The Current State of the Struggle for Equal Civil Marriage Rights

The proposed anti-gay, anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

SOULFORCE RESOURCES

FMA DEFEATED! – Soulforce Applauds U.S. Senate for Rejecting the anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment – July 14, 2004 Press Release

Soulforce Letter to Congress Opposing the Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment – June 22, 2004

Soulforce People of Faith Petition against the "so-called" Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) (pdf version)

Soulforce TALKING POINTS on defining and obtaining equal civil marriage rights and defeating the anti-gay, anti-family federal "marriage" amendment (Click here for PDF file)

Media Message Points (pdf) – Soulforce’s four main message points regarding civil marriage and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment

Community Action Plan (pdf) for educating and advocating for equal civil marriage rights in your community and beyond

Bulletin Insert for your local Congregation (pdf)

Soulforce Action Alert (11/21/03) – WHAT YOU CAN DO! Click here for pdf file

Sample Letter to Congress People Opposing the FMA Find and email your Congress people

Sample Letter to the Editor

Soulforce Alert on the Threat and Tragic Consequences of the FMA

Soulforce Policy Statement on Civil Marriage, August 1, 2003 (Click here for pdf)

Soulforce Flyer on the "so-called" Federal Marriage Amendment (pdf) (please download pdf, make copies, and distribute widely!)

A Soulforce Background Paper (Including a sample list of the rights and protections denied same-gender couples)

Religious Support for Equal Marriage Rights Brochure (pdf): Pdf file provided for printing on 2 pages of Legal Size paper (8 1/2 x 14)

Dos and Donts of Religious Organizing (pdf) – Which political activities are allowed and which are not

OTHER RESOURCES

Intersexuality and the Marriage Debate: "Bodies Like Ours" oped written by Betsy Driver

"God is Still Speaking, About Marriage," a package of educational resources designed to help congregations understand and talk about this issue.

Marriage Brochure from Interfaith Working Group on Religious Support for Equal Civil Marriage Rights

Sermon on Equal Marriage Rights by Don Southworth, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation (of Atlanta)

LINKS TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Civil Marriage Resources from GLAAD

DontAmend.com

Freedomtomarry.org

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

Gay and Lesbian Advocate and Defenders (Great Resource for Information on Massachusetts marriage decision)

Intersexuality and the Marriage Debate

Other Resources:

  1. New York To Recognize Gay Partnerships

  2. Canada to open same-sex marriage issue to debate

  3. Dutch Government OK’s Same-Gender Marriage

  4. Good News: In Philadelphia Life Partnership is Official

  5. More Employers Weigh Domestic Partner Benefits

  6. An Ancient and Historic Reminder When Marriage Between Gays Was By Rite

  7. Why "Civil Union" Isn’t Marriage

  8. In Defense of Marriage Act and The Great Commandment

  9. Dutch Gay Marriage Stats Released

  10. California Approves Domestic Partnerships
    Californians Get The Official Form Here
    http://www.ss.ca.gov/business/sf/forms/sf-dp1.pdf

For the most up-to-date information link to:www.lldef.org
The Marriage Project of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.


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NEW YORK TO RECOGNIZE GAY PARTNERSHIPS

by Beth Shapiro
365Gay.com Newscenter in New York
Posted: August 16, 2002
12:19 a.m. EDT/+5GMT/-3PDT

(New York City) Civil Unions, legal in other jurisdictions, now will be legal in New York City. Under legislation passed Thursday, New York has become the first area in the US, outside Vermont and California, to recognize gay and lesbian partnership unions.

Vermont is still the only state in the United States in which gay civil unions are legal. A partner registry has been created in California. Similar registries exist in Nova Scotia and Quebec, and in England and Germany. But, Holland is the only country which currently allows gays and lesbians full marriage rights.

The move, by New York means that city residents who travel outside the state to be united will have the union recognized at home. It also allows couples who have had civil unions to retain their status if they move to or visit New York.

If one of the pair were hospitalized, for example, the partner would be treated as a spouse for visiting purposes.

But, the law does not create a separate registry in New York, nor does it permit civil union ceremonies to be legally performed in the city. It is, however, a small step forward, gay rights advocates say.

Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) objected strenuously to the legislation, which passed by a vote of 34 in favour, 7 against and 4 abstentions.

Felder, an Orthodox Jew, said he objected to the use of the word “marriage” several times in the debate and said was against gay marriages on moral grounds.


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CANADA TO OPEN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ISSUE TO DEBATE

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government, stung by a court decision that ordered it to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, will set up a parliamentary committee to ask the public what it thinks of the idea.

