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Keeping the Faith The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
June 2002

Marriage Amendment Again

The constitutional marriage amendment, originally proposed last summer [KTF 9/01], has been introduced in the U.S. House with six co-sponsors. The introduction did not get much media coverage. Many experts think it is unlikely to pass, but we strongly urge you to tell your Representatives and Senators how you feel about legal recognition of all families.

The San Francisco Chronicle quoted the Rev. Steven Baines, of People for the American Way: "This is not the message of the Gospel of Jesus, nor the message of the Torah, nor the message of the Koran. This is a message of intolerance and injustice." The Chronicle reiterated the analysis of the ACLU that the amendment would "wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples."

Rabbi David Saperstein, of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released a statement that said in part:

"The fight for equality is uniquely tied to the history of this nation. From the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement to the gay rights movement minorities in this country have worked tirelessly to achieve equal rights as guaranteed to them by the founding vision of the United States. As long as injustice remains pervasive within our community, we will continue this fight for equality until our dream of equal rights for all is realized.

"It is this history and this sense of morality that compels me to condemn the introduction of the Federal Marriage Amendment, a thinly veiled attempt to codify homophobia. We cannot push a sizable minority of our nation's population to the periphery. We cannot send the message that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals are second-class citizens, undeserving of legal protections, benefits and equal rights.

"This Amendment is not about protecting families. Certainly my family will not be hurt by giving states the freedom to recognize the committed relationship of two loving adults. How can two loving adults coming together to form a family harm family values? Are our families and marriages and communities so fragile and shallow that they are threatened by the love between two adults of the same sex? This bill is about targeting scapegoats; and as a people who have been the quintessential scapegoats of Western civilization; we stand with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters saying that this bill is immoral and unjust.

"This proposed amendment is a stain on America's promise of equal rights to all. We call on all Members of Congress to ensure that such an effort to enshrine homophobia, intolerance, and inequality in our Constitution and our law fails-and does so by an overwhelming margin.

"We are all God's children. We are all one people. Let us stop issuing decrees of hatred and begin enacting legislation and implementing policies that will foster healthy, loving, caring, and committed relationships and ensure that in this nation, none will ever again be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity."

Baptist News

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church of Raleigh, NC, which is associated with the American Baptist Churches and the Alliance of Baptists and was the first church to be expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention for holding a union ceremony, has elected the Rev. Nancy Petty as co-pastor. Rev. Petty is a lesbian with a partner and children. The Los Angeles Times said that Rev. Petty is believed to be the only lesbian co-pastor of a Baptist church.

On May 16, the AP released a story about the Rev. Kenneth Samuel of the Victory Church of Stone Mountain, GA, a 6,000-member African-American congregation that has "severed links" with "black- and white-led Baptist organizations" and will be joining the United Church of Christ in June. According to the article, Rev. Samuel thinks of reaching out to gays as "a way to revive the commitment of black churches to social justice." The article also says, "He contends that homophobia in the black community is an outgrowth of racism."

Soulforce has invited Dr, James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), to attend hearings on June 10 in St. Louis, where "at least twenty-five Southern Baptists and former Southern Baptists (clergy and laity alike) will share the stories of their own personal suffering that resulted from anti-homosexual SBC teachings and actions." Soulforce has also invited Dr. Merritt to join a press conference on June 11 to denounce a statement by Judge Ray Moore that the state should use confinement and even execution to keep gay parents from their children. Should Dr. Merritt not attend, a delegation of five people will attempt to address the convention from the podium while the rest of the Soulforce volunteers kneel in prayer outside the entrances to the convention center.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The thirteen-member Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality held its first meeting May 3-5. The group is to issue a report on homosexuality in 2005, and a general sexuality report in 2007. The ELCA News Service said the executive director of the Division for Ministry told task force members they would have to listen hard for the church's conservative voices because many people "don't want to be embarrassed or have to defend themselves." When the task force meets again in September, each member is to identify "the strongest arguments both for and against change" of current church policies regarding homosexuality.

Presbyterian Church (USA)

At a revival led by Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham's daughter) in Charlotte, NC, seven members of the Seigle Avenue Presbyterian Church choir walked out when Lotz described homosexuality as a sin.

Presbyterians for Renewal (one of several organizations in the PCUSA working to maintain the ban on the ordination of GLBT people) has announced a "high-level partnership" with the ex-gay ministry One By One.

Saying that "complainants failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," the Synod of the Pacific's Permanent Judicial Commission dismissed two complaints that the Redwoods Presbytery failed to adequately examine the Rev. Katie Morrison before ordaining her last fall. The two complaints were from the San Joaquin Presbytery and from members of the Redwoods Presbytery. Charges by Paul Rolf Jensen against Rev. Morrison and other individuals involved in the ordination itself have not yet been resolved.

The Presbytery of Cincinnati has appointed a commission to look into an overture against the session of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian brought by Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church, after Mt. Auburn's session declared and informed all relevant parties that it "has not and cannot comply with G-6.0106b of the Book of Order," and that "marriage between two persons, man and woman, or a man and a man, or woman and woman, is the same in the eyes of the Session of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian." Charges by Paul Rolf Jensen against the minister and former minister of Mt. Auburn have not yet been addressed. Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Denise Smith Amos wrote a very favorable piece about Mt. Auburn, comparing the reactions that gay Christians get in many churches, and the reaction Mt. Auburn has gotten from some of the other churches in the Presbytery, to the reaction she gets at some churches when she is the only non-white person in the pews.

