Posts from 2010 - 2011
|For some of our earlier
posts on marriage equality --
Poll shows majority of Americans support same-sex marriage
reported on March 18:
An ABC/Washington Post poll found that 53
percent of Americans think gay marriage should be legal.
The Washington Post reports:
The results underscore the nation's
increasingly tolerant views about homosexuals, and parallel
a string of recent legal and legislative victories for gay
Five years ago, at 36 percent, support for
gay marriage barely topped a third of all Americans. Now, 53
percent say gay marriage should be legal, marking the first
time in Post-ABC polling that a majority has said so.
AFP reports that this is the first time in nearly a decade
of polling that gay marriage polls this favorably.
The poll was conducted using a sample of 1,005
More from NPR >>
Rev. Jean Southard acquitted by GAPJC in marriage equality
More Light Presbyterians,
Tuesday, February 08 2011
The decision by
the General Assembly's Permanent Judicial Commission in the Rev.
Jean Southard marriage case was released today. Charges had been
brought against Rev. Southard, who officiated at the wedding of
two women at First Presbyterian Church, Waltham, MA, a welcoming
and affirming More Light church in a state where same sex
marriage is legal. The charges in the disciplinary case against
Rev. Jean Southard have been dismissed by the GAPJC.
We encourage you
read the entire GAPJC findings to understand the nuances of
Presbyterian polity and procedures and the basis for their
We also urge you
to read the two concurrences from members of the GAPJC that
follow the decision. One concurrence raises the question as to
whether or not W-4.9001 "provides an effective and unambiguous
definition of Christian marriage." The other concurrence calls
marriage equality a "human rights issue" and calls upon the
General Assembly to amend the constitution to allow for marriage
of same sex couples in the PCUSA.
We give thanks to
God for the faithful ministry of Rev. Jean Southard. We are
grateful that charges against Rev. Southard have been dismissed
by our Church's highest court. We are grateful that the
concurrences that accompany this GAPJC decision recognize that
marriage equality is a human rights issue and call upon the
General Assembly to amend the constitution to allow for marriage
Presbyterians is wholeheartedly committed to spiritual equality,
ordination equality and marriage equality in the life, ministry
and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This GAPJC
decision and its concurrences are important steps toward the
achievement of marriage equality.
with hope and
Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer, More
Jean Southard herself has sent out this note:
I am grateful to
the GAPJC for finding that I did not violate the constitution or
my ordination vows, and pleased that they have made statements
in their concurrence calling for change in the church. I wish
they could have found a way forward for ministers to do
same-gender marriages in the church, but it seems that must wait
for another day.
Thank you for
your prayers and support. I have attached the decision for those
of you who haven't seen it.
May God give us all
strength to continue the journey.
Speaking of same-sex marriage and its legitimacy ...
Dateline February 4,
2011 [posted here 2-9-11]
University of Iowa student Zach Wahls last week
told the Iowa House of Representatives about the meaning of
family – when both his parents are women
(CBS) LOS ANGELES
– Zach Wahls captured the attention of the nation this week
after a speech he delivered defending gay marriage in front of
the Iowa House of Representatives went viral on YouTube.
University of Iowa student spoke during a public forum against
House Resolution 6, which would end civil unions between same
sex couples. It's a subject that is very near and dear to Zach's
heart too. He himself was raised by two women who are now
Read about the CBS News interview with Wahls, and see him
deliver his speech >>
Board of Pensions appoints special committee to consider
to deliberate on GA's recommendation [10-23-10]
Jerry L. Van Marter of Presbyterian News
Thomas C. Paisley, chair of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.)'s Board of Pensions (BOP) today announced the
appointment of a special committee of the board to consider
same-gender benefits under the BOP's healthcare and pension
The nine-member special committee will be
charged with developing the BOP's response to this summer's
action by the 219th General Assembly "to urge the Board of
Pensions to extend benefits to same-gender domestic partners of
plan members and to the children of those same-gender domestic
Special committee members, drawn from several
of the BOP's committees, are Frank S. James III, Vestavia Hills,
Ala., chair; Anne S. Drennan, Newtown, Pa.; the Rev. John A.
