Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pedophiles to launch political party

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its Web site it would be officially registered Wednesday, proclaiming: "We are going to shake The Hague awake!"

The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.

"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.

"We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion," he said, adding the subject had been a taboo since the 1996 Marc Dutroux child abuse scandal in neighboring Belgium.

"We want to get into parliament so we have a voice. Other politicians only talk about us in a negative sense, as if we were criminals," Van den Berg told Reuters.

The Netherlands, which already has liberal policies on soft drugs, prostitution and gay marriage, was shocked by the plan.

An opinion poll published Tuesday showed that 82 percent wanted the government to do something to stop the new party, while 67 percent said promoting pedophilia should be illegal.

"They make out as if they want more rights for children. But their position that children should be allowed sexual contact from age 12 is of course just in their own interest," anti-pedophile campaigner Ireen van Engelen told the AD daily.

Right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders said he had asked the government to investigate whether a party with such "sick ideas" could really be established, ANP news agency reported.

Kees van deer Staaij, a member of the Christian SGP party, also demanded action: "Pedophilia and child pornography should be taboo in every constitutional state. Breaking that will just create more victims and more serious ones."

The party wants private possession of child pornography to be allowed although it supports the ban on the trade of such materials. It also supports allowing pornography to be broadcast on daytime television, with only violent pornography limited to the late evening.

Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves. Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.

The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public and promotes legalizing all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Homosexuality and Hope

No issue has raised more concern in the past decade than that of homosexuality and therefore the CMA offers the following summary and review of the status of the question. This summary relies extensively on the conclusions of various studies and points out the consistency of the teachings of the Church with these studies. It is hoped that this review will also serve as an educational and reference tool for Catholic clergy, physicians, mental health professionals, educators, parents and the general public.

CMA supports the teachings of the Catholic Church as laid out in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in particular the teachings on sexuality: "All the baptized are called to chastity" (CCC, n.2348); "Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence" (CCC, n.2349); "... tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered... Under no circumstance can they be approved" (CCC, n.2333);

It is possible, with God's grace, for everyone to live a chaste life including persons experiencing same-sex attraction, as Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, so powerfully stated in his address to the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian & Gay Ministries: "To deny that the power of God's grace enables those with homosexual attractions to live chastely is to deny, effectively, that Jesus has risen from the dead." (George 1999)

There are certainly circumstances, such as psychological disorders and traumatic experiences, which can, at times, render this chastity more difficult and there are conditions which can seriously diminish an individual's responsibility for lapses in chastity. These circumstances and conditions, however, do not negate free will or eliminate the power of grace. While many men and women who experience same-sex attractions say that their sexual desire for those of their own sex was experienced as a "given" (Chapman 1987[1]) this in no way implies a genetic predetermination or an unchangeable condition. Some surrendered to same-sex attractions because they were told that they were born with this inclination and that it was impossible to change the pattern of one's sexual attraction. Such persons may feel it is futile and hopeless to resist same-sex desires and embrace a "gay identity". These same persons may then feel oppressed by the fact that society and religion, in particular the Catholic Church, do not accept the expression of these desires in homosexual acts. (Schreier 1998[2])

The research referenced in this report counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable and offers hope for prevention and treatment.


A number of researchers have sought to find a biological cause for same-sexual attraction. The media have promoted the idea that a "gay gene" has already been discovered (Burr 1996[3]), but in spite of several attempts, none of the much publicized studies (Hamer 1993[4]; LeVay 1991[5]) has been scientifically replicated. (Gadd 1998) A number of authors have carefully reviewed these studies and found that not only do the studies not prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction; the reports do not even contain such claims. (Byne 1963[6]; Crewdson 1995[7]; Goldberg1992; Horgan 1995[8]; McGuire 1995[9]; Porter 1996; Rice 1999[10])

If same-sex attraction were genetically determined, then one would expect identical twins to be identical in their sexual attractions. There are, however, numerous reports of identical twins who are not identical in their sexual attractions. (Bailey 1991[11]; Eckert 1986; Friedman 1976; Green 1974; Heston 1968; McConaghy 1980; Rainer 1960; Zuger 1976) Case histories frequently reveal environmental factors which account for the development of different sexual attraction patterns in genetically identical children, supporting the theory that same-sex attraction is a product of the interplay of a variety of environmental factors. (Parker 1964[12])

There are, however, ongoing attempts to convince the public that same-sex attraction is genetically based. (Marmor 1975[13]) Such attempts may be politically motivated because people are more likely to respond positively to demands for changes in laws and religious teaching when they believe sexual attraction to be genetically determined and unchangeable. (Ernulf 1989[14]; Piskur 1992[15]) Others have sought to prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction so that they could appeal to the courts for rights based on the "immutability". (Green 1988[16])

Catholics believe that sexuality was designed by God as a sign of the love of Christ, the bridegroom, for his Bride, the Church, and therefore sexual activity is appropriate only in marriage. Catholic teaching holds that: “Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion.E(CCC, n.2360) Healthy psycho-sexual development leads naturally to attraction in persons of each sex for the other sex. Trauma, erroneous education, and sin can cause a deviation from this pattern. Persons should not be identified with their emotional or developmental conflicts as though this were the essence of their identity. In the debate between essentialism and social constructionism, the believer in natural law would hold that human beings have an essential nature -- either male or female -- and that sinful inclinations (such as the desire to engage in homosexual acts) are constructed and can, therefore, be deconstructed.

It is, therefore, probably wise to avoid wherever possible using the words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" as nouns since such usage implies a fixed state and an equivalence between the natural state of man and woman as created by God and persons experiencing same sex attractions or behaviors.

Read the whole thing by clicking on the title...

Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum Newsletter on Homophobia

The horrific effects of homophobia were once again demonstrated this month when two men pleaded guilty to the brutal murder of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common in October of last year. Faced with such violence all Christians must clearly take a stand against homophobia and yet this is particularly challenging for those of us who uphold traditional Christian teaching that homosexual acts are contrary to Scripture and sins. As is evident from the stance of the pressure group IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), many of those in the forefront of challenging homophobia would include as examples of the problem the views of the Church of England, the Anglican Communion and Fulcrum ('the proper context for sexual expression is the union of a man and a woman in marriage'). It is, however important to realise that those who uphold these views have also been quite clear in their opposition to homophobia. Strong statements against it can be found in the writings of leading evangelicals (John Stott, Thomas Schmidt, Stanley Grenz and the Evangelical Alliance) as well as from the Church of England House of Bishops, Lambeth Conferences and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Why then are evangelical Anglicans often reticent about clearly opposing homophobia? There are, I think, a number of reasons, some more commendable than others:

* The ambiguity of the term 'homophobia' and its polemical use by some against any who hold orthodox Christian views
* The capturing of the term by those with a particular interpretation of 'rights' and 'equality' who then use it to condemn those who oppose social and legislative changes sought by some homosexual people.
* The possible complications and confusions in using the language of 'homosexual persons' which may lead to those using such a phrase being understood to hold a particular understanding of the nature of homosexuality.
* The concern that criticising homophobic elements among supporters of traditional teaching is to attack 'allies' and assist 'opponents' in the church debate.
* The awareness of our own sinful attitudes and responses that need to be critiqued and turned from in repentance.

Given that a major problem is being clear what exactly terms means and what behaviour is wrong, can we begin to move towards some definition of the 'homophobia' that we must all oppose? The communiqué from the 2005 Primates' Meeting is helpful here when it speaks strongly against 'the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex' and offers as its theological rationale that 'homosexual people...are children of God, loved and valued by him...'. This clearly means opposing all and any attitudes and behaviours that represent a denial of the humanity of certain people because of their imagined or actual sexual attractions, orientation, relationships or identity. It does not, however, mean we cannot maintain a negative moral evaluation of homosexual behaviour and relationships (although certain ways of expressing those views and certain attitudes underlying them may need to be challenged). Nor does it mean one necessarily must accept social and legal changes which give greater status and recognition to homosexual relationships or treat homosexual and heterosexual activity and love as equivalent.

But does challenging 'homophobia' defined in these terms mean any more in practice than opposing physical violence and verbal abuse? There can, hopefully, be at least three further areas where Christians who disagree on sexual ethics can agree that distinctions and discrimination are theologically indefensible (because different treatment reflects unacceptable prejudice) and so may, by extension, by classed as a form of 'homophobia'. At the very least, those Christians who disagree and claim such practices are acceptable need to present a persuasive theological rationale for such views.

