The History of Gay Religious Activism in the U.S.

LGBT RELIGIOUS HISTORY

Not unlike the thousands of public parties held this past June during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, hundreds of gay San Franciscans gathered on New Year’s Day 1965 for the much anticipated Mardi Gras Ball held at 625 Polk Street in the Tenderloin District. The most interesting aspect of the San Francisco ball was the fact it was held as a fundraiser for pro-gay clergy, according to Jaweed Kaleem’s article Unearthing The Surprising Religious History Of American Gay Rights Activism. Although today Americans for (homophiles or gay right activists) and against gay rights typically use their religious beliefs as the reasons, those who oppose same sex marriage and other rights for LGBT individuals have continued to declare that God is on their side. However, in the mid 1960s, LGBT activists often looked to men of the cloth as allies in the fight for justice and human rights, according to historians. Just months before the event, two dozen Bay Area Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal and United Church of Christ clergy and gay activists joined together to form the Council on Religion and and Homosexual in order to promote “need for a better understanding of human sexuality” and its “broad variations and manifestations.” Clergy and lawyers had negotiate with the police on behalf of the group to let the dance happen, but according to contemporary new articles, police showed up to take pictures of those attending the ball in order to intimidate them. When cops wanted to come inside, the lawyers blocked them causing six people to end up in jail for interfering with police and disorderly conduct. The clergy fought back with a press conference the next day and mobilized the city’s gay community and the pastors. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit over the arrest making it the first time the ACLU had joined in the fight for gay rights, according to the LGBT Religious Archives Network.

According to Kaleem’s article: “‘That was years before the 1969 Stonewall riots, which is popularly considered the beginning of the gay rights movement,’ said Heather White, a visiting assistant professor of religion at the New College of Florida who has spent years combing through LGBT archives for an upcoming book, tentatively titled Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights. ‘And that’s just one of the best-known stories. There were Councils on Religion and Homosexuality and similar groups in D.C., Pennsylvania, Ottawa, Hawaii.””

The LGBT Religious Network along with a growing group of scholars such as White have documented hundreds of stories like the San Francisco clergy since it was found 13 years ago at the United Church of Christ-affiliated Chicago Theological Seminary based now in Berkely, California, at the Pacific School of Religion’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry. The organization’s website offers a series of profiles of and oral history interviews with Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Pagan LGBT clergy and religious activists, living and dead, Kaleem reports.White, part of the network advisory committee, explains that the expectations about how religion would view gay rights changed after the 1960s.

White explains, “What we know of the face of religion and gay rights has been shaped by a shift that occurred in the 1970s with the rise of conservative Christianity. It’s a consolidated political force that wasn’t in place before then. There were certainly conservative people and religious people who were involved in politics, but in the 1950s and 1960s, homophile organizations saw religious leaders as likely allies. That is less of the case today, though things are changing.”

A Pew Research Center survey released last Thursday reported that 62 percent of American believe homosexuality should be accepted rather than frowned upon by society, but there is still a clear division between religious Americans as far as gay rights are concerned especially same sex marriages. Recent polls show that white evangelicals strongly oppose gay marriage, while the nation’s largest churches do not support same sex marriage e.g. the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, Catholic American individuals tend to support gay marriage with several additional denomintaions allowing clergy to perform same sex marriages or blessings e.g.  the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and both Reform and Conservative Jews. According to Bernard Schlager, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and an associate professor of cultural and historical studies at the Pacific School of Religion, “Some of the biggest gay rights activists and organizations started their work in churches.” Additionally, Schalger believes the inaccurate and widespread perception of religion firmly opposing gay right has changed as well, Kaleem reports. He explains, “It’s come to the point that sometimes people today say it’s more difficult to come out as a person of faith than it is to come out as LGBT in religious circles.” Melissa Wilcox, who also sits on the LGBT Religious Archives Network’s advisory committee and is an associate professor of religion and gender studies at Whitman College, has this to say: “With the increasing visibility of the marriage rights movement, we have started to see LGBT-supportive groups [within religious communities] being able to get their message out more clearly. That’s a battle for them, but many have been there all along.”

