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Marriage Equality Is The Law Of The Land. Now What?


Original post from Think Progress

‘…………….BY TARA CULP-RESSLER

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

On Friday, the Supreme Court made history by ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, bringing marriage equality to the entire United States. Now, gay and lesbian couples can legally wed in every state in the country.

The decision is obviously a huge victory for the LGBT rights movement, representing the culmination of decades of advocacy work to ensure marriage equality for people of all sexual orientations. It also follows a remarkable shift in public opinion on the subject over the past decade, as support for legal same-sex marriage skyrocketed to record highs.

“Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” President Obama said in a speech following the the decision, before pointing out that there’s still work left to be done.

Indeed, even as LGBT Americans have made huge progress in securing marriage equality, many other areas of the law lag behind. While same-sex couples will now have many of the legal benefits afforded through marriage, there are still states that don’t protect LGBT individuals from discrimination at their jobs, in their homes, in their schools, or at their doctors’ offices.

“Most states have no nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people,” David Stacy, the government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, told NPR this week. “With limited or no federal protections, an LGBT person can get legally married in most states, but then be evicted from an apartment and denied a home loan.”

The Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that maps the state-level policies related to LGBT equality, keeps close tabs on the parts of the country that still lack those laws:

States that don’t protect LGBT people from being unfairly fired, not hired, or discriminated against in the workplace:

 

employment-nondiscrimination

 

States that don’t prevent LGBT people from being unfairly evicted, denied housing, or refused the ability to rent or buy housing:

housing-final-638x544

States that don’t protect LGBT students from being bullied by other students, teachers, and school staff:

safe-schools-final

States that don’t prevent LGBT people from being unfairly denied health coverage or services in private insurance plans:

health-care-final-638x587

Making progress in these areas will involve passing additional protections to bolster the patchwork of existing state laws. Congressional Democrats are reportedly already working on comprehensive legislation to outlaw LGBT discrimination in employment, education, housing, jury service, restaurants, and hotels that’s expected to be introduced next month.  ………’

5 Must-See Reactions to the Marriage Equality Ruling


Original post from Care2

‘………………by

Marriage equality ruling

Following the marriage equality ruling earlier today, there has been plenty of celebration. Here’s just a few of the reactions we’ve seen.

1. The Crowd Outside the Supreme Court Cheers

It has been a long wait, but the crowd outside the Supreme Court cheered when they heard the news that marriage equality will now be legal across the country:

2. President Obama Hails the Marriage Equality Ruling as “A Victory for America”

Said the President in an emotional speech:

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law; that all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether they’re marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move or even visit another.

[…]

And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.

[…]

What an extraordinary achievement, but what a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things; what a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake, and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.

Those countless, often anonymous heroes, they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud.

You can watch the President’s full remarks below:

3. Plaintiff Talks About the Importance of This Ruling

Shortly after the marriage equality ruling was released, the White House sent out the following letter attributed to Jim Obergefell, the namesake of the consolidated cases:

My husband John died 20 months ago, so we’re unable to celebrate together the Supreme Court’s decision on the case that bears my name, Obergefell v. Hodges.

Today, for the first time, any couple — straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender — may obtain a marriage license and make their commitments public and legal in all 50 states. America has taken one more step toward the promise of equality enshrined in our Constitution, and I’m humbled to be part of that.

John and I started our fight for a simple reason: We wanted the State of Ohio to recognize our lawful Maryland marriage on John’s impending death certificate. We wanted respect and dignity for our 20-year relationship, and as he lay dying of ALS, John had the right to know his last official record as a person would be accurate. We wanted to live up to the promises we made to love, honor, and protect each other as a committed and lawfully married couple.

Couples across America may now wed and have their marriage recognized and respected no matter what state they call home. No other person will learn at the most painful moment of married life, the death of a spouse, that their lawful marriage will be disregarded by the state. No married couple who moves will suddenly become two single persons because their new state ignores their lawful marriage.

