September 19, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/19/09-Gay and Lesbian Community Services (Australia)

This is the first non-US organization we've featured, and our plan is to do at least one per week. GLCS is located in West Perth, Australia.

GLCS is a charitable organisation whose main objective is to provide support and resources that allow people to explore their sexuality without judgement or prejudice. We provide:

A peer-operated telephone counselling and information line
Social support groups for people who are coming to terms with a same-sex attraction
Award winning workplace training and agency coaching in diverse sexualities and genders
Support for other GLBTI community organizations
A shared accommodation register

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/19/09-The Vulnerable Way

From the HRC's Out In Scripture series, scripture taken from the Common Lectionary:

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 20), Year B

God calls us to a courageous vulnerability that exposes oppressive structures of power and privilege, and opens the way for a new and holy community.

This week's lectionary Bible passages: Proverbs 31:10-31 and Psalm 1 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 and Psalm 54; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37

Click here to read this week's commentary and questions for meditation/discussion.

SNN Recommends 9/19/09-Abundant Grace Church, Granite Falls, NC

It's always nice to give a personal recommendation here, and we can certainly do that with Abundant Grace Church in Granite Falls, NC, just outside Hickory. We have the opportunity to participate in AGC's "Healing Rain" conference last weekend and were richly and deeply blessed by the overflowing of the Holy Spirit we experienced. If you want some deep, energetic worship music and the unvarnish, straight-forward, loving word of God, this is where you belong.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music - 9/19/09 "He Knows" by Lindsey Kane

Why One Congressman Is Ready to Change His Vote on DOMA

From "The Hill," a newspaper that covers Congress comes an essay by Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer on why he is ready to change his vote on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Here is an excerpt:

Having given it much thought, I was convinced that by voting for this one federal statute against the recognition of same-sex marriage, it would somehow take the steam out of the Newt Gingrich-Tom Delay Congress, which was using the homophobic right-wing agenda to mobilize their base at the expense of millions of gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual Americans. My hope was to simply move on and get to more pressing business at hand, including smaller steps for equality based on sexual orientation, like legislation against employment discrimination.

Since I was an outspoken supporter of anti-discrimination, I assumed that my calculations would be understood by my friends in the community and that we would lay this obnoxious political vendetta to rest. Wrong on all counts.

It should have been obvious to me that we would not be able to quell this assault based on sexual orientation. Far from stopping it, this vote fed the bigotry. Once Congress had put its imprimatur on DOMA, it was a logical step for the homophobes and political cynics to intensify their efforts and make permanent a ban on gay marriage in both the U.S. and state constitutions -- spawning many state initiatives and intensifying the assault.

As for the expectation that my friends, allies, and supporters within the community would understand my vote, that too was fundamentally flawed. Friends gay and straight were perplexed, confused, and hurt. Logical political calculation -- after all, I'm the "political expert" -- made no sense. First of all, I was fundamentally wrong about how the politics would play out, but it was also flawed on a more basic level. Here I was making political calculations on the basis of other people's civil rights and identity as human beings.

The ultimate arrogance in this -- even had my calculations turned out right (which they weren't) -- was just wrong. The good news is that out of this painful episode for me and our country, much progress has occurred. The right-wing's march to define "traditional marriage" has stalled and created its own backlash. The broader community was subjected to their vitriol and mean-spiritedness, and tides started to move the other way.

Congratulations to Rep. Blumenauer for learning from his mistake and publicly stating his lesson learned. Click here to read more of the Congressman's essay.

Daily Devotional 9/19/09 - "Healing the Wounds"

From: Our Daily Journey With God

Luke 22:39-53
One of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And He touched the man’s ear and healed him (vv.49-51).

Jesus prays on the mountain, His anguish heightened as His death draws near. The disciples, having fallen asleep, are startled as Judas and his angry crowd charge toward their friend. Judas plants his ghastly kiss on Jesus’ cheek, the guards step forward, and fear ripples through the disciples’ chests.

I wonder what I might’ve done if I were in the disciples’ predicament that evening? “If you don’t have a sword,” Jesus had said, “sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). Would I also have missed the metaphor and taken Him literally? If I were bleary-eyed and startled by the horde, would my hand have reached for the sword hilt? If I were Peter, would I also have lunged at the High Priest’s servant, slashing in defense? (v.50, 18:10).

