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A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Sexual Justice:
Archive 2005

Click here for items on sexual justice in 2010.

Items on sexual justice from past years are archived:

bullet2009 >>
bullet 2008 >>
bullet 2007 >>
bullet 2006 >>
bullet 2005 >>
bullet 2003 and 2004 >>
bullet2000 through 2002 >>
More Light Presbyterians reminds us:

December 1, 2005, World AIDS Day: A Day of Remembrance, Prayer and Action for More Light Presbyterians    [11-25-05]

They provide a variety of good ideas and resources for observing this important day.  More >>

No marriage for gays? Then one church says it will offer commitment celebrations only  

Since Virginia has banned same-sex marriages, Clarendon Presbyterian Church and its pastor, David Ensign, have agreed they will perform no "marriages," but only celebrations of commitment.   More >>

We talk about welcoming churches.

How about this truly welcoming lesbian couple?

Two women open their home to Katrina victims

It is, sadly, a common thing to hear how "gay marriage" would be a terrible threat to what some would define as the only "real" marriage.

But among the many stories of true goodness to come out of the mess of Katrina, there’s one about a lesbian couple in small-town Minnesota who have invited into their home a family from New Orleans – a mother, her mother, and her six children.

Dorothy, the grandmother, says that when her daughter told her they would be moving into a home with a same-sex couple, she replied "‘What’s that got to do with it?’ They were offering us their home. I was just glad they were saying we were welcome."

The whole story >>

The Battle Over Gay Teens    [10-5-05]

Time magazine has published an extensive cover story in its October 10, 2005, issue, telling of the growing trend for high school young people to come out as lesbian or gay, and for straight students to support them.

Both gay and anti-gay (or "change") groups are having to adjust to this growing reality, and the article reports on both sides.

You might be able to access the article directly, or you may have to pay a fee for downloading it. Or of course, you might even buy the magazine.

Amnesty International reports on police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US   [9-23-05]

Despite progress made by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in the United States since Stonewall—the June 28, 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City, and ensuing protests in defiance of police abuse and repression—police misconduct against the LGBT community in the US persists.

In a new report titled Stonewalled: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US, Amnesty International (AI) documents serious patterns of police misconduct and brutality—including abuses that amount to torture and ill-treatment—against LGBT individuals. Profiling of LGBT individuals as criminal; selective enforcement of laws; sexual, physical and verbal abuse; inappropriate searches and mistreatment in detention remain commonplace, as does a lack of accountability for perpetrators.

The report also examines how US authorities are in breach of their international human rights obligations by failing to take adequate measures to prevent or punish crimes committed against LGBT people. Case histories documented in the report demonstrate failure to respond or inadequate responses by the police to hate crimes and violence targeting LGBT people, as well as situations of domestic violence that involve LGBT people.

Read the full document >>

Thanks to Lisa Larges, Regional Partnership Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve

Witherspoon board responds to Task Force report

The board of the Witherspoon Society met during our conference at Stony Point, and drafted our official response to the report of the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church.  The statement expresses appreciation for elements of the report, including the recommendation for a new Authoritative Interpretation, if it were supplemented with an important addition.  The statement expresses strong objections to the proposal for a continued postponement of further action on the full inclusion of all Presbyterians in the life and ministry of our church.  

More Light Presbyterians announces three regional conferences in Fall 2005

Michael Adee, MLP National Field Organizer, has invited people to attend one or more of three regional conferences this fall. His invitation says in part:

As you know only too well, these are challenging times for us as human beings, persons of faith, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, our families and friends. Being in community with each other on retreat is a wonderful way for us to rejuvenate our spirits, celebrate our faith, and explore ways to help stretch our local congregations and empower our Church to live into the Gospel, the extravagant welcome and unconditional love of God. I invite you to consider giving yourself the gift and experience of one or more of these regional MLP conferences designed on a retreat model.

At each of these conferences, you can count on welcoming and affirming worship, times for spiritual growth and reflection, educational workshops, celebrations of community, reunions with friends from across the movement and the making of new friends. Each local conference team is creating their own brand of special hospitality.

