The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on Uganda

4 12 2009

The Episcopal Church

Office of Public Affairs

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

concerning proposed bill in Uganda

[December 4, 2009]  The following is the statement of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori concerning proposed private member’s bill on homosexuality in the Parliament of Uganda:

The Episcopal Church joins many other Christians and people of faith in urging the safeguarding of human rights everywhere.  We do so in the understanding that “efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (General Convention 2006, Resolution D005).

This has been the repeated and vehement position of Anglican bodies, including several Lambeth Conferences.  The Primates’ Meeting, in the midst of severe controversy over issues of homosexuality, nevertheless noted that, as Anglicans, “we assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, Dromantine, 2005).

The Episcopal Church represents multiple and varied cultural contexts (the United States and 15 other nations), and as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema.  We are deeply concerned about the potential impingement on basic human rights represented by the private member’s bill in the Ugandan Parliament.

In the United States and elsewhere, we note that changed laws do help to shift public opinion and urge a more humane response to difference.  The Hate Crimes Act recently passed in the United States is one example, as are the many pieces of civil rights legislation that have slowly changed American public behavior, especially in the area of race relations.  We note the distance our own culture still needs to travel in removing discriminatory practice from social interactions, yet we have also seen how changed hearts and minds have followed legal sanctions on discriminatory behavior.

We give thanks for the clear position of the United States government on human rights, for the State Department’s annual human rights report on Uganda, which observes that the existing colonial-era law on same-sex relations is a societal abuse of human rights, and for the State Department’s publicly voiced opposition to the present bill.  We urge the United States government to grant adequate access to the U.S. asylum system for those fleeing persecution on the basis of homosexuality or gender identity, to work with other governments, international organizations, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide adequate protection for these asylum seekers, and to oppose any attempts at extradition under a law such as that proposed in Uganda.

Finally, we note that much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own Church.  We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior.  We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.

We call on all Episcopalians to seek their own conversion toward an ability to see the image of God in the face of every neighbor, of whatever race, gender, sexual orientation, theological position, or creed.  God has created us in myriad diversity, and no one sort or condition of human being can fully reflect the divine.  Only the whole human race begins to be an adequate mirror of the divine.

We urge continued prayer for those who live in fear of the implications of this kind of injustice and discrimination, and as a Church, commit ourselves anew to seek partnerships with the Church of Uganda, or any portion thereof, in serving the mission of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That Gospel is larger than any party or faction.  It is only in mutual service and recognition that we will begin to mend our divisions.

We are grateful for the willingness of the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace to hear this plea on behalf of all God’s people, and urge their continued assistance in seeking greater justice.  We note the impediments this legislation would pose to the ability to continue a Listening Process in which all of the Anglican Communion is currently engaged.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church

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From the Diocese of New York

4 12 2009

I sit on this Committee:

A Statement from the Diocesan Committee on LGBT Concerns and the Diocesan Social Concerns Comission

As people of faith, we are saddened and disappointed by the New York State Senate’s vote against marriage equality for same-sex couples. The failure to enact this legislation means that families headed by same-sex couples, including families with children, will continue to be denied the same economic security and legal protections that heterosexual married couples have. It is disheartening and is not in keeping with the resolutions of our own Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons “are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens” (GC Resolution A-71, 1976).

Nevertheless, we ask that the people of the Episcopal Diocese of New York diocese, both straight and gay, lay and clergy, continue to keep faith and put their energy into seeing that marriage equality happens in the future. You may want to contact your state senators about their votes. (A listing of the votes of all New York State Senators can be found below.) It is especially important to contact those senators who voted for the legislation. They are our allies, and many spoke eloquently and courageously on behalf of equal treatment for all New York families. They deserve our thanks and support.

In calling your senators and in continuing to advocate, be sure to let them know that the Episcopal Diocese of New York remains on the record as supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples, as per our resolution at the 2008 Diocesan Convention. Although the governor and the senate leaders were told of this, we should continually remind them as we go forward, so as to balance out the voices of other religious groups that fought against marriage equality.

We need to keep the faith and continue to honor our covenant to respect the dignity of every human being.

Peace,

Stephen McFadden
Chair, Diocesan Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns
Episcopal Diocese of New York

The Reverend Mark Hummel
Chair, Social Concerns Commission

Vote of each Senators is below the fold:
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Can you Spot the Reverend boy?

3 12 2009

To our big disappointment, the New York State Senate voted against the Marriage Equality bill yesterday.  A protest was organized in short order in Times Square that evening, which I went to. It was chilly and rainy but we had a decent turnout for two hours notice.  The Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer said a few words towards the end.

This morning And discovered myself in a picture on the blog “Towleroad.”

I’m the guy kind of center – left directly behind the fellow in the red knit capt and just to the left of the guy holding the “Sign from God” sign.  Black coat, blue shirt.