Peter’s sword strikes Malchus, and in an instant a follower of the Prince of Peace becomes guilty of attempted manslaughter. “No more of this,” Jesus commands. He kneels down to Malchus and miraculously heals his severed ear (v.51). And in an instant the Prince of Peace heals a wound inflicted by His follower.

Many are the wounds of Jesus’ followers today. Hypocritical evangelists, judgmental believers, and zealots who misinterpret the Word of God all leave their scars in the Good Shepherd’s name. Maybe you’ve suffered personally. Your faith, once vibrant, is now dulled; your heart, once joyful, is now jaded. You wonder what kind of God would have these kinds of followers.

Jesus cries, “No more.”

His followers may fail to live like Him, but Jesus is always consistent. Look again at His face. Watch Him walk toward you, watch Him kneel before you, and feel Him touch your deepest wound. He can heal you of the damage done by His defenders—if you will simply welcome His touch.

September 18, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/18/09: The Vermont Diversity Health Project

The Vermont Diversity Health Project’s (VDHP’s) Mission is to improve the health and wellness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Vermonters by building bridges between health care providers and LGBTQ people throughout the state. We help patients identify friendly, supportive and effective health care providers, and we offer training and support to enhance providers’ skill in working with LGBTQ people.

We are a collaborative project, organized by volunteers, health care consumers and providers and social service professionals who are working to increase LGBTQ Vermonter’s access to quality health care.

Our project is a collaboration between Vermont’s three largest LGBT organizations: Outright Vermont, serving Vermont’s queer youth for 15 years; R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center, offering multi-generational services and advocacy for queer people; SafeSpace, a direct service organization for survivors of same-sex sexual and domestic violence and hate crimes. Additionally, the New England AIDS Education and Training Center’s HIV Education Consortium provides technical assistance and financial support. The Vermont Department of Health has supported VDHP since our inception.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/18/09-Homosexuality in the Bible Talk #4-Jesus and Gays

SNN Recommends 9/18/09 (for fun)-"Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life"

Brenda didn't think this song actually existed, but one of my (Jim) Facebook friends found it so I knew I had to share. After all, many of us have felt this way at one time or another in our lives. Enjoy.

Encouraging Music - 9/18/09 "The Prayer" by Celine Dion and Josh Groban

Bill to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Introduced

From the Advocate:

Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York -- flanked by out representatives Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado as well as a wide swath of LGBT advocacy groups -- held a press conference Tuesday to announce the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would fully repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

“Today, we celebrate the first step toward overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and sending that ugly law into the history books where it belongs," said Nadler, adding that the new RMA bill has 91 original cosponsors.

Nadler later read a statement from former president Bill Clinton thanking representatives Nadler, Baldwin, Polis, John Conyers of Michigan, John Lewis of Georgia, Nydia Velazquez of New York, and Barbara Lee of California for introducing the legislation. Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996.

“Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind," Clinton said in the statement. "When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy.”

Click here to read more from The Advocate.

Daily Devotional 9/18/09 - "It's All About the Heart"

From: Our Daily Journey With God

1 Samuel 16:1-7
Don’t judge by his appearance or height.
. . . The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure performed on people suffering cardiac arrest. When I first learned CPR 25 years ago the focus was on both chest compressions and rescue breathing. “Pump and blow” is what we dubbed it.

Today, the focus is primarily on the heart. When you approach someone who has collapsed in cardiac distress, new research suggests that you should focus on chest compressions. Supposedly, there is a sufficient amount of oxygen in the blood to keep vital organs working for a time. What the body lacks more immediately is a pumping heart to circulate the blood.

When you think about it, all of life comes down to the condition of one’s heart. Over and over again the Bible stresses that a spiritually healthy heart is vital. Throughout its pages we are told to search for, serve, and love God and others with all our heart (Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 18:35). It tells us to hide God’s Word in our heart so we won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). It warns us that a “deluded heart” is what misleads us into worshiping false gods (Isaiah 44:20 NIV). And it urges us to “guard” our heart “above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23).

