Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Note On Sacredness & Nobility

Or, to put it another way, a note on fumbling toward divinity.

via Fresh

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday With Sarah - 'Round Midnight

It's like "'Round Midnight" meets "Chelsea Bridge". Vulgar. Beautifully vulgar.

Friday, November 06, 2009

No On 1 Postscript

We won't ever have a chance of receiving marriage equality at the ballot box if our sole strategy remains trying to convince non-gays that we're just like them.

We're not.

I stopped being a grassroots gay activist more than a decade ago when the movement went picket fence. Of course I'd like marriage equality, but whoever put it at the top of the agenda whenever it was put at the top of the agenda wasn't reading the tea leaves very well.

If we don't stand up, unabashed and unapologetic, to religious fundamentalism we'll keep losing. It looks something like this:

Bishop John Shelby Spong -- A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."

I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.

I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.

I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won.

There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be.

· Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us.
· Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.
· "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces.

We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women?

The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.

I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

Maine has a People's Veto -- which ought to be vetoed because it's a waste of the work (and by extension our tax dollars!) that our legislature performs -- so the law the legislature passed would surely be put before the people in short order. Why didn't the legislature take steps to limit the kind of issues the People's Veto could address before undertaking the legislative effort to pass marriage equality legislation? Why spend all that political capital passing a controversial piece of legislation without a safeguard against the People's Veto?

Despite what I've already said and what I'm about to say, that remains the crux of the matter, at least here in Maine. Putting the cart before the horse tends to end badly.

Still, I did my part for No On 1, and up until the weather broke on Tuesday morning, I thought Mainers would actually do the right thing. We're known for being a libertarian live and let live kind of place. The Way Life Should Be boasts our motto. But I was deluding myself, and I knew it, trying to keep hope alive.

People don't vote for other people's equality just because it's the right thing to do. Fear doesn't need to be more convincing than reason, but our campaign didn't give people enough reasons to vote No.

The opposition runs the same fear-based strategy and the same ads in every state, even with lies and falsehoods, and gets the same kinds of religious institutions, (who are never challenged with any real action to strip their non-profit status for being so blatantly involved in politics) involved in peddling the smut they peddle, and they win every time. "Those fucking faggots and dykes will never get what we have!" remains the subtext, though it isn't very subtle.

Where were the ads from No On 1 arguing the economic boon to our relatively poor state if marriage equality passed? Nowhere.

Where were the ads batting down "the gays are going after our children" with a critique of the Catholic Church and all the children it has abused for centuries? Nowhere.

Where were the ads appealing to Catholic voters that reminded or informed them for the first time that Catholics weren't allowed to marry in Maine when the state was part of Massachusetts? Nowhere.

Where were the ads that spoke directly to seniors in the voice of seniors, such as the WWII vet who gave powerful testimony at the legislative hearing? Nowhere.

Where were the ads showing the men and women unable to claim their beloved's bodies from funeral homes because they weren't legally "next of kin"? Nowhere.

Where were the ads declaring separate but equal unconstitutional? Nowhere.

Where were the ads buttressing the arguments for marriage equality from the Iowa supreme court ruling? Nowhere.

Where were the ads showing, at last, that marriage between one man and one woman has, in fact, not been the only marriage model throughout history? Nowhere.

The ads No On 1 did run were lovely. But they were all about projecting an image of family that most straight people won't allow themselves to see no matter how many times we project it. And quite frankly, as I posted them on my blog in the lead up to the vote, all I kept thinking was, "I already saw this ad in another form. How many fence sitters is this version going to persuade?"

Why didn't I take my ideas to the No On 1 campaign? Well, I did. Even before ads started running. You see, at the legislative hearings, I encouraged the coordinators to do more than just put a friendly family face on gay marriage. That we needed to confront assumptions with more than just stories of responsible, tax-paying, community-involved GLBT families. I got a few "thank you, but we got this" kind of responses.

One thing I know about the picket fence GLBT movement: once the leaders make up their minds on the best way to get as many people to like us as possible, they will continue to beat their heads against the same wall and get the same result.

The organizers of No On 1 made up their minds at least three years ago that this was the way to go, despite the results in 31 other votes around the nation. I applaud their efforts and the efforts of all those who poured blood, sweat, tears and cash into this campaign. But trying to convince folks who think we're deviant that we're not with poignant and compelling stories and images of GLBT families simply isn't going to do the trick. It's time to start holding up a mirror, as has Bishop Spong, to the Catholic Church, the religious fundamentalists, the fearmongerers and the hateful. Unabashedly. Unapologetically.

And when we lose, we need to stop blaming other oppressed groups or pointing fingers at this president. Forget all the exit polls that make this knee-jerk reaction so tempting. I wanna see a poll that measures the attitudes of GLBT citizens on marriage equality. There's an assumption we're all for it. I wanna see a poll that tells me how many registered GLBT voters stayed home on election day because the issue simply doesn't resonate with them. Did the leaders who made this a top agenda item over the past few years even research their own large and diverse communities to see how many of us even care?

I cringe to say it, but we're cowards. We also tend to be jaded by entitlement. Not a great combination for getting results. We refuse to change a losing strategy and confront the key issues head on, and we have a hard time looking in the mirror when we fail. Until we muster up the guts to do more than just promote how "normal" we really are with pretty pictures, I hope we take a break from marriage equality and unite with other movements to dismantle corporate control of our elected officials.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Vote No On 1 - Declaration Of Lifelong Commitment

WHEREAS we are of sound mind, body and spirit; and

WHEREAS we have been living and loving together for nearly two years; and

WHEREAS we have made, in the presence of our families, friends, ancestors and all that is holy, a public pronouncement of our intent to enter this union, we

Jacobus Dirk Blom & Craig Von Hickman

the undersigned, on this 22nd day of August 1998, as witnessed by those closest to us,

Promise to have and to hold each other, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in destitution, all the days of our lives on this earth. We further

Promise to recognize this union as sacred and unbreakable and will, in times of trouble or weakness, turn to God and to all those who have witnessed this declaration to support us on our lifelong journey together.