Gay and Lesbian Connection

Support and Acceptance for the Gay and Lesbian Community

Archive for October, 2009

Tallahassee Approves Benefits for Unmarried Couples–Gay or Straight!

October 30th, 2009 by Admin

The city of Tallahassee approved benefits for unmarried couples, gay or straight. They also agreed to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the City’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures.

Wednesday, after the Tallahassee City Commission unanimously voted to change its benefits policy to include same-sex and domestic partnerships City Hall chambers broke out in cheers and applause. 

That means significant others, no matter their sexual orientation, will be eligible for the same benefits currently available to married couples. The policy change also means a non-married couple that has been together for a number of years are eligible for benefits.

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A Watershed Moment

October 29th, 2009 by Admin

After more than a decade, the inclusive hate crimes bill has been signed by President Obama and sealed in law.

This is the first time ANY federal equality measure protecting LGBT rights has become law. And it is the first federal law to explicitly protect transgender people.

It is extraordinary!  A watershed moment!  Love conquered hate!  

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Hate Crimes Bill Passes!

October 23rd, 2009 by Admin

Truly a pivotal moment in the fight for GLBT Equality.

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Bishop Spong’s Manifesto

October 22nd, 2009 by Admin

Bishop John Shelby Spong is one of the most vocal and passionate advocates of LGBT people everywhere. Here is his Manifesto–a must read!

 A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is “high-sounding, pious rhetoric.” The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a “new church,” claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

 In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by “fair-minded” channels that seek to give “both sides” of this issue “equal time.” I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world’s population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a “mobocracy,” which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture’s various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the “Flat Earth Society” either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church’s participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

www.johnshelbyspong.com

 

 

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GLBT Economic Development Summit in Washington, D.C.

October 20th, 2009 by Admin

Did you know there is a GLBT Economic Development Summit being held in Washington, DC October 24th, 2009? 

The aim of the Summit is to bring together GLBT business leaders and professionals with government and non-government resources to improve their business. 

There will be workshop and panel sessions at the Summit that include information on doing business with local and federal governments, mastering business media relations, strategic management in tough economic times, tips on developing new business leads, and online marketing and social networking.

Impressive.  

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More On Coming Out

October 8th, 2009 by Admin

Oct 11th is National Coming Out Day, initiated by Rob Eichberg to bring awareness and promote acceptance of the GLBT community.  Why is coming out important?  It helps put a human face on the word homosexual, a word that’s fraught with misconceptions and half-truths. Each person who comes out can lessen the stigma about gays, and help educate the people around them that being gay is just someone’s sexual orientation.   

But coming out is a very personal decision, based on lots of variables.  So make sure you accept yourself first before you do, since there’s really no way of knowing how your family will react to the news.    

If you are ready to come out there are lots of resources to help you get through the process.  Go to a PFLAG meeting.  Find supportive friends.  Create a family of choice.  Read books, blogs, magazines.  Watch the film, “For the Bible Tells Me So.”   Find a therapist who specializes in gay and lesbian issues.   Go to a gay pride event.  You’ll see lots of straight allies there. Get involved in the GLBTQ community.   Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.   You don’t have to do this alone.  

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National Coming Out Day

October 7th, 2009 by Admin

Coming out is a risk.  Just ask anyone who’s ever done it.  There’s really no way of predicting how some families will react.  That’s a little like holding out your hand to what you hope will be a friendly dog, not knowing if it will lick your hand or bite it.  But to stay in the closet is no way to live.

National Coming Out Day is October 11th.  Do you want to come out but need support?  Check out Rob Eichberg’s book, Coming Out an Act of Love, a step-by-step guide to understanding and accepting your homosexuality and dealing with other people’s reaction.     

Eichberg, a noted psychologist and founder of Coming Out Day stressed that one person’s actions of self-respect and love can begin to change the world.

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LGBT Kids Kicked Out of Their Homes

October 1st, 2009 by Admin

Twenty-three years ago statistics indicated that 25% of LGBT youth who came out to their parents were kicked out of the house and abandoned. 

With all the progress that has been made since that time for gay rights, and all the exposure and acceptance that gays have received, I was disheartened to read an recent article (http://www.examiner.com) from the Indypendent (www.indypendent.org) that currently twenty-six percent of LGBT youth who come out to their parents are kicked out of their home. (Stats from a report from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)  And when they get kicked out of their homes, they wind up on the street.

The article goes on to say that, in the United States, 575,000 to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year, of which 20-40% identify as LGBT. This means 115,000 to 640,000 LGBT youth are homeless per year.

The statistics are brutal: Twenty-five to thirty-three percent of homeless youth have engaged in survival sex. Nearly 50% of LGBT homeless youth have attempted suicide. The number of safe havens for homeless LGBT youth is nearly non-existent when compared to the staggering numbers of LGBT youth on the street.

We are not addressing the problem. The government is not paying attention, and in this economic climate, it is not likely to. It’s going to take organizations like the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides emergency and transitional shelter for LGBT youth, to deal with the problem. We are going to need a mass social movement and we have to start by making people aware of what’s going on.  Frankly it’s going to take the gay community and its allies to solve this problem.

We need to tackle the problem from both sides. First, for the 26% of the kids being abandoned, the immediate need is for more beds, more safe havens for homeless LGBT youth.  Second, the long term solution is to educate the 26% of parents who are abandoning their kids. That’s where my focus will be. My  new book is coming out in a few weeks. It’s entitled The Rest of the Way: A Coming Out Story for Parents and Gay Children. One of the themes of the book is that parents have to be active participants in their gay children’s lives.  Check out my website at www.RestoftheWay.com. Only by educating parents to overcome their homophobic fears can we begin to reduce these numbers.  

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