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Keeping the Faith The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
April 2005


Episcopal Church, USA

In response to the call from the vote by the rest of the Anglican Communion requesting that the Episcopal Church, USA not consecrate any more gay bishops or bless any more same-gender relationships, the House of Bishops voted to suspend the election and consecration of all new bishops until General Convention 2006, and to not personally bless any same-gender relationships. The response from Integrity follows:

Integrity appreciates the House of Bishops' efforts at Camp Allen to balance the Episcopal Church's desire for the continued unity of the Anglican Communion with its prophetical call to do justice. Therefore, Integrity supports a pause in the election and consecration of new bishops until General Convention 2006. We perceive this as a bold move that brings the whole Episcopal Church into solidarity with those who suffer because of the sin of homophobia.

Integrity understands the portion of the statement on same-sex blessings to mean that the bishops will not authorize new rites within their dioceses, nor personally preside at blessings, until General Convention 2006. However, resolution C051 from General Convention 2003--which recognizes that "local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions"--is still in effect. It is inevitable that that clergy across the land will continue to respond pastorally to the needs of same-sex couples by conducting public blessings of their relationships. Any step back from the blessing of unions communicates a second class status to LGBT people-which Integrity believes grieves the heart of God and hampers the church's evangelism efforts.

Integrity remains committed to nothing less than the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ. We will continue to advocate in every way possible for the equality of same-sex couples in the church and civil society.

Civil Marriage in California

On March 14, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer (identified as Roman Catholic in media reports) issued a preliminary ruling in which he stated, “It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners.” Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Counsel has announced they will appeal. In his response to the ruling the Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition claimed, “the judicial system should never dictate social policies,” a peculiar statement from an organization that also claims that the GLBT rights movement has misappropriated the legacy of previous civil rights movements.

The lawsuit was originally brought by the Rev. Troy Perry (founder of the Metropolitan Christian Church) and his husband (who are legally married in Canada) and by Robin Tyler (of Stop Dr. Laura and dontamend.com) and her partner. California courts subsequently combined the suit with others by other couples and by San Francisco. Rev. Perry originnally sued the state in 1970 and lost. Rev. Perry’s participation in the case has not been mentioned in the media.

San Diego Church Tries to Stop World Pride

Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, a San Diego Church that runs americablessgod.com and israelblessgod.com is running a campaign to stop Jerusalem World Pride 2005. The church’s petition to the Israeli and Jerusalem governments says in part “It is painful for us to comprehend why you would permit such a meeting. You must know that Jerusalem is the Holy City, not only to you, but to three of the world’s greatest religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It has been the historic position of each of these faiths that homosexuality is an abomination to the one true G-d. Indeed, your very own Torah, in the Book of Genesis, which is accepted as Holy Scripture by all three of these faiths, teaches that G-d destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their flaunting of this particular sin against Him.” New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America joined Mission Valley’s Rev. Leo Giovenetti at a press conference in Jerusalem to announce the campaign.

You can register your support for Jerusalem World Pride here.

UCC Ad Update

CBS and NBC again rejected the UCC “bouncer” ad for airing during Lent, so the UCC is running the ad “on over 50 of the top blogs.”

May 1 in Colorado Springs

Soulforce is now publicly predicting that there will be “1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, couples, families, and their allies” in Colorado Springs on May 1 for a picnic and rally outside the entrance to Focus on the Family.

Sponsoring organizations of the event include the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals, Equal Partners in Faith, Evangelicals Reconciled, Love Makes a Family, NGLTF, NOW, PFLAG, Q-Spirit, Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Ecumenical Catholic Church, Tikkun, MCC Board of Elders, Whosoever Magazine, Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual, and Washington Park UCC of Denver.

Liberty Counsel and the New England Primer

A March 25 email from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Counsel called for the reintroduction of the New England Primer into the American public school curriculum because it “contains scripture, including the Lord’s Prayer, and teaches morals and values from a Christian perspective.” Liberty Counsel is selling the 1777 version of the Primer in their online store.

Roman Catholic Church Denies Funeral

The San Diego Daily Transcript reported that the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego had denied a funeral at San Diego University or any Catholic church or chapel to John McCusker, 31, a member of the San Diego Business Association, a graduate of the University of San Diego, and the owner of two gay bars, who recently died of a heart attack on a ski trip. A statement from the Diocese said, “"People would be scandalized that the church granted a funeral to a person who had this type of business activity."

On March 22 the AP reported that Bishop Robert Brom had apologized to the family for his “hasty decision” and would “preside over a mass in John McCusker’s honor.”

