A call for ad rates made us realize we had been the victim of discrimination

The Dallas Voice classified department received a call today from an agency asking for rates. That’s not unusual. But the client was an unexpected one — the U.S. Army.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal law says that gays and lesbians can serve. What it doesn’t assure is any equality. There is no mandate to seek out gay and lesbian recruits. No general handed down orders to make sure there are plenty of LGB troops.

What the call indicates is that recruiters are ahead of the vocal opponents of repeal. Now that they can recruits gays and lesbians — why not?

What the call also pointed out was another unintended consequence of DADT. The law hurt LGBT businesses. While the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard were spending money advertising in every other media outlet, gay media received none of that income.

Not only was the federal government discriminating against gay and lesbian soldiers, but by not advertising in LGBT publications, they were discriminating against LGBT businesses. Ironically, it wasn’t until the Army came to us for a rate card that we realized we were among the victims of DADT.

—  David Taffet

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

IMG_5132

CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas celebrates end of DADT

As ban on open gays and lesbians in the military ends, active-duty military personnel come out, some who were discharged consider re-enlisting

Johnson.Cully
Cully Johnson

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

As the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” became final this week, some active-duty service members came out while some who were discharged under the policy made plans to re-enlist.

Dallas celebrated the repeal with a reception at Resource Center Dallas during which

Dave Guy-Gainer, a board member of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, presented his archive of photos, papers and other memorabilia to the Phil Johnson Library.

Among the papers was correspondence with senators and representatives about supporting the repeal effort. Also included was correspondence with the White House that concluded with Guy-Gainer’s invitation to the final repeal signing ceremony in July.

Guy-Gainer said that he almost missed the invitation, because he almost forgot to check his email one Monday night. When he did remember and checked the inbox, he realized that he had received an invitation to the repeal certification signing ceremony in Washington that Wednesday.

Guy-Gainer said he immediately cleared his schedule and made plans to attend.

Despite repeal of DADT, Guy-Gainer said, SLDN’s  work is not over. Although gays and lesbians may now serve openly, those who are married will not receive 40 benefits that married heterosexual service members enjoy.

Those benefits include their partners having an identity card to get on base and using that card to shop in the PX or use the library.

Same-sex dependents will not be able to use the base attorneys to write wills and other legal papers.

Same-sex couples will not have the access to base housing that opposite-sex couples have, nor will they be eligible for subsistence payments to subsidize off-base housing. That money is offered to many heterosexual couples.

Dependents of heterosexuals also have access to full health care that same-sex partners of servicemen and women will not receive.

Across the country, a number of gays and lesbians who had been discharged under DADT started talking to recruiters Tuesday about re-enlisting, including Cully Johnson, one of the owners of Dallas Eagle.

Johnson was a captain and said he is consiering re-enlisting in the Air Force. He had an appointment with a recruiter to discuss the possibility on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Johnson said he was stationed in Germany for the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When Turkey refused to allow American planes to use its airspace, he said, he was responsible for finding alternate routes and bases that allowed the mission to happen.

After serving more than nine years, Johnson was dismissed from the military under DADT.

But like many who were dismissed, Johnson never “told.”

Another member of the Air Force asked him out on a date. When he turned the man down, that airman went to Johnson’s superior and reported him as being gay.

Johnson said there was no defense he could present. His attorney said that explaining the story of why he was turned in would just be seen as retaliation.

So Johnson was given an honorable discharge and he returned to Dallas while the closeted gay man who turned him in remained in the Air Force.

Johnson said he would like to finish his 20 years to take advantage of full military retirement benefits. Although he is talking to a recruiter, Johnson said that in addition to his business, he recently purchased a condo and has a new partner.

His partner was taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Johnson’s re-enlistment.

“We’ll deal with it when the time comes,” said his partner, who works for an employer that doesn’t offer nondiscrimination protection and asked not to be identified.

