January 09, 2010

Should Marriage Be a Private Contract?

That's the interesting take from an article in the New York Daily News (hat tip PageOneQ):

Following bitter defeats in California, Maine, and New York, the gay and lesbian community has a New Year's victory to celebrate. New Hampshire joins four other states - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont - in legalizing gay marriage. And the nation's capital is also onboard. Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty put it this way: "Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral and religious issue."

He covered all the bases, except one: It's a constitutional issue as well.

Thomas Jefferson set the stage in the Declaration of Independence: "[T]o secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men." The primary purpose of government is to safeguard individual rights and prevent some persons from harming others. Heterosexuals should not be treated preferentially when the state carries out that role. And no one is harmed by the union of two consenting gay people.

For most of Western history, marriage was a matter of private contract between the betrothed parties and perhaps their families. Following that tradition, marriage today should be a private arrangement, requiring minimal or no state intervention. Some religious or secular institutions would recognize gay marriages; others would not; still others would call them domestic partnerships or assign another label. Join whichever group you wish. The rights and responsibilities of partners would be governed by personally tailored contracts - consensual bargains like those that control most other interactions in a free society.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Has government intruded too much into marriage of any type?  We'd like to hear your views.

Encouraging Words 1/9/10-"Be Who You Are"

Here's an excerpt from an advice column from author Michelle Zink (hat tip to Twitter user CommonComrades):

Q: I’m gay, and live in a very small/conservative town. If I came out, I’d probably get kicked out of the house. I’ve tried to not be the way I am, it’s just not happening.

Should I tell anyone, or just keep it quiet until I can move away? Or something else?

A: I get emails all the time from gay teens who are struggling with the issue of when and how to come out. And no matter how many I get, I still always think, “For serious? This is still an issue for people?” That’s because in my book, everyone is entitled to love, in whatever form that takes (as long as it’s not harmful to others). I couldn’t care less whether you’re gay, straight, transgender, or celibate. You are deserving of love.

Anyway, you don’t say how old you are, but I’m going to assume somewhere between 16 and 20. Not knowing that makes this a tough one to answer, because there’s a world of difference between being 16 and in high school and being 20 and nearly out in the world.

I wish I could use my mantra for all things, “Be who you are” here, because really, we should all be able to do that and know that we’re guaranteed love and acceptance – especially by the people closest to us. But part of the downside to being an adult or almost-adult is the accepting that our decisions and actions have consequences. Sometimes, those consequences aren’t fair, but ranting about that isn’t going to get us anywhere, is it? In this case, as with most cases, we have to deal with what IS, even though it totally sucks.
Click here to read the rest of the article.

Encouraging Music 1/9/10 "You Raise Me Up" by Selah

It's Not All About Marriage, It's About Relationship Rights

That's the interesting take that The Bilerico Project contributor Alex Blaze has on the Rhode Island legislature's veto override that granted domestic partner death rights in the state.  Is another way to equality diminishing the privilege of married couples, and is that a bad thing?  Here's an excerpt from Blaze's essay:

The Rhode Island legislature overrode the governor's veto to pass a bill to allow gay and straight unmarried partners to plan their partners' funerals in the case of death. I blogged about the governor's veto of this bill last November under the title "Everything is not marriage," because the governor cited the slippery slope to same-sex marriage as a reason to reject the bill.

While everyone is focusing on the same-sex couples that the bill will help, it applies to straight couples as well who might not marry for whatever reason. Elderly straight couples often don't marry so that they don't lose their deceased spouses' pensions and Social Security, younger couples are waiting longer and longer to get married (the bill applies to couples who have been together for at least a year, which isn't enough time for many straight people to get married), and lots of people just avoid the whole institution because of all the baggage that comes with being married.

This is "beyond marriage" win - it takes a right associated with marriage and opens it up to all relationships or the population as a whole. If we're saying we want to get married for the all the rights associated with the institution, another solution to being excluded from marriage is to just stop associating those rights with the institution.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 1/9/10 Free to Choose

From: Love Worth Finding

“What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” Psalm 25:12

You are free to choose. You are not free, however, not to choose. Then, after you make a choice, your choice chooses for you.

There are consequences for your choices – always. If you choose to step off the roof of a ten-story building, you are not, then, free to choose the consequences of your choice. Your choice has chosen for you.

What if you make a bad choice? What is God’s reaction? First, He is in control. Your choices will not take Him by surprise. Thanks be to God, He can prevail over our bad choices to restore us into fellowship with Himself!