* It is never justifiable to discriminate against someone solely on the basis of their homosexual 'affections' or 'orientation'.
* In many areas of social life, a person's pattern of intimate relationships and/or sexual behaviour is not a ground for judging them ineligible for particular tasks, privileges and position. Discrimination on these grounds (eg in certain areas of secular employment or provision of housing) is also therefore unjustifiable.
* Christians who justify discriminating between two different forms of sexual relationship in any sphere of society or church must do so on the basis that one is a marriage (and so chaste) and the other is a non-marital relationship. A focus on homosexual relationships is therefore not defensible.

With such an understanding of 'homophobia' in place (although an alternative term would probably be preferable) it is possible to be clearer as to the character of this phenomenon as another outworking of our fallen state as sinners. It is a refusal to love our neighbours as ourselves and, as sin, it has deadly effects, fuels hatred and often resorts to deceit and bearing false witness. Such characteristics can even sometimes be discerned in the way people appeal to biblical language and teaching or how they argue in defence of 'orthodoxy'.

If we can gain some theoretical consensus on what is unacceptable 'homophobia' we might also be able to build greater common ground in our assessments of which concrete situations are evidence of its presence. In my experience I have been most aware of and disturbed by this problem in cases such as whispering campaigns against gay Christians, suspicions and concerns about close same-sex friendships in congregations, over-reactions to even a single case of sexual sin in this area, the use of derogatory language about homosexual people, and the assumption gay and lesbian people are a threat to young children. Most recently there was the sad fact that the authors of the recent excellent Grove pastoral booklet on a gay-straight dialogue had to write under pseudonyms because of concerns about being public and open. All of these, and numerous other, some seemingly minor, instances provide evidence of a mix of ignorance, fear, suspicion, anger and antipathy towards homosexual people that must be acknowledged and repented.

More complex but not to be avoided are social and ecclesial situations in which political and institutional forces also come into play. As someone who was actively involved in raising concerns about the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading and urging him to step down I am painfully aware that in the eyes of many people I had, as it was recently put to me in conversation, participated in a 'witch-hunt' which was inherently homophobic. A similar challenge is now being raised within the Communion in relation to Nigeria where there are the added complexities of evaluating at a great distance a particular church's response to secular legislation being proposed in a cultural, legal-political and religious context unfamiliar to us. Nevertheless, if we are serious about being a Communion then there must be mutual accountability and a willingness to challenge actions that appear to be un-Christian in their response to homosexual people as well as actions that commend homosexual relationships. Some of the criticism of the Nigerian church's support for recently proposed state legislation is unfounded because there is no human right to same-sex marriage but there are other concerns that must be respectfully raised:

* Given that homosexual acts are already criminalised (with strong penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment) why is legislation specifically prohibiting same-sex marriages in Nigeria a pressing need especially when such legislation is experienced by homosexual people in Nigeria as intimidating and hostile?
* Is it not unjust and a form of persecution to seek to limit what are generally accepted human rights of assembly and would the new law not potentially limit the capacity of Nigerian Anglicans to adhere to Lambeth I.10 and listen to the experience of lesbian and gay Christians?
* Do the responses of some in the Nigerian hierarchy to the founding of Changing Attitude Nigeria and, in particular, the personal attacks on that group's leader Davis MacIyalla, suggest their stand for biblical sexual ethics is in danger of being seriously compromised and undermined by the presence of unbiblical 'homophobia'?

To address this issue is never going to be comfortable, particularly for those of us committed to the belief that the church is faithful to Scripture in holding to a traditional sexual ethic and viewing homosexuality not as a created good but as one mark of our fallen condition. We must, however, resist the temptation to sidestep or downplay it for at least the following five reasons:

* If we are serious that in both church and wider society there are widespread views about homosexual people, and patterns of behaviour in relation to them, that are wrong and in error then it is a Christian duty to make a stand against these and to witness for righteousness and truth.
* If we are committed to the teaching of the Anglican Communion then we must take this subject with the utmost seriousness.
* If we are genuine about the desire to offer godly, biblical pastoral care and support to those who experience homosexual attraction and also to their families then we must speak up on their behalf when they are victimised, slandered and abused.
* If we are serious about persuading people that the church's traditional teaching is good and true then we need to be willing to assess ourselves and also at times to critique our 'allies' in relation to homophobia.
* If we are concerned to bring the gospel to lesbian and gay people and have a Christ-like mission to gay communities then it is absolutely imperative that we address the issue of 'homophobia'.

The challenge for Fulcrum, wider evangelicalism, and indeed the whole Christian church is to be clearer in taking a stand on this issue and putting into practice the good, and often strong, words opposing 'homophobia' from evangelicals and Anglicans. One example of how this could be done is the excellent web resource Justice and Respect which grew out of the important Bridges Across the Divide internet community. Such resources are a start but ultimately this cannot be kept at an intellectual level of newsletters and in the realm of 'virtual reality'. The problem with 'homophobia' is that it damages real people in 'lived reality' and so challenging it must bring healing to real people and change 'lived reality'.

As evangelical Anglicans we need honestly to examine ourselves individually and as Christian communities. We need to ask whether at times, in removing specks from the eyes of gay and lesbian Christians, we may be missing the beam in our own eye. Any recognition of where we are guilty of 'homophobia' is most likely to come in dialogue and putting into practice that part of Lambeth I.10 which calls on us all to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Only by doing that will we hear from those who suffer the effects most directly about how elements of what we say and what we do prevent us from being able to fulfil our desire to assure them that they are loved by God. But doing that will mean being willing to be corrected and rebuked, hopefully in love, by gay and lesbian fellow-Christians, including those we disagree with over sexual ethics.

As the Anglican Communion and Church of England continues to teeter on the brink of division over issues of sexuality we face a situation in which there are already developing two increasingly distinct groups who may be heading towards becoming two distinct churches. Some Anglicans, often under the tag of 'inclusivity', are already welcoming and engaging with openly gay and lesbian people but failing to uphold biblical and church teaching and so not supporting people in the disciplines of Christian discipleship entailed by that teaching. They are usually strong in their opposition to 'homophobia' but can risk making it primarily an insult to hurl at those with whom they theologically disagree. Others - and here is where most evangelicals are found - are clearly presenting and defending biblical and church teaching. They are, however, often part of worshipping communities where openly homosexual people do not feel welcomed and valued. As churches they are not known for engaging respectfully with the real experience of gay and lesbian people and their struggles. As a result, they often fail to provide the context of unconditional love, acceptance and mutual learning in which homosexual people can become Christians and be supported as they seek to be faithful disciples of Christ. The root spiritual problem for those in this second group may turn out to be one of many strains of that dis-ease which, for want of a better word, can be called 'homophobia'. If that diagnosis has any truth in it then it is absolutely vital for our health and unity and mission as the body of Christ that we recognise that painful reality. And, having confessed the reality, the only ethical response is repentance and a genuine commitment to learn how to give ourselves and our Christian communities a regular health-check in order that we may become genuinely 'welcoming' to all homosexual people even when we cannot in conscience 'affirm' any sexual relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman.

Yours in Christ,

Andrew Goddard
for the extended article edition of this newsletter, click here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What do these issues have in common

Ruling Against Children

Despite the weight of evidence that children do best when raised by mothers and fathers who are married, a U.S. District Court judge has struck down as unconstitutional Oklahoma's law that prohibits state officials from recognizing same-sex adoptions from other states and nations. In a 31-page ruling, Judge Robin Cauthron said Oklahoma had denied due process to two women who were raising 7-year-old twin girls born to one of the women, but adopted in New Jersey by the mother's lesbian partner. Oklahoma had passed the law, pursuant to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, to prevent the Sooner State from being forced to abide by the decisions of some states with respect to marriage. The judge ordered the Oklahoma Health Department to issue birth certificates listing the two women as parents of the little girls. This is another example of judicial activism at its worst. This stunning case illustrates once again why we must have a constitutional amendment to prevent activist judges from destroying marriage in America. In all this judicial talk of made-up "rights," where is the natural right of the child to the love and support of a married mother and a father?

