I’m on the bridge – Support for Same-Sex Marriage from within the Church

Turnaround Tuesday as portrayed in the movie Selma
“Turnaround Tuesday” as portrayed in the movie Selma

The post I wrote last week about marriage equality was partly brought about by the movie Selma.  The movie documents the three marches (or part marches) from Montgomery to Selma in 1965. It’s an incredible movie to watch – it brings the civil rights movement to life – and it also impacted me as an example of how intense and dangerous the fight for any civil right can be. As I covered in my previous post, one of the key leaders of the Selma march, John Lewis, has publicly stated that he thinks the resistance to marriage equality for the gay community comes from the same “fear, hatred and intolerance” he himself witnessed in “racism and bigotry” during the civil rights battle in the sixties.

The movie depicts the first march, often referred to as “Bloody Sunday“, which had 525 black protesters who began the 80 kilometre march without Dr. King at the helm. At the outskirts of Selma, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were stopped by Alabama State Troopers who were ordered there by Governor George Wallace. The Troopers turned back the protesters with brutal violence – you can read about it here from a reporter on the scene – it makes for horrific reading.

In complete contrast, the third march was safe and legal with a federal Judge ruling in favour of the protesters saying it was a Constitutional right for them to march and that right could not be quashed by the State of Alabama.  On the third march there were no police roadblocks, no legislative restrictions, no legal way for the march to be stopped. 25,000 people marched to Selma. It was an incredible moment.

But it is the second march, known as “Turnaround Tuesday”, that I think is the pertinent march for the church at this time.

After Bloody Sunday Martin Luther King decided immediately that they would go back to that bridge and finish what they started. He made a public call to Americans to get involved in the fight, “I am appealing to men and women of God and good will everywhere, white, black and otherwise,” he said, “If you believe all are created equal, come to Selma and join us, join our march against injustice and inhumanity. We need you.” This appeal caused thousands of people from all over the country, many white and many ministers, to travel to Montgomery for the second march.

On Turnaround Tuesday again the marchers got to the Pettus Bridge and this time the number of marchers was 2,500 individuals. They made it half way across the bridge and stopped. Dr. King prayed briefly, then turned the marchers around and walked them back to Montgomery. That night three white preachers were attacked by members of the KKK for supporting civil rights. The injuries sustained by Rev. James Reeb led to his death two days later.

The first march was dangerous, but the danger was unknown. The marchers didn’t realise what was going to happen to them on the Pettus Bridge. They were acting in good faith, having no idea what lay ahead. The second march was dangerous, but this time the danger was known. The 2,000 new marchers knew that they may face the tear gas and night sticks again, but they went anyway to support the cause. The second march gave clear evidence of the widespread growing support for black rights amongst white people. And amongst those people, ministers were a significant number.

It’s apparent, as evidenced in the weekend’s US Supreme Court decision, that the world outside the Church is well on its way to the third march. It is now ‘safe’, in most Western nations, to support Marriage Equality. However there is no denying that LGBTI issues and causes within the church are still on the second march. Turnaround Tuesday is not a safe place to be and there may be consequences ahead for the LGBTI community and their allies within the church. But if history teaches us anything it’s that now is the moment to get on the bridge and show our support for the LGBTI community. It’s not completely safe yet, but it is the right thing to do and I believe the Christ-like thing to do.

My willingness to stand on the bridge stems from these firm beliefs:

  • That marriage is a government institution
  • That marriage provides many legal and social benefits, and that it is discriminatory to withhold those benefits from same-sex couples
  • That recent scientific and psychological developments, as well as the personal experience of thousands of gay Christians, show that gay people don’t “choose” to be gay, and that efforts by the church to “cure” gay Christians have failed (see the closure of Exodus International)
  • That as a Christian, Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40) carries more weight than the passages that have been traditionally viewed as anti-homosexuality in the bible (and there are alternative readings for those passages of which Gushee’s Changing our Mind, and Vines’ God and the Gay Christian are two of many)
  • That the LGBTI community are a minority that are often discriminated against, and in many places persecuted, and that to stand with them in support rather than protest, imitates Christ
  • That Christians should support the LBGTI community even if they believe that gay Christians should be celibate (see Marin’s Love is an Orientation, and the explanation of the “side A and side B” debate on the gay christian network)

If you choose to publicly state you are on the bridge, what you are doing is standing side by side with the LGBTI community and saying ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality and the full inclusion, as Tony Campolo recently stated, and “full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” You are positioning yourself as an ally and as a friend to those who have been denied full welcome in the church, who have been rejected and who have borne the brunt of the church’s spite and violence. It’s time for that to change.

onthebridge

I’m on the bridge and my prayer for you today is to join me on that bridge. Stand with me on that bridge, as an ally, side by side with the LGBTI community.

I echo the words of David Gushee who recently wrote in the Washington Post

“I am pro-LGBT in just the same way I hope I would have been pro-Jew in 1943 and pro-African American in 1963. I stand in solidarity with those treated with contempt and discrimination. And I do so because I promised in 1978 to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Even here.”

