March 08, 2008

More Progress in Washington State

For those who say that GLBT equality needs to be a gradual process, they can hold up the state of Washington as a positive example. After passing a domestic partnership law last year granting same-sex couple some basic rights like hospital visitation and property inheritance, they have added to that by passing more sweeping legislation. It's not marriage-yet, but it is significant progress toward equality for those couples in the interim.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Gay and lesbian couples were brought one step closer to same-sex marriage Tuesday when the Legislature voted to extend 170 new rights to them, adding to groundwork begun last year with the passage of domestic partnership rights.

The Senate passed House Bill 3104, proposed by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, by 29-20 along a mostly party-line vote.

The bill grants same-sex couples additional rights -- including the ability to share bank accounts, the right to hold common property and immunity from testifying against one's partner in court. Divorce rights -- including child-custody provisions -- were also granted.

The measure now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law.

Also, from the other side:

Republicans decried the bill for whittling away at the institution of marriage, saying the deterioration of marriage between a man and a woman would lead to a rise in crime, juvenile delinquency and parents working long hours.

Yeah, and I'm sure it will lead to more yellow waxy buildup on their kitchen floors and higher gas prices. Give me a break!

"This bill practically increases the number of rights to domestic partners ... that's exactly what I'm afraid of. Once we go that far, marriage will become meaningless," said Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester.

Well who's stopping them from getting married in the first place pal? Who is forcing them to have a seperate set of laws to immulate marriage? If you and your ilk want to strengthen the institution of marriage, make sure every couple has equal rights to it.

Some problems just aren't that difficult to solve.

March 07, 2008

Recently at the Affirming Christian Network

We've gotten into a nice rhythm at ACN, posting new sermons/teachings on a regular basis and continuing to add affirming churches to our master list.

We have established theme weeks with our sermons/teachings, where we post a new one every day from Monday-Friday relating to a central theme. Last week, we focused on prayer with sermons like "Persistence, Power, and Prayer" and "The Provision of Prayer: To Make a Way When There is No Way."

This week, our theme is Peace. We've already posted "Declaring Peace on Terror", "And His Name Shall Be Called Peace", and "Inclusion as a Path to Peace."

We vary the denominations and regions these teachings come from, usually featuring five different states and at least three different denominations every week. So far we've posted links from at least 50 different affirming ministries, and that number grows every week.

I hope you take a few moments to check out the Affirming Christian Network. Along with the teachings and affirming ministries are links to other valuable affirming resources and detailed information about our eight (and growing) affiliate members. If you do, please let me know what you think.

March 06, 2008

The Heart of the California Marriage Case Is.....

the definition of marriage. That's the takeaway from this article in the New York Times.

For almost four hours on Tuesday, the California Supreme Court heard arguments in the most important same-sex marriage case since Massachusetts’s highest court allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry there more than four years ago.

But it took only 15 minutes for Justice Carlos R. Moreno to identify the central question. “Doesn’t this just boil down to the use of the m-word — marriage?” he asked.

California has a domestic partnership law that gives gay and lesbian couples nearly all of the legal rights and responsibilities that come with heterosexual marriage. That leaves open the question posed by Justice Moreno, one freighted with history, symbolism and emotion: What is so special about marriage?

Lawyers for the same-sex couples seeking the right to marry said that marriage was a unique expression of love and commitment and that calling their unions anything else was a form of second-class citizenship.

Lawyers for groups opposed to same-sex marriage agreed that marriage was a fundamental bond with ancient roots, but they drew the opposite conclusion, saying that allowing same-sex couples to marry would undermine the institution of marriage itself.

I thought these few paragraphs summed the whole issue up just about as well as I've seen it.

Is there any real reason beyond forcing people to change the tradition of who can get married to require couples of the same-sex to essentially establish their own subculture in order to gain some, usually not all, of the rights afforded heterosexual couples?

I can't think of any.

"We've always done it this way" continues to be one of the worst reasons to continue a practice or policy. There were a lot of things done in previous generations that would seem inconceivable now, but they were deeply ingrained traditions back in the day.

Hopefully, future generations will be able to add the prohibition of same-sex marriage to that list.

March 05, 2008

Want To Improve the Quality of Your State's Workforce? Let Gays Marry

That's the conclusion drawn by this article from the Boston Business Journal. I've written before about how big business has been ahead of curve in realizing the value of offering benefits to same-sex couples, and this article is another validation of that approach. It could ultimately be the business lobbysts that move the needle in state legislatures as they grow to understand this phenomenon.

