March 31, 2007

Anglican Head Wants Churces to be "Safe Place" for GLBT People

From The Christian Post:

The Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, said the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke just after the Anglican Communion made available an interim report on churches' commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people.

"The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people," Williams stated.

"There are contexts where it is difficult to find a safe place for gay and lesbian people to speak about their lives openly," said the Anglican leader. "There are contexts where people assume the debate is over. The report shows that listening is possible, but also that there is a great deal still to be done. The work continues, but we have a solid start here."

"I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties [of homosexual people]," stated Williams. "It is impossible to read this [interim] report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms."

Treating GLBT people like, well, people, is an important fundamental step toward not tolerating them but completely accepting them as full and equal partners in God's kingdom. It sounds like Archbishop Williams gets that, but the U. S. branch of the Anglicans, the Episcopal Church, is still under a September 30 deadline to respond to a moratorium on consecrating homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions.

I'll be keeping an eye on that situation as it develops.

March 30, 2007

UK Prime Minister Takes Strong Stand for LGBT Rights

United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair recently delivered the keynote address at a dinner for Stonewall, the UK's biggest gay rights organization - making Blair what is believed to be the first time a national leader has addressed an LGBT civil rights group while still in office.

Blair told the guests at London's ritzy Dorchester Hotel that one of his proudest accomplishments has been in enacting a national LGBT civil rights law and the passage of Britain's partnership unions law that gives gay couples all of the rights of marriage, although not the name.

"[By] taking a stand on this issue and by removing a piece of prejudice and discrimination, and by enabling people to stand proud as what they are, it has had an impact that I think is far more profound on the way the country thinks about itself."

Although joined at the hip with U. S. President Bush concerning the efforts in the Iraq war, Blair has taken a divergent path from Bush on gay rights since Bush has pushed for a Constitutional amendment making same-sex marriage illegal and is opposing a hate crime bill currently under consideration in Congress.

Kudos to Prime Minister Blair for bringing some civility back to Western civilization.

March 28, 2007

More Opportunities For GLBT People in the Jewish Faith

From an Associated Press report via the Washington Post:

The seminary considered the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism said Monday it will start accepting gay and lesbian applicants, after scholars who guide the movement lifted the ban on gay ordination.

The Conservative branch holds the middle ground in American Judaism, adhering to tradition while allowing some change for modern circumstances.

The larger and more liberal Reform Jewish movement, as well as the smaller Reconstructionist wing, allow gays to become rabbis; the Orthodox branch bars gays and women from ordination.

In December, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards voted to allow the seminaries to decide on their own whether to admit openly gay students. However, their decision also left leeway for synagogues to reject gay and lesbian clergy if the congregations believe that same-sex relationships violate Scripture.

There is more detail within the article I've linke to. Kudos to these Jewish leaders who have taken an important step forward for GLBT equality.

Rising From Humble Beginnings to the "World's Largest Gay Church"

The Washington Post ran a recent Reuters report about the Cathederal of Hope, a gay-affirming church in Dallas, Texas (how deliciously ironic is that location?) that claims to be the world's biggest gay church. Recently affiliating itself with the gay-friendly United Church of Christ, the Cathederal of Hope has 3,500 members and a worship center that can seat up to 900 people.

Jo Hudson, the senior pastor and rector of the church, estimates up to 90% of the membership is GLBT.

You can click here to visit the Cathederal of Hope website. It sounds like their message directly ties in with their name.

March 27, 2007

There Are Traeoffs for Black Pastors Who Accept GLBT People

Accoring to this report in the New York Times, Rev. Dennis Mereith of Tabernacle Baptist Church began preaching about acceptance of gay men and lesbians and promptly lost 300 of the 1,100 members of his church. Rev. Oliver White, senior minister of Grace Community Church, lost nearly his entire 70 person membership after he supported same-sex marriage in their denomination, the United Church of Christ. Attendance at Victory Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia fell from 6,000 a week to 3,000 after Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel began preaching acceptance of GLBT people.