Ethan and Andrew can marry in Cincinnati instead of being forced to travel to another state.

A girl named Ruby can have an accurate birth certificate listing her parents Kelly and Kelly.

Pam and Nicole never again have to fear for Grayden and Orion’s lives in a medical emergency because, in their panic, they forgot legal documents that prove both mothers have the right to approve care.

Cooper can grow into a man knowing Joe and Rob are his parents in all ways emotional and legal.

I can finally relax knowing that Ohio can never erase our marriage from John’s death certificate, and my husband can now truly rest in peace.

Marriage is about promises and commitments made legal and binding under the law, and those laws must apply equally to each and every American.

Today is a momentous day in our history. It’s a day when the Supreme Court of the United States lived up to the words inscribed above the front entrance of the courthouse:

Equal Justice Under Law.

Thank you,

Jim

4. The White House Changed its Profile Picture

Across its social media platforms and in its emails the White House currently looks like this:

The White House’s Marriage Equality Celebration Image
The White House’s Marriage Equality Celebration Image

I think we’re definitely somewhere over the rainbow now, right?

5. States Already Move to Start Performing Same-Sex Marriages 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, states like Georgia have already begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Just two hours after the ruling the state’s attorney general, Samuel Olens, issued a memo saying that the ruling “requires Georgia to recognize same-sex marriage in the same way it recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.”

Shortly after that, Emma Foulkes and Petrina Bloodworth became the first same-sex couple in Georgia to legally wed now that Georgia’s ban has been ruled unconstitutional. You can read more on that here.

Couples have already started applying for marriage licenses in states like Michigan, which was directly represented in this ruling, while Missouri has similarly begun implementing the ruling. Marriage licenses have also been issued in Dallas County. At the moment, only Texas’ administration has indicated it will try to hold-out and “prioritize religious freedom” as Texas Governor Greg Abbott is quoted as saying.

We will keep you updated on that as more information becomes available, but until then the celebrations go on!  …………’

 

 

Huckabee Totally Loses It


Original post from Daily Kos

‘…………By LaFeminista

http://mikehuckabee.com/…

“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”

“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”
.

So basically he disqualifies himself from becoming President by imposing his religious beliefs on others. Of course he paints himself as being persecuted, that’s the really hilarious part, I get married, he is persecuted, balderdash.He seems to be calling for revolution and overturning the constitution, there is a reason why there are three branches of government Mike, to stop potential tyrants like you deciding what is the law of the land.

There is also a reason why the founding fathers wrote the first amendment

“The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. …and

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State

Both by Thomas Jefferson

Get that MikeThe Whole of the American People.

Not just the nuts.  …………..’

 

Marriage Equality.


meganelizabethmorales

As soon as I got on my FB this morning, I saw something extremely hilarious and WOOHOO inducing at the same time! Gandalf the White and Professor Dumbledore are getting married! They are from two different types of books, but love is love, am I right?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/02/gandalf-dumbledore-equality-house_n_7495270.html?ir=Good+News&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000023

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Ireland Becomes the First Country to Legalize Marriage Equality at the Ballot


Original post from Care2

‘…………by

marriage equality

Ireland did it! In a landslide victory the Republic of Ireland has become the first country in the world to legalize marriage equality by a public vote. Here’s what you need to know and why this may even be important for the marriage equality fight in other countries.

The vote, which occurred on Friday, May 22, saw a large voter turn-out and, most notably, many Irish people returning home from England and other areas to ensure they could have a say in the vote as Ireland has no postal or absentee voting system.

The result, which was announced by late Saturday, saw more than 62 percent of the voting public say “yes” to same-sex marriage, with just under 38 percent against it. While that was largely in step with the polls, the fact that the Yes campaign managed to retain the strength of its support surprised many as the margin was expected to narrow considerably once people actually got to the ballot.

Indeed, many commentators were worried that the vote could be much closer due to rural communities failing to really take in the Yes campaign messages, however in the end voting data suggests that support was strong even among rural communities, and certainly much stronger than had been expected.

