May 23, 2009

More on Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in DC

Washington DC is a very liberal city in regards to the voting patterns of its residents, therefore it was no surprise when the City Council voted 12-1 to recognize other states' legal same-sex marriages.

Not everybody is happy about that, however. From the Washington Examiner:

Ralph Chittams has been turned out of restaurants, denied jobs and called unprintable names because he is black. He says he understands discrimination.

So forgive him if he doesn’t believe that denying a marriage license to a gay couple is morally equivalent to denying fellow black men the right to sit at a lunch counter.

“Marriage is a religious act,” said Chittams, 48, a Baptist minister and longtime resident of the Hillcrest neighborhood. “From the dawn of time, it’s been between a man and a woman.”

Words like that offend Richard Rosendall of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

“Marriage equality benefits everyone,” he said. “The fact is that our opponents have no monopoly on faith or on holy scripture.”

Nowhere else in the U.S. does the debate over gay marriage take on quite the shape that it does in the District of Columbia. The city is one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the country. Its voters chose Barack Obama nearly by a ratio of 95-to-5.

But the outrage that has exploded among black ministers after a 12-1 city council vote to recognize out-of-state gay marriages has highlighted a deep divide. On one side are white gays and lesbians and their backers. On the other side are otherwise liberal African-Americans with a deep conservative streak on social questions.

“There is a feeling that white activists from out of town, that they’re sort of the setting the agenda,” said Sean Bugg, co-publisher of Metro Weekly, a weekly magazine that covers gay and lesbian life in the District. “It’s an arguable point. But I think it’s too early to say, ‘Black D.C. thinks this or black D.C. thinks that.’ ”

Still, Bugg said the vehemence of the opposition — including that of longtime gay rights advocate Marion Barry — ought to be “a wake-up call” for gay rights advocates.

Most gay rights advocates strenuously deny that there’s a racial divide.

“It’s a red herring,” Rosendall said. “Bishop Harry Jackson and his allies like people to believe there is. They seem to be doing their best to stoke one.”

Harry Jackson, the leader of a mega-church in Lanham who is emerging as a national leader in the fight against gay marriage, said he was guilty as charged. “Why do they get to appeal to blacks as if blacks are their property and I can’t go to that same group?”

Jackson asked. Black people have been silent for too long on matters of “righteousness,” Jackson said. Gay marriage offers the perfect opportunity to refocus their political power.

It’s not just the opposition to gay marriage that discomfits gay rights advocates. It’s also the toxic language of the opposition.
“I think one of the big challenges for African-American gay people … is the hostile rhetoric in the pulpit,” said Michael Crawford, a black gay activist based in the District.

Chittams says he regrets some of the vitriol of the debate. “I don’t think it’s a racial thing on a national level. Unfortunately, here, in the District, it has taken on a racial connotation,” he said.

Chittams, a registered Republican who voted for Barack Obama, said he hoped that the debate would get people to rethink government involvement in marriage altogether.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re straight or gay: You should not be able to go down to the courthouse and get a marriage license,” he said. “Anybody who goes down to the courthouse, all you should get is a certificate of a civil union.”

Bishop Jackson, to my knowledge NOT a resident of DC, is good at stirring up hate and playing the race card, even hinting at the "slave card" (blacks are not property, blacks should be free). He has received a lot of attention, had a book published, and gets plenty of face time on Fox News.

Let me know when he gets around to preaching the love of Jesus.

May 22, 2009

An Important Lesson In Christian Love From an Athiest

I don't often go to the blog "Friendly Athiest" for what I hope are obvious reasons, but when someone is right, they're right and thanks to the link from PageOneQ I saw a powerful lesson from Hermant Mehta on the blatant hypocrisy of the Religious Right:

The Religious Right keeps saying gay-rights activists are “redefining marriage”:

Changing the definition of marriage would undermine the very nature that
gives marriage its unique status in society. Ultimately, forcing marriage to
mean all things will force marriage to mean nothing at all. (The Heritage

The same group of people also goes on about how God loves gay people:

God loves homosexuals. He loves them just as he loves every other human on the planet.

People living a homosexual lifestyle are sinners like the rest of us and, like the rest of us, they are people created by God and loved by God. As such, we are called to love in whatever sinful state we happen to find them.