"It’s a question of law but it is a very important question of social issue," Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said after a cabinet meeting Wednesday. "The government is very much open-minded to having an open discussion with Canadians, and of course within the Liberal (Party) family as well."

Last week, Ottawa said it would appeal an Ontario lower court ruling that said the traditional definition of marriage — the union between a man and a woman — was unconstitutional in excluding gays.

The court gave the federal and Ontario provincial governments two years to change their laws in a ruling welcomed by gay activists but condemned by conservative groups.

In its decision to appeal, the government said there was no consensus that homosexuals should be allowed to marry.

"Proceeding with the appeal keeps all the options open for the government, thereby respecting the consultation process," Cauchon said Wednesday.

The justice minister said his department would present a discussion paper to kick-start the consultations in September, outlining some of the possible policy directions.

Parliament overhauled 68 federal statutes in 2000 to erase most legal differences between heterosexual and homosexual couples. But the government pointedly drew the line at changing the definition of marriage.

08/07/02 16:54 ET

Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


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A SOULFORCE BACKGROUND PAPER

INCLUDING A SAMPLE LIST OF THE RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS DENIED LESBIAN AND GAY COUPLES

Millions of our fellow Americans are confused and misinformed in the belief that marriage is an institution for mixed-gender couples only. In fact, same-gender marriage is an ancient and honorable tradition, practiced now as it has been practiced for more than 1,000 years. (See article that follows on John Boswell’s Same Sex Unions In Pre-Modern Europe).

Twenty-eight years ago, the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, conducted his first same-gender wedding ceremony in his home in Los Angeles, California. And though same-gender marriage had no legal standing then (as it has no legal standing now) from that day, UFMCC clergy have performed the rite of holy union for lesbian and gay congregants who want their relationship to be blessed by God and honored by their community of faith.

Nothing the President, the Congress, or the Courts can decide will stop lesbian and gay Americans from falling in love and getting married. Oscar Hammerstein said it best: "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other."

Already, millions of lesbian and gay Americans live together as married couples, in loving, committed, long-term relationships. Every year, thousands of new same-gender marriages are being performed (overtly and covertly) not just by UFMCC clergy, but by enlightened and courageous Protestant, Jewish, and even Catholic ministers and priests as well. We have that rite and will continue to celebrate it, even in the face of bigotry and discrimination.

The question, therefore, is not whether national and state laws oppose the rite of same-gender marriage. The question is whether the Congress and the courts will grant lesbian and gay couples the same 1,047 legal rights and protections obtained automatically by mixed-genders who marry.

Gay and lesbian couples may not be admitted into an emergency ward to see their partners because they are not legally the next of kin. They don’t have the right to share tax returns, pensions, or government benefits like Social Security. They can’t share parental custody, join property, health insurance, or automatic inheritance rights. They can’t make medical decisions if their partner becomes disabled. Even their wills and Powers of Attorney can be set aside by judges who refuse to recognize their long-term relationships.

Lesbian and gay couples are married in the eyes of God and in the eyes of their supportive friends and family; and yet these same couples are denied 1,047 federal and state rights and protections that go automatically with mixed-gender marriage. This is just a small sample of the rights that outlawing same-gender marriage will deny us:

  • Automatic Inheritance
  • Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Burial Determination
  • Child Custody
  • Divorce Protections
  • Domestic Violence Protection
  • Exemption from Property Tax on Partner’s Death
  • Immigration Rights for Foreign Spouse
  • Insurance Breaks
  • Joint Adoption and Foster Care
  • Joint Bankruptcy
  • Joint Parenting (Insurance Coverage, School Records)
  • Medical Decision on Behalf of Partner
  • Various Property Rights
  • Reduced Rate Memberships
  • Sick Leave to Care for Partner
  • Social Security Survivor Benefits
  • Tax Breaks
  • Visitation of Partner’s Children
  • Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison
  • Wrongful Death Benefits

How many times unsupportive parents have misused the law to cut off one partner from the love and comfort of another in his or her greatest hour of need. How many times surviving parents have been awarded child custody instead of the surviving gay or lesbian parent or have been given prized possession a couple has earned together.

This debate is not about marriage. It is about the immoral and unconstitutional practice of withholding those legal rights from millions of law-abiding, tax-paying Americans on the basis of sexual orientation alone.


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DUTCH GOVERNMENT OK’S MARRIAGE

Same-gender couples will soon be able to marry in the Netherlands, now that the cabinet is as ready to march down the aisle as the Parliament has been for months.

"Civil marriage will be made available to people of the same sex," said a statement issued by the Netherlands’ cabinet December 11, according to a Reuters report. Although the Parliament will have to give its approval, it’s been ready to do so for months, while the government has cautiously applied the brakes.