Senior Religious Figures Say the Vote Was a Wake-Up Call

In the final few days before the vote, several conservative Catholic bishops took to their pulpits to urge a “no” vote on the marriage equality question, relying on tactics such as suggesting that children would be harmed and that mothers in particular be devalued as a result of same-sex couples being able to wed.

In the wake of such a massive defeat for the No campaign, religious progressives and secularists alike have warned that gone are the days when the Irish people would take morality lessons solely from the Church, and especially not when those same religious figures used scaremongering tactics about harming children and damaging society as a whole rather than simply relying on their religious teachings.

Fr Brendan Hoban, co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), is quoted as saying: “It was clear from the beginning that the bishops’ decision in policy terms to campaign for a blunt No vote was alienating even the most conservative of Irish Catholics.”

In particular, reflections on the No campaign have said its chief mistake was to try to use the age of the Yes movement against them: after campaigning began in earnest at the start of the year it quickly became apparent that the younger generations were overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality. The Church therefore set itself against that movement, but in so doing it may have made a blunder that will have long-lasting consequences. As we know, religious influence is in decline in many places, and particularly in Ireland where prosperity has led to a rise in secularism. The Church needs young people on its side if it is to survive as even a shadow of the former power it once was, but by being so uncompromising during its backing of the No campaign–which also received heavy support from American religious groups–there is the fear that it has alienated Ireland’s younger generations, something that can not be easily undone.

 A Call for Action in Northern Ireland

Critically, the vote in the Republic has been seen as a chance to push the Northern Ireland government to act on this issue. Northern Ireland is now the only place in mainland UK that does not recognize same-sex marriage despite the fact that public polls show that there is significant support for marriage equality.

Unfortunately, Northern Ireland lawmakers appear to be unmoved by the strength of support that was seen across the border. DUP MLA Peter Weir is quoted by the BBC as saying that, essentially, it doesn’t matter what public appetite wants, it’s lawmakers that have the final say:

“We are defending the role of traditional marriage,” he said.

“This is an issue that has been debated on four occasions in the assembly and, on each occasion, it has been rejected by the majority of assembly members.

“We believe that the traditional marriage definition is correct one. We would be concerned about the impact on Churches.

“We don’t really run social policy in this country by way of referendum.”

What’s interesting is the disconnect there between the public and Northern Ireland’s lawmakers, and that never makes for a good time for presiding governments. What seems certain now, more than ever, is that Northern Ireland’s ban on marriage equality cannot last for much longer and now it’s a question of whether Northern Ireland’s lawmakers will finally act, or whether the courts will need to be involved.

What is very encouraging though is that this vote has also emboldened same-sex marriage advocates in Australia, Germany (which has equivalent partnership rights but technically not marriage) and in Italy, where activists have vowed to demonstrate that the religious hold on this issue has slipped and that the public is ready for marriage equality.

So congratulations to the Republic of Ireland whose vote in favor of marriage equality was incredibly meaningful not just within its borders, but for same-sex marriage battles across Europe, too!

 

 

My husband and I are being sued for being homosexuals


Original post from Daily Kos

‘……..By Steven Payne, Daily Kos member, Profile,  RSS

 

We’ve had a good run. We’ve been together 21 years, 7 of them legally wed. But this is all about to crash and burn around our ears thanks to 66-year-old Sylvia Driskell of Auburn Nebraska. According to the Omaha World-Herald this outstanding legal scholar has just filed an extraordinarily powerful lawsuit titled Driskell v. Homosexuals with the district court in Omaha. She isn’t merely suing her local homosexuals, she is suing all homosexuals.

Driskell, calling herself an ambassador and acting as her own counsel will proxy for “God, And His, Son Jesus Christ” in the case. Even though she is suing in a district court, her arguments are so powerful you can fully expect attorneys will abandon all other strategies and adopt her unimpeachable reasoning all the way to the highest court in the land. By the end of the year, prepare yourselves for the Supreme Court to take up the matter.

