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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
Reform Judaism and the Boy Scouts of America
On January 5 Rabbi Dan Polish and Judge David
Davidson, the director and chair of the
Joint Commission on Social Action, sent a
UAHC congregations regarding further participation in
the Boy Scouts of America (BSA),
which says in part:
"In light of the Supreme Court decision, many congregations
have asked us for further guidance in responding to the latest
developments. While we maintain our hope that the Boy Scouts of
America will abandon its discriminatory policies, its lack of
response to the many expressions of disagreement and
disappointment with the policies gives us little basis for optimism.
Therefore, and with pain, we must recommend that congregations
sponsor ing/housing troops/packs withdraw sponsorship of a
troop/pack and/or stop housing one.
"If a congregation or congregational affiliate that sponsors or
houses a Boy Scout troop/Cub Scout pack shares our conclusion
that working from within the Boy Scouts of America is no longer a
viable or productive option, it may wish to sever those ties as
incompatible with our consistent belief that every
individual--regardless of his or her sexual orientation--is created
in the image of God and is deserving of equal treatment. If it does
so, we encourage the congregation or congregational affiliate to
make the action and the rationale known to the Boy Scouts of
America and to the public as a means of education on this issue.
"In addition, we recommend that parents with children in
non-Reform affiliated troops withdraw their children from
troops/packs. We recognize the difficulty of this parental decision,
yet we also understand that many individuals find it impossible to
reconcile the Boy Scout's discriminatory policy with our Reform
Jewish values regarding gay and lesbian equality. Parents'
decisions may be influenced by the response of the leadership of the
troops/packs to which their children belong to the position of the
The memo lists eight other possible responses,
including: publicly amend the local charter; withdraw
financial support of the BSA; continue official protests to
the BSA; continue personal protests to the BSA,
renounce personal ties with the BSA; publicly create
programs for Boy Scout troops/Cub Scout packs and for
congregations as a whole to combat the message sent by
the BSA; create and work within coalitions; and
encourage participation in other groups instead of the
Media Reaction to the Reform Judaism BSA Memo
A New York Times article called the dispute "a clear
culture clash between a traditional organization that
views homosexuality as a threat to 'family values' and a
minority religious group that sees discrimination against
gays as a violation of civil rights," and noted that Rabbi
Paul Menitoff, executive vice president of the
Conference of American Rabbis, was "one of several
Reform rabbis" who have returned Eagle Scout badges.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Chicago Tribune and
Los Angeles Times interviewed local Reform rabbis. The
Miami Herald ran a story on
Temple Judea in Coral Gables, FL,
which "voted to sever ties with its
49-year-old Boy Scout troop unless its leaders reject the
national organization's stance on gay membership."
Church of Latter Day Saints
In December, a petition signed by more than three-hundred gay
and lesbian Mormons and their family members
appeared as an ad in the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The text of the petition
on Affirmation's website):
Because of the pain, indignity, humiliation and despair being
endured by hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Mormons and
their families, AND Because virtually all options extended to gay
and lesbian members by church leaders are demeaning, inhumane
and in some instances outright destructive, namely, 1) stay in the
church and live a life of fear, anxiety and frustration as a "closeted"
gay or lesbian member, 2) stay in the church as an "out"
homosexual, remain celibate and be denied one of life's most basic
needs--an intimate, loving, caring, sharing, committed relationship
with another human being, 3) leave the church, 4) be
excommunicated, or 5) commit suicide, AND Because the primary cause for
the suffering and disillusionment of this large segment of our
church community is the position taken by current church leaders
regarding homosexuality and the policies that are directed toward
gay and lesbian members of the church, WE, THE UNDERSIGNED,
PETITION YOU, THE GENERAL AUTHORITIES OF
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
TO RECONSIDER AND THEN CHANGE PRESENT CHURCH
POLICIES AS THEY PERTAIN TO HOMOSEXUALITY AND
THE STATUS OF GAY AND LESBIAN MEMBERS.