The registered partnerships which are already in place in the Netherlands will be convertible to marriages when the law is in place. When a measure opening adoptions to same-gender couples now pending before the Netherlands’ Parliament passes as expected, the domestic partnerships there will already be the strongest in the world, even before full civil marriages are available.

Registered partnerships equivalent to civil marriage except for adoption rights are currently in place in Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. As a result of court rulings rather than legislation, Belgium and Hungary recognize same-gender couples’ inheritance rights, and Israel recognizes couples for survivor benefits.

France’s Senate will soon be taking up the hotly-contested domestic partnership bill which the Assembly approved this week, and Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies was also expected to vote on a similar measure this week. Germany’s new Socialist-led government has promised increased recognition of same-gender couples there.


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GOOD NEWS: IN PHILADELPHIA LIFE PARTNERSHIP IS OFFICIAL

THE CITY GAVE DOCUMENTS TO 30 GAY COUPLES IN CEREMONY.
By Julie Stoiber
Inquirer Staff Writer
www.phillynews.com

They met on a bus in Washington, one riding to work, the other to art school. The attraction was instantaneous. Swaying side by side in the aisle, they cobbled together a conversation, one speaking English, the other Portuguese.

A few stops later, when they parted, one carried a quickly scribbled phone number.

Thirty years later, they are still side by side, still preferring each other’s company to anyone else’s.

And now, the relationship between Link Harper and Jonas dos Santos is "official." Last night, in a milestone ceremony for Harper, dos Santos and others in Philadelphia’s gay community, same-gender relationships were recognized for the first time by the city as "life partnerships" and endowed with benefits once reserved for married couples. "It’s such an accomplishment," said Harper, a photographer in the City’s Department of Records.

Though they didn’t need a city document to affirm their partnership, "it gives an incredible sense of pride," said dos Santos, an artist. For a decade, City Council had debated, and ultimately defeated, legislation that would give official recognition of gay relationships. But last spring, following a long and anguished discussion, and over the objections of Council President John F. Street, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua and other powerful foes, Council passed three controversial domestic partnership bills.

Last night, in a ceremony in the Mayor’s Reception Room, 30 couples — some carrying bouquets, all smiling broadly for the cameras — received their certificates. As their names were called, they walked to the front of the room.

Many were holding hands; Mary Louise Cervone and Kathleen Burke were holding their 2-year-old son, Danny. A standing ovation greeted Charles Rudolph and David Kloss, who have been together 35 years. The document means city workers can add their partners to their city-paid health insurance policies — saving them hundreds of dollars a month in premiums — and name them as beneficiaries for city pensions. For all gay couples in the city, life partner status means an exemption from the city’s 3 percent real estate transfer tax if they sell each other property. Couples also can use the life-partner document when applying for insurance, joint bank accounts and joint credit cards.

"You can get those things now, but this may make it easier," said Kevin E. Vaughan, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which is overseeing domestic partnership registration. Couples who break up must sign a notarized "termination statement" and file it with the commission. Compared to other large cities, Philadelphia was slow to pass domestic partnership legislation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Washington already had laws on the books. Many corporations — including IBM, Levi Strauss and Bell Atlantic — provided such benefits. And some Philadelphia city workers had them, too — 500 non-union employees, by Mayor Rendell’s order, and 4,100 members of District Council 47 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

But the rest of the city’s 23,000 workers did not. The significance of the domestic partnership legislation goes beyond the merely practical, though. For many, it’s all about symbolism.

"These are people, in many cases, who have been in relationships for many years, and yet they have never had official recognition of their family lives by a public entity," Vaughan said.

Judy Kramer, a medical photographer, and her partner, Dale Ralston, a physician’s assistant, won’t receive any tangible benefits from life partner status, except the satisfaction of having their relationship publicly affirmed.

"We’ve been together 23 years, and basically there’s nothing to show for it, no public acknowledgment," Kramer said. "It may help change some attitudes in the general public."

The human relations office has received more than 100 calls requesting domestic partnership registration packets, Vaughan said.

Harper and dos Santos dressed up for the event, in matching custom-made sport coats from Portugal.

The partnership ceremony reminded dos Santos, a native of Brazil, of the day he became a U.S. citizen. "Very special," he said.

The couple planned to celebrate with a quiet dinner at home afterward. Dos Santos loves to cook, but because of work and the ceremony, dinner would probably be takeout from their favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Their rowhouse just north of Northern Liberties is full of unusual art and the warm, sweet smell of incense. There’s a homey quilt on the bed in their guest room, a vase of pale pink roses on the kitchen table, and a heavenly courtyard out back, lush with ivy and red impatiens. It’s a good life, they say, harmonious and balanced, rich with love.

