November 15, 2008

"Shake It Off and Move Forward"

That's the advice offered in a post on Bilerico that reflects on the aftermath of Amendment 2's passage in Florida.

This isn't the time to sit quietly by and shrug our shoulders at another loss for the LGBT community in our state. We need our statewide leaders and organizations to step up and galvanize our community and our allies.

And these protests need to extend to the groups (like the Florida Republican Party, the Catholic League, the Baptist League, and many other groups) that gave money and support to Amendment 2. We need to hold politicians accountable- like Governor Crist and others- and make sure there are consequences for their support of hate and bigotry.

We also need to be having conversations like this- figuring out where we went wrong and how we overcome it. Not in closed door meetings with the same leaders that ran these campaigns, but with the entire community.

I also think we need to be proactive. We cannot wait for the religious right to take this to court and try to take away more of our rights. We need to be shaping the argument now.

One thing is clear- we cannot keep sitting idly by while more of our rights are taken away. We had our time to mourn this loss, but now it's time to shake it off and move forward.

We need to regroup, get tough, and keep fighting.

It angers me that, in this day and age, there is still a group of people in this country that have to fight for basic rights that the rest of the population can take for granted, but that is the current reality.

I strongly agree with the points that oppoents of equality need to be held accountable and feel political and PR pain of their choice. It is also critically important that LGBT people don't let themselves slip into a victim mentality. That certainly would not be unjustified, but it also would not be constructive.

Utlimately the victory will not be won until people's hearts and minds are changed to where they truly accept LGBT people as equal members of society. We've seen laws changed and then changed back--that's how you can control behavior to some extent. It's when attitudes change that there can be a lasting victory and end the constant struggle and threat of having something taken away.

We need to follow Jesus' example here. He didn't come to Earth to pass legislation, he came to change hearts and lives of people so individuals could build His kingdom. He didn't leave His work to lawmakers and we shouldn't either.

Click here to read the entire Bilerico post.

November 12, 2008

A Time To Reflect On Renewal

Our church is having what we term "renewal" this weekend. Basically, we’re looking for God to renew our passion for Him and to show us what He wants us to do going forward.

As I was thinking about renewal, I likened what we’re doing at our church to what the United States is doing right now. The U. S. has collectively felt for a long time that the country was going in the wrong direction. Now that President-Elect Obama has been voted into office, I think the mood of the country is changing. Whether you voted for him or not, you have to admit that we’re all breathing a sigh of relief that the country might actually be able to get a "renewal" in the months and years to come. Sure, there are those on the religious right that are crying foul and preparing for Armageddon, but for those of us who aren’t right-wingers, we hope for a better day.

My personal hope is that the economy will take a turn for the better. I hope that President Obama will steer our country into a place where we will start to treat each other with respect as people and not worry so much about whether we agree with each other all the time. I hope that all of us will be able to come together as Americans to save our country that is in crisis.

Whether President Obama will be able to facilitate all of the change that he has said he wants to see happen, I really believe that he will help us move in the right direction again and I’m excited about that prospect.

So, let’s look forward with anticipation to the Obama years and pray for him and his family and all of the leadership of our country that God will grant them wisdom and keep them safe and bring all of our troops home soon.

God Bless America!

November 11, 2008

A Quick Look Back at What Was Once Heresy

Here are some definitions of the word "heresy" from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:

1 a: adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma b: denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church c: an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma2 a: dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice b: an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards

Okay, I think you get the picture. Unfortunately, many, members of the LGBT community have had this word hurled or spewed at them when asked to be considered a member in good standing of "the church." People like me think "the church" is wrong by doing that. It wouldn't be the first time "the church" got something very, very important very, very wrong.

That is pointed out with a brief history lesson by Anthony Venn-Brown, one of the leading LGBT advocates in Australia. Here is a summary of the point from his website "The Great Heresy."

1. Once Heresy Now Truth--The world revolves around the sun

2. Once Heresy Now Truth--White and black are equal

3. Once Heresy Now Truth--Two people who love each other should marry no matter the color of their skin

4. Once Heresy Now Truth--Men and women are of equal value and worth

5. Once Heresy Now Truth--Same sex orientation, for a percentage of the population, is a normal expression of sexuality and occurs in all of creation.

