Subscribe to Same-sex Marriage in the Church and Nation by Email

If you appreciate these posts, please subscribe thru email (Submissions kept private!)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Neanderthals Are Still Among Us

Rev. Steve Kindle
Exec. Dir. of Clergy United
www.clergyunited.org
With my apologies to Neanderthals!

One of the reasons I wrote my book is that the chief reason obtaining gay rights has been slow is because it has taken time for the American (and world) public to recognize that they are as normal as any other form of humanity. So I took pains to show just how normal nonheterosexuals are. Due to the many LGBTs who have come out over the years, with the attendant discovery that they are our brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters, and yes, our mothers and fathers, we have learned just how normal they are. In fact, their absolute commonality with everyone is seen in the fact that they are among us, have been among us and we didn't even know it! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to out LGBTs for making this huge leap in our consciousness possible, and welcome.

But there continues to be a small but noisy segment of our population that refuses to accept the facts. Every professional organization that has studied homosexuality for decades has given LGBTs a clean bill of health, psychologically, religiously, sociologically, medically and even as parents. There is no place to go anymore to support gay unacceptability; all the harbors are filled with positive voices. In such a dilemma, what do the negative voices do? They resort to the last refuge of scoundrels: name calling and outright lying. If you don't have the facts to back you up, sling mud. In a tweet following the SCOTUS decisions, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association wrote, “The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time." It should also be noted that the "slippery slope" argument, is resorted to when all other arguments fail.

Interestingly, "polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality" are largely heterosexual deviances. The notion that gays were pedophiles was put to bed decades ago, but it's a handy argument for the uninformed to keep gays from teaching school and out of leadership roles in the Boy Scouts. But it's a lie. Gays are as upset with pedophelia as everyone else with a clear morality.

On CNN, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Wolf Blitzer,“You’re going to see a loss of parental rights, as children are taught in school morals that are contradictory to their parents’, religious liberty loss from business owners: bakers, florists, and others who will be forced to comply with a different view of marriage as well as even churches in some places, religious organizations losing their tax exemptions because they fail to comply with the force of the state in terms of redefining marriage.” Now that's a nightmare situation, for sure.  But is it true?  Permit me to quote from my book (as I'm against reinventing the wheel).
[These charges are] generally held by constitutional scholars to be a red herring.  When New York legalized same-sex marriage, for example, they included broad protections for religious and charitable organizations that were actually found unnecessary, as the protections are inherent in the U.S. Constitution.   
On the other hand, whenever minorities are granted rights long withheld from them, this means that the majority loses some of theirs.  Hotels, restaurants and other businesses that serve the public are no longer able to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or religion, regardless of how the owners feel.  Gone are the “Whites Only” counters, “restricted clubs” (no Jews allowed), and red-lined neighborhoods.  Most of us feel that whatever losses ensued is America's gain.  Should the Supreme Court uphold same-sex marriage, life in America will go on pretty much as usual, with the exception that LGBTs will no longer be denied equal rights with the rest of us. 
Just as schools had to begin to recognize the equality of the races, yes, equality of same-sex relationships with heterosexual relationships, including in the raising of children will be taught.  Because it's true.  The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, and the Academy of Pediatrics all are on record as approving homosexuality as perfectly normal and as capable of entering any human relationship as any heterosexual.  This includes child rearing. 
It seems that we will have to put up with this uninformed nonsense for a while. In the meantime, more and more gays and lesbians will come out, more and more people will find gays as normal as the next person, more and more will we find the excessive complaints of this stubborn subculture irrelevant. Gay equality will win the day, but we must always bear in mind Martin Luther King, Jr.'s observation that "Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right."

Yes, there is much work left to do. Let's get going!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today We Celebrate

America, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, made a giant step today in fulfilling the vision of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, that all people are equal under the law. The federal Defense of Marriage Act's section 3 is found "unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment." By striking down DOMA, same-sex couples who are legally married are entitled to equal treatment under federal law.

The Court also issued its ruling on Hollingsworth v. Perry, ruling that the originators of Proposition 8 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts since the state refused to appeal its loss in circuit court. This returns the right of all citizens of California to marry the person of their choosing.

Now 13 states and the District of Columbia have equal marriage rights coupled with federal protections and benefits. We achieved this, not through armed uprising, but by vigorous, relentless voicing of this indignity and revealing to the world that ours is a just cause. We have every right to rejoice in our good fortune. We also need to remember that others will be devastated.  Even though some in the opposition lied, cheated and bullied their way through the contentious decades of this struggle, many hold to such opposition out of sincerely held beliefs. All we have to do is recall our own feelings when things didn't go our way to understand how others may feel. This demonstrates what we have been saying all along: we share a common humanity. Gloating is reserved for those who don’t appreciate this. I am happy to say I have not observed anything but glee.

