United Church of Christ Sues – Media and Opponents Harmfully Refer to Same Sex Marriages

Press Conference at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, Charlotte, NC

Press Conference at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, Charlotte, NC

Jesus not only cared about the marginalized.  He also cared about the marginalized of the marginalized.

We, unfortunately, are still allowing discussions and media reports about marriage to be framed as a debate about same sex marriages at the expense of the marginalized of the marginalized.

In 2012, North Carolina voters approved a state amendment that limited a domestic legal union to a covenant between a man and woman, as if God had not created diverse gender identities and sexual orientations, as if some people don’t exist.

Under the law, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that has not obtained a license. Yesterday the United Church of Christ and a group of Charlotte-area ministers announced a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction that would allow ministers the religious freedom to perform marriages of gender identity and sexual orientation minorities without legal consequences.

The media and opponents of the lawsuit are reporting the denomination has sued in favor of same sex marriage, but the suit is about more than just same sex marriages.  When are we going to educate the media to stop reporting our concerns as being solely about “same sex marriage”? How long are we going to allow Christian fundamentalists to reduce the discussion to gay and marriage and procreation?

For example, in response to yesterday’s announcement, David Hains, of the Charlotte Catholic Diocese, commented, “This lawsuit does not change the fact that God created men and women differently. The fruits of that difference are marriage and the continuance of the human race through children.”

No one is debating the fact that women and men have been created differently by God. That’s pretty obvious. What Hains and others fail to understand is the extent to which God has created human beings differently, including intersexed, bi-sexual, and bi-gendered people. Hains would have us believe, in spite of overwhelming, factual evidence to the contrary, God created only heterosexual men and heterosexual women, that God created a binary world.

In terms of the fruits of the difference between men and women, Hains cites marriage and procreation. Hains may want to consider Jesus, who, according to our canonical gospels, was not married and did not have children. How could Hains miss that example! His remarks and theology are insults to human beings who do not get married and/or do not have children by choice or due to medical reasons.

But also tragic and insulting is that Hains and others miss out on, and deny, other great diversity created by God, a diversity described in Leslie Feinberg’s classic, Transgender Warriors.

Sky Renfro describes himself with these words.

My sense of who I am at any given time is somewhere on [a] wheel and the place that I occupy there can change depending on the season and life events as well as a number of other influences.

Trying to envision masculine at one end of a line and feminine on the other, with the rest of us somewhere on that line is a difficult concept for me to grasp. Male and – female – they’re so close to each other, they sit right next to each other on that wheel. They are not at opposite ends as far as I can tell. In fact, they are so close that they’re sometimes not distinguishable. (p. 151)

David Hains meet Sky Renfro, and a multitude of other God-created people who do not fit your fundamentalist dogma.

The time is coming when all of God’s children will be treated equally, including being able to be legally married in the state which they reside.

The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister: Confessions of a Former Transgenderphobic Heterosexual

True story.  A Wedgewoodian who is now deceased loved to tell the story of going to Catholic confession.  He confessed a particular sin and the priest said, “Are you sorry?”  Jose replied, “Hell no I’m not sorry.  And I plan to do the sin again.”

I’ve heard more than one Baptist criticize the practice of confession.  They reason, why confess something if you are going to keep it doing the sin over and over?

I see the point; however, I agree with the Scottish proverb “open confession is good for the soul.”

In my last blog entry on “The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister” I confessed sins I had committed while I was a homophobic heterosexual, sins I deeply regret.  In today’s blog entry I need to confess that I formerly was a transgenderphobic heterosexual.

When I arrived at Wedgewood Baptist Church in 1989 I had figured out that homosexuality was not a sin.  My theology, however, had not accounted for transgendered, intersexed, and bisexual individuals.  My thinking, even as a non-homophobic  heterosexual, was binary.  The earth’s God-created diversity was more than my mind could imagine.

In 2007 I received an email from a transgendered person.  He was a she.  She felt like she had been born in the wrong body.  She had wanted to have an operation but due to health concerns was not able to do so.  She inquired if she would be welcome at Wedgewood.

I must confess, my first reaction was “Oh shit.”  I must confess, my second reaction was “Oh shit.”  I must confess, my third reaction was “Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?  What have I gotten Wedgewood Baptist Church into?”

What a difference getting to know people makes!  I now have several close friends who are transgendered.  It took time, but I no longer think of transgendered people as the freakiest of all the freaks.

When I wrote an article for The Charlotte Observer in 2004 I titled it “Homosexuality is not a sin:  The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.”  In choosing that title, in referring only to homosexuals, I wrote as if transgendered, intersexed and bisexual people did not exist.  Or put another way, I left out of the conversation the most marginalized of the marginalized.  I can think of very few sins worse than not recognizing someone’s existence.  If I could write the piece again I would title it “One’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Not A Sin:  The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.”

