‘Same Love’s’ Mary Lambert: The gay interview

MaryLambert1Editor’s note: Still high off her Grammy nomination, queer music icon Mary Lambert sat down with our Chris Azzopardi to discuss the group wedding, her new EP and what it’s like having Madonna dry your tears.

“I’m not crying on Sundays,” Mary Lambert assures herself on the song that got her to the Grammys. But Sunday, Jan. 26,  was different. That Sunday was better.

Singing the heart-lifting chorus to Macklemore’s “Same Love,” which was nominated for best song, Lambert made her Grammy debut.

That’s when she lost it. But these weren’t tears of sadness or shame. These were tears of joy. Tears of being inspired and moved and all those things you feel when you share the stage with gay couples who are finally able to get married, a monumental celebration that took place at the awards show, with Queen Latifah officiating.

Emotions ran high that night, but Lambert, 24, had a new friend nearby — a new friend by the name of Madonna. And the icon didn’t just sing Lambert’s words, but, like something out of a fever dream, swooped in and wiped away her tears.

Lambert, who recently released her own solo EP called Welcome to the Age of My Body, was still emotional when she spoke about that unforgettable night.

Dallas Voice: You must be pinching yourself. What was your Grammy experience like?  Lambert: It was really emotional from start to finish. I already feel like Cinderella because I was bartending last year and didn’t know how I was gonna pay rent. Now I’ve been nominated for a Grammy — and I took my mom, which was a dream of mine — but then to be able to do this song, and to do it on this magnitude with this beautiful choir and fucking Madonna and Queen Latifah, are you kidding me? It’s just stupid, dude. If I really think about it, I lose it.

You cry?  Yeah, like, “I don’t deserve this.” I’m still working on my positive self-talk.

What was it like being part of the wedding ceremony?  Honestly, that was the most emotional part. Being in rehearsal and hearing Madonna sing my words and hearing the choir come in, that was emotional, but being in the dress rehearsal at the Grammys and watching the couples come in, I couldn’t get through the song for almost every rehearsal. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna perform because it was so beautiful. You saw on their faces how much it meant to them, and I knew how much it would mean to the viewer. How do you process that? It’s the most beautiful thing that exists in the world.

What were rehearsals with Madonna like?  We had long rehearsals. I wouldn’t say we’re close, but we got to know each other’s mannerisms and how we operate. I consider her a friend. She was very kind to me, and because we had to work together, I had to be like, “Hey, this is how I sing the song.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Another Methodist pastor to be tried for officiating son’s gay wedding

UMCThe United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son, The Associated Press reported.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized.

“It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to ‘seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people’ and with Methodism’s historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan ‘open hearts, open minds, open doors,’” Ogletree said in a statement.

Bishop Martin McLee, who leads the New York Annual Conference, could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

The Rev. Randall Paige of Christ Church UMC in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., led the group of clergy who had filed the complaint against Ogletree, according to United Methodist News Service. An administrator at Christ Church said Paige was off Friday and could not immediately be reached for comment. Theologically conservative Methodists have said they file formal complaints reluctantly, hoping to find another resolution for their disagreements, but feel clergy must be held accountable when they violate church policy.

Like other mainline Protestant groups, Methodists have been debating for decades over whether the Bible condemns or condones same-gender relationships. However, other mainline groups, such as the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have in recent years taken key steps toward accepting same-sex couples. The top Methodist policy-making body, General Conference, has repeatedly rejected changing church law on homosexuality, including in their most recent vote at a 2012 meeting.

In the last few years, as gay marriage has gained legal recognition by U.S. states, Methodists advocating for gays and lesbians have intensified their protests, hosting gay weddings in Methodist churches or officiating the ceremonies elsewhere.

Two other similar cases are pending within the Methodist church. The Rev. Stephen Heiss of the Upper New York Annual Conference is expected to face a church trial for presiding at same-sex marriages, including officiating at his daughter’s 2002 wedding. The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, of the New York Annual Conference, is facing a formal complaint that she is a “self-avowed practicing” lesbian, or lives openly with a same-sex partner, which is barred by church law.

Ogletree’s trial will be held at First United Methodist Church in Stamford, Conn.

The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant group in the U.S. and claims 12.5 million members worldwide.

