Sunday, November 30, 2008

A word or two about the Mormon Church

Lately the conservative blogs have been seething with rightous indignation over the "backlash" against the Mormon Church for their multi-million dollar involvement in the passage of proposition 8 in California. Conservatives are screaming about discrimination against the Mormon Church that was just "practicing their religous beliefs."

Actutally, no.. they were not just practicing their religous beliefs.

Seattle columnist Dan Savage and Americablog's John Aravosis state the truth better that I can:

"Millions of Californians definitely lost their civil rights," says John Aravosis. "But I'm not hearing a lot of concern about any of those victims, only sympathy for their attacker. When you use the power of the state to rip away my civil rights, and force me to live by your 'values,' you are no longer practicing your religion. You're practicing politics."

In the wake of Prop 8 millions of gays and lesbians all over the country have decided that we're no longer going to play by the old rules. We're not going to let people kick our teeth down our throats and then run and hide behind "Nothing personal—just my private religious beliefs!" That game's over."


The Mormon Church chose to expend millions of dollars of church resources in an effort to create public policy. That is not religous practice, that is being a poltical action committee. For the Mormons to engage in political activity that strips away the civil rights of millions of people, and then not expect those same people to fight back shows the Mormon Leadership are not just bigots, but idiots as well.

The great irony of this is how for the Mormon Church it really wasn't even about same sex marriage. It was about proving to the American conservative religous right that the Mormons are "one of them". This was about getting James Dobson and his ilk to not openly oppose a Mitt Romney candidacy in 2012.

If we weren't talking about millions of Americans having their civil rights elminated , I would have to laugh. Because the joke is on the Mormon Church, which could very well lose it's tax exempt status as as result of their direct involvement in political activity while claiming to be a church.

But even funnier still, is the fact that the Christian Right will NEVER welcome the Mormons into the club. While conservative evangelicals may approve of what they did with Prop 8, in the eyes of Dobson, Robertson, Reed and company, the Mormons will always be that goofy non-christian cult from Utah that claims being born black is a punishment from god.




Oh yeah, one more thing ... Prop 8 will likely get tossed out by the California Supreme Court. So I have to ask the Mormon Leadership, when all is said and done, and your millions of dollars spent, in the words of Dr. Phil...

How'd that all work out for you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Questions of Faith and Law

.
In April of 1521,Martin Luther was brought before a tribunal where the Catholic Church demanded he recant his teachings and writings that challenged the doctrine of the day. His response was brief, yet powerful;

"Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen."

I remember in the Winter of 2005, I sat and read the “final report” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) task force on sexuality. I remember being so disappointed, but also wanting to believe that there was some good to be found there.

I really did want to belive that even though there were no real steps forward, just even having the discussion was a very positive step. At least it could be said that there were no real steps backwards.

That isn't the case in 2008. The passage of Proposition 8 here in California marks the first time the tyranny of a razor thin majority was allowed to strip away civil rights from a targeted minority. And like with the ELCA statement in 2005, once again the issue of LGBT equality reveals the ELCA to be a divided church desperate to avoid taking a stand at all costs.

With that 2005 statment the ELCA, in an attempt to avoid division, opted to remain a divided church. Congregations like St. Mark’s here in San Francisco or Holy Trinity Lutheran in Chicago were told they could continue to proclaim the good news to ALL people, but with slightly LESS fear of being punished for doing so. Yet elsewhere in the very same ELCA, it would be perfectly acceptable to tell a gay or lesbian teenager, from the pulpit, that they are sick and could be cured if they just prayed hard enough.

Now with Prop 8 we find the ELCA has in fear, boxed itself into the same corner once again. Where the Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod can, as an individual, join other clergy on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to denounce prop 8. Yet the church that elected him as a Bishop remains, for all intent and purposes silent on the issue of discrimination and turning religous bigotry into civil law.

In the offical ballot recomendations from the Lutheran Office of Public Policy, the ELCA urged us to vote YES on expanding rights for farm animals, (Prop 2) but couldn't muster the courage to say Lutherans should vote NO on taking away rights from human beings. (Prop 8)



So much for "Here I Stand".

