December 01, 2007

More on World AIDS Day

Here are several stories I thought worth bringing to your attention since today is the worldwide day to bring awareness of AIDS to the forefront.

Can you believe 1/3 of Americans say they know little or nothing about AIDS? This report from the Christian Post talks about that.

The Christian Post also reports that Christians are stepping up their engagement in this global crisis. About time.

Newsweek reports on where candidates stand regarding fighting AIDS. Sounds like their position is mostly off to the side.

Newsweek also has a gallery showing an AIDS timeline.

President Bush visited Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy, Maryland yesterday for a speech where he called for Congress to add $15 billion over the next five years to its funding for foreign prevention and treatment programs. As long as these programs emphasize abstenance, their effectiveness will be limited, but more funding can't be a totally bad thing.

I point this story out in part because I grew up in Mount Airy and later lived their for eight years. I was the best man for a wedding at that Calvary United Methodist, which was selected for Bush's visit because of volunteer work the church did over in Nambia last year. Their story is a wonderful example of the impact a local church can have on people's lives if they are willing to put others ahead of their own needs. I also dare say that the President's visit was the biggest thing to ever happen in Mount Airy, a town of about 7,000 people nestled between Baltimore and DC.

November 30, 2007

"We Must Not Tolerate Hate Crimes"

That's the title of a commentary in the Christian Science Monitor co-authored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) in support of the Matthew Shepard Act (the Hate Crimes Bill).

The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act makes clear that victims of hate crimes based on their gender, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity should be protected under federal law.

The legislation also updates current law by removing the outdated requirement that a victim be engaging in one of a limited number of activities, such as traveling in interstate commerce, in order for the federal government to intervene. The legislation will also amend current law to cover crimes occurring in private residences, so that the federal government can investigate and prosecute hate crimes – regardless of where they occur.

The White House has threatened to veto this legislation, questioning Congress's constitutional authority to strengthen the federal hate crimes law. Prominent constitutional scholars disagree, because the pending legislation is clearly within the power that the Constitution grants to Congress and properly respects the principles of federalism. Claims that the bill will allow prosecutions of "hate speech" are also misleading. The act punishes violence that results in death or bodily injury, not speech. Nothing in the bill will trump any individual's right to free speech.

We urge the president to do the right thing and sign this measure into law. In doing so, he can send an important message that all victims of hate crimes should be protected, reinforcing our founding ideals of liberty and justice for all.

There are no special rights here as opponents like to claim, merely the enforcement of existing rights for another minority.

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day

Saturday, December 1 is World AIDS Day. There are many local events all over the world to commemorate it, check in your neighborhood to see what is going on around you.

Here is a link to the World AIDS Campaign's site that is a good overall resource. While we should be aware of the worldwide AIDS crisis everyday, these events are important to increase awareness among people who don't normally consider it.

November 29, 2007

One Way of Leveling the Playing Field

This is a story about a church in Minneapolis, MN that is considering a unique approach to the legal prohibition of marrying same-sex couples. They are ready to vote on the idea of not signing marriage certificates for opposite-sex couples either and would be the fourth chruch in that area to do so. I'm not sure I agree with their approach but I strongly support their motivataion, much more so than churches in Massachussetts that stopped performing legal weddings when same-sex marriage was legalized.

From the City Pages in Minneapolis:

On Sundays, the Saint Paul-Reformation Church often holds informal soup and
bread gatherings to discuss congregation business. It was at one of these
meetings about two years ago that Jim McGowan, a member for more than two
decades, proposed that the church stop marrying straight couples.

The church had long welcomed members of all sexual orientations—they had
even bucked local Lutheran leadership and ordained a lesbian pastor. But
McGowan, a straight man, nonetheless saw a subtle form of discrimination. If the
church couldn't legally marry gay couples, he argued, it shouldn't marry
straight ones either.

None of the 50 or so people present in the basement that Sunday stood up to
contradict McGowan's proposition. So today, Saint Paul-Reformation is in the
process of enacting a church ban on what he calls "the state's business" of
civil unions.