The three regional conferences, their themes, dates and places are:

October 21-23, 2005 Louisville, Kentucky

November 4-6, 2005 Ghost Ranch Santa Fe, 401 Old Taos Highway, Santa Fe, NM

November 11-13, 2005 Camp Crestfield-Slippery Rock, PA (Just off Interstate 79-One hour north of Pittsburgh)

More information on the MLP website >>

Des Moines presbytery passes ordination overture     [8-24-05]

Thanks both to the Rev. Bill LeMosy and to More Light Presbyterians, we can report that the Presbytery of Des Moines Presbytery an overture to permit the ordination of lgbt Presbyterians, during its meeting this past Saturday, August 20, 2005. With 78 persons eligible to vote, the overture passed with 42 in favor, 34 opposed and 2 abstentions. In 2004, it was Des Moines Presbytery to pass the first ordination overture. This is the second time that the Des Moines Presbytery has passed an ordination overture.

Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians, notes that "The groundswell of ordination overtures being considered and passed continues all across the country. What happened in Des Moines Presbytery this past week illustrates once again that now is the time for change, now is the time for the Presbyterian Church (USA) to remove the anti-gay barriers within its church law and relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and our families. It gives evidence once again that people are ready for change, and for the PCUSA to reclaim its moral voice as a ‘reformed and always reforming’ faith tradition."

For more information, text and resources on ordination overtures, visit the MLP website.

California court affirms gay couples' parental status     [8-24-05]

The California Supreme Court on Monday became the first in the nation to grant full parenting rights and obligations to gays and lesbians who have children. In three closely watched cases, the justices set rules in an area where changes in family structure and advances in technology have outpaced the evolution of legal principles.

Read the story >>

Witherspooners, justice-seekers Tammy Lindahl and Martha Juillerat celebrate marriage in Vancouver

A news announcement from More Light Presbyterians  [8-1-05]

On July 30, 2005, Tammy Lindahl and Martha Juillerat were married at Trinity United Church, Vancouver, British Columbia. More Light Presbyterians celebrate the love, commitment and marriage of Tammy and Martha. Both former Presbyterian clergywomen, graduates of McCormick Theological Seminary who served God in parish ministry, Tammy also served on the National MLP Board and Martha is the National Program Director of the Shower of Stoles Project. Tammy and Martha live in Minneapolis, MN.  More >>

Former Moderator Isabel Rogers joins coalition to support gay rights

Isabel Rogers, a retired professor at Union Seminary/PSCE, has joined a growing group of clergy, community leaders and strongly spiritual residents to form People of Faith for Equality in Virginia.

Organizers aim to be the antithesis of the vocal conservative Christian set, offering a faith-based, yet gay-friendly perspective they say is absent in Virginia's gay rights discussions. People of Faith member Brenda Lee, a lesbian, expresses the hope that "People of Faith will bring forth some understanding so that people can no longer tell young adolescents they're going to hell."    [7-14-05]

The whole story >>
(Access to the Hampton Roads Daily Press website may require registration, but it’s free.)

Churches move forward in blessing gay unions   [7-6-05]

UCC General Synod overwhelmingly calls for "full marriage equality"

On July 4, the UCC General Synod 25 overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of gender. It marks the first time that one of the nation’s mainline churches has expressed support of marriages for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.   More >>  

More Light Presbyterians responds to the UCC action

Atlanta, GA: July 4, 2005:

The National Board of Directors of More Light Presbyterians celebrates the courageous and faithful action of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in making a way for justice for all families by approving the Resolution in Support of Equal Marriage Rights for All. This action, taken
today at the UCC General Synod, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, is a powerful witness that faithful Christians may indeed support the great diversity within our human family.

In a culture where prejudice, fear and hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people abound, More Light Presbyterians affirms that God calls the church to be an agent of love, wisdom and justice. Each person — regardless of gender, sexual orientation or bodily condition— has a moral right to love and be loved, as well as the responsibility to express his or her sexuality in ways genuinely respectful of self and others.

More Light Presbyterians affirms the necessity to act on behalf of the gospel and our church’s social teachings and thus advocates working within the structures of the church and society to the end that marriage be an option to all who seek it. At the same time, we are mindful that many faithful Christians joyously choose not to marry; the church must avoid implicitly or explicitly treating marriage as a moral requirement for full participation in the life of the church and community. In this way we work to build a just and faithful society wherein all God’s children enjoy the same basic legal and spiritual rights and freedoms.

And the Methodists in Britain ...!

The Methodist Church in Great Britain has become the first major Christian denomination in that country to offer the prospect of blessings services for same-sex couples.

True family values ... for all

Gordon Shull writes about the way his grandson can delight in his two uncles, who are partners.