While people focus on outward appearance, God “looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). He knows that the real story of our lives springs from what is inside of us. It’s not so much what we see on the surface. It’s what we can’t see below the surface that is the most important part.

Don’t get caught up in focusing on the externals of life. Don’t stop there. Look inside where it counts the most.

What’s the condition of your heart today?

September 17, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/17/09-Triangle Community Works (NC)

This organization is located in Raleigh, NC. Here is the mission statement from their website:

Our Vision:

For the Greater Triangle Area to be a safe, Healthy, and Life-Affirming environment for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Related Communities as well as our Allies.

In order to work toward realizing this vision our current mission is...

To provide necessary and relevant services, resources, and activities;

To work with individuals and organizations through supportive partnerships;

And to serve as a facilitating framework for the emerging needs of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and other Allied Communitie

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/17/09-Homosexuality in the Bible Talk #3-Paul

SNN Recommends 9/17/09: Straight Spouse Network

As mentioned in the story we posted this morning:

The Straight Spouse Network (SSN) is an international organization that provides personal, confidential support and information to heterosexual spouses/partners, current or former, of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender mates and mixed-orientation couples for constructively resolving coming-out problems. SSN also offers research-based information about spouse, couple, and family issues and resources to other family members, professionals, community organizations, and the public. SSN is the only support network of its kind in the world.

As outreach, the network offers information about spouse and family issues, mixed orientation marriages and spouse resources to professionals, community organizations and the media.

Our goals of Reaching Out … Healing … Building Bridges are as important as ever. Every day 3 – 5 people contact us for help. Weekday or weekend, rain or shine, summer, fall, winter or spring, the Straight Spouse Network is available to listen, support, and guide spouses in their journeys.

Click here to check them out.

Encouraging Music - 9/17/09 "If We Are the Body" by Casting Crowns

Daily Devotional 9/17/09 - "Breaking the Cycle"

From: Our Daily Journey With God

The love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to His covenant (Psalm 103:17-18).

My father grew up without a dad. When he was 5 years old, his father left the family and never returned. When friends later asked my grandfather whether he was related to my dad, he refused to admit that my dad was his son—disowning and declaring him to be a distant relative.

By most accounts, I also should have grown up in a broken home with a distant dad. Scripture says that the sins of the fathers are passed along to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Jeremiah 32:18). It’s said that molested children grow up to be child molesters; the abused become the abusers; and children with absent parents turn into parents who are unavailable for their own kids.

But I didn’t. Jeremiah 31:29-34 proclaims a new day in which the cycle of generational sin is broken. Children need not pass on the sins of their parents, for the power of the new covenant—promised in that passage and accomplished in Jesus—enables us to buck the trend of sin in our families and to begin a new cycle of love and faithfulness.

Ezekiel 18:19-20 picks up on Jeremiah’s promise and announces that “the child will not be punished for the parent’s sins,” but “the child [who] does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live.” If we’re victims of bad parenting, we don’t have to perpetuate it. Each of us starts fresh before God.

Not that it’s easy. My father was deeply wounded by his absent father, and his own parenting bore the scars. At times he overcompensated, trying too hard to be the perfect father in the perfect home. But I never doubted that I was loved. My father chose to absorb my grandfather’s hate rather than pass it on. He started a new cycle, and so can you.

How LGBT Unacceptance Can Hurt Straight People

From the Washington Post:

Wah Cheong, a lifelong Republican and the soon-to-be divorced father of two teenage boys, sometimes surprises his co-workers and neighbors in a relatively conservative community outside San Francisco when he says he supports same-sex marriage.

"Here is my situation," the 47-year-old chemical engineer tells them when the hot-button topic comes up. "If gays and lesbians were more accepted, I wouldn't have married a closeted lesbian."

Silence usually follows. Then, a spark of understanding.

Of all the constituency groups that advocate allowing gay couples to wed, none is perhaps more counterintuitive than the heterosexual spouses of gay men and lesbians.

Yet as the issue plays out in the nation's courtrooms and statehouses, some of the wives and husbands who learned that their partner was attracted to other women or men are making their voices known in the often-polarized debate.

