March 21, 2009

GLBT News and Political Roundup 3/21/09

The marriage debate is picking up in Vermont as the state legislature takes up a bill that would give same-sex couples the right to enjoy full marriage rights.

The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners beginning Sept. 1. Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1.
Supporters cast the debate as a civil rights issue, saying a civil unions law enacted by the state in 2000 has fallen short of the equality it promised same-sex couples. Its appeal has declined, too: In 2001, the state granted 1,876 civil unions, compared with only 262 last year.

New Hampshire's lawmakers are also moving forward with important legislation.

New Hampshire lawmakers will vote next week on two LGBT rights bills - one that would allow same-sex couples to marry and one extending the state’s human rights laws to include protections for transpeople.
If they passed the House, the bills would then go to the Senate.
Rep. Jim Splaine, who sponsored the state’s civil unions law, said he believes there will be enough votes to pass his same-sex marriage bill and to block an attempt to amend the constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

Sadly, the Pope has again demonstrated just how out of touch he really is.
A day after Pope Benedict XVI prefaced his visit to Cameroon and Angola by saying the "scourge" of HIV could be made worse, not better, by the distribution of condoms, France, Germany and Belgium criticised his message as irresponsible. The UNAids agency said condoms were a vital part of the battle against HIV, which infects more than 7,000 people a day.

Here's another debate: Did Proposition 8 lead to an increase in anti-gay hate crimes in California?

Hate crime cases involving anti-gay sentiment shot up in Santa Clara County last year, a striking increase that a leading prosecutor attributes to controversy over Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage.
Anti-gay incidents accounted for more than half of hate-crime cases last year — 56 percent — a big jump from only 15 percent in 2007. There were 14 anti-gay cases out of 25 hate-crime cases in 2008, compared with only 3 out of 20 in 2007.
"My belief from having done this work for many years is that surges in types of hate incidents are linked to the headlines and controversies of the day,'' said Deputy District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, who is assigned to monitor hate crimes. "Marriage equality and Proposition 8 have been in the news, and we have seen an increase in gay-bashing.''

Better late than never, the U.S. will endore the U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalzation of homosexuality.

The Obama administration on Wednesday formally endorsed a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality, a measure that former President George W. Bush had refused to sign.
"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," Wood told reporters. "As such, we join with other supporters of this statement, and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora."

Think all GLBT folks are affluent? Think again, says this new study.
Lesbian couples are more likely to be poor than married heterosexuals, and children of same-sex parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as those of traditional married couples, a new report shows.

March 19, 2009

Welcoming the "T" to the White House

Mara Keisling is the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, also happens to be a transwoman herself. She was recently invited to the White House to attend a signing ceremony and blogged about it at The Bilerico Project.

At NCTE, we do not pretend that our having been invited to send me to a mostly ceremonial, albeit significant, moment is akin to Perkins being the first woman in the cabinet. I was not, to say the least, in the high seats. But, imagine, this week a transperson was invited as a transperson to the White House. And bigger, more significant firsts have already happened this year. A transgender man, Diego Sanchez, was the first openly out transperson to become a staffer on Capitol Hill, standing on the shoulders of at least one other transperson who worked for a Senator in a district office. And this year a transgender person, Shannon Minter, argued for the second time before the California Supreme Court and was named Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer magazine, standing on the shoulders of numerous trans lawyers who had mentored him. And this year, other firsts have happened and will continue to happen, and in years hence, these firsts will stand as foundations on which new, taller firsts will stand.

In the mean time, of course, trans people around the country and the world continue to face horrible disrespect, discrimination and violence, and I know my invitation to the White House this week is only one tiny step toward lessening those years from now.

I know more of us will be invited again soon, and next time hopefully to witness the signing of a Hate Crimes law or ENDA or maybe the much needed Executive Order protecting transgender federal employees.

Click here to rest the rest of the post at The Bilerico Project.

March 18, 2009

Pioneers in GLBT Faith: Rev. Howard Warren

From the LGBT Religious Archives Network:

The Rev. Howard B. Warren, Jr., affectionately known as "God's Glorious Gadfly," was born September 7, 1934, in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary; and he held degrees from Missouri Valley College and Union Theological Seminary (New York). He also held a masters degree from the School of Social Work at Hunter College. Ordained by the Presbytery of Kansas City in 1965, Warren served Presbyterian churches for 25 years. His pastorates were in Milford, Penn.; Vernon, Fayetteville and Huntington, New York; Pontiac, Michigan; and Orchard Park, Indiana.