Have you made a choice in your past that has brought consequences reverberating even to this day? Then share that insight with someone who is younger in their faith than you.

January 08, 2010

Portugal's Parliment Votes to Permit Same-Sex Marriage

Here's the AP report via the New York Times:

Portugal's parliament passed a bill Friday that would make the predominantly Catholic nation the sixth in Europe to permit gay marriage.

Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva is thought unlikely to veto the Socialist government's bill, which won the support of all left-of-center parties. His ratification would allow the first gay marriage ceremonies to take place in April -- a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on an official visit to Portugal.

Right-of-center parties opposed the change and sought a national referendum on the issue, but their proposal was rejected and the government's bill was passed by 125 votes to 99.

Gay rights campaigners applauded from the galleries, hugged and kissed outside the building and ate wedding cake.

''This law rights a wrong,'' Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in a speech to lawmakers, adding that it ''simply ends pointless suffering.''
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 1/8/10-"Confession of a Christian 'Broad'"

Here is an excerpt from an essay posted at Whosoever.org by Lori Heine:

No one forces God to love us. We are entirely dependent upon God's goodness. God's good - and always will be - because that's Who God is. As "His" Name, as given to Moses at the burning bush, implies, "I am who I am." Or, translated more correctly, "I will be who I will be."

Those who are good to those they don't have to be good to testify to the light of God. There's no "what's in it for me?" attitude for them. The less self-interested their love for others happens to be, the more God-like it is.

God weeps with us when we cry. But God doesn't have to do that. No one would punish "Him" if "He" stonily hid away and left us to weep all alone.

We make much - and rightly so - of the fact that Jesus was born a human being, in this human world, to live, and laugh, and cry, and suffer and die alongside of us. But there were other choices He could have made along the way.

Encouraging Music 1/8/10 "Awesome God" by Michael W. Smith

SNN Recommends (Just for Fun) 1/8/10-I Can Has Cheezburger

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An LGBT Parenting Agenda for 2010

Dana Rudolph, the publisher of the blog Mombian, contributed an essay to Bay Windows proposing an agenda for LGBT families to take on in the new year:

It is a bit of a cliché to joke that our "agenda" as LGBT parents goes something like this: "Grocery shopping. Laundry. PTA meeting. Kids’ soccer practice."

It’s funny because it’s true. The beginning of the year, however, is a good time to reflect on a broader agenda to help create equality for our families. Here are some of the items on my list:

Nationwide recognition of our parental status: Being in a legally recognized relationship in one jurisdiction is no guarantee that other jurisdictions will recognize the parenthood of a non-biological (or non-adoptive) parent. This can impact custody disputes, hospital visitation, or the simple ability to sign school forms.

Even when an adoption is legal in one state, parents sometimes have to fight for other states to recognize it. A federal appeals court last year ordered a hold on an order for Louisiana to put both gay dads on the birth certificate of a boy adopted in New York but born in Louisiana, where same-sex couples cannot adopt. The court heard the case in October, but has not yet ruled.

Last May in Florida, too, a biological mother tried to deny visitation to her ex-partner, who had done a second-parent adoption when the couple lived in Washington. The court ruled that despite the Florida ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians, it had to recognize the out-of-state adoption. Good news -- but opposite-sex parents would not have had to fight that battle.
Click here for the rest of this essay.

Daily Devotional 1/8/10 Let Jesus Lead the Way

From:  Love Worth Finding

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

Who knows you better than the One who created you?

Who cares more for you than the One Who died for you?

Who leads you more carefully than the One Who knows the end from the beginning?

There is no greater picture of courage than the picture of Jesus Christ – the Savior Who lays down His life. You can know security because the One Who loves you is compassionate, caring, and courageous.

Jesus knows you. He cares for you. He wants to lead you into the abundant life.

Are you willing to lay down your life for the sake of the Lord?

January 07, 2010

Breaking News: New Jersey Senate Votes No on Same-Sex Marriage

From Timothy Kinkaid at Box Turtle Bulletin:

Today the full New Jersey Senate voted on a bill to provide the same legal protections, responsibilities, and recognition to same-sex couples that it offers to opposite-sex couples. As expected, the full Senate voted against marriage equality 20 – 14. To pass, the bill needed 21 votes, seven more than it received.

(for the record, Sen. Teresa Ruiz nearly brought me to tears)

What this means in practical terms is that New Jersey will not have marriage equality for the four (or eight) years of Chris Christie’s governance. Or, I suppose, until two thirds of the senate is committed to marriage and can overturn a veto.

