It snowed last night. There is a lot of snow piled up all over the core. Many are hoping that this was the last round for the season. In the past we have had snow all the way into May. The temps will moderate and rise over the next few days, so I am not sure they will spare the expense to clean it up off the streets.
It was a quiet weekend.
I departed on time and when I got to the church, there was three feet of snow piled up in front of the church doors, covering the stoop and out into the walkway. The shovel was inside the door, and I had to get the door opened to get it, which took some serious pulling and shoving a door barricaded by snow. It took me a couple of passes to remove all the snow, which is piled up at least three feet on either side of the doors, where the bushes are covered with ice and snow.
It is the last Sunday of the month, and we sat a fair number which was good. Several of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while came and that was a good sign. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Three …
“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Many talked about finding similarity when they got here, and over time realized that they were not that different from their fellows. Secondly, the word God popped up in conversation. Step Three and Tradition Three kind of go hand in hand.
Every time we read this tradition I zone in one one specific passage from the reading:
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely OUT. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics!
Emphasis added …
The first time I got sober, was in an LGBT room catering to gay sober folks. It was not a cake walk, as I have shared before that newcomers were regarded as race horses that should be bet on to see who would go back out and drink first.
I stayed sober, in spite of them, and on my first anniversary, I told the crowd to go fuck themselves. In my second year of sobriety, I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. I was still counting the days to my death date doctors had given me when I got sober. I was on the bubble, to say the least.
I got connected to a club room in South Miami, (The Coral Room). The room was open all day and hosted meetings all day and night. Around the second year of sobriety, someone asked me to speak at a speaker meeting. It would be the first time I had ever spoken at a meeting in sobriety.
The room was packed. At least more than a hundred were in the room. And I got up to the podium and began to speak. Getting around to my diagnosis and my living with AIDS came up and as I started this phase of my share, all the men got up and left the room and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking.
At the end of the meeting I went outside and one of the men stepped up and said to me
“We don’t support or condone people like you, so please go somewhere else to get sober!” Needless to say I was floored.
I remained at that room for another two years, but I went to other meetings where I felt some sense of belonging. I pulled back, I stopped reading the book, I did not have a sponsor AND I trusted no one. Which directly led to my slip.
I went out on my fourth anniversary. Following all the men who went out at the four year mark. When I came back, I was on the beach, and went to Sober on South Beach for my return. They welcomed me and did not judge me.
A few months later, I ended up here in Montreal. I was five months sober the second time, and I was hitting different meetings all over the city.
Here in Montreal there are invisible lines drawn between the different Burroughs, and sections of the city. For the most part, people who live in one section of town, never cross that boundary to go to other meetings in other parts of town.
So one night I was in the West End. And hit a Friday night meeting. I was new in town, Did not know anyone and I hit this particular meeting. At first they welcomed me and then drilled me with twenty questions. As we talked they got an idea of my situation and my status.
Once again I heard those words … “We don’t condone people like you, please go somewhere else to get sober, you aren’t welcome here!”
That is something you don’t really hear about. People being told that they are not welcome and to go somewhere else. Especially if a particular group follows the traditions.
I never went to that meeting again, and for many years I never went to NDG for a meeting for a long time. On my tenth anniversary I spoke at a West End meeting and I told this story. People were shocked but some were not. This only solidified for me the fact that there are sick people in the world, and I should stay away from them. I haven’t spoken at a meeting since that night.
Tonight we read Tradition Three, and I shared this story once again. Many of the old timers at the Sunday meeting have never heard me tell that story before. We are a welcoming meeting. There are several LGBT folks at the meeting.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to Stop Drinking.
One of my sponsees was sitting right next to me, he was moved.
This lesson runs deep, because we must treat everyone who comes in the door kindly, compassionately, and with care. If we judge and are careless with our words, they may leave and never come back again.
No matter who you are, what age you are, what orientation you are, man, woman, boy or girl, everyone is welcome at our meetings, well welcome at ALL the meetings I go to.
There are assholes here and there. Sick alcoholics who can’t see past their own prejudices. Sadly, that is part of the times.
We transcend those barriers in many meetings, and that is a good thing.
It was a good night. Jobs are taken for the month of April. Painless…
Everybody checked in, everyone is well and good to go.
More to come, stay tuned …
The skies are foreboding. I think we are in for some rain tonight.
It was a usual Sunday, here and there. I was out early and cranked out coffee and set up. Thankful to be alone to do my work with my tunes. I’ve been obsessed with Breaking Benjamin as of late. It’s a little edgy and dark, rock in a sort of way.
Today we continued with the Big Book and chapter 10 – To Employers.
The last grouping of chapters, written by an alcoholic for others who are not, have elicited varying opinions on the texts. That was true for today’s reading.
Being a third generation alcoholic I think back to my parents and their parents and wonder how they got around work, with the amount of alcohol they partook in for the whole of my life.
I was lucky that when I graduated from High School, I succeeded in finding good work that quickly became a great enabler to drink. Travel and tourism was a good choice because I had it really good, in hindsight. Terrible that I pissed on those opportunities by engaging in less than appropriate behavior.
But all of us imbibed. Especially at the 5 o’clock hour. We took long trips to far flung places in the world just so we could drink. San Francisco, New York City, Buenos Aires, Rio, all the capitols of Europe.
My only trip through Europe as a young man, I drank my way across the continent, and it was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. My companion tried several times, to loose me in places like Germany and Italy, but someone had to get me home in one piece and like a good alcoholic – I copped a resentment of him on the final leg back to the U.S. and that ended badly.
When I moved from the office to a corporate job in travel, alcohol was the norm.
How good was it that your employer spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on champagne celebrations in house, during working hours. It was perfect.
I never lost a job because of my drinking. I always quit before the truth could come to light. It was more, and I had to have more. Even if I had to fuck you over for it.
It went from bad to worse. I went from corporate travel into the bar business. How cool was that? Tomorrow is a big day so stay tuned for that, because it is part of this whole drama.
I was a heavy drinker at age 25 … and only the threat of death curbed my desire to drink. At work, we were demanded Never to drink on the job. It was against the rules. So I drank after hours from 3 to 7 a.m. In those days in Fort Lauderdale, the way it was and who was open at what time, you could, very easily, drink around the clock.
