May 20, 2006

Interview with Equality Maryland's Leader

A GLBT oriented magazine in the Washington, DC area, Metro Weekly, has posted an excellent interview with the head of Equality Maryland, Dan Furmansky.

I am a member of that organization, the leading GLBT advocacy group in the state of Maryland. As you will see in the interview, Equality Maryland has experienced excellent growth in both size and influence during Furmansky's two years as head honcho.

Last fall, I watched him more than hold his own with Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly during an interview on O'Reilly's prime-time program. Furmanksy has accomplished a lot at a relatively young age. He's worth getting to know more about.

May 19, 2006

What God Hath Joined Together

If you're a regular visitor here, you know one of my pet peeves (I have several) is people who don't practice what they preach. I had the opportunity to follow my own mantra recently when I not only attended my first same-sex committment ceremony/wedding, I actually played a very small role in it.

In this week's column for Gay Christian Outreach, I share the experience. The evening only strengthed beliefs I have often stated on this blog.

May 18, 2006

Constitutional Amendment Moves Forward

The U. S. Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage made it out of committee today in the Senate and will now be debated by the full Senate in June.

It didn't happen without an unusual bit of drama, at least between two straight men. As the hearing was winding down, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) stormed out after exchanging barbs with committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania). Specter told Feingold, "If you want to leave, good riddance." Of course, the fact that the hearing was being held in a room approximately the size of a closet may have helped fray nerves. Wouldn't want the voters to see this process at work, would they?

As with most things on Capitol Hill these days, the Judiciary Committee vote was 10-8, strictly along party lines with the Republicans holding the advantage.

The ACLU has set up a page on their web site to make it easy for concerned citizens to contact their congressmen and indicate their opposition to this discriminatory piece of legislation. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in fairness and equality for ALL Americans to click through on the link and make sure their voice is heard.

In a related item, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is still trying to do damage control following his recent interview on The 700 Club. As part of this, he gave an interview to "The Advocate".

While Dean is strongly opposed to this constitutional amendment, he won't take a stand FOR same sex-marriage.

Advocate: "Do you personally support marriage equality for same-sex couples?
Dean: "I’ve never answered that question. What I have said is that I support equal rights under the law for every single American. "

It sounds like the Democrats, or at least their leadership, will play defense and try to avoid additional restrictions to same-sex marriage, but don't count on them trying to help any gay or lesbian couples actually get legally married, at least not at this time.

May 17, 2006

Is the HRC Acting as Howard Dean's Lapdogs?

That the question raised by Washington Blade reporter Chris Cain in this piece. Cain's answer to his own question is yes and he does a through job of supporting it.

After Dean's screw-up on The 700 Club program last week, where he misstated the Democrat's 2004 platform position on marriage, the Human Rights Campaign chief Joe Solmonese slammed Dean's "serious lack of leadship" on the issue of same-sex marriage.

This week, however, Solmonese is quoted on the issue in an HRC press release saying "Voters want candidates focused on soaring gas prices, a healthcare crisis and national security, not putting discrimination in the United States Constitution."

As Cain points out in his writeup, this mirrors a release issued earlier the same day by the Democratic National Committee. In that release, the Democrats criticize Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for ignoring First Lady Larua Bush's suggestion over the weekend that the issue of same-sex marriage not be used as a major campaign issue. The Democrats pointed out, accurately I believe, that the Republicans are using the Federal Marriage Amendment to deflect attention from their own shortcomings as the 2006 elections approach.

Good politics is one thing but, as Cain points out, that strategy is harder to swallow when it is coming from a civil rights advocacy organization. It seems that the HRC's main strategy to oppose the Family Rights Amendment and state issues regarding same-sex marriage is to downplay their importance.

If I'm a gay or lesbian person who has been donating funds to and supporting the HRC expecting them to fight for my right to marry my same-sex partner, I would feel underserved at best and sold out at worst. I know I would want a little better approach than "Nothing to see here, we've all got bigger problems."

May 16, 2006

"Dear Pat Robertson"

You don't get to see many photos of Rev. Pat Robertson hanging out with gay guys, but this story from The Advocate has one.

This went beyond a funny prank, however. One of the five men in the picture, Andrew Brewer, took the opportunity of their brief connection to write a letter and reach out to Robertson.

The letter is printed in full in The Advocate piece, but here's the part that really struck me:

"The hypocrisy of using his name to marginalize men like us--at times making our lives excruciatingly difficult--while directly and blatantly contradicting his very clear teachings is both bold and unfathomable. "

You'll need to click on the link to see what Brewer was referring to. I bet you'll read it and go "hmmmm."

May 14, 2006

Could Gay Acceptance Just Be a Matter of Time?

That question is asked in this week's religion column in the Greensboro (NC) News-Record.

One of several interesting quotes in this column come from the well-known retired Bishop John Shelby Spong. He said, "There has never been a moment in the history of the human race where publicly debated prejudice continued to live." To support this, he cited slavery and rights for women as issues where public debate gradually changed our nation's society. I found that one of the more profound thoughts I have run accross in recent days.

Spong also cited poling data that shows younger people are much more comfortable with homosexuality and equal rights for GLBT people as a sign the tide is turning towards acceptance in mainstream society.

The Rev. Stanley Welch, the president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, sees it much differently. "We have stood together on this issue because it is very clearly biblical doctrine, and that's where other denominations have failed. ... They have allowed the times to dictate their doctrine," said Welch, pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis. "There's no way those two (same-sex marriage and biblical doctrine) are compatible."

I believe the best we can hope for in my lifetime (I'm 47 years old now) is that voices like Rev. Welch are clearly recoginzed as a minority and given less credence outside their particular circle of influence. That would be a great step forward for the GLBT community to be accepted as a full-fledged member of society.

It would also reduce (although not eliminate) scenes like this described by Rev. Julie Peeples, a Greensboro resident. "I cannot tell you how many people have sat on that couch wanting me to tell them that God doesn't hate them.....It's a real struggle for them to stop the voices they heard growing up."

People can tell you wrong and hateful things, but God is ALWAYS right, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS reaching out for us. We just have to ignore those who would tell us otherwise and press in toward Him, allowing His love to heal us and point our lives in the direction He has planned for us.

Many parts of society do not accept homosexual people, but God always has and always will.