However, we finally have a tally of those who believe in equality under the law and those who believe that our lives, our relationships, and our citizenship are inferior to their own. I’ll bring you the roll call once I know it.

It is quite likely that support for the idea of marriage in New Jersey will continue to grow. At some point I think it likely that the no vote of some Senators today will cost them their career.

Let’s try and make that sooner rather than later.
Due to limited Internet access at this time, we won't have any more updates tonight.  For further reaction, check out our "LGBT News" link under Resources or the Google News Feed, both on the right hand side of our site.

Encouraging Words 1/7/10-"A Call For a Nuanced View of Religious Leaders"

We believe this is an exceptional essay and offers a viewpoint we strongly agree with.  From Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin:

Most of us are capable of seeing our coworkers, family, and neighbors as possessing varying degrees of rejection or support.

We know that Aunt Gladys will ask when you’re going to go to Vermont to marry your young man and we appreciate her. But we also know that Uncle Fred will keep his mouth shut but, if asked, will say, “well, any of your special friends are always welcome in my home, but I’m just old fashioned and think a marriage is between a man and a woman”. And Cousin Susan loves you and supports you but really wishes that you were straight because, “the gay life is so much more difficult”.

Somehow we are able to accept Uncle Fred and Cousin Susan and their limitations without denouncing them as vile people. But too often our community views religious leaders through a dichotomous lens; either the minister is a fully supportive political ally, or a hate-filled anti-gay bigot.

But truthfully, most are neither.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

LGBT Helping Hands 1/7/10-AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

ARCW is among the largest and most comprehensive AIDS service agencies in the country. We provide a vast array of health and social services to over 3,000 Wisconsin residents living with HIV disease. Through a wide variety of aggressive AIDS prevention programs, we make over 150,000 prevention contacts every year with people who are at risk for contracting HIV.

Health Care

The ARCW Medical Center is the largest provider of HIV health care in Wisconsin. Our medical, dental and mental health clinics are available to people with HIV disease regardless of their ability to pay. Clinic appointments are easily made by clicking on the links to the left.

Social Services

We also provide an array of important social support services which include residential housing, rent assistance, legal assistance, food services, alcohol and drug treatment, benefits advocacy and case management. To access these services, click on the links to the left.

AIDS Prevention

We offer a comprehensive continuum of AIDS prevention programs throughout Wisconsin. We are proud of our Lifepoint clean needle exchange program which operates in 11 Wisconsin cities. From abstinence support to HIV risk reduction counseling to HIV testing, we bring the most effective AIDS prevention strategies to gay men, injection drug users, women and youth at risk for HIV disease.
Click here to find out more.

The "Gay Panic" Defense Won't Go Away

From Change.org:

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stab you to death, but I was freaked out about your sexual orientation.

Sounds ridiculous, but the venerable "gay panic" defense is being tossed about surrounding a murder in Indiana, where an Indiana University professor was killed last week. That professor, Don Belton, was stabbed in his own kitchen six times with a ten-inch military knife. The assailant, Michael Griffin, is a 25-year-old ex-marine and Bloomington, Indiana resident.

The details of the case are murky. Journals from Belton's own home indicate that the two had some sort of relationship, dating back a few weeks. Griffin also apparently told police that he stabbed Belton because the professor wouldn't apologize for an unwanted sexual advance on Christmas Day. But the extent to which these two knew each other, and how they knew each other, hasn't really been fully disclosed just yet.

But that's not stopping some from speculating that "gay panic" led to Belton's murder. Take Ryan Smith over at CBS News, who writes, "Though his defense strategy is not yet clear, others with similar cases have pursued a 'gay panic' defense, hoping to persuade juries that they were rendered temporarily insane by the perceived romantic or sexual advances of the victim."

In 2010, one might think "gay panic" is as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "fighting for peace." After all, let's call "gay panic" what it really is -- an act by someone so self-loathing or insecure that they annihilate a person because they can't come to terms with their own issues. As a friend of mine put it, yeah, that may be panic. But defensible? Hardly.
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Music 1/7/10 "The King is Coming" by Gaither Vocal Band

Daily Devotional 1/7/10 Dependence on God - A Witness of His Power

From:  Love Worth Finding

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

If you’re like most people, you don’t realize your dependency on God until you’re burned out from stress — either self-induced or caused by circumstances beyond your control.