Suicide was one of those experiences that took away my ability to stop. Finally my boss got me into therapy for survivors of suicide. It was bad, really bad. I had begun work at the best job I ever had in my life, and I was sorely fucking up.
The year before I got sober the first time, my first sponsor got sober. And he always kept a Big Book on his cash register. Many times I asked him what that Big Book was and his reply never changed.
“When you want to know what it is – I will explain it to you, but not until then.”
I did not really want to know. Until I had hit my bottom outside the COPA nightclub, the night I attempted to kill myself with the drink, after spending a good month and a half running from a death sentence.
I could run no longer.
Some one had to intervene or I was going to die, and that’s what happened. I hit my first meeting. And the rest, they say is history. I loved my job. And all the men I worked with. I would lay down my life for any of them. I was safe, protected from society. I was sober and working at the bar was about the safest place I could imagine I could work and never have the desire to drink ever again.
But like they say, “All good things must come to an end…”
I moved city after the bar fell into hostile hands. I quit my job, my protectors moved to San Francisco, and I was too young to pull up stakes and follow.
I cherished an unholy ideal … I was waiting for my father to drop dead so I could reclaim my mother and spend the rest of my life caring for her.
He lived … I never got that ideal to come to fruition. I was stupid. I should have gone, and sometimes I kick myself for not going. Life would have been so different. But I knew I just couldn’t go. I needed special medical care and Miami was the place for that. That’s where I ended up for a number of years.
I tell the story that in my first year of sobriety, most of the gay men in the room treated the newcomer like race horses. Bets were places on our heads to see who would go out and drink again.
I stayed sober, in spite of them. And when I reached a year, I took my chip and told them all to go fuck themselves.
I stayed sober 4 years and a little more.
I pulled a geographic into a slip – I pulled a second geographic back – I put down the drugs – but not necessarily the drink. From July 2000 until December 2001, I drank. But I also had sober periods during that year and a few months.
In the end it was an alcoholic who brought me back, by divine intervention.
God moved heaven and earth to prove to me that HE existed and that salvation was mine to have. I just needed to follow. And I did.
During those years I worked in corporate travel, my parent had thrown me out of the house and I ended up homeless. My parents were true bigots.
I moved in with a woman who had a big family, who’s kids had all moved away and she lived in this big house. So she rented me a room and we lived together for a while. Happily.
Until one day …
We had worked together with a few others at a local travel agency, where we had our fill of traveling around the world and drinking our ways around.
But she was the first to get sober. (Hindsight – we are all sober today)
While she was getting sober and going to meetings, I continued to hunt for a man and drink my way through my life. (There is actually a story in the back of the Big Book Edition 4 – that is all about me).
I was drinking away my rent money. And being a scoundrel. I shit on that relationship and I paid dearly for the disrespectful way I treated her.
I would forever be making this amend until I am dead.
I came home one night after a night out drinking, and the locks had been changed. Her son was there to open the door and tell me that I could not come in until I paid my rent, wearing the clothes on my back.
I left that night and relocated to Ft. Lauderdale. I worked at the Port of Miami, and on my next paycheck, went and paid my rent. I packed what little I had and left her there. Ashamed of me…
I continued to drink for a few more years. And a few years into sobriety, when I moved to Miami for treatment for AIDS, I went into a meeting, and God as my witness, I walked into the room, there was my lady friend – more than 4 years sober.
I got majorly Bitch slapped.
I had become the alcoholic tornado running roughshod through her life.
And now I was sober. Just a few years.
I pray for her every day that I am sober today.
I moved here in 2002. And I’ve been sober since December 9th 2001.
Tomorrow we celebrate a milestone. A very important day.
Stay tuned. More to come…
They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.
Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800′s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.
If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.
It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.
It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.
As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.
Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.
And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.
I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …
We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.
But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …
I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.
Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction
It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”
It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.
What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???
That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.
Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.
I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.
I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.
Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.
We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.
That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.
And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.
Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
The weekend has come and is almost gone. The run up to tomorrow’s National Holiday Ste. Jean Baptists is gathering steam. I was greeted by a young man on my way out marching down Ste Catherine’s Street shouting “Vive Le Quebec!” And I was like “yeah, ok … good for you”
Thankfully Canada Day falls the weekend after and us Canadians can celebrate our nation with the rest of Canada. There are flags appearing on balconies across the way from our building.
The weather held off today, after a night of clouds, rain and fog. We missed the Moon last night. Not even a peep.
Hubby installed Windows 7 on my computer a couple days ago. He bought a new hard drive with more space, some more memory which was helpful as well. We are still trying to figure out how this O/S works. I still don’t have access to my email program as we had to download a Microsoft mail program, which we still don’t know how it works just yet.
This system is intuitive, more than XP. It thinks ahead of you. But it comes with its issues. It needs a lot of programs and patches to make it work, Windows Media player is still off line while we figure out how to make sound work on the player, because Windows 7 needs specific drivers, that we found did not work, and folks all over the place have had similar issues.
At least I have a working computer once again. The laptop was useful when needed, but I prefer my desktop to the laptop.
The Sunday meeting was well attended. We finished up The Family Afterwards tonight.
I did my damage to family. But they did their fair share as well. I wonder if they think about me, but in reality at the end, the relationship was toxic. And I moved away to take care of me. I heard tonight that Blood is Blood. You can’t change the family you have, all you can do is recognize their humanity and their individuality of who they are warts and all. And I can do that today.
Is it necessary to have them in my life today, not really. Would it make a difference? I don’t know. I am still persona non grata like my aunt and other extended family so we are all on the off switch position.
Nick Wallenda is about to walk the Grand Canyon. Hope he makes it.
All is well. More to come…
The new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentinean, who will be known as Pope Francis, has in the past described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The new pope has also said that same-sex adoption adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.
In 2010, he fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage and adoption rights in his home country of Argentina saying that the population would “face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. He added: “At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
He went on to describe introducing equality as a move from “the ‘Father of Lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God”. In the Gospel of John, ‘the Father of Lies’ is a term for the Devil.
Andre Banks of AllOut said: “By electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, has a long history of opposing equality for gays and lesbians in Argentina.”
Dr Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Council’s Religion and Faith Programme said: “We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.”
She added: “We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonising LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalised, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Sinai photographed from STS 109 – Shuttle Columbia March 1,2002 …
I’d imagine that if Armageddon was going to take place, this is the place we would imagine the first strike to take place, or the first event. It is 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning. Nothing happened, or should I say, nothing has happened
If you are a listener of Late Night Radio, ala Coast to Coast for any length of time you would know that all the crazies in the world listen to this show night after night. And we have been all through the list of crazies over the last year.
