Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Dramatic leap in support for gay marriage: California poll.

A new poll shows gay marriage has arrived in California – in public opinion if not in state lawbooks.Golden State registered voters now favor same-sex unions by 59 percent to 34 percent, a 25-point gap that is the largest margin of support for the issue in the three-plus decades the Field Poll has been asking the question.

The new Field survey shows support has leapt markedly in the three and a half years since California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.
Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the move to a 25-point gap goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters age and "replace" older voters in the electorate.
"This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement," DiCamillo said. "This is real change."

(The Sacramento Bee also has links here to the detailed results)
'via Blog this'

NH Bill to Revoke Gay Marriage Will Harm GOP - State Rep

February has come to an end, and there's still no sign of the threatened bill to repeal marriage equality - a bill that was originally promised as a priority for the New Year, then was delayed until after the January primary, then put off until February, and then put off until....... when? and why?
With recent polls showing that only 27% of state voters favouring repeal, GOP Rep has a simple explanation: the bill will hurt the Republican party's electoral chances for November. In this libertarian leaning state, they're getting cold feet.

Mr. Bates said that if the repeal bill failed this year, he would not give up. Governor Lynch is leaving office at year’s end, and both Republicans who have entered the race to succeed him support repeal. 
State Rep Seth Cohen (GOP)

But Representative Seth Cohn, a libertarian Republican who opposes the repeal, said he thought it would in fact harm the Republicans’ chance of staying in power after 2012, whether or not it succeeds.
“They want this as an election issue,” he said of the Democrats. “I think it’s going to backlash against the Republicans who, in the face of the polls, are choosing not to believe the average person is O.K. with this situation.”
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, 27 February 2012

Iowa Poll: Majority opposes ban on same-sex marriage | The Des Moines Register |

In Iowa, Republican state legislators are trying to force through a constitutional amendment by public ballot to overturn the 2009 court decision that provided for gay marriage - but most Iowans are against the idea:

"A majority of Iowans oppose passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.
The poll found that 38 percent favor a legislative initiative to pass a constitutional amendment, while 56 percent are against. Six percent aren’t sure.
The findings show little movement on the issue from February 2011, when 40 percent of those surveyed supported passing an amendment, while 54 percent were opposed."

Marriage equality is here to stay, in Iowa. The proposed ballot has passed in the house, but is stalled in the state Senate, where the Democrats have a narrow majority, and the Senate president won't even consider introducing it. Even if it is introduced and passed, that will not end it. It will need to be passed again, in both houses, in the next legislative session, 2013 - 2014. With public opinion turning against them, even some GOP senators may well turn against a public vote, just as they are currently doing in New Hampshire. 

Then - they still have to win the balllot. If public opinion is against overturn now, that will be even more true in another two years.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sherry Harris, Pioneer City Councillor.

b. February 27, 1965

All real and lasting change starts first on the inside and works it way through to the outside. Politically speaking, each person being the change we wish to see in the world is the only stance that can make a lasting difference. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Believing it impossible to win election as an out lesbian, many people warned Sherry Harris against running for Seattle City Council. In 1991, Harris proved her skeptics wrong. She defeated a 24-year incumbent councilman and became the nation's first openly lesbian African-American city council member.Prior to politics, Harris pursued a professional career in engineering. In 1980, she received a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She worked as a project engineer for PNW Bell Telephone Company. 

As Seattle City Councilmember from 1992 to 1995, Harris championed downtown interests. She promoted the expansion of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and supported a downtown symphony hall. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Harris said, "I was raised in a city where the downtown died, and so did the rest of the city."

Harris has worked with Humanity's Team, an organization that emphasizes interpersonal connections. One volunteer who worked closely with Harris said, "She is truly a fine leader demonstrating great passion for humanity's well-being [who] displays uncompromising strength of character."
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lesbian judge refuses to perform marriage ceremonies

Dallas County civil Judge Tonya Parker, a lesbian, is making national news after announcing she won’t perform marriage ceremonies in her court until gay couples can legally wed in Texas.
According to the Dallas Voice, Parker says:
I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality … it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.
Parker announced her decision while giving a speech on Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, of which she is a member, the Dallas Voice says. See the YouTube video below: 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Poll finds Irish support for gay marriage at 73% (

Is full marriage equality on the way for Ireland? The signs are encouraging:

"Equal marriage advocates have welcomed a poll which puts public support for allowing gay couples to marry at 73%.
The poll, by Red C, showed nearly three quarters of those asked said they would agree with the statement: “Same sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution”.
The results were presented to Ireland’s Oireachtas yesterday in a report prepared for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the last Constitutional referendum.
Kieran Rose, Chair of Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said: “The poll confirms the openness of Irish people and their support for further critically important progress to achieving equality for lesbian and gay people."
Meanwhile, a powerful opinion piece at the Irish Examiner says unequivocally that civil partnerships are no longer enough: "It's time!"