Follow me below to behold her cogent arguments.

Here are the major highlights from her handwritten 7 page lawsuit.

•  “The Homosexual’s say that its not a sin to be a homosexual; An they have the right to marry; to be parents, And God doesn’t care that their homosexuals; because He loves them.”•   “Your Honor; I’ve hear the boasting of the Defendant: the Homosexuals on the world news; from the Young, to the Old; to the rich An famous; and to the not so rich An famous; How they were tired of hiding in the closet, and how glad they are coming out of the closet.”

•  “Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell; Contented that homosexuality is a sin, And that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in a closet.”

•  “Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell write, As well, we also know that if a child is raised in the home of liers, An deceivers, And thieves that it is reasonable to believe that child will grow up to be one of the three, are all three.”

•“Never before has Our great Nation the United States of America And our great State of Nebraska; been besiege by sin; The way to destroy any Nation, or State is to destroy its morals; Look what happen to Sodom and Gomorrah two city because of the same immoral behavior thats present in Our Nation, in Our States, and our Cities; God destroy them.”

•  “If God could have found ten righteous people Among them he would have spared them.”

•  “I’m sixty-six years old, An I never thought, that I would see the day in which our Great Nation or our Great State of Nebraska would become so compliant to the complicity of some peoples lewd behavior.”

•  “Why are judges passing laws, so sinners can break religious, and moral laws. Will all the judges of this Nation, judge God to be a lier. For God has said, that all unrighteousness is sin, And that homosexuality is abomination.”

•  “I, Sylvia Ann Driskell: I have written this Petition to the United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, and to You, Your Honor. Because I feel its is imperative to do so. Life as a Nation, as States, and as cities need to start standing up for the moral principles on which our, Great Nation, our, Great States, and our, Great Cities were founded on.”

Brian and I will be liquidating our assets in preparation for a certain loss. We anticipate the restitution ordered to this woman will take us down to our very last penny. In the meantime, our fear is so great we have ceased and desisted being homosexual.Via

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO STEVEN PAYNE ON TUE MAY 05, 2015 AT 03:26 PM PDT.

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY MILK MEN AND WOMEN AND DAILY KOS.   ……’

 

 

A young man who survived “ex-gay ministries” taught me what it means to be a Christian


Original post from Salon

‘………The campaign against marriage equality sent me fleeing from the church. Here’s what brought me back

A young man who survived "ex-gay ministries" taught me what it means to be a Christian

Cover detail of “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church”

One muggy summer morning, when we’d roused ourselves in enough time to pull into the church parking lot just a few minutes late, we noticed a half-dozen red, white, and blue lawn signs growing from the strip of grass between the highway and the freshly paved blacktop. They said “VOTE YES ON ONE” across the top and “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman” across the bottom. In the middle was a stick-figure family holding hands.

 I groaned.

It’s no secret that the Tennessee state legislature has kept itself busy over the last decade producing mountains of wholly unnecessary legislation designed to protect what it considers to be Tennessee’s most threatened demographic: white evangelical Christians. One proposed bill would have made practicing Islam a felony, punishable by fifteen years in prison. Another sought to ban middle school teachers from even mentioning gay relationships to their students. House Bill 368 (signed into law in 2012) encourages teachers in public schools to “present the scientific weaknesses” of evolution and climate change. In 2013, panicked rumors among legislators that renovations to the capitol building included the installation of a “Muslim foot bath” were assuaged when it was revealed that the fixture in question was, in fact, a mop sink.

That particular summer, Tennessee lawmakers were busy amending the state constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriage. Churches and conservative organizations across the state had organized a campaign to remind voters that if they wanted to say no to gay marriage they needed to vote yes on proposition one and the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment. Nearly every church in town boasted several signs on their lawns, and now ours did too.

“We might as well hang a banner over the door that says ‘No Gay People Allowed,’” I muttered.