"It’s not husband and wife, it is two males living and loving one another," dos Santos said in an interview the day before the ceremony.

"It isn’t role-playing," added Harper.

"It’s a communion," dos Santos said. "It’s really powerful."

They have never hidden their relationship. Their families accepted it — dos Santos refers to Harper’s father and stepmother as "my in-laws" — and so have their co-workers and friends.

Like Kramer, they hope City Council’s willingness to recognize relationships like theirs might change some negative stereotypes of gay life.

"The domestic partnership bill is giving validation to two people who can live together, who can contribute to society, who can be decent, who can be creative," dos Santos said. Harper, whose duties as a city photographer include taking pictures at City Council meetings, said the gay community is indebted to Vaughan, Rendell and others who backed domestic partner legislation.

"Mayor Rendell’s push and drive inspired those Council people," he said. "I think he gave them the feeling they could express openly the way they felt, and they did, and it passed." City Council’s choice of the terminology "domestic partner" was ideal, Harper said.

"It has a kind of neutrality … it’s not romantic," he said. "When it gets romantic, people get put off."


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MORE EMPLOYERS WEIGH DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS
By Sherwood Ross
REUTERS, September 28, 1998

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Although only 6 percent of employers currently offer their workers benefit coverage for domestic partners, 29 percent more have the idea under consideration, a new study shows.

Such actions could be a boon to many of the estimated 5.6 million households headed by unmarried couples, approximately one-third of them same-gender couples.

Domestic partners are defined as unmarried people "who live together in a financial relationship, and have some type of financial interdependence," according to Buck Consultants, Inc., a New York-based human resources firm that conducted the benefits survey.

"More and more companies are accepting that this is the right thing to do," said Marsha Venturi, a principal in Buck’s Secaucus, N.J., office.

"If it’s offered to those partners where the serious nature of the commitment is at the same level as someone who might be married to someone else, we don’t expect it to be significantly more costly than if you cover spouses and other family members," Venturi said.

"As pressure increases to attract and retain talented employees, many employers find that providing domestic partner benefits is a relatively low cost means of achieving this goal," an executive summary of the study published by the consulting firm said.

However, Phoebe Liebig, associate professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a benefits authority, said, "My guess is that this benefit isn’t going to be something that springs up like wildflowers because there is a move now in Congress to cut off these kinds of benefits, particularly for same-gender."

Buck found that employers who offer the benefit do so "in an attempt to be fair to all employees," to "create employee goodwill" and to "enhance the employer’s overall corporate image for innovation" in human resources practices.

Other employers are acting "for fear of employee claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status," the consulting firm said.

Of employers who do not offer the benefit, 56 percent said there was no employee interest in it; 30 percent cited cost concerns; and 21 percent said they had moral objections to it. (Some gave more than one reason.)

The trend toward benefits for nontraditional couples became apparent when Buck surveyed 1,058 employers last August. Two-thirds of the companies had 500 workers or more, making the study data more representative of larger businesses than smaller ones.

According to Buck, employers who set up domestic partner coverage must decide if the benefits will be limited to same-gender domestic partners who cannot marry by law or if they will be available to all unmarried partners who meet their requirements.

Buck said that employers could define eligible "domestic partners" in a variety of ways, including:

  • A committed relationship of two unrelated individuals.
  • A specified minimum time period for the relationship to have endured, say, two years.
  • Cohabitation.
  • Shared responsibilities on the part of the partners, both domestically and financially.

Employers’ fears that covering male same sex-couples might drive up their health costs by increasing the risk of AIDS claims "has not proven to be true among employers actually offering such coverage," the Buck executive summary said.

Because of privacy concerns, they noted, gay employees often decline to enroll partners in corporate health care plans.

EDITORS: Sherwood Ross is a freelance writer who covers workplace issues for Reuters. Any opinions in the column are solely those of Mr. Ross.
www.irish-times.com


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AN ANCIENT AND HISTORIC REMINDER "WHEN MARRIAGE BETWEEN GAYS WAS BY RITE"
Provided by LelioRisen@aol.com

As the churches struggle with the issue of homosexuality, a long tradition of gay marriage indicates that the Christian attitude to same-gender unions may not always have been as "straight" as is now suggested, writes Jim Duffy.

Opinion: RITE AND REASON
by Jim Duffy

Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman pronubus (best man) overseeing what in a standard Roman icon would be the wedding of a husband and wife. In the icon, Christ is the pronubus. Only one thing is unusual. The "husband and wife" are in fact two men.

Is the icon suggesting that a homosexual "marriage" is one sanctified by Christ? The very idea initially seems shocking. The full answer comes from other sources about the two men featured, St Serge and St Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who became Christian martyrs.

