Thursday, April 3, 2014

Religious Tyranny is NOT Religious Freedom

The Governor of Mississippi is about to sign into law SB2681 that gives full permission for business owners to deny services, for landlords to deny housing, and for discrimination to go unstopped even when local communities pass anti-discrimination ordinances. All in the name of “Religious Freedom.”

Black’s Law dictionary, Seventh edition, defines Freedom of Religion as:

“The right to adhere to any form of religion or none, to practice or abstain from practicing religious beliefs, and to be free from governmental interference with or promotion of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment and Article VI, Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution.”

What if your Boss was to tell you what you could do or say (or not do or say), based on his “Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs? What if he threatened to fire you if you did not bend to his will and obey his orders? What if he took away your Freedom of Speech and told you what you could say publicly, or what organizations you could support on your own time as a volunteer, or a donor? Can’t happen in America! Right?

Wrong! In 29 states you can be fired today for simply being a lesbian, gay or bisexual person and in 33 states for being transgender. This is unfair and constitutes a grave injustice. In Cincinnati the Roman Catholic bishop says you can be fired for being LGBT, or even just for supporting Marriage Equality. In Hawaii the Roman Catholic bishop says you can be fired as an Algebra teacher, simply for being legally married to someone of the same gender.

Now, in Mississippi the state government is stripping you of your American Constitutional Rights. This means that you could walk into your favorite restaurant, store, theater, or gas station and be denied service because someone “didn’t like your kind.” That sounds like a time when cowards disguised in white robes intimidated “those people” in the name of “Christian” values. Can’t happen in America today! Right? Wrong!

Unethical politicians are trampling on the Constitutional rights the authors of our Constitution gave to each and every American:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

What you believe is your business, a question of your conscience. No one (not even the Great State of Mississippi) has the right to force their beliefs on you and you do not have a right to force your beliefs on others.

The product of authentic religion/spirituality is practical charity, the means of it are earned trust, integrity and real hope. The product of false religion/spirituality is hatred the means of it are suspicion, division and fear.

Religious Tyranny is NOT Religious Freedom.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Who am I to judge?" pope Francis unmasked.

Please Note: The Prime Mover in passing this hateful law was the Roman Catholic Church. Remember all the LGBT folks fainting when pope Francis said: "Who am I to judge?"

Please understand that his famous "change in tone" was meant to improve PR for the Catholic Church in the West and NOT to help LGBT people. He is not our friend.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Will Pope Francis challenge President Putin on his country's persecution of LGBT people?

This week Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican. So, why is this meeting happening and why is it a big deal, anyway? Let’s be candid, Putin is not dropping by to borrow a cup of sugar, well possibly a metaphorical cup of sugar. A little bit of sugar to help the poison of Russia’s newest pogrom on LGBT people go down, or at least make it more palatable.

Why the urgency?

The 2014 Sochi Olympics are taking a hit.

The word “boycott” is on the lips, not only of activists, but of athletes, and consumers. Corporate sponsors are questioning consumer blowback. All this is spilling over to talks of boycotts of investment in Russia and has the potential of developing into a divestment movement like that against South Africa because of its apartheid laws in the 1980s.

Additionally, serious questions have been raised about how participants and visitors will be treated during their Olympic stay in Russia. Conditional and nuanced assurances by Russian officials have left many, as the French say: Unconvinced. Anyone with internet access can view videos of Neo-Nazis torturing gay men that they have lured into traps. In public streets and squares rightest thugs openly attack LGBT folks who attempt to engage in free public speech, or as Putin calls it “homosexual propaganda.” Wearing a rainbow could land you in the hospital, in jail or both. The police and judicial authorities turn a blind eye to these flagrant assaults and fail to prosecute thugs, who become de facto enforcers of Putin’s decrees.

Petitions have been circulated asking Nations to boycott the Olympics, comparing this Olympic event with Hitler’s hijacking of the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda device to sell the New Germany to the world. Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the Russian Band Pussy Riot, explains the parallel:

“In an interview with the BBC, Samutsevich said it was all but impossible for Russian athletes to mount any sort of protest as they would lose their livelihood. "[The Olympics] could be a source of national pride. But what is happening now, and there is no other way to describe it, is right-wing fascism. This is what the Olympics are turning into and even sports people are being pressured into adopting these views. Rather than celebrating about sporting achievement it becomes about propagating these views.”

