Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Carol BoltzCarol Boltz has been through a lot over the past several years. Well established as a married woman with adult children out of the house and grandchildren soon to hit the scene, her husband, Ray, broke the news to her (and then the rest of the family) that he is gay. The depression that had crushed him for some time afflicted him in large part because he lived with the reality that he could no longer hide.

Carol then did something amazing. Yes, she hurt, she felt confused, angry, all the things that one might expect a straight spouse to go through upon learning of her partner’s gay orientation. But then she looked for information. She looked to connect with others. She needed answers.

rayboltzI first met Carol when she responded to a post about straight spouses that I had on this blog. We have since become friends and met in person on a number of occasions at ex-gay survivor events.

To make matters even more complicated, Carol’s husband Ray Boltz, is a public figure, a well-known contemporary Christian singer. After they privately worked through the many challenges and questions they faced over his coming out, their separation and divorce, they recently had to go through much of it again when Ray came out publicly.  (You can hear one of his new songs here.) This has outraged some of his most ardent fans, while it has delighted many gay Christians. Carol has gotten caught in the crossfire.

Recently Carol launched her own blog, My Heart Goes Out… Please take a moment to visit the blog and share with Carol a word of support, a word of encouragement, a word of affirmation. She is a courageous and beautiful woman.

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I have the delicious pleasure to be dating a wonderful guy who is very smart, a brilliant writer, a fellow Quaker, and adorable to boot! Glen Retief is currently working on a memoir about growing up white and gay in South Africa. (You can read a sample that was recently printed in the Virginia Quarterly Review).

Having witnessed firsthand unbelievably historical shifts in his home country, in the following Op-Ed that appeared in yesterday’s Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA), Glen reflects on the historic election of Barack Obama and the subsequent banning of gay marriage in California and elsewhere.

Still a long way from the dream

Among the thousands of congratulations pouring in from around the world for President-Elect Barack Obama, the media quickly focused on one that seemed to mirror Obama’s own quiet but resolute, “Yes we can” idealism.

“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world,” wrote Nelson Mandela, in words that recalled his own election as South Africa’s first Black president. The symbolism was unmistakable: the world’s greatest living emblem of racial justice and reconciliation, who recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday, was passing on the baton.

And for me, an expatriate White South African who voted for Mandela in 1994 and Obama in 2008, the parallels between the two elections indeed seemed inescapable. There were the long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots, just like in Johannesburg fourteen years ago. There was the astonishing exuberance in Grant Park—an exhilaration that seems to sense a new era rather than a mere victory. Above all there was the dignified, thoughtful manner of Barack Obama himself, so… well, so Mandela-like.

“We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of … our people. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.” No, that wasn’t Obama last Tuesday night—it was Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech.

At the time I had just turned twenty-four. Like many of the college kids who staffed the Obama campaign’s call banks, I’d thrown myself whole-heartedly into the fight for social justice. Among the groups I joined was the Organization for Lesbian and Gay Action. Here, I worked for Mandela’s African National Congress while simultaneously lobbying that party to include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the postapartheid constitution—a successful effort that eventually led to South Africa’s adopting same-sex marriage.

In April 1994, as I watched the election returns, I knew the vote was a defeat for both white and heterosexual superiority. Desmond Tutu, effective leader of the South African Black Church, said, “Homophobia is a crime against humanity, and every bit as unjust as apartheid.” Every mainstream political party in the country lent its support to the concept of equality. A decade later, in 2006, same-sex marriage passed by a parliamentary vote of 230 votes to 41.

Here, of course, the opposite happened. Hours after Obama referred to a victory for “White and Black…, gay and straight”—surely the first time an American president thanked gay people in an acceptance speech—exit polls revealed that African-Americans had voted 70-30 to ban gay marriage in California. This was twenty points higher than any other ethnic group. Black voters were by no means the only ones to support this ban; still, there was little doubt that they had helped inflict arguably the worst civil rights setback for GLBT people since the Bowers vs. Hardwick decision that affirmed sodomy laws.

I was sad, furious, and bewildered. Truth be told, my expectations of the other groups supporting the ban—White Protestant evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics—had been low to begin with. But the African-American community? Surely, like large sections of the Black South African community, they would be able to link their own oppression to mine? Surely they would remember Loving vs. Virginia, the struggle for interracial marriage, the feeling of being excluded from the restaurant, the church, the happy party at the center of the room with the dancing and the cake?

Apparently not this time. As the hours rolled by, my outrage gave way to sadness. I heard stories of celebrations of the ban in historically Black churches. I read analyses of how the pro-gay campaign failed to place advertisements in minority-owned newspapers, thus fueling a perception that they did not care about the Black community. I thought of all the everyday racism I encounter at middle-class gay social events—the stereotypical remarks about gangsters selling crack to kids; the talk about the effects on real estate values when the “wrong” people move in next door.