With marriage bans still in place outside of California, the struggle is far from over. We will continue the struggle in states without marriage equality until it’s achieved, with a great advantage. The example of California and the twelve other states with marriage equality will be enormous. The contrast of those states where all marriages enjoy all the federal and state rights and benefits will be stark. Pressure will mount as one state, then another, grants marriage equality. It will be hard to maintain old prejudices and the rigid confines of traditional marriage over time. People will see there really is no good reason to object any longer. 

So, today, we proponents of equality under the law, celebrate. These are huge victories, forecasting the future of America when all 50 states will have equal marriage rights.  This is inevitable.  There is no turning back.  But it will not be automatic; it will be won the same way we won today: person by person, state by state, ballot by ballot and legislature by legislature.

I'm off to San Francisco to join with The Religious Leader's Press Conference sponsored by the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations. As I said, today we celebrate!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Preparing for the Supreme Court’s Decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA


If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct…what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising 'the liberty protected by the Constitution?
~ Justice Antonin Scalia (This quote is taken from his minority dissent to Lawrence v. Texas when the court struck down sodomy laws)

First, America needs a civics lesson
Contrary to the National Organization for Marriage’s wishes and all others who were disappointed when California’s Proposition 8 was struck down, and feel abused, the people DO NOT get to decide what’s constitutional and what’s not. Fortunately, we live in a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy.  For in a pure democracy, if 51% of the people want to cut off the heads of the other 49%, for whatever reason, it would happen.  Our Constitution forbids majority coercion of the minority and in fact was created, in no small part, to protect the rights of the minority. So if, say, California passes a proposition that provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” the fact that the majority of voters voted yes does not mean it passes constitutional muster.  The same holds true for DOMA. That’s why, for those who are opposed to marriage equality, DOMA is not enough and only a Constitutional amendment will do.

Ironically, if we were to let the people decide, as NOM would have it, the tide has turned and the majority of Californians and Americans are now in favor of same-sex marriage.  Given their favorable attitude toward LGBTs, when the Millennial generation assumes power, this will be a long forgotten era of American history.  Just as today when young people are told of Jim Crow and the struggle for Civil Rights, and they are mystified as how this could ever have been, so too will generations from now find it hard to believe that gay people couldn’t get married.

How DOMA and Prop 9 control the lives of LGBTs up to now
The federal Defense of Marriage Act effectively does two things. First, it defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is either husband or wife.  Second, it allows states the right to decline to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states.

The federal General Accounting Office identified “1,049 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which benefits, rights, and privileges are contingent on marital status or in which marital status is a factor”. This shuts out LGBTs from all federal benefits accorded to opposite-sex couples, including income tax breaks, Social Security survivor’s benefits, and health care. The GAO upgraded the number of benefits to 1,139 in 2003.

In California, Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment, passed in 2008, which said marriage defined as “only between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” It overturned the California Supreme Court’s ruling that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. There was a window from June 16 to November 5, 2009 when same-sex marriage was legal and these marriages continue to be legal and likely will not be affected by SCOTUS’s ruling.

Possible Supreme Court outcomes
Most court watchers count the possible outcomes as four or five, reducing the likely outcomes to three. They range in scope from total victory for marriage equality across the board, to the status quo remaining in place. We will look at each outcome from best to worst, at least in the eyes of supporters of same-sex marriage.

DOMA and Proposition 8 are both struck down
Marriage would become the legal right of every couple, regardless of sexual orientation. Although this is the least likely outcome, it is possible. It is, of course, the most desirable outcome for those of us working for marriage equality. The reality that no couple in America could be denied the full dignity and rights presently accorded only to opposite-sex couples would mean that LGBTs are no longer second-class citizens.
A narrow interpretation would restore same-sex marriage rights to California and confer federal marriage benefits to all legally married same-sex couples throughout America. It would not affect marriage bans in other states; they would remain intact.

DOMA struck down, but Prop 8 upheld
Legally married same-sex couples in California and elsewhere will begin receiving the 1,139 federal marriage benefits. However, same-sex marriage will not be legal in California as well as the other states with similar bans. Those Californians legally married in 2009 will most likely not have their marriages made null and void.

Prop 8 struck down, but DOMA upheld
With the demise of Prop 8, marriage equality will be reinstated in California, and may overturn similar bans in place in other states. However, legally married same-sex couples will be denied all federal rights and benefits related to marriage. Second-class citizenship will continue.

We may know the outcomes as soon as tomorrow.  When the decisions are made public, I will post a column on where we go from here.