Of course, #5 is a work in progress (heck, there are some folks that still don't get 2 through 4), but the point is that it took a while for the other positions of "the church" to change, but they eventually did.

So will the postiion on #5. It is happening even as a write this. Truth always wins out, but not without a fight.

There is much more to check out at "The Great Heresy." Thanks to Anthony for the heads up about his work.

November 10, 2008

"Vows Than Can't Be Voted Down'

An article in the Washington Post does an excellent job of putting last week's votes in California, Florida, and Arizona that made discrimination parts of those state's constitution in perspective.

While voters were (mistakenly, in my opinion) given the right to take away rights of same-sex couples to receive the legal benefit of marriage, they could not take the act of marriage itself away from them.

From Jennifer Donnelly in the Washington Post:

For months, it made me indignant to think that my neighbors, and the entire state of California, were going to vote on my marriage -- something so deeply personal and spiritual and uniquely mine and my wife's. I wondered: How could they? Why would they?

Then I realized that they wouldn't.

Because on Tuesday, California, you did not vote on whether or not I exist; I am here, and I live in your neighborhood. You did not vote on whether your children will learn about same-sex couples; they will, when they go to school with my child. You did not vote to prevent your children from growing up gay; they already are who they are. You voted on whether to give my family the same status that other families have. You voted on civil marriage rights, not rights having to do with religious marriage or spiritual marriage. No vote can pass judgment on my actual marriage.

I was deeply saddened when Californians approved a state constitutional amendment this week banning same-sex marriage. But I remain married to the love of my life. I jumped the broom with her six years ago.

This article speaks to the truth that marriage is more than a legal agreement--at it's very heart is a covenant relationship between two people in love.

And that, folks, is not up for anyone to vote on.

Click here to read the rest of Jennifer Donnely's article.

November 09, 2008

It's About Education

To me, one of the most interesting and troubling issues during this recent election cycle was the issue of education. How can one be against education, you ask? Beats me, but there was a substantial faction of the electorate that held Barack Obama's education against him as proof of his "eletism" while celebrating the fact that Sarah Palin was a "hockey mom' without a great amount of depth on major issues.

It is also interesting to me that the mainstream media is often criticized for leaning to the left, but what does that say when people closest to the news and issues who should therefore be the most educated on the facts and implications of them largely skew progressive instead of conservative?

Knowledge is good. There, I said it.

Here are two excerpts from the Bible that point to the value of knowledge.

Isiah 53:11 (prophesy about the coming of Jesus): After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

One of the powers that Jesus received from God was knowledge. If he did not have understanding, how would he lead, how would he teach?

In Isiah 56:10, we see the other side: Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.

Isn't that interesting, a lack of knowledge and undestanding are responsible for people turning to their own way, seeking their own gain.

I believe this was the single most important factor in the adoption of more discrimination in Californina, Florida, and Arizona on election day. So does Wayne Besen in a column titled "Prop
8 and Race."

Uneducated people - black, white and Hispanic - often derive their power from physical strength. They perceive being gay as weak and antithetical to real manhood. By voicing support for gay rights, they lose status and often fear rivals may perceive them as gay. The easiest way to gain status is dissing faggots. I see this attitude all the time in Brooklyn - in the gym and on the basketball court, where I often play. (Not the best sample, I realize this)

Meanwhile, educated people of all races gain power by outsmarting opponents - not beating them up. This creates a safe space to support gay rights and not lose social status. (Unfortunately, the fact that the conservative black church is a central organizing point for politics makes even educated blacks less likely to vote for gay rights. But, this is secondary to education levels.)

It is understandable that black support for anti-gay efforts drives white gay people nuts. It is difficult to understand how people affected by bigotry can promote bigotry - as if they are selfish people who learned all the wrong lessons from the civil rights movement. But, remember, uneducated people - of all races - are not students of history. They react to the environment around them, which often rewards homophobia.

(Compounding this perception problem is that the vast majority of overt homophobia experienced by urban gays comes from black people. In places like New York City, you almost never hear a white person say “faggot”. But, we hear this from uneducated blacks too often. This makes the problem seem worse than it is. We often forget that we moved to places like New York to escape uneducated whites in rural areas that were just as openly homophobic. In other words - it is about education - not race.)

We can't allow ignorance to rule the day. Wayne has suggestions to help this along in his column. Click here to read the rest of it.