The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
Repent America on the Loose
As you probably read in the newspaper all charges against Michael Marcavage and other individuals from
stemming from the incident at Outfest were dismissed.
The Family Research Council’s
email report on the trial outcome referred to the charges as “trumped up” and concluded “Too often, in
places that have what in practice is ‘thought crime’ legislation--such as Canada and Sweden or cities
like Philadelphia and New York--it is Christian morality that is in the dock. “ The article was followed
by a link titled “What can I do to prevent ‘hate crimes’ from becoming law?” Rev. Lou Sheldon of the
Traditional Values Coalition
said, “This case is a clear example of the danger that hate crime laws pose to religious freedom and
free speech when Christians can be charged with a felony for preaching from the Bible.” He also called
for a federal investigation into the case, saying, “There is reason to believe that the homosexual
civil rights attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice worked with homosexual activists
to violate the right of peaceful Christian protesters in this case.”
A bill has been filed in the state house to remove sexual orientation from the ethnic intimidation law.
Michael Lieberman of the
was quoted in the AP story about the filing of the bill saying “This is not the kind of situation or
conduct that hate crime laws are intended to address.” Stacey Sobel, director of the
Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights
and author of the 2002 amendment that added sexual orientation was quoted in the same story: “You can’t
just go after speech. There has to be some underlying criminal act.” As we have noted in previous
Keeping the Faith,
the problem with
is the harassing and intimidating manner in which the speech is delivered.
Marcavage’s suit against the city remains, and it is difficult to predict what will happen at Sunday Out,
the Pride Parade, or Outfest in 2005, and what level of police presence the city will be able to provide.
We are not currently aware of any efforts to organize a non-violent presence but we encourage you to volunteer
for such efforts if the opportunity should arise.
NGLTF Releases Philadelphia Study
Based on an analysis of 2000 Census data,
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Policy Institute concluded that Black lesbian households in Philadelphia are more likely than Black married
mixed-gender couple households to include children and are four times as likely to report serving in the military;
that Black same-gender couples are more likely to work in the public sector, and that on average they earn
less than married Black couples in Philadelphia and significantly less than White gay or lesbian couples.
As a result of these and other factors, Black same-gender couples have more to gain from legal recognition
of their relationships and more to lose when states pass amendments banning marriage and other forms of partner
According to NGLTF:
Philadelphia ranks sixth among U.S. cities in number of Black same-gender households, behind New York and Atlanta
and ahead of Houston, Detroit, San Francisco, and Miami.
Philadelphia Black female same-gender households parent at rates higher than Black married mixed-gender couple
households. Nearly three in four Black female same-gender households (74%) have at least one child. Sixty-six
percent of Black married mixed-gender couple households have at least one child.
On average, in Philadelphia, Black same-gender couples earn nearly $6,000 less per year than Black married mixed-gender
couples, and more than $30,000 less than White same-gender couples
Individuals in Black same-gender households in Philadelphia work in the public sector at a higher rate than those in
White same-gender households (12% vs. 10.7%). Pennsylvania does not offer domestic partner benefits to state employees.
Consequently, Black same-gender couples not only make less money than their White counterparts, but also have less access
to healthcare benefits.
Fifty percent of Black same-gender couples report living in the same residence as five years earlier, a key indicator
of relationship stability.
Black women in same-gender households in Philadelphia. report serving in the military at four times the rate of
Black women in married mixed-gender households (9% vs. 2%). Nationally, Black women are discharged under the military’s
ban on lesbian and gay service members at rates far exceeding their representation in the armed forces: although they
make up less than 1% of the military, they represent 3% of all discharges.
Commenting on the report H. Alexander Robinson, Strategic Director of the
National Black Justice Coalition
"Anti-gay leaders and organizations have long sought to divide the Black and gay communities, speaking as if there are
no Black lesbian and gay people experiencing discrimination under key family policies. In fact, this study clearly
identifies a large population of Black same-sex couples in the U.S., more than half of whom are raising children.
These families should be offered the same protections and opportunities to benefit from state and federal programs
designed to promote family formation, stability, home ownership, and other values that contribute to community strength
and the common good."