Huffman, Newport Beach Calif.; Claude C. Lilly III, Clemson,
S.C.; Christopher M. Mason, New York City; Carol Sheffey Parham,
Annapolis, Md.; Nancy M. Rhodes, McLeansville, N.C.; the Rev.
Laird J. Stuart, San Anselmo, Calif.; and Dr. Paul B. Volker,
The rest of the story >>
the case of the Rev. Jane Spahr:
The Redwoods PJC could have done better
Arnold Rots comments on the basis of his
own experience as a member and clerk of the PJC of the
Presbytery of Boston:
My comments on the Redwoods decision, for what
I don't understand what is happening with PJCs.
First it was the Synod of the Northeast PJC that rendered a
highly questionable decision (case 09-05), now it is the
Presbytery of the Redwoods PJC. (The Synod PJC’s 09-05 reversed
the Presbytery of Boston PJC's decision of not-guilty in the
case of the Rev. Jean Southard, upon appeal by the Prosecuting
I have said it before and I guess I'll have to
repeat it many more times: if the circumstances and the context
change from the ones in which the constitution's rules were
written and to which they apply, and if the church has not
addressed the changed environment (or refuses to do so), the
PJCs have the obligation to extrapolate the constitution to that
new context in the spirit of the constitution.
They cannot simply take a rule that was made
in and for another context and apply it blindly.
Both PJCs failed this obligation.
The Synod's 09-05 missed the mark by not
acknowledging that the constitution is, at the very least,
ambiguous on whether one-man-one-woman is prescriptive.
Redwoods 2010 erred in considering GA PJC
218-12 (a problematic decision in its own right) applicable to a
new context for which is was not written.
Even if PJC members do not agree that the
definition of Christian marriage is descriptive or that 218-12
cannot be transplanted from civil union to marriage, they ought
to recognize that Presbyterians in good standing can reasonably
disagree on these questions and that, therefore, there is
reasonable doubt of guilt.
It seems that instead they are looking for
cover by putting on blinders, returning decisions that keep
following old ruts for new journeys, forcing old rules onto new
Do we need better educated members on our PJCs
or do we need better instruction for PJCs?
Janie deserves better than what she is getting
from the PJCs.
All same-gender couples, all of us deserve
better from the PC(USA).
- Arnold Rots
In the interest of full disclosure: I was
clerk of the PJC of the Presbytery of Boston during its case
08-01 (Southard); my nomination to the GA PJC at the last GA
was challenged and the challenger prevailed in the vote,
which leaves me free to comment on cases that still make
their way through the system. Nevertheless, that election
moved the GA PJC further to the right.
Redwoods Presbytery PJC finds the Rev. Jane Spahr guilty of 3
charges against her, rejects the fourth.
Judicial Commission (PJC) of Redwoods Presbytery ruled that
three of the four charges against Rev. Jane Spahr, for
officiating at a service of marriage for two women, have been
sustained and the fourth not sustained.
John Shuck has posted a good report, with a sharp commentary, on
his blog, shuckandjive
From a local newspaper:
The Marin Independent Journal begins
its report on the trial:
Though clearly regretful, a local division of the
Presbyterian Church USA decided Friday to rebuke a
former San Rafael minister who performed wedding
ceremonies for at least 16 same-sex couples during the
five months in 2008 when it was legal to do so.
Added on Saturday, August 28
A decision given with regret
It's very important to note the rationale stated
by the Permanent Judicial Commission in their
decision in the Spahr case. Essentially,
they say Jane Spahr was doing the right thing,
even though, tragically, it is still against the
rules of the PC(USA). Here's part of what
The Permanent Judicial Commission, in
sustaining the first three charges,
recognizes that while the Rev. Dr. Jane
Spahr has indeed performed these marriages,
which were and continue to be legal
marriages, she did so acting with faithful
compassion in accord with W7.3004.
