June 17, 2006

Pruning Dead Branches

In my latest column for Gay Christian Outreach, I examine the concept of Jesus being the vine of life, and we are the branches that grom from Him. In that context, I examine the branches that grow from our lives that take us away from the path God wants us to follow and how we need to resolve that.

June 16, 2006

A Report From Inside the "Love Won Out" Conference

I've written about the scene and views expressed outside last Saturday's Love Won Out conference in Maryland, and thanks to the folks at Ex-Gay Watch here is a report from inside the conference itself.

The writer, Eve Tushnet, adds further observations on her blog. According to Ex-Gay Watch, Tushnet is a conservative Roman Catholic who is not considered a friend of GLBT equality issues. Despite that viewpoint, she is quite sceptical about many of the claims made in the conference.

It doesn't take much objective thought to understand that there is not therapy in existence that will turn a homosexual straight. The most they can generally accomplish is teach someone how not to act on their same-sex attractions, not how to quit having them.

In his outstanding book "Anything But Straight," Wayne Besen chronicles what happens to some of these folks after they leave ex-gay therapy. They often wind up back in gay bars, which seems like a lot to go through for nothing. The most frequent result according to Ex-Gay Watch, Besen, and others is continued or even intensified self-loathing and self-destructive behavior of people who have it drilled into their heads that they are filthy sinners if they act in the way God made them (they don't tell them that last part though, it might hurt business).

I'll be interviewing Wayne Besen in the near future about his book and his new organization, Truth Wins Out.

June 14, 2006

God and Gays: Churchgoers Divided

This issue got the national treatment from USA Today. Here are some excerpts I found particularly interesting:

Barbara Brown Taylor, 55, left the Episcopal priesthood, observing that "human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God."

Surveys have shown that most of the growing denominations and non-denominational community "Bible churches" are theologically conservative, with no openly gay clergy or no same-sex unions blessed.

Once, black people, women and homosexuals were viewed the same way by the leading theologians of the times: "They were all cursed by God in Scripture, inferior in moral character and willfully sinful and deserving punishment," says the Rev. Jack Rogers, former head of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and author of a new book, Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality.
Eventually, most churches found a biblical basis for changing their stance on race and gender but not on homosexuality.

"Young adults today can't understand what the fuss is all about. Their lives are colorblind. They have gay friends and straight friends. They have good values, but they don't stay with the church," he says. "The gay-rights battle isn't the main reason, but it's one of them. They don't see in their church a lens to see the world." And people of all ages "are really tired of all this" fighting. "Most people just want to get on with thinking about Jesus."

Overall, this was a well balanced piece that's worth taking time to read thoroughly.

June 13, 2006

Naming Names

The Boston Globe has a story about the work of a website called KnowThyNeighbor.org. They put together a serchable database containing names of people who signed the petition for a Massachusetts constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage. The group is now working on a similar data base in Florida.

I like it!

Why shouldn't people be accountable for their actions. The activists who are working very hard to promote GLBT equality are putting their names out there for the cause. I could write this blog anonymously, but I choose not to because I'm perfectly willing to stand behind what I write and be accountable for it.

It's easy to hide behind the shroud of anonymity and discriminate against someone else's rights, but it might not be quite so easy when your name gets attached to it.

June 12, 2006

Be Transgendered At Your Own Risk

The Yahoo group "Teach The Facts" posts a lot of interesting articles that I wind up linking to, and this one regarding transgendered people especially moved me.

According to this story, the murder rate of transgendered persons is 17 times the national average, the highest rate of any minority group.

"It's ignorance, more than anything else, that creates fear," said Vicky Ortega, who founded LOTUS and also works as a health education specialist at the Gay and Lesbian Center of Los Angeles. LOTUS is the League of Trans-Unified Sisters, a support group of transgender people working to change society's attitudes toward them. I was not able to find a website for them, but if anyone knows of one, I would be happy to post it here.

I'm not going to pretend to have any more than the most cursory understanding of transgender issues, but I do know that they are people too and deserve every right that I enjoy and should be treated with no less respect than anyone else. The problems here are a lot worse that name-calling and discrimination and need to be taken very seriously.

June 11, 2006

Media coverage of "Love Won Out" Conference & Protest-Updated

The Washington Times ran this story about yesterday's event. From a paper known for a strong right-wing slant, this piece was reasonably well balanced.

The Washington Post did not run anything (at least not that I could find online) but they did have a story about today's Gay Pride festival in downtown DC. Perhaps they have a quota of one gay story per day.

Bruce Garret, whom I also met yesterday, has a brief writeup and photos from yesterday's protest up on his blog. Fortunately for you readers, I'm not in any of the pictures.

As Bruce mentions in his post, Steve Boese attended the conference and has the first in a series of posts up where he will share his impressions of the event. Boese is apparently open to the ex-gay concept and shares this about the rules regarding the conference:

"I was aware that conference organizers do a bag search as attendees enter the premises, and folks found to be carrying gay-affirming pamphlets, cards, or tracts may either have them confiscated or be asked to leave. Registration requires attendees to agree that LWO organizers reserve the right to remove anyone from the event without cause, and that any behavior perceived to be disruptive (including offering a gay-affirming pamphlet to a fellow attendee) would trigger removal."

There was only one point of view offered to people inside the church, which made what went on outside the church even more important.