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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
We ask that your prayers and good wishes be with the Rev.
Steven Paul Sabin of the
Lord of Life Lutheran Church
in Ames, Iowa,
and with all
sexual minority clergy who follow their call to service despite
the opposition of official denominational policy.
The Rev. Philip L. Hougan, bishop of the
Southeastern Iowa Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
has requested that a discipline hearing committee impose
upon the Rev. Sabin the disciplinary action of removal from
the ordained ministry because he "has persisted for more than
five years in an active homosexual relationship with a male partner."
Religious Right Attacks Troy Perry in Press
President Clinton invited Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the
Universal Fellowship of
Metropolitan Community Churches,
to the November 20 Presidential Breakfast for Religious Leaders.
The Family Research Council,
the Institute on
Religion and Democracy and
Americans for Truth
asked the president to uninvite him (he went).
The FRC news release, "President Clinton to Honor Homosexual
Minister Who Advocates for Sadistic Sex," said the UFMCC and
Perry "celebrate violent and degrading sexual practices."
The UFMCC response:
Los Angeles, November 19, 1997 -- We are deeply saddened by the
hostile attacks by the so-called Religious Right upon the
only gay Rev. Troy D. Perry, founder and moderator of the
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, in
response to the White House's invitation to participate in the
Presidential breakfast for American religious leaders on Nov. 20
at the White House. This is another instance in which the Religious
Right is simply wrong.
The news release issued by the Family Research Council and Americans
for Truth is full of misstatements and untruths which are designed
to inflame and divide the American public. For the past three
decades, the Rev. Mr. Perry and the churches of the UFMCC have offered
positive, affirming Christian spirituality to gays, lesbians,
bisexuals, and transgendered persons.
The Rev. Mr. Perry's work and ministry have been recognized by
awards from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights
Campaign and numerous civil rights organizations. He served with
distinction on the Los Angeles Human Rights Commission. His
pioneering work in the field of gay spirituality has furthered a
a dialog of understanding within mainline Christian and Jewish
The more than 42,000 members of the UFMCC, and the 225,000 gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgendered persons who find hope, faith, and
spirituality within UFMCC congregations each year, are eloquent
testimony to the Rev. Mr. Perry's mission.
Attacks of this nature remind us why the churches of the UFMCC are
often referred to as "spiritual outposts" for the gay community.
As Rev. Perry's participation last week in the White House
Conference on Hate Crimes confirmed, gays and lesbians comprise
one of the last minority groups in America for which hate and
discrimination are still socially acceptable by too many of our
This Month's Editorial Debate
This month's theological wrangling over sexual orientation in the
columns, letters, and editorials of many of the nation's newspapers
was brought on by the White House conference on hate crimes and the
President's speech to the Human Rights Campaign. Meanwhile letters
about Catholic policy (Always Our Children) were still being
published, especially in cities like Philadelphia with socially
conservative bishops, where official local clarifications to
Always Our Children were published, followed by responses
to the clarifications.
Marriage and United Methodists
Emory University has come up with a compromise plan
regarding the use of its chapel for same-sex union ceremonies.
There was some controversy over the question because Emory is a
institution and such services reportedly may not be performed by
United Methodist Clergy or in United Methodist churches.
The new policy states that clergy affiliated with the university
belonging to denominations that permit same-gender ceremonies
will be allowed to hold such ceremonies for individuals who are
also affiliated with the university. According to the AP, the
Emory chaplain said that this would effectively mean that
only the local
and United Church of Christ pastor
would be allowed to conduct unions.
In Omaha, the Rev. Jimmy Creech reports that Bishop Martinez
has suspended him from all clergy responsibilities for sixty
days effective November 10 for performing a covenant ceremony.
Rev. Creech believes the suspension is due to negative pressure
from within the
and around the country.
He is uncertain what will happen after the 60 days are up.
Edgehill United Methodist Church
in Nashville has
decided that until the United Methodist Church allows gay
marriages, no marriage ceremonies will be permitted in their
chapel. The AP story about the church also mentioned the
same-gender marriage policies of other Christian denominations
and quoted the Rev. Jan Nunley
an Episcopal Priest in Rhode Island and
contributor to the IWG web page)
who performs marriage ceremonies but will not sign licenses
until civil same-gender marriages are legalized.
Bishops Not Overly Excited
The Catholic News service interviewed
Catholic Bishops about
their reaction to ABC's Nothing Sacred. The
American Family Association
are boycotting the critically-acclaimed but low-rated
hour-long drama because they say it defames Catholics
specifically and Christianity in general. Most
of the bishops couldn't understand what all the fuss
was about, and some of them really liked it. They
also said they were moved by the overwhelmingly positive
response to their pastoral letter.
According to the St, Paul Pioneer Press, members of
Wisconsin Christians United
have held informational picketing on the subjects of abortion
and homosexuality on two separate occasions outside two
high schools in Eu Claire, Wisconsin because "these young people
have the right to hear the other side of the argument." Signs
carried outside Memorial High School reportedly said "Homosexuals --
repent or perish." The students' reaction was characterized as
The Family Research Council,
which issues press releases for all occasions, used the Hate
Crimes Conference as an opportunity to point to
as an example of hate, as opposed to those (like the FRC) who
only oppose homosexual activism (and disparage Troy Perry
and UFMCC in press releases --
see story above).
Phelps picketed Philadelphia churches this summer during the
Episcopal Convention, and was expected at the President's speech
to the Human Rights Campaign, the Hate Crimes Conference, and the
Catholic Bishops Fall Meeting as well.
Exodus 2000 is being bandied about as a plan to pull the children
of all conservative Christians out of public school by the year 2000. It was
mentioned in passing at the
Concerned Women for America
conference and Cal Thomas wrote about it in his syndicated column,
which was his response to the President's call for diversity
education. Those interested in the ongoing battle over
terminology will note that public school opponents, including
Thomas, are now using the phrase "government schools."
The Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana, ran an
editorial on the same day as the Thomas column, condemning his
"subtle semantic attack" against public education, and saying
"If these social conservatives have their way, the free, public
education system that built the world's most influential
democracy and its strongest economy will be lost in a snit over
the teaching of evolution and of tolerance for gay people."
Exodus 2000 has been endorsed by Cal Thomas,
D. James Kennedy,
and Tim LeHay. The founder is E. Ray Moore Jr. of South Carolina,
who bills himself as a Bible Teacher, Army Reserve Chaplain, and
Campaign Consultant for Dan Quayle,
Pat Robertson, and others.
Call Your Congressman?
American Family Association and the
Christian Family Network,
possibly alarmed by the thought that Congress might have useful
business to attend to, sent out alerts urging folks to call their
elected representatives because Ellen DeGeneres was a guest host
on the PBS children's shows Sesame Street and Storytime.
Federal Benefits Bill
Rep. Barney Frank has introduced HR-2761, which would change the
laws regulating the Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal
Employees Group Life Insurance programs to provide coverage for
for same-gender partners who certify that they are in a
"committed, intimate relationship" with their partner. The
Christian Family Network
alert listed 11 major organizational endorsers, including the
United Church of Christ,
followed by the warning "If this bill is made law, our nation
will have unequivocally condoned this form of immorality and
we will have effectively turned our back on God."
Family Circle ran an article by Karen Santorum
(wife of Senator Rick Santorum) about her faith-based decision
not to abort a pregnancy that almost cost her her
Catholics For a Free Choice
suggested to the editors that since this is a complex issue
about which there is a diversity of religious opinion, they would
be doing their readers a great service by letting them read the
story of a religious family who reached a different conclusion.
CFFC even provided a testimony that Family Circle could use.