Take Its Toll

Another 11 year old hangs himself because he was bullied and taunted with the "g" word. Refer to my previous post for what the "Christian Right" thinks about Anti-Bullying and the Day of Silence which raises consciousness on these issues.

Jaheem’s body was discovered by his 10-year-old sister, Yerralis, also a fifth-grader.

“His sister was screaming, ‘Get him down, get him down,’ ” Keene said.

When Keene got to the room, he saw Yerralis holding her brother, trying to remove the pressure of the noose her brother had fashioned with a fabric belt.

Jaheem was bullied relentlessly, his family said. Keene said the family knew the boy was a target, but until his death they didn’t understand the scope.

“We’d ask him, ‘Jaheem, what’s wrong with you?’ ” Keene recalled. “He’d never tell us.”

He didn’t want his sister to tell, either. She witnessed much of the bullying, and many times rose to her brother’s defense, Keene said.

“They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”

In an interview with WSB-TV, Masika Bermudez also said her son was being bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school.

She said she asked him about the bullying Thursday when he came home from school and he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. It was the last time she would see him alive.

Bermudez told WSB she talked to Jaheem’s best friend about the situation last week.

“He said, ‘Yes ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So, the only way out is by killing himself,’ ” Bermudez told WSB.

Earlier this month the suicide of a Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover — who suffered taunts that he was gay — attracted national attention.

He was also 11. His mother found him hanging from an extension cord in the family’s home.

Jaheem was excelling academically, Keene said, adapting quickly to his new home. The family moved to the Avondale Estates area less than a year ago from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Last winter, his grandmother died from cancer. She was living with the family at the time.

His grandfather returned to St. Croix after his wife’s passing. He’s taking Jaheem’s death especially hard.

“He says he has nothing to live for now,” Keene said. The family had planned a trip home in June. They’ll be returning next Monday instead to bury their 11-year-old son.

Read it all at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

B033 for Beginners

This summer, the General Convention (GC) of The Episcopal Church (TEC) will meet in Anaheim. I am a deputy elected by the Diocese of Rochester to that convention. This event occurs every 3 years and is the governing body of the church, setting policy and establishing our corporate understanding of how we, as Christians act out our faith in the world. It's a big ole WWJD convocation.

In the final hours of the GC 2006 a resolution was passed coded B033. It stated:
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 further
Resolved, 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.

It was clearly intended to diffuse the tension over the ordination of The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire. "Manner of life" it was clear to everyone meant openly gay or lesbian.

The President of the House of Deputies has a very concise history of the issues which led to B033 online. Click here to read it.

In Anaheim, GC will take up a number of resolutions that will seek to overturn or supplant the chilling effect that this resolution had on the election of another openly gay bishop.

Below are links to the resolutions currently before the GC 2009 which deal with B033

C007 C010 C015 C033 C036 C039 C045 C046

It is of some interest that NO resolution seeks to reaffirm it or assure its continuance.

One question has been whether B033 has durability. Does it continue beyond 2009 if not acted upon by GC 2009? Here answer is "yes." The entire opinion is at the end of the post.

So the question is:
Will General Convention 2009 , which meets in Anaheim, July 8-17:
A) Allow it to remain in force
B) Pass a resolution that will supersede it.
C) Pass a resolution to repeal it
D) Repeal it and apologize for its discriminatory nature.

Opinion: This writer would prefer option D, but is reminded of how long it took anyone to publicly apologize for slavery.
Analysis of the Status of Resolution B033, passed by General Convention 2009
Deputy Sally Johnson, Chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies

Part I

What is the present status of B033?

I am going to respond to this question in two parts. In this first part I will address the question is in terms of the overall structure and polity of the Church. In a separate post I will talk about the extent to which Resolutions of General Convention are binding.

