August 31, 2007

Another Straight Ally Shares Her Thoughts

I ran across a post that Kathy Baldock made on where she copied a column she had written for a publication called "Reno Out" in Nevada. I asked her permission to reprint it here and she was kind enough to say yes. Kathy has actually written two columns for Reno Out, and I am posting the first one here. I'll post the other one soon, and hopefully I'll be able to share them with you on a regular basis going forward. Enjoy.

I’ve realized lately that five simple words open the door to conversation with people who might otherwise be content to do the pleasantries and move on. “I am a social activist”, I say. Is it global warming, immigration, the homeless, or the handicapped? What is it that drive my passions? Certainly each of these topics warrant my concerns. My trigger, however, is the gay community. From a time I cannot pinpoint, I have cared that bigotry does exist towards my gay friends. Years ago, a Native American lesbian with whom I have a very close relationship said, “I am considered the lowest of the low in society.” I felt her pain, I feel her pain. In November , I sat in a friend’s dining room watching the election results as FOX News posted the gay marriage results state by state. He spewed out, “that’s what’s wrong with America, the gays are ruining the American family”. Let’s ignore his own adultery that ruined his American family. Rather, let’s leer at Raf and Tim’s 17 year relationship. They knew on their first date that they wanted to spend their lives together. They “got married” one year later and moved in together. Let’s also look at two lesbian friends of mine who have been together for 14 years sharing love, faithfulness and respect behind closed doors, because being gay invalidates their belief system to many fellow Christians. This straight girl longs for much of what I see that these two couples share.

What is wrong with America and the rest of the world? If I got to elect one dream candidate next November, I would elect President Jesus. His platform is mercy, compassion, human dignity, justice and hospitality. But, He is not running; He expects His followers to do the work for Him . In the arena of social justice for the LGBTQ community, an accurate picture of His heart and agenda have not been reflected.

I am sorry that this distortion has hurt people. In January, I went to the Gay Christian Conference, sponsored by, for four days. I was the first straight Christian to join them in their three years of meeting. Was I going to see for myself “ what is wrong with America?” Surely not in the way in which the rhetorical question was posed to me in November. I did not know my purpose, I just knew I needed to go listen , meet with and learn from my gay brothers and sisters. One night late, during the please-hear-my -pain-and-journey open mike, the Jesus I say I follow took over. I publicly apologized for the rejection of gay children by their parents, for rejection of the gay community by the straight community and rejection of the gay church by the straight church. I did not just say I was sorry, I was blessed with the associated pain God feels over each of these issues; this made the sorrow very real to me.

Healing began that night for hundreds of people; healing that I want to be involved in, as a Jesus person. I see hatred swirling downwardly, hatred between two groups I care about: the Christian community and the gay community. Neither may be honest enough to say the word “hate”, but I am going to adhere to the Jesus definition which basically says, if it ain’t total love, then it is hate. I may be one person now, but I flow and move in many circles in our community and beyond. I choose to be as stalwart as Tank Man, who in June of 1989 stood in Tiananmen Square, in front of 17 People’s Republic army tanks. He is my personal hero, standing there in his work clothes with his grocery bag and in his silence; he said before the watching world “stop this destruction, stop this craziness.”

I have raised two wonderful children and a new book has begun for my life. I do not like bigotry. That is one thing wrong with America, with humanity……I want to stand in my personal Tiananmen Square each day. I may only be a small plot of land now, but I know the passion and truth God has put in me will extend beyond what I can see. I make effort to speak to the two side of the chasm. To my gay friends, I say “can we re-look at the Jesus I know, not the misrepresented one, the hateful one?” Come talk to me, or go see my friend Denise Cordova at Light of the Soul Christian Ministries. They meet every Sunday at 7 pm at the First Congregational Church on Sunnyside. She is a married, lesbian, Christian pastor. That may wrinkle a few noses. Good.