These marriages were legal in the State of
California, being civil contracts (W4.9001),
and are different from same sex ceremonies.
The testimonies of those at court clearly
demonstrated this difference.
We commend Dr. Spahr and give thanks for her
prophetic ministry that for 35 years has
extended support to “people who seek the
dignity, freedom and respect that they have
been denied” (W7.4002c), and has sought to
redress “wrongs against individuals, groups,
and peoples in the church, in this nation,
and in the world” (W7.4002h).
In addition, we call upon the church to
reexamine our own fear and ignorance that
continues to reject the inclusiveness of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. (G3.0401c)
the full text of the decision >>
Janie Spahr on Trial (Really, more a trial about the PC(USA)
August 23, 2010, San Rafael, CA [8-24-10]
[Today, August 24], the church trial of Janie
Spahr begins. It is a continuation of the attempts of some to
prevent the marriages of same-gender couples. Eleven of the
couples The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr married during the time they
were legal in Cal ifornia will testify before the Permanent
Judicial Committee (PJC) at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in
Napa. This is Janie's second trial for marrying same gender
couples. The first ended when the then PJC ruled that since
there is no such thing as "gay marriage" in the church
constitution, whatever Janie might have done - it wasn't a
marriage in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Case closed.
Not true. This "case" will not be closed until
there is a breakthrough. A breakthrough that makes it clear to
those who use the lives and loves of people who are LGBT as
their rallying cry that this argument is over. That while we are
fully willing and committed to healing and working through our
differences together, this church and the lives of its members
cannot be used to spread fear, hatred, and violence by a
litigious and frightened few bent on excluding gay folk. Any
place that does that, whatever it is, is not church; cannot be
church – in the PC(USA) or anywhere else.
Here’s another take on Jane Spahr’s trial,
from outside the Presbyterian fold.
Jane Spahr Should Be a National Religious Icon
Imagine being persecuted for celebrating love.
Sound like the spirit of a Shakespeare tragedy?
If only this were a story of fiction. Meet
Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, a retired Presbyterian minister in
California. Today, Rev. Spahr will be hauled into a Presbyterian
court, and put on trial for potentially violating the
constitution of the Presbyterian Church. What did she do that
was so heinous?
Responses to the Single Presbyterian’s
Top-Ten Questions about G-6.0106b
C. K. Walter
Would you like
to add your comments to this conversation?
send a note to be shared here.
My December 2008 article,
“The General Assembly Got It Right: Top Ten Questions about the
Fidelity/Chastity Standard from a Single Presbyterian,”
generated three responses on the
and Reformed Pastor websites, all from ministers who not
unexpectedly opposed my opinions about G-6.0106b. (The article
on the Witherspoon Society website used the “top ten list” made
popular by David Letterman as a format to present the viewpoints
of an unmarried person and to take jabs at what I considered to
be a poor PC(USA) policy, even though the majority of
presbyteries repeatedly vote their approval.) But I thank Rev.
D, Rev. J and Rev. T for taking the time to commit their
thoughts to paper and sharing in the debate. [From your
WebWeaver: Sorry, we’d like to provide links to the three
comments, but Presbyweb seems no longer to display them.]
apologize to editor Doug King, for his being subjected to Rev.
J’s outrage (at me): “How could one person be so wrong about so
many things, and still get published on the Witherspoon
Society’s website?” Possibly he doesn’t agree that even opposing
views deserve a forum for expression.