Because Johnson was an officer, there may not be an immediate slot for him in the Air Force. With President Barack Obama’s proposed drawdown of armed forces, many who want to re-enlist whose specialties have been filled will also have to wait for an opening.

Pepe Johnson had an appointment with a recruiter on Wednesday also. Before his DADT discharge, he had been named soldier of the year at Fort Sill and became a sergeant.

Today, the former Dallas resident, who still owns a house in Oak Cliff, works as a petroleum land man in West Virginia.

“I want to sit down with a recruiter and look at the options available to me,” Pepe Johnson said, adding that he holds no resentment against the Army for his 2003 dismissal.

“‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a law created by Congress and imposed on the military,” he said. “The Army was an incredible experience for me.”

If he re-enters, Pepe Johnson said he would have to go through basic training again because of the length of time since he served. Then, he said, he’d like to enter officer candidate school.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Anti-gay protesters break out Prop 2 signs to fight DP benefits in San Antonio

Last week we posted this story from Sam Sanchez at QSanAntonio about how anti-gay forces are fighting San Antonio’s plan to offer domestic partner benefits to municipal workers. On Monday, a group called “Voices for Marriage” held a press conference outside City Hall to oppose the plan. And as you can see above, they broke out their six-year-old signs from the fight over Prop 2, Texas’ marriage amendment. KENS Channel 5 reports:

Extending benefits to city employees in same sex relationships would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 a year — a small fraction of the total $2.2 billion budget which would go into effect October 1.

The move would also put San Antonio in the same category as many other Texas cities and companies, including USAA and Rackspace that currently offer benefits to domestic partners.

However, a local group calling itself “Voices for Marriage” protested the proposed change on Monday outside city hall. The group, citing religious views and current state law, opposes any extension of benefits to domestic partnerships.

Pastor Gerald Ripley issued a “fact sheet” to those in attendance, listing 14 reasons why the group opposes the change. The document said, “We believe marriage is a legally binding relationship between one man and one woman” and “a vote for domestic partner benefits is a vote against upholding the institution of marriage”.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who backs the change, said the city needs to extend benefits to domestic partners in order to stay competitive with other cities and companies across the country that already offer similar benefits. The mayor dismissed oncerns by many protestors over the cost of benefits as “a smokescreen for their dislike of gays and lesbians.”

Watch video from the press conference below.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 07.29.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

President Barack Obama turns 50 on Thursday. While the president has frustrated the LGBT community at times, he made strides by recently signing the law that repeals “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Gays and lesbians will be able to serve openly as of September. He also just nominated openly gay judicial candidate Michael Walter Fizgerald to the U.S. district court.

………………………….

THIS WEEK

The sun in Leo is beach weather. Vacations, fun, strut your stuff! But as Sol is sextile Saturn in Libra needful limits and responsibility are lurking behind the fun. A constructive project, maybe a charitable fundraiser, could even be the fun. Work with others to focus your creative juices.

………………………….

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Your birthday month is your time to roar, but keep quiet. Words are too important to waste and quiet intensity is stronger than loud declarations. Deal with serious issues; then celebrate.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Tough times bring out your inner strength. Meditation as well as thoughtful organization helps to economize better. Helping others less fortunate inspires you to greater effectiveness.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
You have a lot of hard work and challenges now, but keeping an eye to the future helps you see through the gloom of the present. Your friends help you keep perspective.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Doubts push you too hard at work. Calm down, meditate. Family helps you get solid grounding. They also wear you down, so pick your confidants and approach them carefully.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
You need a mental challenge in a new venue. If you can’t afford a real vacation, find movies, art shows or a good book that take you to different worlds and stimulate your brain. Invite a friend.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Take charge in the bedroom. This is your chance to be supremely powerful and dominant — or to make an art form of being a pushy bottom.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Disagreements with your partner are nothing new. The serious ones gain special importance, not in a divisive way, but as a challenge for you to learn something and grow closer.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Be very careful of sports injuries and sunburns. Get very serious about your health! There may be some very serious problems lurking. The sooner you deal with them the better.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Let your partner guide and focus your dazzling brilliance. Restrictive suggestions are the most helpful. If you’re single, a durable love is out there in someone much older or younger.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Parental responsibilities loom large. If you don’t have kids or elderly parents needing your attention, think about your community and keeping it strong for your own benefit and others’.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Get more meaning in fewer words. Practice the communicative art of silence: the subtle nod, the lift of an eyebrow, the discreet gesture. There is power in saying more by talking less.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
You’re at the beginning of a 15-year career upswing. Take good stock of your virtues and your flaws to have a clear idea of what foundation you provide to build on.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FAMILY LIFE: The changing face of ‘family’

