February 28, 2009

GLBT News & Political Roundup 3/1/09

In keeping up with some news items specific to the GLBT community so you don't have to:

o James Dobson has resigned as Chairman of the Board of Focus on the Family, but don't rejoice yet, he'll still be on the radio and will be an outspoken opponent of GLBT rights.

o If you think the Republican party will supporting civil unions anytime soon, new RNC Chairman Michael Steele thinks you're crazy. That's not an interpretation or reading between the lines. Click here to listen to him say that on a radio interview. At The Bilerico Project, the initial optimism H. Alexander Robinson had after Steele's appointment has been "quickly and emphatically dashed."

o The NAACP, however, has announced its support for a repeal of California's Proposition 8. "The NAACP's mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law," wrote NAACP CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

o The Washington Post published a piece about how gay bloggers are growing in their political influence. I'm happy to say that most of the blogs and website mentioned in this article are linked up with this blog.

Just as the liberal Net-roots and the conservative "rightroots" movements have affected traditional party structures, the still relatively small gay political presence online is rebooting the gay rights movement in a decentralized, spontaneous, bottom-up way. It's spreading news via blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

"What happened after Proposition 8 caught the national gay groups completely off guard. I think it surprised them. I think it really showed them that when it comes to harnessing grass-roots energy, they need to get online," says Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper. "What happened online came together overnight for little or no money, and the protests were covered by the mainstream press. If national groups wanted to coordinate the kind of mass protests we saw, they would spend $1 million and take six months to do it."

o Speaking of Kevin Naff, he has a very interesting editorial in the Blade titled "The Urge to Merge."

Just as the nation continues a dialogue about what’s worth saving (maybe letting a car company or two go under would inspire survivors to better compete with foreign manufacturers), the gay rights movement should use this moment as an opportunity to regroup, reorganize and, yes, consolidate.

Bottom line: There are too many groups doing too many similar things. That point was underscored last month at HRC’s Out for Equality ball, when Joe Solmonese introduced leaders of the gay rights movement. One by one, the activists filed out, filling the ample stage in the Mayflower Hotel and prompting some attendees to wonder aloud, “Do we really need all these different organizations?”

I wrote here a few weeks ago that we didn't need any more GLBT advocacy organizations. I strongly agree with Naff's point here, maybe we actually need fewer, stronger, more focused ones.

o The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has released a study showing just how difficult it is for a GLBT minority student in school:

The report found that across all groups, sexual orientation and gender expression were the most common reasons LGBT students of color reported feeling unsafe in school. More than four out of five students, within each racial/ethnic group, reported verbal harassment in school because of sexual orientation and about two-thirds because of gender expression. At least a third of each group reported physical violence in school because of sexual orientation.

February 26, 2009

Pioneers in LGBT Faith: Rev. Paul Abels

Another new feature we're adding here is a look back at some of the ground-breaking pioneers in GLBT Christian faith, linking to the LGBT Religious Archives Network.

Rev. Paul Abels:

The Rev. Paul Abels (1937-1992) was the first openly gay minister with a congregation in a major Christian denomination in America (from New York Times obituary on 3/14/92). Paul was the pastor of the Washington Square United Methodist Church in New York City from 1973 to 1984. This congregation in Greenwich Village was locally known as the Peace Church for its opposition to the Vietnam War and for its large gay and lesbian membership.

In 1973 Paul was appointed pastor of Washington Square United Methodist Church. While at Washington Square, he initiated a $1.5 million restoration campaign, planned the church's 125th anniversary, and worked with the many community groups housed in the building, including the Harvey Milk School, a parent-run day care center, and many lesbian/gay support and social groups.

On Sunday, November 27, 1977, Abels was featured in a New York Times article entitled "Minister Sponsors Homosexual Rituals." The article told about four "covenant services" that Paul had performed in recent months. And in the article Paul identifies himself as a "homosexual."

Controversy arose throughout the denomination with many critics calling for his removal. Bishop Ralph Ward asked Paul to take a leave of absence. Paul refused and his appointment was upheld by vote of the New York Annual Conference. The bishop then appealed to the Judicial Council, highest court in United Methodism, which ruled in 1979 that Abels was in "good standing" and in "effective relation" and could remain as pastor at Washington Square.

Paul took early retirement from the pastorate in June, 1984, following the vote of the 1984 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to bar the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals."

Click here to read more about Rev. Paul Abels.

February 24, 2009

Advocacy Group: NGLTF Institute for Welcoming Resources

Many of you have heard of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one of the leading national GLBT advocacy organizations in the nation, but you may not be familiar with one of their initiatives, the Institute for Welcoming Resources.

As the name implies, it is a wonderful gathering place for news and resources that deal with concerns of GLBT rights and faith. Currently, they are promoting their new transgender education resource for churches titled "transACTION and updates on protests against Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out" conference in Charlotte, NC.

There are also links to numerous related blogs and websites and also to affirming organizations tied in to major religious denominations.

