Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year! But...

Could 2014 possibly be any better than 2013 for same-sex marriage?  Well, of course.  And there are lots of other states to win and many more issues for the LGBT community.  Still DOMA destroyed and Prop 8 overturned and UTAH, friggin' Utah.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bishop Burke, Fashionista, Removed from Important Post

Maybe you have read this story about Burke's membership in a group that helps select new bishops not being renewed, but here's an LGBT-friendly POV.  This guy is the antithesis of the Pope's desire to move away from obsession with culture wars and pomposity.  Hey I love some nice vestments but wait until you see more of this billowing cappa magna and the other stuff in Bishop Burke's closet!

Wow, that's a bride of... Satan? (hear Church-lady)

Affordable Care

The GOP has brought repeal of ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) to a vote in congress more than 40 times.  But what would appeal really mean to many Americans?  Take a minute to see watch this video. As Americans shouldn't we be helping to make sure that every American has affordable care? And if you are paying more because of ObamaCare, who do you think pays for those who are forced to use emergency rooms and immediate care facilities for primary care who don't have insurance?


This is my favorite from 38 Test Answers that are Totally Wrong But Still Genius.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hobibit: Part 2

This was a favorite book to read aloud to my 3rd graders.  I know some will think it too mature and complex. I spent time answering questions, explaining, recapping to make sure the listeners could follow the story.  I started teaching in a time when teacher had some flexabilty to bring their own passions to their classrooms. The exposure to great literature and rich vocabulary was a worthwhile investment of 15-20 minutes a day. I have heard from many former students who loved the story. One told me he could not find the beautifully illustrated version I read from for his daughter.  I sent him my copy.

My first problem with the film was that I could never recommend it for a third-grader.  I am archaic, I know, but that much violence is just not appropriate for that age. The book has battles, characters die, but no heads are hacked off.

As a Tolkien aficionado, not a fan, the story changes did bother me.  It was Jackson's faithfulness to the Lord of The Rings that made it not only great cinema, but like seeing and old friend on he screen.  With the Hobbit I had to let go of the book to thoroughly enjoy the movie. That being said, I did.

Got Gold?
One reviewer used the term hyper-realism to explain how completely immersed in another reality the viewer is.  Attention to detail has never been so thoroughly executed.  Generally I pass on 3-D, but I am glad I saw this with my polarized glasses in place.  3-D was used much as I remember Avatar, to pul the viewer in, not push the picture our.  We saw in Sony Digital 3-D and at times the picture was too crisp, almost video in quality. I guess that's the new standard, but it seems less warm.

Stretching this story across 3 films seems motivated by nothing but greed.  There are unnecessarily long Rube Goldberg scenes and dialogue that is tedious.

I wish that Jackson had made one Hobbit movie and put his considerable talents to work on another project.  I still and glad that he did make (is making) The Hobbit and I will see part 3.   I will alos take out my Blu-ray copies of The Lord of the Ring and watch Jackson at his best.

Can We Make Someone Care about LGBT Issues?

I am just finishing 2 3-year terms on the NEA SOGI committee.  Posting a picture from the meeting on Facebook with the full name of the group, The National Education Association Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification, I received a thought provoking comment.  Essentially it said, "A group of people trying to make themselves feel important sitting around talking about gender?  As far as I know there are only 2, perhaps neuter."  This is a paraphrase.  I deleted the comment without saving it. To the the comment author, a gay man, I sent a note explaining that members of the team, including me, found this "offensive and ill-informed."

The fact that one of the largest unions in the country, dealing with shaping the future of education in the U.S., cares enough to gather a group of allies and LGBT members is a great thing.  I can tell you that the people I worked with there gather not to self-aggrandize, but to push the limits of NEA's support for these issues.  Most of them have multiple leadership roles which make them incredibly important already.  The most important thing they do is teach, and they do it well.

It is easy for those of us who live in progressive states to imagine that the problems for LGBT students are disappearing (though that is quite a leap).  That is not the case in less progressive places. Tennessee's legislature is attempting to ban any discussion by teachers of sexuality that is not heteronormative. It is referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. They also want to require counsellors to report confidential disclosures by students that they are gay or questioning their sexuality to their parents.