We have the ads for end of days Armageddon style food sales, you know, just for those moments when a disaster takes place and you need those ready to eat meals, They aren’t just for earthquakes and hurricanes Yall !!! If you have a spare couple of hundred dollars that you can plunk down for mass storage food stuffs, and you gotta have a place to put it all, and who has a spare bomb shelter in their property portfolio ???
I hear in UTAH that there are bunkers that have been prepared for today’s calamity to take place. I have also heard that the cleansing of the righteous from the non-righteous will take place today. That God is going to cleanse the earth of the sinful and errant peoples. That only the righteous will be saved from God’s judgment.
There is a town in Southern France that is supposed to be a vortex location and that when the earth meets its end, that the aliens are going to appear there and take away all those who fled to the safety of this mountain perch.
All over the tv tonight have been every kind of end of days programming. People trying to divine what the Mayans were trying to say and what that damned calendar and glyphs really have to say, since they are woefully incomplete, and the end story is all up to conjecture.
We’ve heard over the last year all those good preacher men who have foretold of the coming Apocalypse and twice they were wrong and God did not come screaming out of his heaven to take us all to heaven and send all the sinners to hell.
That would mean all of us LGBTQ folks. Because homosexuality is all so sinful and errant of God’s ways … Oh, I kid …
Did you partake in the hysteria of the end of days? Did you buy into the end of the world? Are you hoarding food, guns, ammunition and all kinds of food stuffs? Because you know, when the end comes later today it is going to be utter anarchy in the streets. People clawing and fighting for food and guns.
And those who are prepared for the end will be hunkered down in their bunkers and nuclear safe type hovels defending themselves from the marauding hordes of people who did not listen to the council of the folks who have spent the better part of the last year telling us all this it is coming and you’d better be prepared.
All this talk of financial ruin coming to the U.S. The wars over seas and the Arab spring running into Arab Winter. You never know if the Anti-Christ is going to rise from the desert sand of the Middle East somewhere like Iran or some other backwater Middle Eastern country. Because like I said above, if Armageddon was going to take place, you’d probably be looking over there for him.
I have read that the sun isn’t going to erupt in some hellish solar flare that is going to knock out the electrical and communications grids all over the world. And at this hour, I haven’t read of any earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions taking place anywhere in the world.
And when you wake and come upon this entry – having said your prayers to whatever God you pray to the night before, you will rise and the sunrise will be glorious – just like the day before.
And I am sure on Friday night on Coast to Coast they will be hosting a night of checking in with all those folks who have added to the mass hysteria that today is supposed to unleash on humankind.
Did the ancients get it right? Will we come to rise above ourselves and grow in spiritual awakening? Will we rise to the next level of humanity overnight? And what have we learn in this exercise of preparing ourselves for the end of the world. And what will we say to all those folks who are hiding in their bomb shelters as I write this.
Will we see a nuclear Armageddon from the East? Because if we do, for those of us who could not afford a bomb shelter – we are all goners … So I guess before I go to bed I should say my final prayers – kiss my ass goodbye and hope to wake up tomorrow morning.
Today my husband is traveling to Ottawa to see his family, and it may be his last meeting with them if we are to believe that something BIG will take place tomorrow some time. Who knows.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. And when you wake tomorrow – what kind of world will it be? And what will we say to all those crazies out there sitting in their bomb shelters and on mountain tops and those fleeing the big cities into the interior of the United States and Europe because the oceans are going to swell and swallow up all the coastal land. God forbid you know that volcano on the Canary Islands that is supposed to blow its peak and send a tsunami across the Atlantic and submerge the entire East Coast of the United States.
You are all FUCKED !!!
Shall we make a prediction of what all will happen the day after tomorrow?
Sit tight. I will report more as the day progresses.
More to come, stay tuned …
Look ^^^ up there …
A new PAGE has been added to the blog. It is a presentation by Matthew Vines on the Bible and Homosexuality. I wish I could post video on this blog, but I can’t, so you are in for a good LONG read !!!
If you click on the page and scroll down to the bottom, you can directly go to his You Tube account and watch the video, which last a little more than an hour.
It is very sad – if you go to the video and read some of the vitriolic comments that have been left on this video, the theology is sound and has been proven by researchers in the field of scripture and theology. Some people are purely ignorant and stupid. You’s think that in today’s world – people could be so vitriolic.
It is all about acceptance…
For many years I contended with one writing that was written by a Pastor who I have known for many years. But Matthew, on the other hand, has spent the better part of 2 years researching this topic and his presentation is rock solid.
But it is well worth the hour you should take to listen to a young man who Loves God and Loves Jesus and speaks from his heart about the six passages from the Bible that many Christians use to demonize and perpetuate hatred and condemnation.
He has studied Hebrew, Greek and Latin and in depth covers all the scriptures and explains the history, context and meaning of biblical history.
Take some time to participate. Show him some love,
Because in the end :
Being different is no crime. Being gay is not a sin. And for a gay person to desire and pursue love and marriage and family is no more selfish or sinful than when a straight person desires and pursues the very same things. The Song of Songs tells us that King Solomon’s wedding day was “the day his heart rejoiced.”
To deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance.
The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them. And if you are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women in love, if you are dead-set against that idea, then I am asking you to try to see things differently for my sake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
I’m asking you to ask yourself this: How deeply do you care about your family? How deeply do you love your spouse? And how tenaciously would you fight for them if they were ever in danger or in harm’s way? That is how deeply you should care, and that is how tenaciously you should fight, for the very same things for my life, because they matter just as much to me.
Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love. Thank you, and thank you to everyone for coming tonight.
FACEBOOK PAGE: Repeal Amendment One
The Majority voted on the rights of the Minority. It is a sad state of affairs that you have turned back the clock, instead of embracing the future.
It is time for the L.G.B.T.Q Community to get up.
To begin the movement to REPEAL AMENDMENT ONE !!!
Stand up and be counted.
And woe to you ignorant bastards that voted for One. Woe is you.
It is a terrible day for our community and we stand with you to say
North Carolina voted the wrong way on history, acceptance and inclusion.