CIVIL partnerships were always a first step, not a full stop, but it is remarkable the way public opinion has now swung so rapidly behind the move to gay-marriage equality.
The latest poll on the subject shows an overwhelming 73% back amending the Constitution to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.

While civil partnerships offer some guarantees for same-sex couples, such as stopping homophobic relatives barring lifelong partners from their loved one’s death bed, in practice it cements a status as second-class citizens within a society in which all should be equal.

The change to marriage equality is about the State and its responsibility to recognise its citizens as equals.

This is about people who want to have their lifelong emotional commitment to one another recognised by the State that they fund as taxpayers.

If South Africa can do it, there is no reason Ireland cannot follow Canada and Belgium, to name but two others, and let same-sex couples have the civil rights to which they are entitled.
- full article at  Irish Examiner 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bishop Mary Glasspool

b, February 23, 1954

A suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. She is the first open lesbian to be consecrated a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Glasspool was born on February 23, 1954, in Staten Island Hospital, New York, to Douglas Murray Glasspool and Anne Dickinson. Later that year the Glasspool family moved to Goshen, New York, where her father served as Rector of St. James’ Church until his death in 1989. She entered the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1976 and was ordained a deacon in June 1981 and a priest in March 1982. In 1981, Glasspool became assistant to the rector at St. Paul’s Church in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, where she served until 1984. She was the rector of St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Church in Boston from 1984 to 1992, then the rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Annapolis, from 1992 to 2001, and was called to serve as canon to the bishops for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland in 2001.

Glasspool was elected a bishop suffragan on December 4, 2009, on the seventh ballot at the 115th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in Riverside, California. On March 17, 2010, the Presiding Bishop’s Office certified that her election had received the necessary consents and she was subsequently consecrated on May 15, 2010, in Long Beach, California. Glasspool is the 17th woman and the first openly gay woman elected to the episcopate in the Episcopal Church. Her election has gained worldwide attention in the context of the ongoing debate about gay bishops in Anglicanism.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Rick Santorum portrait made from gay porn

"When many voters see Rick Santorum, they may not see a pioneer for gay equality, but a politically-minded artist has ensured that as a next-best thing, they can see the US presidential nomination hopeful and a lot of gay pornography.

The Unicorn Booty blog published a collage yesterday by an unidentified artist who has taken hundreds of stills from pornographic films and blended them to form a portrait of the former Pennsylvania Senator."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

David Geffen

b. February 21, 1943

"Happy is harder than money. Anybody who thinks money will make them happy, hasn't got money."

David Geffen is a legendary music, theater, and film mogul. He supports philanthropic causes through the David Geffen Foundation.

He has shaped popular culture for more than 30 years by launching the careers of many of the greatest performers of our time. His success in the entertainment business has come from his exceptional ability to spot and develop creative talent. Geffen began his career working in the mail room at the William Morris Agency, from which he rose rapidly to become an agent. In the 1960's Geffen brokered the deal for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to appear at Woodstock.

In 1971 Geffen founded Asylum Records, where he launched the careers of Jackson Browne and The Eagles and produced albums for stars including Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, and Joni Mitchell, whose song "Free Man in Paris" is a tribute to Geffen. In 1980, he formed Geffen Records, producing John Lennon's last album and fostering the careers of such artists as Cher, Bob Dylan, Ashlee Simpson, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Weezer, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

In the 1980's Geffen was a backer of the musical Cats, which became the longest-running show on Broadway. During the same period, he founded the Geffen Film Company, producing films such as Beetlejuice, Little Shop of Horrors, and Risky Business, the film that launched Tom Cruise's career.
In 1994 Geffen partnered with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg to create DreamWorks SKG. DreamWorks won three consecutive best picture Oscars forAmerican Beauty (1999), Gladiator(2000), and A Beautiful Mind (2001). More than ten DreamWorks films have box office grosses totaling over $100,000,000.

Geffen is reputedly "one of the most brilliant dealmakers ever to work in Hollywood." He became a billionaire after selling Geffen Records in 1990 and is listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the world's wealthiest individuals.

Geffen has become known for his support of medical research, AIDS organizations, and the arts. His $200 million unrestricted gift to UCLA Medical School in 2002 was the largest bequest ever given to an American medical school. He has said, "I have no interest in making money any more. Everything I make in the entertainment business will go to charity."

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sheila Kuehl, California State Legislator

b. February 19, 1941

“The hardest thing I ever did, coming out, turns out to give me a reputation almost instantly for honesty and courage, which any politician would kill for.”

