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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
The Winsconsin Supreme Court ruled the state
can issue vouchers for religious schools.
The state would be "forcing taxpayers to support
private religious education," according to Barry
W. Lynn (Exec. Dir.,
"Todays ruling strikes at the heart of the First
Amendment, ignores the language of the state
constitution and overlooks every other court
ruling on public funding of religion." Lynn
also noted that the ruling is not in line with
decisions in Ohio, Vermont and Maine which struck
down religious school vouchers.
has urged Philadelphia and
suburban districts to pay parents for Catholic
school tuition to relieve public school
overcrowding and make up for
parochial school underenrollment. That these
schools offer very specific religious training
is downplayed by the Cardinal.
Religious groups in June's Philadelphia Diversity
of Pride Parade included
Congregation Beth Ahavah
(with Bishop Righter and his wife,
plus priests and layity from
St. Luke and the Epipheny
and MCC Philadelphia.
Walking with the IWG were folks from supporting
Tabernacle United Church
Methodist Federation for Social Action
(Eastern PA Conference), plus Kaatryn and
Phoenix MacMorgan from Religion: Other
(an alliance of Alternative Religion). Kaatryn
also had an excellent school prayer letter published
in the Philadelphia Daily News on June 20.
Lott amd Armey Dominate News
A big story this month was Trent Lott and Dick
Armey calling homosexuality a sin and illness.
The comments were the subject of editorials,
letters and political cartoons around the country.
Religious Right organizations called White House
spokesman Mike McMurray's comments about Lott's
remarks ("backwards" and "incorrect") anti-Christian,
though it was clear McMurray was specifically
referring to the classification of homosexuality
as a disease. The media went to the
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
for a religious response, and the Rev. Michael Piazza
Cathedral of Hope
was interviewed in the Dallas press. THe church
issued a press release inviting Lott and Armey
to worship with them. The media missed that Lott
and Armey are listed by the
First Amendment Studies (IFAS) as Council
for National Policy (CNP) members.
Southern Baptists Define Family
The second biggest religion story was the statement
Southern Baptist Convention
defining the family.
Rev. Marcia Bailey of
Central Baptist in Wayne,
an American Baptist,
was interviewed for the Philadelphia Daily News
front page story. The Convention's statement brings
their definition of family very much in line with that
and attendees were praised for their actions in
Focus on the Family's
James Dobson, who originally funded
and is their publisher.
Dobson is also listed by
IFAS as a member
of the CNP.
The third major story involved Orlando, FL, where
a local group paid to hang rainbow flags from
street lights after
threatened to disrupt Gay Days at Disney World.
The Operation Rescue effort put all of between
seven and twelve protesters at Disney World, according
to various news reports. Operation Rescue is better
known for blockading women's health clinics, but
after losing the
v. Scheidler case in April, a change in focus was
announced. On the
founder Pat Robertson reacted to the rainbow flags.
His actual words are in dispute, and whether he
was promising or speculating, but the remarks
involved the possibility of hurricanes and terrorist
bombs damaging Orlando because of the flags. A
19-year-old was charged with ripping down at least
25 of the flags; his sister was quoted in the
Orlando Sentinel, saying that Robertson's
remarks had worried her brother.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbyterian Church (USA)
met in June and took no action to
change the section of the Book of Order added
last year to prevent ordination of sexual minorities.
An overture from the
Presbytery of Milwaukee
to strike the new language completely was rejected.
Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns and the
More Light Churches Network will become a single
organization in January:
More Light Presbyterians.
United Methodist Church
California-Pacific Annual Conference
United Methodist Church
(four-hundred and seven churches in Southern
California, Hawaii, Saipan, and Guam) voted
to make their churches "welcoming" to all
people regardless of sexual orientation.
The terminology was apparently chosen to avoid
either the "reconciling" or "transforming"
designation. The highest court of the UMC will
meet August 7-8 in Dallas to rule on whether
performing same-sex unions is a chargeable offense.
American Family Association
has added a section to their web page about
the same-sex union debate in the UMC, including
that 120 clergy signed a statement indicating
a willingness to perform same-sex unions.
Reformed Church in America
According to the Grand Rapids Press,
Reformed Church in America
voted not to debate policies of homosexuality,
and urged general assemblies to not debate the
issue for the next two years.
Wisconsin Christians United
has five billboards around the state reading
"Homosexuality is not a family value!
Homosexuality is a sin!" According to the
Madison Capital Times, the ads were run in
June to coincide with Pride month activities.
The county executive and the mayor criticized
the billboards and expressed support for sexual
minorities. Advertising by religious and
quasi-religious organizations to debate social
issues is now more common, as seen here before the
Life Partnership vote.