Wherever you sit in the discussion, if you meet me and I say ‘I am a social activist”, be ready to engage in a conversation of mercy, compassion, human dignity, compassion and hospitality ala my Leader. You may not share my tenets, that’s okay. But, let’s talk, and begin to move towards dispelling the hatred, the fear, the misunderstandings. I want my Christian lesbian friends to have the freedoms I have in the church and in public. I want the two groups that I care about to experience the Jesus I know . I will stand daily in my work clothes with my grocery bags in front of the tanks of bigotry and say “stop this destruction, stop this craziness.”

I Hate Writing About Things That Happen In the Men's Room

I couldn't think of anything else to title this post, so I just went with the thought running through my head. Since you are reading this blog, I suspect you've heard of the problem Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig ran into at a Minnesota airport. He was arrested during a police sting for lewd conduct in the men's room.

I'm posting because I ran across two interesting accounts of this story, one from each side.

First, from Pink News UK where, somewhat surprisingly, Rep Barney Frank disagrees with senators like John McCain who are calling for Craig's regisnation:

"What he did, it’s hypocritical, but it’s not an abuse of his office in the sense that he was taking money for corrupt votes. I think people should resign when they have clearly done the job in a way that is dishonest.

"Mr Frank added: "It’s one thing to say that someone can’t be trusted to vote without being corrupt, it’s another to say that he can’t be trusted to go to the bathroom by himself."

Personally, I'm not sure I'd be happy with a senator that had an issue with either. Also in the Pink News article is some detail (not graphic) about the incident.

Courts heard that plain clothes officer, who sat in an adjacent cubicle in a public toilet at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, observed that Craig repeatedly tapped his foot - supposedly a well-known signal for initiating gay sex - before brushing his foot against the officer's and eventually resorting to waving his hand underneath the cubicle partition.

This would strongly contradict Craig's adamant, and I do mean adamant, denial that he is gay. I think he doth protest too much.

Now swinging to the right, the news mouthpiece for the American (Straight) Family Association.

Matt Barber is policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America. He says anonymous homosexual sex in public restrooms is a national problem, noting Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle who has angered homosexual activists with his efforts to crack down on such activity.

"Not all men who self-identify as homosexual, or who engage in homosexual behaviors, take part in these types of anonymous homosexual rendezvous -- but we know that statistics show that a lot of them do (emphasis mine)," says Barber. "And I think that people need to consider how they might feel if one of their children were to walk in at a park, or an airport, or elsewhere into a restroom and walk into this type of behavior. Something needs to be done about it."

People who engage is sweeping, unsubstantiated, indicting generalizations like Barber did here, and does on a regular basis, should lose their right to speak to anyone with a recorder, computer, or even a pencil that might write his latest utterance down. I doubt he truly believes that, but if he does, he has that right. He just doesn't need to inflict it on others, especially those who are gullable enough to buy into it.

August 30, 2007

Fired For Being Straight?

That's the claim being made by Jeffrey Shapiro, who is suing two HIV/AIDS non-profit organizations that fired him. Here's the report from The Advocate.

This touches on something that I have wondered for a while since I've gotten involved in GLBT rights advocacy. How far can a straight man like me go with it?

Here is a story of how a straight woman has become the head of a local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, so it does happen that straight people can lead GLBT organizations, but will it work?

How much of that will be perceived as a welcome contribution from a straight ally, and how much will be perceived as a straight person horning in on a GLBT organization. How much leadership will be accepted by the GLBT members of a gay advocacy group from a straight person who can not directly relate to the issues they face. Have strong empathy, sure, but not being able to directly identify with the inability to marry, potential job discrimination because of sexual orientation, etc.

Personally, I've been totally accepted in my church, which is made up of a strong majority of GLBT people. I'm on the board of directors and currently a deacon candidate. I've even been given the opportunity to preach from the pulpit--no issues there.

How much impact could I have in a political organization working for GLBT advocacy?

