Catholics And The “Kill The Gays” Bill

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” bill, which would impose the death penalty on certain people convicted of having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, seems poised for passage soon.

The Associated Press reports that Rebecca Kadaga (pictured, left), Uganda’s Parliamentary Speaker, announced yesterday that the bill will be going forward for a vote in the next few weeks:

“Ugandans ‘are demanding it,’ she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of ‘the serious threat’ posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as ‘a Christmas gift.’

“ ‘Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation,’ the activists said in a petition. ‘We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.’ ”

report in The Advocate notes that the bill can be put to a vote in a matter of two weeks.

news story in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News provides some background on the criminal status of homosexuality in Uganda, as well as what the proposed law would mandate:

“Even without the law, Uganda already has laws that criminalize homosexuality and is one of 76 countries where it is illegal to be gay. The proposed law would broaden existing laws, and includes the death penalty to those convicted of aggravated homosexuality and life imprisonment for those convicted of the offense of homosexuality.

“Aggravated homosexuality is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders.

“Offense of homosexuality is defined as same-sex sexual acts or being involved in a same-sex relationship.”

Shamefully silent on this bill have been the Catholic bishops of Uganda, a heavily Catholic nation.  Indeed, earlier this summer it was reported that the Catholic bishops reversed their position from quiet opposition to the bill to outright support for it.

Catholic leaders in the U.S. have spoken in opposition to the bill, including Ambassador Thomas P. Melady, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.  President Barack Obama has called the bill “odious.”

More Catholic voices will be needed to defeat this horrendous law.  Indeed, in July Ugandan LGBT rights advocatescalled on the international community, including religious leaders, to lend their voices to oppose the bill.

Catholic bishops here in the United States and Vatican leaders in Rome need to lend their voices to international opposition to the proposed law.  Silence is not an option at this point.  Too many innocent lives hang in the balance.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Bible and Homosexuality: Does it Matter?

From Queering The Church:

August 26, 2012

By 

For Christians, the Bible is obviously important, but on homosexuality, responses differ. For traditionalists, it is a given that scripture “obviously” condemns all forms of same – sex activities, and that sodomy is “the sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance”. For an expanding pool of revisionist biblical scholars, this is a false reading of scripture, based on mistranslations or mistranslations of the original texts, and distorted by a heteronormative interpretive bias. Canon Derrek Sherwen Bailey first questioned the traditional readings back in the 1950′s, have challenged the traditional interpretations of the clobber texts, even labelling them as textual abuse, and more recently begun to promote affirmative, LGBT inclusive passages as an alternative.

But there’s another view,  that even if it is true that the Bible really does condemn homosexuality, it could be simply wrong – just it has been wrong on slavery.

The argument is neatly put by Dan Savage, in his widely reported debate with Brian Brown, of the NOM:

The Atlantic reports it so:

The Bible, if it got something as easy and obvious as slavery wrong, what are the odds that it got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? I put those odds at about 100 percent. Pat Robertson was recently asked about this. He was asked, “If America was founded as a Christian nation why did we allow slavery?” And his answer was, “Like it or not, if you read the Bible, in the Old Testament slavery is permitted.” That’s a half-truth. In both testaments slavery is permitted and sanctioned. But then Robertson said something uncharacteristically profound: “We have moved in our conception of human beings until we realized that slavery was terribly wrong.” And so what he’s saying there is not just that we realized slavery is terribly wrong. Also, we realized the bible was wrong about slavery. I don’t think LGBT Americans are asking American Christians to do anything that you haven’t already done.

Move in your conception of the value of human beings.

Here’s the full debate, courtesy of YouTube:

Success! MT Republicans Drop Anti Gay Platform Plank

Montana Republican Party

Montana Republican Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…and they did it while thousands were celebrating Montana Gay Pride in Bozeman. From Talking Points Memo:

Montana’s Republican Party has dropped a longtime plank in its platform demanding that the state recognize a law banning homosexual activity.

The state GOP had officially declared that “We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal,” language that was initially included in 1997 after a state court struck down an existing ban on gay sex. All such state laws were invalidated in 2003 in the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

The issue was dropped from the “crime” section of the platform over the weekend at the Republican state convention after the party’s crime subcommittee decided to remove it.

“The folks on the crime committee told me they had a good debate about it,” he said. “I wasn’t there myself.”

But it wasn’t entirely clear why the plank was removed. At least some Republican legislators had openly decried its inclusion as an embarrassment. But Montana GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood told TPM that his only direction to party committee chairs was to gut extraneous items from the platform in order to make it shorter and more accessible.

Greenwood declined to offer any opinion on the move.

“I run a servant office,” he said. “I work for Republican officeholders and I represent the platform they choose. I don’t tell them what it ought to be.”

State Rep. Keith Regier (R), chairman of the state party crime committee, did not immediately return a request for comment.

I’ve been harping on this for years now, so whatever the reason, begrudgingly or otherwise, I’ll take it.

