November 04, 2006

Evangelical Leader Steps Down, Admits "Some Indiscretion"

The religious right took another severe hit this week with the downfall of Rev. Ted Haggard, an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, Haggard resigned as the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, a group representing 45,000 churches with a combined total of over 30 million members after allegations that he paid for sex with a man from whom he also purchased drugs.

On Saturday, Haggard resigned at the pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs that he founded over 20 years ago after an investigative board of the church determined he was guilty of "sexually immoral conduct."

The Advocate has an exclusive interview with Mike Jones, Haggard's accuser.

The facts in this case are not clear. Haggard has admitted to part of what Jones accused him of, and Jones failed a polygraph test during a live radio interview Friday morning.

What is clear, though, is yet another of the loudest voices on the religous right has come up short. One of the men who love pointing fingers at those they do not deem as worthy of God's love as they are has taken a hard, painful fall off the pedistal they placed themselves upon.

This is another reminder that we ALL fall short of God's will for our lives and that we only gain admittance to heaven through his grace, not through earning it by our actions. As a result, no man is in position to judge his fellow man.

Hopefully, this situation will help open some minds and hreats to that critcially important truth.

November 03, 2006

Falwell: Clergy Sex-Abuse Case a "Bump In the Road"

Excerpted from an article on

Jerry Falwell called high-profile allegations that a former pastor of a prominent independent Baptist church molested and raped numerous children over the course of decades a "bump in the road."

"When you hit a bump in the road--the pastor has mentioned six months here of challenges--forget the bump in the road. That's all it is. You've got to move on," Falwell said in a keynote address of a three-day meeting of the Southwide Baptist Fellowship at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Robert Gray, the former 30-year pastor who led the church out of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1960s, was arrested
in May. He is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 27 on two counts of capital sexual battery, because two of his accusers say he molested them when they were 6 years old.

Twenty-two people, including one man, have come forward since May to accuse Gray of abusing them. The other allegations involve children older than 12, meaning they cannot be prosecuted due to a statute of limitations.

Twenty two people accuse a church pastor of sexual battery and it's a bump in the freakin' road?!

I'm willing to bet the victims approach it a tad differently.

Of course, if your main purpose in visting a church is to keep them aligned with your political goals rather than ministering to their souls with the Holy Spirit, I suppose it's easier to look past these "bumps in the road."

In this follow-up piece, Ethics Today tells how leaders of the church covered up Gray's pattern of abuse out of fear that public knowledge would harm the effectiveness of the ministry.

If their leadership truly felt that way, I have to question how it could have possibly been effective in the first place.

November 01, 2006

Casting the First Stone

What was it that Jesus said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone."

There's a bunch of folks in Jerusalem who aren't following that guidance, using stones and bottles as part of their rioting against an upcoming gay pride parade. Religion plays a part in this--the rioters are apparently members of an ultra Orthodox Jewish sect.

This is scheduled to be the second annual such event in Jerusalem. Last year the organizers, a group called Open House, needed a court order to proceed. The parade featured over a dozen arrests and three stabbings.

Apparently people wanted to get an early jump on the violence in an attempt to get the parade cancelled to protect national security. Already, over 70 members of Parliment have signed a petition against holding the parade.

It just goes to show yet again that regardless of the struggles GLBT Americans have, there are others worse off.

Please join me in praying for the safety of those who participate in this event and the softening of the hearts of those who are using violence to protest.

October 31, 2006

Equality Maryland: "Preparing for a Bruising"

Dan Furmansky, the Executive Director of Equality Maryland, the LGBT advocacy group I belong to, issued a note to members regarding next week's elections. He is bracing supporters for more short term losses as several more states are expected to pass amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, but remains optimistic for the long term:

"It may be little consolation on Nov. 8, but no matter what happens at the polls, eventually, we will win. No matter how many Americans stand against us, eventually we will win. The journey may be a long one, and we may bleed and bruise, but when it comes to basic fairness and justice, equality will always prevail."