Order Your Copy of
Judicial Activism and the Threat to the Constitution

Parental Notice Measure Qualifies in California

Last year's ballot proposition to provide parental notice before a minor daughter undergoes an abortion in the Golden State was narrowly defeated. Proposition 73 was defeated by a vote of 47.4 percent Yes to 52.6 percent No. "There was negativity about the whole special election that had nothing to do with [last year's Proposition 73]," Albin Rhomberg tells The Sacramento Bee. This year, pro-life advocates have succeeded in getting more than 1 million signatures to make another attempt at restoring this basic right of parents. Just 600,000 valid signatures are required. Planned Parenthood spent $4.5 million to defeat Proposition 73, another reason for the defeat, parent advocates say. This year, newspaper publisher James Holman has stepped forward to give the pro-parent forces $1.1 million to help them qualify. Planned Parenthood's Kathy Kneer says: "We're gearing up. We can't let one individual keep us from our mission to keep California 'teen safe.'" Teen safe. What deceptive advertising. They would have us believe that teens are safer with a Planned Parenthood abortionist who knows nothing of the girl's medical history, who will probably never see the girl again, but who will surely collect a fee for killing the girl's unborn child. What incredible cynicism. This signature campaign shows the breadth and depth of support for parents' rights in California. We thank the organizers of this petition drive and pray for their success in November.

Additional Resources:
California Parental Notification Abortion Initiative Has 1M Signatures

FRC Appeals to Justices--For Justice

Family Research Council has filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart. The Supreme Court last February agreed to take up this case, a challenge to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003. The act never went into effect. Planned Parenthood immediately went into federal court and obtained an injunction to stop its enforcement. Thus, for the past three years, Planned Parenthood and its cohorts have been able to continue to kill thousands of unborn children using the heinous partial-birth abortion procedure. Recall, this procedure involves stabbing a living unborn child in the back of the neck, thrusting a catheter into her skull and sucking out her brains with a powerful vacuum. It is hard to believe that such a monstrous act is even imagined in a civilized country, much less constitutionally protected. The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, said this was just "too close to infanticide." Liberal columnist Richard Cohen said just hearing about it made him shudder. It should. My thanks to FRC's legal team, Bill Saunders and Notre Dame professor Gerard Bradley who prepared FRC's brief for this important case.

Get a copy of
Partial-Birth Abortion on Trial

Monday, May 22, 2006

Network Bishops Issue Position Statement

At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003, just moments after consent was given to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, over twenty bishops stood in the House of Bishops and made this declaration:

“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow. This body, in willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ. This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the Church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality.

“With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action of the 74th Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

They went on to say that they made this declaration as “faithful Episcopalians, and members of this House.”

The Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network reaffirm this statement in its entirety.

As the Primates of the Anglican Communion warned in October of 2003, if the consecration given consent by the action of General Convention proceeded, it “will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.” Sadly, this very thing has happened.

It is important to understand that the issues of sexuality are not alone, or even primarily, the cause of this rupture. Rather, a crisis of faith runs deep in the Episcopal Church over the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior and Lord, the sacred authority of the Apostles’ teaching in the Holy Scriptures, and the responsibility Christians have to act in charity and accountability with each other. All these have been relativized and, in turn, this “accommodation” to the culture of North American individualism has been the context in which division has already occurred and may yet continue.

What is now to be done?

The issue for the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June 2006 is whether the 2003 decision can be reversed and the tear in the fabric of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be repaired. Failing this reversal, the state of impaired or broken communion among those formerly together in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be expected to become permanent. We, the Network Bishops, are prepared to be part of the efforts to reverse the situation, precisely because we are committed both to the Anglican Communion and the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and because we long to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the face of division.

To that end, we unanimously support the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the basis on which our divisions may begin to be mended. We pledge to work with all bishops of this Church and of the Communion who also support the Windsor report, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in particular, in working toward greater unity and mutual responsibility under Scripture and within the Anglican heritage.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Lynn Ackerman, SSC, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of the Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield
The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N Steenson, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande
The Rt. Rev. David J. Bena, Bishop Suffragan of Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Stephen H. Jecko, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Henry W. Scriven, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Andrew H. Fairfield, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland, Retired

Lesbians seeking first gay 'divorce' after three months

By Jonathan Petre
(Filed: 19/05/2006)

A lesbian couple who could become the first to divorce after "marrying" just three months ago were warned by lawyers yesterday that they may have a long wait.

Liz King, 40, and Daphne Ligthard, 36, registered their civil partnership in Ashford, Kent, on Feb 11 before sharing a honeymoon in Amsterdam.

But the relationship soured after Miss Ligthard accused Miss King of seeing another woman who had been a guest at their "wedding". The couple are now splitting up and face the prospect of dividing their joint assets.

Miss Ligthard said that the break-up came after Miss King said she no longer loved her.

"Liz told me she didn't love me any more, that she hadn't done so for years. I was absolutely flabbergasted," she said.

"I asked her why she had gone through the wedding and she said it was to make me happy. But it was all her idea.

"She even asked if I would change my name by deed poll because she liked the sound of it. We seemed more in love than ever."

She said she noticed something was wrong after Miss King, an amateur triathlete who works in insurance, began spending a lot of time away from home and kept bringing another woman back to the house.

"Liz is into athletics and is a triathlete. She began spending a lot of time training with another girl at her athletics club," Miss Ligthard, who works for Eurostar, told The Sun newspaper.

"They were together every day and this girl began coming round to the house when I was at work."

Miss King said: "I have nothing to say except I feel sorry for Daphne at this time."

Lawyers said that, under the Civil Partnerships Act that came into force in December, the couple could not terminate their partnership until it had been in existence for at least a year.

Moreover, in contrast to marriage, adultery was not recognised as grounds for ending a civil partnership, though unreasonable behaviour could be cited.

Mark Harper, a divorce specialist with the London law firm Withers, said that the dissolution of a partnership was almost exactly the same as any other divorce.

"The court would look at the assets that existed at the start of the relationship," he said. "The presumption would be that assets built up during the course of a relationship would be equally divided even if one partner earned much more than the other."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Senate Panel Approves U.S. Gay 'Marriage' Ban

Senate Panel Approves U.S. Gay 'Marriage' Ban

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman," reads the measure, which would require approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states.

"Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman," it says.

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has scheduled a vote on the proposed amendment the week of June 5."

AP story here.

Some resolutions....

Resolved, that rather than limiting ourselves to one resolution of our disagreements, we continue to “invest the talents” given us in those places where call is extended to and received by partnered sexual minority persons and discern the working of the Spirit through the lived experience of God’s people; and be it further

Resolved, that in furtherance of the goal of “finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements”, the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly partner with the Metropolitan New York Synod in endorsing and calling for restraint in the administration of those ELCA policies that address the full service of partnered sexual minority persons in rostered ministry, in order that the ministry of such persons to and with our congregations may be seen and we may discern whether God “prospers the work of their hands” [Ps. 90:17] and they may be “[known] by their fruits” [Matthew 7:16,20]; and be it further

Resolved, that the Sierra Pacific Synod join the Metropolitan New York Synod in requesting other synods to join us in endorsing the practice of restraint in the administration of policies applicable only to sexual minority rostered persons as a part of the continuing discernment process of the ELCA so that a number of ministries across the church may be looked to as exemplars through which our synods and the ELCA may evaluate the spiritual health and welfare of congregations and communities served by openly partnered sexual minority ministers; and be it further

Resolved, that in this time of disagreement and discernment all members of the ELCA earnestly pray: “Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [Morning and Evening Prayer, LBW Prayer (251)]

Submitted by:
Shepherd of the Hills, Berkeley
University Chapel, Berkeley
St. Paul, Oakland


RESOLVED, that in furtherance of the goal of "finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements" the Saint Paul Area Synod Assembly endorses, and calls for, prophetic witness and disciplinary restraint by the Saint Paul Area Synod bishop, synod council, candidacy committee, and disciplinary committee in the administration of policies that impede the full service of partnered gay and lesbian persons in rostered ministry, in order that the ministry of such persons to and with our congregations may be seen and we may discern how God "prospers the work of their hands" (Ps 90:17) and they may be "(known) by their fruits" (Mt. 7;16, 20); and be it further

RESOLVED, it is the guidance of this synod that in the administration of policies that impede the full service in ministry of partnered gay and lesbian persons, this synod shall be guided by how the mission and pastoral needs of this synod and its congregations would best be served, and be it further

RESOLVED, that this guidance in no way applies to any relationship where there is abuse, infidelity, or exploitation of one person by another; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Saint Paul Area Synod requests other synods and ELCA seminaries to join us in endorsing the practice of prophetic witness and disciplinary restraint in the administration of policies regarding gay and lesbian persons as a part of the continuing discernment process of the ELCA; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that in this time of living together faithfully, all members of the ELCA may earnestly pray: "Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Morning and Evening Prayer, LBW Prayer (251))

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Church Must Move Beyond the Bible?

by Al Mohler
No issue stands alone. The debate over homosexuality is inextricably tied to issues of biblical authority, hermeneutics, the gospel, the identity of the church -- and the list goes on. This becomes clear when those advocating the normalization of homosexuality actually have to deal with the Bible.