Areas of disagreement
The writers were uniformly indignant, apparently over my
not-so-newsworthy reporting of very typical adult relationships,
but possibly over my temerity of challenging G-6.0106b at all,
which they equated with promoting licentiousness by single
church members. Rev. J said that reading the article “left me
sitting in my chair with my mouth open in amazement.” Heck, if I
had generated that much emotion when I was dating, I might have
They cited the ten commandments, I
cited G-6.0106b. After reading the
output of the three Reverends, I could have sworn that the
ordination standard was to never break one of the Ten
Commandments or else you cannot be ordained for anything. Rev. D
asked, “Is there somewhere in the Book of Order that says
Christians, including their leaders, no longer have to pay
attention to the Ten Commandments, the two great commandments of
Jesus, or the golden rule?” But 106b is about the “adultery”
commandment only; the remaining nine are not mentioned in “the
standard.” What I found most disturbing was that none of the
writers addressed the wide range of personal relationships, from
platonic to passionate, that they must know exists, if not in
their own families, then surely within their congregations. I
found the three writers’ lack of acceptance of the human
condition to vary between sad and sanctimonious. For example,
Rev. T acknowledged that some people may have had “illicit sex”
(any outside of marriage), which he includes on his laundry
lists of sins such as “marijuana, meth, and cocaine . . .
incest, pedophilia, or domestic violence.”
Less disturbing, and bordering on the humorous, was Rev. J, who
said, “I feel for the parents” who have sent their sons and
daughters to college where they are taught by me. Ouch! My
initial reaction was to return one cheap shot for another, but
“Oh yeah, well I feel sorry for your congregation!” would lack
originality, as well as impact. As many political campaigns have
demonstrated, if you don’t have a strong argument against an
issue, then attack the person supporting it. In this case, my
day-to-day associations with pretty typical students have given
me a perspective into their social world that others lack. Many
couples routinely room together, travel together, and live
together—yes, Reverends, that does mean sex—before getting
married. I am no longer surprised to hear of their sharing a
house or apartment or mortgage or baby with a girl friend or boy
friend. Sometimes they later get married, sometimes they don’t,
and the marriages that do take place may not be in a church and
may not be licensed at the County Recorder’s Office. (The latter
was borrowed from the homosexual community, whose members have
created their own commitment ceremonies, which they often refer
to as “getting married,” because most states still bar them from
the real thing.) The only real question is, “Do you want these
non-chaste members of the MTV generation as members of your
church?” Currently, G-6.0106b says that answer is “no”– unless
you believe that new members will still join even when told that
they are not eligible to be on the governing or serving bodies.
But if the answer is “yes, we accept you as you are as future
members and leaders, both in the church and in society in
general,” then our policies need to state this clearly.
Their new strategy: ignore the
homosexual issue; now the reason for G-6.0106b is sex outside
marriage in general. Rev. J
maintains that 106b was added because “it’s the very lack of
chastity in our culture that led Presbyterians to clarify that
we hold a different standard than ‘Dear Abby.’” Rev. T dispensed
with the homosexual issue quickly, even theatrically, commenting
that, “Hidden fornication (heterosexual or homosexual) may be
nothing more than self-inflicted harm, therefore easier to look
the other way from, but when it becomes self-affirming and
demands acceptance in the name of ‘justice,’ then it becomes a
case of gangrene in the body of Christ.” Only Rev. D addressed
homosexuality, arguing, “Support of G-6.0106b doesn’t say that
gays aren’t welcome in the church; it says that if they desire
to enter church leadership, there are standards of behavior to
which they as well as straights are expected to adhere. Period.”