Why is that? Paul says it’s because we are fragile, but he doesn’t stop there. He says that God made us this way so that His power may be known through us!

Maybe someone told you, “Oh, just tie a knot and hang on!” But sometimes God wants us to let go of the rope because it is keeping us tied down to our destructive habits. We are totally dependent on God so that the love of His Son may be made known to the world.

Get a piece of rope and tie a knot in it. Let it sit on your desk this week as a reminder that God is more than just a knot at the end of the rope; He is the Savior of the World!


January 06, 2010

Would a Supreme Court Ruling In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage Be a Bad Thing For LGBT People?

That's the interesting take from Gay Patriot, a gay conservitive blog (hat tip to CommonComrades on Twitter).  We think they raise some interesting points, but we believe that ultimately the pros still strongly outweigh the cons.

...take heed to the results of a little 1973 Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade. There, the court removed the issue of abortion from elected legislatures and overturned their bans on the practice. And as a result, for the past thirty-six years, abortion has become a divisive social issue.

And back then, some states were already moving to legalize the practice (just as some are moving today to recognize gay marriage). If federal courts mandate state recognition of gay marriage, gay marriage will become a political football like abortion, forever dividing us. Mr. Frum should recall that gay marriage first became a political football in the 1990s shortly after the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that its state “statute limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is presumed to be unconstitutional“, remanding the case to lower courts to see if there were compelling “state interests” which justified the ban. Three years later, a trial court found that there were none.

The same year, Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Two years after that, Hawai’i voters amended their state’s constitution to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. A raft of state referenda with goals similar to the Aloha State initiative followed. In this century, the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts mandating that the Bay State legislature recognize same-sex marriages led to a similar flood of state initiatives limiting state recognized marriage to its traditional definition.

In short, court-mandated recognition of same-sex marriage only serves to further social divisions. To avoid such divisions, gay marriage advocates should first convince the people of the merits of expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. That is why it is better to move this issue through legislatures. And given last month’s election returns, it would be better to move incrementally, first pushing civil unions for which there seems to be significant support (at least in the nation’s coastal regions).
Click here to read the rest of the post and join in what you can imagine is a very spirited discussion.

Matthew 25 Resource 1/6/10: Helping Up Mission (Baltimore, MD)

Since 1885, Helping Up Mission has been coming to the aid of the poor and homeless in the City of Baltimore and surrounding region. During the last half of the twentieth century, the Mission narrowed its focus to serving the spiritual and physical needs of the poor and homeless men in the region.

Yet, to really support poor and homeless men in Baltimore, the Mission began a long-term residential Spiritual Recovery Program for men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in the 1990’s. Today, the work of Helping Up Mission centers on a 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program in a 12 Step therapeutic community. The focus is on addressing the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual needs of every man we serve.

Click here to find out more.

How Will Marriage Equality Affect Presidential Politics in Iowa and New Hampshire?

Blogger Joe Mirabella finds it very interesting, as we also do, that the two states which are always the first focus of presidential campaigns also both have fully legal same-sex marriage.  His post over at Pam's House Blend offers interesting insight how that fact might impact the 2012 presidential campaign, which will be upon us before we know it:

Iowa and New Hampshire politics are intimate. When I lived in Iowa I regularly met presidential candidates. They are extraordinarily available. One day I was walking down the street in Iowa City and I ran into Joe Biden having a conversation with a picnic table full of Iowans. They were grilling him on everything from foreign affairs to equal rights.

I ran into Al Gore at my favorite coffee shop shortly after the presidency was given to Bush by the Supreme Court. He was sporting a thick beard and and several extra pounds, but he was in Iowa so I had hope he was going to make a comeback.

I also met Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and John Kerry. I didn't meet these people because I was a powerful lobbyist or because I had a lot of money to donate, but because they were candidates and they desperately wanted me to like them because I was an Iowan.

Encouraging Music 1/6/10 "Holy Is the Lord" by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Daily Devotional 1/6/10 The Master Designer

From:  Love Worth Finding

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

How did it happen? How did the Bible get written apart from divine inspiration?

Suppose we decided to build a monument to the 50 states in Washington and use native stone from each state. We would hammer out the stones from individual quarries in each state. Then, ship them, uncrate them, and fit the stones together. As the stones were assembled, we discovered that there was not one stone too many. Not one stone too few. When completed, we had a magnificently symmetrical monument. The only answer to this perfection is that there was a master architect who designed everything.