The sheer cowardice of the ELCA is mind boggling. My church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was so scared to anger people who hate me that it couldnt bring itself to say that taking away my civil rights was wrong. The ELCA has made it clear it is unable, and/or unwilling to say loudly and clearly, that I am as much a human being as anyone else. Equal in the eyes of God, and therefore equal under the laws of Man. The leadership of the ELCA will (very quietly) assure me they believe that. I just need "to be patient" because the church can't say things like that publicly yet.

For once I find myself in agreement with the Neo-Conservative religous right. They have said for years that if you are not clearly against evil, your silence may as well be outright support of it.

I love my congregation of St.Mark's Lutheran here in San Francisco. It is a vibrant diverse thriving community of faith that shouts God's unconditional love for all loudly and proudly each and every Sunday. Yet St. Mark's is an ELCA congregation. I must confess, that I am struggling with that. I find myself wondering if my continued membership isn't just part of what helps preserve the current double standard in the ELCA . Where as a church, we will say one thing in San Francisco, but do quite the opposite elsewhere.

I find myself wondering if a Lutheran denomination that doesn't believe I am 2nd class citizen, but is too scared to say so, and tell those who do believe it, they are wrong, might as well be a Mormon or Catholic Church that donates millions of dollars to try to make me a 2nd class citizen.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You gotta love Mark Fiore..

In a totally sanctified Heterosexual way..of course!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Uh... Wow.

Ok I had serious misgivings about this movie when I saw some of the still photos that had released, but now I get it. Just like the Sci-Fi channel did with Battlestar Galactica, rather than try to recreate the original Star Trek, Director JJ Abrams has re-imagined it.

It's gonna be a loooonggg wait until May 2009 :(

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's in a Name Anyway?

Conservative Out Blogger Andrew Sullivan writes on his site today that Evangelical Conservative Tony Perkins over at the "Family Research Council", had indicated he would have "no problem" with Civil Unions in California that provided Gay and Lesbian couples with the same rights as marriage,but just a different name for it.

Interesting...

I will confess that for the longest time I held a very similar view. I would get frustrated with marriage equality activists who seemed to be so hung up on the terminology. If calling it "Marriage" is the problem why not call it Civil Unions or Domestic Partnership or call it "Fred" for that matter. As long as all rights are the same why did it matter it was called?

The counter argument has always been that this would be agreeing to something that was "separate but equal" and history has clearly shown that separate structures for civil rights are never equal, just separate. Racial segregation in the decades before the civil rights movement proved this. Whites and Blacks had separate things like drinking fountains, restrooms and schools that were anything but equal.

Yet the argument could be made that this was hardly the same thing. If both a gay and straight couple had the exact same hospital visitation rights, as long as both couples had access to the same hospital and quality of care, how is calling the basis for those visitation rights by different names unequal?

I found myself thinking that by insisting on the word marriage the LGBT community was just being stubborn and more interested in the symbolism of labels than actual equality.

I was thinking about this while I was voting last Tuesday. I was reading in the newspaper and on the web of various spots around the country that were experiencing voting problems. Things like long lines at polling places, out of date registration lists, etc. The media was rightly focusing on these problems with the emphasis that the right to vote was such a fundamental part of our democracy that states owed citizens every form of assistance if they encountered difficulty in exercising their rights to vote.

It suddenly occured to me to wonder how Tony Perkins would feel if California passed a law saying that evangelical conservatives would longer have the right to "vote" but instead anyone who was of the same religion as Perkins would have the right of "electoral choice". They would go to the same polling place as everyone else, use the same ballots, and have the same choices. Their choices would count just as much as everyone else', but for them, and only them it just wouldn't be called "voting".

The right would be exactly the same but it just would be called something different. Since there would no difference in the actual ability to make their choice at the ballot box, the name shouldn't matter right? As long as an "electoral choice" counted the same as a "vote", why should the name make a difference?

Well you can bet Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Pat Roberson and every conservative from Sacramento to San Diego would be rioting in the streets claiming discrimination.

I can practically hear Newt Gingrich railing how "electoral choice" was NOT the same as voting. Because symbolism DID matter, calling voting by a different name is sending a message that Evangelicals were not as important as other Americans. The change in terminology would even result in evangelicals feeling like they shouldnt participate in our democratic process. The fact that rights were the same was irrelevant. To call voting by a different name for just one group of Americans was unacceptable.