Given the fact that the Bible is unequivocal in its condemnation of all same-sex sexual activities, those pushing this agenda are left with only two possible moves. The first move is an attempt to argue that the Bible has been misread for twenty centuries. That move is running out of steam, since the plausibility of these arguments is utterly lacking. Paul wasn't really concerned with same-sex orientation? The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was merely inhospitality? These arguments lack credulity among the intellectually serious.

The second move is more honest and more audacious, but it is all the advocates of homosexuality have left -- argue against the authority of the Bible. This is the leading edge of the argument now. Those pushing for the normalization of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of homosexual ministers are now more commonly arguing that the church must grow beyond Scripture.

A leading example of this argument is found in the current edition of The Christian Century, where Frederick J. Gaiser, who teaches Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, argues that the church must correct the Scripture by a "new thing," a new prophetic word, that would allow the normalization of homosexuality.

In making his argument, Gaiser turns to Isaiah 56, asserting that Isaiah is here correcting Deuteronomy 21:18-20 and 23:1. Here is the substance of his argument:

Enter the prophet of Isaiah 56. Speaking for God, he announced: "Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, 'The Lord will surely separate me from his people'; and do not let the eunuch say, 'I am just a dry tree.' For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths . . . I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who . . . hold fast my covenant--these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer . . . for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (56:1-7).

Throw open the doors, said the prophet. In saying this, he set himself against biblical legislation that clearly argued otherwise. It says in the book of Deuteronomy, "No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to he assembly of the Lord" (23:1). A similar passage in Leviticus declares that "no one who has a blemish shall draw near" the sanctuary, including one with "crushed testicles" (21:18-20).

Thus, Gaiser argues that this is a precedent for "a radical reinterpretation or even abrogation of a previous divine word," a pattern he sees as continued in the ministry of Jesus.

What Gaiser seems to miss is that every time Jesus uses the formula, "You have heard . . . but I say to you . . . ," He raises the bar -- He never lowers it. Jesus himself said "it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void" [Luke 16:17].

God's right to speak to his people through his prophet Isaiah is altogether different from any claim that the church now has the right to move beyond the Bible. Gaiser's argument comes into clear shape in this paragraph:

What might this mean for the present discussion about the place in the church of homosexually oriented believers? Might the contemporary church hear itself and its situation addressed by a surprising prophetic word that, in the name of God, calls previous words of God into question? That is to say, might God be calling the church to a "new thing" in which not even earlier words of God--good and proper for their own time--can stand in the way of the broader community God now has in mind?

Just consider what this paragraph really means. The church is now to expect that God will call his own Word into question? God's "earlier words," understood to be "good and proper for their own time," are now to be superseded by "the broader community God now has in mind?"

Gaiser opens his article with this introduction:

If those in the church who are in favor of changing long-held attitudes and ordinances relating to homosexuals were merely cultural relativists with no regard for the Bible or tradition, the debate would be easier. The same would be true, of course, if those wishing to retain those attitudes and ordinances were merely diehard homophobes who used the Bible selectively to their own ends. But neither is the case. Though there may be some people who more or less fit those categories, the hard truth is that Christians of good will--more, Christians of good faith--for whom the Bible remains the source and norm of faith and life sincerely disagree about whether or how biblical passages regarding homosexual behavior relate to the current situation. In other words, exegesis--important as it is--will not solve the problem.

One simply cannot get away with making the claim that this is a debate among faithful Christians "for whom the Bible remains the source and norm of faith and life" and then proceed to argue that the Bible's words must give way to an extra-biblical word that will now presumably correct the Bible's now outmoded view of sexuality. Once one makes this argument, the Bible is no longer the norm.

Professor Gaiser's article, "Open-Door policy: Homosexuality and the Message of Isaiah," published in the May 2, 2006 edition of The Christian Century, is a shorter version of "A New Word on Homosexuality? Isaiah 56:1-8 as Case Study," published at Word & World.

Dr Mohler's blog is here.

"Religion today"

Published: May 18, 2006

Kendall Harmon has to monitor his blog these days, so he can delete insults and offensive language from the comments section.

His topic: the Episcopal Church.

As a critical church meeting nears over homosexuality, the debate online and in public comments has grown so intense that one publication has dubbed it ''blood sport.''

''I think people are dreading possible outcomes and when you're dealing with the unknown, fear kicks in in a big way,'' said Harmon, a minister and conservative leader in the Diocese of South Carolina. ''And I do think things are more polarized now.''

The Episcopal General Convention, which begins June 13 in Columbus, Ohio, must respond to fellow Anglicans worldwide who were outraged by the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop -- V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The votes will shape not only the church's future, but also its role as the U.S. representative of the Anglican Communion.

The emotion of the moment is visible in the explosion of blogs since the convention three years ago, when delegates voted to confirm Robinson's election. A quick Web search yields at least 20 dedicated to the plight of the 2.3 million-member denomination. The Living Church, an independent magazine, compared the tone of the discussion to ''a wrestling cage match'' in an editorial titled ''Blood Sport.''

Some bishops have complained of being flooded with hateful e-mails and of being personally attacked on the Web. Harmon, who runs the widely read titusonenine blog, has had to take down comments he said were ''cynical, angry and alas, even petty.'' He now reviews all statements before they are posted. Some liberal-leaning blogs have had to do the same.

''The Internet and blogs do give megaphones to anonymous bigots, but they also allow you to organize more quickly and, in some instances, trade opinions across ideological lines,'' said Jim Naughton, a liberal who runs the blog for the Diocese of Washington and has had to warn people about the language they use there. ''It intensifies the conversation for better and for worse.''

But the debate goes beyond the Internet. Episcopalians with traditional beliefs on homosexuality, a minority in the denomination, feel persecuted and silenced by the majority -- and their public statements reflect a deep anger over their circumstances.

A conservative group called Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion is pressing for a church trial of Robinson and the dozens of bishops who consecrated him. A spokesman for the advocates, James Ince, said his group was engaged in ''a fight to the death of our church.'' The debate is becoming more direct and truthful, not harsh, he said.

''You can expect the liberals not to appreciate the clear, straight language from lay organizations because they're used to this goody goody two-shoes pantywaist stuff,'' Ince said.

The Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of the conservative Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., said in a May 10 letter posted on the school's Web site that an ''army of Brown shirts'' was falsely interpreting Scripture to fuel ''the gay-agenda steamroller.''

Some moderates and liberals have responded by accusing traditionalists of being more concerned with power than with faith. In a recent edition of The Washington Window, the newspaper of the Diocese of Washington, Naughton wrote a two-part report called ''Following the Money,'' linking conservative Episcopal advocates to right-wing donors intent on fighting the political stands of liberal Protestants.

Perhaps the most inflammatory commentary can be found on the Web site virtueonline, where founder David Virtue offers his own and others' traditionalist views in ways that even some fellow conservatives find offensive. For example, Virtue refers to one of the church's first openly gay priests as the ''First Sodomite.'' Virtue caused an uproar at the 2003 General Convention when he published last-minute claims of impropriety against Robinson that bishops quickly deemed baseless.

Delegates will be entering the convention in Columbus under a heavy burden. They will decide whether to fulfill a request from Anglican leaders for a moratorium on electing partnered gay Episcopal bishops and on creating blessing ceremonies for gay couples.

Anglicans worldwide will be watching closely. The Communion teaches that gay sex is ''incompatible with Scripture,'' and if overseas archbishops think the General Convention has not moved far enough toward following that teaching, it could split the 77 million-member Communion.

''I definitely think the tenor of the conversation is a little stronger right now, primarily because both sides of the political issue think there's a lot to lose and there is,'' said Brother Karekin Yarian of Every Voice Network, which works with moderates and liberals in diocesan groups called Via Media. ''Both sides are concerned about the church splitting and no one wants to see that happen.''


On the Net:

Conservative-leaning blogs:



Liberal-leaning blogs:



Sunday, May 14, 2006

Go to national Review web site

Stanley Kurtz
National Review
February 28, 2006

No Nordic Bliss
There’s no refuting the claim that same-sex partnerships harm marriage.