Massachusetts has a dubious reputation for losing talented workers to less pricey markets. But a trend that runs counter to the talent drain has emerged in the form of the state's controversial same-sex marriage law, a powerful lure for same-sex couples who want to live in a place where they can get married, gain legal rights and have access to spousal health benefits. In fact, some observers see the influx of same-sex couples as a boon for the state's economy.

"Since the marriage law passed, we see a lot more (gay) professionals moving into the Boston area," said Henry Hoey, a board member of the Greater Boston Business Council, a chamber of commerce for gay professionals. The organization's membership has increased 5 percent to 1,100 members since last year. "The effects of this law are starting to take hold."

The article is balanced enough to include the obligatory quote from a right-wing naysayer, but this trend bears watching. It could really bubble up if a warm weather state legalizes same-sex marriage. The overall population of Massachusetts is rather stagnant, but it would be very interesting to see the impact of that change on the work force of a state already attracting new residents.

Weeknights are Busy at Believers Covenant

You don't have to wait until Sunday to come worship at Believers' Covenant Fellowship in the Tysons Corner area of Northern Virginia.

Wednesday night features Intercessory Prayer at 7:00 PM. This is not a time where we go through a list of pre-written prayers and recite them. Instead, it is often an intense and passionate time where our body gathers and prays for the needs of our ministry, our congregation, our friends and loved ones, our community, and our nation and the world.

One of the wonderful paradoxes with God is that when we come with an attitude of giving, of caring more about others' needs than our own, he blesses US very richly. This is not just passive prayer either; we are interceeding between those with needs and God asking and EXPECTING him to meet those needs. He has time and time again. If you don't want to see prayers answered, stay away from our church. If you do, however, we would love to have your participation.

Thursday night is our "Training for Reigning" study at 7:00 PM. Apostle Dale leads a group in topics designed to equip those serious about growing closer to God, activating the spiritual gifts He has given us, and being able to serve Him better.

This is not designed for beginners; we get into some fairly advanced topics. If you are looking to be challenged and to stretch out your faith muscles, this will be time well spent.

On both evenings, there is dinner served at 6:00 PM. If you are visiting for the first time either night and coming for dinner, we suggest you let us know by e-mail at or by calling 703-790-9199 to make sure we have enough food for you.

You can check our blog to see if there are any changes in the schedule. To get directions or find out more about our chruch, you can view our homepage.

March 04, 2008

Anglican Split Over Gays Reaches Into Canada

I've read a lot about the split of the Episcopal (Anglican) church in the United States over the ordination of gay bishops, but I didn't realize until I read this article (thanks to PageOneQ) that the same situation existed in Canada. The article talks about one church that is stepping out in faith to support equality.

An Anglican church has voted to begin offering same-sex blessings of gay marriages as soon as it's given permission to do so by its diocese.

Same-sex blessings have created a major schism within the Anglican Church, with at least 15 churches voting to separate from the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue.

Meanwhile, there's a moratorium on any new churches getting permission to perform same-sex blessings within the Diocese of New Westminster, which includes Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit in Whonnock voted on same-sex blessings on Sunday and only one member voted against the idea.

"We're very inclusive. We're a progressive [church] here in the valley, which tends to be more conservative, and so it's important that we stand up for our liberal voice," said Rev. David Findley-Price.

"People say [homosexuality] is a choice. Well, it's not a choice. It's just part of the natural order of creation. All we're saying is let's bless people who have come to love each other as part of the natural order of how the universe is created. We have to move away from flat Earth theology and become more enlightened."

Church members also passed a unanimous motion affirming support of Bishop Michael Ingham, who is considered a global leader in the campaign to give homosexuals full rights within the Anglican church.

"I think it's an important thing. Lots of press is being given to others about how they're breaking away. There are a number of Anglican parishes that are not wanting to break away. . . . We're moving forward with the inspiration and revelation of the Holy Spirit. We believe God speaks to us and is saying move forward, move on, here's the evidence and the truth," said Findley-Price.

"People who are homosexual and lesbian have gone through a tremendous amount of pain over the years because they've been very marginalized in our society," he said, adding teens he worked with often felt self-hatred and were suicidal due to societal attitudes about being gay.

"It was very, very painful. There was also rejection of their friends and family; they were very lonely and isolated," he said.

Findley-Price pointed out that only 15 of more than 2,000 Anglican churches in Canada have decided to separate over same-sex blessings.

March 03, 2008

Support for Obama From an Unlikely Source

Many of you are probably familiar with columnist Andrew Sullivan. I've linked to his work several times over the years, sometimes agreeing, other times not. He is a gay conservative writer, feeling strongly about both gay rights issues and more typical conservative matters like smaller government.

That's why I find it so interesting that he has declared Barack Obama "The Urgent, Clear Choice for Gay Voters."