Overall, I found the switch of strategy to be
surprising, even clever. I almost believed their sincerity until
I mentioned to a local pastor that I considered our presbytery’s
vote against the 2009 amendment (to replace G-6.0106b with
alternative wording) as saying the PC(USA) doesn’t want single
members. She replied, “That’s a different interpretation than
I’ve heard before.” Why? Because “everyone knew” that the
purpose of 106b was to prohibit the ordination of practicing
homosexuals. This was made abundantly clear by a Des Moines
Register (April 26, 2009, p. 2A) headline proclaiming,
“Presbyterians reject bid to allow gays to be clergy.” The
article made no reference to G-6.0106b or the fidelity/chastity
clause, because none was needed. Regardless of the “them, too”
strategy that the other writers espoused, the public perceives
the intent of 106b as targeting one group and one group only.
his credit, Rev. T (a Ph.D. seeking graduate student) found room
to forgive past behavior in G-6.0106b, saying that I had
depicted “the standard as if it requires absolutely no sin in
one’s past. That’s ludicrous! The rest of us know better. We
know that the past is not an issue for our ordained leaders, as
long as it stays in the past. If people sin in the present,
there’s this practice called ‘repentance.’ We require it all the
time from pastors who fall into sexual misconduct.” Later on he
said that Jesus “endorsed only marriage between a man and a
woman, and singleness without sex. It is eisogetical (sic)
fantasy to claim otherwise.” Now my Ph.D. was issued 38 years
ago when the newest term was “paradigm,” so it wasn’t much help
in understanding what he said, but Dictionary.com
suggests that he meant to say “eisegetical,” which means “an
interpretation, esp. of Scripture, that expresses the
interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the
meaning of the text.”
Some areas of agreement.
of membership. Along with the expected sensitive topics
came some points we seem to agree on. Rev. D seized on my
example of restricted leadership opportunities for women within
the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches. He noted that they “were
both doing something the PCUSA wasn’t – growingl” At least he
and I both recognize the desirability of membership growth (and
neither of us advocate that Presbyterian churches limit women’s
roles). However, as Roger Loomis explains, there is much doubt
that the reported Mormon church growth is real. He points out
that many (he says most) converted Mormons become inactive a
scant 6 months following their conversion (“Mormon Church
Growth,” at the Association for the Sociology of Religion,
August 15-17, 2002, Chicago). Salt Lake Tribune writer
Peggy Fletcher Stack cited a City University of New York survey
reporting “about the same number of people said they had joined
the LDS Church as said they had left it,” giving a net growth
rate of zero (“Keeping members a challenge for LDS church,” June
22, 2006). Roman Catholic growth figures may be more realistic,
but are influenced by immigration and the church’s policies on
family size that differ greatly from ours. In other words, their
membership growth, whether real or claimed, had nothing to do
with their practice of limiting roles for women.
concern about membership is that prospective single adult
Presbyterians will be less likely join after reading G-6.0106b,
since many – possibly most – of them will see that they would
not be eligible for the decision-making boards of the church. In
other words, 106b gives the PC(USA) two levels of membership,
i.e., ordination-eligible and ordination-ineligible, a situation
more likely to reduce attractiveness of the PC(USA) than
increase it. Here I am again in conflict with Rev. J, who wrote,
“I can think of several of our church’s elders who would never
have accepted leadership in the PC(USA) unless our constitution
had this clear, Biblical standard.”
to enforce the standards. The area of greatest agreement
among Rev J, Rev D, and me was the call to enforce G-6.0106b.