Now that we've learned about the Swedish drive to abolish marriage and recognize polyamory (see "Fanatical Swedish Feminists"), and about the demise of marriage in the Netherlands (see "Standing Out"), let's take a look at an important attempt to refute my arguments on Scandinavian marriage. In 2004, Yale Law Professor William Eskridge, Attorney Darren Spedale, and Sweden's Ombudsman for Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Hans Ytterberg, published "Nordic Bliss? Scandinavian Registered Partnerships and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate." (For brevity, I'll refer only to first-author Eskridge.) Understanding Eskridge's criticisms will tell us much about the meaning of same-sex marriage.

Against Marriage
The most revealing thing about Eskridge's paper is that it goes beyond a mere defense of registered partnerships to offer a full-throated endorsement of Swedish parental cohabitation. Having a Swedish government official as a coauthor emphasizes the point.

But Eskridge goes further and criticizes me for treating Sweden's 56-percent out-of-wedlock birthrate as a problem. "[Kurtz] uses the term 'out-of-wedlock births' in a consistently disparaging manner," complains Eskridge. This, says Eskridge, means "fetishizing one institution" (i.e. marriage), at the expense of the perfectly legitimate Swedish practice of parental cohabitation. Is there anything wrong with the fact that so many Swedish children are raised by unmarried couples? "Of course not," says Eskridge.

Eskridge defends Swedish parental cohabitation by pointing to a study that found Swedish children suffering when raised by a lone parent, but doing better when raised by either married or cohabiting parents. Eskridge neglects to mention that this equivalence between married and cohabiting parents applies only as long as the couples stay together. But cohabiting parents break up at two to three times the rate of married parents, which in the long run means more kids raised by lone parents. This problem of family instability is my main complaint about parental cohabitation. Yet Eskridge doesn't refute the point; he ignores it.

So while Eskridge offers a passing good word for marriage, he is actually deeply hostile to the idea of marriage as the preferred setting for parenthood. Eskridge endorses a Swedish system that has effaced virtually every legal distinction between marriage and cohabitation. Sweden is actually the model for America's most radical anti-marriage activists. So the "conservative case" for gay marriage is looking awfully dead right now.

Having ignored my critique of parental cohabitation, Eskridge goes on to egregiously misrepresent my causal framework. Eskridge claims that I consider Sweden the best and clearest example of the negative effect of same-sex marriage. False. Norway is the clearest Scandinavian example of the negative effects of same-sex partnerships (as I've repeatedly noted), and the Netherlands is the most important European example.

Eskridge goes into high dudgeon over my supposed inability to acknowledge that many factors contributed to martial decline in Sweden, well before registered partnerships were introduced in 1994. Yet I've repeatedly noted the importance of multiple causal factors and pre-existing marital decline. That's exactly why I concentrate on Norway and the Netherlands rather than Sweden and Denmark. Gay marriage had more effect on Norway and the Netherlands because there was "more marriage" left to undermine when gay marriage came around than in either Sweden or Denmark. There's no way Eskridge can even claim to refute me without looking at Norway and the Netherlands. Yet he spends all his time on the two countries where marriage had declined the furthest even before gay marriage was introduced (while pretending I don't understand that point).

Does this mean same-sex partnerships did nothing to contribute to Swedish marital decline? Not on your life. In "The Marriage Mentality" I showed how same-sex partnerships are pushing Sweden toward recognition of triple and quadruple parenting. And in "Fanatical Swedish Feminists," I showed how Sweden's same-sex partnerships have opened the way for a drive to abolish marriage and recognize polyamory. Eskridge talks about "nordic bliss." Read "Fanatical Swedish Feminists" and you'll see a nordic nightmare. When it comes to "slippery slope" issues, the impact of same-sex partnerships on Sweden is quite strong.

But that's not all. The Swedish out-of-wedlock birthrate continued to rise after passage of registered partnerships in 1994, and there's good reason to view registered partnerships as a contributing factor in that rise. As we saw in "Fanatical Swedish Feminists," Swedish legislation removing the final remaining differences between registered partnerships and marriage (e.g., the right to state-funded artificial insemination), made a point of treating marriage, registered partnerships, and mere cohabitation alike. So instead of highlighting marriage's privileged status as a site for parenthood, partnership legislation is communicating the message that marriage is no different from cohabitation.

Read on here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

When rules no longer matter and are meant only to be changed

The New Jersey Synod Assembly voted to "accept" Resolution II submitted by Assistant to the Bishop Gladys Moore, a copy of the Metro NY resolution which was ruled by the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to be unconstitutional. The unconstitutionality of it was argued on the floor but it was approved anyway, approximately 230 to 170.

In the words of the person who passed the news along, "The message this sends is that "rules" no longer matter. Guess we knew that all along - but this surely lays it out in black and white. Could not resist giving you the scoop."

Friday, May 12, 2006


"Tell Your Friends:

Thank you for taking a stand to protect marriage for our children and grandchildren by writing your Senators. Now please help us make sure that our voices are heard on Capitol Hill -- the voices of the vast majority of Americans who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Please tell your friends, family, and neighbors that the time is now to make a difference. Our deadline of June 6th is rapidly approaching. Help us by entering five e-mail addresses below to tell your friends and family that that they need to make their voices heard. These addresses will only be used for sending your message.

We will add your personalized message to the email below and deliver it to the friends and family you choose. See here.

Email Your Senators

Let your Senators know they must vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment on June 6. Enter your constituent information below, as well as any additional personal comments you may want to add to the message, and click 'Send My E-mail.'


Subject: Vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment

E-mail Text:

Dear Your Senator's Name;

Marriage is the union of a husband and wife. Its benefits for children and for society as a whole are incalculable. Marriage is not discrimination; it is common sense, for the common good. For marriage to flourish in our culture it must be protected against being redefined as something other than the union of one man and one woman.

Therefore, as your constituent, I respectfully request that you support S. J. Res. 1, the Marriage Protection Amendment, and that you support all procedural measures to bring the amendment to a floor vote.

Your Comments Here


Your Name
And Mailing Address

Please complete the form here:

ELCA's last statement on marriage still stands?

Clarification Regarding Same-sex Blessings
and Ongoing Deliberation Concerning Homosexuality From the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop, May 2000

The Rev. H. George Anderson

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America upholds heterosexual marriage as the appropriate context for intimate sexual expression. The ELCA’s 1996 message, Sexuality: Some Common Convictions, stated:

Marriage is a lifelong covenant of faithfulness between a man and a woman. In marriage, two persons become "one flesh;" a personal and sexual union that embodies God’s loving purpose to create and enrich life. By the gift of marriage God "founded human community in a joy that begins now and is brought to perfection in the life to come."

In 1993, the ELCA’s Conference of Bishops stated:

We, as the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, recognize that there is basis neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship. We, therefore, do not approve such a ceremony as an official action of this church’s ministry. Nevertheless, we express trust in and will continue dialogue with those pastors and congregations who are in ministry with gay and lesbian persons, and affirm their desire to explore the best ways to provide pastoral care for all to whom they minister.

Recent synodical actions do not change the ELCA’s stance upholding marriage.

In 1999, the Churchwide Assembly (this church’s highest legislative authority) called upon all members and congregations to continue dialogue regarding homosexuality. The assembly voted:

To continue discerning conversations about homosexuality and the inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in our common life and mission and to encourage churchwide units, synods, congregations, and members of this church to participate in thoughtful, deliberate, and prayerful conversations through use of such resources as "Talking about Homosexuality–A Guide for Congregations."

To reaffirm 1991 and 1995 actions of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that "Gay and lesbian people, as individuals created by God, are welcome to participate fully in the life of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America." [excerpts from CA99.06.27]

The Rev. H. George Anderson
Presiding Bishop
on behalf of the ELCA Conference of Bishops

Mark Hanson, could you go on the record? After all, lots has happened in the last five years.

Top 10 Social Scientific Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage (SSM)

Top 10 Social Scientific Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage (SSM)

A large and growing body of social scientific evidence indicates that the intact, married family is best for children. In particular, see work by David Popenoe, Linda Waite, Maggie Gallagher, Sara McLanahan, David Blankenhorn, Paul Amato, and Alan Booth. This statement from Sara McLahanan, a sociologist at Princeton University, is representative: “If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting. The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.”
* Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur. 1994. Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Harvard University Press. p. 38.