I'd really be interested in receiving feedback on that question from my GLBT readers.

Big Day in Court for the GLBT Community

Two very positive rulings came down today that are positive steps toward equality for GLBT people.

First, a lesbian couple in Maine won the right to proceed with legally adopting their foster children. From GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders):

Maine’s Law Court issued a unanimous ruling today that opens the door to two siblings
in foster care to be jointly adopted by the two women who have raised them for the past
six years.

Ann Courtney and Marilyn Kirby of Portland are no longer barred from forming a
permanent, legal parental relationship with their foster children, 10-year-old “M” and her
brother, six-year-old “R”. The children were not named in court documents to protect
their identities.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Ann. “We love these kids, and their well-being means everything
to us. Our daughter and son can now know that we are a family, and we’ll always be a

Attorney Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who
represented the couple, said, “This decision is in the best interest of the children, who
have flourished under Ann and Marilyn’s care. The court wisely listened to the experts
who knew this family well – everyone from the state’s adoption workers to the children’s
guardian to the social worker who completed the home study.”

The children were removed from their home in 2001 when their biological parents were
no longer able to care for them. They were placed with Ann, an attorney, and Marilyn, a
counselor, who quickly re-organized their lives to address the children’s multiple
emotional, learning, and developmental problems.

“A joint adoption assures that in the event of either adoptive parent’s death, the children’s
continued relationship with the surviving parent is fixed and certain,” the Court said. “A
joint adoption also enables the children to be eligible for a variety of public and private
benefits…Most importantly, a joint adoption affords the adopted children the love,
nurturing, and support of not one, but two parents.”

Here is the link to the entire press release.

In a potentially landscape-changing ruling, an Iowa court ruled that it unconstitutional in the state of Iowa to deny a same-sex couple the right to marry. That's right, Iowa could be moving in the direction of having legal same-sex marriages. There is more detail in this release by Lambda Legal, which is arguing the case, and it will ultimately go before the Iowa Supreme Court so nothing is final, but I find this fascinating nonetheless.

You know there are right-wing activists huffing and puffing even as I write this about "activist judges," which we have clearly established here means ones who don't adhere to the right-wing agenda of discrimination and bigotry.

Let them huff and puff, because at least today our courts ruled in favor of fairness and justice in these cases.

August 29, 2007

"The Love That Will Finally Speak Its Name"

The story this post is excerpted from was published in the current issue of Newsweek:

Now I write this after living for 44 years with the most loved and loving, giving, understanding and delightful partner imaginable. For all our time together, we were "in the closet."

For so long, if you were a known homosexual you could lose your job. We kept our relationship from our families—or at least we thought we did. After my partner died, her son told me that her family knew about us, but kept our secret because they believed our relationship was our own business.

But our silence for all those years was also partially a self-induced caution. Looking back, I think it's possible that as the world changed, we didn't change fast enough.

Finally, after almost nine years since my beloved partner's death, I am able to do what I could never have braved in earlier years: pre-sent myself herewith to the world as a lesbian, along with all the women who ask to be judged by the full facet of our characters.

Why am I now able to speak the unspoken? A friend at the retirement community where I live recently came out in the local and national newspapers. When I saw her do that, I thought, for heaven's sake, nobody can fire me, I'm 88 years old, my parents are gone.

Still, I was frightened. It took me several days to put this essay in the mailbox. I owe a lot of credit to people who are comfortable enough in their own skins to say, "This is who I am."

Shall I be haunted for trying to tell my story now, when many might still not wish to address it, or shall I, perhaps, be congratulated?

Ms. Barr, please accept my congratulations. It's never too late to completely be who you are.

Can Democrats Produce Results for Gays?

Columnist Deb Price thinks it's time they do:

Congress returns from its August recess soon. And many gay Americans are starting to wonder whether Democrats intend to live up to the "Under new management" sign they hung up at the U.S. Capitol after last November's elections.