I didn’t have a lot of gay friends at the time. I hadn’t met Andrew or my friends Justin, Jeffry, Matthew, and Kimberly. I hadn’t yet reconnected with those high school classmates who, before they came out, got as far away from Rhea County as they could. I wasn’t even sure what I thought about same-sex relationships at that point in my life, but I had no intention of voting yes on prop one because I didn’t see why my religious concerns should have any bearing on whether my fellow citizens enjoyed the same rights and privileges as I did under the law. When you grow up just a few miles from 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and when you move to a town situated on the old Trail of Tears where a man was once prosecuted and fined for teaching evolution, you get a little sensitive about constitutional amendments designed to restrict rights rather than protect them. Sure, the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment sounded like a good idea to a lot of folks at the time, but how would it sound in twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years? I just wasn’t convinced we had this one right.



Of greater concern to me was the way these signs were sprouting up like weeds in every church lawn in the county. If Christians in East Tennessee wanted to send the message that gay and lesbian people would be uncomfortable and unwelcome in our churches, that their identity would be reduced to their sexual orientation and their personhood to a political threat, then we’d sure done a bang-up job of communicating it. We’d surrounded our churches with a bunch of stick-figured families who, with linked arms and vacuous smiles, guarded our houses of worship like centurions. If you wanted to get through, you had to know your place in the chain. You had to assimilate.

During the announcements, a man I didn’t recognize invited us to attend a meeting that night to discuss the “radical homosexual agenda in America and how Christians should respond to it.” He spat out the word homosexual the same way others spat out the wordsliberal, feminist, and evolutionist, and it occurred to me in that moment that maybe I wasn’t the only one who brought an uninvited guest to church on Sunday morning. In a congregation that large, there was a good chance the very people this man considered a threat to our way of life weren’t out there, but rather in here—perhaps visiting with family, perhaps squirming uncomfortably with the youth group in the back, perhaps singing with the worship band up front. How lonely they must feel, how paralyzed. Sitting there with my Bible in my hands, twisting its silk bookmark nervously between my fingers, I realized that just as I sat in church with my doubt, there were those sitting in church with their sexuality, their race, their gender, their depression, their addiction, their questions, their fears, their past, their infertility, their eating disorder, their diagnosis, their missed rent, their mess of a marriage, their sins, their shame—all the things that follow us to church on Sunday morning but we dare not name.

The words from Anne Sexton’s poem “Protestant Easter” floated into my brain:

Jesus was on that Cross.

After that they pounded nails into his hands.
After that, well, after that,

everyone wore hats . . .

And smiles. And masks. And brave fronts.

I didn’t stop going to church after the Vote Yes On One campaign, but I stopped being present. I was too scared to speak up in support of LGBT people, so I ignored my conscience and let it go. I played my role as the good Christian girl and spared everyone the drama of an argument. But that decision—to remain silent—split me in two. It convinced me that I could never really be myself in church, that I had to check my heart and mind at the door. I regret that decision for a lot of reasons, but most of all because sometimes I think I would have gotten a fair hearing. Sometimes I think my church would have loved me through that disagreement if I’d only been bold enough to ask them to. Like a difficult marriage, my relationship with church buckled under the weight of years of silent assumptions. So I checked out—first in spirit, then in body. When our closest friends from Sunday night moved to California, our interest in the social events began to dwindle. After a few months, Dan and I began sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

* * *

Seven years after the “Vote Yes On One” campaign sent me fleeing from the church, I discovered church again in an unlikely place: the Gay Christian Network’s annual “Live It Out” conference in Chicago.

Founded by Justin Lee, a young gay man who grew up Southern Baptist and survived the destructive effects of “ex-gay ministries” to eventually accept and embrace his sexuality, the Gay Christian Network offers community and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians, along with their friends, family, and allies. The group is ecumenical, but attracts a lot of evangelicals, many of whom have been marginalized or kicked out of the churches in which they grew up. Some of the more than seven hundred attendees believed Scripture compelled them to commit their lives to celibacy while others believed Scripture granted them the freedom to pursue same-sex relationships and marriage. There was room at the table for all.

