The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
Civil Marriage Update
Despite legal maneuvering in Massachusetts, town clerks will start issuing
licenses to same-gender couples on May 17. A judge in Oregon ordered Multnomah
County to stop issuing marriage licenses for 90 days, but also ordered the
state to accept the licenses already issued. Asbury Park, NJ has joined the
marriage suit by seven New Jersey same-gender couples as a plaintiff.
The Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act passed out of the California
Assembly Judiciary Committee 8-3 on April 20. The day before the vote
365gay.com reported that 40 Unitarian Universalist, Baptist, United Methodist
and MCC clergy lobbied for the bill. According to a report from
Focus on the Family (FoF)
“Pro-family analysts believe the legislation has a decent chance of passing
the Assembly and the Senate.” FoF is urging their readers all over the country
to call the Governor and urge him to veto the legislation if it reaches him.
Religious Right organizations have been sending emails to their supporters
all month asking folks to call their senators about the Federal Marriage
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
congregations have appointed “two gay men and a lesbian to serve as pastors”
according to an April 15 Los Angeles Times
article. Rev. Jay Weisner will be installed at
Bethany Lutheran in Minneapolis
in July, Rev. Daniel Hooper was installed at
on May 2, and the Rev. Jennifer Mason was installed at
Central City Lutheran Mission
in San Bernardino
in April. The article noted recent divisions in the
(over Bishop Gene Robinson) and the
United Methodist Church
(over Rev. Karen Dammann).
Rev. Mason’s installation was covered in an extensive and favorable April
19 article in the Riverside Press Enterprise,
which described the church as taking “an unorthodox approach to attracting
potential converts whether they be drug addicts, prostitutes or gangsters”
and noted that Rev. Mason had “served as a missionary pastor in Santiago,
Chile from 1991 to 2001” before being removed from the roster for being in a
relationship with another woman. The article quoted Greg Egertson, co-chairman of
Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries,
who noted that the church “is risking being thrown out of the denomination,” and a
protestor from Las Vegas (one of a small group of hecklers), who yelled “You’re a
disgrace to Christianity” at people entering the service.
United Methodist Church
Pre-General-Conference articles and columns from the AP,
the Religion News Service, the Scripps-Howard News Service,
the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the Austin American-Statesman,
and the Omaha World Herald all focused on expected debates over
sexual orientation and ordination policy.
Pro-GLBT Religious Media Coverage
In an article headlined “Clerics demonstrate in support of same-sex marriage”
that began “They stood shoulder to shoulder, men and women, gay and straight,
their robes blending to represent the colors of the rainbow,” the
reported on a march and demonstration by “dozens or religious leaders”
(identified as Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist) who “presented a statement
of support for same-sex marriage that was signed by 158 religious leaders
from across the state.”
The St. Louis Dispatch
reported on the Rev. Daniel O’Connell of
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
in Kirkwood, MO who filed an affidavit with the St. Louis County Clerk
that he had solemnized the wedding of two women.
The Rocky Mountain News
reported on a presentation by gay Orthodox Rabbi Steven Greenberg
(author of the new book “Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition”)
Jewish Community Center
in Denver organized by
Mosaic: the National Jewish Center for
Sexual and Gender Diversity.
The Syracuse Post-Standard
reported on the coming out sermon of the Rev. Fred Daley, a celibate
Roman Catholic priest in Utica, who received a standing ovation from his
congregation following the sermon.
Media General News Service distributed an article about one individual’s
spiritual journey called “Man finds peace in being Christian and gay.”
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, SC ran an opinion piece from
Rev. Tom Summers (UMC retired) criticizing religious beliefs and
practices that encourage society’s reduction of gay people to their
physical sexuality and refusal to acknowledge their “heart and soul.”
A Dallas Morning News
columnist reported on the opening of the
Eddie and Velma Dwyer Community Center,
the new headquarters building of the
Waco chapter of PFLAG
and the first PFLAG-chapter-owned headquarters in the country.
Rev. Eddie Dwyer is a Baptist minister and retired professor of religion at
The Cedar Rapids Gazette
ran an article titled “Gay parishioners find welcoming churches” about
congergations in Eastern Iowa, that featured interviews with clergy and
Faith UCC in Iowa City,
Peoples Church UU and
Faith UMC in Cedar Rapids.
The AP distributed a profile of
ministers Dawn Sangrey and Kay Greenleaf (self described as
“two little old lady ministers”) who were charged with
solemnizing marriages without a license in New Paltz, NY.
The Detroit Free Press ran a profile titled
“Michigan Perspectives: Black, Christian and gay”
about a couple at a marriage rally in Detroit who attend the
New Covenant Assembly of Justified Believers,
a primarily GLBT African-American congregation in Ferndale.
The Chicago Tribune
ran a profile of Mary Lou Wallner, a fundamentalist Christian author,
speaker and Soulforce volunteer who founded
(To Educate About the Consequences of Homophobia) with her husband
after her lesbian daughter committed suicide in 1997.
Los Angeles Times reported on an interfaith Bible study for 160 rabbis and
priests led by gay
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson
and gay Orthodox Rabbi Steven Greenberg.