With few legislative workdays left before lawmakers become obsessed with the 2008 campaigns, now is the time for Democrats to produce results. And outlawing job discrimination against those of us who're gay should be a top priority.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, remains "very optimistic" ENDA (Employee Non-Discrimination Act) will pass the House and Senate this year.

And lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., says she is "absolutely confident" Democratic leaders will schedule a House vote on ENDA.

Brought up for a vote, the bill is all but certain to pass. National surveys continually show that the vast majority of Americans want to protect workers from being fired simply for being gay. Forty-five percent of House members and 40 percent of senators are from the 20 states that already outlaw such discrimination.

And, as (U.S. Rep.) Andrews points out, most lawmakers--Democrats and Republicans alike -- know and care about gay friends, staffers and relatives. "Fifteen years ago, the issue was, 'Should some gay person be able to get a job as a checkout person in a supermarket?' Now it is about whether your cousin should be able to, or your next-door neighbor," said Andrews, who fondly recalls his lesbian aunt.

"It's hard to find anyone with a straight face in my state -- no pun intended -- who would say someone who runs a supermarket should be able to refuse to hire a gay man or lesbian woman," Andrews said.

It's up to the new management team on Capitol Hill to translate the nation's change of heart into gay-friendly laws. Protecting gay workers would be an excellent start.

Opponents to gay rights often hide behind polls that show a majority of people support that position. That is not the case here, and it's time for Congress to come out of hiding and actually do something constructive this session--pass EDNA.

August 28, 2007

Back to School.....And Bullying?

School can be a difficult social environment for youngsters and young adults in college under the best of circumstances. If you are gay or lesbian, it is still not the best situation in many schools around the nation. This is from a survey by the organization GenderPAC:

A recent GenderPAC survey found that, of 651 students currently enrolled at US-based colleges and universities, 30% have been harassed or discriminated against on campus because they didn't fit expectations of masculinity or femininity; 13% have been harassed for using a restroom because they didn't fit expectations of masculinity or femininity; and 25% have felt unsafe in campus housing because they didn't fit expectations of masculinity or femininity.

GenderPAC also supported a University of Illinois study of 200 high school students in suburban Chicago. 62% of the students saw peers who weren’t masculine or feminine enough being called names and verbally harassed; 46% saw peers who weren’t masculine or feminine enough ostracized and excluded from groups; and 21% saw peers who weren’t masculine or feminine enough physically assaulted: pushed, shoved, or hit.

For those at schools without GenderSAFE protections, life can be unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. Students across the country have been mobilizing on their campuses to get the more inclusive policies and practices enacted.

More on the same theme is contained in this piece posted by Equality Texas:

Texas has never been known for stellar education.

However, there is a curriculum in Texas schools, available only to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students. This curriculum includes the hallmarks of education, in contexts that are personally relevant to the student.

Our queer students learn READING - not just the classics, but reading between the lines.
Does that glare mean that a fellow classmate is having a bad day, or does that glare promise, "Hey, dyke, you just wait until after class and I'll teach you what you've got coming?"

Our queer students learn WRITING. We write to elected officials, pouring out our hearts to demand protection in our schools and receive a form letter in response, accompanied by the knowledge that no one is reading the reality of our grief. We write letters and journals full of fear, grief and pain. And, most tragically, queer students write suicide letters when daily abuse takes its toll.

Our queer students learn ARITHMETIC. We add cruel words, scars, tears, and bruises to sum up the value of our humanity in the eyes of our peers. We subtract daily from the list of people we can trust with our full selves.

Our queer students learn VOCABULARY. We learn that faggot, dyke, queer, deviant, and whore are synonyms for people like ourselves. We learn that these words outweigh words like friend, child, sister, brother, person, and human.

Our queer students get a daily education in how to DRESS for success. We learn to question, "If I wear this shirt today, will I be wearing a cast for the next eight weeks?" We learn to weigh our desire to be comfortable in our skin with the desire to avoid being beaten and forced into our lockers.

