April 25, 2009

How Bullying Can Kill

CNN has a good summary of the latest tragedy brought on by a boy being bullied by his schoolmates because he wasn't considered masculine enough.

Allegations of such severe bullying surprises experts familiar with the school district. It's anti-bullying program was considered exemplary and includes programs to raise awareness and a specially trained liaison. Students are even asked to sign a no-bullying pledge. But other parents told CNN they have complained about bullying as well.

Despite recent strides towards preventing bullying in schools and increased awareness programs, a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network study showed that 65 percent of teens are bullied each year and most believe adults can't help them.

Less than a month before Jaheem's death, a boy in Massachusetts killed himself after being bullied, harassed and called "gay."

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, says to be effective, awareness programs need to include education about the harm that can be done by teasing someone about sexuality or perceived sexuality.

"Anti-gay language is really the ultimate weapon for a bully who wants to degrade his or her peers," she says. "And any effective response to bullying has to take that on."

Words CAN hurt--they can even kill. AS the GLSEN director was quoted above, people need to be educated so they understand the consequences of their actions.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Jesus was not a bully, and anyone truly interested in following Him instead of just using His name to justify hate doesn't do that.


April 23, 2009

Miss California's Bible-Speak

Well, Monday night's Miss USA pageant was a real interesting one. I didn't watch it this year, but I have read the transcript of Miss California's answer to Perez Hilton's question about same-sex marriage. Miss California spouted forth that she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and that was how she was raised, etc.

Here is an excerpt from a Karel's website blog (http://www.radiokrl.com/):

Civil rights are not up for debate. The Constitution guarantees that equal equals equal so I know one day marriage will be legal for all couples that want it. Fight that fight in a way that works and leave someone whose job it is to model dresses and be objectified by men alone, even if it’s for your own advantage. Technically, she gave the POPULAR and CORRECT answer in her country like it or not. Change that and you make her look stupid and irrelevant. Attack the message, not the messenger.

I disagree with Miss California, whose name I do not use on purpose, but I support her right to have her opinions. I support her right to rally people to keep marriage between a man and a woman, it’s America. She is ill informed or brainwashed by religion or some other force. Don’t ask a scorpion why it stung you, it’s a scorpion, that’s what it does, Ask why its sting hurts so much and why its attack is still condoned. The answer to those questions, and changing of those situations is how you, we, us, Americans that believe in equality win. Those that seek legal oppression should not have their voice codified in law, but the First Amendment gives them a voice.

And truthfully, who the hell cares what a pageant winner thinks about social policies? SHE’S A PAGEANT BEAUTY QUEEN, not running for public office. Her job will be to attend corporate events and speak all around the country. IF she won and IF she went on a anti-marriage campaign, then, in America it would be your right to launch some sort of campaign against her. Chances are, she would have stayed away from that topic for an entire year. Quickly, off the top of the head, name one political stance of one past MIss USA? War in Iraq? Abortion? Economy? The Bush Years?...

What this guy said is so right on! Why do we in the glbt community call this same-sex fight anything but a fight for civil rights? The Constitution gives every American the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also says that we should all be equal! Why do we feel the need to talk about this issue with those who have religious difference with us? If they feel differently than we do, then let them. However, civil justice requires that we all be treated equally. Therefore, in civil law, we should be able to marry whomever we want. The Church doesn't have a say in this, really. Now, if I wanted to get married in a church, then they could refuse to marry me to my partner. However, religious folk who disagree with me about same-sex marriage do not have the right to tell me who I can enter into a civil contract with!

This issue should be very simple. We need to go back and start re-framing the same-sex marriage debate in these terms.

It's like a bumper sticker says: If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't marry one!

April 22, 2009

"America's First Transgender Mayor"

I'll bet people picking up the latest issue of Details magazine didn't expect to find the story of the first transgender mayor in U. S. history, Stu Rasmussen, but there it is. Here's an excerpt:

In 2004, Rasmussen was re-elected to the city council. In 2006, he decided to take another run at mayor. He ignored the skeptics who questioned whether a man in lipstick could lead the town, and he lost. So he ran again in 2008, only this time he altered his strategy, posting a photo of himself in a revealing black top on his website. During the town-hall debate, he squared off against Ken Hector and a candidate named Jim Squires. When all three men were asked how they planned to increase tourism, Squires and Hector pointed to the Oregon Garden, an eight-year-old, 80-acre refuge that drew about 6,000 visitors a month. Rasmussen pointed to himself. "If you're looking for a tourist attraction," he said, "elect me."