1. Children hunger for their biological parents

SS couples using IVF or surrogate mothers deliberately create a class of children who will live apart from their mother or father. Yale Child Study Center psychiatrist Kyle Pruett reports that children of IVF often ask their single or lesbian mothers about their fathers, asking their mothers questions like the following: “Mommy, what did you do with my daddy?” “Can I write him a letter?” “Has he ever seen me?” “Didn’t you like him? Didn’t he like me?” Elizabeth Marquardt reports that children of divorce often report similar feelings about their non-custodial parent, usually the father.
* Kyle Pruett. 2000. Fatherneed. Broadway. p. 204.
* Elizabeth Marquardt. 2004. The Moral and Spiritual Lives of Children of Divorce. Forthcoming.

2. Children need fathers

If SSM becomes common, most SS couples with children would be lesbians. This means that we would have yet more children being raised apart from fathers. Among other things, we know that fathers excel in reducing antisocial behavior/delinquency in boys and sexual activity in girls. What is fascinating is that fathers exercise a unique social and biological influence on their children. For instance, a recent study of father absence on girls found that girls who grew up apart from their biological father were much more likely to experience early puberty and a teen pregnancy than girls who spent their entire childhood in an intact family. This study, along with David Popenoe’s work, suggests that a father’s pheromones influence the biological development of his daughter, that a strong marriage provides a model for girls of what to look for in a man, and gives them the confidence to resist the sexual entreaties of their boyfriends.
* Ellis, Bruce J., Bates, John E., Dodge, Kenneth A., Fergusson, David M., Horwood, L. John, Pettit, Gregory S., & Woodward, Lianne. Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?. Child Development, 74, 801-821.
* David Popenoe. 1996. Life Without Father. Harvard.

3. Children need mothers

Although gay men are less likely to have children than lesbians, there will be and are gay men raising children. There will be even more if SSM is legalized. These households deny children a mother. Among other things, mothers excel in providing children with emotional security and in reading the physical and emotional cues of infants. Obviously, they also give their daughters unique counsel as they confront the physical, emotional, and social challenges associated with puberty and adolescence. Stanford psychologist Eleanor Maccoby summarizes much of this literature in her book The Two Sexes. See also Steven Rhoads’ book, which comes out in the fall.
* Eleanor Maccoby. 1998. The Two Sexes. Harvard.
* Steven Rhoads. 2004. Taking Sex Differences Seriously. Encounter.

4. Inadequate evidence on SS couple parenting

A number of leading professional associations have asserted that there are “no effects” of SS couple parenting on children. But the research in this area is quite preliminary; most of the studies are done by advocates and most suffer from serious methodological problems. Sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia, who is agnostic on SSM, offered this review of the literature on gay parenting as an expert witness for a Canadian Court considering SSM: “Through this analysis I draw my conclusions that 1) all of the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research.” This is not exactly the kind of social scientific evidence you would want to launch a major family experiment.
*Steven Nock. 2001. Affidavit to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice regarding Hedy Halpern et al. University of Virginia Sociology Department.

5. Children raised in SS homes experience gender and sexual disorders

Although the evidence on child outcomes is sketchy, the evidence does suggest that children raised by lesbians or gay men are more likely to experience gender and sexual disorders. Judith Stacey—an advocate for SSM and a sociologist—reviewed the literature on child outcomes and found the following: “lesbian parenting may free daughters and sons from a broad but uneven range of traditional gender prescriptions.” Her conclusion here is based on studies that show that sons of lesbians are less masculine and that daughters of lesbians are more masculine. She also found that a “significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbian mothers than those raised by heterosexual mothers… reported having a homoerotic relationship.” Stacey also observes that children of lesbians are more likely to report homoerotic attractions. Her review must be view judiciously, given the methodological flaws detailed by Professor Nock in the literature as a whole. Nevertheless, theses studies give some credence to conservative concerns about the effects of SS couple parenting.
*Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz. 2001. “(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” American Sociological Review 66: 159-183. See especially pp. 168-171.

6. Vive la difference

If SSM is institutionalized, our society would take yet another step down the road of de-gendering marriage. There would me more use of gender-neutral language like “partners” and—more importantly—more social/cultural pressures to neuter our thinking and our behaviors in marriage. But marriages typically thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical ways and are attentive to the gendered needs and aspirations of their husband or wife. For instance, women are happier when their husband earns the lion’s share of the household income. Likewise, couples are less likely to divorce when the wife concentrates on childrearing and the husband concentrates on breadwinning, as University of Virginia Psychologist Mavis Hetherington admits.
* E. Mavis Hetherington & John Kelly. 2002. For Better of For Worse. Norton. P. 31.
* Steven Rhoads. 2004. Taking Sex Differences Seriously. Encounter.

7. Sexual fidelity

One of the biggest threats that SSM poses to marriage is that it would probably undercut the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage. In the first edition of his book in defense of marriage, Virtually Normal, Andrew Sullivan wrote: “There is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.” This line of thinking, of course, were it incorporated into marriage and telegraphed to the public in sitcoms, magazines, and other mass media, would do enormous harm to the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage. One recent study of civil unions and marriages in Vermont suggests this is a very real concern. More than 79 percent of heterosexual married men and women, along with lesbians in civil unions, reported that they strongly valued sexual fidelity. Only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions valued sexual fidelity.
* Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solomon. 2003. Civil Unions in the State of Vermont: A Report on the First Year. University of Vermont Department of Psychology.
* David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison. 1984. The Male Couple. Prentice Hall. P. 252.

8. Marriage, procreation, and the fertility implosion

Traditionally, marriage and procreation have been tightly connected to one another. Indeed, from a sociological perspective, the primary purpose that marriage serves is to secure a mother and father for each child who is born into a society. Now, however, many Westerners see marriage in primarily emotional terms. Among other things, the danger with this mentality is that it fosters an anti-natalist mindset that fuels population decline, which in turn puts tremendous social, political, and economic strains on the larger society. SSM would only further undercut the procreative norm long associated with marriage insofar as it establishes that there is no necessary link between procreation and marriage. This was spelled out in the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts, where the majority opinion dismissed the procreative meaning of marriage. It is no accident that the countries that have legalized or are considering legalizing SSM have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. For instance, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada have birthrates that hover around 1.6 children per woman—well below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1.
* For national fertility rates
* For the growing disconnect between marriage and procreation

9. For the sake of the children.

The divorce and sexual revolutions of the last four decades has seriously undercut the norm that couples should get and stay married if they intend to have children, are expecting a child, or already have children. Political scientist James Q. Wilson reports that the introduction of no-fault divorce further destabilized marriage by weakening the legal and cultural meaning of the marriage contract. George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate and an economist, found that the widespread availability of contraception and abortion in the 1960s and 1970s, and the sexual revolution they enabled, made it easier for men to abandon women they got pregnant, since they could always blame their girlfriends for not using contraception or procuring an abortion. It is plausible to suspect that SSM would have similar consequences for marriage, that is, it would further destabilize the norm that adults should sacrifice to get and stay married for the sake of their children. Why? SSM would institutionalize the idea that children do not need both their mother and their father. This would be particularly important for men, who are more likely to abandon their children. SSM would make it even easier than it already is for men to rationalize their abandonment of their children. After all, they could tell themselves, our society, which affirms lesbian couples raising children, believes that children do not need a father. So, they might tell themselves, I do not need to marry or stay married to the mother of my children.
* James Q. Wilson. 2002. The Marriage Problem. Basic. PP. 175-177.
* George A. Akerlof, Janet L. Yellen, and Michael L. Katz. 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States." Quarterly Journal of Economics CXI: 277-317.

10. Women & marriage domesticate men.

Men who are married earn more, work harder, drink less, live longer, spend more time attending religious services, and are more sexually faithful. They also see their testosterone levels drop, especially when they have children in the home. If the distinctive sexual patterns of “committed” gay couples are any indication (see above), it is unlikely that SSM would domesticate men in the way that heterosexual marriage does. It is also extremely unlikely that the biological effects of heterosexual marriage on men would also be found in SSM. Thus, gay activists like Andrew Sullivan who argue that gay marriage will domesticate gay men are—in all likelihood—clinging to a foolish hope. This foolish hope does not justify yet another effort to meddle with marriage.
* Steve Nock. 1998. Marriage in Men’s Lives. Oxford.
* Institute for American Values. 2003. Hardwired to Connect. P. 17.

A Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage

A Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage

Throughout America, the institution of marriage is suffering. As leaders in our nation's religious communities, we cannot sit idly by. It is our duty to speak. And so across the lines of theological division, we have united to affirm, in one voice, the following:

For millennia our societies have recognized the union of a man and a woman in the bond of marriage. Cross-culturally virtually every known human society understands marriage as a union of male and female. As such marriage is a universal, natural, covenantal union of a man and a woman intended for personal love, support and fulfillment, and the bearing and rearing of children. Sanctioned by and ordained of God, marriage both precedes and sustains civil society.