What I found ill-informed in the comment was the simplistic view of gender, one I shared for many years.  Working with various groups, attending many conferences,  and most importantly, meeting transgender people, I have a completely different understanding of this issue. Just recently a friend share the story of an uncle who was born inter-sex and was assigned male gender at birth. He lived his life as a man for 62 years. Then the estrogen kicked in. Losing all body hair and developing breasts, doctors discovered that she has complete female "plumbing" and is now living life as a woman.

For LGBT gender nonconforming students the statistics for the abuse abuse from their peers is clear.  More frightening is that more than half of theres abuses are reported to adults and only half of those reports result in any action against their abusers.

In offline discussion with the comment poster mentioned above he made the statement, "You can't make people care."  In my experience that is true with most strangers to whom I speak.  But when I speak to people who already care about me it's a different story.  You can make someone who cares about you, care about the issues that affect you.

In my work with Believe Out Loud workshops, a program supported by Integrity USA, the Episcopalian LGBT advocacy group, and it's grantors, we focus on this point.  LGBTQI folks need to tell their stories to the people that care about them.  This is now change occurs.

If you or someone you know is not "out," this year, consider giving or suggesting they give an amazing gift this Christmas. Give the gift of the real you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Damned Liberal LOGICAL Media

Bob Schieffer and Sen. John Cornyn (who used to fill in for Rush Limbaugh on occasion).

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Wells-Morgan Wedding 10/4/13

Brandon and Dalan Wells-Morgan were joined in Marriage on 4 October 2013 at St. John's Episcopal Church, Honeoye Falls, NY.  The Rev. Dahn Gandell officiating.  Kyle Crawford and Neil Houghton witnesses.  Luncheon followed at Next Door restaurant and then a visit to Wegman's.

Before the Ceremony


Proud Father of Dalan
With Witnesses

Flowers for the Altar

The Altar

Limo Leaves the Church

Kiss at Luncheon



The Wedding Party

First Visit to Wegmans

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Initial Report on Task Force for Re-imagining The Episcopal Church

An initial report from the group charged to investigate structure in the Episcopal Church has been released.  Read it here.

My initial comments:

A first read of this document leaves me hopeful and concerned.  The basic premises of moving to a more localized structure are hopeful.  They reflect, in simpler terms, that all politics is local.  Yes "politics" is a word we are uncomfortable with, but our polity is what separates us from many other Christians (denominational or not) and has made changes in the Episcopal Church more responsive to the shift in cultural understanding of minorities.  

All politics may be said to be local, but that speaks to implementation.  I read and am encouraged by words like "collaboration."  While implementation may differ in various localities, I fear that allowing this to be applied to its extreme will result in a "states rights" mentality of what it means to be Episcopalian.  We have seen what that has lead to in US governance.  Applications of socially progressive policies blocked, slowed and reversed.

Making our leadership too “lean” may be penny wise and pound foolish.  Structures that allow the development of replicable programs must be maintained.  Especially in the most vulnerable of small parishes, the lack of resources to do not allow them to think “outside the box.” Without those resources and support, there is little possibility of growth and more reason for the status quo to reign in an environment where a small group of active, well meaning people avoid change.

The other danger in a leadership that is pared down too far, is the control which one small group or even one person can wield with impunity.

It is clear that as we re-imagine our structure, we must be nimble but also safeguard the dignity of every human being.

Neil Houghton, St. John's Honeoeye Falls, NY
Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
GC 2009 and 2012 L4

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Well Meaning Americans Impose Our Reality on Others

The basic outline of this story is that a Anglican Bishop from Southern Malawi was appointed to a position at Dartmouth.  "Knowing" that all Anglican Africans are homophobic, a campaigned was launched to have the appointment overturned. Dartmouth rescinded the appointment.

Rt. Rev. James Tenatenga
But this is a much more nuanced situation as a letter carrying the signatures of notable civil rights activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reveals.

Read the letter here.

The current trend to apply simplistic, good vs bad thinking  to issues, domestic and international, in all points of the political spectrum, makes this a cautionary, and certainly sad, tale.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keith Olbermann is BACK! Yeah.