Today’s LGBT youth have options available that the gays and lesbians of yore would not have dreamed possible

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

What a difference a few decades and the evolution of new generations can make in society, particularly when it comes to the development of a new community.

When I first moved to Dallas in the summer of 1969 — just a few months short of my 21st birthday — I found a community of people that heretofore I had only read about in literature. It was by accident that I landed in Oak Lawn, because I just as easily could have rented my first apartment in any other area of the city.

As I started navigating the neighborhood, going to the grocery store and going about the other mundane aspects of my life, I began noticing some very interesting people. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had stumbled upon something new and exciting.

The LGBT community as we know it today was in its infancy. There were a few gay men’s bars, at least one lesbian hangout, some drag shows, cliques of gay people working at downtown department stores and hippy festivals in Lee Park where LGBT people celebrated openly with young, liberal straight people.

In those days, I didn’t see a lot of same-sex couples living together. I occasionally became aware of older same-sex couples who had lived together for long times in homes. But for the most part I only met other single people like myself, living in apartments.

There were a lot of people living together as roommates, but from what I could tell there were few commitments in these arrangements.

It was the days of indiscriminate sexual activity, practiced by gays and straights alike.

I quickly found a place for myself in the community, and I became a part of a family of gay and straight people who socialized together. There were a couple of married straight people in the group, a divorced woman with a child, several gay and straight men and other people who drifted in and out of the network over the years.

This was a time when people realizing they were gay often chose not to reveal it to their birth families. Many people who felt isolated developed relationships with groups of people who gave them the support they needed to recognize and accept who and what they were.

Many other groups of people that I encountered seemed to consist primarily of families of gay men or lesbians. It seemed to me that lesbians tended to be more likely to couple than gay men at that time. I was unaware of any same-sex couples raising children in the early 1970s.

That early model of friends-as-family was one that served me well, and for some reason I’ve never much wanted to become involved in a committed relationship with a partner. Despite a couple of half-hearted tries over the years, that still holds true for me today.

But it has changed drastically for many other people since the launch of the gay rights movement with the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in 1969.

Legal challenges to state laws restricting marriage to heterosexuals began in the early 1970s and the fight for marriage equality has progressed to the point that same-sex marriage is legal in six states in the country now, plus the District of Columbia.

Information gleaned in part from the 2000 U.S. Census and published by the Williams Institute in “Census Snapshot” in December 2007, reveals that an estimated 8.8 million LGBTs lived in the U.S. in 2005. In 2005, there were 776,943 same-sex couples in the U.S., compared to 594,391 in 2000, according to the report.

The census information makes it clear that LGBT people live in every county in the U.S., whereas in the early years openly gay people seemed to be mostly a big-city phenomenon.

Of these same-sex couples living in the U.S. in 2005, 20 percent were raising children under the age of 18, and an estimated 270,313 of the U.S.’s children were living in households headed by same-sex-couple, according to the report.

An estimated 65,000 of the U.S.’s adopted children reportedly lived with a lesbian or gay parent.

