The Pope Chooses War, I Choose Self Defense

Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a group of bishops on their ad limina visit- and with all the topics available to him (hunger, poverty, abuse of women, social injustice, racial inequalities, nuclear threat, stewardship of resources, etc), he chose to speak to them about the necessity of battling the “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage….The church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution,” which is “rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation,” he said.

“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage,” the pope said.

Defending traditional marriage is not simply a matter of church teaching, he said; it is a matter of “justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.”

Whenever I hear a leader speak the word “Safeguard”, I pay attention. It is a word used by institutions and governments to promote the protection and defense of something fundamental to it. It is not a passive word. It says to me that the Pope is ready to fight for his narrow theological/historical position on sexuality and marriage. Something he believes is fundamental to Christian faith- even though marriage is curiously absent from the Nicene Creed (325-381 ad)- which most Christian churches profess as containing the essential, fundamental elements of Christian belief today.

He did not choose dialog or express interest in hearing about the experiences of thousands (millions?) of LGBTQ catholics and their families. He did not choose to understand, he chose to condemn.

In other words, he openly advocated war.

It’s a culture war, it’s a war of ideologies. It is, in fact, if you count all the open and affirming Christian churches that  welcome LGBT persons and their partners and children into their congregations, a war of christian theology. But it’s a war nonetheless.

I believe it to be totally unnecessary- and I also believe it conflicts with the very theology the catholic church espouses.

“War” is defined thusly: “a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state”. “Armed conflict” is an important term to notice here. I think it can also mean non-physical weapons- weapons of ideology or theology, for example. But I would be naive not to think that some of the faithful out there may hear in these words a clarion call to harm LGBT persons and their families. I would also submit that the Pope’s words have already harmed them by creating ‘enemies of the church” out of persons and families who have nothing more important in mind than following their hearts and minds- and souls. And, if you recall your history, enemies of the church have not fared so well.

And in that case, the Pope needs to take a closer look at his own catechism.

If someone attacks me and threatens my life or my way of life, according to the Catechism of The Catholic Church, I have the right to defend myself.

 2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.[65]

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

And with the rhetoric being used by the Pope to the bishops in his address yesterday, I have every reason to believe that these are not words of someone struggling to understand the reality of LGBT persons, these are the orders of attack given by a supreme commander to his highest officials. And I’m confused because- try as I might- I can’t imagine Jesus saying them.

I also have every reason to fear for my safety and the safety of all LGBTQ persons. And before you accuse me of being overly dramatic, remember that the pro-life message has spurred numerous acts of violence- in the name of life, I might add. People in Uganda, the Middle East and elsewhere are being butchered and abused because they are known or perceived to be gay.

So do you think these words will be like soothing balm on the righteous indignation of the zealot?: …”threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship which need to be addressed urgently so that all men and women of faith, and the institutions they inspire, can act in accordance with their deepest moral convictions.”

I’m an idiot if I don’t believe that someone out there is going to see this as a reason for violence- physical or psychological. And remember how powerful psychological threats are- those are the very things killing our kids.

I want to be clear- I am not advocating violence in any form. I’m advocating self-defense. And I’m advocating a careful, calculated, firm and reasonable response to this madness. I want the argument to be two-sided. I want the voice of the Pope and the bishops to be countered by the voices of people who see the Christian message in a different way.

If the Pope chooses war, I choose to oppose that war. I challenge it on its very principle.

So, if I may be so brazen, I would like to be one of those counter voices. Feel free to add your own voice in the comments.

To my LGBTIQ family,

Love toward yourself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is important and necessary to insist on respect for your own right to life. I believe you have been created to fill a very important place in this world- a place often dramatically misunderstood and opposed by people out of ignorance and fear.

It is crucial that you understand that you are not alone- there are millions of people who want to understand you and accept you and who will love you. You have the right to be understood- and you have the right to love and be loved in the ways you feel are most faithful to your created nature.

You have the right to live free from fear of attack and violence. You have the right to defend yourself against ignorant attacks on your dignity, happiness and self-respect. You have the right to fulfill your potential and to follow your heart and mind and soul and dreams to the best of your ability. Despite ignorance, despite persecution, despite fear and power and hate.

