The Other News from Last Week — Hate Crimes Bill

28 10 2009

In the excitement of last week’s announcement from the Vatican last week, quite  a few folks (me included) failed to mention something really important.

The United States Senate passed legislation making it a crime to assault someone because of their sexual orientation.

This bill, which earlier passed the House of Representatives, is on its way to the President’s desk for signature, which makes it federal law.  Unless I am mistaken, this is the first time that there is any federal law of any sweeping protection over those who are LGBT. Whether you are on the streets on New York, the suburban jungles of Connecticut, the back woods of the deep south, or in the wilds of Montana, it will be a crime to assualt anyone on the basis on their orientation just as it is because of their gender or race.

This is the camel’s nose under the tent. To quote the Arabian proverb in full, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.” It is a step to full civil equality in the eyes of the federal government.  The question is no longer “Will this happen?” but rather “When will this happen?”  and more importantly, “what can we do to hasten the day?”

Many, if not most, of us probably already live in areas where there are some similar protections or even greater benefits, so it is easy to see why this would have registered as a blip on the radar where we said “oh good!” or “it’s about time!” and moved on.

What did annoy me, though, and moved me to post about this was that I heard or read of some people saying “so what?” or “why do we need hate crimes legislation anyway?”  This is not coming from the usual sources.  I even remember reading a post on Andrew Sullivan‘s blog about it … written by Andrew … you know, that conservative HIV-positive, legally married gay man.

This bill is absolutely necessary, and Americans should all rejoice at its passage.  The Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming is even attending the signing ceremony, in no small part because the bill is named for Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die in October 1998.  Matthew, I understand, was a faithful Episcopalian and active in his parish.  Lest we think this bill is just about LGBT folks, I would like to remind you that James Byrd, Jr., an African American, was dragged to death that same year in Texas.

If there are any further doubts why this is necessary, consider this …

As long as racism, sexism, homophobia and heterosexism are still very much alive and well in this world, there will be a need for hate crimes legislation.

Where is the Gospel? (aka the return of the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility)

26 10 2009

Much has been said about the recent announcement from the Vatican about allowing disaffected Anglicans to become Roman Catholic and still retain much of their spirituality and liturgy.  Under this new “Personal Ordinariate,” this will allow for married Anglican deacons and priests, but not bishops.  Those who have been agonizing over the fact that the Anglican Communion works best on a missional and consensus-driven model rather than a magisterial way of governance will find safe harbour at the Vatican.  Of course, these clergymen (and yes, they will all be men, make no mistake about that!) will have to be re-ordained because the Vatican does not recognize the vaildity of Anglican Holy Orders.

Many questions arise out of this announcement, and the answers will probably be sorted out in the actual Apostolic Constitution document when it comes out over the next few weeks.

Some questions include (most of which have been discussed elsewhere):

  • What about bishops who are currently married?  One case in point is a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion over in the Philadelphia suburbs.  His commentary on the matter may be found in the NY Times at the link above.  He hopes that the sea of purple can be “grandfathered in” and presumably going forward, once the initial crop of bishops dry off from their swim across the Tiber, the celibacy requirement will be in force.  Regardless, I think the ban on married bishops will prevent many from leaving the Anglican Communion than we might at first be inclined to believe (i.e., I don’t see +Jack Iker of Fort  Worth, or any of our African Bishops running off to Rome any time soon).
  • Will this bring up again the taboo topic of discussing whether or not it is a right, good and a joyful thing to require the clergy to be celebate? This has been brought up several times over the past week, recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, which featured interviews with Jim Naughton of Episcopal Cafe; +Robert Duncan of ACNA; and Fr. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest in Washington, DC.
  • And what about the laity?  In the USA, Canada, and also to an extent the United Kingdom, I believe that lay participation in the councils and structures of the church is rather robust … Is there room in a top-down magisterium for such a group?
  • Oh, yes and the property questions, and what to do with their stipends, pensions, etc.

Lots of questions, not a lot of answers …

For those of us in the US, and perhaps Canada also, this will not prove to be such a big deal.  Actually, I think it affects the Anglicans in Europe much more so than here in North America, which tends to be the consensus amongst the Anglican pundits.  The Anglicans in North America who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are busy forming their own parallel province, so I doubt seriously anyone will want to take advantage of this move … However, one really big question I have is ….

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Meet the Breeds!

20 10 2009

Last weekend was a dog and cat exposition at the Javits Center called “Meet the Breeds”

SIR and i met up with a work colleague / friend and took in the sights and sounds of 160 different breeds of dogs and about 46 breeds of cat.

They had the usual booths set up for all types of pet products.  We went straight to the arena where the dogs were having relay races and then went to see all the different breeds of dog.

This bloodhound was very friendly and decided he wanted to be my friend … though he is looking at the cup of coffee very intently …