Clearly, in the 40-plus years since the start of the gay rights movement, all of the characteristics of LGBT life have changed dramatically. Young people are often quicker to acknowledge and accept their sexual orientation, and there is a whole array of options that were unavailable to previous generations of LGBT people.

When young LGBT people think about their lives and relationships today, it’s probably in terms of dating, finding the right person, living together, getting married and even raising children. If anyone had told me 40 years ago that I would see such developments in my lifetime, I would have thought they were crazy.

But that’s how it is today, and it makes me wonder what sort of decisions I might have made about my life if so much had been available to me when I was young.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Marking 50 years of inclusiveness

‘DOING EQUALITY’ | Inclusiveness has been a tenant of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff for all of its 50 years. Church members, from left, Kelley O’Conan, Kimberlyn Crowe, the Rev. Mark Walz, Michael Cipollo and the Rev. Marcia Shannon stand in front of a banner in the UUCOC sanctuary that reads “Marriage is a civil right.” (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Oak Cliff Unitarian church has moved beyond tolerance and acceptance and has been doing equality for a long time, leaders say

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

At the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, the LGBT community isn’t just accepted. LGBT members are an integral part of the church.

The church is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Rev. Mark Walz said that his church was the first in the country that was chartered after the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist denominations in 1961. He said that actually 15 churches were admitted that day, six of which are still in existence. But in the records, the Oak Cliff church was first.

Board member Michael Cipolla has been a member of UUCOC for two years. He was raised in the Catholic Church and tried a number of other faiths, including Mormonism. But then he and his partner found UUCOC.

“For the first time, I feel incredibly normal,” he said.

Cipolla is not the first gay board member and he doesn’t know who was. He said the church has just been “doing equality” for a long time.

Walz said that the first time he presided over a same-sex wedding was in 2004. He was almost embarrassed that his first took place so late because the denomination had embraced marriage equality long ago.

“That was the first time I was asked,” he said.

The denomination was one of the first to welcome gays and lesbians and one of the earliest to openly welcome LGBT clergy.

Walz said he has mixed feelings about denominations that finally get it and open their ordination to everyone. He said he’s glad that they’re finally doing the right thing, but what’s different now than 15 minutes ago?

Like Cipollo, congregation president Kimberlyn Crowe was also not raised Unitarian but has been a member for about 10 years. She said that at UUCOC she can put her values in action.

“I can only be enriched by supporting someone else’s journey,” she said.

Member Kelley O’Conan said, “I was afraid to come to this church because I didn’t think I would fit in.”

The group laughed at that idea but agreed that she was different from most of the church’s members — she’s fairly conservative.

Crowe said one issue that the congregation is dealing with now is immigration. O’Conan said her views on immigration might not be the same as many other members. But at UUCOC, differences are not just tolerated, they’re embraced.

Walz said that it was so freeing to be in a congregation where he can let everything go. He called all the prejudice that so many people live with a burden.

Because the Unitarian Church is liberal in a conservative area, Walz said he gets hate calls. One recent caller asked if he required every member to be baptized. He said that while most were, it wasn’t a requirement to come to his church.

“You’re going to burn in hell,” the caller told him.

Walz was amused that someone who probably considered himself religious would call another church with that message.

The Rev. Marcia Shannon was ordained a Methodist minister and is the church’s director of religious education.

“It’s freeing not to have to worry about prejudice of people around you,” she said.

She is surprised that more people do not know more about the denomination.

Universalist churches across the South were integral parts of the Underground Railroad and Unitarian churches in New England and across the north worked to abolish slavery.

Walz said that a misunderstanding of history leads fundamentalists to claim that the country was based on their right-wing Christian values. At least five presidents were UUs including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. More signers of the Declaration of Independence were associated with their faith and other founders like Paul Revere and Ben Franklin were also Unitarians.

But part of the Universalist belief was that God doesn’t play favorites.

Each of the members of the Oak Cliff church just wanted others to know how welcoming their church is — even if you’re conservative.

