March 14, 2009

GLBT News and Political Roundup 3/14/09

In the upcoming 2010 Census, legal same-sex marriages will be treated as "unmarried partners" as stipulated by the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Equality California is importing some help with a good track record in it efforts to overturn Proposition 8. Marc Solomon, who develop MassEquality into a powerful advocacy force in the fight for equality in Massachussets, will be leading the effort to restore marriage equality in California.

Despite the efforts to fight AIDS in Africa, HIV is still a major problem in the United States, and this report states that the highest death rate in the counrty is in the nation's capital.

Fairness West Virginia is off to a good start in organizing a GLBT advocacy group in a state not known for its forward thinking.
The rate that we are gathering supporters is unbelievable,” said Stephen Skinner, a lawyer from the state’s Eastern Panhandle.
“ And they’re from all over West Virginia and I don’t know whether they are gay or lesbian or straight or the parents or the brother or the sister, but they’re there. And they’re ready to be heard this year,” he said.

Canadians are wondering what is the big deal about same-sex marriage south of their border.
Although anti-gay factions in the U.S. charge that marriage equality would present a long list of dangers to religious freedom, families, and civilization itself, Canada has proven that with sensible and equitable laws in place, everyone’s rights can remain intact.
Such was the gist of a Mar. 11 Vancouver Sun article titled, "Note to Americans: Canada resolved the contentious issue four years ago and the sky did not fall.
"The article noted, "With almost four years having passed since we resolved the same-sex marriage question, it’s hard to remember there was controversy in the first place."

Out Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno (who represents my district and is one of my favorite politicians) has an op-ed in the Washington Blade making his case for trans rights in our state:
The Washington Area Transgender Needs Assessment survey estimates that 42 percent of transgender people in the D.C. Metro Area are unemployed, 31 percent have incomes of less than $10,000 per year and 19 percent do not have their own living space. These statistics mirror statistics from around the country that have found similar alarming rates of discrimination for transgender persons.
FORTUNATELY, MORE THAN 100 jurisdictions across the country have gender identity anti-discrimination laws, including 13 states and Washington, D.C. In Maryland, Montgomery County last year joined Baltimore City in enacting such a law, and Gov. O’Malley signed an executive order banning such discrimination in state personnel practices. Now, I am sponsoring legislation with my colleague from Prince George’s County, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, to outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, credit and public accommodations statewide.

March 12, 2009

Thoughts From a GLBT Grassroots Advocate

DC's Metro Weekly published an extensive interview with Michael Crawford, a veteran GLBT advocacy organizer who currently is heading up the fight for legalizing same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Right now, with strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and with President Obama in the White House, we have a really strong chance of getting hate crimes, ENDA and a national AIDS strategy all this year -- and potentially next year, Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. The work we really need to be doing right now is, frankly, not in D.C. HRC needs to be doing its work in D.C. on the Hill, lobbying, pushing that message out, working the national media, etc. But for the folks out in the states, the best work that they could be doing right now is pushing their state legislators to enact pro-LGBT legislation and urging their members of Congress to vote for hate crimes, ENDA and other federal pieces of legislation.

Really, the most effective strategies are going to be the ones that blend the grassroots organizing -- the Harvey Milk school of organizing -- with a lot of the online organizing that's been pioneered by groups like MoveOn. Fusing the two is what's really going to give us the best possible chance of passing our legislative agenda, bringing more people into the movement -- both gay and non-gay people -- and really shifting the way people think about gay people.

In terms of marriage here, it's going to require that the gay community do things a little differently. One, every single gay person is going to have to participate on some level. Every single gay person in the city is going to have to be part of this fight, because once a marriage bill is passed and we're facing the possibility of a Prop. 8-style ballot fight, the national anti-gay organizations are going to pour money into D.C. and we're going to have to be ready to defend ourselves.

Two, we are going to have to realize that it's not just about us. It's not just gay people who think gay people should be able to marry, but a lot of our straight friends and families believe that as well. We're going to have to create spaces where non-gay people can work with us in terms of pushing for marriage equality. And we're going to have to do a lot of the work that we haven't done before, in terms of reaching out to folks outside of the gay community, including the African-American community and communities of faith.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

March 11, 2009

Pioneers in GLBT Faith: Rev. Ann B. Day

From the LGBT Religious Arcihves Network.