There are sins I will keep on committing until the day I die, but I will not ever commit the sin of transgenderphobia again.

Chaz Bono (Dancing with the Stars)

The Problem With Same Sex Marriage (and Heterosexual Marriage)

I will be performing a same sex marriage this Saturday but there is a problem with same sex marriage.  And it’s a big one.

The problem is not that same sex marriage is sinful. It is not.

The problem is not that same sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriages.  I’ve been hanging out with GLBT folk now for some time and they have not harmed my marriage, only enhanced it.  And for the record, my attraction for attractive heterosexual women has not diminished one bit and attraction for males simply does not exist.

The problem is allowing heterosexual homophobics to frame the debate as same sex marriage distorts the truth of our reality and ignores some human beings, acting as if they do no even exist.  I am referring to intersexed people, hermaphrodites, bisexual and bigendered human beings.  Such people simply don’t fit the spiritual, legal, gender, and marriage categories of the heterosexual homophobics who greatly reduce the world with their theologies and laws.

Heterosexual homophobic thought is binary in nature:  gays and straights, male and female.  Life is not that way for many people.

Our theologies and law must take into account all the evidence.  And part of the evidence is one’s gender is not always male or female.  There also are some folk who are bi-gendered and/or bisexual.

These statistics about intersex people are approximations.

Not XX and not XY one in 1,666 births
Klinefelter (XXY) one in 1,000 births
Androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 13,000 births
Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 130,000 births
Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia one in 13,000 births
Late onset adrenal hyperplasia one in 66 individuals
Vaginal agenesis one in 6,000 births
Ovotestes one in 83,000 births
Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause) one in 110,000 births
Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother) no estimate
5 alpha reductase deficiency no estimate
Mixed gonadal dysgenesis no estimate
Complete gonadal dysgenesis one in 150,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft) one in 2,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis) one in 770 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female one in 100 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance one or two in 1,000 births


Do Ask and Please Tell (America's First Gay War Hero)

Baron Friedrich von Steuben

I’m doing my best to get the Republican party back to sense and sensibility.  A good dose of honesty wouldn’t hurt either.  For all their talk about values the Republicans have become damm liars, especially when it comes to American history.  Republican conservative Christians are so blinded by their supposed certainty they – forgive me – they would mess up a wet dream.  They – they couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag.  It’s that bad folks.  I wish I were making this stuff up, but I’m not.  And I/we’ve got to get the elephant herd up and running because the Democrats are going to mess it up.  They always do.  Obama is about as good of a Democrat as we’ve seen in a long time, but he’s getting a little distracted, to say the least.  If we can just find one good Republican, we could be saved.  Maybe we could find a place to rent one.  If we can find one honest Republican, then maybe that Republican could lead us out of this morass.  God help us too.

Anyway, today is Memorial Day and a big liberalbaptistrev thank you to the military.  No, this is not the usual use the military for political purposes speech.  I’m tired of those speeches which have been made since eternity.  Democrats and Republicans are both guilty as war hell of making the stars and stripes war speech.  Today I’d just like to say thank you to all military personnel.  Thank you for protecting our country from crazies.  And I’d like to add:  forgive us for asking you to fight wrong wars.  You know as well as I do our country has fought good wars and we have fought wrong wars.  Precious lives should never be lost in wrong wars (like what George Bush did in Iraq, for example). 

The greatest loss is always the loss of lives, and loss of lives in bad wars is something that is hard to fess up about.

Another cost to unnecessary wars is you mess up the bank account.  How ironic that my Republican friends are talking about deficits and the bad shape of our economy.  You nitwits, you – you spent our country into this mess with your wrong war.  Confess your sins this very moment and quit blaming the Democrats.  (There are plenty of other things to blame them for.)

While you are confessing, please confess your sin about the ridiculous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  Can we get Bill Clinton in the confessional booth too? (Only for this sin of his, mind you.  We don’t have a year to listen to all sins.)  Clinton, in response to my indictment, will probably bring up incrementalism. You’ve got to meet people where they are, kind of politics.  You’ve got to get re-elected kind of politics.  That’s the best we could do at the time, he would probably argue.  I’m not listening, Bill, to your justifications.  (Hillary hasn’t listened to your sorry rationalizatons either.  Good for her!) My GLBTI friends are sick of tired of your incrementalism.

Please change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to Do Ask and Please Tell.  Feel free to ask.  I’m so comfortable with who I am I am willing to share with the world who I am.  Please tell.  Please tell me who you are so I can learn from you and not be such a provincial idiot.

I wish Baron Friedrich von Steuben had been able to tell who he was.  Evidently the word now has leaked out.  He was gay.   To be specific, he was America’s first gay war hero.  Google his name and learn his story.

Alert:  You better do this before the Texas Board of Education takes over Google.

Please don’t let the Texas Board of Education know about this.  They’ll write von Steuben out of the history books.