We will have our day, you can’t stop the wheels of change. The day will come and we will be the victors …
ALL PRECINCTS HAVE REPORTED:
Here are the stats:
There are 6,296,759 registered voters in this state
2,164,074 people VOTED or 34.37%
4,132,865 people DID NOT VOTE
There were 1,303,952 votes FOR the Amendment-61.05%
There were 831,788 votes AGAINST the Amendment-38.95%
We lost by a total of 472,164 VOTES
SHAME on the over 4 million people who chose NOT TO VOTE.
This is the next topic that I will discuss very soon, so watch this space.
An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, “Guns Don’t Kill People — RELIGION Kills People!” In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it’s hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish.
The news is filled with the tragedies of teenaged boys who were gay and decided to end their living hell by committing suicide. Maybe they weren’t even gay, but merely perceived to be by their peers, who harassed, taunted, and threatened them unmercifully.
These were real kids with real names. Asher Brown, an eighth grader in Texas, shot himself in the head after endless bullying by classmates and despite attempts by his parents to get school authorities to take his harassment seriously. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his California backyard after relentless bullying by classmates. Asher and Seth were 13-years-old.
Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Indiana, was only perceived to be gay. But the unrelenting bullying ended with him taking his own life. Seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.
With the exception of Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.
Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn’t have contemplated — not to mention successfully accomplished — his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
No, Tyler was a victim — not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness–but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.
Despite the progress we’re making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion — and its general rejection of homosexuality — plays a crucial role in this crisis.
On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural” in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and “against God’s law and nature.”
Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.
You don’t have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word “abomination,” and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn’t have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.
Add to that the Minnesota Family Council’s Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is “homosexual indoctrination,” not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.”
Susan Russell from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, points out how ludicrous these statements are in her “An Inch at a Time” blog:
Thirteen and fifteen year olds are not ‘adopting a lifestyle,’ they’re trying to have a life! They’re trying to figure out who they are, who God created them to be and what on earth to do with this confusing bunch of sexual feelings that they’re trying to get a handle on. They need role models for healthy relationships — not judgment and the message that they’re condemned to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair.
On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”
It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.
I learned this in my dealing with racism. It’s not enough to be tolerant of other races. I benefit from a racist society just by being white. I don’t ever have to use the “n” word, treat any person of color with discourtesy, or even think ill of anyone. But as long as I am not working to dismantle the systemic racism that benefits me, a white man, at the expense of people of color, I am a racist. And my faith calls me to become an anti-racist — pro-active, vocal, and committed.
Some progressive religious groups — the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church — have long been advocates for LGBT people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has recently made great strides in welcoming gay clergy. And my own Episcopal Church has put itself at great risk on behalf of full inclusion of LGBT people in electing two openly gay priests to be bishops.
Still, even in these progressive churches, there is much to be done.
Cody J. Sanders, a Baptist minister and Ph.D. student in pastoral theology and counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, recently wrote on the Religion Dispatches website about how important it is for churches to act:
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publicly hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo? In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?
As good Christians and Jews we must work to change the religious thinking, rhetoric, and practice that communicates to our LGBT children that they are despised by their Creator. We must learn to object to anti-gay jokes the way we learned to tell our friends that we would not tolerate racist jokes. We must demand that our schools not only have antibullying policies, but that they follow through on stopping the practice of bullying. We need to lobby our congressional representatives for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390). And we must proclaim openly, loudly, and often that we love our children unconditionally in the way that God does — always wanting the best and most healthy lives for them.
These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It’s time for “tolerant” religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
It’s a Saturday afternoon and the laundry is humming and the dogs are snoozing and I’m catching up on bills and email — and one of the emails included a link to Religion Dispatches and a piece by Cody Sanders entitled “Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue.” It’s a great piece, but here’s the quote that hooked me:
If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is.
Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack.
The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.
Let the people say “AMEN!” And then let the people read the rest here and THEN let the people get busy!
A theology of anti-gay bullying
Anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it has a theological base. I find it difficult to believe that even those among us with a vibrant imagination can muster the creative energy to picture a reality in which anti-gay violence and bullying exist without the anti-gay religious messages that support them.
These messages come in many forms, degrees of virulence, and volumes of expression. The most insidious forms, however, are not those from groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Most people quickly dismiss this fanaticism as the red-faced ranting of a fringe religious leader and his small band of followers.
More difficult to address are the myriad ways in which everyday churches that do a lot of good in the world also perpetuate theologies that undergird and legitimate instrumental violence. The simplistic, black and white lines that are drawn between conceptions of good and evil make it all-too-easy to apply these dualisms to groups of people. When theologies leave no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to identify an “us” (good, heterosexual) versus a “them” (evil, gay).
Additionally, hierarchical conceptions of value and worth are implicit in many of our theological notions. Needless to say, value and worth are not distributed equally in these hierarchies. God is at the top, (white, heterosexual) men come soon after and all those less valued by the culture (women, children, LGBT people, the poor, racial minorities, etc.) fall somewhere down below. And it all makes perfect sense if you support it with a few appropriately (mis)quoted verses from the Bible.
With dualistic conceptions of good and evil and hierarchical notions of value and worth, it becomes easy to know who it is okay to hate or to bully or, seemingly more benignly, to ignore. And no institutions have done more to create and perpetuate the public disapproval of gay and lesbian people than churches.
If anti-gay bullying has, at any level, an embodied undercurrent of tacit theological legitimation, then we simply cannot circumvent our responsibility to provide a clear, decisive, theological response. Aside from its theological base, anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it calls for acts of solidarity on behalf of the vulnerable and justice on behalf of the oppressed.
But this imperative to respond reminds us that the most dangerous form of theological message comes in the subtlest of forms: silence.
The longer we wait, the more young people die
There is already a strong religious presence in the debate around anti-bullying education in schools. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly voice for LGBT teens. There is also no lack of rhetoric on sexuality stemming from theological sources. But the loudest voices are not the voices of affirmation and embrace. In a recent article, I urged churches that rest comfortably in a tacitly welcoming or pseudo-affirming position to come out and publicly proclaim their places of worship as truly welcoming and affirming sanctuaries for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted people respond to this appeal, saying, “Things are a lot better for gay people today than they were several years (or decades) ago. In time, our society (or churches) will come around on this issue.” To these friends and others, I must say, “It’s time.” For Lucas, Brown, Clementi, Walsh, and Chase the time is up. For these teens and the myriad other bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay youth lost to suicide, the waiting game hasn’t worked so well.