In the same way, you cannot explain the unity of the Bible apart from divine inspiration.

Praise God for His Master Design of the universe — of the stars, the planets, the skies, the seas...and you!

January 05, 2010

First Same-Sex Marriage in Latin America Performed in Argentina

From the BBC (hat tip to Twitter friend marriageequality):

Two Argentine men have become the first same-sex couple to marry legally in Latin America.

Alejandro Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, tied the knot in a civil ceremony in the southern city of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego province.

Gay marriage is illegal in Argentina. However, the Tierra del Fuego governor issued a special decree allowing the couple to wed there.

Roman Catholic leaders in the country expressed alarm at the move.

A judge in the capital, Buenos Aires, prevented the couple from marrying there earlier this month.

The men, who are both HIV-positive, had planned to get married on 1 December, World Aids day.

They eventually travelled to Tierra del Fuego, where they received the support of provincial governor Fabiana Rios.
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 1/5/10-"Secrets of a Closet Christian"

From the Chicago Sun-Times (hat tip to Twitter friend gcnjustin.  Can you relate to this story?

It was Sunday morning in my scruffy Brooklyn neighborhood, and I was wearing a dress. Walking to the subway, I ran into a friend heading home from yoga class. She wore sweats.

"Where are you going so early all dressed up?" she asked, chuckling. "To church?"

We shared a laugh at the absurdity of a liberal New Yorker heading to worship.

The real joke? I totally was.

Inside the church, it's cool and quiet. I read the Collect of the day in the Book of Com- mon Prayer, which urges us: "While we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure." My recent layoff no longer seems like the end of the world. I take Communion and exchange the peace and listen to the sermon. As I'm walking back up the aisle, I feel reoriented and calmer, the indignities of the week shift into perspective.

These moments are not only sacred; they are secret. Outside, on the steps of the church, I think I see someone familiar coming down the sidewalk, and I bolt in the other direction.

Why am I so paranoid? I'm not cheating on my husband or committing crimes. Those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many had to come out -- as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art wasn't valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.
Click here to read the rest of the story. 

LGBT Helping Hands 1/5/10-Gay Community Center of Richmond (VA)

The Gay Community Center of Richmond is a 47,000 square foot Community Center located in Richmond's Northside for the use of Central Virginia's LGBT community and supportive agencies and groups. We provide meeting space, classroom and event space at little or no cost to community groups and non-profit organizations. We are the home of the GCCR Gallery, which is the first gallery in Virginia dedicated to showcasing LGBT artists and those who portray our community in a positive light. Since GCCR began community center operations in 2008, more than forty community groups have held programs attracting thousands of participants.

We are located at 1407 Sherwood Avenue (off Hermitage Road behind the Diamond, or off Brook Road behind Children's Hospital).

The Gay Community Center of Richmond was founded in 1999 to provide support for the agencies and groups that serve Central Virginia's sexual and gender minority people, and to educate the public about the many issues facing our community. In 2004, GCCR purchased our facility and began renovations that culminated in April 2008 with the dedication of Virginia's first community center serving the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. GCCR is a leader in the effort to create a permanent and sustainable non-profit structure in Richmond dedicated to serving sexual and gender minority people and their allies. In March 2009, the GCCR Board of Directors received a strategic plan that calls for the creation of a permanent Program Committee to research and develop an expanded series of offerings, in association with other established community service agencies and groups.

GCCR is also an endowment for the community. Our facility was purchased and renovated and will be expanded through the generous support of hundreds of community activists, visionary corporate supporters and foundations that recognize the important role our community plays in Central Virginia’s life and culture.

The Gay Community Center of Richmond is the home for our community. Our safe and welcoming facility and the exciting programs we offer and host make Central Virginia a better place to live for all fair minded people. Join us. Come home.

Click here to find out more.

Is James Dobson Ready To Fade Away Quietly? Doubtful.

We post this story here because Dr. James Dobson is one of the loudest voices that speaks out in sworn opposition to anything that might be affirming of LGBT people's very right to exist.  He's been quiet for a while, but according to this story it doesn't look like he's ready to silence his anti-gay rhetoric anytime soon.  From the Colorado Springs Gazette (hat tip to GetReligion):

James Dobson is already asking for donations for his new nonprofit, James Dobson on the Family, which he’s launching with son Ryan in March.

Please click here to read my Gazette story for background on Dobson’s new ministry.

On his Facebook page, Dobson estimates first-year operation costs to be $2 million. “Your participation will be greatly appreciated, especially during this time when startup costs will be very expensive,” he writes.

