Pittsburgh's LGBTQ Blog ... out'n proud in the Burghosphere.

Bookmark and Share
Loading
Year Archive
View Article  While We Are Talking Equality ...

Other good stuff happened ...

In New York, openly gay State Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell has announced the introduction of a marriage equality bill.  He announced it by Twitter.  You can follow him @DanielJODonnell 

How can you not follow this guy?  It would be like denying yourself a breath of fresh air.  I just nearly gassed myself with weed killer in a death match with poison ivy so the fresh air analogy is the best you are gonna get from me right now. 

So New York is a battleground.  More than 1,000 folks turned out for a lobby day on Monday and the Governor supports the legislation.  There's always a but ... however, today we are just going to bask in the good news. 

Next, we have word from The New York Times

After 33 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its constitution and allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.

More on this later. 

And then some very sad news from Uganda which is reportedly set to pass their anti-homosexuality bill.  The one that includes "punishment by death."

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that were I living in Uganda, I could be executed.  I strongly encourage you to follow the link and delve into some of the nuances of that legislation. 

Then come back and tell me that I have nothing to fear from those right wing Christians who SUPPORT this legislation.  They may not be trying to kill me, but ... they are unabashedly denying my humanity. 

Hurrah for New York and the Presbyterian Church.  Prayers for the people of Uganda as they struggle for their very lives. 

View Article  How the Pennsylvania Family Institute plans to "ignite" change in Pennsylvania

Over the past few days, bloggers have taken note of a piece by Andy Birkey in The American Independent describing a carefully planned campaign by "Family Policy Councils" in now Republican controlled states.  Essentially, an infusion of cash from an unidentified source will fund a three prong approach:

Each family policy council has a three-prong plan to achieve their legislative goals over the next two years: lobbying for legislation, mobilizing pastors and social conservatives and supporting candidates that have backed their initiatives. Each group has used a stock brochure containing nearly identical wording to explain their plan and to solicit funds. In many cases, an Ignite plan was launched with an anonymous matching-grant donor.

Here in Pennsylvania, the policy council is part of the Pennsylvania Family Institute founded in 1989 and is affiliated with the national Focus on the Family organization. The mission of PFI

The Mission of the Pennsylvania Family Institute is to strengthen families by restoring to public life the traditional, foundational principles and values essential for the well-being of society. We are a research and education organization devoted to restoring these values to our state and nation. We produce policy reports, promote responsible citizenship and work to promote unity among pro-family groups.

Birkey claims

Focus on the Family says that while the groups are ?fully associated? with FoF, they ?are independent entities with no corporate or financial relationship to each other or to Focus on the Family.?

This quasi-relationship issue is nothing new to PFI which made headlines earlier in the year by partnering with Chick-Fil-A to sponsor a marriage workshop in Central PA, a workshop that fits smack into the larger context of the IGNITE plan.  While Chick-Fil-A denied formal affiliations with anti-marriage groups, the blog Good As You found close ties between the company's philanthropic wing and organizations such as the National Organizations for Marriage.

Chick-Fil-A corporate has tried to parse the situation so as to create a wall between their investment of "marriage strengthening resources" and their desire to sell you a chicken sandwich without judgment.  It is artifice at its most dangerous because most people still think they were simply donating a few chicken sandwiches to a local church event.

My suspicions were raised when PFI announced that their annual dinner would take place in Cranberry Township, an affluent suburb about 40 minutes north of Pittsburgh.  Cranberry is home to Pennsylvania State Representative Darryl Metcalfe, a tea partish uber-conservative with a long history of anti-gay initiatives.  Metcalfe is also chair of the powerful State Government Committee and recently introduced legislation to pass a Marriage Amendment in PA.  The most recent attempts to write bigotry into our Constitution were rebuffed (2008 and 2010) at the committee level.  Metcalfe's current's chairmanship coupled with a newly elected Republican Governor and shifts in the composition of the Legislature make this battle more threatening. 

Things just seem a little too cosy. 