As simply as I can state the matter: The longer we wait to respond, the more young people die.
If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is. Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack. The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.
Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland offers profound words to any individuals and churches seeking to wash their hands of this issue. She states,
“If my sister or brother is not at the table, we are not the flesh of Christ. If my sister’s mark of sexuality must be obscured, if my brother’s mark of race must be disguised, if my sister’s mark of culture must be repressed, then we are not the flesh of Christ. For, it is through and in Christ’s own flesh that the ‘other’ is my sister, is my brother; indeed, the ‘other’ is me…”
If anti-gay bullying is a theological issue, perhaps what is called for is a creative theological response. A theological response that challenges the systematic violence that upholds an oppressive religious and cultural ideology will not be a response through which we can hedge our bets. It will be a full-bodied, whole-hearted giving of ourselves to the repair of the flesh of Christ divided by injustice and systematic exclusion.
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publically hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo?
In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?
Found on: The New Civil Rights Movement site
The problem is anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment. It is an epidemic.
Whether they are gay or not, anyone who is a victim of anti-LGBTQ bullying or harassment is having a tough time.
Some, as we painfully were reminded this month, resort to suicide.
Right now the media is focused on five teens who committed suicide in response to anti-LGBTQ bullying. As tragic as that is, there are a lot more than five. Thanks to our readers, so far we so far have found nine.
Nine male teenagers all committed suicide in the month of September, victims of bullying. There are reports that all but one were victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. The “type” of bullying of one, Felix Sacco, was not identified.
If nine teens died in one month from a mysterious disease, there would be marches to the White House demanding something be done.
So, aside from a press release, what is being done?
Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010. Indiana
Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010. Wisconsin
Seth Walsh (13) September 19, 2010. California
Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010. New Jersey
Asher Brown (13) September 23, 2010. Texas
Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010. Colorado
Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010. Rhode Island
Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010. Massachusetts
Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010. Indiana
Remember them. And reach out to — and check in with — every teen you know. They may need you right now, more than you imagine.
If you have additional information, please share it with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just ashamed … what else do we have to say?
“Oh God I want it, Oh God I need it, Oh God give it to me…”
Immediately after the Mike Jones scandal broke in 2006, officials at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church learned that Haggard had also had a longtime relationship with a young man at the church. The church paid for the young man’s silence with college tuition, but with suspicious timing, he has now come forward as the HBO documentary about Haggard is about to debut.
Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told the Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.
Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.
Reached Friday night, Haggard declined to comment and said all interviews would have to be arranged through a publicist for HBO, which is airing a documentary about him this month. Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly. Boyd said a Colorado Springs TV station reached him Thursday to say the young man was planning to provide a detailed report of his relationship with Haggard to the station. Boyd said the church preferred to keep the matter private, but it was the man’s decision to go public.
New Life Church says they will not pursue legal action against Haggard’s boyfriend for violating their agreement. Earlier this month, Haggard said that his sexuality doesn’t fit into “stereotypical boxes” and that he never claimed that he was heterosexual. He also expressed support for marriage equality, although an HBO spokesperson immediately retracted that statement. The documentary, The Trials Of Ted Haggard, debuts Thursday at 8pm. Mighty convenient, publicity-wise, eh???
If he did it once, he did it twice, and if he did it twice, he did it a third time. I knew this story wasn’t finished. Sex, Money and Power. Three dynamic forces that perpetuate a lot of energy over time. I am sure there are boys lined up to tell their stories. The Saintly Pastor and all his little secrets…
Imagine when He had the gaul to sit with Barbara Walters and speak about God, Spirituality and the sin that was homosexuality… All that pent up internalized Homophobia and the vitriol he spewed at LGBTQ people over the years.
I always say, “The Dog that barks the loudest, has the MOST to hide…”
MSNBC Keith Olbermann on Prop 8, Marriage and more!
Marchers in the Streets, Boycotts of Businesses, A Travel Ban to Utah, and a Review of Tax Exempt Status of the LDS Church, This isn’t going to end until we get our rights back. All my West coast reads have been reporting one march after another. The churches have overstepped themselves in a really big way. I think the Catholic Church should loose their tax exempt status as well.
From the L.A. Times report on the rally I didn’t make it to last night (after getting home from the Integrity Board Meeting in Nevada):
Police estimated that 12,500 boisterous marchers converged about 6 p.m.
at Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards in Silver Lake near the site of
the former Black Cat bar, which the city recently designated a
historic-cultural monument for its ’60s role as home of the local gay
Police guided the demonstrators through the
streets for more than three hours without major confrontations. No
arrests were reported.
Other demonstrations, including one that
attracted up to 10,000 people in San Diego, popped up across the state.
At each rally, participants vented frustration and anger over the
ballot item that amends the state Constitution to declare that “only
marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized” in
Steve Ramos, 46, of Los Angeles carried a banner
through the streets of Silver Lake with the spray-painted words “Teach
tolerance, not hate.”
Supporters of the ballot proposition, he
said, mixed “religion with politics” and missed the main point.
“Everyone should have equal rights.”
Others carried candles and
posters of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous quotations.
Henry Thach, a 26-year-old information technology worker from West
Covina, held a placard that read, “I have a dream too.”
community, he said, has clearly failed to persuade blacks, who voted
heavily in favor of Proposition 8, that theirs is also a struggle for
The Silver Lake rally began with fiery speeches from the bed of a pickup.
the speakers was Robin Tyler, half of the lesbian couple who were
denied a marriage license in 2004 and challenged that rejection all the
way to the California Supreme Court.
The pair married after the court cleared the way for gay weddings, but the legal status of such marriages is now uncertain.
expressed frustration over the leadership of the unsuccessful campaign
to defeat the ballot measure and lashed out at those who supported it.
No on 8 people didn’t want us to use the word ‘bigots.’ But that’s what
they are, bigots, bigots, bigots,” Tyler said, bringing a round of
cheers from the growing crowd. “We will never be made invisible again.
Never again will we let them define who we are.”
organizers, the L.A. Coalition for Equal Marriage Rights and the Answer
Coalition, did not apply for a permit, police said. The protest closed
Sunset between Fountain and Sanborn avenues for about two hours as
marchers moved west on Santa Monica, north on Vermont Avenue, then east
on Hollywood Boulevard back to Silver Lake. Later a smaller group
headed toward Hollywood.