Marriage is particularly important for the rearing of children as they flourish best under the long term care and nurture of their father and mother. For this and other reasons, when marriage is entered into and gotten out of lightly, when it is no longer the boundary of sexual activity, or when it is allowed to be radically redefined, a host of personal and civic ills can be expected to follow. Such a point has always been stressed by the world's great monotheistic religious traditions and is, today, increasingly confirmed by impeccable social science research.

Long concerned with rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and absentee fathers, we have recently watched with extreme alarm the growing trend of some courts to make marriage something it is not: an elastic concept able to accommodate almost any individual preference. This does not so much modify or even weaken marriage as abolish it. The danger this betokens for family life and a general condition of social justice and ordered liberty is hard to overestimate.

Therefore, we take the unprecedented stand of uniting to call for a constitutional amendment to establish a uniform national definition of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman. We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society. We encourage all citizens of good will across the country to step forward boldly and exercise their right to work through our constitutionally established democratic procedures to amend the Constitution to include a national definition of marriage. We hereby announce our support for S.J. Res.1, the Marriage Protection Amendment.

May God bless all marriages and all those who labor to protect the sanctity and promote the goodness of marriage throughout this nation.


The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, SSC
Episcopal Bishop of Quincy, IL

Daniel Akin, Ph.D.
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Right Reverend Peter H. Beckwith
Episcopal Bishop of Springfield, IL

Bishop Charles E. Blake
First Assistant Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ (COGIC)

Bishop Wellington Boone
Founder and Sr. Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, CO

Charles W. Colson
Founder and Chairman, Prison Fellowship

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman, Focus on the Family

David Dockery, Ph.D.
President, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee
Chairman, Board of Directors, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

The Right Reverend Robert Duncan
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, PA
Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan
Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, NY

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, IL

Timothy George, Th.D.
Dean, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University
Executive Editor of Christianity Today

The Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez
Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio, TX

The Reverend Ted Haggard
President, National Association of Evangelicals

The Reverend Dr. Jack W. Hayford
President, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Founder/Chancellor, The King's College and Seminary
Pastor Emeritus, The Church On The Way

The Most Blessed Herman
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Primate, The Orthodox Church in America

The Right Reverend John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

Bishop Harry R. Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Lanham, MD
President, High Impact Leadership Coalition

His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, MD

The Reverend Dr. D. James Kennedy
Chancellor, Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, FL

The Reverend Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick
President, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Dr. Richard Land
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

Rabbi Daniel Lapin
President, Toward Tradition

Steve W. Lemke, Ph.D.
Provost, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Reverend Dr. Peter A. Lillback
Senior Pastor, Proclamation Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA
President, Westminster Theological Seminary

The Reverend Herbert H. Lusk, II
Senior Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church
President & CEO, People For People, Inc

His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, CA

His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Detroit, MI

Most Reverend Richard J. Malone
Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, ME

His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, DC

The Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino
Roman Catholic Bishop of Madison, WI

The Most Reverend John Myers
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark, NJ

The Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kansas City, KS

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus
Editor in chief of FIRST THINGS

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt
Roman Catholic Bishop of New Ulm, MN

Rabbi David Novak
J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies,
Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Visiting Professor of Religion, Princeton University (2006)

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted
Roman Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, AZ

His Eminence Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M., Cap.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, MA

Rev. Dr. Luciano Padilla, Jr.
Senior Pastor, Bay Ridge Christian Center, Brooklyn, NY

Dr. Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, PA

The Reverend Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President, The Seymour Institute for Advanced Christian Studies

The Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Jr.
President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals

The Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan,br> Roman Catholic Bishop of Colorado Springs, CO

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Associate Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun of Manhattan, NY

The Most Reverend John G. Vlazny
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland, OR

The Reverend Dr. Rick Warren
Founding Pastor, The Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA
Author, The Purpose-Driven Life

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Executive Vice President, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

The Reverend David Welch
Executive Director, U.S. Pastor Council

The Most Reverend John W. Yanta
Roman Catholic Bishop of Amarillo, TX

Malcolm B. Yarnell, III, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Theological Research
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Institutional affiliations are provided for purposes of identification only.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

If you can't play by the rules, declare there are no rules

...and end it by saying, "Bless me, Father"! Really, read this resolution and tell me what you think:

A Neutral Stance that Addresses the Ministry of Gay and Lesbian Persons

WHEREAS, the 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted without amendment 'Recommendation One of the 2005 ELCA Church Council, committing this church; asking every part of the ELCA - congregations, synods, institutions, agencies and churchwide units, "to seek unity in the midst of our disagreements over matters of sexuality"; and

WHEREAS, the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, *Recommendation One, directed action "to concentrate on Finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements, recognizing the God-given mission and communion that we share as members of the body of Christ"; and

WHEREAS, it is the churchwide organization's responsibility through decisions of the CWA and Church Council to develop "churchwide policies in consultation with the synods and congregations" *(ELCA Constitution 8.14) and it is each synod's responsibility to "provide for pastoral care of the congregations, ordained ministers, associates in ministry, deaconnesses, and diaconal ministers within its boundaries" tt(ELCA Constitution. 8.13).

WHEREAS, gratitude is expressed to the Grand Canyon Synod for adoption of the Resolution of Welcome at its 2005 Assembly specifically declaring that 'all persons regardless of race, ancestry, color, citizenship, religious background, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, marital status, ability, economic status, or primary language share with all others the worth that comes from being unique individuals created by God, are welcome within the membership of the synod, and that, as members, are welcome to full participation in the organizational and sacramental life of this church'.

WHEREAS, there are many instances where congregations have expressed their willingness to receive the ministry of partnered gay and lesbian pastors and leaders as well as those congregations not willing; and

WHEREAS, St. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:3-5: "...making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above ail and through all and in all."

Now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Grand Canyon Synod shall take a neutral stance, neither in favor of nor prohibiting the rostering of otherwise-qualified persons in a mutual, chaste, and faithful same-gender partnership; and be it further

RESOLVED, That those congregations of this Grand Canyon Synod that choose to call and those that choose not to call otherwise-qualified persons in a same-gender partnership shall be seen as being faithful to the Word of God.

Submitted by: The Congregation Council of Faith Lutheran Church, Phoenix, Arizona

Monday, May 08, 2006

Joy as gay dean stays at St. Mark's

Pastor loses election for Episcopal bishop of California

"It was not until the Very Rev. Robert Taylor had stepped to his pulpit at Sunday's 11 a.m. service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral that applause erupted in some back rows. His congregation quickly stood, and the ovation spread, row by row.

At first, Taylor motioned for people to sit. Then he smiled. The Capitol Hill worshippers were disobeying his request. Church members knew that Taylor, the cathedral's openly gay dean, had lost Saturday's election to be the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California.
Robert Taylor
Zoom Jim Bryant / P-I
The Very Rev. Robert Taylor, openly gay dean of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, greets 7-month-old Maxwell Keeler after services on Sunday.

By applauding, they let him know he still had a home in Seattle.

The diocese elected the Right Rev. Mark Andrus, 49, bishop suffragan of the diocese of Alabama, as its first new bishop in 27 years, a decision that averted inflaming a crisis over homosexuality in the denomination.

The broader Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to which it belongs have been shaken by a dispute over the inclusion of gay men and lesbians that grew increasingly acrimonious after the Episcopal Church consecrated the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

In the Diocese of California, three of the seven candidates on Saturday's ballot for bishop were openly gay or lesbian ministers in long-term relationships. None of the gay candidates received more than a handful of votes.

Taylor, 48, is from South Africa and arrived at St. Mark's in 1999. A protégé of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he leads about 2,400 members of St. Mark's.

He shares his life with his partner, Jerry Smith.

If a gay candidate had been elected, the trickle of congregations that have left the Episcopal Church USA since the consecration of Bishop Robinson might have accelerated, and the strained relations between the Episcopal Church and the broader communion could have been pushed to a schism, church experts have said.

The American Anglican Council has said that the election of a non-celibate gay bishop would "set off a firestorm."

Taylor said he is aware of the division.

"I think the question we're struggling with as a church is that baptism makes everyone a full member of the church," he said in an interview Sunday.

"So we're struggling to live the truth of what God already knows. ... God is inclusive. God is filled with love and justice."

After the approximately 500 church members took their seats, Taylor opened his sermon with an understatement, causing many people to laugh: "Something happened yesterday."