(Rev T did not address enforcement.) After I wrote, “without
some formal means of application, this policy statement moves
from a clear-cut requirement to ineffectual verbiage,” Rev D
said, “If true, this is a legitimate gripe, but the answer isn’t
to repeal the standard, but to implement a process like the one
he suggests.” He continued later, saying “if someone is going to
put herself forward for leadership in an organization where she
is going to be looked to as a moral exemplar, she’d better be
prepared to answer for any aspect of her conduct, regardless of
whether she’s married or not.” When I noted that 106b was seldom
mentioned in my church (unless I brought up the subject), Rev. J
responded that the practice in his church was “to teach
prospective elders and deacons all of the ordination standards,
and examine them regarding their ability and willingness to
uphold them.” He noted that, “we’ve had a few folks drop out of
follow-up to G-6.0106b, clause G6.0108b in the Book of Order
places responsibility for adherence on both the candidate and
the governing body, saying: “The decision as to whether a person
has departed from essentials of Reformed faith and polity is
made initially by the individual concerned but ultimately
becomes the responsibility of the governing body in which he or
An example of a formal procedure for vetting candidates for the
ministry, and consistent with G6.0108b, has been adopted by
the Denver Presbytery. Their Committee on Ministry’s information
gathering form asks candidates to affirm that they “meet the
standards for ordination described in (G.6.0106b & G6.0108a &
b)” or “declare a scruple.” (The Merriam-Webster dictionary
defines scruple as “an ethical consideration or principle that
inhibits action,” and Wikipedia says “misgivings.”) Candidates
who state scruples in response to the ordination standards will
be presented “for examination on the floor of Presbytery.” With
a scheduled time of “no less than three hours,” the examination
covers theology, statements of faith, “suitability for the call
being considered and sharing details of life in Denver
Suggestion for action
to apply G-6.0106b. My suggestion is that the PC(USA) now
direct its member churches to be diligent in explaining and
applying G-6.0106b to
all nominees for ordained offices of the church. As the
Denver seminary experience indicates, candidates for minister
expect a thorough vetting, but, in my observation, the procedure
to examine potential nominees for deacon and elder often omits
any reference to 106b. Most of the documented cases involve
candidates who just happened to be gay or lesbian; for example,
a single page of the November 2006 Layman included
articles about a gay prospective minister and a lesbian elder.
My twist, if treating all people alike can be so termed, should
appeal to Rev. J, who wrote, “G-6.0106b is not about homosexuals
and homosexuality. It’s an equal opportunity standard that calls
all of us to repentance.” Equal opportunity to serve is the
objective, I agree.
insulate unsuspecting nominees from the potential embarrassment
of having their private lives discussed by people who were not
involved in them, local church nominating committee members
might be well-advised to review both G-6.0106b and G6.0108b with
potential office-holders through a scripted exchange, such as:
“As you may be aware, the Book of Order calls for the ordained
(ministers, deacons, or elders) to – and I quote – ‘live either
in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a
woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of
any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin
shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or
ministers of the Word and Sacrament.’ At your interview with the
Session, you will be asked if you have complied with the
chastity requirement while single and the faithfulness
requirement during your married life, or if you would prefer to
repent for past violations of either of these requirements or
claim a scruple.”
Alternatively, nominees could be given a brief form
to complete, with simple multiple-choice responses:
|Check all that apply:
1. I do ( ) / do not ( ) affirm
that, if I am married, I have been faithful, and
2. I do ( ) / do not ( ) affirm
that while single I was chaste.
3. If either response to 1 or 2 is “do not”:
a. I do ( ) /do not ( ) repent for past
violations of the above,
b. ( ) I have a “scruple” pertaining to the above
result of this proposed enforcement can flow in one of two
directions: If G-6.0106b truly is a workable standard for
today’s church members, then nominating committees will
produce slates of officers and search committees will
propose the calling of ministers, all of whom will be
approved by their respective congregations, and controversy
over 106b will subside into the background. Or – and what I
think will happen – more and more members being proposed for
office will hear G-6.0106b being discussed seriously for the
first time and pause to consider, “They want to talk about
what?” If reminded that they still have the options of
repentance or claiming a scruple (a term rarely used outside
the Presbyterian Church), how many nominees will be
surprised to hear their contemporary relationship being
called a sin for the first time? Will the nominees wonder
also what voyeuristic thoughts will be generated in the
minds of the ruling elders who are conducting the interview?