Our queer students learn ETHICS. We begin to understand that it is allowable for students to be beaten, harassed, even killed - as long as the students are queer. We learn there are teachers who look the other way to allow our peers to reinforce these lessons. We learn that rules of human decency do not apply when our dignity is concerned.

Our queer students learn about CIVICS and the function of government. We begin to understand that our elected officials don't care about the abuses we suffer, or if they do care, they can't be bothered to pass legislation to ensure our physical and emotional safety in our schools. We learn that our basic human dignity can be sacrificed at the altar of the anti-gay political agenda.

These lessons are teaching our students the depth of unfathomable pain.

We cannot pretend to be concerned with the quality of education in Texas unless we are willing to advocate for the protection and safety of ALL our students.

We need educational reform - not just a discussion of testing or class size, but rather a discussion of the most simple reality: students cannot learn if they are fearing for their lives.

Please join us in teaching ALL our students that they are valued and protected.

I can't imagine there's a more important lesson anyone could learn this school year.

Flumoxed By Protestant Churches' Fixation on Sexuality

That's the view of author and Columbia University professor Randall Balmer. He shares an ancedote in this post from the Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" section:

I continue to be flummoxed by the current fixation on homosexuality in Protestant denominations. Jesus himself said nothing about the matter, although he did affirm the Levitical proscriptions (which also, by the way, include prohibitions against the interbreeding of livestock and wearing garments made of two different kinds of fabric).

Jesus did talk about such issues as peacemaking and care for the poor and divorce. Regarding the latter, Jesus had nothing good to say, and he was pretty clear in his condemnations. Yet, curiously, that proscription against divorce has all but dropped out of view.

When I was researching "Thy Kingdom Come," I sat in on a gathering of conservative religious leaders as they were strategizing how to take control of mainline Protestant denominations. They were confident that the current struggle over the ordination of openly gay clergy and the ecclesiastical blessing same-sex unions would provide them the leverage they needed to wrest control of these denominations. For a day and a half in that Holiday Inn conference room, I heard almost nothing other than talk about sex.

Finally, toward the end of the gathering, I asked if I could pose a question. How many people in the room, I asked, had a theological objection to the ordination of women? One person out of twenty (an Episcopal woman!) raised her hand. I suggested that if this meeting had been taking place twenty or thirty years earlier they would be quoting the Bible in opposition to the ordination of women.

They were still a bit confused about my line of inquiry; I was trying to get at the historical contingency of our approaches to scripture. I guess what worries me about a gathering like this, I continued, is that if we had been meeting sixty years earlier or a hundred and sixty years earlier, when the issues of the day were, respectively, slavery and segregation, would I be sitting in this room quoting scripture to justify my support for slavery and segregation?

Long silence. “Well, this is different,” someone finally said.

Okay, I responded, how is it different?

Another long silence. “It’s just different.”

After another pause, the moderator suggested that we move on to the next report.

How many people's lives have been tragically damaged because they were "just different?"

August 27, 2007

Vermont Mom Blasts Anti-Gays

Sometimes a person just can't take any more without blowing off some steam. That appears to be the case with this letter written by a lady in Vermont who has a gay son. The letter was posted on Family Pride (thanks to PageOneQ for the tip). I highly recommend reading the whole letter, but here are some excerpts:

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people. I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings (emphasis mine). There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

This is some seriously righteous anger, and I am thankful this lady directed it in a way that can be illuminating to others, especially those who accept their responsibility to be thinking human beings.

Media coverage about backlash caused by "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right" signs

My post "So That's What It Feels Like" has received some attention in the local media. The story of how the sign promoting "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right" was stolen from my front yard was first picked up by the orgainzation sponsoring the campaign the sign represented, Equality Maryland. Executive Director Dan Furmansky sent out a press release titled "Backlash Felt by EQMD Sign Supporters" where he wrote about issues across the state with people stealing or vandalizing signs. Furmansky's point was that, if the campaign is upsetting opponents that much, that only shows its effectiveness.