Steering the crowds, several hundred
officers were on scene, riding horses, motorcycles and bicycles. Others
on foot were sprinkled through the crowd. Mario Mariscal, 20, and his
mother, Delia Perez, a 45-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, stood on the
Sunset Boulevard sidewalk. Mariscal came out to his mother as gay when
he was 16. She held a sign saying, “Give my son his rights.”
feels the No on 8 campaign spent little energy and money in the Latino
community, which tilted for the ballot item. He said he was “very
fearful for my future. When will they start treating me like an equal
A handful of counter-protesters were also on the
scene, separated from the marching crowds by police on horseback. One
man held up a large sign: “God does not love you just the way you are.”
I signed the petition “Review the 501(c)(3) status of The Church of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons)”. I’m asking you to sign this petition to help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts.
On Wednesday 5 November, there was a protest march which ran through West Hollywood, CA. On Thursday 6 November there was another protest march on the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles. Today, 7 November there will be a protest rally in front of City Hall in Palm Springs, CA. On Sunday 9 November there will be a protest march on the State’s Capitol in Sacramento at 1 PM. Other protest marches are occurring in San Francisco and throughout the state. This is reminiscent of the tumultuous times of 1968.
On the evening of 4 April 1968, while he was standing on a balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That it turn prompted mass civil disobedience by African Americans throughout America. The assassination of Dr. King was not simply the assassination of one person, it was an attempted assassination of hope. Hope that America could fulfill her mission and be an inclusive society with liberty and justice for ALL.
The decision by 52% of the electorate of California to deny equality for ALL this past week, was also an attempted assassination of hope. Hope that our State was somehow, better than that. That we would not vote for discrimination. That we would stand with minorities in our society and protect their rights. That did not happen. As in 1968, the forces of bigotry, hatred and smug supremacy prevailed. Then, this prompted an out pouring onto the nation’s streets of those who were oppressed by an unjust majority. That is happening now again. Dr. King once observed that: “A riot is the voice of the unheard.” Unlike then, violence has thus far thankfully been averted.
Many in society in 1968 hoped that African Americans would simply calm down and that society would return to “business as usual” once the blacks were put back in their place. I’m sure that many of those who voted “yes” on Prop 8, as well as the Architects and chief patrons of Prop 8, hope that once the “fags” calm down, it will also be “business as usual”. Well, it wasn’t the case in 1968 and it is not the case now.
So, where do we go now? Now, is a time for those who voted NO on Prop. 8 to do several things.
Here’s a starter list:
1) Find out what business gave money to “yes” on Prop 8 and cease doing business with them. Ask your friends and families to boycott those businesses. This includes not only corporations but, Realtors, contractors, lawn services, any business, no matter how small. Send them an economic NO when you use one of their competitors, send them a copy of the receipt and let them know this is business you would have given to them if not for their bigotry.
2) If you are a Catholic who’s parish actively supported “yes” on Prop 8, here are some things you can do. Do not put your contribution into the collection basket at Mass. The collection is assessed (taxed) by the bishop. In my Diocese, the tax amounts to 17%. That means that 17 cents of every dollar you put into the basket goes to the bishop. Instead, make out a check to your parish and drop it by the church office as a “special gift.” If the bishop starts taxing “special gifts” then, offer the parish to pay for part of the utilities bill, etc. with your check made payable directly to the appropriate company. Thus by passing church hands altogether. In this way, you help your parish and send the bishops a message. Oh, don’t forget to write your bishop a letter and let him know that a) you are doing this, b) why and c) that this will continue until a public apology is issued for having supported “yes” on Prop 8.
3) Press your bishop continually and publicly about equal employment protection and domestic partnership health benefits for gay/lesbian church employees.
4) Do not donate to Diocesan Appeal campaigns but, only to funds with restricted application. For example, a hospital, an orphanage, a school, etc.
Any other suggestions? Let me know and I’ll be happy to pass them along. As one reader said, this is not over. It won’t be over until we have liberty and justice for ALL.
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s growing tourism industry and the star-studded are being targeted for a boycott by bloggers, gay rights activists and others seeking to punish the Mormon church for its aggressive promotion of California’s ban on .
It could be a heavy price to pay. Tourism brings in $6 billion a year to Utah, with world-class skiing, a spectacular red rock country and the film festival founded by Robert Redford, among other popular tourist draws.
“At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line on this one,” said gay rights activist John Aravosis, an influential blogger in Washington, D.C.
“They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards,” he said. “You don’t do that and get away with it.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which counts about 62 percent of Utah residents as members.is the world headquarters for
The church encouraged its members to work to pass California’s Proposition 8 by volunteering their time and money for the campaign. Thousands of Mormons worked as grassroots volunteers and gave tens of millions of dollars to the campaign.
The ballot measure passed Tuesday. It amends the California Constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual act, overriding a state Supreme Court ruling that briefly gave same-sex couples the right to wed.
The backlash against the church — and by extension Utah — has been immediate. Protests erupted outside Mormon temples, Facebook groups formed telling people to boycott Utah, and Web sites such as mormonsstoleourrights.com began popping up, calling for an end to the church’s tax-exempt status.
Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said in a statement about the temple protests Friday that it is “disturbing” that the church is being singled out for exercising its right to speak up in a free election.
“While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process,” Farah said.
The church had said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote that “no one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.”
Aravosis is the editor of the popular americablog.com, which has about 900,000 unique monthly visitors.
He is calling for skiers to choose any state but Utah and for Hollywood actors and directors to pull out of the Sundance Film Festival. Other bloggers and readers have responded to his call.
“There’s a movement afoot and large donors are involved who are very interested in organizing a campaign, because I do not believe in frivolous boycotts,” said Aravosis, who has helped organize boycotts against “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger’s television show, Microsoft and Ford over gay rights issues.
“The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand,” he said. “At this point, honestly, we’re going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state.”
Gay rights groups did not immediately weigh in on calls for a boycott. Jim Key, spokesman for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, said he had heard little about such an effort.
“It’s not something that we have called for, but we do think it is important to send a message to the Mormon church,” Key said. He noted an effort run by the center to overturn Proposition 8 that sends a postcard to the Mormon church president with each contribution made.