If you are already on the bridge, or you want to use this as a chance to join us, then please use the hashtag #imonthebridge to let people know where you stand and spread the word.

The art of the political ‘flip flop’

We all know what it is about, we know all politicians do it, I’m pondering if in the next election cycle will our media serve us in demonstrating which politicians and political parties are flip-flopping for what some would say is political expedience.

A couple of examples that I have come across recently.

The much publicised flip-flop by Prime Minister John Key on Winston Peters

Key in 2008

“It’s a matter of political principle. We just do not find NZ First acceptable”
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a minister in a government led by me.”

Key in 2011

“I want to lead a positive aspirational government and I don’t believe a Winston Peters government does that.”
“If Peters is the balance of power it will be a Phil Goff-led Labour Government.”

Key in 2013

“I think partly it reflects that the country doesn’t want to see Labour and the Greens in office. And so if it means having to deal with New Zealand First – a lot of our supporters would prefer to see that situation.”

And here is a less known, perhaps unknown flip-flop I cam across in my archives.

We interviewed Colin Craig from the Conservatives in 2008 and when asked about Gay Marriage he said the following

Yet this year I think it is safe to say that the Conservatives have made it quite clear that they oppose ‘Gay Marriage’ and have spoken with pride (‘scuse the pun) about being the only party ‘arguing against it‘.

From the Conservative website

Conservative Press Release

Seems the Conservatives are no longer ‘uncomfortable’ with making this a focus

The US media is brilliant at showing politicians changing their position for political expedience. The Daily Show makes a living off showing these clips back to back on a nightly basis.

I only hope that somewhere in the media in the lead up to next years election we will see clarity and long memories from our media to demonstrate these inconsistencies in our politicians and give us a fair look at who we are voting for.

Rick Santorum and the ‘All Gay Cruise’…the epitome of irony

Rick Santorum was in Puerto Rico over the weekend campaigning to win some of the 20 delegates there on his way to coming second in the GOP race.

He had a chance to take some time out so took an hour by the pool to relax when this photo was taken of him.

It has been reported that the snap was taken by a patron on an ‘all gay cruise.’

So why is there irony here?

Well if you don’t know, firstly I must warn you that if you are of a sensitive nature then you won’t to know so stop reading now, anyways you may have read a post I did a wee while back saying that no GOP nominee would beat Obama this year, in that post I said of Santorum.

the problem is his name…well maybe not his name…but what his name means

See in 2003 Rick Santorum championed a bill to make sodomy illegal which put him offside with the LGBT community.  One activist within the community, Dan Savage, who had previously been responsible for coining new definitions for words with a sexual reference, challenged Santorum on his campaign and threatened to have his surname defined online by something negative if he didn’t withdraw what Savage saw as homophobic laws.

Santorum declined to back down and the now famous surname was re-defined to mean…well that’s where you can go find the meaning independently if you like…and now the LBGT community are trying to reinvigorate the meaning.

6 months ago if you Googled ‘Santorum’ it was the second result on the page, now it’s dropped off the front page but still comes up in Rick Santorum’s Wikipedia pages which is the top result.

Rick Santorum is still a top target for the LGBT community, and to have him turn up in the middle of a resort hosting a ‘gay only cruise’ is nothing but the height of irony.

What the gay community has started doing in America to candidates whose positions they find offensive is ‘glitter bomb’ them…which is a sit sounds having glitter dumped over you…I guess it’s better than a lamington ah Mayor Len Brown?

 

Is it too late for Sarah Palin to be the saviour of the GOP?

The ‘War’ for South Carolina is happening as I write this post. The winner of the South Carolina Primary will be the GOP nomination to go up against President Obama in November’s election, how can I say this so confidently? Every single nominee for the GOP to run for President in the past, 100% of them, has won South Carolina.

In an earlier post I wrote why Obama will be reelected, I still believe that in fact the events of the last few days have done nothing but confirm my thoughts that America could never elect one of the two front-runners for the Republicans.

Sadly for supports of the Conservative right, your choice will either be Newt Gingrich, or Mitt Romney. Both who have demonstrated hypocrisy to an unbeliveable degree over the past week or so.

Mitt Romney is the GOP favourite at the moment, but more and more is being revealed about his financial past and how he has amassed his vast wealth and it doesn’t fit with the GOP narrative. Before we get into this let me state that I have no problems with a person becoming wealthy, I am not an ‘occupier’, I am not someone who thinks that ‘rich people are bad or evil’, but when your wealth becomes a problem to the message, then we need to figure out the disparity.