If the congregation does vote to abstain from civil marriage duties, the
church will still perform ceremonies for both straight and same-sex couples. The
only difference will be that heterosexual couples will have to take the extra
step of seeking out a judge to make their nuptials legal.

"We are looking at the function of our church in marriage ceremonies,"
says Anita Hill, a pastor at Saint Paul-Reformation. "Is it just to get it done
in a pretty place? We're not in the wedding business; we're in the blessing

More from Rev. Dr. Jerry Maneker:

Imagine the impact same-sex couples and allies would have on churches if
they continuously insisted, through speaking out, picketing, and writing
letters, that they be married in those churches! Imagine the impact same-sex
couples would have if they and their allies continuously picketed marriage
license bureaus insisting that they be given the same right to marry as
heterosexual citizens.

As I've written many times before, marriage is crucial for full and equal
civil rights to accrue to Gay people, as once that right is approved, virtually
all other civil and sacramental rights will be won; the legitimacy of Gay people
will be recognized, with the conferring of dignity and full equality being part
and parcel of that legitimacy.

So, whether or not any Gay person wants to get married, it is imperative
that all Gay people and allies demand marriage rights, both for the well-being
of those who do want to marry, as well as for the realization of full and equal
civil and sacramental rights for all Gay people!

A Salute to Servicemen and Womend Dismissed Under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

From the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

SLDN is proud to partner with Servicemembers United (formerly Call to Duty), the Human Rights Campaign, Log Cabin Republicans and Liberty Education Forum for a 3-day salute to the 12,000 men and women dismissed under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Beginning November 30th (the date "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" became law), 12,000 flags will be exhibited on the National Mall in our nation's capital. The 12,000 flags are an extraordinary, visual tribute to the service members who have been victims of this unjust and un-American law. The flags will be displayed from November 30th through December 2nd here in Washington, D.C.

Check the link for the list of events commemorating an event that had a negative impact on all involved in a positive manner.

November 28, 2007

Evangelicals Mobilize to Fight AIDS

Working to help sick people is biblical? Sounds like a radical idea, but it just might catch on if this group of evangelicals has its way.


Kay Warren says five years ago she was a "white suburban mom with a
minivan" helping her husband run one of the most influential evangelical
churches in the United States and barely aware of the global AIDS crisis.

Today, Warren will host the third conference on her church's role in
fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic after a spiritual awakening that rocked her own
faith and challenged how the evangelical community responds to what many still
regard as a "gay cancer."

More than 50 international speakers -- including the first ladies of Rwanda
and Zambia and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton -- will gather
at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Southern California on Wednesday for
three days to mobilize local churches around the world to help prevent HIV/AIDS
and care for its victims."

This is the passion, the call of my life," said Warren, a quintessential
California blue-eyed blonde. She admits that U.S. evangelicals have been "late
to the party" on the AIDS issue and castigates the "sinful absence and puny
efforts" of her community's past track record."

I see more and more individual churches, pastors and believers who are
recognizing that this is what the Bible teaches and that there is nothing
strange about it," Warren told Reuters of her campaign.

DC Is Also the HIV/AIDS Capital of the United States

This report on tells us that Washington, DC has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate of any city in the United States. Worth noting, however, is that the increases are coming more from heterosexual people and the age group of 40-49 years old, working against most sterotypes people use when they even consider HIV/AIDS at all:

A new report by District of Columbia health officials paints a bleak
picture of Washington's efforts to curb the rising rate of HIV/AIDS, showing
that the district has the highest infection rate of any city in the country.

Almost one in every fifty people in Washington is living with HIV/AIDS - a
total of 12,400 people.

The report found that at the end of 2006 there were 8,368 reported cases of
HIV/AIDS, a 43 percent increase from 2001.

African Americans make up 57 percent of the district's population but
accounted for 81 percent of the new cases of HIV and total nearly 86 percent of
PWAs in the city.

The report also said that the virus is spreading more quickly among
heterosexuals than gay men.