(This post was adapted from my book, Marriage Equality: Why same-sex marriage is good for the church and nation found here: http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Equality-Same-sex-marriage-church/dp/1484967127/ref=)


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Slow Demise of Exodus International and the Rise of Gay Acceptance

When Exodus International started 37 years ago, it had the wind at its back. In 1976, the Gay Rights Movement was just beginning to be heard from, most Americans didn't give homosexuality a second thought except perhaps to condemn it, and the professional organizations, which soon would reevaluate their opinions, were treating gayness as a psychological disorder. So when Exodus International announced its program of helping LGBTs "return to normal" (heterosexuality), many were prepared to endorse it and thousands of gays submitted to reparative therapy. So what went wrong, so wrong in fact that Exodus International had to shut it doors forever?

Several factors are involved, of course. The primary one is the failure of reparative therapy to produce the results they advertised. No combination of aversion therapy, shock treatments (yes!), prayer, peer pressure or even self-loathing could make the miracle of change happen. It became clear early on that what was actually happening was gays who were horrified at the thought of spending eternity in hell were sublimating at best and ignoring at worst their same-sex desires that never went away.  In fact, Alan Chambers, the departing executive director of Exodus International confessed that 99.9% of all the gays he knew in the program did not change. So they were counseled on how to defend against these unwanted desires with spiritual practices that also did not work. This prompted a former Exodus International board member to actually suggest that Exodus International change its motto from "Change is possible through Jesus Christ," to "Come suffer with us."  And suffer they did.

Reparative therapy, itself, is based on a false theory of homosexual origination.  The repair aspect is devoted to repairing the poor relationship a gay man has with his father, which is seen as the primary reason that gays seek out other men: their fathers failed to provide proper emotional support while they were growing up. Distant fathers AND mothers are to blame. This theory is wholly unsupported by all the major professional organizations that are charged with researching and supporting psychological health. I actually heard Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, the major proponent of reparative therapy in America today, tell parents of gay children that they should not blame themselves. Not because they failed in their childrearing, but because society failed them by making it so difficult to raise children.  Somehow, I don't think this was comforting.

Over time, the accumulating body of ex-ex-gays could not be ignored and their message began to overwhelm the "change" message of Exodus International  In fact, Exodus International actually changed its motto not too long before it closed to "Reaching the world in grace and truth." That is quite a departure from their original intention and may foreshadow the new direction of this ministry, albeit, under a different name and institutional configuration.

Then in 1973 the wind left their back: the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association followed in 1975. Other major mental health organizations followed and eventually the World Health Organization declassified it in 1990. Exodus International and its reparative therapy allies no longer had a leg to stand on.  All they could do was help the deeply religious  to cope with their situation.

Yesterday's post details those people and organizations that confronted Exodus International over the years with their abysmal failure to achieve their goal of transformation. No longer could Exodus International trot out their "success stories" because too many of them denounced the program and admitted they did not change.  There was no place for them to go except to close.

Although I am ecstatic over this news, I also feel a sense of honor is due to Chambers and his board.  Yes, Chambers engaged in hyperbole (if not outright lying) in leading his organization, and yes, many lives were destroyed in the process. In the end, Chambers admitted all this, asked for forgiveness and called a stop to the program. This is so much more than Nicolosi of NARTH, Joe Dallas of Genesis Counseling, Andrew Comiskey of Desert Stream Ministries, and dozens of fellow-travelers are willing to do--and should. Only the future activities of Chambers will confirm his sincerity. One thing is for sure: he is off to a good start.

So it turns out that the most important reason Exodus International closed its doors is that its most celebrated  example of "change through the power of Jesus Christ" hasn't changed, can't change, and finally admits it. With that truth staring Chambers in his own face, how could he, with any integrity, continue the deception? He details his apology in the video below. I hope that it will be taken to heart by the many, many others in the false hope of change business so that countless lives will be spared this evil delusion.


Exodus Head Alan Chambers' Full Apology to the LGBT Community
In an unprecedented admission, Alan Chambers, president of the so-called "ex-gay" organization Exodus International, apologizes to survivors of "reparative therapy" who feel they were harmed by the organization. Watch the full, uncut apology here. More videos and information can be found here, thanks to Lisa Ling and oprah.com http://www.oprah.com/own-our-america-lisa-ling/Sneak-Peak-Lisa-Lings-Special-Report-God-and-Gays-Video

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Pray away the gay" has gone away (well, almost)

Exodus International, the original and largest organization to endorse the notion that gays can change has closed its doors.  Its president, Alan Chambers, who served for eleven years, announced today that their board of directors voted to end its 38 year ministry.  