Since Olbermann had to sign an agreement with Disney/ABC/ESPN not to say anything "political," we can be fairly certain this was cleared with the higher ups.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pompanuck 2013 Kyle's Dinner Day

Tuesday was Kyle's cooking day and he chose Polish galumpkes and down home comfort fare.

POMP2013 Galumpkes

The crowd gathered around Myrte to see her fancy-dan camera.

POMP 2013 Photo Lessons

Papa Dean juggled wine bottles for the table

POMP2013 David Dean Juggles Wine

And David Gandell sipped a girly drink

POMP2013 David Gandell Toasts

Jerry Halpern, David's cousin was with us...

POMP2013 Jerry Halpern

…and so was his wife Pam who was chatting with David Muhsham about his late mother Dianna who we honored with an assent of sky lanterns lanterns later that night,

POMP2013 Pam Halpern and David Muhsam

Always a smile from Lisa and always a Koda under the table.

POMP2013 Lisa Carrino

POMP2013 Koda under foot

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Zimmerman Trial: The Real Issues

The trial of George Zimmerman is wrapping up and a verdict is about to be rendered that will satisfy some and disappoint others.

Based on what I have seen and learned being on a jury in a murder trial, I would say that Zimmerman will either be acquited or convicted on a lesser included charge (Manslaughter).  Remember there is no verdict of "innocent," only "not guilty" of the charges being brought.

In my own opinion, the fact that Zimmerman left his car and followed Martin after the 911 operator said not to and that he was carrying a lethal gun, is enough to make him culpable.  What prompted Martin and Zimmerman to engage in physical contact?  Even if Martin was asked politely what are you doing in this neighborhood and responded "What's it to you cracker?" It's hard to believe that if Zimmerman handled himself as a trained law enforcement officer, or even a trained neighborhood watch volunteer would know how to diffuse a situation. 

The questions that have brought this trial to national attention will not be answered in this trial.

Should a "neighborhood watch" person do anything more than report a questionable situation to police?

Should neighborhood watch volunteers be armed?

Should a gun be allowed to be used by a person who is pursuing another or only by someone who is being pursued?

Do we need more police officers, trained and on patrol?

There are deeper, more systemic questions of racism and profiling.  Clearly these are what brought this trial, of hundred of murder trials, that occur every day, full coverage on several cable networks.

In today's America, these questions that should cause us to enter into deep introspection more often further divide us.  So many Christians are railing that same-sex marriage will bring the end of civilization.  Perhaps their concerns should be focused on finding solutions more troubling in our society.  What would Jesus have to say about the Second Amendment?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Singing The National Anthem at Frontier Field

It was Episcopal Night ate Frontier Field.  The Wing won in the 10th, The Rochester Philharmonic played but before all that, member from around the diocese sang the National Anthem.

And I got to say hi to Bishop McKelvey.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On the Eve of the Best NYC Pride Parade Evah!

I have spent a great deal of time working on a wonderful Believe Out Loud curriculum.  The focus is on telling our stories, pivotal times in our lives that committed or recommitted ourselves to our call to action and on graceful engagement, finding commonalities with people with whom we may not agree to continue dialogue instead of being confrontational.

This week, besides being a glorious time for celebration in the day and lesbian community, has helped me to think deeper about how a nation-wide event might play out in the context of these two tools for activism.

Tell our individual stories is effective, but telling our stories around a common event has the potential to be even more powerful.  This has played out through history for every group working for civil rights and equality through "Where were you when...?"

Where were you when Martin Luther king was assisnated?  Where were you when the civil rights act was passed?  In this day of instant media the question becomes more and more universallly answerable.  Today it is: Where were you when DOMA was declared unconstitutional?  Now add how did you feel and why? We can all tell a story about this.

Gay people can tell stories about what it will mean to them, how there lives will be different or what hopes you have that you didn't have before this happened.

My lesbian and gay brothers ans sisters have a choice.  They can see this with anger that it does not affect them.  That reaction is totally justifiable.  They can also tell a story from a place of empowerment.  They can tell a story of hope that this decision opens doors that were firmly shut.

