Back in October I featured an Op-Ed by Orthodox Rabbi Steven Burg titled “There’s no place for bullying in God’s world”. As the international director of NCSY, the youth program of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Burg’s Op-Ed provides an important counter-balance to the public anti-LGBT voices of other clergy in his sect. I have since learned that the Rabbi’s very meaningful contribution is only one of many efforts by diverse Jewish faith communities to speak as people of faith in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) youth and in opposition to bullying.
“The energy in the Jewish community around this issue is inspiring – rabbis giving sermons, queer Jews sharing their stories for the fist time, synagogues posting GLBT Safe Zone stickers – and a clear rebuke to the idea that the religious community does not support GLBT members,” said Bonnie Rosenbaum, Deputy Director of Communications and Planning at Keshet.
At the project’s center is an online video campaign highlighting stories by members and leaders of Jewish organizations to provide messages of support grounded in faith. The messages are guided by principles developed with the support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and have received over 9,000 views since their launch.
The project is also promoting “Do Not Stand Idly By“, a Jewish community pledge launched by Keshet stating that bullying of our LGBTQ youth will not be tolerated. Over 9,200 individuals and organizations have already signed the pledge.
Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
As members of a tradition that sees each person as created in the divine image, we respond with anguish and outrage at the spate of suicides brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance. We hereby commit to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities. As a signatory, I pledge to speak out when I witness anyone being demeaned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. I commit myself to do whatever I can to ensure that each and every person in my community is treated with dignity and respect.
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah is one of the oldest and largest faith based LGBTQ action and community organizations in the country. Serving as New York’s synagogue for the LGBTQ Jewish community, and with an active social justice and educational program, CBST is a renowned leader of progressive religion and LGBTQ Jewish issues.
Keshet is a national grassroots organization dedicated to creating full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life. We offer resources, training, and technical assistance for creating change in Jewish communities nationwide.
Nehirim (“Lights”) is the leading national provider of programs for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews, partners, and allies. Our retreats and other programs transform lives, and inspire GLBT Jews to be agents for change in their home communities. Nehirim is an independent, nonprofit, and nondenominational organization which celebrates the gifts of Judaism and sexual & gender diversity. Pam’s House Blend – Front Page
The Pacific Justice Institute, in a naked attempt to remedy the matter of whether the Proposition 8 proponents even have standing to file their 9th Circuit appeal, is trying to force California’s Attorney General and Governor to step in and defend bias:
SAN FRANCISCO — A conservative legal group is trying to force Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend California’s gay marriage ban in court.
The Pacific Justice Institute petitioned the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento on Monday for an emergency order that would require the two officials to appeal a ruling that overturned Proposition 8.
“To allow an elected official to trump the will of the people by mere inaction and the lack of fulfillment of their duty to do their job would be an egregious violation of public trust,” Pacific Legal Institute Brad Dacus said Tuesday.
Which is just silly. And not gonna go anywhere. Brown and Schwarzenegger have every right to defend the constitution, a notion that, in their (and Judge Walker’s) view, runs counter to Prop 8 defense. They are exercising that right.
Though considering what else we’ve heard from Mr. Dacus over the years…
“There was another time in history when people, when the bell tolled. And the question was whether or not they were going to hear it. The time was during Nazi Germany with Adolf Hitler. You see he brought crowds of clergy together to assure them that he was going to look after the church.
And one of the members, bold and courageous, Reverend Niemand (sp?) made his way to the front and (inaudible) said “Hitler, we are not concerned about the church. Jesus Christ will take care of the church.
We are concerned about the soul of Germany.” Embarrassed and chagrined, his peers quickly shuffled him to the back.
And as they did Adolf Hitler said, “The soul of Germany, you can leave that to me.” And they did, and because they did bombs did not only fall upon the nation of Germany, but also upon the church and their testimony to this very day.
Let us not make that mistake folks. Let us hear the bell! Vote on Proposition 8!” -Prop 8 spokesperson Brad Dacus
Judicial candidates John Loza, Tonya Parker among 4 LGBTs running in local races in 2010
By John Wright | News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE RUNNING | Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, clockwise from top left, County Judge Jim Foster, attorney Tonya Parker and former Councilman John Loza are LGBT candidates who plan to run in Dallas County elections in 2010. The filing period ends Jan. 4.
Dallas County has had its share of openly gay elected officials, from Sheriff Lupe Valdez to District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons to County Judge Jim Foster.
But while Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, is called a “judge,” he’s not a member of the judiciary, to which the county’s voters have never elected an out LGBT person.
Two Democrats running in 2010 — John Loza and Tonya Parker — are hoping to change that.
“This is the first election cycle that I can remember where we’ve had openly gay candidates for the judiciary,” said Loza, a former Dallas City Councilman who’s been involved in local LGBT politics for decades. “It’s probably long overdue, to be honest with you.”
Dallas County’s Jerry Birdwell became the first openly gay judge in Texas when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1992. But after coming under attack for his sexual orientation by the local Republican Party, Birdwell, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election later that year.
Also in the November 1992 election, Democrat Barbara Rosenberg defeated anti-gay Republican Judge Jack Hampton.
But Rosenberg, who’s a lesbian, wasn’t out at the time and didn’t run as an openly LGBT candidate.
Loza, who’s been practicing criminal law in Dallas for the last 20 years, is running for the County Criminal Court No. 5 seat. Incumbent Tom Fuller is retiring. Loza said he expects to face three other Democrats in the March primary, meaning a runoff is likely. In addition to groups like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, he said he’ll seek an endorsement from the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides financial backing to LGBT candidates nationwide.
Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, declined to be interviewed for this story. Incumbent Bruce Priddy isn’t expected to seek re-election, and Parker appears to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination.
If she wins in November, Parker would become the first LGBT African-American elected official in Dallas County.
Loza and Parker are among four known local LGBT candidates in 2010.
They join fellow Democrats Fitzsimmons and Foster, who are each seeking a second four-year term.
While Foster is vulnerable and faces two strong challengers in the primary, Fitzsimmons is extremely popular and said he’s confident he’ll be re-elected.
“I think pretty much everybody knows that the District Clerk’s Office is probably the best-run office in Dallas County government,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this county is a Democratic County, and I think I’ve proved myself to be an outstanding county administrator, and I think the people will see that.”
Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, said this week he wasn’t aware of any openly LGBT candidates who’ve filed to run in state races in 2010.
Although Texas made headlines recently for electing the nation’s first gay big-city mayor, the state remains one of 20 that lack an out legislator.
Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, said he’s hoping Annise Parker’s victory in Houston last week will inspire more qualified LGBT people to run for office.
“It gives other people permission really to think of themselves as leaders,” Dison said.
The filing period for March primaries ends Jan. 4.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.