Dobson’s new ministry will have a similar agenda to that of Focus, which is to build up family values. The centerpiece of the ministry will be a daily radio show Dobson will co-host with 39-year-old Ryan.

Dobson’s departure from Focus only to start a similar ministry has some outside obervers speculating that Dobson was forced out of Focus and that a bitter Dobson decided to create a competing organization. Dobson, they say, may also feel that Focus’ kinder and gentler approach under CEO and president Jim Daly is not doing the trick, motivating Dobson to start a family nonprofit where fiery rhetoric is the norm.

Both Focus and Dobson deny these reasons.
Yeah, right.  Click here to read the rest of the story, and stay tuned for more on Dobson's future.

Encouraging Music 1/5/10 "Take My Life and Let It Be" by Kari Jobe

Daily Devotional 1/5/10 Finding Your Contentment in Jesus

From:  Love Worth Finding

“…and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ ” Hebrews 13:5

As you face the New Year, I want you to find your contentment in Jesus, your companionship in Jesus, and your confidence in Jesus. Then you’ll find your comfort and your courage in Jesus.

When you are contented in Jesus and He is closer to you than anyone on earth could possibly be, when you are confident that He will provide in the midst of trials and testing, then and only then will you know the courage that comes from His comforting presence.

Pray, “Lord, with all my heart, with all I am, I want to know you. I want our relationship to be close and my faith to grow. Cleanse me and make me new that I may be all that You want me to be this year.”

January 04, 2010

The Danger of Anti-Gay Hate Being Demonstrated in Uganda

The New York Times reports on a key motivation for Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality bill under consideration; a conference led by three American evangelicals.  Not surprisingly, those leaders are trying to avoid accountability for their actions.  Here's an excerpt from the Times story:

Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 1/4/10-BCF Praise Report

2010: Living in Covenant with God.....and one another!

What a great time we had yesterday in Father's House! It was so good to be back together again after a two week hiatus. Worship was wonderful and the Word of the Lord to us was a great exhortation and comfort to us all.

There were three key points that the Lord reminded us to remember daily as we go forward into 2010: Follow Peace, Follow the Word, Follow Jesus!

Colossians 3:15 says for us to "LET the peace (shalom) of Christ rule in our hearts..." the word in greek for 'rule' means to act as umpire, to direct, or to guide- and in this case, let God's peace be your umpire to direct or guide your decision making in the new year. If you don't have peace about a situation- then take the time to wait on the Lord, seek His heart and direction, ASK for wisdom to know what to do and to walk in God's perfect Will for your life.

Divine delays are not necessarily Divine No's; Just because something you're waiting on God for hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean that it is NOT going to happen- we must live in faith and exercise patience. Remember, the righteous will LIVE by faith- so Trust God and His Goodness towards you, and follow peace.

Second, follow the Word of God! "Thy WORD is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path!" Psalm 119; "Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In ALL of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." Proverbs 3:4,6; "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and give you HOPE and a future!" Jeremiah 29:11; "I would brethren that you prosper EVEN AS your soul is prospering." 3 John 2; "FEAR NOT, for I am with you!" Over and over again the Lord tells us to FEAR NOT and to TRUST Him in all of our ways. Obey His commands and you WILL prosper! Be obedient to God!

Be faithful, Be devoted to Him and His Church, Be a tither and giver!

Remember, you are sowing seeds TODAY for your tomorrows! What you give your time and attention to- you will become. If you give your time and attention to the things of the Kingdom, to His Word, to worship and fellowship with like-minded Believers- YOU WILL BECOME STRONG IN THE LORD- like them! But if you give your attention to anything else, or nothing at all- look out! That is what you are going to become yourself!

Third, follow Jesus- the Author and the Finisher of our faith! Jesus is doing a work in you and in US (His Bride) that as He polishes us up- we will reflect Him in all of His Love, Power and Glory!!! Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; For us to bear with each other and forgive any and ALL grievances with each other even as God has forgiven US! And finally- it says for us to put on LOVE- which binds us all together in perfect unity! BE LIKE JESUS!

Follow Him by following His example of what it means to be a Son or Daughter of God!

In the year ahead, we must remember that God is a faithful and COVENANT KEEPING God! He is faithful even if we aren't! Be not afraid, or intimidated- you are not alone, and you are not spiritually impotent! God the Lord is on your side! Who can be against you? AND....if you will keep your covenant with His Church, you have a whole company of like-minded Believers to fellowship with, to comfort you, to help and support, to give in to, and to count on! We are COVENANT People, and we must endeavor to continue to be such- no matter what comes our way.