In a 1994 election, Sheila James Kuehl became the first openly gay California legislator. In 1997, she was the first woman in California to be named Speaker pro Tempore. She was a member of the nation’s first legislative LGBT Caucus. In 2002, she coauthored a bill that defined marriage as a civil contract between two persons, which passed the state legislature, but was vetoed by the governor. 

As a youth she appeared in the television series “The Stu Erwin Show” and “Broadside.” While an undergrad at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she portrayed the irrepressible Zelda Gilroy in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” 

Although her character Zelda was popular enough for CBS to plan a spin-off, the pilot was canceled. A network representative later explained she was “just a little too butch.” During the same time, Kuehl was banned from her sorority house when letters from her girlfriend exposed her sexuality. 

After television roles started to dry up, she transitioned into academia. She became associate dean of students at UCLA. Thereafter, Kuehl graduated from Harvard Law School

Kuehl went into private law practice specializing in civil rights and women’s issues. She advocated for victims of domestic abuse and cofounded the California Women’s Law Center in 1989. She taught law at UCLA, University of Southern California and Loyola University

In 2000, she was elected a member of the California State Senate for the 23rd district of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Most significant are her successes in civil rights legislation. As of 2007, she authored 171 bills that have been signed into law. 

Kuehl is the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profiles In Courage Award (2003); the C50 Award, Celebrating 50 years of Women at the Harvard Law School (2003); the Outstanding Legislator Award from the Southern California Public Health Association (2003); the Victory Fund Leadership Award (2005); the Building a State of Equality Award from Equality California (2006); and the UCLA LGBT Center Distinguished Service Award (2007).

Davies, Haley. “Legislature OKs Same-Sex Marriage Bill; Governer Expected to Veto.” San Francisco Chronicle. September 8, 2007

Gledhill, Lynda. “State Senate OKs Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage.” San Francisco Chronicle. September 1, 2005

McKinley, Jesse. “From TV Role in ‘Dobie Gillis’ to Rights Fight in Legislature.” The New York Times. May 14, 2006

Walters, Dan. “Lawmakers Address Flurry of Gay Rights Bills.” Oakland Tribune. August 15, 2006

Television Series

Broadside (1964)


Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Obama Administration Wouldn’t Defend Blocking Military Benefits From Same-Sex Couples | TPMDC

When DADT was finally ended last year, a glaring anomaly was that lesbian or gay service men could serve openly - but if married could not enjoy all the usual employment benefits available to opposite - sex couples. An important decision by the Department of Justice means that will now change: the discriminatory legislation will no longer be defended in court.

The Obama Justice Department has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday.
“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

'via Blog this'
Enhanced by Zemanta

In Valentine's Week, Marriage Equality Advances: Update

If anyone still has any doubts that marriage equality is on the move in the US, just consider how  many advances there have been in just the past few days, in this week of St Valentine:

  • Also on Monday in New Jersey, the state Senate approved a bill, which then passed in the state House Thursday. Gov Christie vetoed, as promised, on Friday.  Proponents now have two years to muster enough votes to override. (Or they could try next year to go the referendum route, after all, or they could hope for a favourable ruling from the state Supreme Court.)
  • In Maryland on Tuesday, Valentine's day, key committees approved a bill which was due to go to the full House of Delegates Thursday, and was finally passed late on Friday. It must still go to the Senate, but as they approved a similar bill last year, that should not present a problem. Thereafter, Governor O'Malley has promised to sign.
  • In Colorado, a bill for civil unions (not full marriage) was approved by a state Senate committee yesterday. It is expected to pass easily in the Senate, and will then go to the House.
These have been on the radar for some time, with extensive press reporting. Two others were less widely predicted:
  • The Illinois General Assembly introduced a gay marriage bill yesterday, after it cleared the House rules committee February 8th.
  • Legislation is due to be introduced in Rhode Island today.
  • A West Virginia delegate introduced a bill for civil unions.
Meanwhile, the Maine campaign to repeal Proposition  and reinstate marriage equality, appears to be going well. Organisers submitted far more petition signatures than required, and polling shows strong support.
These are steps forward, not achievements completed. There are still hurdles to be overcome, in each:
  • Even after signature by the governor, Washington's new law faces a voter's referendum for repeal.
  • Any override of Gov Christie's veto in New Jersey will be a tough ask. It may not happen.
  • The Maryland bill can pass in the House (where it came short last year). As in Washington, there will likely be a voter referendum for repeal.
  • Prospects in Illinois, R.I. and Colorado are also uncertain.
  • The WV bill is largely just symbolism. It's unlikely to pass.
And in Minnesota and North Carolina, there are existing proposition campaigns to write discrimination into the state constitutions.