Between 2001 and 2006 37 percent of the new cases of HIV were among
heterosexuals while men who have sex with men accounted for 25

The new cases also are growing among mature men and women. The change began
showing up in 2004 and since then the number of new HIV cases in people between
40 and 49 has outpaced every other age group.

"HIV/AIDS in the district has become a modern epidemic with complexities
and challenges that continue to threaten the lives and well-being of far too
many residents," the report said.

Unprotected sex was the most common way HIV. is spread, followed by
intravenous drug use.

Christmas Gifts

With Christmas Here is the latest column by straight ally Kathy Badlock in Reno, NV:

A friend asked me a few weeks back, when we were talking about integrity I think it was, if I had ever opened any Christmas gifts on the sneak before Christmas morning. "No", I said, "Why would I want to spoil the surprise?" Now mind you this was during a conversation about integrity and .....I lied. I guess I didn't think it counted, as I was only five when I did it. It bothered me that I lied about something so simple and I've thought about the sneaked gift several times since the question. I was turning it over and over in my head as I hiked in the canyons nearmy home, trying to connect the gift, Christmas, who I was and who I am. Somehow they were all jumbling around in my mind in the same plane, so I let them comfortably settle in till it made some sense.

I went on line today to a favorite spot, Google Images, and typed in"Suzy Smart". Ah, memories. If you are of my vintage, you will rememberher. Twenty-four inches tall, blonde hair in a ponytail, tartan jumperand tam, white Peter Pan collared shirt, a desk and blackboard. She wasone of the first talking dolls. She proudly declared her superior intelligence. "C-A-T spells cat, D-O-G spells dog. 2 + 2 is 4." My Mom had her hidden in the hall closet till Santa came. (This was also the year I knew Santa did not come down the fire escape to my apartment.) In a one-bedroom apartment with three closets and four people, there was not much room to hide things, so there I sneaked a peek at Suzy the week before Christmas.

I grew up in New York City in the 50's and 60's, a city of 9 million people, pretty crowded, and I was lonely. Suzy was my pal. I played school with her. I talked to her. I hung out with her. When I could read, I transitioned from Suzy to Harold, you know the bald boy of "Harold and the Purple Crayon"? For personal reasons, I felt very safe in these fantasy worlds. It has taken me a long time to feel truly comfortable with me. You'd never believe that if you knew me. The kind of comfort I am talking of though now is the so-sure-I-am-valuable-and-accepted-comfortable. And how does this all tie into Christmas? I once thought as a child does, duh, and thought Christmas was all about the gifts, about Suzy hidden in the Christmas wrap in the closet. Then I graduated to adult. It became about the gift exchanges between friends and family. Now, however, I think I finally have gotten it. It is really about the relationships I have in my life.I can only do them so well and so openly and so freely because I am comfortable with me.

Christmas songs speak of the baby Jesus in a manger with lowing oxen and men with gifts. That was just the start. He grew to be a radical of His time. He broke so many of the traditional rules. The Jesus the gay community often hears of is inaccurate, the one who is not very kind to you. Check Him out for yourself. Go on line and go to any Bible translation website and read the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in the Message translation in particular. The real Jesus was all about justice and compassion and mercy. The strongest words He spoke were reserved for the uber-religious of His time. I have heard lesbians declare that Jesus "hated women". Wrong. The culture of that time most certainly devalued women, but read for yourself (in the account of the Samaritan woman) how Hero Jesus treated women, and children for that matter. Children were even lesser than women in that culture and Jesus told people they were better off dead that to hurt a child.

It is this Jesus who is not only my example of behavior; it is this Jesus who has given me a very solid picture of who I am. Lonely children hanging with their Suzy Smart and traveling the imaginary world with Harold don't usually end up with solid self-image. But I have. And I have because a baby was born in a manger. A baby who grew up tobe a man. It was all part of God's plan from the start.