While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early Church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly close. Severus of Antioch in the sixth century explained that "we should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life". More bluntly, in the definitive 10th century Greek account of their lives, St Serge is openly described as the "sweet companion and lover" of St Bacchus.

In other words, it confirms what the earlier icon implies, that they were a homosexual couple. Unusually their orientation and relationship was openly accepted by early Christian writers. Furthermore, in an image that to some modern Christian eyes might border on blasphemy, the icon has Christ himself as their pronubus, their best man overseeing their "marriage".

The very idea of a Christian homosexual marriage seems incredible. Yet after a 12-year search of Catholic and Orthodox church archives, Yale history professor John Boswell has discovered that a type of Christian homosexual "marriage" did exist as late as the 18th century.

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has evolved both as a concept and as a ritual. Prof Boswell discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient church liturgical documents (and clearly separate from other types of non-marital blessings such as blessings of adopted children or land) were ceremonies called, among other titles, the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century Greek) or the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These ceremonies had all the contemporary symbols of a marriage: a community gathered in church, a blessing of the couple before the altar, their right hands joined as at heterosexual marriages, the participation of a priest, the taking of the Eucharist, a wedding banquet afterwards. All of which are shown in contemporary drawings of the same-gender union of Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867-886) and his companion John. Such homosexual unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12th/early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (Geraldus Cambrensis) has recorded.

Boswell’s book, The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, lists in detail some same-gender union ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents. One Greek 13th century "Order for Solemnisation of Same-Sex Union", having invoked St Serge and St Bacchus, called on God to "vouchsafe unto these thy servants [N and N] grace to love one another and to abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and all thy saints." The ceremony concludes: "And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded."

Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic "Office of Same-Sex Union", uniting two men or two women, had the couple having their right hands laid on the Gospel while having a cross placed in their left hands. Having kissed the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

Boswell found records of same-gender unions in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St Petersburg, in Paris, Istanbul, and in Sinai, covering a period from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Nor is he the first to make such a discovery. The Dominican Jacques Goar (1601-1653) includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek prayer books.

While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, it was only from about the 14th century that anti- homosexual feelings swept western Europe. Yet same

Soulforce at the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce, will debate Joe Dallas at the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention on March 1. We will be updating this page with links to news stories about the event and the issues.

WHAT: Rev. Cindi Love, the Executive Director of Soulforce, will participate in a Public Policy Debate on the church’s response to the gay rights movement.  The debate, to be held March 1 at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, will be moderated by socially conservative radio host Janet Parshall, and will feature Joe Dallas, "former homosexual" and "ex-gay rights activist" and co-author of The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality, representing opponents of gay rights.

WHO: Rev. Cindi Love is the Executive Director of Soulforce, an organization advocating nonviolent resistance against religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. She brings a wide range of leadership, management and organizational experience to her leadership role. From January 2005 until April 2009, she served as the Executive Director of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). Prior to MCC, she served as an Executive Dean in the third largest community college system in the United States, as a Senior Executive of The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC) and CEO and Founder of several award winning corporations, including one named to the INC 500 in 1990. In 1990, Dr. Love was named one of the "Top 50 Entrepreneurs" in North America by Inc. Magazine, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Love is the creator of the Would Jesus Discriminate? campaign and author of a book by the same name.

Said Love:  "I’m grateful that the NRBC has offered me the opportunity to debate a prominent opponent of LGBT rights before an audience of Christian broadcasters.  Christian media has played a major role in spreading and heightening anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. and around the world.  The most recent horrific example has been in Uganda, where the use of media as a tool by American evangelicals to spread misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric about LGBT people and support anti-gay legislation has created a climate of hatred, violence and fear for the country’s LGBT population.  By participating in this debate, I intend to confront the rhetoric that has cost lives around the world, and attempt to open up an honest dialogue that has been absent for far too long."

WHERE/WHEN:
March 1, 2011
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Delta Ballroom C
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN

CONTACT: For any questions or to speak with Rev. Love, contact Cathy Renna (917-757-6123; cathy@rennacommunications.com)

 


"Christian Broadcasters Urged to Fight ‘Gay is the New Black’ Agenda"

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pastor and cultural apologist Voddie Baucham challenged Christian broadcasters at their annual convention on Saturday to not buy into the "gay is the new black" propaganda, but instead to remain committed to defending biblical marriage on the airwaves.

