Friday, March 25, 2011

Is the Kill-the-Gays Bill in Uganda Dead on Arrival?

There is cause for cautious optimism as a report in the Box Turtle Bulletin blog states that Uganda's "Kill-the-Gays Bill" appears to have been shelved. It had been on the table for discussion by the Parliamentary Affairs Committee, but it appears that someone, possibly President Museveni himself, directed that it be dropped because most of its key provisions are addressed in other existing legislation.

Needless to say, David Bahati, the bill's sponsor whose name it unofficially wears, is furious and is not likely to give up his personal anti-gay agenda easily. Bahati is a member of "the Family" (sponsors of the National Prayer Breakfast) and has connections to ex-Episcopalians at Truro Church in Virginia. Prominent U.S. evangelical preachers, including Scott Lively and Rick Warren, have traveled to Uganda and helped fan anti-gay sentiment among the country's Christians.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apple Yanks Exodus "Ex-Gay" App

Apple quietly removed an iPhone/iPad app created by "ex-gay" group Exodus International from its iTunes online store after over 150,000 people signed a petition complaining about it.

The creators of the petition are a Vermont think tank called Truth Wins Out, a name deliberately similar to "Love Won Out," the name of an ex-gay "ministry" created by Focus on the Family and later sold to Exodus International, creators of the now-removed app.

Truth Wins Out cites a document called "Just the Facts" crafted by the nation's leading mental health and educational bodies (including the American Psychological Association and the National Education Association) that condemns "ex-gay" therapy as misleading and generally harmful. It points out that Apple's policy is to reject racist or bigoted content, and questions a double standard. Among other complainants is Dr. Gary Remafedi, a professor of sexuality at the University of Minnesota, who told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Wednesday that Exodus misquoted his research to make its case that homosexuality is an adolescent phase that can be arrested with therapy.

In a November blog post, TWO quotes an Exodus statement in which the group states it will target young people (beginning in middle school) with its message that sexual orientation is a choice which can be influenced through prayer. Given the rash of highly-publicized suicides of gay or gay-perceived youth who were victims of bullying last fall (which Exodus has tacitly acknowledged its programs "might" encourage), TWO seeks to educate the public about what goes on at these "ministries". In a series of videos within the same blog post, ex-clients report being placed in close contact with sex offenders and being asked intimate questions about their anatomy by counselors.

Patrick McAlvey was also an Exodus client at the age of 19. He visited Exodus’ Lansing affiliate Corduroy Stone where he was counseled by Mike Jones. During counseling, McAlvey was asked about the size of his member and made to engage in erotic cuddling. He spoke out about the experience in a Truth Wins Out video

Apple cited the same logic for removal as a previous incident involving an app called "The Manhattan Project" arguing against same-sex-marriage, which Apple stated would "offend a large segment of the public." That petition only required 7,000 signatures to get Apple to change its mind.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Same-Sex Blessings Conference

On March 18th/19th, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church hosted a meeting in Atlanta of 200 members of the House of Deputies (clergy and laity elected to represent their diocese) to discuss implementation of same-gender blessings as mandated in a resolution passed at the church's General Convention in 2009. The conference was sponsored by a grant by the nonprofit Arcus Foundation and was streamed live over the Internet for further participation and transparency.

The Episcopal News Service posted a report on the meeting here. The Very Rev. Nicholas Knisely, Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, offered praise for the collaborative structure of the meeting but expressed concern that outside funds were required to make it possible. Nick blogs at

Deputies leave historic meeting eager to discuss same-gender blessings with wider church
Episcopal News Network

Thoughts on the Atlanta meeting
The Lead - Episcopal Cafe

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catholic Dad Weighs In on Prop 8

The former director of Catholic Charities in San Francisco and the father of a partnered gay son, Brian Cahill speaks out against the Catholic Church's continued support of Proposition 8, the bill that still prevents same-sex marriages in California despite being ruled unconstitutional in federal court.

My gay son: the face of church's lack of respect

San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, March 14, 2011

Transgender Man Installed as UCC Minister

The Denver Post reports on the installation of the Rev. Malcolm Himschoot as Pastor of the Parker United Church of Christ, a growing congregation in the Denver metro area. Comments were refreshingly tilted towards the positive at press time.

Church's transgender pastor grateful for life "beyond my wildest dreams"
Denver Post

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giving to LGBT-Advocacy Organizations Drops... And They Keep Making Progress

According to the Movement Advancement Project's 2010 National LGBT Movement Report, giving to LGBT advocacy organizations dropped nearly 20% in 2010 due to a combination of the economy and an off-year at the ballot box. The full report is downloadable from within that article.

However, the majority of the major LGBT social justice groups included in the report are still quite vibrant and functional due to reduced spending, effective fund raising and sound management.

The recent major wins in the legal arena speak to their effectiveness. But -- as MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic pointed out in a March 2 column -- the LGBT population can and should be doing more to support these groups which are fighting many battles on our behalf, especially if we want the recent winning streak to continue.

LGBT Movement Makes Major Advances, But Are They Sustainable?
Ineke Mushovic in the Huffington Post

How Religion Can Help (and Hurt) Our Understanding of Marriage and Family

How Religion Can Help (and Hurt) Our Understanding of Marriage and Family
The Rev. Barbara Crafton in the Huffington Post

In her comments on the Obama administration's decision to cease Federal defense of DOMA in court, Barbara Crafton describes a yearning for the "traditional family" that conveniently overlooks a glaring reality: the Bible's understanding of what makes a family was no closer to the Right's Leave it to Beaver ideal than our contemporary one.