The answer to this question leads to the broader question of what is the effect of a Resolution of General Convention. General Convention, with the exception of elections and a few other minor things, only acts through the adoption of Resolutions. Resolutions may be for the purpose of amending the Constitution (it takes two consecutive General Conventions), amending the Canons (it takes one General Convention), amending the Rules of Order, talking stands on public policy issues, taking positions on theological issues, making changes to the Church Calendar, directing a part of the Church to do something or refrain from doing something (i.e. directing a Standing Commission to study X and report back at the next General Convention) or encouraging, but not requiring, a part of the Church to do something or refrain from doing something (i.e. encourage use of vendors that pay a living wage).

It is a fundamental principle of our secular legal systems that when a body (Congress, state legislature, town council, board of directors, etc.) authorized to adopt a policy, rule, or other guiding statement does so, the position or rule adopted is in full force and effect until (1) it expires by its own terms - i.e. it sunsets on a certain date or event, (2) it is explicitly revoked by a subsequent act of the same body, (3) it is superseded by the subsequent adoption of something clearly contrary to the prior enactment even if the prior enactment is not explicitly revoked, or (4) a body such as a court declares the initial act to be null and void or contrary to a rule of a higher order than the act itself (i.e. The Constitution is of a higher order than the Canons. The Canons are of a higher order than the House of Bishops or House of Deputies Rules of Order). This principle is set out in some governing documents but not in many others. It is not set out explicitly in the Constitution and Canons of the Church.

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

Unlike the states and the federal government, the Church does not have a Supreme Court with the authority to declare a Canon or other act of General Convention unconstitutional or null and void. Article IX of the Constitution says, "The General Convention ... may establish an ultimate Court of Appeal, solely for the review of the determination of any Court of Review on questions of Doctrine, Faith or Worship." General Convention has never established an ultimate Court of Appeal. Even if it did, its jurisdiction would be limited and would not include matters of "Discipline" or anything not within the definitions of "Doctrine," "Faith" or "Worship." The Church has Provincial Courts of Review for hearing appeals from diocesan Ecclesiastical Trial Courts. Their rulings may be binding on Diocesan Ecclesiastical Trial Courts within the Province. The Church also has a Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop to hear appeals from the Courts for the Trial of a Bishop. It can issue rulings that may bind Courts for the Trial of a Bishop. The rulings of the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, however, are not binding on Provincial Courts of Review or Diocesan Ecclesiastical Trial Courts. Similarly, the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop does not have jurisdiction to resolve differences in the decisions of the Provincial Courts of Review nor does it have jurisdiction to review acts of General Convention and declare them null and void or contrary to the Constitution or Canons. General Convention is the ultimate decision-maker about, and interpreter of, the Constitution, Canons and other acts of General Convention.

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

Part II

For just a moment, let's look at the function of rules, laws, positions, statutes, processes, and the like. Groups of people have found it useful to have an agreed upon set of ways for (1) the process of how they will decide certain things and (2) what the decision is on certain things. These agreed upon ways save time and conflict in that every time a question arises the group does not have to first decide how it will decide the answer to the question and in many instances when the question has been considered before, the group can say, "We've already decided that and we're not going to change it."

The discussion of the current status of B033 focuses on the later. What question did General Convention answer through its adoption of B033 and what is the status of that decision? In my previous post I discussed that a decision of General Convention stands until General Convention changes it (I'm ignoring those situations where the decision itself contains an expiration date). Having established that B033 is still in effect, what status does it have?

Sometimes people in the Church will say, "If it's in the Canons, it's binding. If it's not in the Canons, it's not binding." Or, "A Canon is binding but a Resolution of General Convention isn't." I have heard others say, "Canons are aspirational statements, they are not laws." B033 was not an amendment to the Constitution. It was not an amendment to the Canons. It was a Resolution of General Convention. A review of General Convention resolutions shows that some of them are clearly intended to be binding and some of them are intended not to be binding. For example, the budget priorities and budget are intended to bind the Church. A Resolution directing a Standing Commission to study an issue and report back at the next General Convention is intended to bind that Standing Commission. A Resolution saying, "We encourage all dioceses to consider adopting a policy on X" would not be binding in the same way.