And then there is graceful engagement.  That seems a very tough one today.  I read Brian Bown's (NOM) ranting that "It would appear that the desire to impose same-sex marriage by some public officials trumps integrity, fairness, propriety, and even the rule of law. All Americans should be outraged!"  And there is worse vitriol.

I believe that graceful engagement calls me not to do what I just did.  Quoting people who do not engage in graceful engagement does nothing but further the notability of these people.  Calling them "haters," as many bloggers do.  What I am called to do is frame the way of love... and this is more than spin.  The more that Brown and his ilk speak, the more that they reveal that there understanding of love, as preached by Jesus, who they say they follow, is limited

Friday, June 28, 2013

Court Watching and Learning, Disappointment and Rejoicing

This past two weeks I have started many blog posting that were never finished.  Today, on the anniversary of Stonewall, I am combining some of these to reflect the emotional Rollercoaster that has been June 2013.

MONDAY, June 17:

SCOTUSblog watching today.  No decisions on the big 4 (Affirmative Action, Voter Rights Act, DOMA or Prop 8.

I do now know that Ruth Bader Ginsberg can do 20 real pushups and that her late husband's cookbook is for sale at the SCOTUS gift shop.


Again none of the biggies.  The nail-biting goes on.

This court does rule with employers, not employees when it comes to discrimination. 

MONDAY, June 24

The decision on Affirmative Action was released.  In plain English the court held that an institution must demonstrate that all race-neutral options must be exhausted before race can be considered to achieve a diverse population.  In this case the institution was the University of Texas at Austin.  So affirmative action is not dead, but must be more highly scrutinized. 

TUESDAY, June 25:

Last Monday and Thursday, yesterday and today I have been glued to SCOTUSblog.  The decision on Perry and Windsor will be issued tomorrow.

In the meantime I have learned much.


Today's huge decision regarding the Voter Rights Act struck up conversation in my home.  I said asked him, as a southerner, "Don't you think that the VRA discriminates against the south?"

"If that higher scrutiny is lifted, I guarantee you that there will be changes that will attempt to limit the access to the polls for African-Americans and other minorities."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the preeminent watchdog group 40% of White Americans voted for an African-American president, in Alabama 15%. 

My belief is that lifting any scrutiny anywhere will open the door everywhere.  We saw last year that the lines were not just in the south.  However, I have never had to wait in a line to vote in my semi-rural polling place. Perhaps congress should make sure that polling places are distributed by population.  They certainly will never have the gumption to tinker with a formula.

All-in-all this is a troubling decision. There are many demonstrable voter repression actions that have been taken and are being proposed that will not be scrutinized.  States with voter ID bills pending are now given the green light.  The only ID needed here is my signature.


A TV commentator just referrred to the "usual 5-4" split.  That's a very real thing.  Although it is not always what happens, it happens often, especially in issues regarding a liberal/conservative ideology.  Whether you are a fan of the 5 or the 4 you should be disturbed by this.  This is court. It's only real job is to determine whether justice is being served.  As in the case of the VRA, congress has affirmed and reaffirmed this by huge majorities.  It's purpose is to assure that rights are not limited, that voting, the very basis of our democracy/republic is protected against

Justice Kennedy reads his opinion - Windsor v US

Today found Kyle and I hunched together watching SCOTUSblog scroll.

When the DOMA decision was released, Kyle cried and I was stunned.  This really was the absolute best decision that we could have hoped for from this conservative court.  DOMA is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.   We never had any doubt that was the case, but the decisions on the VRA and Affirmative action gave us some moments of real doubt as to what SCOTUS would do.  Another 5-4 decision, but this time in our favor.  Justice Kennedy has written 2 previous pro-gay decisions and now he has written 3.

Although we hoped that the court would declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional as well. It avoided this by returning it to the lower courts that already ruled that it was, but by denying standing to the appellants.  This is a cowardly way out, because if DOMA is unconstitutional then certainly so is Prop 8.  However the effect will be to allow marriage to resume rather quickly in California.  The opponents to same sex marriage will undoubtedly raise a ruckus, but the courts to which they would appeal have already ruled against them and the State of California refused to support their appeal because they agreed with the decisions of the court.