We want to remind you that we LOVE you and deeply care about your well being. We are praying for you and we remain your faithful, COVENANT partners, Brothers and Sisters in the Faith- and we will continue to be such for you til Jesus comes and takes us all Home! Please continue to pray for us to be fruitful in the work of the King- and to lead many souls to Christ in the days ahead. Have a great week and a most BLESSED New Year! It is going to be a GREAT year for us all, we just know it!

In Christ's love and Shalom,

Ap Dale

Encouraging Music 1/4/10 "Beautiful One" by Tim Hughes

Matthew 25 Resource 1/4/10-Foodshare (Bloomfield, CT)

Foodshare can exercise leadership role in creating this hunger-free community in three major ways:

Self-sufficiency (for those in need) -- To end hunger, we need to reduce the number of people in need by increasing people's self-sufficiency.

Engagement (of the larger community -- Creating a hunger-free community will be advanced by changing the conversation about hunger, building understanding of the reasons people are hungry and potential solutions, and motivating people to become personally involved in those solutions.

Food Assistance (through Foodshare's partner agencies) -- Foodshare should ensure that there is an efficient and effective safety net of services so that no one goes without food.

We will:

Operate as an effective charitable business and make sound business decisions.
Be good stewards of the human, food, monetary, and other resources entrusted to us.
Remember that caring, committed, and compassionate people are Foodshare’s most valuable assets.
Be honest and open in all relationships, communications, dealings, and transactions.
Ensure that a variety of voices are represented in our decision-making.
Remain mindful that ending hunger requires new and innovative solutions that go beyond giving people food.
Become active participants in truly ending hunger.
Continue to serve those whose situation does not allow them to feed themselves.

Click here to find out more.

What Impact Will Obama's Appointment of a Transgender Person Really Have?

That's the question that Dr. Jillian T. Weiss tackles at The Bilerico Project:

The announcement of President Obama's appointment of Amanda Simpson to the Department of Commerce on the last day of 2009 is a significant event for LGBT rights in the U.S. But what does it, in fact, mean? What, if any, results will it translate into? Or is it just a token of change, with emphasis on the token?

LGBT people, and particularly transgender and transsexual people, are subjected to a great deal of prejudice. A portal icon for Portal:Transgender, based on...This appointment won't change that. I'm not even sure we'll see much news in the mainstream media about it. Few other appointees have received much press, even the controversial ones.

But the announcement that a transgender person is worthy of a Presidential appointment will impact the cultural imaginary of the DC power elite. Ultimately, media and the public have limited relevance in the running of national affairs. Never forget the power elite that runs things. This appointment will impact them, and that is saying a lot.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 1/4/10 The Trial of Your Faith

From:  Love Worth Finding

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7

James 1:13 says, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man."

Some people get confused between temptations and trials, and the difference between the two is this:

Trials are sent by God to cause us to stand.

Temptation to sin is sent by the devil to cause us to stumble.

One is meant for our maturity. The other is meant for our misery. James used this word interchangeably. While God does not cause both kinds, God allows both kinds, and He will use both to make us more like Jesus.

Are you in the furnace of affliction? Do you feel you're being tempted? Trust in God to see you through.

January 03, 2010

An Agenda of Working Together

We found this posted in Indiana Equality's site, a release from the Equality Federation citing working together across organization and state lines as an important part of their 2010 agenda.  We have been strong proponents of less organizations and more cooperation, so we believe this is a very good approach:

Equality Federation board members from states across the country returned home from San Francisco yesterday after a two-day retreat intended to set the organization’s agenda for the next year. The Federation plays a critical role in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights movement by delivering resources to the organizations and leaders who organize, educate, and lobby for LGBT people in the communities where they live.

This year, the Board committed itself to launching a multi-state dialogue about the role of our LGBT advocacy organizations in working on issues surrounding race, gender identity, and poverty. “I am very excited by the commitment of Equality Federation board members to a project working on racial, transgender and economic justice,” said Federation board member and Basic Rights Oregon executive director Jeana Frazzini. “We are already doing this kind of work at Basic Rights Oregon and I look forward to sharing what we have learned and engaging with other movement leaders committed to dismantling racism.”