Some people don't get the whole Christian-thing, the why-is-Jesus-so-important thing. Here is as simply as I can explain it: from the start, God knew we'd mess up, each of us, all of us, but He is still crazy about us. He took a part of Himself (very simplified theology here) and sent Him to earth to be born as a man, to be an example, to challenge old systems and ways of thinking and get killed for breaking all the rules. From the very start, in the garden, it has only been the spilling of some kind of blood that works for payment of doing wrong. The blood of God Himself is the purest and most powerful blood and it dealt with ALL wrong for ALL time. So, when I choose to align myself with the Mega-Radical, I get to view me from His point of view because all the bad I have done is erased. Very cool! I am no longer an outcast only good enough for Suzy and Harold; I am good enough for God Himself. That will boost your image!!!! And it brings lots of security. I don't need to look to you or to anyone to validate me. I get to just be me. And, I get to love you just the way you are. I don't need to change you, to straighten you out, to threaten you, to ignore you just because you are not like me.

I have said this before...I believe the gay community has been given a very wrong picture of the baby-turned-man-of Christmas AND the wrong picture of your community has gone the other way too. If we could just each see how truly valuable we are in God's eyes, maybe we could skip all the posturing and just be kind and accepting to one another.

I love Christmas time and not for the gifts. I love it because people take the time for about four weeks to stop and recognize the value ofrelationship. Maybe they are doing it with gifts, but think about thetime we actually give one another in December to just be together. That is the priceless gift, time with one another.

Check out the true message of this season for yourself. Stop gettingduped by the repeated rhetoric. For anonymity, go on line to and ask all thequestions you want in very open and honest forums. The people in thatsocial networking community are very welcoming. There is also a churchin Reno where you are safe to be you and questioning. Ask all you want,turn it around in your head till you come to your own conclusion.Pastor Denise at Light of the Soul Christian Ministries (on Sunnyside at7 pm on Sundays) will tell you about this radical Jesus that loves women(oh, and men too!). Get His vision of you and you will get the gift ofthe season. Things may not be changing very quickly in this societywhere the marginalized are, well, marginalized. But, if you can alterthe view of you, all that ugliness coming at you will have less impact.

Suzy and Harold got me through the lonely years, I am very okay now andsecure enough to let you be you and love you the way you are. Have awonderful Christmas appreciating the finest things in life, the thingswrapped in skin and not holly paper. From me to you....Merry Christmas.

November 27, 2007

"Love = Love"

This writer of this piece from the Christian Century, which I am posting in its entirety, may not be totally gay affirming, but she does have a healthy sense of perspective:

I have a t-shirt that says, “Gay? Fine by me.” I have another with stick figures in three pairs: one, a man and a woman; another, two men; the third, two women, and all with the caption “Love = Love.” I was raised to love people no matter what they look like or what they think or do. I am grateful for that. But I don’t wear those shirts often, because I find myself on the fence on this issue.

The question of ordaining gays has been brought very close to home as a young woman I know who wants to be ordained in the United Methodist Church has come out as a lesbian.

To see people that I know and love being denied the fullness of their pursuit of what they perceive as God’s call on their lives is troubling at the very least. I cannot ignore my church’s stance on the issue, much less the scriptural basis in which it is grounded. The fact of the matter is that the United Methodist Church, of which I am a part, does not ordain gays. If I pursue ordination myself, there will be times when I will have to adhere to the tradition of my denomination, which may mean denying support to friends who want to be ordained. It breaks my heart to think about having to do so.

The church I attend in Durham, North Carolina, is a diverse congregation, and that includes diversity in sexual orientation and gender identification. I know that there are some people in that church who believe that homosexuality is a serious sin, but they still share hymnals with our gay members and hug them during the passing of the peace. They may not agree with their life choices, but they love them unconditionally.

It seems to me that this is the church’s best response to the question of homosexuality. A person’s sexual orientation—or race, age, gender, etc.—should never prevent him or her from being included in the worshiping body of Christ. I have seen what it looks like for a church to “love the sinner and hate the sin.” If it were not possible to do this, how could any of us ever relate to one another? We know all too well that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

But several questions remain. Why is homosexuality portrayed as so grievous a sin by the church when adulterers, even among the clergy, are not always dealt with consistently? Is the issue of ordaining gays eventually going to follow the trajectory that the question of ordaining women did (at least among most Protestant churches), or is this a different kind of question? Are we really accepting gays into the body of Christ if we love them unconditionally but do not allow them to be ordained?