So what is in a name? Isn't a civil right by another name just as equal? If you think so, ask yourself this question; If your family, and only your family's right to make your choice at the ballot box was called "electoral choice" and everybody else had the right to "vote", how would you feel?

Separate but equal suddenly doesn't feel so equal does it?

Monday, November 10, 2008

THANK YOU KEITH OLBERMANN

There is abesolutely nothing I could add to this..

Just watch it please...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Melissa Etheridge May be on to Something...


You Can Forget My Taxes
by Melissa Etheridge
November 6, 2008 | 2:15pm

Singer Melissa Etheridge rails against the passage of the gay-marriage ban in California—and she won't be paying the state a dime.

Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

Okay, cool I don't mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay! I am sure there will be a little box on the tax forms now single, married, divorced, gay, check here if you are gay, yeah, that's not so bad. Of course all of the waiters and hairdressers and UPS workers and gym teachers and such, they won't have to pay their taxes either.

Gay people are born everyday. You will never legislate that away.

Oh and too bad California, I know you were looking forward to the revenue from all of those extra marriages. I guess you will have to find some other way to get out of the budget trouble you are in.

…Really?

When did it become okay to legislate morality? I try to envision someone reading that legislation "eliminates the right" and then clicking yes. What goes through their mind? Was it the frightening commercial where the little girl comes home and says, "Hi mom, we learned about gays in class today" and then the mother gets that awful worried look and the scary music plays? Do they not know anyone who is gay? If they do, can they look them in the face and say "I believe you do not deserve the same rights as me"? Do they think that their children will never encounter a gay person? Do they think they will never have to explain the 20% of us who are gay and living and working side by side with all the citizens of California?

I got news for them, someday your child is going to come home and ask you what a gay person is. Gay people are born everyday. You will never legislate that away.

I know when I grew up gay was a bad word. Homo, lezzie, faggot, dyke. Ignorance and fear ruled the day. There were so many "thems" back then. The blacks, the poor ... you know, "them". Then there was the immigrants. "Them.” Now the them is me.

I tell myself to take a breath, okay take another one, one of the thems made it to the top. Obama has been elected president. This crazy fearful insanity will end soon. This great state and this great country of ours will finally come to the understanding that there is no "them". We are one. We are united. What you do to someone else you do to yourself. That "judge not, lest ye yourself be judged" are truthful words and not Christian rhetoric.

Today the gay citizenry of this state will pick themselves up and dust themselves off and do what we have been doing for years. We will get back into it. We love this state, we love this country and we are not going to leave it. Even though we could be married in Mass. or Conn, Canada, Holland, Spain and a handful of other countries, this is our home. This is where we work and play and raise our families. We will not rest until we have the full rights of any other citizen. It is that simple, no fearful vote will ever stop us, that is not the American way.

Come to think of it, I should get a federal tax break too...

Melissa Etheridge is an Academy Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter.

Copyright 2008 The Daily Beast

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Goodnight Opus, Sweet Dreams Old Friend....




(From the Daily Cartoonist.com and the Los Angeles Times:)

Berkeley Breathed’s final Opus appeared today. The comic that appeared in newspapers directed readers to the Humane Society’s web site to see the final panel which depicted Opus in children’s storybook, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown. Berkeley’s own web site appeared to be struggling under the traffic load.

Berkeley reports on his website that the contest to guess Opus’ final resting place received about 6000 entries which included an entry suggesting Opus would replaced the sequined eagle on Elvis’ jumpsuit whilst the “king” spends the eternities on the potty.

Berkeley Breathed has a message for those “Opus” fans who were worried that the penguin was deep-sixed Sunday when his five-year-old comic strip shut down. “Jumpin’ Jehosphat,” Breathed told The Times via e-mail, “Tony Soprano sleeps with the fishes, which is to say, dead. Opus sleeps with a bunny in a feather bed, dreaming of a more hopeful tomorrow morning.”

