Something for the home team during my low-blogging August. The SocialStudies blog — from the half-off-cupcakes SocialLiving people — has produced a map of the District of Columbia overlaid with not-wrong stereotypes of the different neighborhoods.
Some will only make sense if you live here; say, “mumbo sauce” — a concoction native to D.C. that the Chinese carryouts serve with chicken wings. And I can’t (or won’t) say the large sections called “white people” and “Marion Barry” are particularly insightful since I rarely go to either area.
But I do live in the part called “gay” and walk to work in (or near) the “non-profits & acronyms” so make of it as you will.
Excuse the somewhat inaccurate title. The vote was by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, not the whole General Assembly, and includes sexual orientation and gender identity. And I want to know more about it and celebrate it as much is wise. I know the UU-UNO office has been involved in this action — and good for them; it’s one reason I’m a member/donor — though there’s nothing about it at their website, which is weird. So, I wanted to see what actually happened.
But first, a term of art: SOGI stands for “sexual orientation [and] gender identity” — read it for North American use of GLBT, BGLT, LGBT or any of the above with a Q in it. I’m beginning to like SOGI. If you start drilling into this, you’ll start seeing it.
In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.9/Rev.1) regarding human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against, and 3 abstentions, the Council requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011 to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity; decides to convene a panel discussion during the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity; and decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner.
Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalised by
December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against
individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world,
and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human
rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human
Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High
Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of
discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their
sexual orientation and gender identity;
Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the
recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;
Decides to remain seized of this priority issue.
So it’s good news and its a start. The report should make an interesting read. But the close vote (23-19-3) and the bureaucratic coolness of the resolution lets me keep the fireworks for another occasion.
Capital Pride hosts the BGLT pride parade for metropolitan Washington, D.C. — this took place last Saturday. Here are some pictures of Unitarian Universalists who participated.
Not a bad turn-out, though Hubby thought the text of the placards too long and complex for the speed at which the parade moved! (He suggested God Is Love as an alternative, and I had to explain how that might not fly so well.)
Some religious groups did better, some worse; I thought of a few things that might be improved. Perhaps for later this week. Fow now, the photos.
Fourth? How did that one pass me. I had, of course, known of the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, in Manhattan. Then there’s the First, Second and Third churches in Chicago, plus the Seconds in Omaha and Worcester. And then there’s the well-known example of the defunct Twenty-eighth Congregational Society in Boston, founded as a platform for (and continued for a few decades as a memorial to) Theodore Parker.
So the question: is there any Unitarian Universalist Association-member church extant — perhaps existing legally thus, but not common known as — numbered higher than four? Â Does anyone know of a church within living memory that went as high a five?
I’m a gay man of a certain age: young enough to have missed the first ravaging fires of HIV and AIDS, but old enough both to see people get sick and die, and to be carefully tutored in the paranoia-inducing art — remember, there was no test for a few years — of safe sex. It was a perfect companion piece to the Cold War, but it ended and (despite vastly more sophisiticated treatment options) HIV/AIDS hasn’t.
And now thirty years have passed. Thirty years today since the Centers for Disease Control issued a report about five gay men who had the tell-tale infections associated with the then-unidentified, then-namelessÂ AIDS.
A moment of silence please, before the labor continues. And spare a thought for the District of Columbia, which has the highest infection rate in the country.
It was thirty days ago today, on June 5, 1981, that the Center for Disease Control first published a report on the mysterious epidemic that we have now come to know as AIDS. Today, we remember the 30 million who have passed from the disease and and the 32 million who currently live with either AIDS or HIV. You can read the original 1981 CDC report on the disease on the agency’s on-line archive here. Other relevant reports about its can be found here.
If you’ve not heard, a GLBT advocacy campaign in churches — Believe Out Loud — sought advertizing with Sojourners, a well-known Christian magazine and website, and were rejected on what can only be called ambiguous and shifting grounds. Some people I know have come to Wallis’s defence, but most of the gay people and clergy in particular I’d read have called out them out. Here’s the opinion piece by the Believe Out Loud organizational head that galvinized a response.
Like other things I would be happy to boycott, there’s really not much left in my heart for Sojourners to boycott. I tried in the past. I used to read their email and I sent a little money. I used to live a hop, skip and a jump from their old offices; I think of them as a Washington instituion. Wallis has been “good on poverty” and that’s laudible in its own right. People I respect like his writings. As a relative theological conservative in a very liberal denomination, I hoped to find something in his “third way” approach to hold on it.
But, there’s something — now less clear after several years — that gave me the creeps about Sojourners. The progressive moniker seemed wrong, and the “third way” seems more and more of trying to have it all. And from a liberal point of view, he’s always been bad — and then silent — on reproduction and sexual orientation. I used to make exceptions and excuses and compartmentalize “the good part” but won’t any more. Still, there hadn’t been anything that would have made me say anything about him, until now.