Getting back to Ignite, PFI's annual operating budget averages $1.4 million yet they plan to spend $1.5 million over the next 18 months.  In December 2010, they announced a matching pledge drive to raise $7500 which Birkey says was successful, but the source of the matching funds remains anonymous. Coupled with similar grants around the country, the numbers start to really add up.  Where is this money coming from?  These groups aren't saving that much by scraping up chicken sandwich donations, my friends.

The plan itself is somewhat uniform. 

 Each family policy council has a three-prong plan to achieve their legislative goals over the next two years: lobbying for legislation, mobilizing pastors and social conservatives and supporting candidates that have backed their initiatives

Here's a little more detailed glimpse into what PFI has in mind . (Click on image for larger view)

Full brochure is attached below.

Plans include marriage seminars, supporting legislators that promote their agendas and concerted focus on choice and the marriage amendment. 

PFI has launched the marriage workshops, invited anti-choice darling Lila Rose to be their keynote speaker, hosted a large event in Metcalfe's backyard and got a seed grant of $7500 from an anonymous source.  There's a plan at work here and one that potentially involves the investment of millions. The plan is in motion and the Marriage Amendment is just one strand. 

There's a pattern amidst these threads ... Metcalfe, Cranberry, Chick-Fil-A, Winshape Foundation (Chick-Fil-A foundation), the Cathy family which owns Chick-Fil-A.  Is the Winshape Foundation and their larger partners behind the donations?  Is Metcalfe one of the "statesmen" PFI lauds in their brochure? 

I hope progressives continue to dig.  Chick-Fil-A went on a PR frenzy to convince you to keep buying chicken sandwiches and milkshakes and waffle fries.  If there's more to that particular relationship, we need to know.

The money came from somewhere and isn't limited to Pennsylvania.  Birkey's piece details goings on in South Dakota, West Virginia, Indiana, Louisiana, Arizona and Florida. 

The source of these anonymous seed grants matters, but the bigger issue is the fact that our opponents are in the trenches and they are well funded on multiple fronts.  The current PFI blog posts focus on school choice and abortion.  These are hot topics in the Corbett Administration. 

It also illustrates the need to build coalitions and pool our resources.  When I read that PFI plans to target half a million on three issues, one of which is the marriage amendment, I believe we need to broaden the scope of our own individual agendas.  Destroying the public school system, for example, will not be good for children in LGBTQ families and/or children who identify as LGBTQ. 

Please continue to pay attention.  Elections are right around the corner and you can make an impact by electing (or retaining) progressive women and men.  We need to support the attacks on labor, public education, health care, reproductive justice as vigilantly as we defend our community.  Finally, we need to pay attention to the well-laid plans of those who would deny us our freedom and liberties. 

1 Attachments
View Article  Planned Parenthood Foe to speak in Pittsburgh

The Pennsylvania Institutue has one upped itself with regard to shining a light on the Chik-Fil-A homophobic mentality. Next up is a Pittsburgh based dinner with a keynote speaker infamous from defaming Planned Parenthood with so-called undercover footage.

2011 Friends of the Family Banquet -- in Pittsburgh, PA

2011 Pittsburgh Friends of the Family Banquet
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Pittsburgh Marriott North
100 Cranberry Woods Dr

Cranberry Township, PA (Outside Pittsburgh)

Keynote speaker, Lila Rose, is founder of Live Action Films, and has gone undercover to expose the seedy side of Planned Parenthood. At age 22, her recent exposes have been featured in numerous news outlets, including the O'Reilly Factor, CNN, The Washington Post, US News & World Report, The New York Times, and NPR.

Register by April 21. Call us at 717-545-0600 or 1-800-FAMILY-1.

An opportunity to financially support the Pennsylvania Family Institute will be presented.

 Lila Rose and her Live Action Films purport to tell the full story, minus the edits.  Her website is unbelievable.  No mention, of course, of the evidence or facts presented by Planned Parenthood.