“I am especially pleased by the Board’s desire to better understand the issues faced by transgender people, who overall experience some of the harshest discrimination in our communities,” said Gunner Scott, executive director of Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “Transgender people face extremely high rates of poverty and transgender people of color are hit especially hard by discrimination.”

Over the next year, Equality Federation will take specific steps to address issues of racial, transgender, and economic justice by training its board, exploring partnerships and funding to support state justice training and projects, and actively working through committees and membership meetings to assess strategies through this justice framework.
Click here to read the rest of this release.

LGBT Helping Hands 1/3/10-Pride Senior Services (Nashville, TN)

PRIDE Senior Services was founded out of need. Too many times LGBT Seniors and persons with disabilities resort to hiding their idenity from their providers out of fear, prejudice or discrimination. I recall reading an article about two partnered senior men residing in a nursing home. The two, who were negatively perceived as being gay, were caught having relations and were forced by apart due to staff discrimination. I remember thinking the prejudice against these men was wrong and wanting to make a positive change in the quality of care for LGBT seniors.

The need for LGBT Seniors has never been greater. We have more rights than at any other time in history, but as we age, we lose ties with the LGBT community and our rights are compromised by the existing senior care system.

Pride Senior Services was based on three founding principles; advocacy, service and support.
Click here to find out more.

Welcome to Sunday Worship 1/3/10

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.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us. Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)VIDEOFL-Potters'>http://www.ustream.tv/channel/phif">FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AMAL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 12:00 AMNC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PMFL-Oasis Fellowship Ministries, Casselberry, 12:00 PMOK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PMCA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PMWA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PMCanada-Rainbow Community Church, Vancouver 9:00 PM

AUDIOCanada'>http://www.christalive.ca/?page_id=26">Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PMFL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM
Video Archive
AL-Covenant Community Church, BirminghamCA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long BeachFL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. LauderdaleFL-Oasis Fellowship Ministries, CasselberryFL-New'>http://www.blogofhope.com/?cat=6">FL-New Hope Christian Center, PensacolaFL-Potters House International Fellowship, TampaGA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, AtlantaGA-New Covenant Church of AtlantaNC-Church'>http://www.renaissanceunity.org/live.htm">NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-SalemOK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma CityOK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, TulsaTX-The One Church, GarlandWA-Living Water Fellowship, KenmoreCanada-Rainbow Community Church, Vancouver

Audio ArchiveAZ-Community Church of Hope, PhoenixAK-Open Door Community Church, SherwoodCA-Christ Chapel of Long BeachCA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North HollywoodFL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)FL-Body of Christ Church of God, LargoFL-New Hope Christian Center, PensecolaGA-New Covenant Church of AtlantaKY-Covenant Community Church, LouisvilleMD-Kittamaqundi Community, ColumbiaNC-Revolution CharlotteOH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, AkronOH-All Saints Community Church, CortlandTN-Covenant of the Cross, MadisonTX-New'>http://www.nhfcdallas.org/pages/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=9">TX-New Hope Fellowship Church, DallasTX-White Rock Community Church, DallasTX-Community Gospel Church, HoustonTX-Through Him Fellowship, HoustonUT-Glory'>http://glory2godonline.com/cms/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=68">UT-Glory to God Christian Church, OgdenSouth Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church

Can we pray for you? E-mail

Interview with Houston Mayor-Elect Annise Parker

Houtson's gay news magazine, OutSmart, has an in-depth interview with Houston mayor-elect Annise Parker.  Here's an excerpt:

“The biggest change in my life is that I’ve already been assigned a security detail,” Parker notes. “I now have an entourage of security people, and I’m not used to having people around me all the time, everywhere I go.

“This isn’t the regular security detail that each mayor has,” Parker says. “This is the Dignitary Protection Unit. Mine is very heavy right now because of the unprecedented level of media attention, which is worldwide and off the charts. I’ve been traveling all over the city of Houston for years, and during 12 years in office, there was never a place that I have gone that I haven’t felt safe and welcomed. But we are aware that there are nut-balls out there, so the security is high at this point, until we can see how things shake out.

“I haven’t driven my own car since Election Day morning. It’s going to make it harder to do those personal errands—picking up the dry cleaning or stopping into the grocery store. And I won’t be able to hang out at Southland Hardware!”
“Clearly I am ‘out,’” Parker notes. “I didn’t think anyone would be voting for me who didn’t know that I was out. For 12 years, that was part of what people knew about me, but not what people thought about me. Now we are back to a phase where everyone is focusing on the gay issue again.