Study: That Queer-bashing Bully Could Be Gay

A fascinating study, discussed in the New York Times this morning, reveals that, at least in a clinical setting, “very straight” persons often struggle with same-sex feelings:

No Homophobia logo

No Homophobia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Well, as anybody whose been following Glee knows, the bully can often turn out to be the would-be boyfriend. I remember a few of them from my own life- who were the most vehement haters of the gays- and later turned out to be, as one of them told me later “a relieved homosexual.” The authors conclude:

It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve our compassion.

Read the full article here.

A Bishop Talks About (gasp) Sex

Many of you have probably heard the news that (from New Ways Ministry Blog):

“On the second day of  New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships in Baltimore, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia summoned the Catholic Church to rethink its teaching on sexuality- for heterosexuals and lesbian/gay people.  (The full text of his talk can be found on his website.)

The National Catholic Reporter news account of the bishop’s talk cites his call for

‘a new study of everything to do with sexuality’ — a kind of study that he predicted ‘would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual.’

‘If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change,’ he said. . . .

‘If the starting point [as in current church teaching] is that every single sexual act must be both unitive and procreative, there is no possibility of approval of homosexual acts,’ Robinson said.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

He proceeded, however, to question that natural law argument, especially as laid out by recent popes, and to suggest that a more nuanced reading of divine commandments in scripture and of Jesus’ teaching would lead to a different set of moral norms — starting with a change in church teaching that every sexual act or thought that falls outside a loving conjugal act open to procreation is a mortal sin because it is a direct offense against God himself in his divine plan for human sexuality.

‘For centuries the church has taught that every sexual sin is a mortal sin. The teaching may not be  proclaimed as loudly today as much as before, but it was proclaimed by many popes, it has never been retracted and it has affected countless people’, Robinson said.

‘The teaching fostered a belief in an incredibly angry God,’ he added, ‘for this God would condemn a person to an eternity in hell for a single unrepented moment of deliberate pleasure arising from sexual desire. I simply do not believe in such a God. Indeed, I positively reject such a God.'”

Terrific.
And “Amen”.
This is startling- not only because of its sensibility- but for the courage of a man who has jumped over the traces, so to speak, of his fellow magisterial wizards. Dare we hope that this is the first voice of many?

“Dead Gay Kids And The Politics Of Hate”

You’ve heard of the “It Gets Better” campaign? Well, according to one Tennessee legislator ,”It Just Gets Worse”.

Christy Diane Farr writes an excellent article about the rhetoric used by the ignorant to allow- and justify- the death of our children. Excerpt:

Behavior

Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

The next morning, she received a response from Tennessee State Representative John Ragan that sounded as if it had been taken straight from Hitler’s playbook. I am not exaggerating, even a little, and invite you to go here and read for yourself.

I cried as she read me the message. I thought I would throw up. His final point literally took my breath away:

“Examining another statistic, it has been well known for a decade that suicide is attempted much more frequently in the homosexual community than in the heterosexual community (Mathy, Cochran, Olsen, & Mays, 2009). This same source pointed out that, on average, suicide is approximately three times more likely among homosexuals than heterosexuals.

“As a fitting critical thought question, it could be asked if other identifiable groups that engage in behavior of which ‘others may disapprove’ commit suicide at similar rates? In other words, do prostitutes, pedophiles, polygamists, murders, etc., commit suicide at the same, or similar, rates to homosexual behavior practitioners? If similar rates were hypothetically so (not proven to be the case), do these behavior practitioners commit suicide at a higher rate because someone may have disapproved of their behavior or for other reasons? Should society avoid disapproving of pedophilia, prostitution, murder, etc., because practitioners of those behaviors may commit suicide at higher rates?”

The author makes a lot of amazing points- chief among them is that for a lot of of kids, the “It gets better” message isn’t coming through- because teachers and legislators and parents are stifling the message- and countermanding it. But there is a need to stay vigilant, there is a need to speak up- and it’s because of one simple philosophy:

The list of the others–the “they” who are allowing their fear and hatred to erode our National integrity–goes on and on, but the truth is that this radical lesbian-headed household doesn’t even believe in “they.” We teach our children about how everyone is equal, even those who think we are not. We believe that human difference is real, that it’s important, and that diversity, inclusivity, and integrity are what make us strong–as individuals, families, communities, states, counties, and as a planet.

We live by one guiding principle: Be nice or leave.

That means we don’t make life harder for other people (rinse your dishes before they go in the dishwasher and dispose of your waste responsibly). It means do your best so the collective “we” can be at our best. We tread lightly on the planet. We disagree respectfully because we certainly won’t always agree, but we can always do it respectfully and intelligently.

Oh, and we ask for what we need because we understand that it’s codependent and manipulative (prime examples of the “not nice” that can result in being invited to leave) to expect others to know what you need and desire.

Read the rest of this excellent essay here.

Some Good News

 

The Heartland Proclamation

by the Heartland Clergy for Inclusion

 

As Christian clergy, we proclaim the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.

In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:

  • to affirm that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;
  • to embrace the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;
  • to declare that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;
  • to celebrate the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;

Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church. 

Link is here