UCC Challenges NBC and CBS Licenses
United Church of Christ
has challenged the renewal of licenses for one NBC-owned and one CBS-owned station in Florida
based on the networks’ refusal to air the first of the denomination’s two pro-inclusion ads. The UCC Office of Communication
has set up a new web site,
for material relating to the network’s rejection of the ads (in addition to the denomination’s main ucc.org, and the site for the
ad campaign itself:
The site includes a message of support from the
Oregon-Idaho Reconciling United Methodists,
a commentary from the Rev. William Sloane-Coffin titled “It’s clear that homophobia is the reason for the ad’s rejection” and a
commentary from the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries, comparing the
license challenge to the one organized by the UCC forty years ago against WLBT in Jackson, MS for not airing programs that
included Dr. Martin Luther King. The denomination has raised over $500,000 to support the ad campaign and is planning on
spending over a million dollars to air them during Lent.
Anti-Gay Adoption Bills
The Family Pride Coalition
reported on the following pending bills.
Senate Bill 57 would prohibit "homosexuals" from adopting.
in response to a recent court ruling that overturned the state's regulation that banned lesbian or gay people - and anyone living
in a household with a gay or lesbian adult - from being foster parents, HB 1119 would have prohibited the state from placing
children in "homosexual homes." A house committee dropped any mention of homosexuality amending it to prohibit a child from being
adopted by, or placed in a foster home with, any unmarried adult who is cohabitating "in a relationship that is not a legally valid
and binding marriage" under the state constitution.
SB 580 would only allow married couples of the opposite sex to adopt. SB 585 would prohibit “homosexuals” from adopting or
serving as foster parents.
House Bill 2401 would require the State to exercise a preference for married, heterosexual
parents over same-sex parents.
SB 829 and HB 543 would create a ban on adoption by lesbians and gay men. HB 775 and
SB 1615 prohibit adoption by "homosexuals," and deny non-gay parents the ability to designate a "known homosexual" as the adoptive
parents of their children. SB 1930 "prohibits homosexual persons from being eligible to adopt another person."
Soulforce Going to Dobson
On Sunday, May 1, in Colorado Springs,
will be confronting the claims of
and celebrating all types of families at a national event called “Mayday Mayday”.
Hundreds of individuals, couples, and families are expected to participate in this event to challenge “the misinformation about
GLBT individuals, couples and families that flows to millions of people daily through James Dobson's radio broadcast, website,
e-mail alerts, video, audio, and print materials."
Soulforce’s documentation of false claims by James Dobson about GLBT people, entitled, "A False Focus on My Family: Why every
person of faith should be deeply troubled by Dr. James Dobson's dangerous and misleading words about the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender community", is available online at
"James Dobson is not my enemy, but his spiritually violent, misleading, and untrue rhetoric is. The false accusations and
claims made against LGBT people not only hurt my family, but hurt society as a whole," stated family counselor and
psychotherapist Jeff Lutes, author of the Soulforce booklet on Dobson, and chair of the Soulforce Action in Colorado Springs.
Events on Sunday, May 1 include a rally, press conference, picnic, nonviolence training, and concert. According to a
Soulforce flyer about the event, those participating are also invited to stay through Monday, May 2, when Soulforce and their
supporters hope to "take the truth about our families directly inside Focus on the Family, holding hands as we walk through
their building and eat in their lunchroom."
More information, registration and updates are available on the web at
Traditional Values Coalition (TVC)
has started referring regularly to “Religious Left Sock Puppets” specifically mentioning
Call to Renewal, and the
Clergy Leadership Network
as tools of a particular political party and/or George Soros. Oddly the TVC lists “the normalization of homosexuality in our culture”
as one of the goals of these organizations even though none of them have taken strong positions on GLBT issues, and have largely
characterized reproductive freedom and sexual orientation as distractions to what they view as more important issues.
TVC’s February 15 church bulletin insert was actually titled “The Religious Left: Sock Puppets for Atheist George Soros?”