"We are the unacknowledged victims of the victims of homophobia," said Amity Pierce Buxton, the founder of the Straight Spouse Network, a New Jersey-based support and advocacy group with 52 U.S. chapters. "When gays and lesbians feel they have to get married to be accepted and to have kids, that hurts not only gays and lesbians, but straight spouses and kids."

Click here to read the rest of the Post's story.

September 16, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/16/09-Gay & Lesbian Community Center of So. Florida

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida (GLCCSF) serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community. We provide information, education, advocacy, support, human services, cultural experiences and social opportunities. The center works to foster personal development and quality of life for the entire community.

We embrace individuality and diversity, work together, and promote awareness, acceptance, celebration and pride.

Along with a wide range of group/counseling services, they have plenty going on socially including their award-winning yard sales on the 1st Saturday of every month.

Click here to find out more about the GLCCSF in Ft. Lauderdale.

Welcome to Midweek Worship 9/16/09 by Glory Tabernacle Praise Team

We hope you enjoy this excerpt about God's abundance for us from a service at Glory Tabernacle in Longbeach, CA

SNN Recommends 9/16/09-Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (DC)

Washington DC has recently become a battleground for marriage equality after action by the city council to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. GLAA, as it is commonly known, is working to sustain that law and push toward legalizing marriages performed within the city limits.

Click here to check them out.

Encouraging Music - 9/16/09 "Jesus, Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood

Daily Devotional 9/16/09 - "God is Close"

From: Our Daily Journey With God

Psalm 145:18
The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.

In 1990, Bette Midler recorded the song From a Distance. Her rendition became an instant hit—soaring to the top of the pop charts. Not only did it win a Grammy, it went on to become one of the most requested songs on Saudi Band Radio during the First Gulf War.

The chorus to the song states, “God is watching us. God is watching us. God is watching us—from a distance.”

God is watching us. That reassuring thought is a likely reason why so many in the military were drawn to the song. But the song has it wrong—God is not watching over us from a distance.

God isn’t peering over the edge of heaven’s walls, looking down on us from far, far away. The message of the Bible is that God is near (Psalm 145:17-19). That’s why the baby Jesus received a very special name: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23). The apostle John wrote that Jesus “became human and made His home among us” (John 1:14). And after rising from the dead, as He was about to ascend into heaven, He said to His followers, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Though Jesus is “away” from us in His glorified body, God’s Spirit lives in the hearts of those of us who are His children by faith (Galatians 4:6). The New Testament encourages us to “come close to God, and God will come close to you” (James 4:8).

That’s anything but distant.

God is truly with us—not simply to keep us in line but to help us overcome the evil one, and to live the life He meant for us to live (1 John 3:8).

A Lutheran Minister Takes a Hard-Line Approach Toward LGBT Equality

Lutheran Pastor Lura Groen is an out lesbian who is happy at the action taken by the ELCA last month which opened the doors for LGBT pastors in committed relationships to serve in the denomination. Pastor Groen doesn't want anyone there to waste time patting themselves on the back, however.

From Queerty:

I’ll look across the table and say “pass the salt, please” to the anti-gay folks in our church, and love them as my sisters and brothers. I’ll feel their pain. But I won’t agree to disagree, and I hope you won’t either.

Because we need to truthfully, lovingly, tell those anti-gay sisters and brothers not only that they are wrong, but that they are sinful. I expect my straight allies to take up this work, not ask to be congratulated for the small steps we have taken. And I don’t expect non-Lutheran queer people to celebrate when we reach a compromise that still falls short of the church apologizing for the sin of homophobia, heterosexism, and silence.

Lutherans have agreeed to disagree on the issue of homosexuality in the church. While it's better than total exclusion of LGBT people, it's still a long way from acceptance, which I then believe is still short of fulfilling God's mission for the church. Should people like Pastor Groen be satisfied with the current situation, we don't think so.

What do you think?

Click here to read the rest of Pastor Groen's essay at Queerty.