"'Uncle Peter and Uncle Dave' are just as natural to him as Uncle Phil and Aunt Jill, or Grandpa and Grandma. They read to him, play with him, build Lincoln Log houses with him. He knows they belong together."    [6-21-05]

Gay Methodist minister wins defrocking appeal

Appeals committee reverses Stroud verdict

[United Methodist News Service Bulletin -- April 29, 2005, 10:30 am EDT]
[posted here 5-29-05]

An appeals committee has reversed a clergy court verdict in the case of Irene Elizabeth "Beth" Stroud. The Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals announced its decision at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time today, after hearing Stroud's appeal April 28. Stroud lost her credentials as a United Methodist minister last Dec. 2 after a clergy trial, which stemmed from her acknowledgment that she is a practicing lesbian. The United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline forbids the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals."

More information from United Methodist New Service >>

And a report in the Baltimore Sun

The complete text of the decision is available in PDF format (217K)

UCC could become first mainline Christian denomination to endorse civil and religious marriage equality

The 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ could become the first mainline Christian denomination to endorse full marriage equality - regardless of gender - if a proposed resolution is approved by the church's General Synod this summer.   [4-22-05]      Read the full story >>
Jane Spahr trial continued as both sides seek constructive resolution

In a pre-trial conference on March 31, in connection with charges brought against the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr related to her officiation in a civil marriage ceremony for a gay couple, the prosecution and defense agreed to a 120 day continuance in order to seek a constructive, collaborative, and mutually agreeable means of handling the complex issues raised by the case within the Presbytery of the Redwoods, the regional governing body in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   [4-13-05]

For background >>

First More Light Presbyterian Church in South Carolina

In early March the Session of the North Anderson Community Church, Presbyterian, of Anderson, S.C. voted unanimously to become affiliated and identified as a More Light Presbyterian Church. NACCP is making history as the first More Light Church in South Carolina  The pastor of the church, the Rev. Jake Young, is currently serving as the Vice President of the Witherspoon Society.   [4-13-05]

Lutheran web site carries news from the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation

The webmaster describes the site: is a grassroots campaign to change the discriminatory Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) policy regarding ordination of lgbt clergy and to protect the right of ELCA pastors to bless convenanted same-gender relationships.

He adds that "the ELCA's church-wide assembly in August this year has the opportunity to make decisions on these matters, and much of our effort is oriented toward that decision point." Here’s a good place to follow their efforts.   [4-13-05]

Marriage promotion, reproductive injustice, and the war against poor women of color

With Republicans busy attempting to take away Michael Schiavo's marital rights, and making sure gays don't have any, it's easy to forget another of the party's priorities is the Healthy Marriage Initiative, which links welfare benefits to getting hitched. The legislation, as invasive as it is hypocritical, is especially harmful to poor women and women of color who have been domestically abused.   [3-31-05]

From Utne WebWatch

bullet Read a digest of the article
bullet or the whole essay by Sarah Olson, in dollars&sense
Sex and Shame: from Ancient Israel to Today

Wilson College, in Chambersburg, PA, is holding a one-day forum on this provocative subject on Monday, March 28, with Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis of Howard University’s School of Divinity as the featured speaker, and a number of interesting workshops are planned.   [3-16-05]

To Pre-Register or for more information visit
Or contact David True, Chair of Philosophy and Religion:  (717) 264-4141

Erin Swenson receives Lazarus Award, speaks about her own new life in becoming female

Rev. Erin Swenson received 2005 Lazarus Project Award at the Lazarus Banquet in Pasadena, CA, on February 26, 2005.

Susan Halcomb Craig, pastor of United University Church in Los Angeles, introduced her saying: ".. after 23 years of ordained service in the Presbyterian Church, Erin became the first known mainstream Protestant minister to transition from male to female while retaining her ordained status in the denomination. Erin is accomplished as theologian and psychotherapist; as Ph.D. author and educator; as More Light Presbyterians’ Co-Moderator and counselor; as father/mother and devoted family member, wise woman and friend."

Erin, in her keynote address, spoke about the occasional importance of a comma (as in that popular book Eats, Shoots and Leaves). A lectionary reading for later this summer will include Isaiah 56:1, 6-8. It’s a powerful, prophetic passage which demands doing justice, but skips over (with a comma) the inclusion of foreigners, "eunuchs" and those who don’t have children among God’s people.

She read the passage that had been replaced in our lectionary by a comma:

Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil.

Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from his people"; and do not let the eunuch say, "I am just a dry tree." For thus says the LORD: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

She then spoke of her own experience of liberation as she transitioned from a male to a female identity.