New HIV Infections in UK GLBT Community At Highest Rate Ever

From PinkNews:

The latest figures released today from the Health Protection Agency reveal that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK is at its highest rate since the start of the epidemic.

2,700 gay and bisexual men were newly diagnosed last year, the highest number ever.

Across the UK 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV and estimates suggest this figure is as high as 1 in 10 in London.

The increase in diagnosis comes at a time when the National AIDS Trust claims funding for HIV prevention is inadequate.

In the past 10 years the number of people being seen for HIV care has more than trebled, but a recent National AIDS Trust survey into Primary Care Trusts revealed that in the same period the amount spent on HIV prevention has decreased.

Wow, this story is wrong in every way imagineable! How could funding for prevention be down? How could infections be skyrocketing?

I suspect complacency has set in. Just because HIV-positive people are living much longer lives than they did back in the 1980's doesn't mean that HIV is like catching the flu. Fortunately research has enabled doctors to greatly enhance the quality of people's lives, but it is still an extremely serious and potentially deadly disease, and it can usually be prevented.

AIDS awareness is still critical beyond the GLBT community. Governments need to take it seriously and, more importantly, so do individuals. It is still true that the lives you may save are you own and the person you love.

November 26, 2007

Using the Phrase "Gay Lifestyle"

Dave Muskera, a writer for a publication called "American Chronicle," just nails it with an article titled, "The Gay Lifestyle. Are You Missing Out?" He covers the two primary ways the phrase "gay lifestyle" is misused:

So by using the term gay lifestyle, which has constantly been negatively spun, the hope of the propaganda machine is that there will be a non-thinking automatic negative emotional response in the minds and hearts of most people. Well, I fear it has worked with a distressingly large number of otherwise good and gentle folks. These same people never consider what kind of kinky heterosexual sex films could be made at a New Orleans Mardi Gra or the annual Carnival Festival in Brazil. In both events, open sexual intercourse in the streets is not all that unusual. But these nice folks don’t think about these things or even the thousands of images that could be pulled from heterosexual porn. And even if all this were paraded in front of them, it would never be used to condemn all heterosexuals for sinful misbehavior. Yet, somehow, the stupid immature shenanigans of a relatively few gay people is always offered-up and usually accepted as evidence that all gays are somehow evil, sick and depraved.

There are some heterosexuals I know (not me or Pastor Brenda, mind you) that are engaging in pretty wild lifestyles while gay couples like Apostle Dale and his spouse Garrey just work hard and live in very nicely decorated homes. Their lives are much closer to the example Jesus set for us than guys I work with who are barhopping and getting drunk at every opportunity. The idea of these co-workers' lives being thrown up in my face to condemn my sexual orientation is laughable, yet Dale and Garrey have to deal with that kind of stupidity on a regular basis.

If you’re still with me. I have one other point. Sort of the flip side of why using the term gay lifestyle is so important to the far right. It’s a little more subtle. Focus on the word “lifestyle”. Everything that word means as found in a dictionary or conjures in your mind points to “lifestyle” as something, or some set of something’s, that people do because they choose to do so. It is massively important to the religious far right to made sure everyone buys into the idea that gay people chose their sexual orientation. They chose, in other words, to sin. And therefore, they can choose to become ex-gay. So choice is the big unspoken reason underlying the use of the lifestyle term. I’m not going to expound in this article about the choice issue. Suffice to say, sexual orientation is not chosen consciously and every major reputable scientific group agrees on that. But by paring the two words, gay and lifestyle over and over, the right has been successful at keeping sexual orientation from being considered as just a variation along the line of sexual attraction.