September 15, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/15/09-Native OUT

NativeOUT voted to shift direction from being a volunteer local organization to a national organization. Over the years we have received a lot of feedback (both in-person and online) from Native LGBTQ/Two-Spirit communities, allies, and from individuals who feel isolated and long to be with other Native LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people. Our change in direction is due to this feedback. We believe there is a need for a national organization to provide opportunities to individual Two-Spirit people, Two-Spirit communities, and our allies who are interested in connecting (or becoming more connected) to other Two-Spirit people and/or informed about what’s going on in the Two-Spirit communities across Turtle Island (U.S. & Canada). Basically, we are building on the foundation our website has established since its launch 4 years ago.

We are still finalizing our mission statement, but so far we agree that our new focus is to:
Educate, connect, and empower Native LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people and our allies.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/15/09-Homosexuality in the Bible Talk #2-Sodom & Gommorah

SNN Recommends 9/15/09-The Lesbian Lifestyle blog

From the website:

The Lesbian Lifestyles mission is a simple one. This blog was created to collect real life stories written by lesbians from around the world. The TLL authors share stories from their lives in the name of allowing our readers to see just how alike, and sometimes different we all are. Many of our stories have a great deal to do with our sexual orientation, but the topics that are covered span several genres. At TLL you will find a vast collection of stories to read, relate to, and enjoy.

TLL takes pride in being a safe space for people from around the world to write on issues affecting women, the queer community, themselves, etc. While we welcome all types of opinions, this is a hate free space. Any comments or posts with hateful language, and homophobic/transphobic/heterophobic ect. speech will be deleted and the authors permission to post on TLL revoked. We embrace all members of the queer community and their gender and orientation identities, and will not tolerate hatred on the blog via posts or comments.

The Lesbian Lifestyle has contributors from around the world. Some of our authors are located in China, the UK, and Germany just to name a few. We hope to prove that no matter what your color, race, or sexuality we are all human before we are anything else. TLL gives lesbians a chance to read about the lives of other lesbians, and it gives heterosexuals a peek into the reality of our lives, opinions, and every day concerns.

The TLL writers continually focus on a wide variety of topics. They cover small every day events as well as larger issues, and how they effect being a lesbian in today’s society. Each month the authors will tackle one to three topics posted by the TLL’s editor. They can chose to post about one or all of the topics. TLL also encourages blog authors to share posts from their own personal blogs. This gives them a chance to promote their blog and not over extend their writing duties. We love to get topic suggestions from our readers so if you have one please feel free to send it our way.

TLL also incorporates a few reoccurring posts into is collection of stories. Five TLL authors contribute to TLL’s Advice Panel. TLL’s managing editor reviews GLBT movies in the Goldstar Review. Resident sex toy reviewer, Carnivalesq, gives her take on a variety of sex toys, books, and videos.

The Lesbian Lifestyles goal is to become the largest lesbian storyteller blog on the Internet. We have been around since 2004, we have over 200 registered authors, and over 850 posts. We are well on our way to reaching that goal and would love for you to come along for the ride.

Whether you’re feeling happy, confused, or indifferent you’re bound to find a little bit of every emotion here. As editor of this blog I have worked hard to make TLL a place where you can feel at home. TLL takes pride in being a blog where you can read posts that let you know you’re not alone.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music - 9/15/09 "Sunday School Rock" by Carmen

Daily Devotional 9/15/09 - "Come!"

From: Our Daily Journey With God

John 1:35-39 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by he said, "Look, the Lamb of God." When the two disciples heard him say this they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means teacher), "where are you staying?" "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So, they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

In an evangelism class in church, the instructor asked: “How would you introduce Jesus to an unbeliever? Would you present Jesus as one who solves all our problems, or as one who gives us a healthy self-esteem and happiness?” Good questions!

When introducing Jesus to his two disciples, John the Baptist presents Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29, 36). John reminds us that our basic problem is sin, and our basic need is salvation. Jesus died for our sins.

The disciples immediately followed Jesus (v.37). Jesus then asked them a simple question: “What do you want?” (v.38). Would you have asked Jesus for good health? A better job? A happier marriage? More money?

The disciples asked a rather strange question: “Where are you staying?” (v.38). They weren’t asking for Jesus’ place of residence. What they were actually saying was: We want to spend time with You. They were not seeking something for themselves. They were seeking Jesus Himself. Come and see. The two disciples spent the day with Jesus (v.39). They modeled for us the demands and privilege of discipleship—spending time with Jesus.