Even so, the momentum is clearly in the direction of equality. That's seven states where the initiative is moving forward, and two heading in the other direction. Even if there are some setbacks, these will be reversed - just as New York last year reversed it's earlier Senate defeat with the help of three Republican senators, and as Maine is on course to reverse 2009's proposition for repeal, with a counter proposition to re-instate marriage for all, free of discrimination.

In every vote taken in state legislatures so far, there have been a few Republican legislators crossing party lines to vote their consciences, for equality. Catholic bishops and some other religious leaders are actively campaigning to restrict marriage - but in every public campaign, there are other faith leaders and prominent
Catholic politicians who are arguing, from religious principles, for justice for all.

Full marriage equality is clearly on the way - and that will include full inclusion, in at least some churches.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Bill T. Jones, Dancer and choreographer

b. February 15, 1952

"Living and dying is not the big issue. The big issue is what you’re going to do with your time while you are here."

Bill T. Jones is a dancer and avant-garde choreographer who has created masterpieces about race, sexuality, life and loss. He is known for his extraordinary ability to translate human emotion and experience into the language of dance and theater.

The 10th of 12 children, William Tass Jones was born in Florida, the son of migrant farm workers, and raised in Wayland, New York. As one of the only blacks at his public school, Jones believes the experience of living by white norms at school and black norms at home encouraged his self-expression.
Jones attended the State University of New York, where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. It was there that he met his lover of 17 years, Arnie Zane. The two danced and choreographed together. As an openly gay interracial couple they pushed the envelope and challenged their audiences’ preconceived notions about gender, race and sexuality. In 1982, they cofounded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

In 1986, Zane was diagnosed with AIDS, which claimed his life two years later. Watching his life partner die gave Jones a new sense of passion and urgency.

In his 1994 piece "Still/Here," Jones took the experiences of people living with life-threatening illnesses and transformed them into a beautiful piece about life and confronting death. HIV-positive himself, Jones wanted to teach those living under the constant threat of death how to express themselves through movement. Jones's work also draws from existing material. His piece "Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land" was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel.

Jones has won many awards, including a Tony Award, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Harlem Renaissance Award. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Dance. He is the recipient of five honorary doctorates.
Jones continues to dance and choreograph for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.


Bill T. Jones.” Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. June 4, 2008

Kaye, Elizabeth. “Bill T. Jones.” The New York Times. March 6, 1994

Times Topics: Bill T. Jones.” The New York Times.

Dance (1998)

Last Night On Earth (1995)

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

61% of UK Christians back equal rights for gay couples - Survey

<p style="text-align: justify;">There is extensive evidence that the US is moving to embrace full equality for lesbian and gay couples, and that Catholics are more supportive than the population at large. American Evangelicals though, remain (mostly) hostile. There has not been nearly as much polling for the UK, but a new survey shows even more support than in the US - including from 61% of all Christians.</p>

<p style="text-align: center;"><a style="text-align: -webkit-auto;" href="">61% of Christians back equal rights for gay couples</a></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Results of a poll released today say 61% of people in the UK who identify as Christian back fully equal rights for gay couples.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The 2011 Ipsos MORI study explored the “beliefs, knowledge and attitudes” of people who identified as Christian after the nationwide census last year.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>74% of respondents said as Christians they thought religion should not have a special influence on public life.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The survey was conducted on behalf of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Six in ten respondents, 61%, agreed that gays should have the same rights in all aspects of their lives as straight people.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Only 29% said they disapproved of sexual relationships between gays. Nearly half said they did not actively disapprove.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: right;"><a href=""> - full report at</a>.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">A word of caution here, is that the survey was sponsored by the explicitly secularist Richard Dawkins Foundation, which is using the results to demonstrate that the UK is a secular society, and not a "Christian country". It does not appear to have released the full questionnaire or tables. The only results currently available are those selected for inclusion in the press release by the Foundation. In particular, the description "Christian" appears to be used for those who describe themselves as such - many of whom do not actively practice their religion.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There is no reason to disregard the main thrust of the finding though, which is in agreement with what previous research is available. British opinion is firmly on the side of LGBT inclusion - and that includes those who think of themselves Christian.</p>

<div class="zemanta-pixie" style="margin-top: 10px; height: 15px;"><a class="zemanta-pixie-a" title="Enhanced by Zemanta" href=""><img class="zemanta-pixie-img" style="border: none; float: right;" src="" alt="Enhanced by Zemanta" /></a></div>