Response to the SBC's Nashville Declaration

The Southern Baptist Convention released their "Nashville Declaration on 'Same-sex Marriage,'" in opposition to equal marriage rights based on "the biblical teaching that God designed marriage as a lifetime union of one man and one woman." Reverend Steven Baines, an elder in the Disciples of Christ and member of the NGLTF Religious Leadership Roundtable responded with the following statement:

As an elder in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a former Southern Baptist minister, I am saddened and disappointed that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention continue to present their discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in the guise of compassion.

While they conclude that, "marriage is a lifetime union of one man and one woman, according to the Bible, and may not be redefined," these so-called Biblical literalists ignore the fact that marriage in the Bible has been used to justify ownership of concubines in the case of Abraham (Genesis 16: 3), an excuse for extravagant polygamy in the case of King Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3) and as a desperate, but inferior, alternative to burning in lustful celibacy in the case of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7: 8).

Their scriptural ignorance only undercuts their message. The only thing you'll learn about marriage from reading the Bible is just how much it has changed with shifting cultural morals.

Instead of packaging a clever marketing campaign of a kindler, gentler homophobia, they could have shown real compassion to the gay community by concentrating on the "love ethic" that is the foundation of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Instead, they support a federal marriage amendment that would block thousands of American families from the responsibilities and protections they need for their stability and security. No thanks, Southern Baptist leaders, I will continue to stand on a Gospel of advocating for the marginalized and oppressed.

Civil Marriage in Kansas

Kansans for Fairness has a statement on their web site signed by 50 clergy urging Kansans to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment on the April 5 ballot. The statement says in part “This amendment would hurt people, threaten religious liberty and stifle the diverse religious voices in Kansas.” An AP story about the statement quoted the Rev. Jerry Johnston of First Family Church in Overland Park, who said (in opposition to the statement and in favor of the amendment) “Religious liberty is to set people free by the power of the gospel.” For a full list of clergy and the text of the statement, see www.kansansforfairness.org/Clergy.cfm.

Black GLBT Presence in Unexpected Places

Louis Farrakhan has invited Black GLBT groups to participate in, and help plan, the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March in October. The Bisexual Lesbian and Gay Organization of Students at Howard University is already meeting to help and the National Black Justice Coalition will encourage their members to attend the march, according to a report in PlanetOut. Farrakhan made the announcement at an event organized by PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley at Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. It was Bishop Long who organized the anti-gay march from the King Center that we reported in the February issue. An article by gay author Keith Boykin on gay.com about the event titled “The Day I Hugged Farrakhan” noted that he, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Penn Professor Michael Eric Dyson also spoke at the event and that both Dyson and Jackson discussed the role of Black GLBT people in the civil rights movement.

First More Light Church in South Carolina

North Anderson Community Church, Presbyterian voted unanimously to become the first More Light (GLBT-affirming PCUSA) congregation in the state.

Scouting for All Looking for Clergy Support

Scouting for All is looking for religious leaders who will put their names on a letter of support for gay and atheist boy scouts. For a copy of the letter and/or to register your support, email Scouting for All’s President, Scott Cozza, cozzahived@aol.com.

Religious Right Judiciary Control Campaign

The Christian Coalition’s March 26 Washington Weekly Review is headlined “Conservative Leaders Vow Judicial Branch will be Brought Under the Constitution.” The mailing attempts to link Terry Schiavo, the 9th Circuit Pledge of Allegiance case (which the Supreme Court overturned), same-gender marriage decisions (which have been incredibly inconsistent among various state and Federal courts) and Roe V. Wade as reasons to change the balance of power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The Traditional Values Coalition has set up ourbattleplan.com outlining a $10 million campaign to “take back our courts from the anti-God left.” The TVC attempts to link the Terry Schiavo case with the 9th circuit pledge decision and three pro-gay rulings.

Topeka

Fifty-three percent of voters in Topeka, KS defeated an anti-gay measure backed by the Rev. Fred Phelps that read “The City of Topeka and its various Boards and Commissions may not enact, adopt, enforce or administer any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy which provides that homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation or gender identity or expression; status, conduct or relationship; constitutes, entitles, or otherwise provides a person with the basis to have any claim of minority or protected status, quota preference, or other preferential treatment. This provision of the City Code shall in all respects be self-executing. Any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy enacted before this provision is adopted that violates the foregoing prohibition shall be null and void and of no force or effect”.

Domestic Partnership in New Jersey

Garden State Equality reports that the Tax Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of two male domestic partners, a couple for 30 years, one of whom is a disabled veteran, who were not granted the 100% disabled veteran property tax exemption that would have been granted to them if they were married. The court ruled that the Domestic Partnership Act uses the word “including” before the list of “certain rights and benefits” accorded to married couples that the act grants to domestic partners, and that such usage in previous cases has been found to be “merely illustrative” and a term of enlargement, not limitation. In other words, in the view of the tax court, the Domestic Partnership Act grants all the rights and benefits of marriage


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