Often we miss the opportunity to spend time with our Savior because we’re seeking something other than His presence. Do we desire the Giver more than the gifts? We need to pray like Richard of Chichester: “O most merciful Redeemer, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day.”

We need to be spending time with Jesus because we want to know Him intimately. We can’t possibly tell others about Him if we don’t really know Him.

A Case For American Same-Sex Couples Going to Canada to Get Married

You've seen regular mentions of Candace Chellew-Hodge, A UCC pastor and writer, at this site, and we're happy to share the news that she and her long-time partner Wanda recently got legally married in Ottawa, Canada while visiting there for their Pride celebration. Why Canada? As usual, Candace had an interesting view to share at Religion Dispatches:

It was truly a bittersweet day. We were able to get legally married in Canada, but we knew that as soon as we crossed the border back to our home country, we'd still have to check off the "single" box on any form that asked about our marital status in the States. We are not alone in this conundrum. Six states have enacted marriage equality for gays and lesbians, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues to prevent even those marriages from receiving federal recognition. Even those couples considered married in these states still must declare themselves "single" on any federal form or when they cross into another state that doesn't recognize their marriage. Canadians have experienced this cognitive dissonance of a patchwork of marriage laws and have come to an equitable conclusion. Wanda and I are dedicated to continuing the fight for similar federal recognition of same-gender marriages in the U.S.

Friends had asked why we didn't get married in one of the half dozen states where it is legal instead of leaving the country to do it. My answer is two-fold. The first one is practical — I didn't have any speaking engagements planned in any of those states in the near future. I had been invited to speak at church in Ottawa that weekend as part of Ottawa's pride celebration, so Wanda and I decided to take advantage of the law while we were there. But, my second reason is deeper. I believe that the United States will be forced to recognize international same-gender marriages before they deign to recognize those performed within its own borders. The reason will be economic instead of religious.

In a 2006 paper, University of Colorado law professor Laura Spitz argues that because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) it may become impossible for the United States and Canada especially

to mix economically without ultimately mixing culturally.

It seems to me that if the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada is politically and philosophically consistent with the American economic model, and North American economic integration is part of a larger project to make the American economic model global, then Americans have reason to believe same-sex marriage — i.e., the further expansion of the private care-taking sphere — will

become important to large economic actors in the United States. In other words, the federal government (which is facing the largest deficit in history), multinational insurance companies, and other corporations awarded government contracts for what were previously understood as public services, will all be interested in expanding the private caretaking sphere in order to save money. One way to do this in a relatively short period of time is to broaden the definition of family. And experience tells us, at least in the United States, that when the insurance industry and large government contractors become interested in change, they bring enormous pressure to bear on politicians and other decision-makers.

I should note that while Spitz makes a compelling case for accepting same-gender marriage on international economic grounds she clarified in an email to that she, personally, does not "support the 'same-sex marriage agenda' for the LGB movement in the United States."

What Spitz makes clear in her paper is that despite religious opposition to marriage equality within the United States, if the economic livelihood of American businesses is ever threatened because of marriage inequality in the U.S. we can expect corporations to become the newest marriage equality advocates. If that happens, marriage equality will become the law of the land no matter what anti-gay preachers or organizations have to say about it. When the corporate piggy bank is at stake, religious arguments will always fall on deaf corporate ears.

When that happens, whether it is sooner or later, I hope many more of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will experience the same thrill that Wanda and I did when a bored government clerk, completely unimpressed by the two men or two women standing before him or her at the counter, directs them to pay their fee while he prepares their paperwork.

We can claim to know Candace a little bit and we recently met Wanda, so please join us in congratulating them on their marriage and may God richly bless their union.

Click here to read the rest of Candace's essay.

September 14, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/14/09-Colorado Anti-Violence Program

Since 1986 the Colorado Anti-Violence Program has been dedicated to eliminating violence within and against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities in Colorado, and providing the highest quality services to survivors. CAVP provides direct client services including crisis intervention, information, and referrals for LGBT victims of violence 24 hours a day.

The CAVP also provides technical assistance, training, and education for community organizations, law enforcement, and mainstream service providers on violence issues affecting the LGBT community.