The Court for the Trial of a Bishop In The Matter of The Rt. Rev. Walter Righter considered this matter in depth but for the limited purpose of whether a Bishop's failure to follow a General Convention Resolution could be the basis for discipline under Title IV of the Canons. It concluded that either a Canon or a "mandatory" resolution which called for specific penalties could be used as the basis of ecclesiastical discipline. Bishop Righter was charged with violating the "Doctrine" of the Church because he ordained a non-celibate man to the Diaconate, contrary to Resolution A-53s of the 1979 General Convention. That Resolution stated in part, "We believe it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relationships outside of marriage. ... that this General Convention recommend to Bishops, Pastors, Vestries, Commissions on Ministry and Standing Committees, the following considerations as they continue to exercise their proper canonical functions in the selection and approval of persons for ordination." The Court for the Trial of a Bishop held:

Resolution A-53s is clearly recommendatory and therefore not binding on the members of this Church for the purpose of canonical discipline under Title IV. ... it does not set forth a clear constraint which allows canonical disciplinary action. The Church may forbid what has been done here, but not by a recommendatory resolution. The Court for the Trial of a Bishop, In the Matter of The Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, Opinion, page 14.

The Court went on to say:

The Court would remind the Church that there are ways we could order our life less ambiguously. General Convention has the authority to pass Canons which are binding, and could, perhaps, adopt resolutions which clearly declare themselves to be mandatory, and which call for specific penalties when they are disobeyed. The Court for the Trial of a Bishop, In the Matter of The Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, Opinion, page 19.

So, Resolutions of General Convention can be as binding as Canons in terms of being used as the basis for discipline if they meet the criteria set forth above. Resolutions can be intended to bind persons or bodies but not to the extent that they can be the basis for Title IV discipline. And, they can clearly be recommendatory. The language of a Resolution must be looked at carefully and in a broader context to determine to what extent it was intended to be binding and in what ways.

Deputy Sally Johnson
Chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies

Miley or Miss CA?

I'd rather have Miley Cyrus on my side!

While Miss CA is praying for Perez Hilton, Miley Cyrus (AKA Hannah Montana) is pro gay marriage.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

To What Depths?

When intolerance is turned on it's head. The IL Family Association wants us to believe that the day of Silence is a day NOT TO READ THE BIBLE! On the contrary, it would seem a good day to re-read it with a new lens.

Dear Zachary - WATCH IT

"...The talk of Slamdance... Dear Zachary is, above all, a virtuoso feat in editing, and Kuenne uses the material at his disposal to devastating effect... it's impossible not to feel emotionally exhausted." - Peter Debruge, Variety

One reviewer talked of the film being life changing. It is. Although I had some difficulty with the lead-in to the final scenes, I realize that it was because I had been so expertly drawn into the lives of the people in this film that I was experiencing the denial stage of grief.

Another reviewer said that it was not a film to be critiqued.

What more can a film do than to make the audience a part of its reality. When that reality IS reality you have seen a brilliant documentary. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is nothing less.

Its Just a Matter of Time

Frank Rich in the New York Times today writes, "The Bigot's Last Hurrah." After taking on the pathetic "Gathering Storm" video, only valuable for the plethora of clever parodies it spawned, he examines why a future of equal access to marriage is inevitable.

On the right, the restrained response was striking. Fox barely mentioned the subject; its rising-star demagogue, Glenn Beck, while still dismissing same-sex marriage, went so far as to “celebrate what happened in Vermont” because “instead of the courts making a decision, the people did.” Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the self-help media star once notorious for portraying homosexuality as “a biological error” and a gateway to pedophilia, told CNN’s Larry King that she now views committed gay relationships as “a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.” In The New York Post, the invariably witty and invariably conservative writer Kyle Smith demolished a Maggie Gallagher screed published in National Review and wondered whether her errant arguments against gay equality were “something else in disguise.”