I believe that we are all beloved by the God of our understanding. I believe that we are valuable in being beloved. And that value is not diminished, even in the face of anger, fear and ignorance. Even in the face of religious belief which would deny us that value.

We are a courageous, wonderful people, with visions of love and acceptance and equality and happiness that I believe are deeply important to the future of the world.

I beg you, don’t let go of these visions- no matter how strongly others try to pull them away from you. They are your birthright.

They are the key hope to a world filled with peace.

Amen.

Pride Foundation: Volunteers Make An Impact In Big Sky Country

It’s my privilege to work with some amazing people on The Pride Foundation’s team in Montana. If any of you know me personally, you know that I really believe in this organization, am a monthly donor, and I offer what I can to make this work here.

I believe it’s our last best chance for equality in Montana.

Caitlin Copple, Montana’s Regional Organizer for The Pride Foundation, has written an article about the Leadership Action Team for the State of Montana- and we’re a pretty amazing group of people if I do say so myself.

Excerpt:

The Montana Leadership Action Team serves as Pride Foundation’s “boots on the ground” when it comes to raising money, visibility and developing local leaders across the state. Because Pride Foundation believes strongly that local people know best what is needed in their communities, all our funding decisions – from grants to scholarships to sponsorships – are made by volunteers across the state.

I am so grateful for the support, hard work, and thoughtful dedication of this team. In just nine months, they’ve helped host eight house parties, attended countless community events on Pride Foundation’s behalf, and will determine how we distribute $5,000 in sponsorship money this year. Their work is directly shaping a safer, more equal Montana and strengthening our community’s philanthropic prowess.

Read about everyone on the Action Team here. And while you’re at it- check out the rest of their website. And if you give to HRC or GLAAD or Lambda Legal or any national LGBT rights organization, I challenge you to match that donation to an organization that will keep that money right here in Montana- the Pride Foundation.

I do.

Catholics And Marriage Equality

There has always been a strong sense of social justice in the catholic tradition- especially in the minds of the people in the pews. The great advocates of social reform and justice more often come from the laity and monks and nuns- persons more in touch arguably, with the gospel and real life in general. Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Francis of Assisi, all railed against the marginalization of human beings- creating real social change in the world. Bishop Oscar Romero and Pope John XXIII were the exception more than the rule.

So, it was with a lot of hope that I read this:

Last month, the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit group, reported that 74 percent of American Catholics surveyed supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry or form civil unions (43 percent and 31 percent, respectively). The telephone survey asked more than 3,000 adults to choose among three options: whether gay couples should be allowed to marry, should be allowed to form civil unions or should receive no legal recognition. By comparison, 16 percent of white evangelical Christians approved of same-sex marriages; 24 percent approved of civil unions. Among the general public, those rates climb to 37 and 27 percent, respectively — still lower than among Catholics.

Catholics have always had a great sense of the social justice elements of issues- a strong sense of the suffering of humanity, I believe. They take the mandate of service very literally- the Sermon on the Mount and the Corporal Works of Mercy were always stressed in my own religious upbringing.

Evangelical Christians are more likely to struggle with fundamentalism on this and other issues, citing (often unclear or inconsistent) scripture passages, and tending to ignore social science or scientific evidence in favor of the bible.

I do know one thing: Last week, at my mother’s Catholic funeral, I introduced my partner to everyone I knew and grew up with in that little church and we were received with nothing but warmth.

Nothing but.

If only the leadership would get it- and all those gay clergy (and bishops!) would share their experience- we might have a shot at addressing reality….

No matter- the people in the pews have always been ahead of the curve. It’ll happen eventually.

Denny Rehberg’s Pal Michele Bachmann-Pwned!

From Towleroad:

Cenk Uygur takes on Michele Bachmann’s extreme positions on social issues like gays and abortion during her recent trip to Iowa, and going way back during her first days as a Minnesota lawmaker.

Incidentally, Cenk refers to a moment when Bachmann hid in the bushes during a gay rights rally in Minnesota. I went back and dug through my archives to find the post I wrote about it back in April 2005. That was like anti-gay gay boot camp for what she’s doing now.