Here is the entire note:

I wish it wasn’t necessary to write this, but it is. As an LGBT civil rights leader, I feel I must prepare our community for when voters go to the polls next week.

We were shocked and saddened when eleven states voted to change their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage in November 2004. Reading the gay press afterwards, it was as though we had no idea it was coming, and indeed, most of us hadn't prepared for it. We had hoped to win in Oregon, maybe even in Michigan...but we lost everywhere, in some cases to devastating margins.

Then, pundits and so-called progressives poured lemon juice into our wounds with their unscientific analysis that the marriage issue is what "cost us" the elections. Many LGBT Americans weren't feeling much of an "us" with John Kerry anyway, after he was the only MA member of Congress to speak out in favor of an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, which the Legislature there thankfully rejected.

Those were dark days none of us want to relive, but we must steady ourselves once again. In a few weeks, media across the country will be reporting on all of the new states that have changed their constitutions. And we could lose in every one of the states with proposed amendments.
It might sting—badly—and right on the heels of New York and Washington high court marriage rulings against us.

I pray I’m wrong, and that instead we’ll be greeted with headlines like the one that appeared in the New York Times on October 14th: “Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue.” I want to see headlines announcing our victories in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Arizona, and everywhere.

But I'm here to urge us to be prepared for what we weren't last time. Most of what I read in the press these days contains hopeful pieces. A September Advocate article had the headline: "Poll: Opposition to Virginia same-sex marriage amendment grows." Several gay media outlets touted a poll from South Dakota that indicated only 48% of voters in that state support the amendment. The Blade reported two weeks ago: "fights in three other states – Arizona, South Dakota and Wisconsin – are competitive and too close to call."

Lord knows I couldn't do this work if an optimist didn't reside somewhere in this heart of mine. As someone who lived in Wisconsin for almost six years, I am hopeful that the first state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will be the first to reject these repulsive public gay bashings that are wrapped up in the guise of "defining" marriage.

Indeed, we could come incredibly close in a few states, which would tell us that attitudes are changing. But close or not, if we fail on a popular vote across the board, the media will point and yell "losers" faster than you can say Foley Scandal. And some in our community will cannibalize those who steadfastly fight for equal marriage rights.

If this doomsday scenario comes to pass, we'll wear dark sunglasses for a couple of days. We'll empathize with those in our community who must wonder which of their neighbors voted against their family. But we'll move on.

We'll continue to fight, just as people have done for years before us, and will do years after us. We fought for seventeen years until we overturned a Supreme Court ruling that allowed for the criminalization of consensual same-sex relations. We survived DOMA, and have gone on to see relationship recognition in MA with equal marriage rights, CT and VT with civil unions, NJ, CA, and ME with domestic partnership registries, and HI with a reciprocal beneficiary law.

We are a community of survivors. No matter how much dung the Pat Buchanans of the world hurl at us, we will wash ourselves off and continue to fight for basic dignity and respect.

After we lost the marriage cases in Washington and New York, Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry, told a crowd of Equality Maryland members that the courts sometimes take the easy way out. After all, he took thirteen state supreme courts to reject the argument that interracial marriage bans were unconstitutional before California's Supreme Court had the courage to strike down its ban in 1948—flying in the face of public opinion. After that brave ruling, six states changed their constitutions to “define marriage” in a way that would prevent interracial unions.

No matter what the setbacks, we must continue to view our movement as part of a broader movement for social justice. We must continue to draw inspiration and lessons from those who pioneered social change in the past and continue to welcome the partnerships of those doing this important work today in all areas of rights and freedoms.

As Dr. King said, "All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem." Our gains in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, and other places have led to opposition and setbacks. Karl Rove and his cohorts are preying upon fear of change and "the other" to orchestrate a campaign that makes a constitutional amendment to limit rights socially acceptable and seemingly innocuous. The success of these amendments elsewhere makes our struggle here in Maryland increasingly important, especially with oral arguments to win marriage equality here scheduled before our high court for early December.