Civil Unions - Civil Rights
On January 15, the
Unions-Civil Rights Movement
began eight days of protest actions to support justice
and equality for GLBT Hawaiians, with a Martin Luther
King Day tribute and candlelight vigil at the state
capitol, followed by an eight-day march starting at the
Mohandas Gandhi statue in Waikiki and concluding with
a rally, demonstration and mass commitment ceremony in
the park next to the State Attorney General's office.
Soulforce Stage II
the second stage of their
"Stop Spiritual Violence Campaign," based on the words
of Gandhi and King: "It is as much our obligation not to
cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good."
Soulforce is asking GLBT people, friends and allies not
to give tithes, gifts, or special offerings to congregations
that are not GLBT friendly, but to give notes explaining
why they can no longer financially support untruth and
injustice, and to give the money to a GLBT-friendly
congregation or organization, or open a savings account to
be given to the congregation when they eventually do
become GLBT-friendly. Sample notes and a more detailed
explanation are available on
Soulforce and Dignity/USA
Twenty-one people from
held non-violent direct actions in Rome January 3-6,
wearing shirts that said "God's Gay Children Bring
Gifts...Bless Them." On January 3-5 they brought gifts
for orphans, AIDS patients, and battered women, waiting
at the Vatican for a priest to bless them, as is the custom,
and as they had requested. (No one did.) On January 6
(Epiphany), the end of the Church's Jubilee Year and the
ceremonial closing of the Jubilee door, they peacefully
approached the creche in St. Peter's Square to leave pictures
as gifts (as thousands of other pilgrims did) and
deliver a list of demands to Cardinal Ratzinger. GLBT
activists carried pictures of themselves; Jimmy Creech
carried a picture of Alfredo Ormando, a gay man who died
of self-immolation outside the Vatican to protest its
policies in 1998. They could not reach the creche because
police surrounded them for three hours, while they
repeated their requests to continue, told stories, sang
songs, and passed out leaflets explaining their presence.
Afterward they shook hands with police and left.
United Methodist Church
Leaders of Good News,
the Confessing Movement
filed a complaint with the UMC's financial
agency accusing the
Board of Church and Society of
violating UMC policy against using funds to promote the
"acceptance of homosexuality" because the Nov./Dec.
Christian Social Action featured articles characterized by
a Board executive as asking "for fuller inclusion of
homosexuals in the life of the United Methodist Church"
according to United Methodist News Service (UMNS).
Reporting on Duke University's allowing
same-gender weddings in their chapel, the UMNS quoted Bishop
Charlene P. Kammerer
(Western North Carolina Conference)
and Bishop Marion M. Edwards
(North Carolina Conference).
Kammerer said the policy "reflects an open
spirit of hospitality and pastoral care to the wider Duke
University community." In an
Edwards said: "While acknowledging the sacred worth of
homosexual persons and calling for their basic human rights
and civil liberties, I uphold the teaching of the church that
marriage is between one man and one woman."
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the
Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC
decided to stop
funding the interdenominational Campus Christian Community
at Mary Washington College because "the group
is too accepting of gay and lesbian students."
Rainbows in Michigan
On Dec. 19 the Traverse City (MI) Record-Eagle
reported that a new diversity logo bumper sticker,
including a six-stripe rainbow flag, would be placed on city
vehicles, and that a city commissioner proposed the idea
after seeing residents remove rainbow stickers from their
cars after attacks on gays and other minorities. On
Dec. 30, a columnist reported that the
Association had taken an interest in the stickers, the
mayor was "having second thoughts," and the police
chief was "against 'endorsing a certain lifestyle.'" On Jan.