Crazy Quilt

She was invited by Rehberg to the Montana Republicans Lincoln/Reagan Dinner (named after non-Montanans- guess they couldn’t find any notables like Mansfield/Metcalfe). And the Republican higher-ups simply GUSHED:

“Congresswoman Bachmann is a leading voice for conservative Republicans.  She is in great demand for speaking engagements throughout the country.  We are very fortunate Michele Bachmann will be our guest in Montana’s capital city and are grateful for Congressman Rehberg’s assistance in making this possible,” said Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee chairman Bridget Holland.

Rehberg’s casual, snide flinging of the word “Obamacare” is obviously modeled on his crazy-eyed pal- who uses it at least once every time she’s interviewed. She’s so obviously entrenched in Crazyland- and completely unencumbered by the facts/truth. But watch for yourself. And remember: this is who Denny Rehberg aspires to be….

McCarthyism In It’s Latest Manifestation: A Christian Minority Persecution Of Gay People

Guest Post
I am so angry. I am angry because I am tired of the relentless attacks by alleged Christians, who profess to belief and follow the precepts of their collective idealogical/theological standards as spelled out in the tenets of their “holy” book. They do not.
What I see, is yet another form of McCarthyism cloaked in pseudo religious form, being used to demonize, victimise, and ostracise the gay men, women, transgendered,bisexual, persons, who, according to their narrow interpretative beliefs and practise of Christianity are inherently evil.
Today, again, were two absolutely stunning examples displaying nothing but naked hatred for LGBTQ human beings. First from the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s listed hate group Family Research Council’s Peter Spriggs, an editorial in this morning’s Baltimore Sun newspaper railing against marriage equality in Maryland. This was followed by this afternoon’s vote by the Iowa House of Representatives on a proposed Iowan constitutional amendment to not only just ban same-sex marriage, but also nullify marriages that have already taken place in that state since equality rights were granted.
Here is an except from the editorial by FRC’s Spriggs:

“Opposite-sex relationships are the only type capable of producing children through natural intercourse and the only ones assured of providing children with both a mother and a father. Affirming only opposite-sex relationships as ‘marriage’ thus makes perfect sense. But affirming same-sex relationships as ‘marriages’ makes no sense. These relationships are incapable of producing children through their sexual union.

And while some homosexual couples do raise children (most of whom were conceived in previous heterosexual relationships), such arrangements by definition deprive a child of his or her birthright to be raised by both a biological mother and father. Maryland may choose to tolerate and even protect such unconventional childrearing by allowing adoption by homosexual partners or couples. But it has no obligation to actively affirm and celebrate (through ‘marriage’) the deliberate creation of permanently motherless or fatherless families.”

This bigot’s equating a civil marriage license to bearing children is fallacious. The divorce rate in the US is 54%. Every divorce in a marriage with children deprives a child of a full-time mother and father. The out-of-wedlock birthrate in the US is 40%. If Mr. Spriggs is so concerned about the children, why is he not working to make divorce more difficult, and removing children from single-parent households? The truth is, the divorce of 54% of American marriages does much more harm than the <3% of the population who are gay (and probably less than half of those want to get married and half of those that marry would want kids–so that’s less than 1% of the population.)
Marriage is about the uniting of two lives together. The state has no requirement and no expectations that a married couple will have children. A childless marriage is as valid in the eyes of the state as a marriage with 12 children. Couples who can’t have, or don’t want children don’t view their marriages as ‘fake’. People get married because they meet someone they want to spend the rest of their lives with. A person who divorces his/her spouse because the spouse is infertile would be seen as an arse.
Many people who grew up in abusive homes would attest that the simple fact of having a ‘natural’ mother and father present does not guarantee that a child will be loved and nurtured.

These are the same arguments that have been trotted out by the proponents of Proposition 8. It fails to account for centuries of family law that accord rights and responsibilities to siblings, grandparents, adopted parents, and many many many other people who have nothing to do with the actual procreation of the child, and, yes, even to same-sex parents of children. And if marriage were purely for procreation, why would childless couples allowed to married, or at least why a marriage certificate isn’t merely a “learner’s permit”, and no rights or responsibilities conferred until a child is produced?And also failing is to show how any mechanism barring same sex couples from marrying achieves this goal.

