Monday, August 30, 2010

CA State Senate Commends Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

All Saints Church was honored to host Bishop Christopher Senyonjo in May 2010 and to hear his courageous witness to God's inclusive love for the whole human family. [You can watch his Rector's Forum presentation here.]

Today the California State Senate recognized his prophetic work and condemned the draconian anti-LGBT legislation still pending in Uganda.

State Senate Calls on Federal Government to Help Stop Uganda’s Bill Criminalizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People

Equality California-sponsored resolution condemns Uganda’s draconian law persecuting LGBT people

[Sacramento] – The California State Senate today passed a resolution (SR 51) condemning Uganda’s bill criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 21-14 vote. Introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, the resolution urges the U.S. government to intensify its efforts to eliminate the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide as well as to take more caution when funding faith-based organizations to ensure that U.S. government funds and resources are accessible to women, minorities, and the LGBT community.
"The U.S. government must do everything in its power to stop the bill before the Uganda legislature that would lead to the criminalization and even death of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “The California Senate has taken an important step in passing this resolution, which will help raise awareness of the crisis in Uganda and will put the state on record in support of the U.S. government strengthening its efforts to end the criminalization of LGBT people worldwide.”
The resolution also encourages faith-based organizations in the U.S. to support the creation of policies in other countries that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It is egregious that radical religious leaders from our nation are working to spread fears about and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda,” said Sen. Leno. “These deplorable actions have encouraged violence, and even death against Ugandans. This resolution is a simple human rights appeal urging President Obama and our federal leaders to call for the decriminalization of LGBT people, not only in Uganda, but across the globe.”

Finally, the legislation commends Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, retired Anglican Bishop of West Uganda, for his work and ministry to create an inclusive church and society in Uganda free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the last year, Reverend Senyonjo has toured California, the United States and Europe to educate and bring attention to the hostility of the recent wave of religious-based homophobia in Uganda.

August 30, 2010

CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update on the All Saints Building project

Update on the All Saints Building project:
You can make a difference for All Saints Church and for the City of Pasadena. The Draft Environmental Impact Report on the All Saints Master Plan was released in late July, and comments are now being accepted by citizens to become part of the Final EIR. If you are willing to write a letter that will support the All Saints Master Plan, please contact Chris VanDerHorst for instructions. or 626-583-2715

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Q&A on Prop 8

by Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication, Incorporation & Growth and Inclusion

The landmark ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker issued on August 4, 2010 in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger will continue to have broad ranging impact and to be in the news and in conversations for the foreseeable future.

When we hosted attorney David Codell on August 8th, there were requests for some accessible FAQ&A’s – so here they are: Some from actual conversations I’ve had since August 4th and some from imagined conversations I’d like to have with some of the Letters to the Editors writers, bloggers and talk show pundits.

See what you think. And if you’re getting questions you’d like answers for … or if you’ve got your own list of FAQ&As then send ‘em on over! The more the merrier!

“What did Judge Walker actually rule?”
He ruled that the plaintiffs – the two couples who sued the State of California in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger -- were correct in their contention that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. From the decision:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs' objective as 'the right to same-sex marriage' would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy -- namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.

So here are some questions:

“How can one judge overrule the votes of 7 million people? Isn’t this what they call ‘judicial activism?’”

• Equal protection is a core value of a nation that pledges “liberty and justice to all” – not just some. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “equal protection” to all American citizens. That means a majority of citizens cannot take away constitutional rights from a minority.

• The Supreme Court decided decades ago that the right to marriage is a fundamental right in Loving vs. Virginia -- finding bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

• In Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, Judge Walker ruled that 52% of the population (the percentage that voted for Prop 8 in California) did not have the right to take away the fundamental right to marriage from same-sex couples.

• As for “judicial activism,” Prop 8 attorney Ted Olson has rightly noted that judicial activism is another term for a decision you don’t like.

• Another court “overruled the will of the people” in District of Columbia vs. Heller when it held that the people did not have the right to vote to take away 2nd Amendment rights by enacting gun control. We didn’t see conservative pundits talking about “judicial activism” in that ruling. You can’t have it both ways.

Bottom line: Equal protection means equal protection. Even when it’s equally protecting people you don’t like or agree with.

“I don’t care what the courts say. The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s what I believe.”

• Another key constitutional protection is in the 1st Amendment: freedom of religion. Your right to believe whatever you want about what the Bible says about anything – including marriage – is absolutely protected. So is the right of clergy people to make decisions about who they will or will not marry based on their own conscience and the dictates of their own religion.

• What is NOT protected is your right to write your theology into our Constitution. Nobody has that. And nobody should.