Media Reports on Pro-GLBT Religious Rallies
reported on a rally against the proposed state marriage amendment by Christians for Equality in Wisconsin. According to the
article 200 people attended the rally and 30 pastors spoke at a press conference. The article included extensive quotes from the
Rev. Bob Voss of
Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison
("I am here on behalf of members of my congregation who could experience devastating effects on their families if this bill
is passed. I am also here representing an ever-increasing large portion of Christianity who believe after prayerful study of
scripture ... that the spirit of God has called the Christian community to recognize their brothers and sisters as full
participants in the life of the church and as citizens in this state to be treated fairly and justly under its laws."),
the Rev. Todd Smith Lippert of the
United Church of Christ in Dodgeville
("We are discouraged by the way the words of Scripture are being misused. Messages of love throughout carry the most weight."), and
Rev. Jennifer Thomas of
Lake Park Lutheran Church
in Milwaukee ("People fear what is different from them, and fear leads people to hate. ... We are tired of hearing fear, hate and
intolerance preached in our name. ... God does not hate homosexuals. God does not hate anyone.").
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
reported on an interfaith (“Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian”) pro-marriage rally in Olympia, WA attended by 700 people.
The article quoted a married lesbian Jewish couple (“"We're people, we're parents, we believe in God. It's not a sin to have the
family we have."), Rev. Stephen D. Jones of
Seattle First Baptist Church
("We have allowed the far-right fundamentalists to distort the truth. God loves each and every one of you, all of us, and reaches
out to us with acceptance and love. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.") and the Rev. Monica Corsaco, Campus Minister at the
University of Washington (“We’re here to talk about love. Not the mushy kind ... this is the kind of love that stands in
front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. This is the kind of love that says, 'I will not sit in the back of the bus.'").
Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Presbytery of Milwaukee
voted 104-20 to approve
More Light Presbyterians
board member Eily Marlow for ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. She is one of only a few openly lesbian candidates
to be approved since the 1978 ban on the ordination of "practicing, self-affirming homosexuals."
RCA Seminary President Fired
The Rev. Norman J. Kansfield, President of the
Reformed Church in America’s
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, was fired for officiating at his daughter’s wedding in Massachusetts, and is expected to be
bought up on charges at the RCA General Synod meeting in June, according to the
Kansfield’s daughter, Ann, is an unordained graduate of the seminary and works at an RCA church in Brooklyn.
The Holland (MI) Sentinel
had previously reported the firing as a retirement following a reprimand and noted that the board of directors voted to endow the
Mary and Norman Kansfield Chair in Old Testament, and that the general secretary of the RCA “expressed his thanks to Kansfield for
his long and continuing service to the church and the seminary.”
The firing was picked up by news media around the country with such headlines as
“Theologian ousted over gay wedding”
and “Seminary ousts cleric who presided at gay daughter’s vows”
Civil Marriage Update
Focus on the Family,
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear an appeal of their own pro-marriage ruling, possibly as early as April.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the New York State Constitution guarantees basic freedoms to
lesbian and gay people and that the couples represented by Lambda Legal must be given marriage licenses. An appeal is expected.
announced the launch of a ballot initiative effort to amend the Florida Constitution to read, “Inasmuch as marriage is the
legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the
substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
Church and State
have filed suit against the
program at the Bradford County Correctional Facility for proselytizing and hiring only Christians. Over 90% of the budget for the
program comes from federal, state and local funds. "Ministries have a right to spread their religious message, but they have no
right to pass the collection plate to taxpayers," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, of Americans United. "Programs with a
'Christians-only' hiring policy should not be eligible for public funds.”
A Federal Judge ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the lawn of the Gibson, County Indiana courthouse.
According to the
Family Research Council,
Congressman John Hostettler asked the President to order the U.S. Marshall’s office not to comply with the order.
McCreary County v.
ACLU of Kentucky
will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2. The case will decide the constitutionality of the Foundations of Law
display in the McCreary and Pulaski County courthouses and possibly the display of versions of the Ten Commandments in all
courthouses and government buildings throughout the country. The pro-entanglement position will be argued by Jerry Falwell’s