Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Father Geoff: Will America become a Fundamentalist "Republic?"

Why is religion so anti-gay? I was asked this question recently on the heals of Uganda passing legislation which makes homosexuality a capital offense. The short answer is that a superficial reading of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures clearly gives the impression that homosexuality is forbidden by God. This has affected the stance towards homosexual persons by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Within each of those traditions there exist literalists (who see the written word as THE law) and progressives (who look beyond the written text and seek understanding of the Divine intent.)

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From JMG: Newsweek Predicts For 2010: "Obama Does Nada On Gay Rights"

Newsweek takes a grim outlook on what the president may do for us in 2010:
Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he’s on record as favoring civil unions over marriage). But they’ve received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist.

Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won’t pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom—and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that’s venomously opposed to gay marriage.

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Another great find from JMG

Quote of the Day

"When one permits whom one studies to define the terms in which they will be understood, suspends one's interest in the temporal and contingent, or fails to distinguish between "truths," "truth claims," and "regimes of truth," one has ceased to function as historian or scholar. In that moment, a variety of roles are available: some perfectly respectable (amanuensis, collector, friend, and advocate), and some less appealing (cheerleader, voyeur, retailer of import goods). None, however, should be confused with scholarship." (Bruce Lincoln, "Theses on Method" [1996, 227])

More JMG News: Prop 8 Trial May Be Televised

The Ninth Circuit Court has authorized televised trials in some cases, leading to the expectation that the Olson/Boies attempt to repeal Proposition 8 will be be viewed nationwide. Guess who doesn't like that?
The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit authorized television cameras in certain district court proceedings Thursday, reviving a national controversy just weeks before a groundbreaking trial over same-sex marriage is slated to begin in San Francisco. The 9th Circuit currently allows cameras to televise appellate arguments, as does the 2nd Circuit. A private vendor has also recorded a handful of district court proceedings in New York. But under the 9th Circuit's new experimental program -- in which only civil, nonjury trials would qualify -- district courts would be likely to use their own camera equipment, said Circuit Executive Cathy Catterson. The method of distribution would be figured out on a case-by-case basis. "It might be posted later in the day, it could be edited, or it could be live. It would depend on the nature of the case," Catterson said.

Cases to be considered for the pilot program, and the distribution details, will be decided by each district's chief judge, in consultation with 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. In San Francisco it is the Northern District of California's chief judge, Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the federal challenge to Prop 8. Walker first raised the possibility of a televised broadcast several weeks ago, and lawyers representing pro-same-sex-marriage plaintiffs support the idea. The defendants oppose it, saying anti-gay-marriage witnesses could be subject to harassment and retribution. When the topic arose again this week, Walker alluded to possible 9th Circuit action and asked for another discussion with the parties should authorization occur.
Critics of the idea point to the OJ Simpson trial as an example of how the presence of TV cameras can tend to create grandstanding and non-legal histrionics on the part of lawyers. "If it does not fit, you must acquit."

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Courtesy of JMG

Conversion: That's Gay

JMG: DC Mayor Adrian Fenty Signs Marriage Equality Bill (In A Church!)

Moments ago, Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the city's historic marriage equality bill. Above, Fenty hands openly gay City Councilman David Catania the pen used to sign the bill Catania sponsored.
In a raucous signing ceremony at a northwest Washington church, Mayor Fenty officially legalized same-sex marriage in the District, distributing ceremonial pens among the Council members standing behind him. The law now will go through a period of review consisting of 30 days in which Congress is in session. If the law passes that hurdle -- as is widely expected -- the first gay marriages in the District could take in late winter or early spring of 2010.

The ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church -- one of many in the city that supported the legislation -- opened with comments by Fenty, Council chairman Vincent Gray, and Council members Phil Mendelson, David Catania and Jim Graham. In his opening remarks, Fenty recalled that when his own parents were married, many states would have refused to recognize their bonds. Fenty's father is black, while his mother is white. "Today an era of struggle ends for thousands of D.C. residents," he said. "Our city is taking a leap forward." Sponsoring Council member David Catania (I-At Large) opened his comments with a little family history recalling how his ancestors had moved from Massachusetts to Kansas to try and swing an election and prevent it from becoming a slave state. "So there's a tradition of troublemaking in my family, and a deep and abiding understanding of civil rights," Catania said.
Congratulations Washington DC! And thank you Mayor Fenty and Councilman Catania!

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courtesy of JMG