It is certainly possible that another proposition could be put forward, but polls show it would not pass.

So it's win-win for gay rights at the Supreme Court and we are very, very happy!

There is still a pall.  These decisions do not affect those in states where same-sex marriage is not legal, they do not affect any state but California.  There is still a section in DOMA that was not stuck down saying that no state may be forced to accept the same-sex marriages solemnized in another state.  This is clearly in conflict with "full faith and credit" that specifcally says that marriages in one state are recognized in another.  There will be more litigation.

As Dr. King has said, "The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice."


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Day Without a Decision on DOMA/Prop8

Today was the penultimate day scheduled for decisions to be released.  Monday is the last. It is quite likely however that additional day(s) will be added because there are still 11 cases to be decided.  The court traditionally adjourns the last week of June, however all of this is "tradition" and not a legal end date.  The court can do pretty much whatever the court wants.

There are 4 cases that are drawing great public attention:

    Shelby County v. Holder:  Challenging the Voter Rights Act (reauthorized by Congress in 2006)

    Fisher v University of Texas, Austin: Affirmative Action

    Hollingsworth v. Perry: Proposition 8

    United States v. Windsor:  Challenging DOMA

Back to nail biting.

Monday, June 17, 2013

One Gay Man's Perspective

Here we go again.  In 15 minutes the Supreme Court could release a decision that passes judgement on a key aspect of my life.  It's not really my sexuality.  It's who I love.  Of course the two do not exist independently, but who I love and who I build a home with is what is on the block here. It's about how that relationship is or isn't recognized by my state and my country.

Perhaps this is where all people can come to understand how important this is to me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Could Be Tomorrow

But most probably next week.  And there are so many possible outcomes.  Just a little nerve-racking.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Amtrak, Where Art Thou?

The train was scheduled to depart at 5:30.  Then it was 5:50, then 6:05.  Now the the train is broken down somewhere between Buffalo and Rochester.  Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Smart Former Student on Prop 8 at SCOTUS

I do love this Facebook thingy!

An elementary student from a 'few years back' read a post of Prop 8.  I cautioned how it's not a great idea to read too much into the justices' questions...
PROP 8: 3/26/2013
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?" 
MR. COOPER: Your Honor, I cannot.
The analytical action here (putting aside the standing question, which is everyone's easy way out) all comes in determining the level of scrutiny to apply to the law's distinction between straight and gay people here. Race and gender distinctions/discriminations are subject to heightened levels of constitutional scrutiny -- government has to have a much more compelling basis to make those distinctions or, put another way, the law almost presumes they're not valid until a government demonstrates a really valid, non-discriminatory reason for it.

Outside of those obvious categories, though, laws are presumed valid and will be upheld against constitutional challenge so long as there's a rational basis for the distinction the law makes. So if, for example, Congress were to require people with red hair to wear sunscreen, it would only have to articulate a reasonable basis (medical studies have proven that people with red hair tend to burn and get skin cancer more than others, so it's rational to require that of them, and the distinction isn't based on a historic animus toward red-haired people), and it would survive a constitutional challenge. That doesn't make it a good idea or good policy, but the rational basis bar is a really low one that all sorts of stupid and ill-conceived laws can pass. After all, there's no constitutional requirement that Congress enact only laws that are smart or make sense. Would that that were true. 
Anyway, the reason this exchange is so great is that Justice Sotomayor is making the case here for why Prop 8 flunks even this really deferential standard of review. By pinning Mr. Cooper down on the fact that there's no rational basis for discriminating against gay people except on marriage, she's boxed him into an analytical corner and his answer, which strikes me as intellectually honest, concedes that he can't get out. Will that make a difference for Justice Scalia? Not a chance. But it's not aimed at him -- it's aimed at Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts, whose votes are in play, at least as to the scope and analytical path of the eventual decisions. And it's a brilliant question, EXACTLY the sort of question judges should be asking in a case like this. 
I hope this helps. Stay strong and loud.