Read full story from Christian Post

Hope Not Harm

Hope Not Harm

On February 20, 2011, Sunday, Soulforce will join with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to engage in a non-violent act of resistance to the exportation of homophobia and religious bigotry to Uganda by Lou Engle, evangelist and founder of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and The Call. We will be joined by volunteers from the organization EQUAL of Kansas City, Missouri, volunteers who conducted a highly visible public protest of Mr. Engle’s activities last December, 2010. 


UPDATE – FEBRUARY 17, 2011: As of today, Lou Engle has agreed to meet with a group representing HRC and Soulforce at a date to be determined. HRC and Soulforce look forward to meeting with Engle and directly communicating their concerns about his radical views, and urge him to immediately make two statements on record: one opposing the criminalization of homosexuality in any country, and another, delivered on Ugandan soil, explicitly opposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  In the meantime, Sunday’s scheduled vigil and delivery of petitions will go forward as planned in order to educate the public about the horrific situation in Uganda and the role American evangelicals have played in escalating it.


We will deliver a petition with 36,000 signatures calling for the end of USA supported ministries in Uganda that catalyze harm and death to LGBTQ people. We will join in a vigil outside the church during worship services at IHOP, awaiting Mr. Engle’s response to our letter request to dialogue about the horrific treatment of LGBTQ Ugandans arising out of USA broadcasts and on-site religious propaganda.

We want to thank the United Nations Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights for its groundbreaking work in Uganda in defending the worth and dignity of all people, particularly members of the LGBTQ community. Friends and allies of LGBTQ people are invited to join together on the sidewalk in front of the International House of Prayer (3535 Red Ride Road) at 7:45am on Sunday morning.

SCHEDULE
7:45 am – Vigil begins on sidewalk in front of the International House of Prayer
10:15 am – Sunday Worship
12:30 pm – Press Conference

The International House of Prayer is located at 3535 E Red Ridge Road, Kansas City, MO 64137.
Limited parking is available across from IHOP and in the surrounding residential areas east and west of IHOP

Please check out our Facebook event, and rsvp to attend this action.

For those interested in attending the action, we will be having an important call – in training and briefing about our schedule for this action and the non-violent principles by which we operate. This call will take place at 7:30pm EST on Thursday, February 17th. We ask that when you join the call, you not announce yourself and place your devices on mute. There may be a large number of participants, and this will make the call more functional. The call will last about an hour, and will be informational. A period for questions and feedback will take place after the briefing and training. A copy of our source material for the presentation can be downloaded here.  Participants are encouraged to read over this presentation and follow along throughout the call.

 Conference Call details
1. Call (712) 451-6050 prior to 7:30pm EST.
2. Dial our conference code: 1007067# to connect.
3. Place phone on mute to eliminate background noise.

We are dedicated to ending the exportation of bigotry and spiritual violence. We also want to honor and keep in remembrance those whose lives have been taken in Uganda, including most recently David Kato.

Please make plans to join us in Kansas City. Even if you can’t be with us in person, you can still aid this and other important programs by donating today!

Please pass this information along to all of your friends and folks who live in the Kansas City area!

Video references

Below are a series of videos from Rachael Maddow’s show which give more information and shed light into the on-going situation. We invite you to spend 30 minutes watching them if you haven’t already.

 

 

Mel White Speaking Engagement in Southern California

Covenant Network : The Future of LGBT Issues."
March 4-6, 2011
St. Mark Presbyterian Church
Newport Beach, CA

The Rev. Dr. Mel White, author of Stranger at the Gate and founder of Soul Force, provides the keynote.  The Rev. Mary Lynn Tobin, pastor of Davis [CA] Community Church and Covenant Network Co-Moderator, preaches the opening worship.

Together we’ll consider such issues as

  • Same-sex marriage
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Anti-bullying and hate crimes legislation
  • The Employee Non-Discrimination Act
  • Adoption by LGBT persons
  • The Presbyterian Constitution’s paragraph G-6.0106b (the ‘fidelity and chastity’ amendment)

Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo breaks silence on the murder of David Kato

The Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, retired Anglican bishop of West Buganda issued his first public statement today on the recent murder of human rights advocate David Kato. The bishop worked with Kato through Integrity Uganda and the Civil Society Coalition (composed of 34 human rights organizations including the St. Paul’s Centre for Reconciliation and Equality, headed by the bishop). Both men were pictured on the front page of the controversial Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone" where the names and addresses of leading LGBT Ugandans and allies were exposed and called for their execution. Kato was one of the plaintiffs in the case that successfully brought a court injunction to stop the paper’s publication.

Bishop Christopher (79) retired ten years ago and opened a counseling center in Kampala where he began to offer pastoral care to marginalized people including the LGBT community and has been an advocate for decriminalization of homosexuality in Uganda and around the world. The bishop recently attended a UN consultation of faith communities gathered in New York where the call for decriminalization gained support from many faith leaders.

