February 09, 2008

Stephen Colbert One-on-One with the HRC's Joe Solomonese

Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, recently broadcast a two-part interview with Joe Solomonese, the director of the Human Rights Council. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Colbert gave Solomonese quite a grilling, which he took in stride. I found both parts very funny, but don't watch them if you don't enjoy good satire.

Both parts were posted on PageOneQ.

Part 1

Part 2


February 08, 2008

Now Here's Something I Can Support In Congress

Bills will be introduced in both houses of Congress soon that are intended to exempt churches from the NFL's rules that prohibit showing the broadcast of the Super Bowl on large screens in large facilities.

From the Christian Post:

Under the legislation by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, religious organizations that want to show professional football games would be declared exempt, as reported by The Washington Post.

"The legislation simply provides churches with a limited yet justifiable exemption to allow them to bring their congregation together to watch the Super Bowl," said Specter on Monday. "In a time when our country is divided by war and anxious about a fluctuating economy, these types of events give people a reason to come together in the spirit of camaraderie."

The bill comes as several churches across the country canceled their annual Super Bowl fellowships this past Sunday in fear of lawsuits for copyright violations.

The National Football League has warned churches that showing the Super Bowl game on TV screens larger than 55 inches and in a space more than 2,000 square feet violates the league's copyright. Only sports bars and other businesses that televise sports regularly are allowed mass viewing of the games.

At least an NFL spokesman dropped any pretense that this was about anything other than greed:

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has no objection to churches hosting Super Bowl parties as long as they abide by the rules. He also noted that thousands of mass showings at churches would significantly reduce network TV ratings, and thus cut the ad revenue.

Yeah, I'd hate to see those numbers drop from 97.6 million to, say, 96.6 million. That would devastate the NFL, wouldn't it?

Group for LGBT Palestinians Becomes Independent

Until I read this piece, I had no idea there was an LGBT group for Palestinians in Jerusalem, so I thought there was a chance you didn't know that either and might find it interesting.

From PinkNews:

A long-established group for gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual Palestinians in Jerusalem has decided to become independent.

Al-Qaws began life six years ago as a project of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH).

In branching out on its own it becomes the first-ever official Palestinian gay organisation. In November Al-Qaws received nonprofit organisation status and was renamed Al-Qaws - for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society.

"During the six years of its existence, Al-Qaws has undergone an all-embracing organisational process of development," said a spokesperson.

"What started as a local professional-oriented project has grown into a national community and grassroots organisation, with activist leadership.

"This major development has been made possible thanks to the leadership group's determined investment, the deep commitment of Al-Qaws activists and the autonomous space provided to Al-Qaws within the JOH, enabling Al-Qaws to address the needs of the Palestinian LGBTQ community."

Haneen Maikey, Al-Qaws director, said:

"This change is incredibly exciting. This new phase presents new opportunities with promises of growth through self-definition for Palestinian LGBTQs."

The JOH will continue to host Al-Qaws in its new community centre in downtown Jerusalem.

The two organisations said they are committed to exploring wider fields of cooperation in the future towards the advancement of common goals.

Noa Sattath, JOH executive director, said: "The Palestinian LGBTQ community is fortunate to have such strong and capable leaders.

"We look forward to working together with the leadership of Al-Qaws for a better future for all our community members."

February 07, 2008

Gay Grandparents Are Coming Out

As society becomes more accepting of GLBT people and each generation understands being gay as normal for some people, it has become easier for gay and lesbian grandparents who have spent many years in the closet to come out to their grandkids and everyone else.

A story from the Philadelphia Inquirer tells us about a few of them:

Back in the mid-1970s, Marian Mitchell was a single mother, a recent divorcee who emerged from the closet only on Saturday nights, heading down to Sneakers, a women's bar at Second and Market.

Once, Mitchell's daughter, then 9, asked, "Why don't you date boys?"

"Because Mommy likes girls," was the reply.

A generation later, Mitchell found herself fielding a new round of questions. "Mom-mom, what does LGBT mean?" her oldest granddaughter asked after seeing the acronym for lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered on a sign in Mitchell's kitchen.

But Mitchell no longer keeps her identity cloaked. After her longtime partner died in 1997, Mitchell decided it was time to come out. To everyone - including her grandchildren.
Mitchell, 55, coordinates the calendar for Amazon Country, a women's-music show on WXPN. Each month, members of the Lesbian Group of Montgomery County fill her Juniata living room for Rocky Horror theme parties or competitive puzzle-making nights. Her grandkids - 19-year-old Kimberly, 15-year-old Kayla, and 10-year-old Chaly - almost always join the festivities.

"When I was closeted, it was like living a double life," Mitchell said. "I never imagined being able to live so openly. It's so much easier to just be me."

"Lesbian grandmother" or "gay grandpa" used to sound like a contradiction in terms. But now gay grandfolk are a quietly emerging demographic - men and women who married in the 1960s and '70s, had children, and came out later, sometimes only after their children were grown.