It’s pretty obvious what we’re repenting about, if it comes
to that. When word of the personal questioning spreads
through the local church, which already has enough problems
staffing the session and board of deacons, not to mention
hiring qualified ministers, then we shall learn just how
effective G-6.0106b has been. If that doesn’t cause a
backlash from members, I’ll eat my words.
appreciate the time the three pastors spent in writing and
publishing their thoughts about my “Top Ten Questions”
article. Clearly, we will not see eye-to-eye on my
assessment that the framers of G-6.0106b took a
mean-spirited and underhanded approach to veil their
homophobia. But it is hard to deny that the PC(USA) has now
spent the better part of 15 years letting itself be
decimated by this albatross (i.e., “a burden from which
somebody cannot escape,” Encarta Dictionary) of
governance. Although these writers now focus almost
exclusively on sex-outside-of-marriage as the paramount
issue, with any application to homosexuality an incidental
effect, I call that just a ruse, a convenient change in
strategy. Does anyone really think that G-6.0106b will no
longer be referred to as the portion of the constitution
that prohibits the ordination of homosexuals?
While we have been wasting our resources on this
one divisive issue, society has continued to change, and
younger people, especially, are accepting a variety of
behaviors that contrast markedly with the old, more
comfortable traditions. As these people mature and form
families, they may become candidates for marriage and
baptism (not always in that order) and even church
membership. But if the Presbyterian Church insists on
telling these very typical people that they are not
qualified to join as full members (not “stand up and repent
for your sins!”) – and that is what G-6.0106b does – then
where will it find tomorrow’s members? For the PC(USA), will
there even be a tomorrow?
Would you like to add your comments
to this conversation?
Just send a note
to be shared here.
C. K. Walter
described himself in 2008 as “a college professor who lives
in Iowa with his two Dachshunds. He describes himself as ‘a
young 66.’ ” We don’t know about his Dachshunds, but we
assume he is still single, still living in Iowa, but no
longer age 66.
New Jersey Senate defeats gay marriage bill
York Times reported on January 8, 2010:
TRENTON — The State Senate on Thursday
rejected a proposal that would have made New Jersey the
sixth state in the nation to allow marriages involving
same-sex couples. The vote was the latest in a succession of
setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country.
After months of intense lobbying and hours
of emotional debate, lawmakers voted 20 to 14 against the
bill, bringing tears from some advocates who packed the
Senate chambers and rousing applause from opponents of the
measure, who also came out in force. The vote ends the
effort to win legislative approval of the measure, and sets
the stage for a new battle before the New Jersey Supreme
The story concludes:
After the vote, hundreds of supporters of
the bill gathered in front of the State House to exchange
tearful hugs and plot the next move in their effort. Among
them was Christi Sturmont, who said she and her partner were
dejected, but not despondent.
“We were holding out hope that we’d be
able to get married and have full citizenship,” she said.
“But now we’ll have to settle for second-class citizenship.
For now. We’re not done fighting.”
For the full NYT report >>
Presbyterian pastor and blogger John Shuck
responds with “A Saturday screed” which begins:
Portugal shows it is more decent and humane
than New Jersey (and virtually every state in the U.S.) by
voting for marriage equality yesterday. Thank you, Portugal!
Congratulations for standing up to the bullies!
The parliament approved the measure and it
will likely be signed into law by conservative president, Anibal
Cavaco Silva. ...
The bill removes a reference in the current
law to marriage being between two people of different sexes.
“This law rights a wrong,” Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in
a speech to lawmakers, adding that it “simply ends pointless
Righting a wrong. It is that simple, isn't it?
So what is the score on right vs. wrong these days?
Gay marriage is currently permitted in
Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Canada,
South Africa and six U.S. states also permit it.
We have a way to go. The largest obstacle to
justice, to righting wrongs, to being simply decent human beings
will be of course, Christians.
Let us consider the Christians. Here is what
they are up to as reported by The Raw Story:
The conservative American Family Association
is calling on President Barack Obama to fire Amanda Simpson,
Obama's transgender appointee to the Commerce Department,
because the appointment "puts the weight of the federal
government behind the normalization of sexual deviancy."
For the rest of Shuck’s strong, sharp comments >>
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!