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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
Texas Judge Says MCC is Not Acceptable
According to the
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan
Community Churches (UFMCC), a district judge in the
Texas court system has officially ruled that the
predominately-gay denomination is not an acceptable
church for a child.
The ruling came during a custody ruling as part of
the divorce proceedings between the child's lesbian
mother and her husband. "I'm holding the judge's order
in my hand and reading and re-reading his words. Ican
hardly believe what I am seeing," said the Rev. Troy
D. Perry, moderator of more that 300 MCC congregations.
Judge Keith Nelson, of the 78th Judicial District of
Texas, wrote: "The primary issue is where the child
would attend Sunday school and church... the intent
was for mainline churches to be utilized in the
religious training of the daughter. This would include
the Catholic Church, and churches in the Protestant
faith such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist,
Christian, Episcopalian, which are considered to be
the standard religious institutions in the Protestant
field. The Metropolitan Community Church does not fall
within this category."
"This is a violation of the First Amendment protections
to freedom of religion," said Perry. "We have
joined hands with the
National Center for Lesbian Rights
to fight this injustice and protct the constitutional
rights of this lesbian mother and her child... This
is not only shocking, it's an attack on GLBT families
and people of faith. Because we're gay or lesbian,
this homophobic, sexist judge feels he can decided
by official government decree which churches or
synagogues are 'acceptable' and which are not. What
in God's name will it take to get the government
out of our lives-or from attempting to control our
The lesbian mother says she tried to comply with the
ruling and attend the types of churches listed in
the order. "We never felt comfortable in those
places," she said, her name being withheld to protect
her daughter's legal rights. "My heart almost broke
when my daughter begged me to take her back to the
"I am asking all people of goodwill to support this
case. And I encourage those who believe in prayer, to
remember this courageous mother and her beautiful
young daughter with their prayers, said Perry.
According to perry, an appeal of the judge's decision
was filed in the Texas court system Friday, April 23.
The UFMCC Legal Defense Fund, 8704 Santa Monica
Boulevard, 2nd Floor, West Hollywood, CA 90069 is
accepting donations (made out to UFMCC), "to fight
for this lesbian mother's rights and against this
In All Things Charity
Rev. Greg Dell, who will be suspended as a United
Methodist pastor effective July 5 for performing
his thirty-third same-sex union, has appealed his
conviction. He will become director of
In All Things Charity (IATC) when his suspension
takes effect. IATC is a national movement begun in
1977 to protest the UMC's negative policies on
sexual orientation. Its work is directed toward
influencing the denomination's General Conference in
May of 200 in coalition with the three other national
groups which are working on these issues.
In an open letter to the Northern Illinois Conference,
the congregation of
Broadway UMC stated, in part,
"We are committed to continuing our ministry to all
people in celebration of their diversity. We
are committed to being 'salt and light,' first in our
own neighborhoods, then to the greater community,
and finally to the world. The suspension of our
pastor will not change who we are or the connection
we have to our community. We are also committed
to facilitating change within our denomination so that
Pastor Dell's vital ministry can continue and he can
return as our pastor. We do not want other pastors
like Greg Dell and congregations like ours to face
the same injustice that we have--too many have suffered
too much already."
Rev. Dell noted that the Spring membership class at
Broadway, usually between four and ten people, has
twenty-seven people this year.
That All May Freely Serve
The executive committee of the General Assembly
Council of the
Presbyterian Church (USA)
voted on April 26 to allow the Rev. Jane A. Spahr of
TAMFS (That All May Freely Serve),
to be one of three
recipients of the Women of Faith awards for 1999.
The steering committee of the National Ministries
Division had overturned her selection because "To
recognize her would appear to endorse the position
for which she's been advocating.
TAMFS advocates for an inclusive church that honors
diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender persons as full members, including
eligibility for ordination to the offices of elder,
deacon, and pastor. It was formed six years ago after
a Permanent Judicial Commission ruling that Rev.
Spahr could not be installed as co-pastor at
Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY,
because she is a lesbian. Since them, evangelists
have also been hired by TAMFS affiliates in New York,
Baltimore, and Chicago.
A Massachusets Family Institute
letter was sent by
Focus on the Family
to pastors in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and
Rhode Island, urging them to "get involved in this
landmark battle to protect marriage," claiming same-sex
marriage legalization would lead to a "concerted effort
to use sate and federal civil rights laws to
criminalize traditional views of homosexuality;"
persecution of churches and other religious organizations
that refuse to recognize homosexual marriages;" and
"increased pressure on faith-based organizations to
revise their teaching and policies on homosexuality
or fae the loss of public funds or non-profit status."
Mike Gabbard, charman of the Alliance for Traditional
Marriage Hawaii, wrote a letter sent to all Vermont
households saying the people of Hawaii and Vermont
are "accepting of others as individuals and place
a high value on matters of fairness and compassion;"
and urging them to defeat same-gender marriage.
Citizens for Community Values of Ohio
spent about $40,000 on the mailing.
Other United Methodist News
The Rev. Jimmy Creech has performed another same-sex
union ceremony, this time in Chapel Hill, NC.
The Center for Religion and the News Media organized
a conference in Evanston, Illinois: "The Minister, the
Media and the Message: An Examination of the Media
Coverage of the March 1999 Trial of the Rev. Gregory
Dell," which featured three panels of journalists,
Methodist officials and members of gay and lesbian
organizations. The Burlington Free Press wrote
about disagreements between UMC clergy in Vermont
following Dell's conviction.
The North Carolina House of Representatives
killed a bill to expand hate crimes legislation
to include sexual orientation, gender, age and
disability. A hate crime bill appears to be
advancing in Texas. The New Hampshire legislature
repealed the ban on adoption and foster-parenting
by same-gender couples.
Orthodox and Conservative Rabbis
The Forward (a New York Jewish weekly)
reported an Orthodox rabbi coming out; a petition
by Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary
students to admit gay and lesbian students; and a
push by some Conservative rabbis for the Rabbinical
Assembly to say it does not discriminate based on
orientation in placement and hiring.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that
has agreed to pay
Christ's Bride Ministries
of McLean, VA $165,000 after the Supreme Court let
stand a ruling that SEPTA had violated their free
speech by pulling their ads linking abortion and
breast cancer (characterized by a federal health
official as inaccurate and unduly alarming). The
Inquirer said we may see more ads this summer.
Pittsburgh Hunger Strike
Eighteen students at the University of Pittsburgh
began a hunger strike April 12 to get Pitt to give
health benefits to domestic partners of gay employees,
according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A complaint was filed with the city's Human Relation
Commission, saying it was in violation of the
city's non-discrimination ordinance. The university
said the city has no authority to enforce the law since
the state non-discrimination law does not include
orientation. After seventeen days the students ended
the hunger strike, beginning a sit-in outside the
university trustees office.
The Last Session
The Last Session (a musical about AIDS,
orientation, and Christianity) just won five awards
from the L.A. Drama Critics Circle (including best
book, music, and lyrics), and at the GLAAD Media
Awards, Best L.A. Production. Songwriter Steve
Schalchlin is webmaster of
Living in the
Bonus Round, which includes his
diary of life with AIDS, and discussion of AIDS,
orientation and religion.
Congregation Mishkan Shalom,
Rabbi Brian Walt of Congregation Mishkan Shalom,
and Rabbi Liz Rolle of
Congregation Beth Ahavah
will be added with the
next printing of the letterhead. In 1995 we had
ten Names! Now: eleven congregations, six religious
organizations and sixty-four clergy from fifteen