It is no coincidence that both of these churches have congregations primarily made up of African-Americans.

“The church has to come to a point when it has to embrace all the people Jesus embraced, and that means the people in the margins,” Dr. Samuel said. “It really bothered my congregation when I said that as people of color who have been ostracized, marginalized, how can we turn around now and oppress other people?”

Speaking for the other side:

“It is one of several factors that are taking away the interest in traditional marriage in the African-American community,” said Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., the president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, a black conservative Christian group.

I recommend checking out the entire article to read about those black preachers who are courageous enough to stand up for equality inclusive of ALL people.

March 26, 2007

Another Interesting View On Same-Sex Marriage

This essay on the site Online Journal is another well presented case for legalizing same-sex marriage. I particularly liked this part:

And equality is really all they want. That’s really all there is to the so-called “gay agenda.” Simple equality. No special privileges, just the same rights as everyone else.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage say that it would undermine the institution of marriage. But isn’t heterosexual infidelity already doing that?

I fail to see how legalizing same-sex marriage would have any effect on heterosexual marriages. As James Carville once said, “I was against gay marriage until I found out I didn’t have to have one.” No, anyone who feels that his own heterosexual marriage would be threatened if gays could marry obviously has some very deep issues that can’t be fixed through legislation.

This country was founded on the principle that all people -- not just the heterosexual ones -- are created equal. It’s time to make that principle a reality. It’s time for the homophobes of America to stop worrying about what consenting adults are doing in the privacy of their own homes. After all, time and time again we’ve seen that those who want to control what goes on in other people’s bedrooms seem to have the most to hide in their own. (Can you say “Ted Haggard”?)

This reminds me of the cliche, "the best defense is a good offense." Doesn't it seem like people with an awful lot to hide are among those most vociferously opposing same-sex marriage and anything that would move GLBT people even a centimeter closer to equal rights?

It's usually easier to attack someone else for their perceived shortcomings than to look in the mirror and address one's own.

March 25, 2007

Help a GLBT Activist Who Is Reaching Out to Help Local Kids

My good friend Sharone, a proud member of the GLBT community, is participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters "Bowl For Kids' Sake" on April 22. I met Sharone when I joined Believers Covenant Fellowship, and she is a passionate advocate for GLBT people and anyone who is on the short end of society's stick. She lives in New Mexico now and is blessing a new community with her volunteer work, which includes performing as a clown.

Please consider helping to support a worthy cause. Here is the link to her webpage for the event--you can donate online like I did.

A Straight GLBT Ally In Wyoming

If you're scouting the United States trying to find straight people who are standing up for GLBT equality, Wyoming is probably one of the last places you would look. If you did check that state, however, you would find Dan Zwonitzer, a Republican state representative.

According to this report by the Washington Blade, Zwonitzer spoke out against a proposed bill in the Wyoming house that would ban recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside the state.

“I believe this is the civil rights struggle of my generation,” Zwonitzer, who is straight, said during the meeting (see page 44 for full text). In the brief speech, he emphasized the importance of promoting equal rights so future generations wouldn’t look back on lawmakers with dismay.

Zwonitzer, a fifth-generation Wyomingite, says he became more conscious of the needs for civil rights for gays during his four years at Georgetown, where he was friends with several gay students.

“I guess I really began to understand their struggle and the struggle of the gay population to get basic rights,” Zwonitzer says. “It’s not special rights, it’s just equal rights. I guess it really was the politics of the East that broadened my horizons. Hopefully, I brought that back to Wyoming and expanded our horizons back here.”

A few days ago, I wrote about the lack of leadership being demonstrated on GLBT equality issues by current presidential candidates. In this situation, Zwonitzer showed the kind of leadership I felt was lacking at higher levels. Hopefully the people of Wyoming appreciate having a politician with the strength of character to stand up for something not because it was politically expedient, but because he felt it was the right thing to do.