April 10, 2009

A Satirical Look at "Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned"

Found this thanks to one of my Facebook friends. So clever, so dry, and so on the mark!

April 09, 2009

Pioneers In GLBT Faith: Vanessa Sheridan

From the LGBT Religious Archive Network:

Vanessa Sheridan is a pioneering author in the field of transgender Christian theology. Since 1991 she has been speaking, writing, researching, consulting, and providing training on transgender issues for various audiences and organizations.

Vanessa is the author of Crossing Over: Liberating The Transgendered Christian, which was the first book on the topic of transgender Christian spirituality ever to be released by a mainstream publishing house (The Pilgrim Press). In 2002, that book became a double finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. She and noted lesbian/transgender author Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Ph.D., collaborated on Transgender Journeys, another groundbreaking book on transgender Christian spirituality that became a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2004.

In 2001 Vanessa participated in a historic transgender gathering at the United Church of Christ’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. The group engaged in frank, open dialogue with church leadership, laying the groundwork for the denomination’s current stance of inclusion and welcome for transpersons.

Vanessa is a frequent guest lecturer/speaker for churches and a variety of religious organizations. Among other groups, she has presented before the Center for Sexuality and Religion, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, United Theological Seminary classes, and the Reconciling Ministries Network.

Click here to read more about Vanessa Sheridan.

April 08, 2009

Religious Bigotry DOES Hurt People!

I have been torn the last few days. First, I read this story over the weekend on UPI's website:

"BAGHDAD, April 5 (UPI) -- Six gay Iraqis were shot to death by tribal members in a pair of incidents in the past 10 days, a government source says.

An unnamed Iraq Interior Ministry official said the latest incident happened Thursday in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, in which two gay men were slain after they were disowned by relatives, CNN reported.

The official said the men were killed after a tribal meeting was held and the members decided to hunt down the victims.

Another incident reportedly happened March 26, when four men were fatally shot in Baghdad under similar circumstances.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved."

Then, on Monday, I found out that the Iowa Supreme Court had approved same-sex marriage for that state. And today, the Senate and House in Vermont voted to over-ride a potential veto of a same-sex marriage bill by their governor.

While I'm thrilled by the progress I see in our country, I am tempering my excitement. The reason for this response is stories like the one at the beginning of this post. While we in America consider ourselves more "enlightened" or "advanced" than those in other parts of the world, let's face it...religious bigotry hurts people. Just because gays are being killed in Iraq doesn't mean it can't happen here. It has happened here. Remember Matthew Shepherd??

Every day in America, there are teenagers who would rather run away from home and live on the streets than tell their parents they are gay. Every day transgendered folks have to fear that if the wrong person sees that they don't "pass", they may be in danger of bodily harm or worse. Every day there is someone who is in fear because of who they are.

Why? Because every day in America, there are people like Fred Phelps spewing their bile for anyone who will listen. Every day, people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Matt Drudge, et al make sure to let their listeners or constituents know that they should hate glbt people because they see us as perverts. They say we hate God. They say that we shouldn't be "humanized in the media" (Thanks Bill O-Reilly!).

It's sad, but when you hear something long enough, you start to believe it...even if it's terribly wrong. Teena Brandon was killed because she dared to try and be who she was on the inside, even if she wasn't complete on the outside. When young people or religious people get worked up by others' words, they do stupid things. The Lifetime movie, "Prayers for Bobby", should teach us that lesson well. Bobby's mother was convinced by her church and by religious leaders on TV that her son would change if she just prayed hard enough. She was convinced that her son had given himself over to sin. She turned her back on him when what she was doing didn't seem to work.

Religious and conservative political leaders like to spout forth that our glbt community paints them as "haters" unfairly. They say they love the sinner and hate the sin. They say that we just don't understand that they are trying to protect the "family". They are just trying to do what's right.

Unfortunately, when someone is in your face telling you that who you are is wrong and immoral and sick, it's hard to see that they are loving you but hating what you do. When someone tells you that your relationship of 16 years that has been full of love, laughter, pain, heartache, giggles, road trips, movies, dinners, etc. isn't worthy of the word "marriage", they aren't saying they love you. They are saying they are better than you. They are saying that you don't deserve what everyone else has. How is that loving? How is that hating the sin and loving the sinner? I submit that it's not doing either of those things. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. Why do you think that is the case? Don't you think if it was that important an issue of sin that He would have said something about it?? Religion should never be used as an excuse for violence, whether it's physical, emotional or verbal.