The Institute for Welcome Resources is a valuable clearing house for anyone interested in matters of faith relating to the GLBT community.

Click here to check it out.

If you know of another advocacy site we should feature, please send an e-mail and let me know about it.

February 23, 2009

Big Night for the GLBT Community at the Oscars

I've heard the Oscars ceremony referred to as "the gay Superbowl." Being a big sports fan, I find that somewhat sacreligious, but assuming that is true, last night was one to remember.

Along with wins for screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and lead actor Sean Penn for the movie "Milk," it was a night of solidarity in the Hollywood community as white knots supporting marriage equality were everywhere.

Let me add my congratulations to Mssrs. Black and Penn and provide some links to highlights of their acceptance, courtesy of Good As You:

Sean Penn's acceptance speech.

Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech.

Who was wearing white knots?

February 22, 2009

Can GLBT People Lose Their Salvation?

That question is addressed in an article from "The Epistle" online magazine titled "Am I Really Saved." Here's an excerpt:

We all know the gospel of the Lord and we’ve even witnessed to others of the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the world. But does it apply to us? GLBT Christians? Many of us, still think not.

Well, I have good news for those doubters.Yes Jesus still loves us and we are really still saved. You see, the day you decided to accept the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, you allowed the Lord to cleanse you of your sin. This includes your past, present and future sin. When you accept the Lord, you are born again. Christ has cleansed you with His blood. God’s salvation is not conditional on your behavior. It is Jesus Christ who saves you. Not you saving yourself. Self-salvation is impossible. And just as there’s nothing you can do to save yourself, there’s also nothing you can do to lose the grace that Christ has bestowed unto you. This is why it is called “grace”. And grace doesn’t mean that if you have a bad day and fall into sin, that suddenly you’re off the guest list to Heaven, but then the next day you’re OK with God again. Your salvation doesn’t bounce around like a ping-pong ball. One moment you’re saved, the next hour you’re not, in ten days saved again, but in 6 months unsaved. Saved, unsaved, saved…think about it. Just as you are the son/daughter of your earthly parents…the blood of Christ has made you a child of God. That fact will never change. If salvation were based on our behavior no one could ever be accepted into the Kingdom. And what would be the point of Jesus dying on the cross? Jesus paid the price to free us from the bondage of death & sin. What a great and wonderful gift!

So why do we still fear that we will lose our salvation? Well being gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, we’ve been told our life is incompatible with the Christian walk. Well it is incompatible, but so is the straight life. You see…no one…GLBT or straight is compatible with God without the forgiveness of Christ that comes through faith. And it is not whether we are gay or straight, but whether or not we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver us from our sin. There is also a little bit of us that is afraid because we are used to being rejected because of our sexuality. Perhaps you’ve lost the approval of a parent or have been rejected by someone you cared for. Rejection is a fact of life for us and we think that even God will reject us, though the Bible says that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. Regardless of your sexuality…God has accepted you through the blood of Christ. When you can come to accept that the sacrifice of the Lord was done for you once and for all, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you no longer have to feel uncertain of your salvation.

But Jesus said to “Repent”…that means I have to give up being GLBT before I am able to receive God’s grace…Right?By “Repent” Jesus means for us to turn away from our rebellion against God and turn our lives over to Him. And many of us DID try to repent from being GLBT because it was what we thought He wanted…but IF it was what He wanted of us…WHY are we still gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender? Why would God, in all His mighty power, NOT change us from being GLBT especially when we so desperately asked Him to free us?

Many of us did voluntarily give our sexuality over to God, … and what happened? Well …He gave it back to us. And yes He wants us to surrender ourselves for His use. And guess what? God IS using us…as gay, lesbian, bisexual, & transgender Christian men and women to witness the love of God to…who else…other gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender people. You see we are the only people who can reach out to those like us. We are a living witness that despite our sexuality…God still loves us and still offers His plan of salvation: Jesus Christ.How great is the Lord! Love beyond measure is His love for all mankind. And nothing, not even your sexuality, can prevent you from receiving the love and forgiveness of God.

Even if, and I strongly believe this is not that case, homosexuality was inherently sinful, that would not of itself keep anyone out of heaven.

Jesus said in John 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

GLBT are just as much a part of whosoever as I am, and any fundamentalist that says otherwise is missing one of the basic fundamentals of the Bible.

Introducing Sunday Worship

A new feature we're adding to Straight, Not Narrow is online Sunday worship. If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we'll bring some worship to you. We're linking to some worship music and some live services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send me an e-mail and share it with me.

Worship Music--sing along and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Blessed Be Your Name

Lord I Life Your Name on High

Here I Am to Worship

Live Worship Services--all times Eastern

Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, WA 1:30 PM Eastern (also archives of pervious services)

Recent Recorded Worship Services

Rainbow Community Church of Vancouver, BC

Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Fort Lauderdale, FL