This dinner should be a hoot.  I bet Darryl Metcalfe will be front and central.

And I told you the Pennsylvania Family Institute was going to move into Metcalfe territory.  They already have two more sessions of The Art of Marriage scheduled for late spring. It is a big difference from donated sandwiches to $1,000 table fundraisers.  Do not rest easy. 

 

View Article  Things I liked about church today

Today, Ledcat and I went to our second ever service at the Allegheny Unitarian-Universalist Church on the Northside. We've been pondering it for over a year.  Recent stuff going on pushed me to finally sit down and chat with Reverend Dave about things.

So this morning we bundled up and drove down to the Church.  It feels silly driving a mile but the treacherous snow covered sidewalks made walking a bit much. 

Random things I liked about it

- The greeters were a couple we know.  He was wearing a Steeler's jersey. To church. We had the chance to talk and get to know them a little better and enjoy the delightful company of their daughter. 

- Another man was drinking coffee.  In church.  During the service.  Using a reusable travel mug.

- One of the songs used the word "gay"

- The congregation was small, but diverse

- The children went to their religious education under a giant fleece peace blanket.

- I ran into multiple Facebook friends in real life for the first time.

- People were genuninely nice and friendly.

- The message was delivered by a neighborhood man who teaches martial arts to children on the Northside.

- People got up to offer their own intercessions (my word), both joyful and sorrowful.

- There was lunch. With delicous oatmeal raisin cookies. Mmmm.

- Someone spoke a quote I liked. I had no pen in my purse so I tweeted it to myself (phone was on silent, I'm not that bad).  Someone "liked" my comment.  He was also in the service.  Awesome.

- They had half and half cream for the coffee.  Sweet. 

- I felt good about attending even though no one mentioned God.  I still felt God spoke to me quietly and told me this is a place to explore. 

- Being on medical leave is lonely, even with all of the medical treatment contacts.  I've been averaging two coffee socializations a week, but sometimes it seems like the only human contact I have are people I have to engage.  This is a nice contact by choice supplement.  There's only so much decaf you can drink.

So it was pretty nice.  My concern about joining a UU congregation is that I am somewhat traditional. I've written that I have a secret desire to be an evangelical and I'm not kidding.  I've been to two other UU congregations, one in Pittsburgh and one not, but both left me cold and I never went back.  However, I've been hearing about Allegheny for years - very social justice oriented, very inclusive, very involved in the Northside and seemingly attractive to a lot of people I admire and respect.  I had met Reverend Dave several times at K.S. Kennedy Floral on Western Avenue (Kerry thinks he looks like Anderson Cooper) and found him to be pleasant and unthreatening.  And smart.  And kind. 

So we met and I realized that my personal experience of a transcendent God was not foreign to the UU community and my desire to have that personal relationship was not a barrier to being part of this community.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Structure of evil really whacked me upside the head.  So did reason.  I can be an agnostic-would-be-evangelical-social-justicey-tilt-at-windmills person and feel right at home in this community.  Cool.  We'll see what next week brings.

And now we are safely home away from the Steeler Nation invasion and preparing our own little barbecue wings and fries feast for kick-off.  Not a bad Sunday. 

View Article  PG Letters to the Editor on LGBTQ Equality

Folks, it is a good time to get your fingers stretched and send in your own letters.  Politicians pay attention to people contacting them personally, but they also watch the opinion sections of the media.  If you need an angle, consider writing in about Chick Fil A if you are a customer.  Talk with the franchise owner of the restaurant you visit and ask them point blank if they would support an organization like the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  Then write a letter.  Very simple, but imagine how many people you can educate.

Two letters today ....

Daniel Robinson of Tarentum writes a pretty incoherent letter that seems to say he doesn't hate gay people, but his hands are tied because God told him being gay is wrong.

Hate isn't the emotion guiding people who take God serious, love is. What people do with their lives is between them and God. Likewise, those who place their faith in the Creator who endowed us with our rights, can't be asked to ignore His definitions of "right and wrong."

