January 12, 2008
From Outcome, Buffalo's Gay Newspaper with a hat tip to my friend Allan Hendricks from Equality Florida:
In an open letter to gay people in Western New York, leaders of Episcopal congregations in Buffalo offered an apology and asked forgiveness from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The letter further emphasized that they offer gay people, welcoming and loving religious congregations.
An email sent to Outcome by The Reverend Armand John Kreft, Rector Church of the Ascension, offered their support of GLBT people in their battles with hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence. The group of City of Buffalo Churches further make clear that GLBT people are welcomed by their congregation. "•Staff
The full text of the letter follows:
Contact: The Reverend Armand John Kreft, Rector Church of the Ascension 716-884-6362 COTAB@Verizon.net
Date: January 11, 2008
An Open Letter to the GLBT Community:
We leaders of Episcopal congregations in Buffalo want to offer our apology and ask forgiveness from the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community. For centuries the institutional church and organized religion have slandered, tortured, disenfranchised and sometimes murdered members of the community. We ask forgiveness for using our Sacred Scriptures to wrongly justify hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence against those of different affectional orientation and gender identification, both in the past and, unfortunately, still today.
As leaders of congregations, some of us openly gay and lesbian, we are humbled and vow to use our influence to change not only our religions but our laws that seek to marginalize the GLBT community. If you would like to seek an organized religion, we would urge you to attend as many different denominations and spiritual paths as you can. There are several that will welcome you. If you wish to seek an Episcopal Church, those of us listed below promise a welcoming and loving community for you, and/or your partner and your children.
EPISCOPAL CHURCHES OF THE CENTRAL ERIE DEANERY
St. Paul’s Cathedral Church 128 Pearl Street Buffalo
Church of the Ascension 16 Linwood Avenue at North St Buffalo
St. John’s – Grace Church 51 Colonial Circle Buffalo
Church of the Good Shepherd 96 Jewett Parkway Buffalo
St. Phillips Church 18 Sussex Street Buffalo
Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua 1114 Delaware Avenue Buffalo
Ephphatha Church of the Deaf 96 Jewett Parkway Buffalo
It's never easy to admit you were wrong, and it's even harder to do so publicly, so in realizing that I commend these churches for stepping forward for what they now understand to be the right thing to do.
January 11, 2008
This story has taken an unusual twist, however. Dunne has withdrawn his lawsuit and issued a public apology.
From Bay Windows:
But in his letter, Dunne said his suit was "misguided" and that he was
"lashing out as a result of failing the bar exam." "I am deeply sorry for the
hurt that I have caused the gay community," Dunne wrote. As far as we can tell
after interviewing Dunne on Dec. 24, he’s not headed off to jail, rehab or Oprah
- in fact, he said he’s studying to take the bar exam again - so we give him
props for his public mea culpa. The one thing he declined to do was name the law
school he attended, stating he didn’t want to draw attention to his alma mater
(although he did say it’s in Boston). We have a feeling that’s probably okay
with the school.
January 10, 2008
Peterson Toscano cofounded the organization "Beyond Ex-Gay" with Christine Bakke (who I have the pleasure of meeting for the first time at the recent Gay Christian Network conference). On his blog Peterson Toscano's A Musing, he shares a response he sent to a professing Christian and "ex-gay" who had contacted Peterson and pleaded with him to "Pursue Jesus and he will heal you (presumably turn him straight)." Here is an excerpt from Peterson's wonderful, loving response:
You wrote to lead us to Jesus. You wrote to tell us how wonderful life is
with Jesus and the joy we will find in being in relationship with him. I know
this joy and live it daily. My "gay lifestyle" includes worshiping with other
believers every week as well as sweet times of fellowship on my own with God. My
"gay lifestyle" includes listening to God and following God's leading, which has
affected nearly every part of my life including my diet, my friendships, my
career, my sexuality and how I view and use my body.
We don't blame the ex-gay programs for all the hurt we suffered. Much of it
was self-induced, spurred on by a society, an ungodly world, that along with
some portions of the Church, believes that one must be heterosexual to be
acceptable. In this belief the "unsaved" world and the Church live in unison,
much like the church and the world both supported slavery for centuries. There
is too much of worldly values in the Church of Jesus, and it is time that the
church no longer conform to the pattern of this world but experience a renewing
of the mind.
Instead of lashing out at those from the Christian Right who don't get it, the approach Peterson uses here, especially to someone who was reaching out in love, however misguided, can be the most effective answer. If people see the light of Christ shining through GLBT people, as I did when I first started attending a gay-affirming church, that could lead them to an appreciation of how God loves GLBT people right where they are.
Instead of taking offense, this approach can disarm them and lead to understanding.
January 09, 2008
Here is an excerpt from the Washington Blade (thanks to Equality Maryland for the tip):
Meeting Bruce Williams is like meeting one of your neighbors when walking
to get milk or calling to ask for a cup of sugar.