I hope that my own state will one day legalize same-sex marriage. I actually hope that the United States of America will realize, in my lifetime, that being gay isn't a choice or a sickness and we should be able to marry who we fall in love with just like straight people do. I look forward to the day when I can legally call Erica my wife. In the meantime, we are careful where we express our affection for one another. We hold hands only in a dark movie theater or at home within the safety of these walls. We kiss each other in the privacy of our home.

We do these things because we know all too well that if the wrong person saw us holding hands as we walked down the road, we could very well get hurt. So, in the end, has America really come all that far? Are we really that different from our Middle East neighbors? As long as I'm afraid to kiss my wife in public, we still have a long way to go.

April 07, 2009

Momentum Builds: Vermont Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Both houses of the Vermont State Legislature voted to override a veto by the Governor and legalize same-sex marriage with full legal rights.

Here is the MSNBC report.

Here is the report by the Burlington (VT) Free Press with a video of the legislative proceedings.

Congratulations to the lawmakers and residents of Vermont for believing in equality for ALL people.

I'll have more later.

Advocacy Group: One Iowa

In light of the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling that will make same-sex marriage legal in the state as of April 21, One Iowa will be at the forefront of working to keep those rights intact for GLBT citizens. Enemies of equality have already begun a push for an amendment to the state constitution, like Proposition 8 in California, that would take those rights away. That effort will likely draw support from like-minded groups across the nation, and One Iowa will certainly be working to coordinate assistance from GLBT advocacy organizations. Here is some information from the organization's website:

One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization, is dedicated to supporting full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals living in Iowa through grassroots education and advocacy.

The One Iowa Education Fund is dedicated to supporting full equality for LGBT individuals living in Iowa through grassroots efforts and education. Programs funded in part or in full through the One Iowa Education Fund include:

Steering Committees are volunteer networks in communities across Iowa, serving as the foundation of our field program by identifying and mobilizing supporters through local outreach and education.

The House Party Program is a grassroots effort to engage and broaden support, educate and mobilize attendees, and build membership through primarily volunteer-led house parties.

The Story Collection Project is our statewide network of LGBT families and friends who want to take an active role in educating their communities by telling the story of their lives.

Our Marriage Education Program is working to change the hearts and minds of Iowans about marriage equality through public education and awareness.

For much more information about One Iowa, click here to visit their website.

April 06, 2009

Homophobia Damages Lives

Yes, that headline might seem like it came directly from the University of Duh!, but unfortunately there are many who would disagree. Hence, the need for studies like this one in the European Union.

Homophobia is damaging people's health and careers across Europe and the problem may be worse than reported because victims are scared to draw attention to themselves for fear of a backlash, an EU study said.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights said police in most countries were incapable of dealing with homophobic crime -- ranging from verbal abuse to deadly attacks --
and said many governments and schools failed to take it seriously enough.

This creates a vicious circle, with victims preferring to remain "invisible" rather than being open about their sexual orientation or reporting abuse to authorities, the study showed.

The report, which brought together research from 27 countries, said over half of EU citizens thought discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was widespread in their country.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania were singled out for being hostile towards "gay pride" rallies and people from countries in the region were generally less comfortable with having a homosexual as a neighbour, for example.

Only three EU states -- Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain -- gave full marriage rights to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people, while most of the other countries do not award any rights at all.

In the Netherlands 82 percent were in favour of same-sex marriage versus 11 percent in Romania and 12 percent in Latvia.

Just like in the United States, our European GLBT friends (in most nations) still have a long road ahead to reach equality.

April 05, 2009

Sunday Worship 4/5/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day. NEW SERVICES HAVE BEEN ADDED THIS WEEK!

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

We appreicate all of the positive feedback we've received for our Sunday Worship series. If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with me.

Worship Music--sing along and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Live Worship Services--all times Eastern

Potter's House Intl. Fellowship, Tampa, FL 11:00 AM Eastern (also has previous services)
Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, AL 11:45 AM Eastern (also has previous services)
Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, WA 1:30 PM Eastern (also has pervious services)

Recent Recorded Worship Services

Rainbow Community Church of Vancouver, BC
Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta, GA