LGBT Staffers on Capitol Hill

24 05 2010

This is pretty interesting … from Politico of all places.  Emphasis Mine.

Gay Staff Association Relaunches

The Gay and Lesbian Staff Association spent its early years trying to protect the identity of its members, acting as a support group for closeted congressional staffers.

But now the organization is taking a sharp turn, encouraging its members to be more public about their sexual identities and more vocal about promoting gay and transgender rights legislation. Now called the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, the group is relaunching, with the mission of making members of Congress and their staffs more aware of how integral — and integrated — gay staffers are in modern congressional culture.

There’s more …

Ecumenical Council

10 02 2010

Jesus shows up yet again …

My friend Deacon Rob and I were hanging out last night catching up and sharing a few laughs when into the establishment walks in a Russian Orthodox priest in full clericals who was meeting a friend of his that was visiting New York … when his friend came in, it was none other than a Roman Catholic priest…in full clericals.

It’s almost like the beginning of a joke ….

All will be happy to know that the Episcopalian contingent held their own at the New York Ecumenical Council.

Quote of the Day

5 02 2010

“You know, the Church is pretty good about pulling drowning people out of the river … we’re good at the charity thing, but what we need to do is to walk back upstream and figure out who his throwing them in the river in the first place … ”

–The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

Bishop Robinson was on the Rachel Maddow show last night to discuss the national prayer breakfast and President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s remarks on the “Kill-the-Gays” bill in Uganda.  You can view the clip here

This is just wrong.

9 11 2009

I mean, REALLY?!?!  Come on, people …

From the American Family Association (Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

No more Muslims in the US Military

Some choice quotes …

It it is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday’s massacre is living proof.  And yesterday’s incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers.


This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.


The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They’re inside the fort, and it’s time for the insanity to stop.

First of all, I am resisting an urge to say “Pot, meet kettle” after reading that last statement.  May the Lord forgive me for even thinking that.

Secondly, if this were isolated, in and of itself, I would not be too incensed.  But when you find a major news organization strongly implying the same thing, even going so far as to suggest special screenings for Muslim members of our armed forces, and either implicitly or explicity saying that we have to watch out for the “scary Muslims” in our military, then this is too much.

Much more was said in the aftermath of this tragedy, but you’ll have to search the intertubes for yourself.

What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy of senseless violence.  I grieve for the fallen and those who remain on this earth.   I pray they will all be reunited in the Resurrection.

To use that tragedy to point fingers at an entire segment of the population and imply that they’re loyalties to the nation are suspect is simply beyond the pale, even for these folks.

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 ….

Read the rest of this entry »

DOMA Appeal Introduced in US Congress

17 09 2009

Move over DOMA, here comes RFMA (Respect for  Marriage Act).

A bill was introduced in Congress this week to allow for federal recognition of same-sex marriage.  Unless I’m wrong, though, it doesn’t force states to recognize marriages that take place elsewhere or force states to marry same-sex couples.

You can read more about it at the Huffington Post.

Oh, and by the way, the guy that introduced the legislation with an impressive 90 co-sponsors is my own Congressman, Representative Jerrold Nadler.

There is also a nifty press release on his site:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), the legislation has already gained key support from important corners.  Among the bill’s backers are former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law in 1996, and former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), who first introduced DOMA.  They join the dozens of civil rights organizations and 91 original co-sponsors of the bill who are pushing for a full repeal of DOMA.

Today, President Clinton said: “I want to thank Congressman Nadler for his leadership on this issue, and Reps. Baldwin, Polis, Conyers, Lewis, Velazquez and Lee, for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives.  Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind.  When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter.  Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy.”

Today, Bob Barr said:  “I join with former President Bill Clinton in commending Rep. Jerry Nadler for introducing the ‘Respect for Marriage Act of 2009.’  This legislation would strengthen the principle that each state is free to set the definition of marriage the citizens of that state have adopted.  Rep. Nadler’s legislation would also repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and by so doing, remove the federal government from involving itself in matters of defining ‘marriage,’ which historically and according to principles of federalism, are properly state matters and not federal.”