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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Lutherans Stand Still

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America just released its recommendations on ministering to Gays and Lesbians. The Report recommends no change in the policy prohibiting the ordination of Gay ministers in sexual relationships. However the report gives individual congregations the rights to make their own decisions about offering blessings to Same Sex Weddings. In other words, they decided to agree to disagree.

Most notably, they said:

Such an exercise of pastoral care should be understood as a matter quite distinct from and in no way equivalent to marriage. Indeed, this church holds that “Marriage is a lifelong covenant of faithfulness between a man and a woman.”(Message on Sexuality: Some Common Convictions, 1996) The mandate of the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly did not envision the present secular debate over gay marriage and the task force mandate does not involve addressing those public concerns. The Lutheran tradition distinguishes between marriage as a civil matter, bound to the regulations and approval of society, and the blessing of such a union. Such a blessing does not remove sin from marriage, but prayerfully grounds marriage in God’s
promise of life and forgiveness.

Good analysis of the ELCA report in today's Strib letters:

One striking aspect of the ELCA's stance on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex unions is that it acknowledges that taking a very few passages of the Bible literally while wholly ignoring many others is a difficult stance to justify without controversy.

By only picking on gay people and ignoring certain meat eaters, those who work on Sunday or others who break hundreds of biblical admonitions cheapens the faith and cheapens all the beliefs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

But it acknowledges that, while opinion is moving, it is still a contentious issue and not one that needs action today.

Unfortunately, our state legislators will make no such acknowledgment. They will again try to use a few Bible passages to beat down the gay people of Minnesota and deny them any right to join in civil marriage, any right to provide for their families and any right to live good, happy, productive lives in this state.

We the people of this state must follow the lead of the ELCA and leave well enough alone and allow for differing opinion.

Gregory King, Minneapolis

King is right. I hope that some local ELCA bishops will oppose the Bachmann amendment publically.

Another letter writer claims:

Not black and white

The new report on homosexuality by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Star Tribune, Jan. 14) might appear weak in its ambiguity, but its strength is in its implied acknowledgement of two fundamental truths: Answers to spiritual matters are seldom as black and white as we humans would like them, and the individual conscience is as legitimate as the collective conscience of the church hierarchy.

Somewhere along my spiritual journey I came to believe that the church's role should be to help us continually seek the truth rather than force its version of the truth down our eternal souls.

Cory Gideon Gunderson, Lakeville.

Compare the Lutheran Response on this issue, with that of the Catholic Church. Two inclusive Priests have retired and David Pence was called for comment:

David Pence, spokesman for the Ushers of the Eucharist, a Twin Cities group of Catholic laymen that tried to stop local gay Catholics from taking communion last year, said he thinks Wertin's retirement was overdue. "He has abused the priesthood," Pence said. "He's teaching the absolute opposite of the Catholic doctrine."

Yesterday's Strib includes this letter:

Practice inclusion

I was appalled by recent reactions to the resignations of the Rev. George Wertin of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and the Rev. Stephen O'Gara of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle (Star Tribune, Jan. 12).

Critics of the priests' work touted their departures as overdue and claimed they represented the opposite of the Catholic doctrine.

Many of these same Catholics wonder why younger generations consider leaving the faith. It is because those leaders who attempt to effect change consistent with the overall loving, accepting message of Christianity face pressures from those who would have us remain exclusive and intolerant.

In a world such as ours, we can no longer survive with intolerance. We must instead look to the larger, more important messages of love, rather than entangle ourselves in the divisive and controversial issues that miss the larger point.

I choose to remain Catholic because I believe that Catholicism's fundamental values of love should guide our path and should always be the test for challenges the church faces.

Criticizing advocates of inclusion is not a part of those values, and it is not the path that Catholicism has to take if those of us who believe in these issues make our voices heard.

Kelly Brooks, Edina.

It took the Catholic Church 500 years to apologise to Galleleo because he made the observation that the Earth circles the sun, rather than the other way around.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Broader than a gay marriage ban

Good letter to the Star Tribune here.

Your Dec. 26 article "Foes of gay marriage press for more bans" is another example of press laziness.

The article consistently referred to constitutional amendments to ban "gay marriage." However, the 11 states that passed amendments in November, and the amendment proposed in Minnesota, do far more: They bar legal recognition of any relationship that approximates marriage, even if the couple is heterosexual.

These bans may, in fact, affect many more heterosexual couples than gays. Additionally, most of these amendments, including the one proposed by Minnesota Sen. Michele Bachmann, ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and other relationships that "approximate marriage."

Exit polls strongly suggest that voters in these states did not understand what they were voting for. Majorities of people in those 11 states supported civil union relationships for gay couples, for example.

Clearly these bans would not have passed if people knew their real impact. Calling them "bans on gay marriage" is poor service to your readers.

Mike Fry, Minneapolis.

He's got a good point.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bachmann and Battle make hay with Martin Luther King's Legacy

From the OutFront Minnesota E-Nooz:

We knew it would happen. Last week, Representative Mary Liz Holberg reintroduced her Anti-Marriage Constitutional Amendment. House File 0006 (HF0006) is the first step in the relentless effort by our opponents to legalize discrimination in our state constitution. Predictably, Senator Michele Bachmann has announced her intention to introduce her amendment bill in the Senate once again this session.