The Presbytery of Shenango (Western PA) has sent overture 02-59 to the General Assembly, asking the GA to do something about the Presbytery of Northern New England and the Session of Christ Church of Burlington, VT. The Presbytery was ordered two years ago to work with the session of Christ Church to rescind their statement of dissent, which has not happened.


Rabbi Elyse Wechterman is no longer on the letterhead, as she has left the area. Please contact us at 215-235-3050 if you, your congregation or religious organization would like to be listed.

Philadelphia Passes Gender Identity Protection

We are pleased to report that City Council voted 15-2 to add gender identity to Philadelphia's Fair Practices ordinance outlawing discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation. The Inquirer and Daily News made absolutely no mention of religion in their articles about the vote, showing how far we've come since the Life Partnership hearings.

The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), however, did report the vote, quoting Bill Devlin of the Urban Family Council, who warned of a hypothetical employee: "Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he's a man. Tuesday and Thursday, he's a woman." The TVC also referred to people who have undergone partial sex-reassignment as "sexually confused men and women," "radicalized She/Males" and "creatures."

Roundtable Returns to Miami

In 1977 Anita Bryant led the "Save Our Children" campaign, which overturned legislation in Miami (the first-of-its-kind in a major municipality) that extended basic rights to gays and lesbians. Twenty-two years later, in 1999, Miami passed an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance that extended protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, financing, and public accommodations. This year, on September 10, twenty-five years after Anita Bryant's original campaign, a repeal of the 1999 ordinance will be on the ballot in Miami.

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable is working in collaboration with SAVE Dade and a newly organized local group of progressive religious leaders called the Interfaith Coalition on Human Rights in Miami-Dade, to identify a variety of ways that congregations and religious leaders can help stop the repeal of this ordinance. The first planning meeting was held at St. John's United Methodist Church in Miami, which was Anita Bryant's family church for many years, and is now a Reconciling Congregation.

The August meeting of the Roundtable will be held in Miami and will include an action-centered public witness. On Sunday, August 11, the Roundtable plans to engage 500 people of faith to speak with the people of Miami door-to-door about the importance of the human rights ordinance.

The Roundtable is asking for the support of religious leaders and organizations from across the country. Send email to Deb Kolodny, Roundtable Facilitator (DebraRuth@mac.com).


The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) initiated a petition to Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell to ask that Nickelodeon not air a particular installment of Linda Ellerbee's Nick News (aimed at 8-13-year-olds) which would deal with anti-gay discrimination. The TVC claimed that 40,000 people signed the online petition. We sent Mr. Scannell an advance letter of thanks for airing Ellerbee's program.

Allentown Again

Last month we reported that Allentown is now the two-hundred and twentieth municipality in the country to list sexual orientation in its non-discrimination ordinance and was the first city in Pennsylvania to explicitly list gender identity. On May 22 the Allentown Morning Call reported that a group called Citizens for Traditional Values is trying to gather two-thousand signatures to put a repeal vote on the ballot.

Pennsylvania Hate Crimes Report

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its annual, nationally-recognized report on violence against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The 2001 report is the first in which Pennsylvania statistics have been included. Pennsylvania statistics were collected by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, a statewide nonprofit agency that launched an anti-violence project last fall.

In its first year of data collection, the Center reported eighty-one incidents of anti-LGBT harassment. Twelve of those incidents involved some sort of physical assault, and nine percent of the reported incidents resulted in victims requiring hospitalization.

Thirty-seven percent of reporting victims were women, fifty-nine percent were men, and four victims identified as transgender. Sixty-seven percent of the vic-tims were white, twenty-four percent were African-American, and eight percent were Latino/a.

The majority of perpetrators of anti-LGBT hate violence had a pre-existing elationship with the victim or victims. Sixty-six percent of known offenders were acquaintances, friends, coworkers, employers, landlords, tenants, neighbors, or relatives.

Marriage in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has ruled that the constitutional rights of seven couples were not violated when the state denied them the right to marry. The court based its denial of marriage licenses on a legal conclusion that having and raising children is central to the purpose of marriage, despite acknowledging that four of the seven couples in the case have children and that Massachusetts law allows same-sex couples to jointly adopt. The organization representing the couples, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, has announced that an appeal will be filed.

What's In a Name?

The Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality reports that a measure that would remove sexual orientation from Ypsilanti's 1998 non-discrimination ordinance will be on the ballot in November. The organization sponsoring the initiative, Ypsilanti Citizens Voting Yes for Equal Rights Not Special Rights, was funded entirely by Tom Monaghan, former CEO of Domino's Pizza, who doesn't live in Ypsilanti. All but twenty-six of the 1,100+ signatures to get the measure on the ballot were collected by a California petition circulation company.

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Bishops meeting April 28-May 3 included the first of four church-wide discussions about homosexuality, and the "deep wounds" experienced by the church, according to the United Methodist News Service. Future discussions will involve members of the General Council on Ministries, youth and young adults, and people of color in leadership in the denomination. Planners hope to encourage similar conversations at the regional and local levels.

The campus ministry at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has joined the Reconciling Ministries Network.









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