The most common types of violence we work with are hate crimes and partner abuse. We also have cases that involve random violence, sexual assault, and HIV-motivated violence.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/14/09-Homosexuality in the Bible Talk #1-Leviticus

SNN Recommends 9/14/09: Lavender Magazine (MN)

Lavender Magazine is Minnesota's long-running biweekly source of news and entertainment for the LGBT community.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 9/14/2009 -"Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go" by David Phelps

LGBT People More Optimistic About Direction of U.S.

I found this article and the results from this poll in the Examiner very interesting:

67% of polled LGBT adults responded that they feel things in this country are going in the right direction. This number is much higher than the 45% of our heterosexual counterparts who agree. This figure is up from June's numbers where at the time 56% of LGBT adults polled felt satisfied with the direction the country is headed.

The numbers also look better among LGBT adults when it comes to the outlook on the economy and on personal financial situations. 57% of LGBT adults feel that the economy will improve in the coming year, compared to only 45% of heterosexual adults who agree . In addition, in a 6 month period of time 31% of LGBT people polled expect their household’s financial condition to get better, compared to only 24% of heterosexual adults.

The overall feeling from these results is that LGBT adults express more confidence in what the future has in store. 82% of LGBT adults responded that they trust President Barack Obama to do what is right for the American economy. This number holds at only 60% for heterosexual adults.

Click here for more results and analysis at the Examiner.

Daily Devotional 9/14/2009 -"Love Believes All Things"

From: Our Daily Bread

Love believes all things, hopes all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7

It was 40 years ago or more that I observed a friend of mine showing great affection for someone I considered unworthy of love. I thought my friend was being taken in, and I was afraid he would be disillusioned and saddened in the end.

When I expressed my concern, he replied, “When I stand before my Lord, I hope He’ll say of me that I’ve loved too many, rather than too few.” I’ve never forgotten his words.

Paul insists that “[love] believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). Love “believes” in people. It can see the potential in them. It believes that God can take the most unattractive and unworthy individual and turn that person into a masterpiece of beauty and grace. If love errs, it must err in the way of trustfulness and hopefulness.

Certainly, we must be aware of danger when we see it coming, and become “as wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16). Tough love may be the best response to irresponsible and foolish people, but we can be too guarded, too wary and distrustful.

It doesn’t do us any real harm to be hoodwinked and defrauded (Matt. 5:38-48). It’s better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart at all. British poet Alfred Tennyson wrote, “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I agree. — David H. Roper

Lord, help us to believe in people
And all that in them You can do,
So we can say we’ve loved too many,
Rather than too few. —Sper

Love looks beyond what people are to what they can become.

September 13, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/13/09-AID Atlanta

AID Atlanta, Inc. has been saving and transforming lives since its inception in 1982. The agency was founded as a grass-roots response to the devastating and fatal impact HIV/AIDS was having on the Atlanta community. AID Atlanta quickly began expanding to offer a broader range of services, and has since grown to be the largest and most comprehensive AIDS Service Organization in the Southeast Unite States.

AID Atlanta’s mission is to empower Georgians with HIV/AIDS to live independent, productive lives and to deliver world-class educational programs that help stop the spread of HIV by reducing at-risk behaviors in targeted populations.

AID Atlanta has proven itself a leader in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Atlanta.

AID Atlanta has a total of 99 employees, 83 % of which provide direct HIV services. The
main office, located at 1605 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, houses the Department of Client
Services, the Department of Education and Volunteer Services, HIV testing and counseling and the Joye Bradley Health Services Unit. Client Services has a staff of 57 employees and provides wide-ranging HIV services at the main site as well as at off-site locations including:

• Grady Infectious Disease Program (IDP) • Fulton, DeKalb, and Atlanta City Jails
• St. Joseph’s Mercy Mobile HIV Clinic
• Veterans Administration Hospital
• Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Clayton County Health Departments

AID Atlanta Client Services Department provides a broad spectrum of services for HIV
positive individuals including:
• Intensive case management and social services in addition to access and referrals to medical
care, medication and counseling, insurance assistance; housing mental health/substance abuse services; rental, mortgage & utility assistance; clothing, transportation assistance; peer
counseling; family support; vocational rehab; food; support groups; clinical trials; and legal
• Expanded access for women and children via collaborative inter-agency partnerships.
• Primary healthcare for eligible HIV positive clients.
• Mental Health assessments and individual counseling services.
• Discharge planning and post-release case management for HIV positive inmates is provided at the Atlanta City Jail and Detention Center, Fulton County Jail, and DeKalb County Jail.

