Category Archives: religion

Married in Massachusetts… Not in Hawaii …

Kath Sands and Linda Krieger

Kath Sands, former professor of religion at UMass-Boston, and her partner Linda Krieger, an attorney, have a marriage license in Massachusetts. But last year, they moved to Honolulu, where they both teach at the university–Kath in American Studies, and Linda at the Richardson School of Law. Linda grew up in Hawaii, and so it was a homecoming of sorts. But here in Hawaii, their marriage isn’t recognized. Like us, they have joined the struggle to pass a civil unions bill this legislative session.

This week’s Honolulu Weekly, features Kath and Linda in an extraodinarily moving story by the paper’s editor Ragnar Carlson. There haven’t been many stories that cover the challenges for married Massachusetts couples who leave our state–and with few exceptions–have to leave the legal recognition of their relationships behind as well. As Carlson says, “For Kreiger and Sands, who had preiously enjoyed equal status under the law, the transition was rough.” Read the full story.

Hope for Marriage Equality in Tennessee

Nationwide evangelicals in the Protestant tradition and Catholics are the religious groups most opposed  to marriage equality. Can the LGBT community in Tennessee, a state that has more than its fair share of evangelicals, ever have any hope for same-sex marriage? I believe it does based on the Massachusetts marriage equality victory in a state over 50% Catholic. Additionally, another huge asset that Tennessee has going for it is the commitment to equality that we discovered among young law students, straight and gay, at the University of Tennessee Law School.

On April 16th, Karen Kahn and I spoke at the UT Law School about our book, Courting Equality, and the history of our struggle in Massachusetts to achieve same-sex marriage equality. The straight and gay students in the Lambda Legal group were informed, open-minded, and committed.

Prior to travelling to Tennessee, I read an article on Tennessee attitudes about marriage equality by Chris Sanders, the president of the Tennessee Equality Project. Sanders, using 2008 data from a Middle Tennessee State University poll, points out that 66% of those surveyed in TN opposed gay marriage. Discouraging news. He also cites the 2008 report of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, noting that 51% of Tennesseans consider themselves part of the protestant evangelical tradition–while the national average is 26%. With such overwhelming numbers of evangelicals in the state, it is not surprising that anti-LGBT legislation continues to emerge in the legislature.

But we offer the experience of Massachusetts as a source of hope. In our heavily-Catholic state, our Supreme Judicial Court in November 2003, nonetheless ruled in favor of marriage equality. Our legislature which is more than 50% Catholic (in 2004 it was 67% Catholic), protected the court decision from a 2008 ballot amendment to undo marriage equality. and those close to the lobbying process over the 4 1/2 years since the court decision came down assert that having ordinary people come out and tell their stories to their families, communities, and legislators won hearts and minds.

In contrast to the news on the numbers of evangelicals in Tennessee, Sanders has good news too. First, he cites a 2008 Williams Institute analysis of US Census data for Tennessee that shows a 33% increase in the number of same-sex couples who are identifying themselves on government surveys. This step of  “coming out” is critical in changing hearts and minds in families, communities, the legislature, and in religious communities themselves. Second, Sanders points out the obvious but often ignored fact that, “many members of the GLBT community come from and continue to be part of evangelical congregations.” He  added “we already have thousands of connections.” Indeed they do. Read more of what Sanders has to say . . ..

A Teenager’s Response to Rep. Sally Kern’s Hatred

 From the Unitarian Interweave list:

The aunt of an Oklahoma high school senior writes:

Today my nephew attempted to deliver a letter to Sally Kern but was stopped by a highway patrolman. With his permission I am distributing the letter to all news stations and thought I would include it here.

Maybe we can all stand to learn a listen from this smart, loving, young man. He more than most has reason to hate. He lost his mother, my sister, in the Murrah Building bombing.


He writes:

Rep Kern:

On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others.  19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would likely have included one more.  Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam.
He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count.
He held his beliefs and made those who didn’t live up to them paid with their lives.

As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City.  I kind of doubt you’ll find one of them that will agree with you.