—  Steve Ramos

Retired Northaven pastor stands in solidarity with LGBTs

The Rev. Bill McElvaney will soon marry longtime couple Jack Evans and George Harris, despite facing consequences from the church

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TWO OF A KIND | The Rev. Bill McElvaney, Northaven United Methodist Church’s emeritus pastor, right, plans to officiate at same-sex weddings. And Eric Folkerth, Northaven’s current pastor, said he will likely do so in the future as well. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

At first glance, retired Methodist pastor the Rev. Bill McElvaney appears to be a soft-spoken, genial man of faith.

But at 85, McElvaney has had enough with the United Methodist Church’s anti-gay teachings, so he decided to speak out about the injustices the church teaches with a declaration from Northaven’s United Methodist Church’s pulpit Sunday.

McElvaney, Northaven’s emeritus pastor, stood before the congregation and told them he “would consider it a privilege to officiate at a same-sex wedding.”

“To be a friend is to become an advocate, one who by word and deed translates heartbreak into pastoral and prophetic action,” he said during the sermon.

The announcement earned him a five-minute standing ovation. But the act is against the church’s beliefs, which considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Pastors who have defied the church have faced severe consequences. In December, Pennsylvania Methodist pastor  the Rev. Frank Schaefer was defrocked for presiding over his gay son’s Massachusetts wedding.

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WEDDING BELLS | George Harris, left, and Jack Evans, who celebrated their 53rd anniversary Sunday, have attended Northaven for 20 years. They plan to have McElvaney marry them as soon as possible.

Northaven has a long history of supporting LGBT equality. In the late ‘80s, the church began welcoming LGBT people and became the first local reconciling church in the 90s. Now there are four reconciling churches in the area.

McElvaney, who grew up attending Highland Park Methodist Church, was baptized in the church, ordained by the church and is well aware of the action the church could take against him. The church could convene a trial and defrock him when he performs a same-sex wedding — but he doesn’t care at this point in his life.

“All of those vulnerabilities kind of pale to standing in solidarity with our GLBT friends,” he said.

Many LGBT couples he’s known in the church and throughout his life have impacted him to take a stance on same-sex marriage.

“They have taught me a lot,” he said, adding that he took a public stand when the time was right for him. “You have to grow into a position over time and have the Holy Spirit guide you to take a position.”

One of the LGBT couples at Northaven who inspired McElvaney are Jack Evans and George Harris, who heard his announcement on their 53rd anniversary. They’ve been active in the church for 20 years and were called on stage and recognized  Sunday as a longtime couple.

Evans said they’ve seriously discussed going and getting married in another state but have wanted to wait to legally wed in Texas.

“I don’t know if we’ll live that long,” Evans said.

Although the marriage performed by McElvaney wouldn’t be legal in Texas, the couple said they’ve decided to have him marry them. They’re just waiting on logistics.

“We’re waiting to hear from the pastor and Rev. Bill about when it could take place,” Evans said. “It’s possible that something will come very quickly.”

The service won’t take place at Northaven. Eric Folkerth, the current pastor, said he’s not ready to break the church’s rules yet by performing same-sex weddings himself or allowing them to take place in the church. However, he’s worked with two area churches close to Northaven, Midway Hills Christian Church and Central Congregation Church, that have agreed to host his congregation’s services.

Folkerth said same-sex marriage is the “most gut-wrenching decision about my ministry.” A recent survey of the church discovered that 14 couples had been married outside the state, with seven of those taking place in the past year.

“That tells me something as a pastor,” he said. “Same-sex marriage is becoming an issue in this church that we need to pay attention to as a pastoral issue and as a justice issue.”

Jim Lovell and Bill Stoner are one of the 14 couples who’ve already married. They made a day trip in August 2010 to Iowa to make their union legal.

They attended Northaven several years ago before moving to France. But they come back once a year to visit friends and attend church. They happened to pick the Sunday when McElvaney made his announcement.

“We didn’t know there was a big announcement until we were at church,” Lovell said.

Stoner said it caught them by surprise.

“I literally gasped, and I think the reason I gasped was to keep from crying,” Stoner said.

Having known McElvaney for years, though, Stoner said they know the work he’s done for social justice and are proud he made a bold statement.

“He’s been fighting for a lot of people that he’ll never meet,” Stoner said. “With this announcement, for him to come out at this point in his life in his 80s and face possible charges by the church, we just admire this man so completely for what he’s done.”