A Sundance spokeswoman didn’t return messages. Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, said that she’s aware there’s been discussion of a boycott, but that her office hadn’t received any calls about it Thursday. State offices are closed Friday.
“We’re respectful of both sides of the equation and realize it’s an emotional issue, but we are here promoting what we think is the best state in the country,” she said.
What kind of economic, religious or political impact, if any, a boycott might have is unclear. The Mormon church has members all over the world and no plans to change its stance on gay marriage.
Aravosis is not calling for a boycott of California, though that state’s voters actually approved the ban.
“At this point, the Californians are the victims and theare the persecutors,” he said. “We had won this until they swept in. … We need to send a message to Utah that they need to stop trying to inflict their way of life on every other state.”
Bob Malone, CEO and president of the Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, said it is unfair to try to punish certain industries or parts of the state over an issue it had nothing to do with.
“It’s really not athing, and I don’t see it as a state thing. That was more of a religious issue,” he said. “To sweep people in who really have nothing to do with that issue and have no influence over religious issues — it’s sad that people kind of think that and say, ‘We’re going to bury you.’ It’s sad to hear people talk like that.”
(San Francisco, California) At least three lawsuits are are in the works to challenge Proposition 8, a proposed amendment to the California constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.
One of the suits is planned by City of San Francisco attorney Dennis Herrera’s office. A second is by the three LGBT groups that won the historic California Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in the state. The third is by one of the couples who were married after the court ruling went into effect in May.
All three suits would begin if Prop 8 passes.
With 95 percent of the vote in across California the “Yes” votes have a slim lead: 52 – 48 percent. Though some outlets called the ballot measure in favor of the anti-gay ban a few hours ago, as many as 3 million ballots – late absentee and provisional ballots – are left to be counted.
It is those ballots that opponents of the amendment are counting on for the measure’s defeat. But most political watchers in the state say it is unlikely the additional ballots will change the result.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court on Wednesday, a preliminary move to a suit.
The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone, by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians.
The petition also says that Proposition 8 improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. The groups in the petition say that under the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.
The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works, the groups said in a statement.
Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn’t happen with Proposition 8, and that’s why it’s invalid, the petition said.
“If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw – it removes a protected constitutional right - here, the right to marry - not from all Californians, but just from one group of us,” said Jenny Pizer, Senior Counsel with Lambda Legal. “That’s too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters.”
Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the first lesbian couple to be legally married in Los Angeles County, also plan a lawsuit against Proposition 8.
Their attorney, Gloria Allred, said the suit would argue that the measure is unconstitutional.
Proposition 8 is the first time such a vote has taken place in state where gay unions are legal.
A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law indicated that by Election Day 2008, approximately18,000 same-sex couples had married in California.
Exit polls reported by CNN show that while a slim majority of white voters said they rejected the amendment, an equally slim majority of African American and Hispanic voters said they had voted for the amendment.
The battle for and against the measure, known as Proposition 8, cost more than $70 million, making it one of the most expensive ballot campaigns in history. Much of the money on both sides came from outside California.
Similar bans on same-sex marriage were approved by voters Tuesday in Florida and Arizona; while in Arkansas the electorate endorsed a measure to prevent same-sex couples from adopting.
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Next Tuesday, when California voters head to the polls to pick the next president, they will also be deciding on Proposition 8, which seeks to amend the state constitution and thereby nullify the state supreme court’s ruling from earlier this year, which found that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Supporters of the proposition claim to be protecting “traditional” marriage from a threat that is clearly non-existent. Their entire campaign is based on lies, distortions and the absolutely preposterous notion that heterosexuals will opt for non-procreative same-sex relationships leading to the extinction of the human race, simply because the law says they can, as if homosexuality is contagious and can be legislated out of existence, rather than a biological phenomenon affecting a tiny percentage of the population.
One of the myths being pushed by supporters of the proposition is that a “no” vote would have a profoundly adverse effect on First Amendment guarantees of free speech and religious expression; in fact, the opposite is true.
Anti-gay forces are claiming that legalized gay marriage somehow gives the state the power to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages and would ban religious speech against homosexuality. These accusations are utterly without merit.
There is a difference in this country between civil marriage and religious marriage, whatever the protestations of the extreme right wing, that is very clearly illustrated: no state in the union requires the religious solemnization of a marriage nor recognizes a religious marriage without a civil license. Same-sex marriage does not change this.
The argument that churches would be “forced” to perform a marriage that was against their religious beliefs is utterly unfounded. For example, there is no limit to how many times a person can be legally married and divorced in the United States, but the Catholic church does not recognize the re-marriage of divorced persons. You can trot down to city hall and get your third, fourth, eighth license, whatever. But the government is absolutely powerless to require a Catholic priest to officiate at a marriage ceremony for you.
Most churches require couples counseling with a minister before a marriage ceremony; it’s rare, but clergy have the pastoral right to decide a couple should not be married for whatever reason and decline to officiate. That can’t stop them from obtaining a civil license.
Similarly, Catholics, Mormons and Orthodox and Conservative Jews oppose interfaith marriages. A Mormon can legally marry a Jew, but no church or synagogue can be compelled to host the ceremony or recognize the relationship. The plain truth is that federal and local governments already recognize the marriages of couples whose unions are opposed by various longstanding religious traditions.
Ask the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston how many same-sex marriages they have been forced to perform since 2003.
Far from protecting first amendment guarantees about the freedom of religion, Proposition 8 actually imperils them. One of the many bogus assumptions supporters of the proposition make is that to be “religious” means to be anti-gay. Some religious groups openly oppose Proposition 8.
Furthermore, religious groups including Unitarian Universalists, the Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church of Christ and Conservative and Reform Jewish synagogues routinely bless same-sex unions. While the practice remains controversial in many other denominations, individual churches within mainline traditions (especially the Episcopal and Lutheran churches) often welcome and bless same-sex couples.
Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, recently had this to say: “Performing and blessing [same-sex] marriages is not simply theoretical. There are real people in congregations large and small who have waited sometimes for many years for this opportunity, and the witness of their faithful love has been an inspiration to me….While no one in this Diocese will be forced to move beyond what his or her conscience allows, we seek to provide that gracious space for those whose conscience compels them to bless the marriages of all faithful people as together we discern the work of the Holy Spirit who continues to lead us into all truth.”