For us… ones so clearly left out, removed from the places of worship and community, these words are life-giving. Every TG gathering I have read this to has been filled with amazement and tears of joy. How have we as the church become a community where these people, so honored by God that they would have a place and name better than sons and daughters, are stuffed behind a damned comma? As Isaiah brings this to us God’s intention is anything but to hide us, but to make sure that we are honored and remembered. So why are we hidden in the comma?

Could it be fear?

That’s what it was for me.

She told of her long slide into depression and despair, the disintegration of "his" marriage ... but

... then an unexpected thing happened. Despair became the harbinger of hope for me as I had to accept that I could hide no longer. My life slid from behind my own personal "comma" as I came out to family, colleagues and friends, discovering in each new encounter that truth, like birth, is messy, life-giving, and often painful.

I decided that a gender transition was necessary to my continued health and well-being, and began the process that eventually led to that Presbytery meeting where I was sent back to the committee. Sixteen months later the church voted for the second time on my continued ordination, and this time the "comma" fell from the page as the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta approved my request, 186 to 161.

Read all of Erin’s address, and Susan’s introduction >>

Presbytery of Milwaukee approves Eily Marlow for ordination   [2-23-05]

By a convincing (and perhaps surprising) vote of 104 to 20, the Presbytery of Milwaukee last night acted to approve Elizabeth (Eily) Marlow for ordination. Ms. Marlow has long been active in the Presbyterian Church, through the National Network of Presbyterian College Women and various other programs. She is currently serving in the chaplaincy at Presbyterian-related Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. The presbytery action was notable as a strong endorsement of a woman who has been very open and honest in affirming her orientation as a lesbian.

Interim Executive Presbyter Anne Fisher commented that she was very pleased with the tone and demeanor shown during the discussion of the action. She added that members showed a real respect for one another, and a willingness to listen seriously to differing views on a controversial question.

The Rev. David Oliver-Holder commented that her statement of faith was "outstanding." He added that after a couple very busy weeks, "yesterday, as I was reading her statement of faith in preparation for the meeting, I was amazed to find, by the second paragraph, how calm I had suddenly become. Peace in the presence of Truth. I also respond well to good theology, and hers is very good."

There's more in a press release from the Presbytery of Milwaukee

Maryland clergy urge Equal Access to Marriage

Forty-three of the seventy-three Christian clergy from across the state of Maryland who have endorsed a "Statement on Equal Access to Marriage" gathered on Tuesday, 2/8/05, to release it publicly at a press conference. The seventy-three clergy are from eight Christian denominations: American Baptist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and the United Reform Catholic Church.

That All May Freely Serve has posted the press release and statement both in Word format and in PDF format.    [2-12-05]   

With Liberty and Justice for All...

New York court rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right   [2-5-05]

[A statement from That All May Freely Serve]

TAMFS is delighted and proud to stand with the People of New York in welcoming the radical hospitality and sense of justice affirmed by today's court ruling

"In a historic 62-page decision, a New York judge ruled on Friday that the Empire State marriage laws impermissibly discriminate against same-sex couples. Justice Doris Ling-Cohan wrote that the liberty interest at stake for the five plaintiff couples was nothing less than the fundamental right to choose one's spouse, ruling that New York City, in turn, would have to present a compelling reason for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples." More from Planet Out & Lambda Legal

TAMFS stands alongside all of New York, Massachusetts, Canada, and other places where the sacred mystery of our humanity and being is respected with a wide embrace and a prophetic voice, backed with bold and welcome acts of courage and justice.

God's Spirit is bringing us ever closer together, in spite of the differences some would use to divide us or for their own gain. We welcome healing within and without our church and pray for the day when we all have enough faith and compassion to rely in prophetic ways on the mystery of God and God's abundant and diverse grace.

We Love New York, New York!

We love all of you, too!

More Light Presbyterians joins in National Ecumenical Welcoming Church Leaders' Summit this week in Houston, January 4 - 7    [1-4-05]

Click here for items on sexual justice in 2010.

Items on sexual justice from past years are archived:

bullet2009 >>
bullet 2008 >>
bullet 2007 >>
bullet 2006 >>
bullet 2005 >>
bullet 2003 and 2004 >>
bullet2000 through 2002 >>

GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries, confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We provided resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest have been:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which  removes the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.  Approved!

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.  Disapproved, because as an amendment to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not receive that.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which  adopts the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.   Approved.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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.


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 thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, 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 Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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