Articles in which religion is a central theme.

Libations With Linda, Episode 2: Rachel – Gay Marriage In The Church

The podcast has made it to episode number two!

In this episode I speak with Rachel about same-sex marriage in the Episcopal Church where she can speak from personal experience. Along the way we enjoy some Stash Chai Spice Black Tea.

On a technical note, while the audio quality is a bit better in this episode the need for better lighting is obvious. Apologies for the quite noticeable video noise. Hopefully some better lighting can be obtained before the next episode.

Here are the links mentioned in the episode:

Responding to the Arguments Against Gay Marriage

On Monday, September 19, 2005, I attended a meeting at McLean Bible Church. At this meeting, State Senator Ken Cuccinelli, Delegate Richard Black, Virginia Cobb of the Family Foundation and Patricia Phillips of the Concerned Women for America spoke in support of the proposed amendment that would ban same-sex marriage or recognition for anything trying to emulate marriage in Virginia.

As I listened to the arguments against same-sex marriage, I couldn’t help wonder what the fuss was about. Although I was too young to remember it, I later learned about the case of Loving vs. Virginia in school. In this case, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Commonwealth of Virginia contended before the Supreme Court that its ban prohibiting blacks and whites from marrying was both proper and valid. The trial judge in Virginia
said, as part of his justification, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents.
And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
The implication is that permitting marriages to people with differing skin colors was contrary to God’s plan. In
many of the arguments of the day the words, “unnatural”, and “against nature” were heard.

Thirty-eight years later,Senator Cuccinelli, speaking about same-sex marriage said that it was “contrary to the laws of God and nature”. Delegate Black called it “unnatural”. This has a familiar ring. Virginia legislators have a long history of trying to deny civil rights.

Senator Cuccinelli claimed that allowing same-sex marriage would “rip society apart” though he didn’t supply any justification for this. For the last year, Massachusetts has allowed same-sex marriage. Brian Lees, a Republican legislator in Massachusetts recently said, “Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry.” What is most significant about Mr. Lees is that he was one of the co-sponsors of the Massachusetts marriage amendment in 2004.

Many provinces of Canada have allowed same-sex marriage for even longer and society in our northern neighbor does not appear to be on the verge of collapse. The Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been allowed does have one study that Ms. Phillips claims shows the harm of same-sex marriage. However, the facts do not appear to support the claim. Marriage rates did not measurably drop nor did divorce rates measurably increase according to a July 2004 paper by Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Even if the study she referenced were correct about its facts, correlation does not imply cause and there is no data to suggest that same-sex marriage hurts society in any way.

All four speakers claimed that marriage had to be protected.Over the last year, I have asked several legislators exactly how allowing two people of the same-sex to get married harms their marriage. I have yet to get a response. It seems quite the opposite to me. Allowing same-sex marriage would strengthen marriage by allowing loving, committed couples to formalize their relationship in a way that would promote strong family values.

They also claimed that same-sex marriage was a “biological impossibility”. They implied that marriage only existed for procreation and that anyone who had a marriage where the father did not sire and the mother did not bear the child was living less than the ideal marriage. Of course, procreation is only one of the reasons people marry. I know many heterosexual couples that either through circumstance or choice do not have children. Does this lack invalidate their marriages? All of them would loudly proclaim that it does not.

Finally, I’d like to address the one concrete example that was given. Delegate Black said that one of the reasons that same-sex couples wanted to marry was hospital access. He went on to say that it was a non-issue, that no hospital had ever banned a partner from visiting. I suspect he is wrong but even if he were right, he has missed the most important part of the issue. He said that it was as simple as the partner in the hospital saying it was OK for the other partner to visit. What if this person is unconscious? What if medical decisions need to be made? While a medical power of attorney can prevent this problem, what if the document is not present? For him to dismiss matters of life and death as mere access is
disingenuous and misses the point. This is just one of many rights that married couples take for granted yet we are forced to scramble through the legal system to protect our families because people like Delegate Black refuse to recognize the legitimacy of our families. His refusal hurts not just lesbian and gay Virginians but our children.

In closing, I’d again like to focus on a statement by Senator Cuccinelli. He believes that marriage is in trouble. He believes that divorce and single-parent families threaten the family. Yet, instead of trying to solve those problems, he has chosen to “protect” marriage by keeping it available only to heterosexual couples. I suggest that he actually focus on the real problem instead of attacking a group of people because it is politically popular.

In the 1950’s it was common to equate homosexuality with the communist threat. In recent years, some prominent people have claimed that gays were somehow responsible for terrorism. The truth is that most gay people, like most straight people, are good, hardworking people who love their country and their families. Passing the marriage amendment would do nothing to protect marriage but it would institutionalize discrimination against gay and lesbian Virginians.

Spain is Third

Spain’s recently passed law to allow same-sex marriage went into effect over the weekend. While America debates banning flag burning and making discrimination against lesbian and gay Ameicans part of our constitution, Spain has stepped up and said that marriage is a civil right and ensured that it is extended to all of its citizens. The law makes Spain the third nation to pass a law allowing gay and lesbians to marry. It joins the Netherlands and Belgium. Canada is poised to become the fourth later this year.

The Catholic Church is apalled that Spain would do such a thing. Pope Benedict XVI even called on Spanish government officials to defy the law and refuse to carry out the ban. The level of hypocrisy in the leadership of the Catholic Church is amazing to behold. They spend years covering up the actions of their own pedophile priests, even to the point of allowing them to continue their practices in differenc dioces yet to allow two human beings to formally join their lives together in a loving, committed relationship is something they find immoral. To quote Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride, “They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.”