It is sort of a live and let live, but my side is really right approach to writing letters.  Or living life.  Or judging.  It also shows that people are making decisions about our equality based on some sketchy reasoning.  Do you want Daniel voting on your equality (no matter who you are)?

Major Gregorio Sheehan (Ret) is more blunt about the repeal of DADT

The result will be that conservative Christian men, the backbone of American combat units, will think twice before enlisting or re-enlisting, the thought of sharing a foxhole with a homosexual being repellent to their senses.

Well, I didn't know conservative Christian men were the backbone of combat units. Is that based on anything more than his subjective perspective?  Like the Pentagon survey?  Hmmm.

Regardless,  Daniel and Gregorio took the time to write and I'm sure they had an impact in some households, an impact that doesn't serve our community well. 

When can we expect to read your letter?

View Article  In times of trouble ...will God bring it?

While I was sojourning this summer, I had the chance to get reacquainted with God.  God came to find me in a most unusual form ... a politically conservative Christian evangelical.  We became friends and he listened patiently to my questions.  We were able to agree to disagree and then talk about the things that interested us both, rather than get caught up in the obvious areas for snags. 

And I gained a new freedom ... a person that cared about this piece of my identity and didn't launch into tirades about Christianity and homosexuality (either direction). 

When I did social service ministry in Kentucky, I spent a fair amount of time with friends who were evangelical, pentecostals and some who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible.  Most were wonderful, kind, loving people who rarely uttered a bad word against anyone.  Some weren't.  But they embraced me even when they knew I wasn't interested in conversion and we had loving conversations that stay with me to this day. I feel a little ache when I think back to those times.

The thing my friend has said to me this year has been very simple ... just listen.  He doesn't try to change me or convince me I'm wrong or belittle me because I don't believe exactly what he believes.  He just urges me to listen and I guess he has faith in the message. And me.

I kept moping about wanting a liberal evangelical church.  Which led me to Jim Wallis and his God's Politics Blog.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I've been peppering my status updates with Scripture and inspirational quotes.  That is all courtesy of Reverend Wallis' daily email.  It has been amazing (and not) that almost every day, the scripture speaks to what is happening for me. 

Wallis is part of the Sojourners Ministry ....

Sojourners ministries grew out of the Sojourners Community, located in Southern Columbia Heights, an inner-city neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The community began at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, in the early 1970s when a handful of students began meeting to discuss the relationship between their faith and political issues, particularly the Vietnam War. In 1971, the group decided to create a publication that would express their convictions and test whether other people of faith had similar beliefs.

There is no Sojourners' community in Pittsburgh.  The closest are Akron and Altoona (go figure).  That makes me sad.  I've attended services at some of the local liberal churches and it doesn't resonate.  I appreciate the solidarity, but nothing has stuck yet.

So I stick with my daily email.

I don't get the chance to talk with my friend very often right now, but maybe that's necessary so I can *stop* talking and start listening. Maybe the time for me to talk/text/email about what I think has come to an end and I am going to have to listen. 

My friend isn't a fan of Jim Wallis ("Marxist"), but I guess that's whose gonna see me into this listening phase.

In typical me fashion, I have to get the last word and post the blog here on my site in the middle of a lesbian and feminist blogroll and tell the world that I want to be an evangelical. 

So ... bring it on, God.    

View Article  Why Young Christians Deserting Churches Might be Gay Related

Reverend Howard Bess, Baptist pastor from Alaska, has this to say in the Post-Gazette:

Churches are no longer leaders in broad moral and ethical discussions. Young people have grown weary of churches that cannot get past issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

Our new crop of church drop-outs is still very interested in alternatives to a selfish, hedonistic society. Justice is high on their agenda, and they are looking for opportunities for public service. Our young people want to be involved in solving environmental problems and in peacemaking.

By contrast, pizza parties and rock concerts -- techniques that have been used to make churches appear more relevant to the young -- are not high on the agenda of young people concerned about society's deep-seated problems.