I spoke at the conference as an ally, but within hours of arriving at the Westin on the Chicago River, it became clear I had little to teach these brothers and sisters in Christ and everything to learn from them. I speak at dozens of Christian conferences in a given year, but I’ve never participated in one so energized by the Spirit, so devoid of empty showmanship, so grounded in love and abounding in grace. As one attendee put it, “this is an unapologetically Christian conference.”

Indeed it was. There was communion, confession, worship, and fellowship. There was deep concern for honoring Scripture and loving as Christ would love, even through differences and pain. There was lots of hugging and crying and praying . . . and argyle.

But what startled me the most was the degree to which so many attendees had suffered, sometimes brutally, at the hands of Christians trying to “cure” them of their sexual orientation. One young woman described undergoing an exorcism ceremony designed to cast the demon of lesbianism from her body. Another went to counseling where her Christian therapist insisted she must have been molested or mistreated by her parents when she hadn’t. One man followed the advice of his pastor and married a woman, hoping heterosexual sex would make him straight, a decision that led to heartbreaking consequences. Many at the conference had gone through evangelical ex-gay ministries, the largest of which had recently shut its doors when its president admitted that reparative therapy to change sexual orientation is rarely, if ever, effective. Person after person told stories about getting kicked out of their church or their family upon coming out. (Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20 and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.) Far too many described contemplating suicide as teenagers after begging God to “fix” them to no avail.

And yet here they were, when they had every right in the world to run as far away from the church as their legs would carry them, worshipping together, praying together, healing together. Here they were, being the church that had rejected them. I felt simultaneously furious at Christianity’s enormous capacity to wound and awed by its miraculous capacity to heal.

The final night of the conference was set aside for an open mic, in which participants were invited to share their stories in front of the whole group in the main ballroom. One by one, hundreds of brave men and women approached the microphone, took a deep breath, and told the truth.

“I’m Mary and I’m Jacob’s mom,” said a short woman with a midwestern accent who wore jeans, a white T-shirt and, like several of the parents at the conference, a giant button pin that announced “FREE MOM HUGS” in tall red letters.

“Tonight I want to ask Jacob’s forgiveness, and your forgiveness too, because . . .” Her voice began to tremble. “Because until this weekend I was ashamed of my son.”

She stifled a sob with her hands while we waited in a thick silence.

“I didn’t want the people at my church to know he was gay because I was afraid of what they would think, what they might say,” she finally said. “But not anymore. I’m so proud of my beautiful son, and of all of you. I’m so proud that I’m going to shout it from the rooftops!”

A gentle laugh rippled through the room.

“I’m so sorry,” Mary said, first looking to her son on the front row and then to the rest of the audience. “I’m so very sorry. Please forgive me.”

“We forgive you!” shouted a woman behind me.

Jacob ran to front of the room and embraced his mom. They held each other for a few minutes before the next person approached the mic.

“I remember the first time I was called a . . . homophobic word,” said a young woman, no more than twenty, who wore a flower in her hair and kept her eyes on her shoes. It took her a few moments to form the next words.

“It was at church.”
 Around the room, people hummed in sad ascent.
 “This is the first time in a long time I’ve been able to be around Christians without totally freaking out,” she said, without ever looking up. “So thanks for that.”

“From the time I was a teenager, I’ve started every day the exact same way,” said a handsome man who wore a fedora and spoke with confidence.

“First, I look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘Does this outfit look too gay?’”

The crowd chuckled.

“After I’ve changed,” he said with a wry laugh, “I go back to the mirror and say to myself, ‘Mike, watch your hands. Mike, be careful with your voice. Mike, don’t laugh too loud. Mike, don’t walk that way. Mike, whatever you do, don’t act so gay.’”

His voice suddenly cracked.

“I didn’t want to lose my job in ministry,” he said, after collecting himself. “But I’m so tired of that routine. After twenty years, I can’t keep doing that. I’m done. I’m done pretending. I’m done faking it. It’s time to tell the truth: I’m a Christian and I’m gay.”