In the future, Folkerth said he’d “very likely at some point” be willing to officiate a same-sex union in his church, but he doesn’t want to face the consequences of doing so at this time.

“Right now it’s a choice between my GLBT family and my own family,” he said. “There will come a time when I will, but now is not that time.”

Evans and Harris support Folkerth’s decision and are glad to have the option of being married by someone in the Northaven family.

“We would certainly love for it to have been in the church, in our own church, and our own pastor, but that’s not a possibility,” Evans said. “He’s not in a position to do it at all.  We welcome the opportunity to be married by [McElvaney]. [Folkerth] has too much to lose. We would not encourage him at all.”

Both McElvaney and Folkerth think the Methodist Church will be forced to accept LGBT clergy and perform same-sex weddings as more and more Methodist leaders take stands for equality.

“This issue needs to be addressed,” McElvaney said. “The American United Methodist Church needs to get a grip. They’re so behind the times it’s pathetic.”

Folkerth said the response from the Northaven congregation has been 100 percent positive, further proof of how far attitudes have come.

“I think that tells us something,” he said. “I think people are very ready for this church to move forward on this and understand why we need to.”

The earliest a vote to change the church’s stance on homosexuality in the Book of Discipline is the General Conference in 2016. Folkerth said the majority of American Methodists would vote to change the views, but the international Methodist community would prevent the church from moving forward.

In the meantime, Folkerth said he wishes the church would change how it handles rule breakers, like McElvaney will soon be, and not defrock them for a social stance.

“There’s no way the church can bring all these people to trial,” McElvaney added.  “We can’t go on this way without extensive bleeding on all sides.”

And while McElvaney is appreciative of what the Methodist Church has given him in the four decades he’s preached and taught seminary classes, he said he can’t continue to follow its outdated teachings blindly instead of doing what he feels is right.

“I owe the Methodist church a lot, but what I do not owe the Methodist Church is my soul,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 24, 2014.

—  Anna Waugh

Pa. pastor defrocked over gay wedding offered job

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Frank Schaefer

PHILADELPHIA — A United Methodist pastor from central Pennsylvania who was defrocked after officiating his son’s gay wedding was invited by a California Methodist bishop to serve in her region in yet another sign of a split in the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, The Associated Press reported.

Frank Schaefer said he is deciding whether to accept the offer from Bishop Minerva G. Carcano to join the California-Pacific Annual Conference. The region includes California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands.

“I’m actually leaning toward it right now, but I can’t make that decision myself because it involves my entire family,” Schaefer said. “We are considering it very, very seriously.”

Carcano does not have the authority to restore Schaefer’s ministerial credentials but he said he would have most of the same rights and responsibilities as an ordained minister. Schaefer said it would not be a tenured appointment, unlike ordained ministers, and he would be paid less.

Schaefer has led a congregation in the town of Lebanon for more than a decade. Earlier this year, a church member filed a complaint over Schaefer performing the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal.

A church jury suspended him for 30 days last month and told him to decide whether he would uphold the church’s Book of Discipline or resign. Schaefer refused to surrender his credentials and the church’s Board of Ordained Ministry defrocked him. He appealed the board’s decision on Friday.

John Coleman, a spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the denomination, said Thursday that Schaefer left officials no choice after defying the order of a religious jury to resign.

Schaefer said that he has never met Carcano and first spoke to her when she called to offer him the position on Friday.

“It was such a feeling of welcome I sensed from her and just understanding and comfort,” he said. “For somebody like her, a bishop, to reach out to me and say, ‘you know what you did was absolutely right and we are proud of you,’ it just felt great.”

Carcano said in a statement on the California-Pacific Annual Conference’s website that the church’s position on homosexuality is wrong. Although the church accepts gay and lesbian members, it rejects homosexual acts as “incompatible with Christian teaching” and bars clergy from performing same-sex unions.

“I believe that the time has come for we United Methodists to stand on the side of Jesus and declare in every good way that the United Methodist Church is wrong in its position on homosexuality, wrong in its exclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and wrong in its incessant demand to determine through political processes who can be fully members of the body of Christ,” Carcano wrote.

Most other Protestant denominations have decided their position on the issue. But the Methodists, with about 7.7 million members in the U.S. and many more overseas, remain divided. At their last national meeting in 2012, delegates reaffirmed the church’s 40-year-old policy on gays.