I say this to the religious people who oppose marriage equality:

You think we’re redefining marriage?

How can you accuse us of that when you’ve done something far worse?

You redefined love.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin”? Please…

For you, “love” means making sure gay people cannot adopt a child who needs a home.

For you, “love” means stripping away the marital status of gay couples who were legally married in California before Proposition 8 took effect.

For you, “love” means accepting someone only if they never act on their sexuality.

For you, “love” means putting our country at risk if gay people in our military dare mention they are in a same-sex relationship.

For you, “love” means allowing doctors to refuse patients who need their help because the patients are gay.

For you, “love” means preventing homosexuals from serving in leadership positions for organizations like the Boy Scouts because you oppose their sexual orientation.

For you, “love” means telling someone else what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their bedroom.

For you, “love” means removing your children from school for a day so they can’t witness other students taking a stand for LGBT rights.

I know we’ve heard the rebuttal to this notion of “redefining marriage”
— marriage has been redefined a countless number of times. From a property
arrangement to a love marriage to interracial marriage, etc. The definition of
marriage has never been static.

But how dare Christians make that accusation: You’re redefining marriage.

They say it like we’ve done something wrong.

How dare you belittle us for trying to promote equality and marriage and civil rights?
You’re Christians. Aren’t those values you’re supposed to endorse?

We are not trying to change how your church operates or how you practice your faith. We’re not telling you how to live your life. We’re not forcing you to adopt our beliefs.

Who is showing more love here?
Wow! When Chistians can get schooled on the basics of their faith by an athiest, it's time to take a good long look in the mirror, drop on your knees, and ask the Lord to teach us how He would love.

You can bet it wouldn't resemble anything like what was described here.

May 21, 2009

What's Up With New Hampshire's Governor??

I read on CNN that Gov. Lynch of New Hampshire has made the same-sex marriage bill that passed the House and Senate hit a snag.

What the governor did was refuse to sign the bill into law unless there is a specific provision that protects religious institutions from having to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Huh? What does religion have to do with civil rights? It sounds to me like Gov. Lynch, who's a Democrat by the way, is catering to the religious right's paranoia.

To hear some churches tell it, all of us gay folks are just dying to get married in their church and if we have legal marriage rights, then we'll run down to the local Baptist church and demand they perform our wedding ceremony or face legal wrath. I don't know if it's arrogance or ignorance, or both, but having legal same-sex marriage doesn't give us the right to tell a church what ceremonies to perform! Come on. Do they really believe that to be the case?

I submit that the religious right knows they are losing the same-sex marriage battle on moral grounds and now they are using the tactic of saying that legalizing the unions would infringe on their religious liberties as a way to fight us. They are grasping at straws, but apparently Gov. Lynch has bought it, hook, line and sinker!

The law doesn't need to specifically protect churches from having to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies because there is no legal basis for forcing any church to perform any ceremony that they don't believe in. It's just not there. There is no connection and there should be no connection. Separation of church and state says that the government shall make no establishment of a state religion OR prohibit the free exercise thereof. That means a specific religion cannot tell government how they should rule and government can't tell religion how they should worship. It's so simple!

So, I hope that the New Hampshire government gets it's act together and does the right thing. Civil rights should never be denied because of religious intolerance. Religious liberty must be protected, but not at the cost of denying civil rights. You see where I'm going here?

As a Christian, I have been so offended by the Church of late. Instead of focusing on telling people of God's great love for them and how they can know that love, they focus on making sure that two people who love each other and want to get married and "settle down" together cannot legally do that. For some reason, they've decided that my relationship is more important than spreading the Gospel! For shame. For shame.

May 19, 2009

Is This What It Will Take to Stop Bullying?

Whether it's an individual or an organization, it is so often true that the best way to get their attention is to hit them in the pocketbook. That's the approach Masika Bermudez, the mother of Jaheem Herrera, the 11-year old who recently committed suicide as the result of constant bullying at school, is taking.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thanks to PageOneQ for the tip

The family of a fifth-grader who committed suicide after his mother said he
was continuously teased at a Stone Mountain school plans to sue DeKalb County Schools.

A family member discovered 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera in his Atlanta-area
home after he hanged himself on April 16, according to authorities.