In other words, too many churches are concerned about same-sex marriage when the preacher should be talking about the unacceptability of war.

How refreshing to see the context properly adjusted.  War is destroying marriages, families and humanity.  Same sex marriage is not.  I love that this retired Pastor gets it. 

I'm no longer young (40 this year), but I'm searching for similar things in a church.  I want the justice side of Jesus and a pastor who can talk with me without quoting long Scriptures or telling me what Paul experienced.  Just talk with me about my life in the larger context.  Don't force me into a box. Invite me into the fold. 

View Article  WHAT TO SAY WHEN THEY START QUOTING SCRIPTURE?

Received this via email tonight ...

If you are Christian and have struggled with friends, family, or religious enthusiasts that quote scripture to disprove or reject your sexuality,  you are invited to participate in this enlightening 8 week course at First United Methodist Church. We have been adamantly open to the gay community for decades. You are more than welcome. 

WHAT TO SAY WHEN THEY START QUOTING SCRIPTURE?

CLAIMING THE PROMISE, an eight week Bible study

First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh
Sundays, October 24 through December 19, 9:30-10:45am

 

First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh invites you to an eight week Bible study exploring same gender love in relationship to Christian scripture.  The course is open to all  who are  looking for words to respond to the seven familiar biblical texts or are struggling with what they have heard others say compared to what they know in their hearts.

 

 Beginning Sunday, October 24 and ending December 19 (8 Weeks), Jeff Miller, Austin Hornyak, and Bob Wilson will facilitate a Sunday School Class (9:30-10:45).  This class is appropriate for teens through seniors; for persons who have given significant consideration to this concern and for those who are just beginning to reflect on them.

 

This study will help you

?         Identify assumptions about biblical authority and how to engage in biblical interpretation

?         Examine alternate understanding of biblical references that people sometimes apply negatively

?         Explore the place of those biblical references within a comprehensive understanding of the

           Bible's liberating message of justice-love and freedom in Christ.

?        Claim the promise of being God's heirs apparent by as welcoming, reconciling disciples of Christ.

 

If you have questions, please feel free to contact   Robert Wilson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church  at 412-681-4222  or  [email protected] alum.bu.edu

First United Methodist Church is located at the corners of Baum Blvd. and Centre, Liberty, and Aiken Avenues between Shadyside, Bloomfield, and Friendship (next to the all night Wendy?s)   412-681-4222. wwwFirstUMCPittsburgh.org  

View Article  The debate about Islam

Today's Post-Gazette has an interesting piece by a former intern about his identity as a Muslim-American. I've been thinking a bit as to how it might feel to be a Muslim in the United States TODAY and realize we've made almost no progress in terms of our religious bigotry and prejudice since September 2001. 

I have otherwise compassionate and bright friends who absolutely believe there is a plan afoot to build a mosque on Ground Zero.  Facts about the 1) location and 2) building's purpose do not move them.  They do not want to be moved.  They willingly cast aside reason and fidelity to the law they hold so dear to satiate their inner fear and justify what amounts to some of the most ugly abuse our citizens have lauded in recent decades. 

We just don't learn. We don't learn that economic hard times stoke our fears and that there are many, many predators cloaked in the American flag ready to use that fear driven anxiety for their own aims, their own power grabs.

I've been thinking quite a bit about my own personal faith and relationship with God.  I joined a Bible study.  I talk with my friends and I think about visiting some churches.  And, yes, some of these friends believe that Islam is a religion of violence and destruction.  I don't really understand why because I see so many similarities.  I can see the appeal, mind you, of absolutism.  I just don't see how it feels good in the long term.

View Article  Presbyterians shake it up a bit

The evolution of mainstream Protestant churches continues to intrigue and bore me. I love that the dialogue continues, but I'm also of the opinion that its 2010 already ... let's get it resolved so we can fight poverty and war and all that biblically based stuff.

Follow PghLesbian24 on Twitter

The Correspondents