Senator Bachmann has already enlisted eager voices to help her in her quest for discrimination. She has planned a press conference for today with the Reverend Bob Battle, in "honor" of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., purportedly to claim that he would not have stood with us in this fight. Yet Rev. King's support of openly gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, suggests otherwise. In November, Rev. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, was quoted as saying, "Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender or ethnic discrimination." Tying discrimination against GLBT people to Rev. King undermines the legacy and lessons of one of America's greatest heroes.

As reported here earlier, Battle recently wrote a column defending Bachmann in the St Paul Pioneer Press. He was also recently profiled in the Star Tribune, and said this: "This society has to make a course correction. ... We've lost our moral dignity, lost our sense of family and morality, and we're about to go down the same path as the Roman Empire." Battle, like Senator Bachmann before him, left the Democratic party and went for the Republicans - to push his anti-gay animus.

Air America joins in with the campaign to Out Gay Republicans

This slithered into my email today from Mike Rogers who runs the Outing blog - which selectively Outs Republicans.

Things are abuzz here in DC....what with the BIG event next week. Of course, I'm talking about Ken Mehlman's moment in the sun when he is nominated as RNC Chair. Clearly we've come along way -- after Randi Rhodes outed Ken on national radio the GOP seems to be standing behind Mehlman. And they're standing behind David Dreier. And they're standing behind Jay Banning. And be sure to look at the dancing Ken Mahlman's quite cute...I've got a link to it on the site.

This absolutely makes no sense..... Mike Rogers - the "outer" seems to share the goals of the Jerry Falwell-Rick Santorum-Paul Weyrich crowd. They want Republicans to boot gays out..... As Jeff has pointed out multiple times, Rogers has double standards for Democrats and Republicans.

Randi Rhodes is a host for Air America.

Jeff from North Dallas Thirty comments.

What seems to really get their goat is Bob Kabel becoming the first openly Gay Republican State Party Chair (of the District of Columbia GOP).

Bachmann Award Nominee

From the St Cloud Times (story will be archived for another 5 days):

Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, said he will sign onto a bill that a group of politicians at the Capitol are introducing. The bill attempts to revive last year's efforts to bring a constitutional ban on same-sex unions to a vote.

The bill was submitted by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, on Thursday, although a hearing could take place as late as next year, she said.

Too bad..... I'd heard that Holberg hadn't decided for sure to work on this issue again.

"The gay marriage issue is fundamental to the survival of our society," Severson said. "Any country that's ever adopted it has gone by the wayside."

Hmmm? Locust invasions? Hurricanes? It certainly hasn't changed things much in Massachusetts.

"I think (homosexuality) is a behavioral issue," Severson said. "If there was one place that showed it was genetic, I'd think about it more. ... It's not proven in the Bible."

And this guy thinks the bible gives evidence on whether something is genetic or environmental?

The consequences of gay marriage are important enough that more education
is needed, Severson said.

"I think there is an education process that needs to take place that shows how gay marriage hurts traditional marriage, a fundamental institution for our society," Severson said.

I still don't get it? Does the possibility of gays getting married increase the divorce rate? Was it gay marriage that caused the popularity of the show "Who wants to marry a millionaire?"

Severson hasn't made his case. I'd challenge him to do so.

UPDATE: Several other MN Politics Discuss posters respond here and here.

Is Faith a Job Qualification for President?

From the Moonie Times:

President Bush said yesterday that he doesn't "see how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord," but that he is always mindful to protect the right of others to worship or not worship.
Mr. Bush told editors and reporters of The Washington Times yesterday in an interview in the Oval Office that many in the public misunderstand the role of faith in his life and his view of the proper relationship between religion and the government.
"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is.

Pharyngula has a few choice words on this.

I personally, think that having faith in a deity is not a job requirement for President. I am not one to think that Agnostics or Athiests are evil people.

It's a job requirement for a President of a Theocracy - but not a country like the US.

I certainly think some Christians have done wonderful things for society. I also think that some athiests and agnostics have also done wonderful things for
society. I don't think someone's religion should determin whether they can be leaders in society.

I'm curious whether President Bush were going to a surgeon to remove a cancerous growth, would he be concerned about whether the surgeon is qualified in that area, or
whether he or she has faith in God.

Stacy Harp at MediaSoul also comments on this.

Andrew Sullivan comments here and here.

GayPatriotWest (Dan Blatt) has been rather defensive of "Our Man W" on this one.

I do think Andrew took the president's remarks totally out of context, just looking for another way to bash our man W. How does he square his interpretation of those remarks with the appointment of a Jew to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Very weak defense.

UPDATE: I've appreciated all the thoughtful comments about this post. I've responded to comments here.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Gay Democrats Unhappy with Democratic Party

These comments posted on the DNC's website are notable. The DNC Office of GLBT Outreach asked for feedback on their Outreach Program. Clearly many gays who voted for Kerry, were not particularly happy with it.

If you want to know why the GLBT community did not come out in full force for [Kerry], you need to understand something. We, as a community, need a candidate who is for us. What does that mean? It means we need someone who will stand up and be counted and say that this discrimination is wrong, that we, the supposed greatest, freest nation in the world, now lag behind at least 10 other nations in the fight for equal rights for all its citizens. We need a candidate who is for us, not against us.

Another Kerry voter adds:

As a lifelong and very active Democrat, I was ashamed of our candidate's wishy-washy stance. He only garnered gay votes because they were anti-Bush votes.

Republicans can get some of these votes - if they decide to be the party of Arne Carlson and John McCain rather than the party of Alan Keyes, Alan Quist, Jerry Falwell and Michele Bachmann.