And I realized, yet again, with considerable grief, how far we still are from fulfilling the dream of Martin Luther King that “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed . . . that all men are created equal.’”

GLEN RETIEF teaches creative writing at Susquehanna University. His memoir, The Jack Bank, will be published by St. Martin’s Press.

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This morning Christine and I got to be with the LGBT community and allies in Colorado Springs for the demonstration outside of City Hall. We had a tremendous turnout with some forceful and hopeful messages. I especially felt moved by the allies present and the clear statements they shared.

Here’s a link to my pre-demonstration thoughts and below is video that Loring Wirbel shot for his blog Icono-Curmudgeon-Clast

fundraiser_headerTonight I will be at the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church to be part of a fundraiser they are having. There I will do scenes from Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, Queer 101, the Re-Education of George W. Bush and Transfigurations. I will also read some poems and share the Homo No Mo Christmas.

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In the morning in Colorado Springs Christine Bakke & I will join hundreds of thousands of people in the US & beyond for public demonstrations denouncing the recent state bans on marriage for same-sex couples in CA, AZ and FL and the ban on adoption by gay and lesbian couples (& single people) in Arkansas. We also denounce violence against all sexual minorities.

I refuse to see us treated as second class citizens. We are tired of hiding out and putting up with the lies & fears & ignorance of some religous leaders who impose their sexuality on us. When we choose to walk in integrity about our orientation, they agressively seek to punish us and legislate against us.

We already have the right to marry regardless if the state & church acknowledge and affirm our right. We have the right to build a family, to pursue our dreams, to love deeply, and to walk hand in hand with whomever we please without the threat of violence. How insulting to have to ask permission for these. We stand together to affirm our rights. We will not be marginalized.

I lived for over 2 decades terrified of my sexuality. I shrank back in shame defering to other people’s low opinions of me and my kind. I lived in doubt of my sexual desires, demonized them, and sank to the expectations and assumptions of those who bullied me. I lived under the weight of heterosexual superiority. I consumed hatred towards LGBT people that I learned on the playground, from the pulpit & in the press. I silenced myself and hid whole parts of me in order to please others who felt uncomfortable with an orientation foreign to them.

I feel no shame about myself today & do not give anyone permission to treat me shamefully.

We have far too many real problems in the world that demand our attention. It is time that anti-gay people get over their disrespect and opposition to LGBT people. I don’t demand or expect they will like us,but I insist that the law treats us fairly. Together we will come out & we will not disappear.

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This just in from Brian Murphy, a Soulforce Equality Rider and the filmmaker who created a film about the first Ex-Gay Survivor Conference.

Join The Impact NYC Rally

Join The  Impact gathering

We hope that if you are planning on attending the rally, that you will join us for this training so that we can be prepared to boldly confront this important issue.

As you may have heard, a grassroots movement called Join The Impact has sprung up in the days since the election to organize rallies in every state in the union on Saturday November 15 for the cause of LGBT equality. A gathering in New York City is scheduled for 1:30 PM at City Hall. While this is not a SFNYC organized event, I will be there and I hope to see you there as well! We recognize that marriage is not a city issue, however city halls are traditional gathering places for communities, and it is fitting for us to gather there as others across the country do the same. We are not protesting the city but rather standing up and being counted–that we are passionate about the cause of justice for LGBTQ people, that discrimination in all forms is unbefitting of our society, that gay relationships should be supported equally with straight ones, and also to remind ourselves that the journey for LGBT equality does not begin nor end with marriage.

Non-Violence Training at 11:30Non-Violence at Patrick Henry College

In preparation for the rally, Micah and I will be leading a non-violence training for Soulforce NYC. This will cover non-violence of the heart, communication messaging, and courageous responses to violent action. Marble Collegiate Church, located at 29th St & 5th Ave, has graciously opened their building to us for this occasion. We will meet from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM before traveling to City Hall together to arrive by 1:30 PM.

There will be Impact rallies all over the US and beyond. Check out the Impact site for locations. I will be at the Colorado Springs (home of Focus on the Family!)

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Crazy Talk

In every election we hear all sorts of rumors and smears spread around about candidates and issues. This election cycle though I have heard some of the craziest things yet.

A family member in NY, not an Evangelical Christian at all, asked me, “Do you think that Obama is the anti-Christ?” I didn’t even know she had heard of the anti-Christ before. Then she asked, “Do you think Michelle Obama is racist?” She says this is what she has been hearing–in New York.

Yesterday a Quaker friend, a straight married man with two sons, forwarded me an e-mail he sent in response to a message forwarded to him and many others by his aunt in Texas. The message is in support Proposition 8 in California,  which attempts to overturn marriage for gay and lesbians in that state.
Here is the original message the aunt forwarded:

Hi everyone,

Please join us in a nondenominational fast on Sunday, October 12th for California Proposition 8.