The American Family Association,
specializing in media boycotts and avocating internet
censorship, was added to a list of sites blocked
by CyberPatrol, recognized as the industry leader
in in internet filtering software. Legislation is
pending in Congress to require libraries and schools
receiving federal money for internet connectivity
to install filtering software of some kind, meaning
that in many libraries and schools, AFA web pages
would be inaccessible. Blocking software is touted
as a way to keep sexual and violent images from
children, but most products block sites the producer
objects to on ideological grounds, or accidentally
block non-pornographic sites due to faulty search
criteria. AFA is marketing X-Stop, installed
in the Loudoun County, VA public library. The
library is being sued by the
who reports along with
and the San Francisco Chronicle that the
software has prevented access to
Glide Memorial UMC,
the San Francisco Chronicle,
Safer Sex page,
Banned Books Online,
Renaissance Transgender Association,
the Religious Society of Friends,
the AIDS Quilt,
Shamash (the Jewish Internet Consortium),
Planned Parent Federation
The AFA site was added to CyberPatrol's
blocked list because their committee
representative) determined they are intolerant.
The AFA objected, saying CyberPatrol did not so
classify a number of sexual minority advocacy
organizations, like GLAAD.
The original press release on the AFA website also
as a group that ought to be blocked; DQ is a
non-profit assisting other non-profits with computing
and internet needs. AFA has a web page advocating
restricting rights of individuals with a single
trait based on supposed statistical tendencies of
those sharing that trait.
Civil Marriage Update
According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the
met with conservative Protestant, Catholic and
Jewish clergy to discuss two items that will be
on the ballot in Hawaii, a constitutional amendment
to ban same-sex marriage, and a constitutional
In California, where attempts to pass legislation
banning recognition of same-gender marriages have
repeatedly failed, there is an effort to put the
question on the ballot.
Focus on the Family
mailed a letter from James Dobson urging recipients
to sign an enclosed official petition and speaking
of reaching out in love to gay people (using a
particular man from
as an example); it quotes Genesis, Leviticus, and
Romans; and cites remarks by the President; the ENDA
vote; AIDS funding; and recent court decisions
in Canada (among other things) to show the success
of a "highly coordinated international effort"
and warns of consequences to any nation that
"mocks the laws of God."
Religious Marriage Update
Over 100 San Francisco-area clergy signed a
statement saying that they had or would officiate
at religious marriages for same-gender couples.
Signers were Baptist, Episcopalian, Zen Buddhist,
Jewish (Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal),
Presbyterian, Lutheran, UMC, Unitarian Universalist,
UCC and non-denominational Christian.
The Philadelphia Daily News Father's Day
coverage featured an AP story about
Michael and Jon Gallucio (nee Holden),
under the headline, "A double-dad family: Having
won lawsuit to adopt, gay men are married in church."
Their adoption of a 2-year-old foster son prompted
changes in New Jersey adoption law. Their
relationship was blessed in a holy union ceremony
Episcopal Church of the Atonement
The Gallucios also plan to adopt an 18-month-old
According to the Bergen County Record,
Bishop Spong issued a statement that the Episcopal
Church blessing "is a symbol of the church's
recognition that life-giving relationships
that bring wholeness are holy." The
New York Times quoted Bob Knight
(Family Research Council):
"...there is nothing holy about this union. It is
a mockery of marriage."
NY Domestic Partnership
The New York City Domestic Partnership legislation,
far more extensive than Philadelphia's, passed easily.
During the debate, William Devlin, of the
Urban Family Council of Philadelphia
was interviewed at New York's City Hall. During
the vote a protest by
Jews for Morality
was covered by UPI, Reuters, the New York Post
and the Bergen County Record. About two
dozen men, Hasidic rabbis and rabbinical students
read the Torah portion about Sodom and Gommorah and
blew shofars (rams' horns). According to the UPI,
Rabbi William Handler said they asked "God to direct
His wrath against the guilty parties," and added that
"it's possible that an atomic attack could be made
by Russia or China."
Roberta Showalter Kreider, author of the essay
15 Reasons Why I Have Changed My Mind,
has edited From Wounded Hearts, Faith stories
of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people
and those who love them. The book includes
works from forty-nine people, including Krieder, local
member Helen Early, and
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert.
Thanks to all who performed, donated money,
bought advertising or tickets and/or worked at
our first Marching in the Light concert,
and especially to
First Presbyterian Church
for donating their space. We netted over a third
of our budget ($1,000.00) and all concert expenses
were more than covered by ads. The audience heard
performances by Wilbert Boone, Tom Baust, Lavinia
Wu, Kip Leitner, the Ottavino Flute Ensemble,
Daniel Howe, and the choirs of
Hanover Presbyterian (Wilmington)
Churches performing South African, jazz, classical
contemporary, Broadway and early music. PGN
covered the concert with a picture of the flute
ensemble playing "Over the Rainbow." The same issue
featured an interview with IWG supporter Rev.
Welcome to the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.!
Our number of supporters will remain the same,
however, since Rabbi Kevin Hale has left the area.