Click here to read the rest of the story from the Details website.

April 21, 2009

Advocacy Group: Reconciling Ministries Network

The United Methodist Church is one of the mainline denominations in the United States that is slowly moving toward full equality for GLBT people. An organization working hard to faciliate that is the Reconciling Ministries Network. Here is some information from their website:

The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a growing movement of United Methodist individuals, congregations, campus ministries, and other groups working for the full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church.

As of March 2009, the RMN encompasses 259 Reconciling Congregations, 34 Reconciling Campus Ministries, and 75 other Reconciling Communities and Ministries. There are over 80,000 Reconciling United Methodists.

Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

Guiding Principles
Reconciling Ministries Network is a Christian and United Methodist organization. Its work is guided by the following core principles:
1. Spiritually GroundedReconciling Ministries Network is committed to the justice imperative of the Gospel and grounding its ministries in the Wesleyan practice of personal and social holiness. RMN is committed to utilizing inclusive language and respectfully recognizing the diverse approaches to scripture, tradition, reason, and experience of the congregations and communities with whom it relates.
2. ReconciliationReconciling Ministries Network is committed to reconciliation that leads to the healing and transformation of animosity into a loving relationship amongst all God’s children. Authentic reconciliation requires peace with justice.
3. Overcoming OppressionReconciling Ministries Network aspires to fulfill our baptismal covenant to resist oppression in whatever form it presents itself in our movement, church, and world. RMN has a commitment to ending institutional racism, sexism, and economic injustice by working at the intersections of oppression and focusing on an ongoing examination of internal processes and external actions at all levels including its selection of issues and organizing strategies.
4. Integrating Sexuality with SpiritualityReconciling Ministries Network believes that human sexuality is a good gift from God. RMN is committed to supporting the integration of healthy, loving expressions of sexuality and spirituality for everyone. In particular, since the Church so often has sought to deny their full humanity, we celebrate the sexuality and spirituality of LGBT persons and pledge to provide resources that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s precious gift.
5. RelationshipsReconciling Ministries Network acts in hospitality across theological divides and is committed to the creation of community, interconnectedness, and deep relationships.
6. Systems ChangeReconciling Ministries Network is committed to policy change and the creation of long-term solutions and practices that create full inclusion in The United Methodist Church and our broader society. RMN works for full equality in membership, ordination, and marriage for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children.
7. StewardshipReconciling Ministries Network is committed to the stewardship of its organizational resources—the people, time, talent, and treasures—that God provides for transformation of our church and world.
8. Organizational Authenticity Reconciling Ministries Network is committed to operating in a way that mirrors the change we hope to create in the world. Towards that end, we commit to honesty, integrity, excellence, equality, justice, dignity, civility, diversity, inclusion, and creativity. This includes continuous soul searching in all organizational practices and the provision of ongoing continuing education to all staff and board members to enhance skills and develop growth.

Click here to read much more about this organiation on its website.

April 20, 2009

Can Conservatives Support Same-Sex Marriage?

Steve Schmidt, John McCain's presidential campaign manager, thinks that there is justification for conservatives to support same-sex marriage. From CNN:

In a speech Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative gay rights group, Steve Schmidt said allowing same-sex marriage is in line with the conservative credo of keeping government out of people's private lives.

"There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage," Schmidt, who was McCain's campaign manager, told the group. "I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one's liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage. In a marriage, two people are completely responsible to and for each other."

He added: "If you are not willing to accept and faithfully discharge those responsibilities, you shouldn't enter the state of matrimony, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference if you're straight or gay. It is a responsibility like no other, which can and should make marriage an association between two human beings more fulfilling than any other."

"People are turned off in large measure by what they see as intolerance coming out of the party," he said.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't he? Now we'll see how many Republicans not of the Log Cabin variety will listen.

Click here to read the entire CNN report.

April 19, 2009

Sumday Worship, 4/19/09

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. NEW SERVICES HAVE BEEN ADDED THIS WEEK!

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!

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Video Archive
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake, MI
OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore