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Prop. 8 Judge Put the Facts on Trial—and Gays Win

LGBTs celebrate the Gay marriage decision handed down August 4. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

A United States District Judge has ruled that California’s anti-Gay marriage law, Proposition 8, violates the Constitution, denies Lesbian and Gay people who wish to marry partners of their own choosing due process and the equal protection of the law, and discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation.

The case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and eventually Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will decide it with their colleagues. No one is predicting the outcome. The High Court currently looks anti-Gay, but Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote in every 5-4 decision the Court hands down, will have the last word.

That’s the news, but what does it mean, besides another convulsion in the world’s long and tortured history of figuring out whether Gay people are abominable scum or the best thing since Elton John?

I suspect that a lot will turn on the trial just concluded in California, because the judge there, Vaughn Walker, did something truly remarkable, yet utterly mundane and judicial: he put the facts on trial.

He took all the claims that LGBT advocates make, and all the counter-arguments of anti-Gay campaigners, and sorted through them one by one to ask, “Which of these are actually true? What can be objectively believed? What is mere hyperbole or exaggeration? What is nothing but spin and ideology?”

And most important of all, he asked, “What in all these statements is really prejudice, made to sound reasonable?”

He was as tough in questioning the Gay side as he was with the defenders of traditional marriage. He scared me a time or two; he made everyone defend their positions, back up their claims, give him some proof.

It wasn’t “Law and Order,” but he really wanted to know beyond a reasonable doubt that Col. Mustard did it in the ballroom with the candlestick. Don’t claim it was the rope if it was the candlestick.

The Prop. 8 proponents claimed they were protecting children; so he put child-rearing on trial. Do kids raised by Straight people turn out better than kids raised by Gay people?

Well, no; the social science is already done on that question. The children of Gay parents score higher on certain measures of adjustment, and otherwise they’re pretty much like any other kids. That’s the fact, established in his courtroom.

So how exactly does it protect children to discriminate against Gay adults?

Time and again the Prop. 8 proponents had to backtrack. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times reported it:

The backers of Proposition 8 called only two witnesses, and both made concessions under cross-examination that helped the other side.

The Prop. 8 proponents claimed they had other expert witnesses lined up, but they chickened out; listen to their excuse.

The sponsors complained that Walker’s pretrial rulings had been unfair and that some of their prospective witnesses decided not to testify out of fear for their safety.

So once again we hear the claim that sissyboys who can’t even throw a baseball magically turn into rapists.

The violence surrounding Gay issues is entirely directed at Gay people; but still these so-called Christians tell these lies.

It’s far more likely that Prop. 8’s “experts” got photographed in Miami last week with a hustler from rentboy.com.

On every point of contention—being Gay is a choice; Gay marriage is dangerous for children; religious rights to discriminate are being trampled; Gay marriage devalues “traditional” marriage—the bigots lost on the facts.

And that’s going to make Justice Scalia’s upcoming rant much harder to pull off.

LGBT people have always known that if our claims were ever examined objectively, we’d win; and our opponents have always known that too. But they persist; prejudice makes money, that’s why it exists.

It impoverishes society, but it enriches those who own the means of producing it.

In the 51 years since the Wolfenden Report and the 41 years since the Stonewall Riots, GLBT people have had to look deep inside ourselves to discover whether, as advertised, we are abominable scum. We were raised by Straight people, back in the days when everyone believed we were abominable scum, so what if they were right?

As a horrid king of England once said, “I thought men like that shot themselves.”

No, kingy, men like you shoot us instead.

Every question ever asked is one we’ve dealt with, every doubt, every stereotype, every accusation. We’ve even turned to God and asked him. (Turns out God’s cool with Gay people.)

Judge Walker put all those questions on trial, and has done the world a service.

Will the professional bigots now slink away in shame? Hell no, the Ku Klux Klan’s still operating ten miles up the road.

Finally, a matter of some interest to Episcopalians, who have been forced into lawsuits, schism and war over whether God is cool with Gay people: the house organ of Episcopal bigotry, a commercial website known as Viagraville, has taken little official notice of Judge Walker’s decision.

He has demolished every argument they ever made; so they’re trying to ignore him, though they have allowed a few attacks on the judge’s sexual orientation. Otherwise their site is filled with trivia and claims that Christians are “victimized.”

You cannot build a lasting church on hate when your Bible says God is love. I mean, how lunatic can you get?

It will work for awhile—the Flat Earth Society still has potlucks twice a year—but the longterm prospects are not good. Meanwhile they’re busy telling each other that The Episcopal Church is soon to fall.

The Church I know is rather happily carrying on, with a bit of a spring in its step today. Why?

Because long before Judge Vaughn Walker came along, the Church put the facts on trial and found that yes, it was Col. Mustard in the ballroom with the candlestick.

We will never resolve the existence of evil in the world, especially when there’s money to be made. The motive for robbery and murder is not far removed from what powers the Klan, the Flat-Earthers and Viagraville: I want what you’ve got, so I’m taking it.

I can’t wait to see Antonin Scalia pop a vein.++

(internetweekly.org)

Conservative Parish Votes to Stay In TEC

St. Paul's, Hudson, WI. Fairly new building, cost more than $1 million.

I got a notice from a deacon today; “please take our church off your prayer list, we voted by 70% to stay in The Episcopal Church.”

So I took them off the list and tried to send some support either way.

I’m glad they stayed in, but 30% voted to leave.

It’s St. Paul’s, Hudson, in the Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Eau Claire is known as conservative and Catholic. It’s also isolated, out of the way and has never been very big. There aren’t any major cities there, and TEC skews urban. I should know, it’s hard to be a smalltown Episcopalian. My home parish is 50 miles away in another time zone.

Hudson’s website is one of the stranger ones I’ve seen. They have a link to a missionary-musician’s website, and “Youth Program” takes you to a Myspace page that hasn’t been updated in years, but cheerfully informs you that Tom has been kicked out for not showing up. “Eat it Tom!”

Evidently the administrator stopped showing up too.

You can also see documents on parish votes, all heavily in favor, on such topics as the Authority of Holy Scripture, the Lordship and Uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the Anglican Communion and Marriage and Blessings. Evidently these were submitted as resolutions to the diocesan convention, where four out of five were voted down.

They were all upset that TEC wasn’t complying with the anti-Gay Windsor Report, which never had any force or authority in this Church.

But in 2010 the parish took another vote and 70% of them want to stay Episcopalians. The other 30% do not.

I ought to keep them on the prayer list, don’t you think. But the deacon wrote to say, stop praying for us, we voted.

I’m glad they didn’t walk out. But I don’t understand anyone who wants to walk out in the first place, much less agitates sufficiently to put it to a vote.

My parish has never voted on queers; has yours?

It’s insulting to assert that we have to vote on the authority of Scripture, or the Lordship and Uniqueness of Jesus Christ. It’s somebody standing up and yelling in the parish hall, “These people in TEC aren’t good enough Christians!”

Or “I’m holier than thou.”

Lord have mercy. Please, God, spare us these people.

(But maybe with that statement I just kicked out Tom.)

It makes me wonder how a particular place, a parish or diocese, takes on a flavor of churchmanship or theology, incorporates that into its identity, develops a self-reinforcing reputation for it, and then fights off all challengers real or imagined.

To most of us St. Paul’s, Hudson looks fairly fundamentalist. How did that happen in the Episcopal Church? But it’s in an Anglo-Catholic diocese, so there’s more to the story; how did the diocese go Anglo-Catholic?

How does it happen that we have liberal dioceses, Broad Church/mainstream dioceses and conservative dioceses?

I live on the border between the dioceses of Indianapolis and Northern Indiana. One place hates Gay people; one place loves Gay people. What the hell is that?

Indy is Broad Church, Northern Indiana is High Church? How did that come about?

Was it some kind of Cult of the Leader? Why would a whole diocese be one way or the other?

How does it happen that parishes develop along ideological/theological lines? Why is Sydney, Australia more Calvinist than Calvin was?

Maybe it’s helpful to look at Smokey Mary’s in New York.

Do you know you can actually Google that, and the first thing that comes up is “Church of St. Mary the Virgin”?

Erwin De Leon documents a visit here, quite a lovely tribute.

It’s the most famous Anglo-Catholic parish in the United States, and its history is unique. It was founded specifically to be the highest of the High Churches, and incorporated to protect itself from anyone’s opposition or intervention, especially that of the Bishop or Convention of New York. Smokey’s going to do what it wants to do, and fuckyew if you don’t like it.

They love incense at Smokey Mary's; I envy them, because we don't get it.

Other parishes and dioceses, it’s less clear how they came to their current character.

The Diocese of Indianapolis ordained the first woman priest on the first day it was legal, the Rev. Jacqueline Means on New Year’s Day 1977. That was obviously a conscious decision made by “my” Bishop John Pares Craine. (Other women were ordained “irregularly” starting in 1974.) DioIndy is a Broad Church, mainstream, liberal diocese. The current bishop is Our Gal Cate™.

I’m fond of saying we wouldn’t give her up for anything. People love her. She’s not a cutting-edge national leader on any issue I can think of, but she fits this place, and when she talks, we listen. Our diocese will host the next General Convention in part to honor her. The whole Church likes her; she’s Our Gal Cate.

But ten miles up the road in the Diocese of Northern Indiana they’re scared to death of queers. How did that happen?

It fancies itself an Anglo-Catholic place, better and wiser than the hicks down south who don’t know anything; they’d never say it that way but it’s the truth.

They are far smaller in miles, dollars and numbers, but they do carry on proudly. More power to ’em.

How did they come to decide, “We shall be High Church, male, Catholic, anti-Gay and in a horrible panic over the ‘future of the Anglican Communion'”?

They’re not schismatic; the current Bishop Ed Little gets credit for that. But oh, he does agitate against homos because the pope told him to or somethin’.

I paint with a broad brush; Ed doesn’t hate people. But he seems not to realize all his agitation has the same effect as hating people.

Northern Indiana’s never had a woman bishop and maybe never will. They got all excited when a previous bishop’s consecration was held at Notre Dame University, which is like the U.S. home of the pope!

Sorry, kiddos, compared to you I’m a Protester.

When the Diocese of Northern Indiana was carved out, the sitting Bishop of Indiana John Hazen White moved from Indianapolis to South Bend. That’s probably what started it. Maybe he was disgusted by the Low Church attitudes of the hicks and farmers he was dealing with. He knew better, so he started over in a new place. The people he attracted coalesced around his preferences, they followed where he led, and Northern Indiana differentiated itself, took on a Catholic identity that way.

It hurts me that they’re anti-Gay; it hurts Lesbian and Gay kids in their hometowns, their parishes and families.

This is what is wrong with these cults of personality. White must have been the finest guy around. But it didn’t mean his shit didn’t stink.

We mistake the founder’s prejudices for the truth.

Or, in the case of Bishop Craine, we go along with the Head Man’s beliefs because we like him. I remember Jackie Means, the first “regular” woman priest. She was a working class gal, not conventionally educated, and her big thing was prison ministry. She was superb at it, and Bishop Craine believed in her. There’s now a John P. Craine House in Indy which provides transitional housing and support services for female nonviolent offenders on release from prison. I support it financially and commend it to all; I’m proud of it, and of the success of its residents. It’s a worthy tribute to the man, and hardly the first thing that comes to mind when considering the mission of the Episcopal Church.

But I seriously doubt Jackie Means would have won a plebiscite on ordination; I might not have voted for her either. Bishop Craine solved that by not putting it up to a vote. Yet here’s this parish in rural Wisconsin voting on whether queers can get married. Big surprise, they voted like Republicans; it’s a small town, how else would they vote?

But they also voted 70-30 to stay with us, and wow, am I impressed.

I read an attack the other day on the Broad Church; the first time I’d ever seen that. A conservative (Catholic? Protestant? I don’t remember) claimed we ruined everything theologically—although they always argue “theology” when it’s really “politics.”

Some of our inclinations simply arise from demographics; no one looks to the Diocese of Quincy for original thought. Ditto San Joaquin and Fort Worth. Pittsburgh, though, is another matter, the epicenter of Anglican schism.

It’s been clear since at least the 1970’s that Pittsburgh was going fundamentalist. “Trinity School for Ministry” (formerly the Church Army Training Center, before they kicked out all the queers) is located in that diocese. It now advertises on schismatic websites. What happened in that place to send all the swine off the cliff?

A bishop gets elected; he doesn’t have much formal power, but he’s certainly influential, so he influences. He favors a certain theology or practice; he surrounds himself with staff members, and makes appointments, favors some people and disfavors others, and gradually gains sway over every major decision. Rectors do it too; it’s expected almost. The laypeople are not by and large paying attention.

Then one day you wake up in a homophobic diocese—or New Hampshire, with a Gay bishop. It could go either way.

Eventually that bishop retires, but the people he’s put in place keep running things, so all the replacement nominees are basically People Who Agree With That Guy, and the tone of the diocese or parish starts to turn to stone.

Fort Worth “always” elects conservatives. Quincy “always” elects Anglo-Catholics. Indianapolis “always” favors women’s ordination. Northern Indiana “never” does. It’s an insidious process that depends on laypeople not paying attention.

It’s aided and abetted by the deference many people still give to the clergy. I’m not saying they don’t deserve it; I know lots of great bishops, priests and deacons.

But never bow down to them in procession; that was not Jesus Christ who just walked by. She may be his representative, but that’s all. (Anglo-Catholics teach you to defer to the priest; Protestants refuse to, and they’re right.)

So here we are, 2010, Anglican Wars are dying down, liberals are in and conservatives are out; I like it that way because it means some Gay kid in Plymouth, Indiana is not getting battered by his or her church. Or Hudson, Wisconsin or Quincy, Illinois. Child-battering is a sin, and this applies to Gay issues!

But I’m very pleased to hear from St. Paul’s, Hudson; they think we’re wrong but they don’t want to leave. Hallelujah!

What they do with the 30% who voted to leave is probably just watch them go.

Eau Claire can’t afford that. The Episcopal Church can’t afford that. Who died and made us prophets, y’know?

But it’s what we’re called to, so it’s what we’re doing, hesitantly and not very well; and it’s not like homophobes in Hudson can’t find another place to go.

It isn’t easy being a prophet, though; it’s a crucifixion.++

Vatican Blames Jews, Gays, Women for “Hate” Campaign

Riot police take aim in Kyrgyzstan.

The Catholic Church is looking a bit like Kyrgyzstan today — that former Soviet state where riot police are killing protesters, who now appear to have ousted the government.

It’s looking like Thailand, where protesters have forced government ministers to flee by Black Hawk helicopter.

It’s looking like Afghanistan, where corrupt President Karzai, who recently threatened to join the Taliban, is doing everything he can to hang onto power.

Just days after the pope’s personal preacher compared criticism of the hierarchy to anti-Semitism, on Good Friday no less, and the Vatican secretary of state interrupted Easter services (!) to deliver a ringing endorsement of Benedict, his boss, the Vatican has launched a new offensive, claiming that all-powerful lobbies for the pro-choice and same-sex marriage movements hate the Church and are trying to destroy it.

Funny, I thought it was pedophile priests and paranoid prelates who were trying to do that.

When they’re not blaming Jews at The New York Times.

AP reports:

By FRANCES D’EMILIO
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; 5:57 PM

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic “hate” campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vatican Radio broadcast comments by two senior cardinals explaining “the motive for these attacks” on the pope and the Vatican newspaper chipped in with spirited comments from another top cardinal.

“The pope defends life and the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, in a world in which powerful lobbies would like to impose a completely different” agenda, Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the disciplinary commission for Holy See officials, said on the radio.

Herranz didn’t identify the lobbies but “defense of life” is Vatican shorthand for anti-abortion efforts.

I’m a former reporter on the Gay rights movement; I’ve seen it from the inside. I’ve covered feminist issues, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women — and I have to laugh at the notion that these people could fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

LGBT and feminist leaders spend a lot more time arguing with each other than they ever do with their opponents. Who is it that gave the world “political correctness” but Gay people?

One incident captures this in a nutshell: the 1993 “March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.” (Notice, no Trans.) I’ve still got the T-shirt, hokay?

A gaggle of progressive, non-Gay celebrities were there to support the cause — and were denied the platform to address half a million marchers because they weren’t queer. Jesse Jackson, Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas, Cesar Chavez, people of renown and accomplishment, were permitted to address 5000 early birds at a pre-march rally at the Washington Monument; while the big crowd that afternoon got lectured to by a disabled Lesbian from Fiji, who harangued everybody for not caring enough about… people like her.

I kid you not. The memory still makes me laugh. Lesbians and Gay men can’t coordinate a bowel movement, much less a human rights movement.

But the Vatican says… oh, brother.

At least they haven’t shot anybody like the riot police in Kyrgyzstan.

The New York Times, April 3:

Last week, the center-left daily newspaper La Republica wrote, without attribution, that certain Catholic circles believed the criticism of the church stemmed from a New York ‘Jewish Lobby.’

Without attribution. “Certain Catholic circles.” “New York Jewish lobby,” an apparent reference to The Times itself. It is in fact owned by a Jewish family, and it has been active in reporting about Catholic pedophilia scandals in Wisconsin, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland and elsewhere. The Church doesn’t like having its secrets exposed.

When the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury noted rather mildly that the Catholic Church in Ireland has “lost all credibility,” he was barraged by attacks from Irish Catholic archbishops, who suddenly pretended to be great friends with Anglicans who “betrayed” them, despite the pope’s efforts a few months ago to steal conservative Anglicans and make them Catholics.

I’ve written previously that the Vatican’s problems are structural and have nothing to do with the all-male priesthood, clerical “celibacy” or any other issue of sex and gender. The problems originate in trying to run a church as a dictatorship, where the Big Man gets to decide everything while claiming to be God’s human mouthpiece. It’s a massive error in governance, which is why hundreds of millions of non-Catholic Christians refuse to follow the man.

It doesn’t mean we hate him; it means the system he fronts is obviously and fatally corrupt.

God created all of us; no one is better than anyone else. If you don’t get that, you don’t get anything.

God touches the souls of janitors and scholars alike; if you want to find Christ, visit the homeless, the marginalized, the despised. Queers even, intrinsically disordered though we might be.

The Church’s current crisis, which finds the Vatican lashing out in every possible direction, has nothing to do with abortion, masturbation, contraception, same-sex marriage, the priesthood of “celibate” men or the dignity of women. It has to do with priests molesting children. Period.

What the Catholic Church has done is indefensible. It’s facilitated crime against the least powerful of God’s beloved people.

If the Pope had any brains, which he apparently does not, he would have appeared in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday in sackcloth and ashes, begging the forgiveness of all humanity for the actions of his priests.

We’d have wept at such a sight; we’d have praised God for him.

Instead he listened to a sermon by his own official preacher, claiming that criticizing the pope was somehow equivalent to the Jew-hating that killed six million souls in concentration camps.

My father was a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. He fought and nearly died to free people he didn’t know from the clutches of hatred.

It is profoundly disrespectful to millions who suffered like him to equate a public outcry against the pope and his minions with a campaign of “hate” by feminists, Jews and Gay people.

Stop crucifying children, Benedict; resign and never show your face again. In the Name of Jesus, do the right thing for once.++

Maine Catholics Lobby Against Gay Marriage

UPDATE: The legislature in Maine passed the Gay marriage bill May 6 and Gov. John Baldacci signed it. Whaddaya know, Democrats who act like Democrats. Hooray for Maine!

richardmalone

Richard Malone, Bishop of Portland, Maine.

I guess it’s no surprise, the Catholic Church hates Gay people, and calls us such charming phrases as “intrinsically disordered.”

In your being, you’re no good.

No surprise, Gay people hate the Catholic Church right back.

The state legislature in Maine is about to pass a Gay marriage bill, recommended forthrightly by the Episcopal Diocese. (Thank you, Bishop Lane.)

The official Catholic position is against the bill, and the bishop is paying lobbyists to fight it. No rights for queers!

Sure is good news, huh? Some kind of Gospel. Let’s all follow Jesus, that well-known Gay hater who never said a word about it.

Down is up and wrong is right. God is love but Jesus hates. Priests can never have sex, but meanwhile they’re abusing every child in sight.

How did the Church go so wrong? What can be done about it?

What does God really think about sex? Any kind of sex, not just my kind; whuzzup, God?

How can we tell people that Jesus is the incarnation of love when your alleged followers are so full of hate that they want to deny human rights to non-conformists? It doesn’t work. They don’t believe us.

To save their own skins they’re running as fast and as far away from the Catholic church as they can get.

How can we sing a new song in a foreign land?

St. Peter was married, but his alleged successor in Rome, who calls himself Pope, is the world’s leading crusader against sex.

Priests must never have sex. Of course they do it all the time like everyone else, but only in the closet.

It’s what my pal Leonardo calls the Land of Let’s Pretend.

What does God have to say? Everybody gather round, listen hard, keep still; maybe we’ll hear God’s little whisper.

Or maybe God’s shout; if I were the King of the Universe I’d be shouting about now.

What does God say?

“I love you just the way you are,” in your maleness, your femaleness, your queerness, your Straightness, doesn’t matter. “I love you just the way you are.”

“I love you.” Get used to it.

I am very, very proud of the Episcopal Bishop of Maine. He’s doing what he can to spread good news, and I love him for it.

I am equally ashamed of the Catholic Bishop of Portland, using church dollars in a hate campaign.

Here’s what’s going to happen, I think. The Maine Legislature will pass the bill. The governor may or may not sign it; he’s no friend of Gay people and he doesn’t know what to do. In fact he’s a minor player because even if the bill becomes law without his signature, the Catholics in Maine, along with all the other haters, will gather names on petitions to try to get a “people’s veto” to nullify the law.

Every dollar of that campaign is a dollar that doesn’t feed the hungry, but Catholics won’t care. They’ll tell themselves the Virgin Mary made ’em starve people to death to prevent same-sex marriage.

Every Gay person in Maine will run screaming out of their churches, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, it won’t matter—ALL churches will be suspected.

Jesus will wonder what happened to his congregation. But then he’ll know, and he won’t be pleased.

The atheists will be; they love to poke fun at the comic-book God. And who can blame them, when the Catholic Church itself promotes a comic-book God?

This is the same church that has ruined its reputation in Europe, and it’s fast approaching here. No one goes to church in Europe anymore. All those cathedrals? Empty. Tourist attractions. “Remember when.”

Only when the Catholic Church is faced with imminent collapse—financially, nothing else will get their attention—will it decide, “Maybe priests can have sex after all. Maybe, in limited circumstances, with permission from the bureaucracy, at certain times, experimentally, every other Tuesday, maybe.”

Whereupon every priest in the world will petition the bureaucracy to get married, for it is better to marry than to burn, and better to have sex in the bedroom than the closet.

God made your gonads, and gave you raging hormones for a reason: sex is a little taste of heaven.

Humans are constantly misusing sex, but the impulse itself is divine.

God is love, and humans get to make love. See how this works?

God wants us to make love.

As Norman Pittenger said, there is sex that is good, better and best, and God wants us to do it the best way; but sex is good.

Which is why priestly celibacy is so destructive, stifling, even murderous. The Catholic Church is exactly wrong on every sexual issue. Completely, totally, dead wrong.

Gay marriage, like Straight marriage, is a holy, wonderful thing, a blessing, an act of God.

What is the distinguishing mark of holy matrimony? Two people stand up, in public, and promise to love each other. They say all this where everyone else can hear.

There is no other act like that. Promises made, given and received, in public, “I will love you forever.”

Wow.

Let me end now with a personal note. I am finally working through, after five decades, my understanding of Gay love, sex and God. I have finally been given some integration of personality, spirituality and physicality. I am very grateful for this one-ing.

The universal Church teaches that God should be at the center of every marriage. But I didn’t know how that could happen; if I have lust for my husband (and I do, believe me), how can I love God more than Mr. Right? Does God demand that he get between us? What kind of God would do that?

But no, my thinking’s been all wrong. God is at the center of the one I love. I may or may not perceive God there, but in my loving, God’s right there.

The one I love is the one God loves. What I love about my man is what God loves about him too—so much, that God lives inside his body.

When I love my man’s body I’m doing just what God intends, for both of us. God so loves Derrick that God wants him made love to; and God so loves me that he gives me Derrick to love.

Thus if we are open to God at all, we cannot help but have a holy marriage. And this prefigures the bliss of heaven itself.

When we die our soul will be one’d with God. In the meantime, my body is one’d with Derrick’s. We use our bodies to one with each other in heart and mind and soul.

There is nothing greater than standing up in public and saying, in front of God ‘n’ everybody, “I will love you forever.”

And yes, maybe I lust after your body and yes, maybe I don’t; but regardless, “I will love you forever, because I see God in you.”

A public promise; a vow, a sacred thing.

Jesus loves it when people get married. He hopes and prays for the best, that everything works out; he knows it doesn’t always happen, but he prays and blesses our vowing.

He knows they’re going to go home and screw like rabbits, but that’s how God made ’em and it’s private, so let ’em go at it.

God made them to worship each other’s bodies, because that’s the closest we’ll ever come to knowing what real worship is.

Derrick isn’t God, but he’s real, real close. God loves it when people love each other.

By giving me Derrick, God develops my capacity to love. Marriage is the training ground for heaven.

Stupid Catholics; Episcopalians have more fun.

As for all the screaming people fleeing, look up; you’re running right past an Episcopal church, and the people inside are learning at last to be students of loving. A few of them, like Stephen Lane, are getting pretty good at it.

From Episcopal Life Online:

Lane said that the church “long ago, concluded and publicly proclaimed through its own legislative body that gay and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church.

“We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church, as long as the particular requirements of that office or ministry are met,” he added. “And we have repeatedly affirmed our support for the human and civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. In many of our congregations, both here in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are participating in the life of the church and sharing in the work of ministry and service to their communities.”

That’s the Jesus I know, and proclaim, and defend, and love, because he first loved me.++

bishop_lane

God’s Total Approval of Us

stgregorynyssawediconmarkdukes1997

Mark Dukes: Wedding Icon, St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco

This post is going to be the most experimental yet, because I’m writing about something I barely know. And yet I do know it, it’s just hard to pull together facts to cite to back up my claim.

God approves of Gay sexuality, exactly like God approves of Straight sexuality: wholeheartedly.

This isn’t to say we all don’t have to have high ethics, because we do. Don’t say you love God and then treat yourself and others like dirt; do unto others. (And do well unto yourself as you do well unto them.)

Every time a bride and bride, or groom and bride, or groom and groom say “I do” and mean it, God is there saying, “I do too.”

Sexuality is of the essence of humanity—and of the essence of God too, right at the core.

This is a major part of the Revelations of Julian of Norwich. If you can read her and not believe every word she says, you’re a better man than I am.

God is Mother and Father, she says. So is Jesus, an obvious man in his mortal self. So is the Holy Spirit.

(A little digression: I don’t think Julian understands the Holy Spirit very much. The Spirit’s always an afterthought to her, included simply to invoke the Trinity and affirm the Church’s teaching. In my view, the Holy Spirit is the leader in our relationship with God; that’s her job description. Creator, Redeemer and Here-With-Us-Right-Now. When we perceive God’s presence and activity, that’s the Spirit inside and among us. She has a much more central role in our lives than anyone but Pentecostals gives her credit for—not that I do the holy roller jibber-jabber, it’s not my style. Which is fine with her, she doesn’t need it anymore than I do.)

What God has done through Julian is to open up the sexuality of humanity and God in all its central glory. God is our Lover, simple as that. And yes, that means lover as Gay people use that term.

The human being we love sexually and emotionally is a partial figure of the God we love those same ways.

This is not to “sexualize” God, to invent some pervy way of looking at the Divine so that people can say, “Hey, we can do anything we want!” Not at all. We must never do anything we want, it’s not good for us.

Julian was celibate, an anchorite. But she was intensely, overwhelmingly sexual, which may be why God chose her to reveal himself. He found/created a woman who was fully open and out of the closet to herself. So she became the vehicle for expressing God’s divine sexuality.

It’s the total uniting of self to God that is the point and climax of our salvation. We are to be resurrected in our bodies; those are sexual now and they will be then. Truly, we are the Bride of Christ.

That church in San Francisco gets it, better than any other in the United States.

(They also have some practices that are theologically controversial, but that may be their charism. It’s not for me to say God’s not doing something new with them when it’s obvious She already has.)

It’s all about the Wedding Dance.

Now how this complete spiritual-physical union with God takes place in heaven, I do not know and won’t speculate. But in some fashion I believe it does occur. The Creed says, “We believe in the resurrection of the body.” Jesus was resurrected that way; if he hadn’t been none of the apostles would have believed it.

What we don’t know is what God means by the resurrection of the body, what the Plan is “from without beginning,” in Julian’s phrase. We don’t know how this takes place—but I believe it does take place in heaven right now, that we don’t just all wake up on the Last Day. Why should God wait when he loves us now? Heaven is the uniting of all with God, body and soul. I can’t picture it, but that’s how it is. The how is a mystery.

But here’s the central implication perhaps for Gay guys: you know how you feel when you make love, when you hold your lover in your arms and are held by him? That is the smallest taste of heaven. God is your Lover. And the feeling to come is everything you already feel—tenderness, joy, passion, excitement, orgasm too. Orgasm especially, in some way we cannot imagine.

Self-destructive guys: you’ve got it all bass-ackwards. Me especially. (Leonardo’s been trying to tell us on his blog and this one.)

Heaven is ecstasy in ways we can’t imagine. But we have some experiences of ecstasy already in this life; we’re experts in ecstasy.

I hope my friend Rob will get what I’m telling him in his nakedness. He’s A-OK right now.

Fantasy is holy. Just do it right, that’s all.

Our best evidence is that Mary Magdalene was never a whore, but even if she was, Jesus didn’t care. He loved her; she loved him.

The man Jesus had sexual feelings for many of the people he met; his dear Mary, his beloved disciple John, the Centurion and doubtless many others. Jesus was a man, and he was doubtless packed with hormones. He couldn’t experience humanity any other way. As God he couldn’t show partiality, but he knows exactly what we go through. All of it.

In my theological speculation I have to draw boundaries, as we all must do in human relationships as well. It ain’t one great big fuckfest in the sky. We have no idea what to expect, it’s beyond our imagining.

But physical intimacy that we already know here and now is part of it, even the essence of it with all its spiritual and emotional aspects. God gave us sexuality not simply to reproduce; as high a priority as that is, it’s only equal to sexuality as a foretaste of the Divine.

In my previous post I wrote about my dream of the Blue Cave; it’s published below. What is a cave, fellas?

It’s an opening. It’s a hole.++

blue-cave

Female Mutilation: We Don’t Know Why We Do It, but Religion Tells Us To

sheelan

Sheelan, second from right and age 7, thinks her mother’s giving her a party. But she’s about to get cut.

Here’s the religious bone-chiller of the day, from the Washington Post:

For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

The Widespread Practice of Female Circumcision in Iraq’s North Highlights The Plight of Women in a Region Often Seen as More Socially Progressive

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A09

TUZ KHURMATU, Iraq

Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor’s house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised.

There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. “I do this in the name of Allah!” she intoned.

As the midwife sliced off part of Sheelan’s genitals, the girl let out a high-pitched wail heard throughout the neighborhood. As she carried the sobbing child back home, Sheelan’s mother smiled with pride.

“This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember,” said the mother, Aisha Hameed, 30, a housewife in this ethnically mixed town about 100 miles north of Baghdad. “We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.”

Then, of course, it turns out Islam doesn’t require it, according to several Muslim scholars.

We know why they do it; to remind girls and women that they are sexually scarred for life.

Muslim men are also circumcised, but it’s supposedly a lot less harrowing a procedure. And of course Jewish boys are circumised too, just a few days after birth. The family gets together to have a party, because circumcision means this boy is now a Jew!

In what sort of religion does the God who made the human body require that part of it be mutilated?

Practices like this guarantee the increased secularization of society, as more and more people decide that religion is not a force for good, but a force for evil.

If you want to make that case, citing examples is like picking fruit off my cherry trees on the 4th of July: just reach out and start grabbing.

It has grieved my heart for decades that so many Gay and Lesbian people who were raised Christian reject the faith I find so incredibly nurturing and affirming.

I know why they do; because of all the anti-Gay blowhard preachers on TV. They say, “Well, if that’s Christianity, it’s not for me.”

They’re making the smart choice—except it isn’t Christianity the blowhards are selling.

What they want is political power and money. Christianity doesn’t have anything to do with those. Christianity is about bringing in the outcasts and caring for the poor.

But I’m not on TV to counter what Falwell and Dobson and Robertson, Rick Warren and all their ilk are selling. No Episcopalian’s on TV enough to do that. (One of my deepest laments of all time.)

Meanwhile my friend the writer-artist Dirk Vanden, to whom I’ve given two very favorable and deserved book reviews, is a committed atheist who just loves to send me anti-religious rants. Well, who can blame him, when a Kurdish mother promises her 7-year-old a party, then takes her to get razored instead?

The child’s screams could be heard all over the neighborhood.

“We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.”

(We don’t give a damn what you think, you friggin’ infidels. We will never stop.)

There is no arguing with such irrationality. It’s a waste of breath.

Meanwhile The Episcopal Church, which has tons of Lesbian and Gay priests, is going through quite a painful shedding of anti-Gay dioceses and parishes. I’m no longer sorry for this, but it isn’t fun to watch. At the same time I’m growing closer and closer to the One I perceive as God—the gentle, meek and mild one—every week.

It’s a time of great joy in my life. But I wonder, How do I see what others don’t?

Aggressive atheists, like Dirk but he’s hardly the worst, think I’m fooling myself, praying to the Great Caucasian in the Sky. They get so pissed off at the God of the Old Testament that they just wash their hands of him; and I can’t blame them, although I love the Old Testament, which has been very badly taught by Fundamentalist preachers.

The Hebrew Scriptures have so many layers to them that you can never get deep enough. I had an insight a couple of years ago about the Sacrifice of Isaac that helped me see why Abraham is the father of three great religions. The scripture message is oblique, but he banned human sacrifice as a way to appease an angry, vengeful God.

So now we just cut girls and boys instead. It’s an improvement if you think about it.

I bear this same mark in my own body, but you better believe I thank God for Abraham! Six thousand years later and I lost a piece of myself to this guy.

It’s still vicious, violent and patriarchal, but human progress is s-l-o-w.

Most of the world, including Kurdistan, is still tribal. “We don’t know why we do it but we’ll never stop.”

“We hate those people over there for all these 10,000 reasons.” (And those people over there hate the Kurds for 10,001 reasons.)

I don’t have a solution except to say this: Stop cutting on babies. Sexuality isn’t something to be feared and controlled by the state, the religion and the wealthy.

And this: I believe the God of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples.

I believe Paul, even when he was wrong—and he was. I’ve been wrong; am I not going to forgive him for being wrong? That slavery talk was way too glib, dude. You should see how much injustice you stirred up!

I believe the Bible contains a number of loving passages directed specifically at Gay and Lesbian people. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch is a favorite of mine. It also includes tons of stuff about justice and outcasts; I identify.

And because I do I end up in a relationship that’s frankly the most important of my life.

Nothing the TV preachers can say, nothing the Pope can say, nothing The Episcopal Church can say can make me break relationship with the Holy Spirit.

God is love; John the Beloved Disciple told us so 2000 years ago. Others said it before and millions have said it since, in part because John had a unique claim: “the one Jesus loved.” Didn’t he love them all? Of course he did, but there was one…

It was to that one that the Holy Spirit gave the fullest insight of all: God is love.

What does that tell you, Gay men? Anything?

What it tells me is everything. One was a little bit smarter, a little more open, a little more vulnerable—a little bit braver. And a lot more creative.

Recognize yourself? How about your buddies?

Even that Kurdish mother is going to be forced to give up female genital mutilation someday; God invented the internet to force her out of it. We’ll all be forced to give up our backward practices, because publicity about them will be instantaneous and worldwide.

Meanwhile I leave you with a picture of Jesus and the one he loved. True religion takes what is hidden and reveals it. If you have eyes to see, take a look.++

beloved-disciple

Obama & Warren: Way Too Cute

warrenobamanyt

I’ve found myself since Friday posting a lot of comments on newspapers’ websites concerning the incoming President’s selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural.

I’ve used phrases like “megachurch huckster,” so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve also posted my displeasure on Obama’s “transition” website, change.gov.

This is not just an accidental mistake on Obama’s part, but deliberate strategy: “evangelical” votes are more important than Gay ones. Here’s how The New York Times put it:

Mr. Obama’s forceful defense of Mr. Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” has signaled an intent to continue his campaign’s effort to woo even theologically conservative Christians. As his advisers field scores of calls from Democrats angry because Mr. Warren is an outspoken opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, Mr. Obama has insisted that a range of viewpoints be expressed at the inauguration festivities next month in Washington.

Today Warren’s gone on a charm offensive, visiting a Gay-run thrift shop in West Hollywood and being photographed with his arm around one of the inmates at the zoo—you know, one of those Gay ones.

I’m not buying a minute of it. This means you too, Melissa Etheridge, who wrote a pro-Warren piece of fluff on The Huffington Post.

Part of Warren’s defense is that he does so much about AIDS in Africa, as if that helps even one person with AIDS in the United States.

It’s easy to pick “AIDS in Africa” as your charity; it’s a Straight person’s disease there, and it’s been woefully mismanaged by Straight people running the governments. Africans need the help. Most can’t afford the pricy drugs Westerners get.

So yes, it’s a good thing to work on AIDS in Africa—but it’s not the same thing as working on AIDS in your own community. Does Warren think Orange County, California, where his megachurch is located, doesn’t have an AIDS problem? That he has to go slumming?

His congregation can always go next door to Los Angeles County, where there’s a great big huge AIDS problem, especially among Blacks and Hispanics as well as Gay men. But I guess they don’t want to get their hands dirty; they think they can buy off their responsibility by sending money to a distant place.

I once criticized a Gay motorcycle club in Columbus, Ohio for making its big holiday project Toys for AIDS Babies. Babies are the easy choice too; who doesn’t have sympathy for them? Meanwhile Gay men with AIDS were sick, lonely, suffering and shunned. So I let the club have it.

They were quite offended. I didn’t give a damn. Anyone—a frigging PTA or garden club—could raise money for sick babies at Children’s Hospital; Gay people ought to take care of their own.

It’s not a question of doing a “good” thing, but of doing the right thing; doing the best thing. And that’s where Obama’s screwed up royally by inviting an anti-Gay bigot like Warren to give the nation’s prayer at the dawning of the new civil rights era.

Facing criticism of his choice, Obama says he’ll be a “fierce defender” of LGBT rights—though, of course, he still expects us to pay more taxes to subsidize people who are legally married.

I don’t believe him. We’ve just heard the first lie right out of his own mouth.

People who are married get tax breaks from the city, county, state and federal governments. Not married? You pay more.

Stay-at-home mom? No Social Security for you, honey, no matter how much your partner pours into the system. Barack Obama thinks that’s just fine.

“Kept boy,” partnered with a rich lawyer while you study or work on your art? You better hope he doesn’t get sick, because without him you might end up with nothing. Obama says that’s good too. He and Warren agree, no marriage for Gay people. They want to keep the tax breaks for themselves!

I worked my ass off to elect this man; I was the county coordinator. Our efforts made a difference in one of the most closely contested states. Obama got a 4% higher vote total in my county than the two nearest comparables. I told my team we wouldn’t win this county, but every vote mattered, because voting is done by states, not individuals. Obama carried my state with its 11 Electoral College votes by 26,000 ballots, 50%-49%. A full 10% of his winning margin came from my county, 2600 votes, a record turnout for local Democrats.

We did it by making it safe to vote for the Black man. This place is 99.8% White, and Republicans were saying he was Muslim, or the anti-Christ, or there’d be a race war if he won—every scare tactic they could think of.

So what’s my reward? Rick Warren to give the nation’s prayer. Rick Warren, who says if you let Gay people get married, pretty soon you get incest and child molesting.

That son of a bitch. And I don’t mean Warren, I mean Obama.

He isn’t even in office yet, but I’m done with him.

I’m proud I helped elect the first African-American president. But do I believe in him? No. As far as I’m concerned, the picture on the top of this post is identical to the one on the bottom.

mccainfalwell