I was also contacted by Joshua Lynsen, a reporter for the Washington Blade, to retell my incident. I was quoted in the subsequent article describing the backlash over the signs:

Among the campaign supporters who had their yard sign stolen is Jim Johnson of Rockville. Johnson, a 48-year-old straight man whose wife does gay ministry, said his sign was stolen July 28 by a neighbor who told him the sign was “littering up the neighborhood” when confronted.

“I think it comes down to a lack of respect,” he said. “That gentleman clearly didn’t respect anyone who was different from him.”

Johnson said he retrieved the sign from the trash bin it was thrown in, returned it to his yard and has not had any further troubles.

I can now cross "being quoted by a gay newspaper" off my list of things to do before I die. It was a recent addition.

August 26, 2007

GLBT Moms: Adopt or Conceive?

That is an intriguing question in today's society, and writer Maggie Quale shared her personal experience with it on The

Here’s what the beating heart sounds like in my tortured head: Hundreds of thousands of children need families. Thump. Our planet is overcrowded and every new person strains our already strained resources. Thump. The world is violent, unstable, and so on. Thump. Conversely, someone needs to produce those kids who are destined to become productive global citizens. Someone needs to be the voice of tolerance and love and inspire positive change. Thump thump. The arguments are compelling and timeless—and they’re driving me mad.

And suddenly the biggest contradiction of all hits me. What if it’s not about whether we should adopt or get pregnant? What if I actually feel selfish out of some lingering internalized homophobia? Like, the reason it's so difficult to have a baby is because I'm not supposed to, that it's wrong. Perhaps it’s really the resonance of my mother’s Catholic background haunting me and reminding me that infertility is a dictum from God. Perhaps my desire to adopt is not about my own desire, but rather me trying to prove that I’m a good person to the straight world. Silence.

Being queer or unpartnered or infertile shouldn’t exclude me from the miracle of pregnancy if that’s what I choose. Finally, wishing I were someone else won’t change who I am or make me happier. That’s coming-out lesson number 1.

So you know what my answer is? Yes, it is selfish. Whether I like it or not, there are always conceivably more helpful and loving choices I could make. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The bottom line is that I love being a mother. I thrive on every single exhausting, endless moment and I’m ready for a gazillion more. But maybe I’ve got to admit that not all of my impulses are perfectly selfless—and that is OK. Maybe just being me is OK. Maybe now the thumping will stop and Kim and I will get some sleep.

I have some personal experience with the conceive vs. adopt question. My late wife Bette and I tried to have a child, were unable to naturally, tried fertility treatments which also failed, and then considered adoption but were financially unable to do that either. By the time we were, we were both well into our 40's and her health wasn't good, so we decided to drop it, although that issue haunted her through her final days.

I wholeheartedly support the right of gay and lesbian people to have kids, both by giving birth and adoption. From my perspective, I would side toward the points Ms. Quayle made in the first paragraph about the existing overpopulation--this planet does not need anyone to go out of their way to make babies, enough are popping out as it is. However, I would never promote the idea of denying anyone who felt they had the calling to be a parent to deny themselves the opportunity.

The world has enough room for babies who are wanted and who will be loved, regardless of the gender or number of parents involved.

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. on Courage

Dr. Mohler, is one of the staunchest anti-gay ministry leaders around. You may remember a few months ago when I shared with you his idea of developing a way to "cure" homosexual babies while still in the womb. Hit latest uttering was published in the "On Faith" section of the Washington Post website. I'm posting it here in its entireity followed by my comments:

A Failure of Courage
Churches and denominations that invite or allow their standards to be openly violated institutionalize hypocrisy. This usually indicates that the church lacks both the courage to change the standards and the conviction to enforce them.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] has voted to encourage its bishops not to take punitive action against ministers who violate the denomination's ban on active homosexuals in the ministry. Last year, the Presbyterian Church USA [PCUSA] took a similar action, allowing local jurisdictions (presbyteries) to ordain candidates for ministry who violate a similar policy. Both cases represent tragic failures of leadership. Both churches failed to maintain their own standards and lacked the courage or consensus to change them.