Thus, Proposition 8 does not protect religious expression at all but rather threatens the legitimate diversity of opinion on this issue among people of faith in the name of a narrow, fundamentalist orthodoxy. Legal recognition and protection of same-sex unions threatens no one and enhances freedom of religious expression in the State of California.
This post is written in support of Write to Marry Day.
Rev. Susan Russell and Father Geoff Farrow …
An Inch at a time: Reflections on the Journey
Here’s the statement Fr. Geoff offered today (as posted on his blog:)
You can be a good and faithful Catholic and vote NO on Proposition 8.
Many priests, nuns and ordinary Catholics will vote NO on Proposition 8 because they believe that taking away civil rights from same sex couples is wrong and strips them not only of civil rights but, also of basic human dignity. I know this because they have expressed this to me directly.
Many pastors simply refuse to say anything at all on the subject publicly. Most of my brother priests try to help Catholic same sex couples in the same fashion that they help Catholic heterosexual couples who use contraception or, who have divorced and remarried. We try to assist these souls in the confessional and in counseling sessions. We attempt to humanize what can otherwise be impossibly rigid doctrines that crush people or drive them away from the community of faith.
As an elderly Pastor once told me: “We are not technicians, we work with human lives”. People are not statistics, they are not a political issue, they are human beings. Initially, I too simply decided to remain silent. But then, more and more people came to me and asked for guidance on this issue. At the same time, the Diocese became more and more vocal in its support for Proposition 8 and began to organize lay people to vote yes on 8.
When I was asked to promote my congregation to vote yes on Proposition 8 I was placed in a position of having to choose between my position and the spiritual and emotional well being of those who I was called to serve. Theologians such as, St. Thomas Aquinas have taught of the primacy of one’s personal conscience because on the day that you die it will be your conscience that either acquits or condemns you before God.
In good conscience, I cannot place an impossibly heavy load on the backs of those entrusted to my pastoral care and leave them to fend for themselves as best they can. The cost of this would be abandonment of faith, possibly of God. It would probably contribute to isolation, depression and possible despair or, worse (especially for young people). I gave them the advice that most of them would receive privately from most priests, I simply did it openly at the end of Sunday Mass from the pulpit.
Susan comments at the end of the post here:
I was deeply grateful to be there to witness HIS witness … along with other courageous Roman Catholic leaders … modeling that faithful Catholics CAN vote No on 8 … and also to be joined by Episcopal colleagues: Mark Hallahan+ (Chair of the Bishop’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry)and Canon Lydia Lopez (Diocesan Communication Office.)
For all that I was so very grateful to be amongst so great a cloud of witnesses, how it must grieve the heart of God that we … all of us … are spending our time, energy and resources responding to this $24-million-plus campaign to mobilize bigotry and to write discrimination into the CaliforniaConstitution in the name of “Family Values.”
TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS … while there are children who go to bed hungry and we have families without healthcare while others are facing foreclosure, eviction and homelessness.
No wonder Jesus wept.
Fr. Geoff asked in his interview earlier this week in the Los Angeles Times: “How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?”
He answered his own question in today’s press conference. In English and in Spanish. And let’s pray that there were those with ears to hear and hearts to listen and minds to change — that the sacrifices this brave priest is making on behalf of the Gospel will bear the fruit of the defeat of Proposition 8 on the November 4th ballot.
In a letter which I wrote to our bishop early this week. I explained that I intended to take a private retreat and then, unless I heard otherwise from him, resume my duties at St. Paul’s this weekend. Today, I heard from the bishop that I have been suspended as a priest and removed as pastor of the Newman Center. In all candor, I had anticipated that response which is why, I had removed my personal property from the parish house and offices. I bear no personal animosity to the bishop for his decision.
Many of you may be asking why I decided to make this public statement. The answer is simply that I had been asked to do so. Just two weeks ago this was asked of me at a Faith, Family & Friends planning session. I offered to do so at that meeting as a post communion statement to be read at the end of Mass. This is precisely what I did last Sunday on October 5 at the end of the 11:00 AM liturgy. Some have raised an objection that the local media was invited to be present. I knew beforehand, that given the content of this statement, it could only be made once. The media’s coverage made it possible for the whole parish to hear the message as well as others in our city.
Some have characterized my statement as a “personal” statement. The simple fact that it has taken on such far reaching interest, is evidence that this is not merely my “personal” opinion but rather, a very wide ranging issue in our state, our nation and indeed, internationally. I have received E-mails from the United Kingdom, Holland, Sweden, Germany and even Rome. This is not a “personal” opinion, it is one person expressing something very wide spread in our nation and in our international communion. Why? Because, almost every family has a lesbian or gay person as one of its members.
I felt the need to speak, not for myself but, on behalf of those who have no one to speak for them in this matter in our Church. Personally, my life has been rather difficult since I made this statement as I knew it would be. I have no regrets since, it was my hope that this statement would lead to greater discussion of the treatment of gay and lesbian people in and by the Church. Also, it is my earnest hope that in some small way, this helps to preserve the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons which are currently under attack by the proponants of Propostion 8.
Originally found on: Joe My God
Independent candidate for the Canadian parliament David Popescu told a high school debate audience yesterday that he recommended that gays be executed. Canadian authorities are investigating and may charge Popescu with a hate crime.
David Popescu was invited to participate in a federal candidates’ discussion at Sudbury Secondary School on Tuesday. He made the comment after a student asked his opinion of gay marriage. Within hours, the Greater Sudbury Police Service said they were investigating. “We are actively conducting a criminal investigation in this matter,” deputy police chief Frank Elsner said.
The police service plans to share its evidence with the provincial Attorney General’s office, which will provide direction on whether or not a criminal charge is warranted. More than 200 students gathered in the school’s auditorium to hear candidates from the NDP, Liberal Party and the First Peoples National Party.
Popescu introduced himself with a public prayer, blaming environmental damage and economic unrest on the wickedness of society. His comments were met with silence as some students grimaced and shifted in their seats.
Near the end of the more than two-hour event, students were invited to ask the candidates questions. As a long line of pupils waited to speak, Popescu told a young female student who asked about stem cell research that, “God would hurt” those who had an abortion.
The crowd jeered and many rose to their feet in protest after Popescu answered another teenager’s question on gay marriage. During a telephone interview later in the day, Popescu reasserted his view. “A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed,” he said. “My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn’t be more clear on that point.”
Canada has much stronger restriction on public speech than the United States.