Gerald Griggs, the family’s attorney, announced the planned lawsuit at a
rally outside a Decatur church Saturday. Griggs said the family is seeking an
unspecified amount to help fund the Jaheem Herrera Foundation, formed to stop
bullying in schools.

“The purpose of the suit is to hold Dekalb County responsible for the
actions that led to Jaheem’s death and to force a change in the school policies
on handling bullying,” Griggs said after the rally. “This case will send a
message that we as a community will no longer tolerate school systems that
tolerate terror in the classrooms.”

A DeKalb County school spokesman did not immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment.

DeKalb County and Dunaire Elementary Principal Carolyn Thompson will also be named in the lawsuit, Griggs said. The county and school district have 30 days to respond to Griggs’ “intent to sue” notice before the lawsuit becomes official.

Jaheem’s mother, Masika Bermudez, has said her son often complained of
being called names. She said she repeatedly visited Dunaire Elementary, but her
son told her the bullying continued. Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis
has acknowledged Bermudez visited the school, though he said it’s unclear how
many times.

He said county school officials are reviewing anti-bullying policies and
investigating allegations of teasing, including a choking incident involving

State law says students involved in three incidents of bullying can be

See, even where there are laws in place, effort still needs to be put into enforcing them. Maybe a good old fashioned lawsuit will help motivate people and prevent more tragedies like this one.

May 18, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage Could Be New Supreme Court Litmus Test

With the upcoming retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, President Obama will soon get his first crack at nominating someone to the high court. According to the Washington Post, the nominee's view on same-sex marriage could replace abortion as the key litmus test among senators who will vote on confirmation.

In addition to shedding more light on the nation's most contentious unfolding social drama and legal frontier, Senate Republicans say the debate could provide a road map to an Obama nominee's judicial philosophy.

"It may reflect the degree to which they think that they're not bound by the classical meaning of the Constitution, and that they may want to let a personal agenda go beyond what the law said," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"It is now the flash point where politics and law meet. That flash point used to be abortion. I don't think anybody thinks that's going to be the flash point in this nomination," said William A. Jacobson, a Cornell University law professor and conservative blogger.

Most Republicans and Democrats -- Obama included -- agree that individual
states should determine their own marriage laws. But Congress complicated that
process by approving the Defense of Marriage Act.

Rushed through by Republicans and signed by President Clinton on the eve of the 1996 election, the law allows states to ignore marriages performed in other states and denies federal recognition of legal gay marriages.

Under that law, same-sex couples are barred from receiving a long list of
federal benefits -- more than 1,100. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the most
recent addition to the Supreme Court, acknowledged during his January 2006
Senate hearing that "several constitutional doctrines seem to be implicated" in
the legislation, including the "full faith and credit" clause that compels
states to honor judgments by other state courts. Legal scholars differ on the
clause's application to gay marriage, Alito noted, and "that's an issue that may
well come up within the federal courts" and is "almost certain to do so."

For conservative activists, the Defense of Marriage Act is the levee holding back the flood. The 2003 Supreme Court decision that threw out a Texas sodomy law sparked scores of civil challenges to state and federal gay-marriage restrictions based on discrimination and other claims. Conservative legal organizations have mobilized in opposition to these lawsuits and to increasing activity on the issue in state legislatures. One priority is to establish the right not to recognize same-sex marriage on religious grounds. In New Hampshire, Gov. John Lynch (D) is seeking protections for churches and their employees before he signs his state's pending same-sex marriage bill into law.

Conservative groups are scrutinizing potential nominees for any hint of where they stand on the Defense of Marriage Act and other issues related to same-sex marriage. Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network, one of the leading groups revving up for the summer proceedings, said of the gravity of the marriage issue, "A lot of it does depend on who the nominee is."
Folks, please don't underestimate the anger festering within many conservatives right now. Having staked out the moral high ground and still getting their asses kicked, as they have consistently in 2009, the righteous indignation among conservatives has welled up until it is ready to explode. James Dobson may have run up the white flag (at least temporarily), but federal recognition could be the line in the sand that the right wing draws to protect or die trying.

With lukewarm at best support for LGBT equality from the White House, they still have a good chance to accomplish that on the federal level. Obama's nomination will be another indicator of whether he is ready to engage in these issues or not.

Click here to read the rest of the Washington Post article.

May 17, 2009

Sunday Worship 5/17/09

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!

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