After decades of church activism, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly in the Unites States last week voted to allow pastors to officiate gay marriages in states where it is legal. An additional vote will take place to determine if the definition of marriage should be changed to cover two people not just a man and woman. Wilcox sums it up best by saying,”A lot of people are still wary of anything you’d call religion. A lot of people have been burned. But there’s a rich history out there of gay religious activism for us to appreciate and uphold.”

Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (INFOGRAPHIC)

For you pocket protecting, tapped glasses and bow tie wearing fun loving video game nerds out there here is some advice on how to propose to your lady and for those who do not care for the nerdy variety here are some things to consider. For that matter, all men out there here is a guide to the proposal from Neomam Infographic Studios breaking down the essentials of your big day before you reach the big day. Even if you are married or not quite there, this infographic will make your day.
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Human Rights Campaign: Hillary Clinton Announces Her Support for Marriage Equality for All

Hillary Clinton Announces Support For Gay Marriage.

According to the Associated Press, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodhan VClinton announced Monday her suppirt for gay marriage in an online video by the gay rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign explaining that gays and lesbians are “full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship.” She continued to explain in the six minute video, “That includes marriage” both “personally and as a matter of policy and law.” Clinton’s announcement is sure to get people’s attention as people are already speculating another run for president in 2016 with other potential Democratic contenders being Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley who all back the right of same-sex couples to marry. The poll of public opinion has changed dramatically on this issue in recent times as Gallup polling last November showed 53 percent of adults approve of gay marriage while in 1996 only 27 percent did. The shift has also take place in political parties as Clinton and Obama in the 2008 presidential election backed civil unions not marriage, but in the 2012 election Obama announced his support of gay marriage so did Democrats who added it to their party’s official platform. The White House spokesman Jay Carney had this to say about Clinton’s announcement: “The president believes that anytime a public official of stature steps forward to embrace a commitment that he shares to equality, he thinks it’s a good thing.”

The GOP opposes gay marriage even though a several Republican stand outs have backed same sex marriages. On Friday, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first Republican senator to announce his support saying he had a change of heart after finding out his son is gay, the Associated Press reports. More than a 100 Republicans submitted “friends of the court” briefs to the Supreme Court to overturn California’s Prop 8 law on same sex marriage ban as the court will discuss it next week. Also up for discussion is the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and woman which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 who now believes the act to be unconstitutional and should be overturned. Hilary Clinton is a strong supports of gay rights not only in the U.S., but abroad as well despite keeping a tight lip during her tenure at the State Department however under her watch the U.S. government made it officially policy to promote gay rights around the world. For many citizens of the United States and abroad this has only been a dream up until now and the fight will continue on, but someday will end…one can dream right.

 

 

 

 

Nike, Apple, Facebook Among U.S. Companies That Intend To Back Gay Marriage In Coming Supreme Court Cases

Nike, Apple, Facebook Among U.S. Companies That Intend To Back Gay Marriage In Coming Supreme Court Cases.

The fight for equal rights for all groups continues to rage as the right to marry has made more headline not just in the United States but around the world. As many other countries come to accept the idea and other struggles to come to terms, the United States as always is struggling to unite on the issue. While others struggle, some U.S. business interests are showing their support for gay marriage by lending their signatures to two briefs that will be filed this week with the U.S. Supreme Court, according to lawyers who argue that gay rights is good for business. Various companies will be joining separate friends of the court briefs one on Wednesday challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and one on Thursday that questions the California ban on gay marriage. The companies are asking that the court invalidate Prop 8 in California and strike down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. According to Reuters, the Prop 8 brief filed has some major players joining the fight including Apple, Nike, Facebook, Morgan Stanley, Intel Corp, Xerox, AIG, and Cisco Systems. The cases will be argued on March 26 and 27. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issue, while business interests have no previously been represents in briefs already filed in support. More names could be added to the brief that will be filed on Thursday according to the lawyers handling the Prop 8 brief. Similar brief for the DOMA case has more than 250 signatures that will be filed Wednesday. The Prop 8 brief claims that the companies feel the ban and other laws inflict real and unnecessary injury on business and can impede the efforts to recruit the best workers because of the social stigma imparted by Prop 8 and similar laws. It seems to be more about business than actually being concerned with equal rights?