Baptized in the United Methodist Church, influenced by the Church of the Brethren, and raised in the Southern Presbyterian Church, it is little wonder that the Rev. Ann B. Day found a spiritual home in the ecumenically-committed United Church of Christ (UCC). Equally drawn by its Christ-centered life and commitment to social justice, she was ordained in the UCC after completing her Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1978. While in seminary, she served as the first coordinator of the Women’s Office at the Divinity School.

After seminary, Ann served as associate pastor at First Congregational Church UCC in Holden, Massachusetts, until 1981. In the years following, she discovered and became increasingly involved with the United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns (now the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns). In 1987, she became coordinator for its new Open and Affirming (ONA) program, which assists UCC settings in becoming and being ONA (publicly welcoming to LGBT persons). The program maintains the listings of ONA settings in the UCC and, in cooperation with national UCC staff and others, provides the primary leadership and resources for assisting settings in an ongoing process of ONA study and witness. Ann’s ministry includes writing, preaching, resource development, pastoral support, and offering educational programs. Her partner, Donna Enberg, is the ONA Administrative Assistant, doing invaluable work to keep the database and finances of the program in order and seeing that resources are sent on their way promptly. As staff for the ONA program, Ann and Donna are also actively involved in the ecumenical “Welcoming Church Movement.”

Click here to read more about Rev. Day.

March 10, 2009

Advocacy Group: Equality California

One of the organizations at the forefront of overturning Proposition 8 in the state is Equality California. From their website:

Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation.

EQCA works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people. To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political process.

In the past decade, EQCA has successfully passed more than 45 pieces of civil rights legislation for the LGBT community – more than any other statewide LGBT organization in the nation.

Working in partnership with California’s LGBT Legislative Caucus, EQCA is committed to building a better future for all Californians by protecting youth, strengthening families and empowering communities. Each year at the Capitol, EQCA monitors thousands of bills and leads the state’s efforts to defeat legislation that could have a negative impact on LGBT Californians and their families.

EQCA, on behalf of its memebers, is an organizational plaintiff in the historic lawsuit asking the California Supreme Court to strike down state law that bars same-gender couples from marriage. In court, EQCA has also successfully defended California’s domestic partnership laws and related state policies that have been implemented in response to EQCA-sponsored legislation.

I encourage to check out their website for updates on the court challenge to Prop 8 and other news impacting the GLBT community.

March 09, 2009

Another Failed Attempt to Live a Lie

I've written often here about a person failing to live a honest life, where they are being true to who they are, is a recipe for misery and disaster. Here is another cautionary tale supporting that thesis:

From the San Francisco Sentinel:

For much of Jacques Whitfield’s 11-year marriage he maintained a parallel life. He cheated on his wife and, he said, cheated himself.

But that’s over. Whitfield, a veteran Sacramento attorney, quit years of therapy that he once thought would exorcize his homosexuality. Today he is openly gay and has lent his voice in opposition to California’s ban on gay marriage.

While the state Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of Proposition 8, Whitfield said he believes the court decision alone won’t change public opinion. So he wants to help change some minds.

Exit polls showed a majority of African Americans and Latinos supported the same-sex marriage ban.

Whitfield, who is African American, acknowledged that churches, and long-held notions of right and wrong, held sway. That’s why he believes it’s important for some in his community to stop hiding.

“People like me should have been empowered to have the courageous conversation with people that look like me,” said Whitfield, who recently became board chairman of the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center.

That was not a strong enough element in the No on 8 campaign, Whitfield said. There should have been more African Americans delivering a message that gay marriage is a civil rights issue, he said.

Kudos to Mr. Whitfield for putting himself out there. Hopefully his story will influence others who are trying to live the type of secret life he did, and will also open eyes of those who voted to take away a basic civil right from people like him.

Click here to read the rest of the Sentinel's story.

March 08, 2009

Sunday Worship 3/8/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and 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.

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

We appreicate all of the positive feedback we've received for our Sunday Worship series. If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with me.

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

Shout to the Lord

Trading My Sorrows

You Are God Alone

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