In 1987, Howard came out to the Presbytery of Detroit as a person with AIDS and a gay man. Active in Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (now More Light Presbyterians), he was a founder of Presbyterians Act Up, was active with the Presbyterian AIDS Network and was a founding supporter of That All May Freely Serve.

From the time of his diagnosis with HIV/AIDS in 1987, until he required hospital and nursing home care in 2001, he was an advocate and caregiver for persons with HIV/AIDS and their families, friends and partners. He served as the director of pastoral care at the Damien Center in Indianapolis from 1989 to 1999, a care site for HIV/AIDS patients that was established by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Click here to read the rest of Rev. Warren's story.

March 17, 2009

Advocacy Group: Integrity USA

The Episcopal Church has been a primary battleground for GLBT equality issues, especially since openly gay Bishop Eugene Robinson was ordained. This painfully public schism points out that there is still very strong resistance toward GLBT equality within the denomination.

That's where Integrity USA steps in. From their website:

Integrity is a nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and our straight friends. Since our founding by Dr. Louie Crew in rural Georgia in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and our equal access to its rites. However, advocacy is only one facet of our ministry. At the national level and in local chapters and diocesan networks throughout the country, the primary activities are:

* worship
* fellowship
* education
* communication
* outreach, and
* service to the church

Through Integrity's evangelism, thousands of LGBT people, estranged from the Episcopal Church and other denominations, have returned to parish life.

Although the Episcopal Church has made tremendous strides toward inclusiveness, it still has a long way to go. Unfortunately, in too many parishes and dioceses, prejudice and oppression are still the norm.

Integrity is a member of The Institute for Welcoming Resources. They offer a regular newsletter and have a blog for updates. Their website's front page also offers a section for Faith-Based Community Organizing.

Click here to visit the Integrity USA website.

March 16, 2009

Some Things Just Can't Be Compromised

That's the gist of this post by Jenna Lowenstein on 365gay:

We live in a country founded on the tenet that all men are equal. Period. If we decide that we should push for civil unions, if we decide that’s the responsible battle to fight because it might be easier or faster or might not ruffle as many feathers, than we need to be willing to decide that we’re ok with compromising that founding ideal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not there yet.

The idea that there is a trade-off for any rights movement– between principle and compromise, revolution and assimilation, absolutism or gradualism, belief and strategy– is what forces this debate, but I think the answer is easy.

During the debate on ENDA last summer, Congressman Rush Holt gave a floor speech in which he quoted Congressman John Lewis quoting Martin Luther King:

“Mr. Speaker, our distinguished colleague John Lewis often reminds us of the words of Dr. King, “The time is always right to do the right thing.” Dr. King warned us against the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. I am concerned that when we break apart legislation, some pieces fall on the floor to get swept into the dustbin of history or to be considered only years later. We should not do this to members of our society who need and deserve the same protections as all other Americans.”

I think Holt’s and Lewis’ and King’s point is spot on. We can compromise on taxes and on infrastructure funding and on health care costs. But we cannot– we must not– sell out the fundamental right to equality.

Emma Ruby-Sachs takes a more pragmatic approach in this essay, also on 365gay:

In the debate about gay marriage, a lot of attention is paid to civil unions vs. marriage and, while I agree with Jenna that creating inequalities in law – even if the two terms fundamentally stand for the same thing – creates untenable violations of the rights of LGBT people, I am a pragmatist at heart.

What this history tells us is that these little battles that have been playing out in states across the country are important. And the battles we fight everyday to have employers recognize our relationships without a government mandate are also essential.

But no government, not even Obama, will leap into equality without being forced to do so. And while I believe in activism by the courts, maybe we all have to settle for a piecemeal struggle for the rights in the marriage basket. That is what the new DOMA challenge is about.
I am infuriated by calls for separate but equal and am frustrated by the inaction of the current administration. But that part of me that understands politics and history recognizes that rights may have to be won one by one before real equality can be achieved.

Should our society settle for gathering up crumbs a little at a time to eventually have enough to make a cake, or should their be a principled, uncomromising push for the entire cake of full equality.

We all need to look at what is in our hearts and answer one simple question--what is the right thing to do--and proceed accordingly.

In my heart, compromise is NOT the right thing to do.

March 15, 2009

Welcome to Sunday Worship 3/15/09

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!

We Want to See Jesus Lifted High

Open the Eyes of My Heart

As the Deer

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