Really great to know that I had a small part in the education of someone so ... well ... groovy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Facebook Post on SCOTUS Hearing Prop 8 Day

Wanted to tuck this away in a place I would not lose it...

What an odd space I am in tonight. I just listened to the justices of SCOTUS "argue" my right to marry the person of my choice and am getting ready for day two. I went back to check our 5th anniversary posting on 2/22. 120 people "liked" it and 45 people added their specific congratulations. I think back to that and realize how important and affirming it was to have others "celebrate" my relationship with the person I love.

Some years ago I was invited to preach at Christ Church Corning about Gay and Lesbian inclusion. I talked about "inclusion" because that was all I could imagine. The priest thanked me and then, as he should have corrected me. "We don't need to just include you," said The Very Rev. Jorge Guiterrez, "We need to celebrate you and celebrate with you."

What is the most pivotal public celebration of your life? For those who are married, I can guess. When were you happier and more a part of your community and family? Marriage is not just a covenant between two people. It is a public celebration of who you are and who you love. It is a formal extension of family. I said marriage. Not civil union, partnership or any other lame euphemism for the commitment made between two human beings.

Gay men and lesbians don't want anything that the rest of you don't already have. We don't want to force you into a relationship that you don't want, diminish anything you already have or make you celebrate our love. We just want the right to invite you to our wedding. And if we invite you, believe we want you to come! Come celebrate with us.

Some years ago I was invited to preach at Christ Church Corning about Gay and Lesbian inclusion. I talked about "inclusion" because that was all I could imagine. The priest thanked me and then, as he should have corrected me. "We don't need to just include you," said The Very Rev. Jorge Guiterrez, "We need to celebrate you and celebrate with you."
What is the most pivotal public celebration of your life? For those who are married, I can guess. When were you happier and more a part of your community and family? Marriage is not just a covenant between two people. It is a public celebration of who you are and who you love. It is a formal extension of family. I said marriage. Not civil union, partnership or any other lame euphemism for the commitment made between two human beings.
Gay men and lesbians don't want anything that the rest of you don't already have. We don't want to force you into a relationship that you don't want, diminish anything you already have or make you celebrate our love. We just want the right to invite you to our wedding. And if we invite you, believe we want you to come! Come celebrate with us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mass Supreme Judicial Court Decision 2003

As the Supreme Court of the United States nears a decision on the DOMA and Prop 8 cases we are reminded of Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was first legal.

Margaret Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1999 to 2010, wrote the majority opinion in the 2003 “Goodridge v. Department of Public Health” case that was the first state decision in the country to affirm marriage equality.

Excerpts from here decision are popular at weddings, at weddings of same-sex and opposite-sex couples... 
Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.” Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a “civil right.”

Without the right to marry – or more properly, the right to choose to marry – one is excluded from the full range of human experience and denied full protection of the laws for one’s “avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship.” Because civil marriage is central to the lives of individuals and the welfare of the community, our laws assiduously protect the individual’s right to marry against undue government incursion.

That same-sex couples are willing to embrace marriage’s solemn obligations of exclusivity, mutual support, and commitment to one another is a testament to the enduring place of marriage in our laws and in the human spirit.

Read more and link to the full decision at the "Here and Now" blog of Boston's NPR station.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bishop Andrus Speaks for the Marriage Equality Brief

 In today's Washington Post Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California* speaks to an Amicus curiae just filed. This "friend of the court" brief was was signed by almost all bishops in the Episcopal Church whose dioceses are in states where marriage is legal, was filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in support marriage equality in cases that come before them in March.  The only signature absent was Bishop Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany (NY).

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus

Today the U.S. Supreme Court received friend-of-the-court briefs arguing in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples in two historic cases challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA. As the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California I signed on to briefs for religious organizations and leaders opposing both Proposition 8 and DOMA. At my invitation more than two dozen Episcopal bishops across the country did so as well. I’d like to tell you why.

First, The Episcopal Church has always seen itself as existing in our culture, not outside or above or in opposition to our culture. For over a century, Episcopalians look to the model of Christ transforming culture, rather than, say, Christ against culture. Even the idea of Christ transforming culture has evolved, so today many Episcopalians look for the divine at work far beyond the reaches of our church buildings, and beyond those who identify as Episcopalians or even as Christians.