More startling still was the abrupt about-face of the Rev. Rick Warren, the hugely popular megachurch leader whose endorsement last year of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, had roiled his appearance at the Obama inaugural. Warren also dropped in on Larry King to declare that he had “never” been and “never will be” an “anti-gay-marriage activist.” This was an unmistakable slap at the National Organization for Marriage, which lavished far more money on Proposition 8 than even James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

The Obamas’ dog had longer legs on cable than the news from Iowa and Vermont. CNN’s weekly press critique, “Reliable Sources,” inquired why. The gay blogger John Aravosis suggested that many Americans are more worried about their mortgages than their neighbors’ private lives. Besides, Aravosis said, there are “only so many news stories you can do showing guys in tuxes.”

As the polls attest, the majority of Americans who support civil unions for gay couples has been steadily growing. Younger voters are fine with marriage. Generational changeover will seal the deal. Crunching all the numbers, the poll maven Nate Silver sees same-sex marriage achieving majority support “at some point in the 2010s.”

Iowa and Vermont were the tipping point because they struck down the right’s two major arguments against marriage equality. The unanimous ruling of the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court proved that the issue is not merely a bicoastal fad. The decision, written by Mark Cady, a Republican appointee, was particularly articulate in explaining that a state’s legalization of same-sex marriage has no effect on marriage as practiced by religions. “The only difference,” the judge wrote, is that “civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law.”

Read it all here

Friday, April 17, 2009


Read who the National Organization for Marriage really is.

Click Here

A Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends,

This is a short message, It may seem ponderous because I have included resources and a personal testimony... but the next paragraph is all you need to know. This is not a cut and paste letter. I wrote and researched it personally because this is so important to me. I am sending it to everyone I know. I need your support. WE need your support. Straight, gay, married, single, Republican, Democrat, religious or not.

Feel free to forward this.

The message:

Please support Equal access to marriage in New York State. Write, fax, phone AND email your state legislators. If you are on board with this please just do it. There are resources listed below to help you find your State Senator and Representative if you don't know who to contact.

Now pick the sections below if you need more info or why this is important.

Who do I contact?

Contacting your State Senator is most important! The Senate is the turning point.

Find your State Senator by ZIP code

Mine is:

James S. Alesi
Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business
55th Senate District

Albany Office
Room 905 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2015
Fax: (518) 426-6968

District Office
220 Packetts Landing
Fairport, NY 14450
Phone: (585) 223-1800
Fax: (585) 223-3084

Submit comments via Senator Alesi's website

If you live in the Rochester area yours may be:

Joseph E. Robach
Chair of Civil Service & Pensions Committee
56th Senate District

Albany Office
902 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
(518) 455-2909

Rochester Office
2300 W. Ridge Road
Rochester, NY 14626
(585) 225-3650

Contact Senator Robach via his website

The Assembly passed marriage equality previously, but this is a new bill, so it couldn't hurt:

To find you State Assembly Member by ZIP Code

You can also contact Governor Paterson to thank him for his continued support:

David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


Email him

All contact info

Read his press release

Don't live in NY?

All support is important! Write to the above Senators. Tell them why what NYS does is going to affect the nation.

Why now?

This was proposed by the Governor and passed by the Assembly before. It has now be reintroduced and needs to through the process again. If it does not pass THIS YEAR... next year is an election year... enough said.

Why is this important to you?

Civil rights are important to everyone. Even if it doesn't affect you, even if you are gay or lesbian and don't want to get married, the fact that anyone who does to get married can't get married should be important to you.

Why is it important to me?

When Kyle could finally be covered under the medical benefits of my contact, like any other spouse, it was a day of great joy and relief. After 35 years the monetary value paled to the "peace of mind" that benefit brought. When we were legally married in Canada, it was a much more moving experience than either of us expected it to be. Despite the fact that we are married, we are still denied full equality under NYS and Federal law. There are more than 1,300 rights and responsibilities that cannot be granted in any other way.

Pat Buchanan just said on MSNBC that although he is opposed he would not deny anyone a hospital visit to a "partner." So when someone who's family decides the "partner" of a lesbian or gay man should not be given access, they should call Pat Buchanan? Of course it's bigger than that. Your spouse has legal rights that your "partner" can't.

What organizations have a position worth reading?