Sensing they are losing what little credibility they have, some in the religious right is allowing for at least the possibility that sexual orientation is not a choice while contending that homosexuals still should not act upon it. Clearly, this is a much weaker arguement than orientation being a concious decision, and any opportunity to imply such helps their case--not with truth but deception.

Sadly, right-wing homophobic zealots are not seeking the truth. They just want to convince other people that the twisted way they see the world should be how everyone else views it.

If deception is what it takes, so be it. Nobody can rationalize or justify better than someone trying to shove their bigotry down someone else's throat.'s not an easy thing to do!

I’ve been reflecting on a subject lately that I think touches all of us…It’s forgiveness.
As a lesbian, I have had to learn to forgive in situations I never thought I’d encounter. Who really thinks that their family members will turn their backs on them for being who they are? When do you imagine that someone will call you a faggot to your face? How is it possible to lose your job when you have a great performance record? Why is it that I can’t get married to the person I fell in love with 14 years ago?

As a Christian, I am called by God to forgive seventy times seventy! That’s virtually impossible. However, it highlights the fact that God wants me to forgive over and over and over again. Then, when I think I just can’t forgive again, I must do it. I used to think that I had to forgive those who repented or those who asked forgiveness, but that’s not the case. Forgiveness is for me. If I don’t forgive, I am bound to that person. Harboring bitterness only serves to make you a bitter person. That doesn’t cause repentance in the other person. It doesn’t make them stop and say, “Oh, I made them mad. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Therefore, forgiveness starts the healing process inside of me. Case in point: I have a family member who has basically ignored my existence since learning of my sexual orientation. At first, I got angry. I thought, who is that person to judge me? How dare they? Then I just ignored them back. I always seemed to dread any gathering in which this family member was a part of. It was a terrible situation to find myself in. Eventually, I realized that my reaction to the indifference and ignorance was a way to hang onto the bitterness. It didn’t help me any to constantly hate knowing that I would have to cross that person’s path.

I got to the point where I said to myself that I needed to move on and I couldn’t do that if I continued to hide behind my bitterness. I can’t say that family gatherings are perfect. Far from it! However, I now look for ways to engage that family member in a positive conversation on their level and stay away from anything that smacks of me throwing that ignorance back in their face. It’s very freeing for me! I don’t dread the gatherings anymore. I actually look forward to them. I also have learned that forgiving someone is much easier when I remind myself that God forgave me. I hurt Him worse than anyone has ever hurt me. I have sinned over and over again in my life and yet He still sent His Son to die for my redemption. Who am I to say I can’t forgive another person? No matter what people do to me, it can never be as bad as what I’ve done to God. His forgiveness gave me the grace to forgive others. I’m so grateful for that.

I have had to forgive other Christians as well as people who I don’t even know. Every time I allow forgiveness to flow through me, I’m better off for it. So, even when I have my dander up over the latest law that bans gay marriage or the politician who says we’re “unnatural”, I remind myself that they are just ignorant and that I know what the truth is. For those who will listen, I share that truth. For those who are unwilling to listen, I leave it up to them and God. Otherwise, I leave myself open to being bitter and hard-hearted. Who wants that?


November 25, 2007

More on the Rift Between GLB and the T

I ran across an op-ed piece in the Washington Blade that deepened my concern regarding the rift between gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists and allies and transgender people and their (perhaps few) allies:

One thing that did raise an eyebrow for me was a poll done shortly before a trans-less ENDA went to a vote. The result — one that may well be questionable overall — was that 70 percent of the GLBT folks surveyed were perfectly fine with this turn of events.

With one quarter of “GLBT” being transgender, does this mean that 25 percent, coupled with 5 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, were the ones who were willing to take a more courageous stance, and push for equal rights for all over a bill aimed at a narrower group? If this poll is at all accurate, this seems to leave a large number of people more than willing to leave transgender people out to dry.

ON THIS THANKSGIVING I find myself wondering: Is this my family, my community, welcome at the table with the rest of my siblings or am I the red-headed stepchild of this movement? And if that’s the case, then why am I here?