All this is further evidence of why the liberal denominations are in such a decline in terms of membership and influence. These churches are divided between liberals who push constantly for doctrinal changes and conservatives who are determined to keep standards they believe to be mandated by the Bible. The conservatives are losing.

The liberals are pushing for the full normalization of homosexuality. This runs right into conflict with biblical prohibitions and clashes with the standards of these churches. Liberals in these two denominations dominate the landscape in the seminaries and church bureaucracies, but they have not yet been able to muster adequate support to change the policies. Conservatives are losing a battle akin to theological trench warfare. The big battles are lost an inch at a time.

Bishops, presbyteries, and congregations are charged to maintain the doctrines and standards of the church. When a bishop or presbytery or congregation fails in this task the whole church suffers. When this failure is made a matter of policy, the entire church embraces hypocrisy. When bishops are encouraged to allow doctrines and standards to be violated, they are encouraged to violate the integrity of their office. The same holds true for presbyteries or congregations, depending on the form of church government.

This process does not start with issues of sexuality, of course. Long before these churches faced controversies over sexuality, they had already allowed the doctrinal foundations of their churches to be eroded and compromised.

In other words, a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on doctrine preceded a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on matters of sexuality.

The only means of recovery is repentance and an affirmation of biblical authority. "Don't ask, don't tell" just doesn't work in church.

Here is a copy of the e-mail I sent to Dr. Mohler in response.

I am writing this in response to your essay in the Washington Post titled "A Failure of Courage,"
your latest attempt to diminish and marginalize an entire section of God's creation, homosexuals.

I've read numerous pieces like this you've written and seen you on television touting the same line, showing a smugness and assuredness that leaves no possibility of error or, worse, indicates intentional misinterpretation of scripture to suit your personal prejudices.

I suspect it is not difficult to take this approach with a group of people when you're sitting at a computer screen or looking into a television camera. In those situations, they are a nameless, faceless abstract concept; the homosexuals.

Have you ever gone to a house of worship with a congregation that is predominantly gay and lesbian? Have you ever looked them in the eye, one person at a time, and spewed your message of how God condemns their "lifestyle," even those who are in long-term committed relationships (something straight ministers seem to be having more and more problem sustaining themselves). Have you witnessed gay Christians soaking in the Holy Spirit, speaking words from the Lord, and told them that it is all an illusion?

You write about the courage of the church in your latest essay, do YOU have the courage to come to my church, Believers Covenant Fellowship, in northern Virginia and worship with us? Do you have the courage to take a chance that you might experience a truly enlightening spiritual experience with a group of homosexuals that all have names and faces?

I have the courage to make this challenge to you and give you the opportunity to look me in the eye and tell me that my GLBT brothers and sisters do not deserve the right to stand with you and me in full fellowship in God's kingdom. My pastor, Dale Jarrett, enthusiastically endorses this challege and invites you to join us in our worship, 11:00 AM every Sunday.

I'm sure you wouldn't want to waste your time with a small congretation like ours, so to make the trip worth your time, we will make sure to capture the service on video, especially the part where you talk to Apostle Jarrett and myself afterward to share your thoughts on our worship experience. We will then post it on You Tube so you can have a substantial audience.

Do you have enough courage to venture into apparently unknown territory? I hope so. My GLBT brothers and sisters would welcome the opportunity to show you a side of God your writing indicates that you have not expereicned.


Jim Johnson

I'll let everyone know if I receive any type of response to this e-mail. You can contact Dr. Mohler at if you would like to share your thoughts on his views of the GLBT community.