It may be little consolation on Nov. 8, but no matter what happens at the polls, eventually, we will win. No matter how many Americans stand against us, eventually we will win. The journey may be a long one, and we may bleed and bruise, but when it comes to basic fairness and justice, equality will always prevail.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

Martin Luther King Jr., Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1964

October 30, 2006

Can You Judge a Man By the Company He Keeps?

I know that most of the readers here cringe at that word, "judge," but hopefully you are familiar with the cliche that question is based on.

Here is a case where we can certainly gain some disturbing insight into someone's character by who they are not only associating with but actively promoting. This article specifically refers to Dr. James Dobson and his two day love-fest with right wing sociopath Ann Coulter on the Focus on the Family radio program.

The article goes into plenty of detail about Ms. Coulter's background and how it made her a horribly inappropriate guest for any broadcast sponsored by a allegedly Christian organization. During one of the shows, Coulter referred to the title of her latest rant, Godless, the Church of Liberalism by saying, "they are the opposition party to God." Given her well documented public displays, some of which are listed in this article, it is not clear exactly what her credentials are to make that statement or offer any intelligent commentary regarding Christianity.

These appearances also further diminish Dr. Dobson's credentials as a minister while building them up as an operative of the Republican party.

October 29, 2006

An Example Of What We're Fighting

In the wake of last week's New Jersey court decision, a columnist named Kevin McCullough wrote a column on World Net Daily (a right-wing breeding ground) titled "Why Homosexuals Hate Marriage."

I mention this here to affirm how deeply rooted this bigotry is and the broad forum these people have to spew their hate. Here are some excerpts:

"Despite all that their angry-mob front groups argue in front of television cameras to the contrary, radical homosexual activists despise the institution, and more importantly the sanctity, of marriage. That is the fundamental reason why they are seeking to destroy the institution.

This week – dateline Trenton, N.J. – a unified panel of seven judges agreed that illegitimate sexual unions should be made equitable under law to that of monogamous married persons. Without the consent of the governed, these tyrants in black robes sat in judgment of healthy families across the universe and demanded that New Jersey residents accept immoral construction of sexual unions as the equal basis for families and family life in their recreated sexual, liberal utopia."

Of course, the judges wouldn't be "tyrants in black robes" if they had made the "acceptable" decison. How pathetic is that arguement? And what will the right wing say when they lose votes?

Want some more?

"But why? What's the real goal of the activists, the judges and the radicals who seek to subvert a moral worldview?

The answer is simple: No longer satisfied with practicing the unspeakable perverse sexual pleasures that their hearts seek in private bedrooms, they wish to be able to do so in public. They are also suffering from such immense guilt over their sexual behaviors, because they know inherently that the actions they perform are in fact unhealthy, that they will go to any means necessary to try and shut down the voices in their heads that tell them it is wrong.

Radical homosexual activists hate biblical marriage, because to achieve its benefits and blessings they must first conform to God's plan for sexuality, and the sinful nature in man is not willing to make such submission and conformity happen. The existence of joyful biblical marriage being practiced by "thumpers" in "Jesusland" infuriates them and thus the only action they can attempt is to destroy the institution that allows for such fundamental societal success.

Radical homosexual activists hate marriage because fundamentally they hate God, and the guilt of both drives them to extremes."

Sadly, this right-wing nut got a book published and is on the radio in the New York and Philadelphia areas. People full of this much hate, who have things so "simply" defined in their black-and-white world, who can so easily dismiss an entire group of people and lump them all in one, will not go away easily. Losing a court decision will only strengthen their resolve and have them coming back with more bigotry, more hatred, and more pronouncement's of God's judgement. They won't go away easily.

The God this hate monger speaks of is not the God I know, the God who sent Jesus down to earth to die for our sins. Thank God.