He thanked the congregation for its support, both for him and for Smith, and said their lives have been strengthened during this process.

He also talked about St. Mark's -- which he calls "a house of prayer for all people" and is celebrating its 75th anniversary -- and how the church has made controversial choices based on compassion and justice.

Those include opposing the war in Iraq. "Have we and will we disappoint some? Yes," he said.

He also repeated a passage that the congregation read earlier in the service. "Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed," he said.

Inside the high-ceilinged, well-lit cathedral, people said they were happy that Taylor would be staying. They praised him for his ability to challenge people and to bring out the best in them.

Among the congregation was Helen Morse, a downtown Seattle resident. She was one of the first people to stand and clap. She said her friend nudged her to action. "There was apprehension that he was going to leave."

For her, having gays and lesbians at the church was not a problem. "We've accepted it."

"Sometimes fear gets in the way of progress," said Liz Ford, a 41-year-old Seward Park resident. "He's brilliant."

Deacon Mary Shehane said Taylor would have made a great bishop -- but she's happy he is staying on Capitol Hill.

She added that churches can have differences on controversial issues. "But we've managed to hold together," she said.

In an acceptance statement via a phone call piped into Grace Cathedral, Andrus -- the new bishop -- said he would continue to support the full inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the diocese.

"We must all understand, and here I address the Diocese of California and those listening from elsewhere, that your vote today remains a vote for inclusion and communion -- of gay and lesbian people in their full lives as single or partnered people, of women, of all ethnic minorities, and all people," Andrus said, referring to continuing in the Anglican Communion, which has about 77 million members worldwide.

"My commitment to Jesus Christ's own mission of inclusion is resolute."

Despite the tension surrounding the vote, local clergy members and lay delegates who voted on Saturday and outside experts familiar with the diocese said that the candidates' sexual orientation did not play a role in the election.

In meetings two weeks ago between the seven candidates and members of the diocese, people emphasized that they wanted a bishop with a commitment to social justice, evangelism and young people, said those who went to the meetings.

To win, a candidate needed to receive a simple majority of the votes of the two representative bodies, the lay delegates from the parishes and the clergy members, on the same ballot.

Some parishioners said Andrus won because he was the safe bet: a straight, white male, not unlike Bishop William Swing, the current bishop who will retire in July.

But others who voted said that Andrus' open support of gay men and lesbians while serving as the bishop suffragan, or assistant bishop, in Alabama, a clearly unpopular position in that diocese, won them over.

The Episcopal Church's triennial general convention will meet in Columbus, Ohio, in mid-June, and Andrus is expected to be consecrated there. But while the vote in California did not worsen tensions in the Episcopal Church, anger over the acceptance of gays continues to simmer -- as does the possibility that an openly gay or lesbian bishop might be elected elsewhere, such as in Tennessee and New Jersey.

At St. Mark's on Sunday, though, people just smiled when they saw Taylor stand before them.

As worshippers left, many wrapped their arms around him. Taylor knelt down and gave two boys "high fives."

"Happy Sunday," he finally said to one church member."

This report contains information from P-I reporter Brad Wong, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bishop Robinson speaks to Log Cabin


by Bob Roehr

Bishop Gene Robinson and the Reverend Martha Simmons at the Log Cabin Republicans conference in Washington, D.C.

"It is really important for us to come out as religious, because religion is the greatest single source of our oppression. It is going to take religious people to undo that religious oppression," said Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

"There is no story that you can tell that is any more important than how you, yourself came to grips with your being gay. And that you believe in a God who loves us all," he said.

Robinson, the first openly gay elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, who presides over the Diocese of New Hampshire, made his remarks in a keynote speech at the Log Cabin Republicans national convention on April 28 in the ornate Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

He said every major Jewish and Christian group is grappling with the issue of gays, and the struggle is within denominations, not between them.

Robinson tied the debate to a dichotomy of whether the sacred text "is conceived to be the word of God, as if dictated from God's own mouth, or the work of God ... I think the great divide between religious peoples is between those who believe that the creation is the central story, and the point of it is that creation is good, versus those who see the fall as the central story. Is humanity essentially good? Or is humanity essentially depraved?"

He "challenged them to be a missionary ... go to the communities that you know and love ... and describe how I navigated my way through being gay and claiming God's love for me."

Robinson lambasted rhetoric of "hate the sin, love the sinner" as insincere.

"Being gay is something I am, not something I do," he said. He called the Vatican's attempts to link child abuse to homosexuality "absolute violence against you and me." He urged everyone to "get a little bolder about confronting homo hatred."


Robinson then participated in a panel discussion with Atlanta religious publisher the Reverend Martha Simmons and the Reverend C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance.

Simmons spoke movingly of having lived in San Francisco near the Castro and of losing her best friend to AIDS. "He taught me so much about being human and being kind, and the kind of person god would want you to be," she said.

She said, "A big part of homophobia that I encounter is just plain ignorance. Education goes a long way." The only thing that will help is courage: "Stand up against homophobia when you see it."

Gaddy stressed the importance of religious liberty to the gay rights movement. He said the one thing that can unite conservative Baptists and religious liberals is that "they do not want the government regulating their wedding ceremonies or telling their houses of worship who they can marry." He saw that as a potentially winning strategy.

Robinson said the easy answer to what motivates much of the opposition to equality for gays is fear, "and perfect love casts out fear." But he also tied it to patriarchy; that straight white males have for so long dominated society that they fear losing more. "None of us wants to give up the privilege we have," he said.

Gaddy said that religion "has never done well with sex, we don't know what to do with it." He said, "People who know better" have exploited it for political purposes.

Simmons said the problem was exacerbated by Democrats "who paid no attention to moral issues" and allowed the religious right to frame the debate. "Poverty is a moral issue, whether or not people have jobs" is a moral issue. "There were voices in the African American community who knew that this happened but they did not want to say they support the rights of gay people."


"The notion that my love for my partner somehow undermines somebody else's marriage is just pure idiocy," Robinson said.

Drawing upon his own recent experience in a residential program for alcohol abuse, he added, "If the people really want to protect marriage in this country, they should be putting money into treatment centers for alcohol because that is what is undermining marriage."

"In this country, unlike some others, we have put together the sacred and secular. Clergy act as agents of the state in solemnizing marriage. In our minds, the two have become inextricably linked. As clergy, we need to begin to separate civil rights from religious rites," Robinson said.

"I'm not sure that we shouldn't stop doing marriages. We ought to do what churches do, which is bless those marriages. Until we start separating that out, I'm not sure that our people are going to separate them in our mind."

Simmons echoed that, "It is the only way this issue is winnable over religious people. That was the only way the issue of slavery was winnable over religious people. History will show you that this country would still be practicing slavery had it been left up to religious people.

"Instead, there were people who said, the law has to change. We wish you all felt it in your heart, but since you don't..." She encouraged dialogue but also practicality, "Don't waste a whole lot of time trying to convince people who you know are never going to change their mind and accept you."

Gaddy said, "At one point people thought that we out to change the nation by changing one individual at a time. But it takes too long. The civil rights movement found its initial success because laws changed. And laws changed because there was political leadership willing to take a position to let the nation be all that it promised to be.

"I am perfectly willing to live with people who are bigoted if the laws have changed enough to create a culture in which it is not acceptable to be bigoted," Gaddy said, "because we can live with that; we can't live with the idea that the laws have to support our bigotry."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Tune: Ein' Feste Burg, No. 551 in the Hymnal 1940

Two thousand years we feared our love,

Condemned "unnatural sinners";

Now stepping forth from heaven above

Christ makes Gays special winners:

This world is filled with hate;

It seems almost too late

For God to interfere

Again to bring love here,

But that's what God is doing.

No more can foes God's plans decide

Nor obfuscate God's choosing.

God's love for Gays they cannot hide.

Their puppetry is losing.

The Lord of heaven and earth

Affirms Gays' priceless worth:

Our ransom has been paid:

Joint heirs with Christ we're made:

Let homophobes take notice!

The Church once asked to have us killed

Our blood has writ this witness

All ignorant minds must now be filled

With sexual truth and fitness

The pressures still are strong

To work on Gays much wrong

We're called to persevere

Endure our holy fear

For Christ commands our army.

Our strength is not in guns or laws

Our weapon is but meekness

We can forgive our foes their flaws

Gay might is just such "weakness"

More friends will join this fight

Because the Lord is right

Gay bodies house God's spirit

But only through Christ's merit

God's love will triumph through us.

--Louie Crew

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...