Ciccio the Dog Attends Church

Ciccio the Dog Attends Church.

This is such a sweet story I had to share it. To me, the picture speaks volumes about how dedicated animals are to their owners and that humans can learn a lot. In Rome, Tommy a 12 year old German Shepard hasn’t missed a single day of mass since his owner died 2 month ago. The small church he attends in southern Italy is where his mistress’s funeral was held Wednesday. Each afternoon when the bells of Santa Maria Assunta church ring, Tommy will set off for the village to get a front row seat next to the alter says the Il Messaggero newspaper. His owner “Maria tu lu campu” — “Maria of the fields” — lived alone with Tommy and three other rescue dogs who used to follow her faithfully on her daily rounds and have now been adopted by the village. Tommy has returned daily since his mistress’s coffin was brought to the church on the day of her funeral  and sits quietly through all celebrations and masses including funerals according to father Donato Panna.

Natalie Wood: New Autopsy Report Shows Injuries Possibly Before Death : People.com

Natalie Wood: New Autopsy Report Shows Injuries Possibly Before Death : People.com.

Very interesting mystery altogether. In a newly revised autopsy, the LA County Coroner says that Natalie Wood had bruises and scratches on her arm, wrist and neck before she entered the ocean off Catalina Island and drowned in 1981. The report has reignited speculation that her death was not an accident as the supplemental report details much more than the original since the Sheriff’s Department learns of the new inquiry. The revised report findings now state that it was a “drowning and other undetermined factors” and the manner of death was changed. “Since there are many unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined,” the report says.  It is still unclear whether Wood fell off the boat or was pushed. The full details of the report were released Monday. The case was reopened after Dennis Davern, captain of Wagner’s 60 foot yacht, stepped forward to say that Wood disappeared after she and her husband Wagner had an explosive fight which Wagner allegedly shouted “Get off my f—— boat!”  In the new report released Monday, the distress call from Wagner’s boat came an hour and a half after the time Wood was dead and there are conflicting statement as to when Wood went missing and whether the two fought. The sherriff’s spokesman has said that Wood’s twice-wed husband Robert Wagner was not a suspect.

Richard and Rachel Lane Turn School Bus Into Energy-Efficient Home | AOL Real Estate

Richard and Rachel Lane Turn School Bus Into Energy-Efficient Home | AOL Real Estate.

These people are living the green dream and having fun while doing it. Spacious yet minimalistic, fun yet funky, economical yet eco friendly…I could go on like this forever, but these are all ways to describe this eco chic couple. The Lanes live on a bus in the San Francisco Bay area: a former school bus, to be exact, that they purchased in Oregon via Craigslist for $3,000.  The 39-foot bus is just like “a regular home” on the inside: it features a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, lounge area and even a movie room on the bus’ “second story.” Its livability is achieved by using custom, hand-made furniture, and IKEA pieces that have been altered to fit the bus’ specs. And it even sleeps 10! Plus they live completely off the grid and only pay $100 a month for maintenance this is the new American Dream.

Rachel, a therapist, and Richard, an IT professional, have been living on the bus full-time for four years. Many people are taking the American Dream to the next level by coming up with creative ways to still have the creature comforts of home in a smaller but happy space.  The increase of alternative housing is in response to the change in the economic climate and the greater need for flexibility and sustainability. Eco friendly is not just for the tree huggers anymore.