There's still no grandparent equivalent of the children's picture book Heather Has Two Mommies. But a recent novel, Grampa Jack, chronicles a gay grandfather's fight for custody of his 6-year-old grandson. And an online boutique sells kids' T-shirts emblazoned with the words "I love my. . .trailblazing. . .woman-loving. . .out and proud grandma."

"There is a growing number of gay grandparents who are looking for ways to explain to their grandchildren who they are and who they love," said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council.

"It's so much easier to just be me." Boy, that says a mouthful, doesn't it? God bless these people who are showing that it's never too late to enjoy the fullness of how God made them.

Click here to read the rest of the Inquirer story,

February 05, 2008

NY Times Concurs with State Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

I'm a bit late with this one, but it's too important to ignore. On Friday, a New York State appeals court ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages that are valid in other juristictions, including Canada. This would seem to be a huge step toward the state legalizing same-sex marriages performed inside its borders.

Here is an editorial from the New York Times that, like me (but with a tad more weight behind it) applauds this landmark, unanamous ruling:

In a decision at once common-sensical and profound, a New York State
appeals court ruled Friday that same-sex marriages validly performed in other
jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York. It was common sense
because it simply accorded same-sex marriages the same legal status as other
marriages. It was profound because of the way it could transform the lives of
gay people.

The plaintiff in the case, Patricia Martinez, a word-processing supervisor
at an upstate college, married her longtime partner, Lisa Ann Golden, in Canada
in 2004. When Ms. Martinez applied for health care benefits for her spouse, the
college denied the application on the grounds that New York did not recognize
the marriage.

The court, by a 5-0 vote, declared that the college was wrong. Employers in
the state must accord same-sex couples the same rights as other couples. To
reach that result, it simply applied New York’s “marriage recognition rule.”
Under this century-old common-law rule, marriages validly contracted out of
state must be accorded respect in New York, and parties to such unions treated
as spouses, regardless of whether the marriage would be allowed in New

The rule applies unless the Legislature explicitly prohibits recognition or
recognition would be abhorrent to public policy. Unlike many states, New York
has not passed a law denying recognition to same-sex marriages performed
elsewhere. The court rightly decided that recognizing same-sex marriages would
not be “abhorrent.”

The ruling is particularly welcome because it follows a regrettable
decision two years ago by New York’s highest court. That decision said that
prohibiting same-sex marriages from being performed in New York does not violate
the State Constitution. Honoring same-sex marriages validly performed out of
state is a wholly separate legal issue, a point that New York’s attorney
general, Andrew Cuomo, usefully underscored in a friend-of-court

The new decision still leaves considerable work to be done. New York’s ban
on performing same-sex marriage remains in force. And there is a chance that the
marriage-recognition decision will now be appealed.

Still, the ruling marks important progress toward changing laws and
attitudes that deprive gay people of equal rights and deny the dignity of New
York’s many gay families. They should be able to live, marry and raise children
with the same respect and the same rights as anyone else.

February 04, 2008

More Episcopal Voices Supporting Gay Clergy

The issue of the place and rights of GLBT people in the Episcopal church continues to simmer and threaten to split the church away from its Anglican roots, but that is not stopping leadership from speaking out and supporting their GLBT breathren. The lastest example came in Chicago.

From the Chicago Tribune: (hat tip to the Washington Blade)

Chicago's new Episcopal bishop and the church's national leader sent a clear message Sunday about where they stand on gay clergy, a smoldering issue that threatens to tear apart the denomination.

Wrapping up a five-day tour in honor of Jeffrey Lee, the new Chicago bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori declared that the American church will not stand alone in its support of gay clergy during an international meeting in July in Lambeth, England.

"Many more [bishops] than you might expect are sympathetic," Jefferts Schori, the presiding Episcopal bishop, told parishioners at St. Nicholas Church in Elk Grove Village. "They are not, however, the loudest voices."

That last point is very important to keep in perspective. The volume of one's voice does not always correspond to their moral authority. I join these Episcopal leaders in believing that is the case in that denomination.

Click here to read the rest of the Chicago Tribune article.

February 03, 2008

Faith and Same-Sex Marriage

No, it's not an oxymoron. One of the state-wide advocacy groups, Love Makes a Family in Conneclticut, realizes that and is reaching out to solicit the support and help of those faith communities that do have the revelation of God's desire for ALL of his people to enjoy ALL of the blessings he designed for us, including marriage.

Here's a story about that from the Hartfort Courant.

Love Makes a Family, the state's marriage equality organization, has a new job opening for a religious-organizing project coordinator.

The position, funded by a grant from the Gill Foundation, a Colorado-based human rights organization, may come as a surprise to some. An organization some religious types deem satanic — pushing, as it is, for gay marriage — is actually reaching out to religious types itself.

In fact, the marriage equality movement has long had the support of members of a variety of faith groups. The group's list of supporting clergy gets longer every day, and about a year and a half ago, the list evolved into Connecticut Clergy for Marriage Equality.

Marriage equality is not an us-vs.-them situation, at least it shouldn't be among people of faith.

You can read the rest of the Courant's story here.