• Imagine if 52% of the voters in California were “traditional values” Muslims who believed that only sharia marriage (marriage that complies with their reading of Muslim religious law) was valid or recognized in the State of California. Wouldn’t the 14th Amendment come in pretty handy at that point? Wouldn’t you want your rights to be protected from somebody else’s theology?

Bottom line: Good people of deep faith are going to come to different conclusions about what the Bible says about many things. This is one of them. But the issue on the table is not who’s right about questions of faith. It’s who is entitled to equal protection by the Constitution when it comes to civil marriage. And the Walker ruling makes it clear that same-sex couples have that protection.

“I’ve heard that this decision will infringe on freedom of religion. Shouldn’t clergy be able to decide who they will or won’t marry without having to worry about getting sued?”

• Of course they should and they do. The 1st Amendment protects that right. Any suggestions that this decision will change those protections are completely baseless.

• For example, in the State of California we have had no-fault divorce since the 1970’s and divorced couples routinely re-marry and receive the protections afforded by civil marriage. However, a Roman Catholic couple cannot compel their priest to give them their church’s blessing on that marriage because it’s contrary to their theological practice.

• Likewise, interfaith marriages happen all the time but a rabbi cannot be compelled to preside at an interfaith wedding if it violates his or her religious conscience.

• It is exactly the same with same-sex marriages.

Bottom line: Some clergy will decide to preside at same-sex marriages and others will not. Nothing will change for those who choose not to marry same sex couples. However, those clergy whose religious conscience calls them to offer equal blessing to all couples coming to them for marriage will now be able to also offer the equal protection civil marriage gives the opposite sex couples they marry to the same sex couples they bless.

“You can give them equal rights if you want to why do you have to call it marriage? Why aren’t civil unions good enough for them?”

• Because Brown vs. Board of Education firmly established that separate is inherently unequal.

• Giving opposite sex couples the legal protections and cultural standing of marriage and offering equally protected same sex couples civil unions or domestic partnerships is inherently unjust, unequal and unfair.

• And until we overturn DOMA (the “Defense of Marriage Act”) at the federal level, no matter what we do at the state level opposite sex couples automatically receive 1138 federally protected rights that same sex couples are denied.

Bottom line: Separate-but-equal isn’t. Period.

“I’ve heard the Judge Walker is gay. How can a gay man make a fair decision on an issue like this that could potentially impact him personally?”

• Judges are trained to rule based on the finding of facts and on the law.

• By that reasoning African American judges shouldn’t rule on any case involving the civil rights of African American citizens, women judges shouldn’t rule on issues involving a woman’s right to choose and Hispanic/Latino judges should certainly not be hearing any immigration cases.

• And – it could be argued – judges in opposite sex marriages should recuse themselves from decisions involving marriage equality because they’d be unable to make a fair decision in a case about marriage.

Bottom line: If you’re resorting to attacking the sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, race, creed, marital status or any other personal characteristic of the judge it’s because you’ve run out of facts and law to argue. It’s a tribute to the strength of the ruling that the opponents of marriage equality are sinking this low.

“So what happens next?”

• The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put same-sex weddings in California on hold, while it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

• The appeals court's order trumps District Vaughn Walker's ruling that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on August 18th.

• The court also asked specifically that Proposition 8 supporters address whether they have "standing," the right to appeal to the court without a state official. (California’s governor and attorney general have both declined to appeal the decision.)

• The court will hear the appeal on December 6, 2010.

Bottom line: The arc of the history is long but it bends toward justice.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Letter to Judge Walker: This week's "Faith in Action" action @ All Saints Church, Pasadena

Every Sunday there is a chance for the members of All Saints Church to put their faith into action by visiting the "Action Table" on the lawn.

On Sunday, August 15th that action will be signing a letter of thanks to Judge Vaughn Walker for his landmark ruling against marriage discrimination. Please join us on Sunday if you can to add your name to those signing on in person.

And if you can't join us on Sunday in Pasadena, then consider other ways to swell the ranks of those thanking Judge Walker for all of us. We know he'll be hearing from those who think they alone speak for "Christian Family Values." Let's make sure he hears from us, too!


August 15, 2010

The Honorable Vaughn R. Walker
Chief Judge, United States District Court
for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Judge Walker,

We write to you as members of All Saints Church, where our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. In the context of that covenant, we thank you for ruling in favor of dignity and against discrimination for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage in California.

We write to you as a congregation committed to turning the human race into the human family. In the pursuit of that commitment, we thank you for equally valuing the gay and lesbian members of that human family and for rejecting “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

We write to you as a church that has been blessing the relationships of same sex couples since 1992 and which had the privilege of marrying 46 same sex couple between May and November in 2008. We thank you for the hope your decision gives us that California will once again be a state where we can offer both equal blessing and equal protection.