On marriage equality, our church has traveled on pilgrimage with our culture. Sometimes we have led in advocacy for marriage equality, and sometimes we have learned from the culture and from leaders outside the church. We have developed rites for blessing and marriage for all, and we have extended the support of the church to LGBT people in the form of premarital counseling and the integration of same-sex couples into loving communities of faith. The historic social prominence of The Episcopal Church lays some extra responsibility on us to use our influence for good. Thus we have advocated with courts and lawmakers at every level of government to promote marriage equality.

What about the charge that we have thrown away tradition? Over and over I’ve heard people jokingly (mostly) call our church, “Catholic light,” and claim (this, almost always derogatorily) that The Episcopal Church has no clear moral standards. It is easy for such a church, the argument goes, to irresponsibly accept culturally-led innovations like marriage equality.

The second thing about Episcopalians and marriage equality, then, that is important to say at this moment is that we are a church that believes Christ continues to be with the world, moving with us, helping us find meaning in moments of joy and also loss and pain. The Christ whom we recognize is the one who speaks in John’s Gospel, saying, “There are many things I would teach you but you cannot bear them now … the Sprit will lead you into all truth.” For Episcopalians, tradition is a moving force that is not only dynamic but that changes quality over time, and we might liken the change to be one of more light being cast into the world.

We overturned nearly two millennia of set tradition when we began ordaining women 34 years ago. We repudiated the traditional tolerance of slavery and racial prejudice in the mid-20th century. We traded our cultural privilege and hegemony as a largely Anglo denomination for the wealthy and have deliberately become more and more consciously a church for all. In all these things we have prayed and thought and been in earnest conversation in and out of the church, and believed that in the end we have discerned better the mind of Christ than we had in the past.

It can definitely be unsettling to find that some structures and beliefs are not fixed and unchanging. Add to that the fact that the Episcopal Church has no doctrine of infallibility, of anybody, and one can understand those who prefer more predictability. For me, I hope to stay open to divine surprise
*The Diocese of California is only one of 6 dioceses in the state.  It primarily encompasses the greater San Francisco area. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Amicus Briefs from NEA and Labor

Just received this as a member of The National Education Association's Committee on Sexual Orientation and Sexual Identity.  Hot off the presses:

    Attached (see below) are the final versions of the amicus briefs that we are filing with the Supreme Court later today and tomorrow in the gay marriage cases – the Perry case, which raises the question of whether a state may amend its constitution to define marriage as an institution reserved solely to different sex couples, and the Windsor case, which raises the question of whether the federal government may define marriage for purposes of federal law as reserved solely to different sex couples.  The briefs – in brief – are as follows:   

                In the Perry case, we filed a brief in partnership with CTA detailing why Proposition 8 will not alter the public school curriculum in California in the manner its proponents have urged.  Instead, we point out that the only educational impact of Proposition 8 is to further isolate and subject to bullying the children of same sex couples and LGBT students.  Hat tips to Cyndi Prince in Research and Paul Sathrum in HCR for their able research assistance and to Law Fellow Zac Ista for his work on the brief.  

                In the Windsor case, we filed a brief in partnership with the rest of organized labor (the AFL and Change to Win) detailing the economic costs that DOMA inflicts on lesbian and gay married couples.  By virtue of the fact that DOMA defines marriage as solely the union of a woman and a man for all purposes under federal law, DOMA places off limits to same sex couples a myriad of economic benefits provided to different sex couples ranging from spousal health coverage, to spousal social security benefits, to Family & Medical Leave, to COBRA and HIPAA protections, to tax incentives to private employers for family health care coverage, to the full spectrum of benefits provided to spouses of federal employees.  The brief details at length how DOMA, by intention and design, ensures that workers with same-sex spouses earn less money, pay higher taxes on their wages and benefits, and have available to them fewer valuable benefits including immigration rights than their counterparts with different sex spouses.  These costs are significant and striking.  For example, in the worst case scenario, a same sex couple partnered for 46 years can expect to expend an additional $211,993 to obtain health care coverage due to DOMA.   On an annual basis, the health care costs inflicted by DOMA on federal employees can add up to $3,000 per year.  Similarly, in terms of retirement, DOMA operates to deprive same sex retired couples approximately $5,700 a year in Social Security benefits.  Hat tip to Jason Walta for his work on the brief.