After 15 years in public office, Williams, who is gay, was elected mayor of
Tacoma Park late last year. How have things changed in the 15 years since he’s
been in public life?
“Tuxedos,” he says, noting the more formal nature of being mayor.
“When I was first elected as a city council person in 1993,” Williams says,
“I wondered what it was going to be like running as an openly gay official. I
was happy to find out in Takoma Park that it just wasn’t an issue.”
Telling one of his favorite stories, Williams recalls the time a local
television reporter went to a house in his neighborhood when he was first
elected. A woman, with her hair in curlers and a baby on each hip, answers the
Williams says the reporter asked if the woman knew her new councilman was
“And?” Williams recalls as the woman’s “who-cares” reaction.
When asked if being gay has affected him or his constituents, Williams
says, “I don’t think it has. I think it is just one factor among many. What my
constituents look at is my willingness to serve, my competence to serve, the
fact that I show up, I listen and I try and make thoughtful decisions.”
You can read the rest of the story at the Washington Blade.
January 08, 2008
The new chairman of the organization, David Wilson, is working on a group not usually disposed to support them, the African-American community.
MassEquality, a gay marriage advocacy coalition, has launched a statewide
push to increase support for its cause among black residents of Massachusetts.
The effort is a priority for Wilson, an African-American who was named the
group's chairman in October.
He knows it will be a challenge.
Many black people in Massachusetts and across the country have reacted
unsympathetically to the gay rights movement, especially to efforts by gay
rights advocates to link the fight for marriage rights to the civil rights
Gay rights advocates say with the battle against a constitutional amendment
that would have banned gay marriage in the state now behind them, they are
beginning a concerted effort to speak directly to the black community, hoping
the approach can change some minds in the Bay State and serve as a national
model for outreach to minorities.
"We have defeated the amendment, and clearly we need to educate the broader
community about equal marriage," Wilson said. "We have a lot of work to do,
because this is just a step forward in this equal-marriage fight across the
country. If we get it right here in Massachusetts, we can expect to use this
Click here to read the rest of the article from the Boston Globe.MassEquality, a gay marriage advocacy coalition, has launched a statewide push to increase support for its cause among black residents of Massachusetts. The effort is a priority for Wilson, an African-American who was named the group's chairman in October.
He knows it will be a challenge.
Many black people in Massachusetts and across the country have reacted unsympathetically to the gay rights movement, especially to efforts by gay rights advocates to link the fight for marriage rights to the civil rights movement.
Gay rights advocates say with the battle against a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in the state now behind them, they are beginning a concerted effort to speak directly to the black community, hoping the approach can change some minds in the Bay State and serve as a national model for outreach to minorities.
"We have defeated the amendment, and clearly we need to educate the broader community about equal marriage," Wilson said. "We have a lot of work to do, because this is just a step forward in this equal-marriage fight across the country. If we get it right here in Massachusetts, we can expect to use this model elsewhere."
January 07, 2008
"When faith simplifies things that need to remain complex instead of giving us- Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, author of the new book "You Don't Have to be Be Wrong for Me to Be Right."
strength to live with complexity, when it gives answers where none exist,
instead of helping us appreciate the sacredness of living with questions, when
it offers certainty when there needs to be doubt, and when it tells us that we
have arrived when we should still be searching - then there is a problem with
I don't often quote Rabbis here, being a Christian myself, but wisdom is wisdom regardless of where the originator worships.
I hear right wing fundamentalits spout how simple everything is to understand, how they have all the answers, how anyone living outside of their philosophy is a heretic, how anyone in a same-sex relationship is an abomination with no room for doubt.
Then I see that quote and realize that there are people who DO get it. WE don't have all the answers.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isiah 55:8-9
Any person who thinks that they understand it all it is actually putting themself up on a pedestal they will eventually fall off of. I'm content seeking the answers about life and God that I can obtain and accepting those that I'm not capable of understanding and that He does not see fit to reveal.
That's called faith folks, and that's what truly loving God is all about.
January 06, 2008
A marriage rights bill, tax relief proposal and other measures to benefit gay Marylanders will greet state lawmakers when they reconvene next week.
Such bills, including one to sanction the marriages of same-sex couples, are going before the General Assembly during a time when lawmakers and gay activists are seeking historic gains.
“I think there’s a strong chance the General Assembly is going to take action to remedy discrimination against same-sex couples in Maryland,” said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland.
But he said exactly what inequities are addressed — and how they are remedied — remains to be seen.
“My job as the executive director of the state’s largest LGBT organization isn’t to glimpse into a crystal ball,” Furmansky said, “but to mobilize to make the greatest gains possible for our community.”
The greatest gains could come from the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act, a measure that would make valid marriages of “two people.”
Click here to for more detail in the Washington Blade story.