The Department of Education and Volunteer Services has a staff of 26 employees and
provides HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs targeted to high-risk HIV negative,
Latino/a, African-American, gay/bisexual, and adolescent communities, as well as secondary
prevention education. More than 80,000 prevention education contacts were made in 2007.

The Testing and Counseling Program of AID Atlanta conducted over 4,000 HIV tests in 2007,
with a positive result rate of 3-4%, demonstrating the ability to reach those most in need of
services. All HIV tests are conducted using OraQuick Advance, allowing almost immediate
delivery of test results and all newly diagnosed positive clients are provided information and
referrals for obtaining appropriate care and assistance to begin understanding and managing their illness.

The Joye Bradley Health Services Unit provides HIV wellness primary care services, referrals
to HIV dental care, and access to AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta (ARCA) and other
clinical trials to HIV positive individuals with CD4 counts over 200. The Joye Bradley Health
Services Unit provided care to 371 clients in 2007.

AID Atlanta's client population is representative of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Atlanta. The
majority of those served by the agency are African American (75%); 18% are White, 6%
Hispanic, and 1% other. Men account for 78% of those served, 20% are females, and 1%
transgendered. The table below indicates the racial breakdown among males and females. 55% of clients are ages 25-44, 40% are ages 45-64, while 4% are ages 13-24. Approximately 69% of clients are males who report sex with another male as mode of HIV transmission, 24% report heterosexual contact and 6% reported injection drug use. Ninety-nine percent of clients are at or below 300% of federal poverty level; 70% are at or below the federal poverty level. Forty-seven percent of those served have no public or private health insurance.

Click here to find out more, including information about their AIDS Walk/5k Run on October 18.

Welcome to Sunday Worship 9/13/09

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.

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.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us.

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren, 10:00 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PM
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM

Video Archive

AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem

OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
TX-The One Church, Garland
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore

Audio Archive
AZ-Community Church of Hope, Phoenix
AK-Open Door Community Church, Sherwood
CA-Christ Chapel of Long Beach
CA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
MD-Kittamaqundi Community, Columbia
NC-Revolution Charlotte
OH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron
OH-All Saints Community Church, Cortland
TN-Covenant of the Cross-Madison
TX-New Hope Fellowship Church-Dallas
TX-White Rock Community Church-Dallas
TX-Community Gospel Church-Houston
TX-Through Him Fellowship-Houston
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church

Can we pray for you? E-mail

Daily Devotional 9/13/2009 -"Jesus Is Coming"

From: Our Daily Bread

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. --1 Thessalonians 4:16

A Scottish preacher once said, "The doctrine of the Lord's second coming, as it appears in the New Testament, is like a lofty mountain that dominates the entire landscape."

Commenting on that statement, author A. J. Gordon adds, "No matter what road you take, no matter what pass you tread, you will find the mountain bursting on your vision at every turn of the way, and at every parting of the hills. What first struck me in reading the New Testament was this: Whatever doctrine I was pursuing, whatever precept I was enforcing, I found it fronting toward and terminating in the hope of the Lord's second coming. All paths of obedience and service lead on to that mountain."

Someone has pointed out that there are more than 300 references to Christ's return in the New Testament. One fact is clear--Jesus is coming back. Each day we are getting closer to that climactic moment. Today could be the day!

Are you ready? Knowing that Christ could return at any moment is a blessed hope and a comfort to all who have put their faith in Him (1 Th. 4:18; 5:11; Ti. 2:13). But He is also coming in fiery judgment on those who don't know Him and who reject the gospel (2 Th. 1:7-9).

Be ready! Jesus is coming! — Richard De Haan

The Lord has said He will return
To judge the world someday;
Are you prepared for Him to come
Or hoping for delay? --Sper

Don't complain about what this world is coming to; proclaim the One who is coming to this world.