Some context. Wallis and Sojourners haven’t changed, but America has. I have too. Gay people have been sidelined, attacked and legally debilitated by people — many elected — in the heart of the American political process. Our so-called friends on the left and center don’t return telephone calls. Members of the embolded right feel free to call us a risk on par with international terrorism. The gradualist approach of nice gays getting theirs in time is a dangerous and self-defeating illusion. So much so that the “progressive” accomplishments of ten or fifteen years ago — anything related to the Clinton presidency, civil unions, the now-unwatchable episodes of Will and Grace (or as my husband calls it, “the minstral show”) — look like crumbs. And all the more when people, who care deeply about their churches, realize that the mere toleration or implied acceptance they think they have might just be a self-preserving delusion.
The question of equal rights for sexual minorities is one of the key issues in American moral, religious and political life. It isn’t, as Sojourner staff have said, a distraction. (We’re talking about an ad buy here, not a program reorganization. Hardly heavy lifting.)
So the issue — to me anyway — isn’t about the quality of the ad (I think it’s pretty good, actually, and I’m hard to please), or thinking that Wallis is a good or bad person, or even the canard of Sojourner’s free speech rights. (Nobody has suggested that they be forced to run the ad.)
The issue is the larger idea of expressed self-respect, and knowing who your friends are. Even if it’s as simple a gesture as saying “welcome.” That, and calling out and holding accountable anyone who’s partying like it’s 1995. Crumbs and silence won’t do any more.
In 2004, after marriage between persons of the same sex became legal, I wrote a blog post about what a pastor might do when the couple had already vowed themselves to each other in the only spheres available: the social, religious or both.
Husband Jonathan and I are clear that our wedding seven years ago was real, if legally imperfect and that our ceremony a couple of weeks ago was not to replace it, but finish it. To underscore this, we kept the ceremony short, informal and with language echoing back to 2003.
In full, here’s what we did, or rather what the Rev. Victoria Weinstein led us in.
On July 5, 2003, at the Universalist National Memorial Church, you Jonathan Padget and Scott Wells, vowed to each other before God and the congregation, to have and to hold one another from that day
forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death shall you part. You sealed this vow by holding hands, exchanging rings, and with prayer and the breaking of bread.
Today, you come to add to your wedded state marriage under the law of the District of Columbia. Is this your intent?
Each: It is.
[Turning, holding hands.]
I, Jonathan, take you Scott to be my lawfully wedded husband.
I, Scott, take you Jonathan to be my lawfully wedded husband.
Forasmuch as Scott and Jonathan have thus pledged themselves each to the other in the presence of these witnesses, I do now, by virtue of authority vested in me by the District of Columbia pronounce that they
The Lord bless you with his love as a mantle on your shoulders, a crown on your foreheads, and a seal upon your hearts.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
. . . are the same-sex couples in Maryland. I know: as a D.C. resident, I should be happiest the place I call home, but . . .
Last week, the Maryland Attorney General announced that, barring court action, the same-sex marriages contracted in other jurisdictions would be recognized in Maryland. This is good news (1) because the District of Columbia borders Maryland and (2) D.C. went the recognition route before proceeding with a marriage equality bill. (Admittedly, D.C. action was legislative, and D.C. had to test the waters because the Congress could swoop in and snap away a locally decided issue, but there are parallels worth noting.)
If you have a D.C. domestic partnership, marriage will give you no more rights or privileges within the District, apart from the dignity of marriage. (Which is no small thing, and it would be more if the the so-called Defense of Marriage Act didn’t exist.) D.C. Council has already filled in all the distinctions between domestic partnership and marriage through statute. Marriage becomes more valuable if you leave the District and enter a jurisdiction (Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada, South Africa, Nepal, presumably, as examples) where same-sex partners may marry or be recognized. (Makes for a handy vacation destination list, too.)
So enter the Marylanders, like my friend Terrance Heath and his soon-to-legally-wed-husband Rick Imirowicz, mentioned in today’s New York Times. (In my last pastorate, I dedicated their elder son. Golly, they grow.) This is their easiest shot at legal parity. Well, if you ignore DOMA. Which I don’t.
Don’t worry, Hubby and I will get our license in time. I’ll save you a cupcake.
To remind my readers: I am an ordained minister with fifteen years’ experience in performing weddings. I have credentials to preform weddings in the District of Columbia.
And, yes: I will talk to same-sex couples looking to marry. (Indeed, I am half of a same-sex couple.)
As you might know, the District of Columbia will start accepting applications for marriage licenses for same-sex couples tomorrow. Quite a happy day. (What many do not know is that you must state your officiant at the time you apply for the license.)
Email me if you would like to discuss options. I hold inquiries in confidence.
The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office claims to be the only religious voice at the United Nations advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, or in their lingo, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) work. I believe them and wish there were more sharing in their labor. (Anyone? Please. Or correct me if I’m wrong or misunderstood the claim.)
I’m a member, joining when I was last in New York and impressed by the hard-working staffers in their tightly packed UN-adjacent digs. I think you should join, too. Give generously. The UU-UNO is surely the highest value organization most Unitarian Universalist don’t know about.
But I’m sure there are other vital organizations that support, encourage and defend BGLT/SOGI people, particularly in the Caribbean and the African continent, where so much bad news has recently come.
Do you have a favorite, and if so, what makes them so valuable?
Scott Wells on the practice of Universalist Christian faith