                The briefs will be filed later today and tomorrow.  Argument in the cases is scheduled for March 27th, with decisions not expected until the end of this Court’s term.

Contact me via comments below or on Facebook with an email address if you wish a full copy of the brief. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013


So here they all are.  My predictions for SHOULD WIN, COULD WIN, and WILL WIN are color coded as noted.

AND Now as the show begins I will  highlight the winners...  Stay with me!

     Best Picture

    Best Director

    Best Actor
    Best Actress
    Best Supporting Actress
   Best Supporting Actor

   Best Original Screenplay
   Best Adapted Screenplay
Cinematography -                  Life of Pi
Visual Effects -                      Life of Pi
Costumes -                            Anna Karinina
Make Up -                             Les Miserábles 
Documentary Feature -         Searching for Sugar Man.
Foriegn Language Film -      Amour
Sound Mixing -                     Les Miserábles
Sound Editing -                     Zero Dark Thirty
Editing -                                Argo
 Production Design -             Lincoln
Best Musical Score -             Life of Pi
Best Original Song -             Skyfall

OSCAR Red Carpet (continued)

Anne Hathaway - I have tried and tried to like this dress, but it's all wrong.
It's an apron with all sorts of unneeded and horrible additions.

George Clooney's beard has the stunning dress of the night.

I am in love with Charlize Theron. Perfect.
Sorry, Sally Fields.  I still love you, but that dress is too bright and looks like a Cypress Garden Southern Belle lost her hoops.

Kerry Washington.  Fun. Not red carpet. lose the bow.
Amanda Seyfried - too heavy.  Not her! The dress.... never mind. Just saw it full length.
Melissa McCarthy.. how a full-figured woman SHOULD NOT dress.   Is that grey jersey? Yards a nd yards of it.  

Octavia Spencer.  Beautiful!  A full-figured woman that knows how to work it.
Reese Louis Vuitton.  Black and Blue.  Love it.

Amy Adams.  Not so much.  bad boob fit.
Reese Witherspoon has great hair.

Jessica Chastain.  Monotone that woks.  Looks like a bronze with crystal beading. Fit is perfect. Elegant.
Amani Prive.

I reallllllly, reallllly want Hugh Jackman to win.  If there is only one upset, let it be Wolverine.

6:09 PM
Eddie Redmayne got his hair caught in something.  Still love him.

OSCAR Red Carpet Live Blog

Oscar 2013

1:53  PM

Not even 2 PM and E! has the red carpet countdown.  SHOES! ... and Kyle is off buying snacks.  Jimmy Chu was mentioned.  Christmas Eve 2011 at the cathedral in Atlanta, Kyle spotted Jimmy Choo shoes.  Seriously?  You can llok at shoe and know?  That's Kyle!


Boob tricks.  The side boobs held in place by double sided tape... and specially designed boob stickers.  TMI.  (FYI: Google search for "side boob" yields some really tasteless stuff.)

 Listening to Adele, who will perform tonight AND win an Oscar for "Skyfall."

BARBRA!  Tonight for the first time since 1977 Barbra Streisand will sing onstage. According to Perez Hilton (Eeewwww, I looked at that page) she will sing, Memories.  Don't you mean "The Way We Were?" Wow.  I hope she has updated her fashion choice.


Sissy + archery = Arrowtini.  Seriously.


Life of Pi trained tiger demo.  Almost went bad.  What fun! ?


E!'s filling until 5:30 when their official red carpet ... some interesting flashbacks to previous risk that paid off.  My favorite, Halle Berry in Ellie Saab (2002)

Kyle is all about Cate Blanchett in Givenchy Haute Couture

George Papadalapolous (or something like) that picked Michelle Williams in 2006 wear a yellow/saffron vintage inspired dress by Vera Wang.

Now my best friend and I settle in for the red carpet...

Now onto part 2.