Mitt Romney is reportedly worth about a quarter of a billion dollars, which he amassed by forming a private equity firm called Bain Capital. What a private equity firm does is come into failing businesses, or purchase businesses with good potential for leverage and ‘streamlines’ them i.e. they make cuts, then borrow against them. The companies then tend to strip the companies, sell them on in parts and make a big fat profit. The issue that Romney has with all this is that GOP catch cry is “Save jobs and stop borrowing”, but his whole business credentials which he is using to say why he should be President, is one of laying people off and borrowing to make quick cash. That on top of the revelation this week that Romney pay’s ‘in the vicinity of 15%’ tax on the money he makes from investments makes this an embarrassing week for him.

P.A.Y.E in America starts at 10% and the most you pay is 35% depending on your income, but Romney’s income is made from his investments which classifies it as ‘capital gains’, hence Capital Gains Tax is applied which in America is around 15%. So Romney earns millions a year and pays the same percentage in tax as the guy driving his campaign bus. Romney said in the last debate the ‘top tax rate should be down around 25%’, yet he only pays 15%. Another catch cry of the GOP is we are taxed too much, well it would appear Romney is not.

Mitt Romney needs to stop trying to sell the idea that his is ‘working class’ and own that he is the richest politician in the run for President, and one of the richest politicians in America.

Now we move onto Speaker Gingrich.

With Rick Perry pulling out this week, and endorsing Gingrich as his candidate you might think Newt would have a jump in the poles, but the Romney camp is using the issue of ‘ethics’ to derail and momentum that Gingrich may be getting…and rightfully so. As I have already pointed out, Newt Gingrich seems to have a penchant to sleeping with women that are not his wife and you have to ask the obvious question that is we know about these ones…how many others are there?

Again you could argue that if it doesn’t impact his ability to govern then it shouldn’t matter…but it doesn’t fit with the GOP Christian, conservative, ‘family values’ narrative.

This week we find out that according to Gingrich’s second wife (of three) that he wanted an ‘open marriage’ where he could have a mistress AND keep his wife as well. All this while the Speaker is still standing up for the ideals of marriage “as the union of one man and one woman.”

For Gingrich, ‘the Gays’ are not to be married as it would be ‘an abomination’…but cheating, lying, and multiple hetero marriages is to be defended as ‘God ordained’ and ‘natural.’

All of this happening with many GOP supporters acknowledging that these two the ‘best of a bad bunch’ just confuses me when you have Rick Santorum with a great CV and actually world political experience on the sidelines along with Ron Paul who is really the only ‘real’ small government, less tax candidate. Ron Paul is what Republicans should be…if they weren’t hypocrites.

Finally, I have to admit to being a little intrigued about a very…very…VERY unlikely scenario. Even though she has said she would not run for President and it is contrary to my opening paragraph, I just wonder if we might hear from Sarah Palin as a late entry. The field is so weak, if she came out of the blue with her rock star persona, the ground swell might be there for a Sarah Palin nominee.

Now would it be a bad decision? Well it couldn’t be any worse than a choice between Romney and Gingrich.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…apparently

Pope Benedict XVI

I just have one question…how?

How does this idea of gay marriage undermine the future of humanity itself?

How?

Pope Benedict says gay marriage is one of several threats to the traditional family that undermines “the future of humanity itself”.

The pope made some of his strongest comments against gay marriage in a new year address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican in which he touched on some economic and social issues facing the world today.

He told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper “settings” and that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman”.

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said.

The Vatican and Catholic officials around the world have protested against moves to legalise gay marriage in Europe and other developed parts of the world.

If it’s about procreation…newsflash, gay couples are probably not having children whether they are married or not. If it’s about ‘traditional marriage’ I guess the question is then…”which traditional marriage are you talking about?”

People site that reason all the time and I’ve never understood it.

Traditionally, two people agreed to be married…and that was it…they were married. Prior to the Theodosian Code it was both same sex, and opposite sex couples agreeing to this…is that the traditional marriage we are talking about? Obviously not.

Are we talking about the ‘traditional marriage’ where the woman (or often girls as young as 12) we given to a man to gain the family wealth? It was more a transaction of wealth than a modern marriage…obviously not.

Are we talking about one man and many wives which is a traditions over the ages in many countries and to many cultures? Obviously not.

I think what people are saying when they say ‘traditional marriage’ is, for want or a more eloquent description, a marriage of the 1950’s because that about how far back you need to go to include the church with marriage. So traditional marriage is the marriage of the 1950’s…but certainly excludes a lot of traditions around other eras and by other cultures…but I guess if we thought too hard about what ‘traditional marriage’ meant, then it wouldn’t fit the narrative of those trying to ‘sell the sizzle’ of traditional marriage.

Finally here is something the churches of the world need to understand. In 2012 you no longer own marriage. In fact you haven’t owned it for a very long time, you did at one stage when people got married ‘before God’, but now that one needs to sign a certificate, which is a government document, and you cannot be married without one, marriage now belongs to the Government.

And since it does belong to the Government I cannot see how it is ethical to exclude a sector of society in partaking in that Government institution.

So I ask again, how, oh how will gay marriage be the downfall of modern society?