HRC Position

NYS Pride Agenda From their home page you can open an EXCELLENT PDF which talks about the 1,324 Rights and responsibilities.

LIES used by the opponents:

Churches will be forced to marry gay couples. There is nothing that forces any clergy person or place of worship to marry anyone, gay or straight, that they determine should not be married. That will not change.

Schools will have to teach children about gay marriage. This was used in California. The state Superintendent made a public statement that schools do not "teach marriage" of any sort. It's another red herring.

The institution of marriage will be weakened. How can broadening the right to make this legal commitment weaken the institution?




Outrage is (apparently) Relative

We saw thousands pack an auditorium to memorialize the pretty straight white girl who was murdered by her Sunday School teacher. Tragic to be sure. But many of us didn't even hear this story unless we were listening to Michelangelo Signorile on OutQ radio:

From the Washington Blade:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The mother of an 11-year-old Massachusetts boy who killed himself after enduring anti-gay bullying at school is calling on schools to end such harassment.

Sirdeaner Walker told WCVB television in Boston that school officials shouldn’t tolerate bullying. Walker’s son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, died April 6 after hanging himself with an extension cord.

“I just want to help some other child,” she told the station. “I know there are other kids being picked on, and it’s day in and day out.”

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, supported Walker’s call for action.

“As we mourn yet another tragedy involving bullying at school, we must heed Ms. Walker’s urgent call for real, systemic, effective responses to the endemic problem of bullying and harassment,” she said. Byard noted that students who don’t identify as gay, such as Walker-Hoover, continue to face such bullying.

“From their earliest years on the school playground,” she said, “students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers.”

Would anyone like to speculate about why these two cases were treated so differently?

See Local ABC News coverage

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Born without "Original Fin"

Slowly moving old favorites over as I phase out and rework my original site...

This is "The Porpoise Driven Life."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Gathering Storm Ad

Response to Gathering Storm

The TRUTH about The Gathering Storm Ads (NOM)

From the blog The Friends Of Jake

As mentioned in the post below, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has launched an ad against those awful homos to explain how gay marriage challenges their (NOM's) civil rights. The ad features

(1) A California doctor who must choose between her faith and her job
(2) A member of New Jersey church group which is punished by the state because they can’t support same-sex marriage
(3) A Massachusetts parent who stands by helpless while the state teaches her son that gay marriage is okay

Problem is, none of them are real; the audition tapes have emerged.

However, as noted on the Human Rights Campaign News Release, the features do come from actual cases (over and over again, these are the cases they cite Not many, eh?)
All three examples involve religious people who enter the public sphere, but don’t want to abide by the general non-discriminatory rules everyone else does. Both (1) and (2) are really about state laws against sexual orientation discrimination, rather than specifically about marriage. And (3) is about two pairs of religious parents trying to impose their beliefs on all children in public schools.

The real facts of each case are:
The California doctor entered a profession that promises to “first, do no harm” and the law requires her to treat a patient in need – gay or straight, Christian or Muslim – regardless of her religious beliefs. The law does not, and cannot, dictate her faith – it can only insist that she follow her oath as a medical professional.
This had nothing to do with marriage AT ALL and happened before the recent CA gay marriage kerfuffle. The fact, or otherwise, of gay marriage in California was completely irrelevant. This case was ONLY about discriminating in providing a service to a lesbian couple. The doctor had no problem providing the service to others: it's not that she was forced to do a procedure against her faith. Just that her medical license requires her, once she decides to perform a procedure, to perform it on all citizens seeking her help. Replace "gay" with "black" and you get the picture.
The New Jersey church group runs, and profits from, a beachside pavilion that it rents out to the general public for all manner of occasions –concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments— but balks at permitting couples to hold civil union ceremonies there. The law does not challenge the church organization’s beliefs about homosexuality – it merely requires that a pavilion that had been open to all for years comply with laws protecting everyone from discrimination, including gays and lesbians.
The church group was receiving PUBLIC FUNDS to provide access to this pavilion. If it were private property, there would be no case. The case is that once they receive public funds, all the public is equally entitled to use. Solution: don't like all the public? Don't accept their money, keep private property private.
The Massachusetts parent disagrees with an aspect of her son’s public education, a discussion of the many different kinds of families he will likely encounter in life, including gay and lesbian couples. The law does not stop her from disagreeing, from teaching him consistently with her differing beliefs at home, or even educating her child in a setting that is more in line with her faith traditions. But it does not allow any one parent to dictate the curriculum for all students based on her family’s religious traditions.
Again, gay marriage is really irrelevant. The gays are present whether they are married or not. She wants them back in the closet, and silent. This is understandable, but is no different than a Catholic parent faces when their child meets people on a second (straight) marriage after divorce; or learns about contraceptives. Or a Jewish parent whose child is friends with a kid eating ham sandwiches. Values are taught at home. An essence of our society is that we keep our own values but can intermingle in the public square.