Yet hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected the doctrine, and some face discipline for presiding over same-sex unions. Last month, in a public challenge to church rules, a retired Methodist bishop officiated at a wedding for two men in Alabama.

—  Steve Ramos

Sandra Day O’Connor officiates gay wedding at Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor

WASHINGTON — For the second time since June, a gay couple married at the United States Supreme Court. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiated at the wedding of Jeffrey Trammell and Stuart Serkin of Washington on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

In June, the Supreme Court justices stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide but struck down a federal law barring benefits for spouses in same-sex marriages.

On. Aug. 31, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex wedding at the Supreme Court. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington, D.C., since 2010.

O’Connor presided over the private ceremony in the court’s lawyers’ lounge, AP said.

—  Steve Ramos

Northstar Wedding Reception at Zeus

Mutants gettin’ married

Marvel’s gay hero Northstar moves fast. He just proposed to his boyfriend in last month’s issue of Astonishing X-Men and today the big day goes down. In issue 51 of the book, the fast-flying mutant settles down with his beau Kyle and by the cover, his mutie colleagues and perhaps much of the rest of the Marvel Universe is attending the fab wedding.

And you can too.

Zeus Comics will host an all-day reception at its location with refreshments and wedding cake culminating in a champagne toast at 7 p.m. Plus, you can purchase a copy of the comic for a keepsake because this really is some history going down. We just hope some bad guy doesn’t ruin it all trying to destroy the world again.

DEETS: Zeus Comics and Collectibles, 4411 Lemmon Ave. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. ComicShop.net/ZeusComics

—  Rich Lopez

Zeus, Eagle team for Northstar wedding parties

OK, gay comic fans, the wedding of the year is just a week away, and you need to get ready for it.

One week from today, on June 20, Marvel Comics will release the issue featuring the same-sex wedding of gay superdude Northstar, a first for a major comic imprint. And gay-owned Zeus Comics on Lemmon and the webiste MutantaDay.com are celebrating in style. First, you can come by the Dallas Eagle tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. for a send-off bachelor party for Northstar. You’re encouraged to wear your favorite Marvel character costume (hey, if there’s anywhere you won’t look out of place in a costume midweek, it’s the Eagle) and the bar will be serving comic-themed cocktails. There will be contests and giveaways, too.

Then, after Northstar (real name: Jean-Paul Beaubier, so he must be uncut) and his fiance Kyle Jinadu tie the knot next Wednesday, you can come by Zeus to pick up a copy or just to attend the wedding reception, which will pack its own surprises. Beyond that, our lips are sealed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Marvel’s Northstar is marrying his boyfriend

Anyone who has been reading Marvel Comics for the better part of two decades, knows that mutant superhero Northstar bats for our team. But the big news this morning is that not only is he gay, he’s also off the market — or soon will be.

Marvel announced on The View what Richard Neal at Zues Comics on Lemmon has known for a while: That in issue no. 50 of Astonishing X-Men, out tomorrow, Northstar finally pops the question to longtime boyfriend Kyle. That makes Northstar the first major gay comic book hero to marry his same-sex partner.

Maybe if you don’t follow comics, that’s no big deal. But if you do, it’s huge.

“It makes me so happy to unite my community and my passion like this,” says Neal, who is gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: “Harvey and Peter,” a gay wedding video with a Jewish twist

I’ve enjoyed this video every time I’ve watched it. The short film Harvey and Peter was  made locally (exec producer is Richard Curtin aka Edna Jean, starring D.J. Smith and Kyle Trentham, director Todd Jenkins, shot at the Granite Bar inside Station 4, etc.) and offers a sweet, gay message (and some hotties!). But more people need to watch it — we should make it go viral.

Listen to the lyrics, too. Enjoy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Conan officiates 1st gay TV wedding

This morning when I heard that Conan O’Brien had officiated at a gay wedding broadcast live on his late-night talk show, I was a bit skeptical. I really expected it to be something done for laughs.

And then I watched the video, and instead, it was very sweet. The two men — costume designer Scott Cronick and his partner David Gorshein — are obviously very much in love and were very happy as they exchanged their vows there in front of friends and family (and the national TV audience). And instead of making it into a joke, Conan apparently took his job as officiant very seriously.

I think that having the love these two men obviously have for each other and their shining happiness on their wedding day on TV this way is a great way to fight the homophobia and bigotry that stands in the way of marriage equality nationwide.

Watch for yourself:

—  admin