Whatever your professed faith may be, your faith and fasting can bring forth the powers of heaven. Please abstain from food and drink on Sunday, October 12th and please pray for a positive outcome for California’s Proposition 8. You might also pray that hearts may be softened and that understanding and wisdom will prevail.

Please FORWARD this to those in favor of protecting and restoring traditional marriage in California. We would LOVE to have residents of other states or nations join us in our fasting and prayer!

Isaiah 58:6,8-9
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.

If passed, Proposition 8 will eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. The Family Proclamation states that “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother…” The proclamation ends with “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

While many of you may not be from California, we can all help by participating in this worldwide fast. I hope you all consider taking part in this, and inviting your friends, family, classmates, everyone you know to help out as well. There is an event on Facebook if you want to join and invite people on there.

Thank you all for your support!

Here is my friend’s response:

Dear Family and friends of family,

I hesitate to respond to this message because I do not know all of you. However, after sitting with this over the last several days, I feel compelled to clarify that this issue is not one of Christian vs. non-Christian.

Here in New England, where I live, a significant proportion of those who have fought for the rights of same-gender couples are Christians. Gay Christians and straight Christians, clergy and lay leaders, and from different denominations; and many of them have been among the most visible, outspoken and courageous leaders of the movement. I am also confident that many of those who will vote against Proposition 8 in CA are Christians. They are Christians who have a different understanding of Jesus’ message and example of love, compassion and radical inclusivity that welcomed everyone to the table — including, and it could be argued, especially those whom the devoutly religious people of his day regarded as sinners.

In reading the message below, forwarded by my Aunt, I found it odd and troubling that the passage quoted from Isaiah speaks of God rewarding and answering those who undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. I don’t understand how this passage could be construed to support Proposition 8, when the next sentence clarifies that it will eliminate the rights of a group of people that has suffered significant oppression.

I am also puzzled by earlier messages that described the situation as frightening. What’s frightening about it? My sons have grown up with gay and lesbian friends within our family’s close circle of friendships, and they have multiple good friends who have two moms. Those friendships neither threaten nor diminish my heterosexuality nor that of my sons. Just last Friday, the Supreme Court here in Connecticut ruled that it is a violation of the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution to deny marriage rights to same-gender couples. This is not an issue I have chosen to be actively engaged with, but I support the court’s decision. That decision doesn’t threaten or in any way diminish the value, stability or sanctity of my own marriage or the marriages of my friends and neighbors. The institution of marriage faces a much greater threat from the ever-increasing divorce rate, infidelity and promiscuity among heterosexual couples.

As for the concern that the court’s action will facilitate schools’ educating children about a diversity of family relationships, I am again puzzled as to why that seems so frightening. People from cultural and religious backgrounds other than the dominant Christian tradition have always faced the challenge of an education system that either ignored or discounted their beliefs and traditions. When I was a kid, there was essentially no acknowledgment of Jewish holidays or traditions, and Islam was never even mentioned. Today, I have a very deep spiritual and moral conviction that war is wrong, that it is counter to the teachings of Jesus. But that belief is certainly not supported by any public school education in America, so I have to strive harder to teach my children the foundations of my faith. And I certainly don’t want the school system to ban books that describe military families or to remove discussions of war from the history books. As people of faith, we should welcome education systems that celebrate diversity and foster understanding, teaching children not to despise or fear those who are different from them. Such an education will prepare them for the increasing complexities of the world we live in and help to prevent violence in our schools, on college campuses, in our communities, and in our world.

May God indeed bless you & your families and all families everywhere — including those with two moms or two dads, and those with only one parent.

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A quick post with a few unrelated things.

  • Marvin Bloom strikes again with his Moment with Marvin on Jayna and Mila’s Transponder Podcast #84. Marvin promises that for the next segment he “will do a lesbian.” (His words exactly).  In addition, we hear from Elizabeth Jeremiah who warns the ladies about Marvin and his gay ways on Transponder Podcast #85. Fun for the whole family values crowd!
  • In celebration of the CT Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, I encourage you to join me in making a contribution to Vote NO on Prop 8, a measure designed to overturn marriage equality in California. Millions of dollars have been pumped into an aggressive media campaign to try to sway Californians to vote for discrimination against lesbian and gay couples (the biggest source coming from the New Haven, CT Knights of Columbus). And for every dollar you give between now and Sunday night, a donor will match it! Californians need our support (as do the folks in Arizona who have to vote no AGAIN on Prop 102).
  • Obama! Please America, let’s vote this man into office. It will not solve all our problems, but it will get us on an important track to recover from years of insanity.
  • Tomorrow I will have lunch in NYC with fellow ex-gay survivor and former Love in Action participant, David Christie. Check out David’s collage and narrative over at Beyond Ex-Gay.

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