3, the AP reported that the stickers had been removed
and the mayor "had no idea [rainbows] had anything to
do with the gay community." On Jan. 5, the Lansing
State Journal editorialized in favor of the stickers and
compared the city government's reversal to the Lansing
city government's reversal on an anti-discrimination
ordinance. On Jan. 7, a Detroit Free Press columnist wrote
in favor of the stickers claiming there was nothing
inherently gay about the rainbow flag; she also mentioned that
some groups, "even churches that celebrate the stickers'
intended message, might buy the remaining 5,000 from
the city to distribute on their own." WorldNet Daily
reported on Jan. 16 that the opposition had been
organized by a police officer who "told a local Christian
radio station he found it 'offensive driving a vehicle
proclaiming [the homosexual] lifestyle;'" that a Human
Rights Commission investigation of the officer was called
off when a lawsuit against the city was threatened; and
that the stickers had been removed "on advice of the city
attorney, who said their presence on city-owned property
would require the government to allow stickers from
other groups of people as well." And finally, WorldNet
Daily also reported that an anti-gay ballot initiative was
being circulated in response to the stickers, and had been
Martin Luther King Day, because "gay
rights" policies discriminate against people of faith.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
On December 3 St.
Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church (St. Paul, MN)
approved constitutional changes
allowing the them to call a pastor outside the guidelines
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(which bans ordination of gay or lesbian candidates living in
committed relationships). The congregation voted 176-0
to authorize the Congregational Council to ordain and
install Anita Hill. The ELCA rejected Hill's
application for call and
ordination despite meeting all other requirements under
ELCA guidelines. The resolution approving the call says:
"...our congregation can no longer, in good conscience,
comply with the ELCA's policy because it is unjust, at
odds with the message of the Gospel and has been a
source of suffering since its adoption, both for gifted gay
and lesbian candidates for ordination as well as all church
members who are deeply offended by the 'second class'
status implicit in the ELCA's policy which allows
ordination of only celibate gays or lesbians."
Metropolitan Community Church
Two same-gender couples married by Rev. Brent
MCC of Toronto
were issued licenses under
an Ontario law that lets houses of worship issue licenses
if an announcement is read three times before the wedding.
The Toronto Sun says the Ontario government
announced that they will not register the marriage, though
"the Ontario marriage act does not specify that marriage
must be between a male and a female." The story was
widely reported and debated in Canadian newspapers.
Boy Scouts of America, Mormons, and the NCCJ
The Las Vegas Sun reported that local Mormons may
pull out of the
National Conference for Community and
Justice after the NCCJ issued a statement against the Boy
Scouts of America's discrimination. The paper reported
that the statement said in part: "NCCJ believes that the
Boy Scouts should not receive further support from the
government until they change their policies towards gays,
and that the millions of alumni and current members of
the Boy Scouts need to stand up and speak out against
their organization's stance on gays."
Each year we have a
service on Martin Luther King
Day, a concert in late May or early June,
the Pride Parade
in mid-June, and the AIDS Walk in October. Most
years we cosponsor two or three other events as well. If
you send us your email addresses and fax numbers, we
will send you four to seven advance notices a year.
You Can Help!
Purchases of XL IWG-logo T-shirts ($15 by mail) and
tax-deductible donations are always appreciated.
Creationism in Pennsylvania?
and the ACLU of PA
that religious belief could be taught as science under
new proposed PA science education guidelines letting
schools "analyze the impact of new scientific facts on the
theory of evolution" and present theories that "do or do
not support the theory of evolution." The Philadelphia
Inquirer quoted State Rep. Samuel Rhorer: "Evolution is
a religious tenet--it's a tenet of secular humanism, and of
Marxism and Communism." The
IWG letter to Dr. James
Gallagher, chair of the State Board of Education, said:
"Teaching tenets of faith as fact in public schools is a clear
violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment of the
U.S. Constitution. Teaching religious views of creation will require
selecting a subset of religious beliefs to teach, thus favoring or
appearing to favor those religions chosen. Emphasizing the creation
stories of those religions will present an inaccurate and biased view
of those religions to the students. Science teachers are not trained
to teach religion, and will either do a bad job of it, or stick to
religions they themselves know best. Teaching religion in science
classes takes time away from teaching science. Equating faith and
scientific method is a disservice to faith, to science, and to the
students the schools are supposed to be educating."
Rev. Barry Lynne (Americans United) wrote to
Gallagher: "If local school districts follow these standards
--and alter their curriculum to conform to religious tenets
--lawsuits are certain to result. We strongly urge you not
to give bad advice to school administrators and science
teachers through poorly worded science standards."