And we write to you as religious people who are convinced that no one has the right to write their theology into our Constitution. We believe our first amendment rights to freedom of religion are strengthened by your ruling and that it moves us closer to that goal of a nation of liberty and justice for all our founders intended.

May God bless you and keep you in the days and weeks ahead. Be assured of our prayers for you – for those you love, serve and challenge – and of our thanks for your work on behalf of all of us.

All Saints Church
Pasadena CA

Statement on Judge Waker's ruling on Prop 8 stay request

August 12, 2010 | 12:45 p.m.

Today Judge Walker paved the way for both freedom and wedding bells to ring in California.

This ruling in favor of dignity and against discrimination for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage in California has helped us take one more step forward on the journey to making liberty and justice for all a reality in our nation.

It is a blessing to have civil marriage equality restored in the State of California. And it is a great joy that California clergy will once again have the freedom to choose to offer both equal blessing and equal protection to all couples coming to us to celebrate the sanctity of their marriages.

While we celebrate today’s ruling lifting the stay on marriage equality, we continue to work for the day when the 1138 federally protected rights guaranteed opposite sex couples are also available to same sex couples.

Today’s step forward is not just for the gay and lesbian couples getting married. It is also a cause for celebration for all of those preach family values that value ALL families and who believe that protecting marriage means protecting ALL marriages.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Letter to Temecula

The following letter was presented to the All Saints Church community at the Peace & Justice Action Table on Sunday, August 8th and signed by 188 parish members. We hope it will be an example for those looking for ways to reach out in healing and hope across differences as we work together to be a nation committed to liberty and justice for all.

August 8, 2010

To the Members of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley:

During our service each Sunday, we greet each other, and say, “Peace be with you.” We greet you in peace and say, “As-Alamu Alaykum.”

We are parishioners at All Saints Church, Pasadena, and write to you to express our deep sadness at what your religious community has experienced these past few weeks. We reach out to extend a message of solidarity, friendship and peace.

We grieve at how Islamophobia, especially since 9/11, has so deeply impacted the Muslim community. We know that members of your Muslim community have been targets of prejudice, and that you have experienced gross misrepresentations of your faith. We also grieve for those who are driven by anger and misunderstanding, and whose actions hurt and divide. At All Saints Church, our Rector, Ed Bacon, speaks about the importance of living in the house of love rather than in the house of fear. We write to you from that house of love, to reach out to our brothers and sisters, all of us children of one loving and compassionate God.

We have been heartened by the outpouring of support for you from a range of community and faith groups. We pledge to you that we will work to promote interfaith understanding and respect, and to do all that we can to help transform the human race into the human family.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Round up of the Prop 8 Court Decision "in the news"

The landmark decision by Judge Vaughn Walker declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional generated lots of news coverage ... including some opportunities for All Saints to get our message of God's love, inclusion and justice out into a world longing to hear it.

USA Today , the San Gabriel Valley News and the Episcopal News Service all included All Saints Church in their "round up" of people of faith responding to the ruling.

Channel 4 news aired this segment, focused on the impact of the ruling on one couple hoping to get married ... Scout Masterson & Bill Horn (pictured above) whose daughter Simone was baptized here at All Saints:

And KCAL9/CBS2 aired this report on Sunday, August 8th featuring our Summer Forum speaker, attorney David Codell.

"Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ Jesus" is one of the baptismal promises we make. And getting the news media help us in that work by getting the word out about God's inclusive love and All Saints Church is one way we go about that work -- this week, more than ever!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: All Saints Church Applauds Landmark Prop 8 Decision

All Saints Church applauds today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Walker as a giant step forward for justice.

“The love life of every human being is sacred,” said All Saints rector Ed Bacon. “It is a gift from God. This is true not only for heterosexual couples but for those who have found that the love of their life is a person of the same gender.”

“When a state forbids a couple who has found such love from marrying it is an abusive form of injustice and discrimination to a class of human beings – and All Saints Church rejoices today that Judge Walker has ruled against that injustice.”

“Marriage equality promotes healthy marriage for all people. Here at All Saints Church we are all about turning the human race into the human family. And we rejoice with the gay and lesbian members of that family who today heard from Judge Walker the message we send every day from All Saints Church: that they are equal in every way and entitled not only to equal blessing by the church but to equal protection of the Constitution.”

On Sunday, August 8th All Saints Church will host an informational forum including legal experts and faith leaders speaking in response to today’s ruling. 10:15 a.m. in the All Saints Forum.

For further information or for comment from All Saints staff on today’s ruling contact:

The Reverend Susan Russell
Senior Associate for Communication
626.583.2741 – office
714-356-5718 -- mobile