Is he really proposing that if homosexual couples were allowed to marry, that it heterosexuals would somehow fail to produce children? It’s akin to say that by allowing interracial couples to marry, that that would somehow hurt white couples? There is no mechanism which would cause either, and both are just grounded in irrational discrimination.

“The Constitution is meant to protect the freedoms and liberties of all Iowans,” she said after the bill passed. “It is inappropriate to use the political process to single out and deny a group of Iowans of their constitutional protections.” ~ Carolyn Jenison, Executive Director of the LGBT-rights group One Iowa.

Let’s leave the Maryland situation and Sprigg’s bull-feces for a moment and look at Iowa where a constitutional ban on gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships passed the Iowa House this afternoon in a 62-37 vote. Three democrats joined 59 Republicans in support of the measure. Thirty-seven Democrats voted “no,” and one Republican was absent.
The Iowa Independent reports:

After discussing his belief that marriage is about “responsible procreation,” state Rep. Rich Anderson (R-Clarinda) asked what could come next if the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage is allowed to stand. He concluded that it would lead to legalized polygamy and incest.

I could also cite the example of Dean Cannon, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, who wants to return the ban on adoption by Gay & Lesbian couples.
Cannon discussed his views in an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness news outlet, where he said that the Republican-controlled legislature would be prepared to attempt to resurrect the adoption ban depending on how the issue plays out in more court districts or the administration of Governor Rick Scott.

“Until we know how the governor and DCF secretary are going to apply it, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Legislature should step in,” said Cannon. “If we think we should, we’re certainly prepared and willing to do so.”

Plus, add in the battles in New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, California and apparently also the District of Columbia as now a GOP lawmaker on the House committee that oversees matters pertaining to Washington wants to revisit the city’s same-sex marriage law.
Then there is the bullying in schools all over the United States specifically aimed at kids who are either Gay or “perceived” to be Gay.
What we have now is McCarthyism in its latest manifestation and without a doubt, even more ugly. This is state sanctioned persecutions of human beings based on beliefs that ought to be held separate from governmental operations and practise but aren’t due to the overwhelming need by a very small minority that are in a state of absolute lust  to be set in power over the majority.

McCarthyism n. The practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence.

In this case, the political being augmented by alleged theological disloyalty because after-all, homosexuality is a sin right?
What part of the U. S. IS NOT a Christian nation do these morons not get? I was speaking to a friend and whose principle work is as an LGBTQ activist in Utah. Brave fellow that eh? Utah is ground zero and he said and I believe him, until we find a practical way to counter the Mormons and their money, looking at the National Organization for Marriage as an example, and find a unified voice, then this form of McCarthyism will continue to roll over all of the equality rights of the LGBTQ people, not just the marriage ones either.

Harvey Milk once said that Gay people need to come out. Why? Simply because this is how the perceptions of evil and sick and any other twisted definition the Reich-wing comes up with targeting gays, lesbians, bis, trans, persons can be stripped away and exposed for the outright bigotry and lies they are. When people can relate to one another as human beings and not some form of vague ideological vitriol, then the humanity shines not the bigotry.

We need to target Mom, Pop, Apple pie, and Chevrolet driving folk because they are the ones we need to accept us, as ourselves…fellow human beings.
But, until the LGBTQ community gets its act together, gets its message across to those who really need to hear it and not the Christianazis like Spriggs, or those GOP extremists, or NOM, then we all will continue to lose and this nasty McCarthyism will continue to reign unchecked.

Straight, Christian Woman Dancing At A Gay Bar

My friend Kathy does it again, putting some excellent, simple perspective on the basic and honest living of life.

Keep dancin’….

Rachel Maddow Exposes MT GOP Platform Hate


On her show last night, Rachel Maddow mentioned the Montana GOP. In the midst of discussing culture wars, the gays and the inflammation by conservative candidates, she also exposed the Montana GOP Platform Plank, reading it on the air.

If you missed it, it is here:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/

Thank you Rachel! Call me…