These are the facts. If you see this ad, or hear it discussed, know the facts and fight back.

Our Call to Mission - From Bruce Garner

In comment on a discussion about the impact of Vermont's Decision to allow Equal Access to Marriage, Bruce Garner, member of the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church and former President of Integrity, get's to the heart of the matter... I excerpt this with his permission:

"My experience is that folks will continue to find any way they can to perpetuate discrimination, regardless of the area of our common life together where such discrimination might be found. I would wager that some, perhaps even on this list, regret the overturning of the miscegenation laws....though most would not admit to such attitudes.

I am of the opinion that our church has a teaching role in this discussion. And once again I return to our baptismal covenant promises. Either we baptize into full membership or we do not. If we do not, then we need to own that and clearly state the level of membership into which we are baptizing someone....regardless of the reason for that limitation.

We seem to always conveniently overlook the fact that neither of our creeds, none of the Ten Commandments, nor the Summary of the Law contain any qualifiers at all with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, economic status, educational status, legal residency or any other adjective we might want to slip in there. They summarize our creedal beliefs. They provide direction about our relationship with God and with each other. As Rabbi Hillel noted about the Summary of the Law, all else but the summary was commentary.

We CLAIM to want to grow our church. Yet the greatest source of growth for us, namely young people, has no interest in distinctions about race, gender, sexual orientation or any of the qualifiers we continue to squabble about. We will not attract those young people into or back into the church until we listen to what they are trying to teach us: They are not interested in our reasons for the squabbles. They don't see the need for such distinctions, despite what their elders keep trying to tell them about "what the Bible says."

Time and time again, I have noted that the crux of our duties may be found in the end of the 25th chapter of Matthew's account of the Gospel. Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, water the thirsty, clothe the naked, house the homeless, visit those who are sick and in prison. He does NOT tell us to determine where they sit on any scale of doctrinal purity as a condition of our engagement in ministry to and with them. And as I have also noted before, the Letter of James makes it clear that, to paraphrase, the growling noises of empty stomachs will drown out the salvation message of the Gospel. We are hypocrites if we attempt to preach at people who are more interested
in the source of their next meal or place to sleep.

Thanks, Bruce. We must keep our eye on the prize and put it into the context of the Gospel call to us in the Episcopal Church in 2009.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lee Cutler on Social Justice

Lee Cutler, our new Secretary/Treasurer, speaks passionately of the value of involvement in social justice in the union.

Kevin Jennings of GLSEN at NYSUT RA

Twenty years ago I stood in this room to support a resolution on Domestic Partner Benefits. I was congratulated for being brave enough to say "I am a gay man." 20 years later a plenary speaker who is an openly gay man spoke to the assembly from the podium.

Today Kevin Jennings, founder of GLSEN spoke to a riveted crowd about the need to support Dignity for All Students which has been before the the legislature for 9 years.

Kevin message was powerful in its witness to how big the problem of harassment based on perceived or real sexual orientation or gender identification is. He spoke of the role of educators in supporting and providing role models to all students who identify themselves as different.

I wish that 20 years ago I had the guts to stand before my class and say "I am a gay man."

Knowing I touched students in many ways is wonderful. I will always live with the regret that I did not do enough.