I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was.  I miss her.  Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother’s killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.

As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.

You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they’ve been through.  Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman who was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City?
Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?

I’ve spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there’s never a day in school that has went by when I haven’t heard the word **** slung at someone.  I’ve been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?

Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection.  They looked scared.  They’ve already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker; many young people have taken your words to heart.  That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

I wish you could’ve met my mom.  Maybe she could’ve guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.

I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring.  Now she won’t be there. So I’ll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here.  I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again.  I don’t want to be here for that.  I just can’t go through that again.

You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something.
The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.  Well, your words hurt me.  Your words disrespected the memory of my mom.

Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.



Gays, Muslims, and Rep. Sally Kern

This is what Rep. Sally Kern has to say about gays and Muslims. Watch our community’s smart response.

Kern insults Muslims as well as the LGBT community. She is a very scared woman lashing out at those she wishes to demonize in order to make herself and her “kind” look better. And who is her “kind?” Unfortunately for the decent Christians in this country, it is followers of Christ–like Kerns.

Pass it on to other folks. We need to expose every “Sally Kern” in this country.

Soulforce Q–Youth Shows the Way in NY!

Published July 28, 2007 11:00 pmMembers of national interfaith organization bring their message to Plattsburgh during their summer campaign across the state in support of Equality of Marriage Act.

Young adults campaign for same-sex marriage in New York
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH “” Brian Murphy recently left a pair of shoes with Sen. Joseph Bruno’s staff, asking the New York representative to walk a mile in his shoes.

The California man was one of 32 young adults who fanned out across New York to meet with residents and legislators in support of the New York State Equality of Marriage Act and the right for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers to marry.

“There’s such a need for this,” Murphy said when eight members of Soulforce Q, a national interfaith organization, stopped in Plattsburgh during their two-week Right to Marry Campaign across the state. More

       Once again youth are showing the way. The demographics of polls in favor of same-sex marriage promise us that when the younger generation dominates the voting public–there will be scant opposition to same-sex couples tying the knot.

       In New York this week, Brian Murphy led an attention getting demo by dropping off his shoes at Sen. President Joe Bruno’s office. The young man asked the anti-gay marriage Bruno to “walk a mile in his shoes.”  Bruno has been particularly snide in his comments about how he can block gay marriage for as long as he wants to. Now Soulforce Q, a dedicated group of young people who are pointing out the anti-democratic nature of religious opposition to gay marriage, wants to get other New Yorkers to think about the infringement of religion on politics.

       Soulforce Q enlivens democracy wherever they stop. They remind us that this country is founded on the separation of church and state. Centuries ago our forbearers realized how having church and state intertwined dimished people’s freedoms–particularly religious freedoms. Thus, when this country was founded a cardinal tenet in shaping our democracy was separation of church and state.

       The only opposition to gay marriage is religious opposition. There’s no problem with that. Everyone who is religious is free to hold that view but the problem emerges when folks with anti-gay marriage views start trying to impose their religious beliefs on others through legislative and constitutional laws.

       Maybe we need some more re-enactments of pilgrims leaving Europe to come to these shores to practice religious freedom. I vote for Soulforce Q to teach us those religious lessons and remind us of what democracy is all about. Let’s hear it for democracy and keep our ears to the ground for rumblings of a retro-theocracy.

Luther Would Support Gay Marriage

Yesterday I responded to a great article that Mary Zeiss Stange wrote in USA Today. Stange asserted that Martin Luther would have supported gay marriage. In Massachusetts, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry would probably agree. Look next Monday, July 16th in USA Today for the responses to Stange’s article. Hope this letter is one of them:

Letter to the Editor:

Mary Zeiss Stange’s (“When it comes to gays, ‘What would Luther do?'” 7.9.07) assertion that Luther would support gay marriage is in agreement with over 1,000 clergy representing 23 faith traditions in Massachusetts. On May 17, 2007, the third anniversary of same-sex marriage in our state, an Episcopal clergywoman was the 1,000th signer of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry declaration of support for same-sex marriage.