Most fans got that sweet image when they saw the final “Opus” online at the Humane Society. But others were worried when the penultimate strip in print took place in an animal shelter setting and that in the finale Opus was being put to sleep (so to speak) in the pages of “Goodnight Moon,” the gentle nursery classic. Those fans can rest easy now that Breathed has clarified that Opus is, well, resting easy.

The 51-year-old Breathed’s “Opus” ended its run Sunday with one foot in children’s literature and another in the unpredictable world of technology. The final comic showed Breathed’s pudgy penguin peacefully napping, while Breathed’s farewell note to his readers crashed the comic strip artist’s website.

Some who just saw the image fretted about the flightless bird’s final fate, so Breathed wanted to be especially clear in his e-mail to The Times.

“I assure people in my web note that Opus is in the comforting place that would make me smile when I think of him in the years to come. I can only hope that his fans will smile too. If Opus was cuddling with tropical girls wearing coconuts, I suppose I’d smile too, but tinged with regret that those things just never last after that early giddy stage.”

Sunday’s comic ran in newspapers and showed Steve Dallas smiling wistfully as he looked down into the pages of a book that couldn’t be seen by the readers. Online, the last strip revealed it to be “Goodnight Moon,” the beloved bedtime story written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd; in Breathed’s panel the book’s nurturing rabbit sits in her rocker with Opus curled asleep in the baby bunny’s bed. The final words are “Goodnight Opus / And goodnight air / Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Breathed had pulled the plug on Opus because of his frustration with current events and to write books for children.

A contest for readers to predict the ending gave $10,000 to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The winner was Stephen Allen, one of 55 of some 6,000 entries to guess correctly.

“I thought it was a fitting ending for a character that everyone liked,” Allen said.

Now that Prop H8te passed...

Wow! Sorry Karl, we were both wrong!

Back last May, GOP Strategist Karl Rove came out with his Electoral Vote predictions, I posted on here with my own map side by side with his.

Let's see who was better at predicting the outcome shall we?




Gee Karl, looks like we both were a bit off the mark. You overestimated McCain by ...well, let's just say a LOT. And I underestimated Obama.

I have never been so happy to be proven wrong!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post Election Thoughts....

President Elect Barack Obama -wow!

I was at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco when the race was called for Senator Obama. As of this moment my voice is still hoarse from having cheered so loud for so long. Last night's landslide victory has finally closed the door on the sad saga of arrogance and incompetence that has been the last eight years of Republican insanity.

Senator McCain's, incredibly gracious and moving concession speech was sadly marred by his own crowd there in Arizona. Who rather than cheer the accomplishment of their candidate, instead felt the need to jeer at the mention of Barack Obama's name. Disappointing, but given the nature of the crowds we saw at McCain/Palin rallies in the last month, sadly not surprising.

The fact is the entire free world celebrated the Obama victory last night. It marks the beginning of the process to restore America to once again being that shining city on a hill.

Hope defeated fear.

Ideas defeated ideology.

Solutions defeated cynicism.

I stood there in a crowded hotel ballroom watching men and women weep, cheer, dance and all say how proud we all were to be Americans at this incredible moment in our nation's history. Our democracy works. Our country's founders would be proud of us all.

For a few brief hours anyway...

I awoke this morning to see in plain news print exactly what English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) meant when we wrote about the "Tyranny of the Majority."

CA State Proposition 08 -
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

YES: 5,235,486 - 52.2%

NO: 4,800,656 - 47.8%


Last night saw another less laudable "First" in California politics. The first time our state Constitution was changed to eliminate existing civil rights for one group of our citizens. It wrote bigotry and discrimination into our civil law, and tells hundreds of thousands of Californians that they are second class citizens, separate AND unequal.

All done in the name of religious bigotry and racial homophobia. The Mormon Church and the Catholic Knights of Columbus both gave millions of Dollars to promote Prop 8. So the polygamists and the pedophile apologists joined forces to attack the Gays. Nice.

The one silver lining in this cloud of stupidity and politically expedient hate, is the fact that like or not, President Barack Obama will the one making the appointment of the next one or maybe even two Associate Justices on the United States Supreme Court.

A court that will one day overturn the likes of Prop 8and reaffirm the concept of Liberty and Justice for All