In an article titled “Gays make quiet showing at mass,” the
Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that “about two dozen members of
Dignity Twin Cities,
Soulforce of the Twin Cities
Rainbow Sash Alliance"
received communion while wearing rainbow sashes at a mass “celebrated by
Archbishop Harry Flynn and five of the seven U.S. Cardinals.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
covered the religious marriage of retired Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles and
Felipe Sanchez Paris at
St. Gregory’s of Nyssa Episcopal Church
in San Francisco.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton (FL) Herald
reported on a public marriage ceremony for two couples from the
Church of the Trinity,
an MCC congregation in East Manatee. The couples applied for marriage
licenses at the Sarasota County Courthouse, and then exchanged vows in a
religious ceremony in the courthouse courtyard after their application was denied.
The Philadelphia Daily News
covered the announcement of the formation of
The Gay Lesbian Alumni/ae Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
The Detroit News
reported on a religious marriage for a lesbian couple conducted by the
Rev. Deb Dysert of
Divine Peace MCC
in Clarkston, MI at the Oakland County Courthouse following the county’s
rejection of their application for a marriage license.
which has been operating on a smaller scale and recruiting
among military chaplains and veterans
is now promising to expand into broader social activism,
a step that critics predicted when the organization was first formed.
Focus on the Family
reports that “the ministry plans to expand its focus to include social issues
such as the fights against abortion and gay marriage.”
Jewish Media Marriage Articles
The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
summarized the policies of the
on civil and religious marriage for same-gender couples, and included
quotes from one person who was married in a Reform ceremony and from
rabbis in the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements whose views were
consistent with their movement’s official positions.
Baltimore Jewish Times
ran an article titled “Same sex, divergent views” which quoted individual
gay and lesbian Jews; Orthodox, Reform, and Secular Humanistic rabbis;
Harold Goldman of the
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia;
and Scott Gansel of
Keshet Ga’avah (the World Congress of GLBT Jews).
RAC Responds to Unborn Victims of Violence Act
Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
issued a statement in response to the passage of the Unborn Victims of
Violence Act which says in part:
Potential life is sacred, and the loss of a pregnancy is tragic, but the Unborn
Victims of Violence Act exploits these issues in an effort to undermine the
foundation for legal abortion in this country. By not passing the Murray amendment,
which would have given women further protection from domestic violence, the bill's
supporters failed to provide real protection for victims of violence. Instead, they
focused their efforts on elevating the status of a potential human life to that of a
woman, a strategic step forward in the anti-choice hardliners' crusade to deprive women
of their Constitutional right to reproductive choice.
Furthermore, in bestowing upon a fetus, zygote, or embryo the same rights and protections
as the law gives a living human being, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act delivers a blow
to religious liberty in this country. There is no scientific consensus on when human
life begins, and different religious traditions offer different answers. The view that
human life begins at conception is contrary to Jewish tradition and to the teachings
of other religions, but the Unborn Victims of Violence Act would write that view our
nation's laws. That the bill's supporters rejected the Feinstein amendment, which sets
up similar penalties but avoids entangling Congress in religious debates, reveals a
determination to establish religious opinion as legal fact.
Pictures from the March for Women’s Lives
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
has pictures of religious marchers and the interfaith service in Washington, DC on their
Focus on Village Seven Presbyterian
Focus on the Family (FoF)
Village Seven Presbyterian Church, a
Presbyterian Church in America
congregation in Colorado Springs.
An FoF newsletter article titled “Churches asked to weigh in on issues” quoted Dr.
Doug Hammerstrom, “who heads the Political Action Committee at Village Seven.”
According to the article “committee members get frequent encouragement from the
pulpit.” Dr. Hammerstrom says the committee deals with “things that we really
see the Bible speaking to. Politically (that) would be the homosexuality issue,
the abortion issue.”
Open Prairie UCC
A letter from the Rev. Curran Reichert on the web site of
That All May Freely Serve
describes the difficulties that the new
Open Prairie UCC
congregation has been experiencing in Princeton, IL.
According to Reichert’s letter the congregation has been
refused worship space by all the local congregations,
including PCUSA, UMC, and Disciples, and the UCC camp
where they were worshiping was threatened. The congregation
began worshiping in a public building, but the city
government then decided not to allow public worship
services in public buildings. A local newspaper article
accompanying the letter describes the cancellation of an
annual charity fund-raising choir concert because of the
refusal of other congregations in the area to participate
in the event with Open Prairie. Open Prairie was formed as
an Open and Affirming congregation by former members of
Hampshire Colony Church of Christ
after that congregation decided not to call Rev. Reichert
because of her orientation.
TVC and GLSEN
In all of their recent emails to supporters, the
Traditional Values Coalition
has been focusing on the
Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network,
which they claim “targets children for recruitment into the homosexual
lifestyle as well as cross-dressing/sex change operations through GLSEN
chapters that sponsor hundreds of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs on
junior high and high school campuses across the United States.” As part
of their anti-GLSEN campaign, TVC has started a new web domain:
The real GLSEN web site is at www.glsen.org.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Mid-Atlantic Synod
voted 19-15 to review the policies and procedures of the
regarding the admission, validation and oversight of ministers following
the Presbytery’s decision not to file heresy charges against the Rev. Don Stroud.