The bishop’s statement is an open letter to the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and fellow bishops of the 70 million strong Anglican Communion. The statement calls for the Anglican Church to be more aggressive in its protection of human rights, particularly in Africa where significant support for continued criminalization of homosexuality is coming from religious leaders. The Anglican Church of Uganda with its 10 million members has been supportive of the recent Bahati Bill which is proposing more harsh sentences and calls for family members to report on suspected LGBT people. The Church has made public statements where they are critical of applying internationally recognized human rights standards to the LGBT community in Uganda. The bishop joins other Anglican bishops including three bishops in New York who responded to the Kato murder with a similar call for greater religious advocacy in the face of anti-gay legislation and increasing violence.

Further information on the bishop’s statement and his work through the St. Paul’s Centre in Kampala may be obtained from Rev. Canon Albert Ogle at aogle@stpaulsfoundation.com or 949 338 8830. You can read the full letter on our site.

Please sign this petition calling on US-based pastors and orgnizations to stop their support of violent rhetoric & legislation in Uganda

Open Letter from Bishop Christopher Senyonjo to Archbishop Rowan Williams

An open letter to the Anglican Communion on the place of human rights in communities of faith by Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, Retired Bishop of West Buganda and Director of the St. Paul’s Centre for Equality and Reconciliation, Kampala. February 8th 2011

Dear Archbishop Rowan Williams, Primates and fellow bishops, clergy and people of our diverse Anglican Communion.

Peace from God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I give thanks on behalf of the family and friends of David Kato for your love and prayers at this difficult time. All over the world, human beings are longing for liberation, love, respect and the dignity to have meaningful lives. This week alone, we witnessed it in Egypt .We also see this longing in the struggle for human rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGBT) through the sacrificial life and death of David Kato. As human beings, we must respect our differences and be united in our call for listening and sharing with each other. To understand God, we are all called to understand the mystery of each other, including our sexualities. God has given us this gift and to defame, condemn, imprison and kill human beings because of their God-given nature, is a great human error. The church has a tragic history of condemning Jews, Moslems, scientists and LGBT people. Our teaching and theology has a causal effect and if we do not learn from our own historical mistakes, we will repeat the same sinful destruction of lives, families and communities.

When European churches failed to protect minority communities during World War II, people were sent to the gas chambers and concentration camps.  Many religious people in Europe emerged from that experience to help create the Declaration of Human Rights. We now have sixty years of building an internationally recognised framework for the protection of human rights in every country.  If Anglicans in one country dehumanize, persecute and imprison minorities, we must be true to the Gospel and challenge such assaults on basic human rights. They key to our ministry must be to educate our people and encourage LGBT people to tell their stories and the impact of homophobia in their lives. Listening to the stories of LGBT people was the beginning of my own transformation. This work of understanding the phenomenon of human sexuality should be taken seriously in our theological seminaries and schools. The clergy should be well equipped to serve and not to ignorantly repel the people of God. A required course in Human Sexuality should be required of all seminarians and clergy.

Many African countries imprison LGBT people because of who they are.  As a bishop in the midst of those countries, I am now a shepherd caring for the lost sheep that are persecuted by the Church and threatened by a pending anti-homosexual draconian bill in Uganda. I preach the new covenant of Jesus Christ sealed in love as we read in John 15:12. This is the heart of the Gospel-the Good News. This sacrifice of Love is mocked when sister churches tolerate or promote the violation of basic human rights. Life and liberty are at risk and we must hold each other accountable. A loving Anglican Communion should not keep quiet when the Rolling Stone tabloid in Uganda openly supports the "hanging of the homos," including a fellow bishop who pleads for their inclusion and non-discrimination! Silence has the power to kill. We have witnessed its destruction this past week in the tragic and cruel murder of David Kato.

We African Anglicans have a rich and powerful history of speaking out on human rights in the most difficult of situations.  Bishop Colenso worked with Zulus to establish an indigenous church while being fought by his fellow English bishops.  Bishops Trevor Huddleston, John Taylor and Desmond Tutu resisted Apartheid. We must not demean our great tradition by oppressing LGBT minorities under any circumstances, even to maintain Anglican unanimity. The criminalization of homosexuality remains the greatest state and church sanctioned violence perpetrated against LGBT people and their allies in many countries. We must agree to demolish all forms of institutional homophobia beginning with the removal of all laws that punish human beings for being gay or living in loving relationships. This will be the first step in providing basic human rights to a largely invisible international community who live in daily fear of their lives.