Putin needs some of the heat taken off, his attempted justification that his antigay-laws are to “protect children,” although taken from the playbook of Anita Bryant and the “good” folks at the discredited National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has no foundation in reason. Putin himself said famously in his oped in NY Times "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.."

This was stated, rightly, as a rebuke to President Obama’s claim of American Exceptionalism; however, doesn’t it also apply to the LGBT minority in the Russian Federation?

While the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has been very supportive of Putin, many roll their eyes, seeing Kirill, the Russian Church and Media, as being merely a rubber stamp of the regime. Where to turn?

The answer came in the mail on September 4th 2013. A letter from Francis to Putin praising him for his new role as President of the G-20, in Francis’ words:

“I am aware that the Russian Federation has participated in this group from the moment of its inception and has always had a positive role to play in the promotion of good governance of the world’s finances, which have been deeply affected by the crisis of 2008.”

Francis’ letter to Putin goes on to encourage Putin’s role as “Peacemaker” in Syria. Although not stated explicitly, it implies a role for Putin as a counterbalance to the U.S. in Middle East politics. It is all very sweet and could signal a honeymoon between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church. Consider that it has only been four years since diplomatic ties with Russia and the Vatican have been reestablished after centuries of distance and cold distrust. Both Russia and the Vatican desperately need to refocus on new issues, to “change the subject” of the conversation. This meeting allows both of them to accomplish this effectively. The cost, spiritually and in terms of justice, are LGBT people and their lives.

With Syria, the Middle East and Russian relations on the table, will Pope Francis speak up on behalf of LGBT victims, or will their continuing persecution be seen as the price of a sweet deal? Perhaps Francis could simply smile, if the subject is raised by a pesky reporter, and ask: “Who am I to judge?”

Friday, August 2, 2013

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" -Pope Francis

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Last week pope Francis uttered those words to the press while aboard the papal airplane bound to Rome from Brazil. Many have praised the pope’s use of the word “gay” and his promise of not judging as a tectonic “breakthrough” and as being a “game-changer” within catholicism.

Last week something else also happened, Ken Bencomo a beloved English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School, an all-girl school in Glendora, California was fired. Why? Ken Bencomo went down to the County Clerk’s Office in San Bernadino and purchased a Civil Marriage License from the state of California. He married his partner Christopher Persky.

Evidently the catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose H. Gomez, wasn’t watching the news the day that pope Francis made his “who am I to judge” statement.

What can you do?

Don’t just leave, tell the church why you’re leaving. Write a letter to pope Francis, mail a copy to archbishop Gomez and finally, cut and paste a copy of your letter to the petition demanding that Ken Bencomo be reinstated immediately as a teacher at St. Lucy’s.

Here is a sample of a letter, feel free to use/modify it:

His Holiness
Pope Francis
The Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness,

Last week your holiness made the statement: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Yet, archbishop Jose H. Gomez, fired Ken Bencomo a beloved English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School, an all-girl school in Glendora, California. The bishop did this simply because Mr. Bencomo is gay and entered into a Civil Marriage under California state law.

There are many heterosexual teachers working in Catholic schools who have been divorced and remarried. These teachers, although technically “adulterers” according to church teaching, have not been fired. It is clear that Mr. Bencomo was targeted for special treatment, simply because he is gay.

Tragically this is not an isolated incident but part of an aggressive national and international campaign by bishops, which includes misuse of donated funds, to deny LGBT people of their human dignity and civil rights.

This forces me to conclude that your words are false and empty promises and merely congenial non-substantive rhetoric, your inaction and the actions of the bishops demonstrate a persistent and unjust persecution gay people. I do not wish to be an accomplice to this continuing injustice.

I therefore am informing you of my decision to formally leave the catholic church. I was baptized at (insert name of the church where you were baptized) in (insert year of baptism). Please have them make notation of my decision in the baptismal register.

Most Sincerely,
(your signature)

CC: Jose H. Gomez and

Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Help this go viral. If enough people speak-up and take action, it will be noticed by the bishops and the pope.
This is the one thing they most fear, because the true wealth (and power) of the bishops are the people. This will cause bishops to think twice about inflicting similar injustices again. It also calls on pope Francis to back his words with real substance.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RUN! Do not walk, to the nearest exit!