The crowd applauded.

An African American man in a wheelchair followed and brought the house down when he approached the mic, waited a moment, and declared, “I’m black. I’m disabled. I’m gay. And I live in Mississippi. What was God thinking?”

He was followed by a college student who said he finally worked up the courage to come out to his parents.

“It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped,” he said. And in the painful silence that followed far too many understood.

And then there was the young man who had attended the year before in the midst of a deep depression, but who had returned this year with a new church, a healthier family dynamic, and a boyfriend. “It gets better,” he said.

Near the end of the session, a slight, middle-aged man in a dress shirt approached the microphone.

“I’m here to ask your forgiveness,” he said quietly.

“I’ve been a pastor with a conservative denomination for more than thirty years, and I used to be an antigay apologist. I knew every argument, every Bible verse, every angle, and every position. I could win a debate with just about anyone, and I confess I yelled down more than a few ‘heretics’ in my time. I was absolutely certain that what I was saying was true and I assumed I’d defend that truth to death. But then I met a young lesbian woman who, over a period of many years, slowly changed my mind. She is a person of great faith and grace, and her life was her greatest apologetic.”

The man began to sob into his hands.

“I’m so sorry for what I did to you,” he finally continued. “I might not have hurt any of you directly, but I know my misguided apologetics, and then my silent complicity, probably did more damage than I can ever know. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent of my actions. Please forgive me.”

“We forgive you!” someone shouted from up front.

But the pastor held up his hand and then continued to speak.

“And if things couldn’t get any weirder,” he said with a nervous laugh, “I was dropping my son off at school the other day—he’s a senior in high school—and we started talking about this very issue. When I told him that I’d recently changed my mind about homosexuality, he got really quiet for a minute and then he said, ‘Dad, I’m gay.’”

Nearly everyone in the room gasped.

“Sometimes I wonder if these last few years of studying, praying, and rethinking things were all to prepare me for that very moment,” the pastor said, his voice quivering. “It was one of the most important moments of my life. I’m so glad I was ready. I’m so glad I was ready to love my son for who he is.”

By the end of the open mic session, I understood exactly why they say not to bother with mascara at this thing. It was two of the most healing, powerful, grace-drenched hours of my life. It was, at last, church.

I had a conversation with someone the other day who said he wondered if perhaps LGBT Christians had a special role to play in teaching the church how to more thoughtfully engage issues surrounding gender and sexuality. I told him I didn’t think that went far enough, that ever since the Gay Christian Network conference, I’ve been convinced that LGBT Christians have a special role to play in teaching the church how to be Christian.

Christians who tell each other the truth. 
Christians who confess our sins and forgive our enemies. Christians who embrace our neighbors.
 Christians who sit together in our pain, and in our healing, and wait for resurrection.

* * *

Sometimes people ask me if I believe in faith healings.
 What I think they’re asking is if I believe a pastor can lay hands on a man and cure him of alcoholism, or if a religious shrine possesses the power to coax the paralyzed out of their wheelchairs, or if rallying around a little girl with twenty-four hours of prayer can reverse the progression of her cancer.

I don’t know. I’ve watched too many people of strong faith succumb to illness and tragedy to believe God shows any sort of favoritism in these matters. (And yet, inexplicably, I always pray.)

So when I’m asked about faith healings, I tell people about Thistle Farms. I tell them about the Gay Christian Network. I tell them about the widows I met in India who haven’t been cured of their HIV but who are healing from their poverty and hopelessness by loving one another well. I tell them about the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, and the abuse survivors I’ve met through the blog. I tell them about my own journey away from and back to church. Then I shrug my shoulders and say, “I suppose anything’s possible.”

Excerpted from “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church” by Rachel Held Evans. Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Held Evans. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved

 

 ………….’

America’s patchy same-sex marriage laws hurt businesses, and corporate America is fighting back


Original post from The Washington Post

‘…………By Drew Harwell

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