So in thanksgiving for the unity and commitment we have together, let us continue to listen to one another, to protect the vulnerable and marginalized within our own societies and to bring our collective wisdom to the work of repairing the world and correcting the great injustices in our local communities.

+Christopher

Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo

Further information on the work of the St. Paul’s Centre and Bishop Christopher may be obtained from Rev. Canon Albert Ogle at aogle@stpaulsfoundation.com. 619 338 8830

Please sign this petition calling on US-based pastors and orgnizations to stop their support of violent rhetoric & legislation in Uganda

Black & LGBTQI Timeline

Our executive director, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love developed Black & LGBTQI Timeline for Metropolitan Community Churches.

This project honors the lives and contributions of Black & LGBTQI people who have served as lay and clergy leaders for the movement and ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.  The project has two aspects: Creation of a timeline of contributions of Black & LGBTQI people adapted from the Black History Project and MCC’s own Oral History and Archives Project titled "In Our Own Words – MCC".

A brief narrative drawn from the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. of a "world house" and the story of one of our clergy leaders, Rev. Carolyn Mobley.
We hope that the time line and the narrative will encourage you to visit "In Our Own Words – MCC" and add your own story and that of people you know who have contributed so much to our work worldwide.

View the timeline on MCC’s "In Our Own Words" site

UN Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights: A growing coalition for decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity

The United Nations Faith Coalition for Human Rights mourns the loss of our friend and colleague, David Kato, who was murdered in his home at mid-day on January 26, 2011, in Uganda. David was a leading advocate for the rights of sexual minorities in his country and around the world. He was outspoken, courageous and incisive. His persona, spirit, intelligence and wit animated our lives and our Coalition’s collective pursuit of equality and justice for all people.
David’s death comes days after winning a law suit against Rolling Stone newspaper in Uganda for the publication of his name, photograph and address in a list of "Top 100 Homosexuals" with a hangman’s noose next to the pictures.

Over the last year David and others fought the "kill the gays" bill which is still pending in the Ugandan Parliament. Conservative Christians worked hand-in-glove in the planning of this bill and Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who describes himself as a devout Christian, said in a quote in the New York Times, "Homosexuals can forget about human rights."

Frank Mugisha, head of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) said, "The international community must not ignore David’s Kato’s death which is one more sign of rising persecution and genocide. LGBT people are fleeing from their homes in fear for their lives. People of good will must speak out."
The Coalition urges news coverage of and participation in the following vigils:

  • Feb 3-4 p.m. — United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York
  • Feb 3-6-8 a.m. — "Breakfast without Bigotry" Wash. DC, Hilton Hotel 1919 Connecticut Avenue NW
  • Feb 7-7 p.m. — Rev. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church,132 Odell Clark Place (W 138th St) NYC

David’s life must not be in vain. As faith leaders and citizens, we must respond to David’s murder. Change will only happen when people of good conscience everywhere stand up and say, "I know someone who is gay, I know someone who is transgender. Let them live their lives in peace with full rights of citizens and the same protection of laws as I have."

Pastor Joseph Tolton, of The Fellowship, said, "As part of the African Diaspora, we are saying out loud, that when any of us are targeted, we are all at risk."
We know that people from the United States with tax exemptions use their anti-gay brand of religion to raise money and feed the frenzy of anti-gay rhetoric that led to David’s death. Those same preachers will deny any connection to the horrific murder of David, but they cannot erase their broadcasts and stadium events that demonize gay people. This must stop.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, from Uganda, said, "As a straight ally to LGBT people, I see the growing persecution of people because of who they are and who they love, in part, because Evangelicals from the USA come to Uganda and preach against LGBT people. This divides families, communities and countries."
Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, said, "We call upon our colleagues in ministry who have contributed to the rise of violence against gay and transgender people in Uganda and around the world to repent of their preaching and public pronouncements that being gay is a sin or an illness that can be ‘cured.’ These untruths distort family and community relationships, encourage violence and, when unchecked, result in murder." Dr. Love is the Executive Director of Soulforce and member of the Human Rights Campaign Religion Council,

We call on the leaders of all nations to use the power of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, international treaties and economic aid to defend sexual minorities throughout the world. Uganda and other nations receive millions of aid dollars from the US, and persecute gay citizens for no other reason than their expression of love for someone of the same gender. 120 nations imprison or execute gay people and one third of them recently received economic aid from the US.

We call on President Obama to use his presence at the National Prayer Breakfast to mourn our brother and to express his Administration’s position on governments who "fail to protect" their citizens and tax-exempt Christian institutions who export hate and fear.

We call on all countries to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles which say, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse."

The United Nations Faith Coalition for Human Rights is a growing network of thousands of people of faith around the world who work for respect, inclusion, equality and human rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.