Yesterday my phone rang, it was a reporter from a news station in Fresno asking for an interview on the pope Francis’ statement on gay priests. Later, Telemundo called asking to arrange for a camera crew to interview me at home. I sighed as I poured myself a cup of coffee and then read through the statement.

Bottom line: It is a way of appearing to change everything without changing anything. Lets examine the actual statement:

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

“If someone is gay...”

Substitute the word “straight” for “gay” and you begin to see the problem; in fact, whenever an issue arises regarding gender orientation, simply do that: Substitute the word “straight” for “gay.” Does the statement still make sense?

It only makes sense if you believe that being gay is somehow disordered or defective. The official teaching of the Catholic church is precisely just that. The Official Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2357 states:


Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.


“and he searches for the Lord and has good will”

Here is the translation of what the pope is saying in plain English, taken directly from the Catholic Catechism:


Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Bottom line:

"homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." Under no circumstances can they be approved. Homosexual persons are called to chastity.

Forget whatever your sexual orientation is, could you live this way? Could you spend your entire life without intimately loving someone else? Could YOU? Most of us discover our sexual orientation at puberty. How would you have felt [did you feel] when you realized that you were gay? How would [did] that change the nature of your relationship with your parents? Your brothers and sisters? Your cousins? Your classmates? Your friends?

It’s OK, I’ll just never :”act on it.” Here is where the teaching of the Catholic church totally falls apart. Here is where its inhumanity begins to reveal itself plainly. THINK of what the logical consequences are to these official teachings! THINK of the real world damage this does to a young LGBT person who hears these teachings from their priest, teacher, parent and family members. THINK!


Catholic moral theology isolates sex as “an act” and in doing this, it thereby effectively de-humanizes sex by removing it from its natural context, i.e. a relationship.

“Two principles capture the essence of the official Catholic position on the morality of sexuality: first, that any human genital act must occur within the framework of heterosexual marriage; second, each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. In [their book, "The Sexual Person] this comprehensive overview of Catholicism and sexuality, theologians Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler examine and challenge these principles. Remaining firmly within the Catholic tradition, they contend that the church is being inconsistent in its teaching by adopting a dynamic, historically conscious anthropology and worldview on social ethics and the interpretation of scripture while adopting a static, classicist anthropology and worldview on sexual ethics.

While some documents from Vatican II, like Gaudium et spes ("the marital act promotes self-giving by which spouses enrich each other"), gave hope for a renewed understanding of sexuality, the church has not carried out the full implications of this approach. In short, say Salzman and Lawler: emphasize relationships, not acts, and recognize Christianity's historically and culturally conditioned understanding of human sexuality. The Sexual Person draws historically, methodologically, and anthropologically from the best of Catholic tradition and provides a context for current theological debates between traditionalists and revisionists regarding marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, and what it means to be human.”

Pope Francis did NOT do that in his statement. What he did is accurately summed up by the following passage from Luke [11: 46-47]

“You lay impossible burdens on men but will not lift a finger to lighten them. Woe to you!”

At best, Francis is signaling a gentle course correction for Catholic bishops on this issue. When you’re an infallible institution, you can’t admit you made a mistake, you can’t admit that you have been wrong. Individual lives that are ruined or destroyed are unfortunate “collateral damage” that are sacrificed for the reputation of the institution. When all objective evidence contradicts something the church teaches, they simply emphasize something else. Prelates smile, employ humor, emphasize something else and are congenial.

But make no mistake, this pope’s congenial words offer ZERO relief for LGBT Catholics. They make no attempt to repair past evils inflicted on innocent people and so my advice is: leave! If you are LGBT leave the Catholic church, you can do better. If you are the parent or a family member of an LGBT person: leave! Your loved ones deserve better. If you are the parent of a child, leave! Your children absolutely deserve a healthier development. To raise an LGBT child in the Catholic church today constitutes de facto child abuse.

So, please, for the sake of psychological, emotional and spiritual well being and of love itself: RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit!

Post Script

And this headline after the pope's "hopeful statement:
" Gay Teacher Fired From Catholic School Shortly After Marriage Ceremony

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A roadmap for Equality in the U.S.

A lucid overview and explanation of what is coming next in our national struggle for Full Equality and human dignity.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Giant Step Forward in our Struggle for Human Dignity!

As a boy I never believed this would ever be possible. As a man I know what it has taken to make this possible. As a human being I appreciate both the liberation and spiritual wholeness that this represents.

As Rachel Maddow said: Mazel Tov!

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