Sunday, 12 February 2012

NH Voters Oppose Gay Marriage Repeal

<p style="text-align: justify;">With a number of US states in the news over reports of moves to provide for same - sex marriage (legislative initiatives in Washington, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois, a voters' referendum in Maine, and last week's court victory in California), and high profile push-backs in Minnesota and North Carolina, it is easy to overlook what is happening (or not) in New Hampshire.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When the Republicans made major electoral gains in November 2010, regaining control of the State legilature, they were quick to announce their plans to repeal the legislation for <a class="zem_slink" title="Same-sex marriage" href="" rel="wikipedia">marriage equality</a>. Since then, there have been a series of delays. First, there came the announcement that although repeal was important, it would not take place in 2o11, but would wait until 2o12. Late last year, it was said that repeal would take place early in 2012 - then that was pushed back until "after the GOP primary". The primary came and went - and the candidates most visibly opposed to equality were bottom of the poll. Then, it was said that repeal would take place some time in February. It has still not been sheduled.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">A report on fresh opinion polling illustrates precisely why the political leadership is getting cold feet - repeal is a clear vote loser.</p>

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The University of New Hampshire Survey Center on Feb. 7 polled Granite Staters on same-sex marriage, as it has several times since 2009. This time, citizens were asked if they support or oppose repeal of the law. Results indicate 59 percent oppose and 32 percent favor repeal.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>"It's been the same each time we ask — about 2-1 in favor of same-sex marriage," said survey center director Andy Smith. "It's not an issue most people care about one way or the other. Proponents are very much in favor, opponents are very much opposed. But for most people, it's a shrug."</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Smith said the polling numbers are so strong that, Republican majority or not, he predicts the repeal bill will not ultimately pass the N.H. House and Senate.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>"I don't see there's going to be a real strong push to pull this through," he said. Legislators "can push against public opinion somewhat, but if you have your eye on November, you don't want to jeopardize your own seat and you don't want to jeopardize party control."</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: right;"><em>via <a href=""></a>.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">For Catholics, the religious dimension is of particular interest.</p>

<p style="text-align: justify;"><em style="color: #000080;">"It's a time of change and the momentum is with gay marriage," said Michele Dillon, chair of the sociology department at UNH, who specializes in sociology and religion.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em style="color: #000080;">Poll after poll shows what Cox calls the "millennials" — those age 18 to 29 — overwhelmingly favoring same-sex marriage. "The younger generation is perplexed that it's even an issue," Dillon said. "They're just totally ahead on that."</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The UNH poll indicates 71 percent of those age 18 to 34 "strongly oppose" repeal of New Hampshire's gay marriage law with another 14 percent somewhat opposing repeal.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>In a PRRI poll taken last June, 62 percent of millennials favor gay marriage, including 49 percent who identified themselves as Republicans.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Dillon, who studies issues like gay marriage through the lens of both sociology and religion, said gay marriage is the new contraception issue for many Catholics, in particular. <strong>"Years ago, committed Catholics said 'We can be good Catholics without adhering to the Catholic teachings on contraception,'" she said. "Now it's happening with gay marriage. Most Catholics disagree with some aspect of church teaching."</strong></em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Today, Feb. 12, is World Marriage Day. Expect the bishops and other conservative sources to interpret this in terms exclusively related to what they erroneously think of as "traditional" marriage. Marriage, however, has undergone many transformations in Western history, and as I showed in discussing Pope Benedict's praise of marriage to Italian politicians, the social benefits of marriage apply to all marriages - not only those approved by Catholic bishops.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">We too, can celebrate World Marriage Day.</p>

<div class="zemanta-pixie" style="margin-top: 10px; height: 15px;"><a class="zemanta-pixie-a" title="Enhanced by Zemanta" href=""><img class="zemanta-pixie-img" style="border: none; float: right;" src="" alt="Enhanced by Zemanta" /></a></div>

Friday, 10 February 2012

Ellen Marie Barrett, Episcopal priest.

b.  February 10, 1946
If the Church is to be a house of prayer for all people, then gay people belong in it, too. And if love is what the church is all about - and it says it is - then indisputably I belong in there, too, because my way of living is a way of loving,
The Rev. Ellen M. Barrett, an Episcopal priest and monastic, was the first openly gay person and one of the    earliest women to be ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. She was born on February 10, 1946 in Lawrence, Kansas where she was baptized at Trinity Episcopal Church in September of that year.   Barrett was confirmed in the R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia. She began school at the Colegio Americano de Quito at age 5, while her father was attaché to the U.S. embassy in Ecuador from 1951 to 1953. Her secondary schooling began in Stuart Hall, an Episcopal school for girls in Staunton, Virginia. 