In his column, Sullivan posts this excerpt from an article in The Politico:

An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn't trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent.

So he took a different tack:

"Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday," he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers.

"I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian," he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time.

Sullivan then followed up with his own comments:

To hear someone defend gay and lesbian dignity and equality from a Christian perspective and to do so in the context of a largely African-American crowd, is much, much more than any candidate for the presidency has ever done. It's a break through. If it were just words, it would be one thing. But he has now done this repeatedly in front of black crowds, when he didn't have to. And he has put his specific commitments in writing in an open letter.

It's time to be candid about this - because gay voters, in my judgment, could make the difference in Ohio and Texas and Vermont and Rhode Island. There are very large gay communities in Texas' cities, and Ohio has the sixth largest gay community in the country. A plea: Do not sleep-walk into that voting booth with vague good feelings about the Clintons. Walk into that booth with eyes open and see what gay people have in front of them.

Now you may have many reasons not to vote for Obama, and no gay voter should vote on one issue. But solely with respect to gay matters, there is simply no choice here. Obama's positions, candor, courage, generation and religious embrace of us are dispositive.

I haven't written much about the presidential campaign because, quite frankly, everyone and his dog seems to be covering it and there isn't a whole lot I can ad. I will cop to this however; I was wrong about Obama.

When I did live blogging during the LOGO debate last summer, I dismissed Obama as something of a lightweight who wasn't yet ready for prime time. That is clearly not the case, and he has earned my vote for president for bringing some hope of change, both to GLBT issues and the overall political direction of the United States.

I don't think Obama, or anyone else for that matter, could possibly live up to the expectations that his supporters have, but he can come short of that and still be the best thing that has happened to this nation in many years. I think that can happen. I believe that Hillary Clinton could be a competent president if she wouldn't fill the White House with ALL that baggage. I'm sure John McCain is praying that she gets the nomination because Hillary is probably the only candidate that can mobilize the right-wing vote enough to make a difference--against her.

I believe the GLBT community and the nation needs the next generation to assume the mantle of leadership. and Obama is the only viable representative of that group in the presidential race. He's got my vote, it appears he's got Andrew Sullivan's, and I feel he is worth your consideration of your vote also.

March 02, 2008

Desmond Tutu to be Honored by LGBT Rights Group


The former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu is to be honoured by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

The Anglican leader has been outspoken in his rejection of homophobia, often clashing with his more conservative African colleagues.

He will be appearing at IGLHRC's A Celebration of Courage event in San Francisco on April 8th to accept the OUTSPOKEN Award "in honour of the unprecedented impact of his leadership as a human rights advocate."

In November 2007 Archbishop Tutu told the BBC that if he believed that God was homophobic, he wouldn't be a Christian.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said he was ashamed of his church because of its treatment of gays.

He said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican communion, has not demonstrated the attributes of a "welcoming God" to homosexuals."

Our world is facing problems, poverty, HIV and AIDS, a devastating pandemic, and conflict," Tutu said."

God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another."

In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."

He said that the Church acted in an "extraordinarily homophobic" way during the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he replied: "If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes."

If God as they say is homophobic I wouldn't worship that God.""

It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual.

"You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred. It's like saying you choose to be black in a race infected society."

In December he apologised to gay people all around the world for the way they have been treated by the Church.

Wonderful Recognition and Support

Pastor Brenda aren't involved in ministry for the fame and glory (good thing!), but it's always nice when someone else recognizes our efforts.

Rev. Robbie Ousley was kind enough to just that on his Unidiversal web site, naming us the recipient of his monthly Unidiversal Certificate of Recognition.

Like so many have, Jim & Brenda Johnson could enjoy the presence and blessings of God without resistance in a majority of churches. But these two kind and considerate ministers follow God's call on their lives to put themselves out there on the front line of faith in Christ for ALL people. This is one husband and wife team called to encouraging others, lifting up one another, and who are making the cause of Christ to great effect at home, in church, outside church doors, encouraging other ministries, are available to secular media, and are online throughout the world. What a great example of giving of themselves and following "The Father's Heart" by the example of Christ where they don't have to, but do.

We were deeply touched by the kind words of love and encouragement by Robbie and others posted on the award page. We joined a rather eclectic group, ranging from our own pastor Apostle Dale Jarrett and our church Believers Covenant Fellowship to Rev Jay Bakker, Peggy Campolo, and Lulu Roman (from Hee Haw fame).

I am reminded of the saying, "Don't work for recognition, but do work that is worthy of recognition." We're glad that folks like Rev. Robbie, Apostle Dale, and others who's opinion really means a lot to us feel we are doing just that.