I suspect there remains a lot of mistrust of trans people and a lot of misconceptions. Maybe it is assumed that we’re not worthy of a place at the table, that our credentials are too thin, or that our goals and needs are too far removed from those of the larger community. Perhaps it’s some sort of latent trans-phobia after years of the mass media foisting transgender characters on the public and calling them “gay.”

THE ISSUE WE need to think about now that a trans-less ENDA has passed the House of Representatives is this: Where do transgender people fit within this community, what do we bring to this movement, and, really, if we aren’t as welcome here as this betrayal shows, then where are we welcome?

None of these are easy questions, and each is that much harder when one considers that we do have our allies in the GLBT community. Other, wiser organizations were willing to stay by our side and focus on the needs of a unified community. Others have also kept a combined front in fights elsewhere, like hate crime bills and other needs. It’s not so simple as “they all hate us, so let’s take our ball and go home.”

But more and more, it seems like a large number would prefer just that.

The writer's assertion that 1/4 of GLBT people are transgender seems quite high to me, and I'd appreciate anyone with knowledge of any data regarding that to post their information in a comment here.

Regardless, I suspect this view is quite representative of how transgender people feel after being dropped out of the ENDA. While I have supported the political reality of doing so, I have learned more in recent weeks about how much damage this has done to relations between GLB (T?) advocacy groups and the transgender community.

The HRC has been the lightning rod for criticism here, having been the largest and most influential advocacy group to openly support the elimination of gender identity from the ENDA bill. It seems to me that they have seriously underestimated the ill will this would cause, or else Joe Solmonese has a great idea to rebuild the bridges that have been burned that we don't know about yet.

The success the HRC and Solmonese has in rebuilding relationships with transgender people could define that organization and their ability to effectively advocate for the GLBT community for some time to come. I'm pulling for them to be able to reach across this divide and (re?) establish unity, something that is in everyone's best interest.

When a group is already a small minority (no more than 10% of the population, possibly less), it can't afford to splinter into sub-groups. The GLBT community needs to become stronger and not fractured into smaller, less influential groups.

If the T people can't count on the GLB people, where do they go?

Not forward I'm afraid.

People Tiring of Mixing Politics and Church

A recent survey published in the Washington Times shows that a strong majority of people don't want their churches used as campaign stops by politicans, and they don't want tips on who to vote for coming from the pulpit of those churches either. This is one of the more refreshing things I've seen in a while.

Americans have a message for political candidates considering campaigning in their churches over the next year — butt out.

A new Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports poll found less than one in four of those surveyed said it's appropriate to campaign at their religious services, and a whopping 62 percent said it's not right.

Another 70 percent said they don't want their priest, minister, rabbi or Imam to "suggest" who to vote for, either.

"There are lines that people feel you shouldn't cross. Different people might draw them at different places, but they clearly exist," said Scott Rasmussen, who conducted the survey. He said that doesn't mean voters don't want candidates to show up and attend their services, but they also "don't want to see a sermon or something presented as a sermon by a presidential candidate."

The first person I know of that used the pulpit to make strong political statements was Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights battles of the 1960's. I seem to remember Jimmy Carter making campaign appearances at a few churches in 1976, then he and Ronald Regan both doing so in 1980.

Once Regan got elected and the religious right took credit for it, the lines blurred between politics and the pulpit, and the more "fundamentalist" the church was, the more the two areas became intertwined. My late wife Bette and I got up and walked out of more than one Catholic mass when the priest was telling us how a "good Catholic" should vote on a particular issue. That's not why we were there. We wanted to hear the word of God. If we want politics, we'd stay home and watch one of the news channels.

Turns out we weren't alone.

Pastor Brenda and I strongly believe in the separation of the two, as does Apostle Dale. We've never heard politics preached from the pulpit at Believers Covenant Fellowship and we won't, even politics we may agree with.

Matters of faith clearly influence an individual's views on matters of politics. I just don't want to hear a stump speech at my church or go to a political rally and hear a sermon.

It appears that most people want to re-establish those lines. I hope pastors and politicians are listening for a change.