She later graduated from Lexington High School in Virginia. Her undergraduate career had two stages: she first attended Southern Seminary Jr. College in Buena Vista, Virginia, graduating in 1967; from there she went to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, graduating in 1970 with a BA in English literature.
In 1965, Barrett converted to Roman Catholicism. Four years later, in the fall of 1969, she worked with a community of Roman Catholic missionary sisters in New Mexico, hoping to discern whether she had any vocation for the life of a mission sister. She graduated from New York University with an MA in 1972, and reverted back to Episcopalianism, rediscovering its catholicity and the overall flexibility of its church polity. She was formally received back into the Episcopal Church in April of 1972.

From 1974-1975, Barrett served with Jim Wickliff as one of the first co-presidents of Integrity, a non-profit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Episcopalians. She was an associate with the Ecclesiastical History Society of Great Britain and served as Chaplain to the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science and the Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America.
Barrett is an associate of St. John the Evangelist. Her interests include singing, drawing, reading and traveling. Her trips to Israel in 2000 and Russia in 2001 reveal her ongoing interest in various spiritual traditions, including Russian Orthodoxy and the Hindu philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.
In the spring of 2002, Barrett entered the Community of the Holy Spirit, an Episcopal religious order for women in New York, as a postulant. She left the order in the summer of 2003 and resumed her career as an Episcopal priest. Two years later, in July 2005, she entered the Community of St. Mary the Virgin, an Anglican religious order for women in Wantage, England, as an aspirant.
Barrett was ordained in the Episcopal Church in the diocese of New York by the Right. Rev. Paul. Moore, Jr., first as deacon in 1975 and then as priest in 1977. From approximately 1975 to 2005 she served as Episcopal cleric in a variety of city and suburban parishes, beginning her career in Berkeley, California and eventually settling in dioceses in the New York and New Jersey areas.

 At the altar of her ordination, Episcopal priest James Wattley spoke out during the service and called it, "... a travesty and a scandal." Rev. Ellen Marie Barrett: "The changes in the Church have always been to broaden and include -- not cut off and turn away .... I care less about the Church as a structure than as a community of Christians. I think that community is founded on love, and I think that love belongs in everyone - including women and lesbians."

John Berry, Government Official

b. February 10, 1959

“Each time we act against discrimination, we add a ring of life to the American tree of liberty.”

John Berry is the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). He is the highest-ranking openly gay federal employee in U.S. history.

Born in Rockville, Maryland, Berry is the son of two federal government employees. His father served in the U.S. Marine Corps and his mother worked for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Berry earned his Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Maryland and a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University. His first federal government job was as legislative director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer. Thereafter, he served as deputy assistant secretary for law enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department.

After two years as director of government relations at the Smithsonian Institution, Berry was appointed assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Berry pursued his interest in environmental conservation as the director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and subsequently as director of the National Zoo.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Berry to his current position, where he is responsible for recruiting, hiring and benefits policies for 1.9 million federal employees.

With Berry’s appointment came accolades from the LGBT and mainstream communities. “The selection of John Berry is a meaningful step forward for the LGBT community,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Humans Rights Campaign. John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, described Berry as the “perfect choice for the OPM. He’s smart, courageous, and has all the right experience in policy and in politics.”

In 2009, Berry served as the keynote speaker for the International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference in San Francisco.

One of the few Americans to stand on both the North and South Poles, Berry’s government career has taken him around the globe and literally to the ends of the earth. There is a mountain in Antarctica named after him: the Berry Bastion.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Alice Walker, Author and Feminist

b. February 9, 1944
“The truest and most enduring impulse I have is simply to write.”

Alice Walker is an award-winning writer, activist and self-proclaimed “Womanist”—a term she coined in her book “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” (1974) to describe black feminists. The voices she brings to life in her novels, short stories and poems helped educate and inspire readers.

Walker was raised in Eatonton, Georgia, during segregation. She was the youngest of eight children born to poor sharecroppers.

Walker received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. She moved back to the South to pursue civil rights work and met Mel Leventhal. Walker and Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer, were the first interracial couple to be legally married in Mississippi. Walker had her only child during the marriage. The couple divorced in 1976.

Walker began teaching at Wellesley College in 1972. Her course, dedicated to the study of African-American women writers, was the first of its kind.

Her most famous novel, “The Color Purple” (1983), won a National Book Award and made Walker the first African-American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1985, the novel was made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. The film earned 11 Oscar nominations. In 2005, “The Color Purple” was adapted as a Broadway musical, with Winfrey as the lead financial backer.

Walker’s awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Grant, an American Book Award, a Lillian Smith Award and an O’Henry Award. She was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame and the California Hall of Fame. In 1997, Walker was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.