Fortunately, not all Christians are so rigidly closed-minded. The United Church of Christ has endorsed the concept of marriage equality. It is claimed that they are the largest Church in the US to support marriage equality. I congratulate them on their action and hope that Bush and his corps of advisors that uses religion as a weapon will take note that not all Americans will tolerate that behavior.

Congratulations to Spain!

Love Inaction

The 1999 film, But I’m a Cheerleader takes a tongue in cheek look at so-called “Rehabilitation Camps”. Unfortunately, such camps do exist in the real world and I can’t help how much damage they are doing to teenagers whose misguided parents send them there to be “cured”.

Yesterday I heard about a 16 year old boy that came out to his parents. The parents, being conservative Christians, freaked out. Apparently they waited the couple of weeks until the school year ended and then informed him that they were sending him to this rehabilitation camp where he could learn not to be gay. He was told that he was sick and that they had raised him wrong and that God didn’t want him to be this way.

Before he was sent off, he managed to learn a bit about the camp where he was being sent. He posted the rules where the children are euphemistically referred to as “clients” and to my, admittedly biased, eye they arguably could be interpreted as child abuse. They are required to follow a strict dress code, are unable to see secular media, have strict controls on who they may talk with and in general are treated like prisoners.

Perhaps it’s possible that these are justified when someone is genuinely sick and needs help. But, this boy isn’t sick. He’s gay. His
parents may be correct about raising him wrong though if this is any indication of their methods.

If your church supports the efforts of Love in Action or programs like them that try to brainwash children into repressing their true selves, I strongly urge you to ask them to reconsider. Organizations like this are likely to do damage that may take years to repair if it can be repaired at all.

It’s sadly ironic that many of the most conservative members of our society accuse the gay community of “recruiting” and of trying to convert people to a “gay lifestyle”. In reality, it’s these very same people that are doing the recruiting. Few gay people would try to force someone into a same-sex relationship yet these people think it is right and proper to try to force their child to be heterosexual.


As we draw close to Christmas, I thought it would be useful to look back over some events of the last year in the struggle for getting recognition for same-sex marriage in America. After all, Christmas is the second most important celebration in Christianity and since religion seems to be tied up in this discussion, at least on the surface, it seems an appropriate time.

It is interesting when both side in an argument claim to be on the moral high ground. But, when you look at the arguments of those who wish to prohibit same-sex marriage more closely there is precious little morality actually in them. Instead you find intolerance and discrimination. You find Catholic Cardinals likening gays to cockroaches, Popes spewing hyperbole and Presidents who deliberately use fear to achieve a political advantage. Where is the morality there?

Somehow the words “moral” and “family” when used in the name of an organization have become almost like the words “democratic republic of” and “people’s republic of” in the names of countries. The lose all meaning or worse mean exactly the opposite.

It is a telling fact that since the November election, attacks against LGBT individuals are up across the country. This is the message that has been sent to the country: that it is ok to hate and even attack those who are different. Is this really the kind of country that you want to live in?

For those who call themselves Christians, think about the positions that some of your leaders are taking. Even if you don’t agree with someone else’s life, it is still appropriate to respect that difference. Though they say they are trying to protect society and families their actions bely those words. The only thing their actions do is promote hate and intolerance.

Christmas is a time of optimism and outside of the US there are signs of hope. Belgium and the Netherlands already allow same-sex marriage and several others are close to it, most notably, Canada.

As Americans, let us make the words that we say mean something: freedom and liberty should be for everyone, not just a select few that pass a sniff test. As we head into 2005, let us reverse the trend of 2004 and truly bring the country together.

Pope is Mistaken

According to this article, Pope John Paul II has stepped up his attacks on same-sex marriage.

His statement said, ““Attacks on marriage and the family, from an ideological and legal aspect, are becoming stronger and more radical every day.“.

This is utterly ludicrous.

Same-sex marriage is not an attack on marriage. It is not an attack on family. It is a celebration of both marriage and family.

I’m gong to keep saying that as long as the small-minded, intolerant minority keep trying to tell us that it’s wrong.

Let the Sarcasm Begin!

I didn’t write this. I don’t know who did. It’s one of those things that had probably been forwarded a hundred times by the time it got to my inbox. However, it uses some biting sarcasm to make an excellent point.

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination…end of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1.Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev.15: 19-24). The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev.1:9). The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them (Lev. 24:10-16)? Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people
who sleep with their in-laws (Lev. 20:14)?

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

Got a Cockroach in Your Family?

A Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church has apparently gone on record (unfortunately the original link I referenced no longer works) with a statement that recognizing same-sex marriages would be akin to considering cats or cockroaches to be part of a family.

It’s amazing that people can have such narrow minded views of what constitutes a family and such a low opinion of the the love that two people can share that they would characterize this as like considering an insect to be part of your family.

And I wonder why I think that organized religions have been one of the single worst things to happen to humanity….

Expos Headed to DC

Well, it looks official. Though I admit that I don’t really understand the selection process. How can they select a city without having picked an owner? What if they can't come to an agreement with the DC buyer group? But, hey, not much that the MLB has done of late appears to make much sense so why should this be any different?

As a baseball fan living in northern Virginia, a local team seems a good thing, but as a girl that grew up outside of Baltimore as an Orioles fan, it worries me. Will I end up losing radio and television coverage of the Orioles in this market because the Expos will be the home team?

Of course, the O’s have stunk for the last seven years, but, still, they are the team I grew up watching. Brooks and Frank and Boog….then Eddie and Cal. And while they still stink this year, if they ever get their pitching together they might be worth watching

So, go ahead and bring the Expos here, but don’t take away my Birds!

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