It all materialized with a conversation Chambers had with several of the victims of reparative therapy and Exodus International's outreach who characterize themselves as ex-ex gay on Lisa Ling's television show, "Our America With Lisa Ling."  In other words, people who were lulled into the belief that although they considered themselves gay, they could be "returned to normal" through prayer and therapy.  Reparative therapy has been denounced by all accredited psychological and psychiatric organizations in the USA and even the courts have censured their practitioners.

Several organizations have put unrelenting pressure on Exodus International over the years and did much to create this change of heart in Exodus International.  One is Truth Wins Out, and its crusading director, Wayne Besen.  Besen has been critical of EI and reparative therapy since before Chambers came aboard. His 2003 book, Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, is THE authoritative explanation and exposure of the ex-gay movement.  TWO's website, http://www.truthwinsout.org/, is a daily chronicle of ex-gay abuses, idocies, and counter-attacks that amazes with its breadth and clarity.  Their stable of writers will keep you in touch with the latest news and analysis of things ex-gay.  Besen certainly is due credit for helping in the downfall of EI.

Another significant factor in EI's change of heart is the Ex-gay Survivors Network sponsored by Beyond Ex-Gay http://www.beyondexgay.com/.  It was founded by Christine Bakke-O’Neill and Peterson Toscano in 2206, two survivors of the ex-gay movement, as a way to connect others who were struggling with the failure of reparative therapy and other attempts to "pray away the gay."  Over the years, Beyond Ex-Gay reached out to Exodus International and other so-called ex-gay groups sharing their stories of abuse and failure and even suicide.  Although not acknowledged by name, Chambers admits that hearing such stories was a big factor in his decision to change the direction of EI, which soon led to its demise.

A chink in EI's armor occurred during 2008-2009 when Soulforce contacted Billy Hybels, pastor of the large and highly influential Evangelical church, Willow Creek.  They poured significant money into EI, hosted their events, and supplied volunteers for their programs. The upshot of these visits with Soulforce and other contacts Willow Creek made was to sever all ties with EI.

So what's to become of Chambers, et al?  It's not like they will disappear.  The Board announced the formation of a new organization with many of EIs board and staff that has as its goal the reducing of fear, and working alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.  Whatever that means (to them).  We shall have to wait and see.  They have a lot of reparative work to do with ex-gay survivors and they note the harm they have done and I believe their remorse is genuine.  However, remorse will not undone the harm.  I can only hope that their new organization will devote themselves to cleaning up the mess they made along the way.

As a bit of self promotion, you can learn much more about the harm of ex-gay movements and therapies in my new book: http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Equality-Same-sex-marriage church/dp/1484967127/ref=la_B00DBIZDKA_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371776563&sr=1-1  Plus a whole lot more.  I hope you check it out.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It's Done and Available on Amazon!


For more information:
178 pages

I'm very pleased to announce that my book, Marriage Equality: Why same-sex marriage is good for the church and nation, is now #9 on the Amazon best seller list for its category after only three days on sale. My thanks to all the people who helped make that happen. How about we make it number 1! I think the country is ready to look at gay rights like never before and this book will help them understand the need for gay equality across the board. 

As promised, I wanted to get this book into your hands about the time the U.S. Supreme Court rules on California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Both of these are discussed, and the possible rulings analysed.  But the bulk of the book is devoted to a strong defense of gay marriage from a biblical, psychological and scientific perspective.

I know that many of you who read this blog are very well acquainted with the issues.  I do believe you will discover new insights and strategies as well as have a virtual library of helpful resources at your fingertips.

One of the best uses of this book is for group study. Each chapter ends with possible discussion questions.

Here's the Table of contents:

Foreword.. vii
Introduction.. 11
Chapter 1 – A Snapshot of Gay Americans. 17
Chapter 2 – The Gay Agenda: Why It’s Needed and Appropriate. 28
Chapter 3 – The Closet: Prisoners of Heterosexism... 47
Chapter 4 – The (Evolving) History of Marriage. 57
Chapter 5 – The Case for Marriage Equality
Chapter 6 – False Claims Regarding Gays and Same-sex Marriage
Chapter 7 – But, My Bible Says…. 93
Chapter 8 – The Gifts Gays Bring
Chapter 9 – After the Supreme Court Decision: Where to Go from Here?
Chapter 10 – How to Get Involved.. 145
A Word to Pastors. 152
Afterword.. 158
A Select Bibliography of Resources. 163
Index of Subjects. 171
End Notes. 175

In order for this book to have maximum impact, I will need your help. 
1.  If you buy the book, please consider writing a review for Amazon.  
2.  Put the Amazon information on your Facebook page and encourage your friends to check it out.
3.  Tweet it!
4.  See if you can put a study group together at your place of worship or with a group of friends.
5.  Invite me for a talk and book signing.  I can be reached at info@clergyunited.org.

Thanks for checking this out!