Selected Works

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Religion and Gay Marriage: Reactions to Prop 8 Ruling.

[caption id="attachment_21905" align="aligncenter" width="254" caption="Proposition 8 election map"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-21905" title="Proposition 8 election map" src="" alt="" width="254" height="300" /></a>[/caption]
<p style="text-align: justify;">Catholic bishops have been quick to react to yesterday's court ruling that California's Proposition 8 ballot was unconstitutional, speaking of their disappointment at what they see as the "injustice" of the ruling (an ironic choice of words, as it is the business of the courts above all, to deliberate and rule on matters of justice.  The learned judges in this case, confirming earlier decisions by lower courts, have found that the "injustice" lay in creating two classes of persons, one with lesser rights than the other). Frances De Bernardo at New Ways / Bondings 2.0, recalling the active role that the bishops played in perpetrating the original injustice, reflects on the harm that has done to the Catholic Church in California, and draws an important lesson from it: the urgent need, going forward, to move from a political stance on the matter to a pastoral one:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Though this case temporarily provides a victory for the marriage equality movement in California, there is still work of reconciliation work to be done in the Catholic Church there.  In a <a title="‘Catholic Church Doesn’t Need to Take Another Battering’" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #000080;">post two weeks ago</span></a>, I mentioned that a California friend told me that the hierarchy’s heavily funded campaign to pass Proposition 8 has had a harmful effect on the pastoral life of LGBT Catholics and their allies in California.  Many have become alienated from the church and left it because of the vociferous anti-gay nature of the campaign and its rhetoric.  While the hierarchy has been focused on the political nature of the marriage debate, it’s time that they started to look at the pastoral component of it, too, and begin the much needed work of reconciliation–for the good of the entire church.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: right;"><a href="">Francis DeBernardo, Bondings 2.0</a></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Other denominations that were active in the Prop 8 campaign against marriage, have expressed similar and predictable disappointment. I am more interested though, in the mounting evidence of an opposite, supportive view from faith leaders.<!--more--></p>
<h4 style="text-align: justify;">Religious support <em>in favour</em> of justice and equality in marriage.</h4>

Last week, an English bishop declared his support for gay marriage in the UK. In Washington DC, an Episcopal bishop has declared similar support for marriage equality in Maryland.

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The new Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday endorsed the legislative campaign now underway to legalize same sex marriage in Maryland.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, wrote on the Washington Post website that gay marriage opponents should not be so certain the Bible is on their side. In her reading the Bible</em></span></p>

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>... condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.</em></span></p>

In Pasadena, Rev Susan Boyle called the ruling a "victory", reversing the Catholic bishops' argument from religious freedom:
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Pasadena, where they have refused to sign marriage licenses for any couple until gay couples could be legally wed, went straight to rejoicing.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Russell, an Episcopal priest, called it a victory for</em></span></p>

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>...all Americans who believe that the "liberty and justice for all" in the pledge we teach our children really means ALL. It is also a victory over those who erroneously believe that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment gives them freedom to write their theology on marriage -- or anything else -- into our Constitution.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>Russell dismisses the notion this tramples on freedom of religion, saying in a statement that everyone is</em></span></p>

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>... just as free today to decide for themselves whether God equally blesses our marriages. What the 9th Circuit Court said today is that they are NOT free to decide whether the Constitution equally protects them.</em></span></p>
<h6 class="zemanta-related-title" style="font-size: 1em;">Related articles</h6>
<ul class="zemanta-article-ul">
<li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="">Prop 8 To The Supremes Plus Some Interesting Poll Data</a><em> (Enlightened Catholicism)</em></li>
<li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="">Marriage Equality Victory: Proposition 8 Unconstitutional</a> <em>(More Light Presbyterians)</em></li>
<li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="">Prop. 8: San Diego mayor, once a gay-marriage foe, cheers ruling</a> (</li>
<div class="zemanta-pixie" style="margin-top: 10px; height: 15px;"><a class="zemanta-pixie-a" title="Enhanced by Zemanta" href=""><img class="zemanta-pixie-img" style="border: none; float: right;" src="" alt="Enhanced by Zemanta" /></a></div>

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional - US Federal Appeals Court

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>It was unclear when gay marriages might resume in California. Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have repeatedly said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling from the 9th Circuit.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000080;"><em>"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," the ruling states.</em></span></p>
<p style="text-align: right;"><a href="">Associated Press</a></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">It's not finally over until the Supreme Court agrees, but this is a big step forward.</p>

<div class="zemanta-pixie" style="margin-top: 10px; height: 15px;"><a class="zemanta-pixie-a" title="Enhanced by Zemanta" href=""><img class="zemanta-pixie-img" style="border: none; float: right;" src="" alt="Enhanced by Zemanta" /></a></div>