O’Conan said, “And it’s the only church I’ve ever been in where you can bring your dog into the sanctuary.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Slavery dropped from ‘Marriage Vow’; Presbyterian Church celebrates gay clergy

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the only major GOP presidential candidate who’s spoken out against the Family Leader’s “Marriage Vow.”

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The “Marriage Vow” pledge that a right-wing Iowa group is asking presidential candidates to sign continues to make headlines. Over the weekend, the group, called the Family Leader, removed a portion of the pledge’s preamble which suggested blacks were better off during slavery. But this wasn’t before GOP candidates Michele Bachmann — who, alarmingly, leads one recent Iowa poll — and Rick Santorum had already signed the pledge, which also says homosexuality is a choice and calls for banning all pornography. Thus far, only one GOP presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, has spoken out against the pledge, although Jon Huntsman has also confirmed he won’t sign it.

2. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s new policy allowing ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians took effect Sunday. Many congregations marked the change with a national day of prayer organized by More Light Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT equality within the church. The 2.8 million member Presbyterian Church joins other Protestant denominations including the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in allowing gay clergy.

3. Six police officers have been fired for lying about what happened during a September 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. More officers face hearings this week following the release of a 343-page report showing they lied or destroyed evidence in the wake of the raid. Eight men were arrested during the raid, but charges were dropped and the city later paid the men more than $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit.

—  John Wright

Is this what they mean by ‘traditional marriage’?

Actor Doug Hutchison, 51, and his new bride, 16-year-old Courtney Alexis Stodden.

While looking through headlines this morning, I found a story about actor Doug Hutchison announcing his marriage to aspiring country music singer Courtney Alexis Stodden. But here’s the catch: Hutchison is 51. His new bride is 16.

My first reaction was disgust, for two reasons. Reason No. 1: I am 50, going on 51. I have a son who is 14 going on 15. The idea of my son marrying someone my age makes my skin crawl and my stomach churn. That’s reason enough for me to want to slap Mr. Hutchison silly right there.

But then there’s Reason No. 2: I cannot legally marry the woman I love and with whom I have shared the last 10 years of my life because same-sex marriage is unnatural and against God’s law. The right-wingers in this country, like the National Organization for Marriage, insist that only “traditional marriages” between one man and one woman should be legally recognized. Some, I dare say, would go so far as to say gays and lesbians, especially those who want to marry their same-sex partners, should be thrown in jail. And yet, this 51-year-old man can legally marry this 16-year-old girl, and even her mama thinks that’s OK.

Is this the kind of “traditional marriage” they want to protect from me?!

And then my wife made the comment, “Do they think this is the 1800s or something?” and I realized that, well, yes, that IS a “traditional marriage,” with the tradition dating all the way back to biblical times.

All I can say is, somebody please protect me from tradition.

—  admin

AFA’s Bryan Fischer: Homosexuals are Nazis!

Bryan Fischer

I want to say thanks to whoever emailed me the YouTube link to the video below, which was posted online by RightWingWatch.org.

The video is basically audio of a rant by Bryan Fischer, host of Focal Point on the AFA (American Family Association) Channel, in which Fischer explains why “Homosexuals are Nazis.” Never mind that the Nazis targeted the gays and lesbians in Germany for extermination along with the Jews and other groups. Never mind that gays and lesbians — and transgenders and bisexuals — are targeted daily by bigots and homophobes who deny us equal treatment under the law, who deny us protection against discrimination in housing and employment, and who way too often get away with harassing us verbally and physically attacking us, leaving many of us seriously injured if not dead.

Never mind all that, Mr. Fischer says. Because we refuse to sit idly by and allow their hatred against us to go unchallenged, we are Nazis. It makes my blood boil!

So why would I want to listen to this homophobic jerk’s rant? Why would I post it here on Instant Tea? Because the best advice in any battle is, “Know thine enemy.” So here you go. Now, where did I leave my jackboots?

—  admin