Monday, 6 February 2012

<p style="text-align: justify;">When British PM David Cameron threw his weight behind the proposal for British recognition for gay marriage last year, he said it was because he was a Conservative, not in spite of it. Mr Cameron, like many modern politicians, is not noted for strong religious observance or belief - but Time Montgomerie is different. He is both a prominent Conservative MP, <span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: left;"> </span><span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: left;">the editor of the ConservativeHome website for Tory activists, </span>and an outspoken Christian. <span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: left;"> (I</span><span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: left;">n 1990 he founded the influential Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF) with David Burrowes, a Tory MP who now leads the campaign against gay marriage). But in announcing his support for gay marriage, he has used arguments remarkably similar to those of Mr Cameron. Expanding the concept of marriage to include all couples, he says, will not weaken the institution, as the opponents fear, but will strengthen it.</span><span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: left;"> </span></p>
 <a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-21859" title="Tim+Montgomerie2" src="" alt="" width="300" height="239" /></a>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em><span style="color: #000080;">Mr Montgomerie said: "Conservatives should want as many people as possible to live in institutions and social norms that promote stability, faithfulness and compassion. Marriage is an institution at the centre of society. It is because I value it so much that I want it to be extended. This is not about equal rights. It is about extending an incredibly important social institution." Admitting the Tories previously had a "terrible" record on gay rights, he said: "To put it kindly, it has dragged its feet for a long time." He pointed out that Mr Cameron had consistently favoured gay rights since becoming party leader.</span></em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em><span style="color: #000080;">What David Cameron is embarked upon is an incredibly important project – to make social conservatism fashionable again. Marriage is civilising, stabilising, a hugely important institution for bringing people together. But if marriage is fossilised and exclusive, that has only limited reach. His attempt to enlarge and modernise the institution should not be seen as a threat to marriage but as its saviour."</span></em></p>
<p style="text-align: right;">-<a href=""> The Independent</a>.</p>
<div class="zemanta-pixie" style="margin-top: 10px; height: 15px;"><a class="zemanta-pixie-a" title="Enhanced by Zemanta" href=""><img class="zemanta-pixie-img" style="border: none; float: right;" src="" alt="Enhanced by Zemanta" /></a></div>

Sunday, 5 February 2012

"Led by the child who simply knew": (Boston Globe, on a Child's Transition)

For trans children, at just how young an age is it appropriate to begin the transitioning process?

That's just one of the questions raised by this thought-provoking story from the Boston Globe last month, on Nicole and her family. (The implied answer would seem to be, to prepare the way early, but delay anything permanent (and that includes delaying "natural" processes, like the onset of puberty) until the decision to transition is definite and irrevocable.

Jonas and Wyatt Maines were born identical twins, but from the start each had a distinct personality.

Jonas was all boy. He loved Spiderman, action figures, pirates, and swords.

Wyatt favored pink tutus and beads. At 4, he insisted on a Barbie birthday cake and had a thing for mermaids. On Halloween, Jonas was Buzz Lightyear. Wyatt wanted to be a princess; his mother compromised on a prince costume.

Once, when Wyatt appeared in a sequin shirt and his mother’s heels, his father said: “You don’t want to wear that.’’

“Yes, I do,’’ Wyatt replied.

“Dad, you might as well face it,’’ Wayne recalls Jonas saying. “You have a son and a daughter.’’

-Read the full article at The Boston Globe.

The article also highlights the importance of a supportive family and school community - and Nicole's own mental strength. There came a point in her journey when the family became involved in political lobbying. She had encountered difficulties at school over usage of the girls' bathroom, and filed court proceedings against the school district for discrimination. A Republican state legislator then introduced legislation that would have repealed Maine's protection for transgender people in public restroom.

Last spring Wayne and Nicole roamed the halls of the State House, button-holing legislators and testifying against the bill. “I’d be in more danger if I went into the boys bathroom,’’ Nicole told the lawmakers, who ultimately rejected the bill.

“She knows how to work a room,’’ her father says proudly. “She even convinced a cosponsor to vote the other way.’’
Nicole freely acknowledges the difficulties ahead - but described the political engagement as a "perk":
“Obviously my life is not going to be as easy as being gender-conforming, but there are perks like being able to get out there and do things that will benefit the [transgender] community,’’ she says. “I think everything’s going to turn out pretty well for me.’’
As an aside to gthe main themes, I was amused by the self-description of Nicole's father (note the emphasis I added):
“As a conventional dad, hunter, and former Republican, it took me longer to understand that I never had two sons,’’ he told them. “My children taught me who Nicole is and who she needed to be.’’