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Friday, May 08, 2009

My answer? Do the math!

The Anglican Consultative Council, having met in Kingston, Jamaica, has finished its work. It passed various resolutions, but none of more interest to people in this neighborhood than Resolution ACC-14.

No surprises, really, especially parts c, d and e, to wit:

c. affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates’ Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces;

d. acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas and recognises the deep cost of such restraint;

e. asks that urgent conversations are facilitated with those Provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern;

A colleague of mine asked, "Okay, so the hill we have to climb in Anaheim just got piled higher. What are we to say to the 'movable middle' (whatever THAT is, anymore) or those bishops who have been drinking the Lambeth Kool-Aid who say 'but the Communion says . . .'?"

Here's my answer: DO THE MATH!

Gay Marriage is now legal in five states: Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa. Massachusetts. and Maine. It has passed the NH legislature and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.

Gay Rights Activist are predicting a sweep of the North East (little RI) by 2012.

Last month, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District -- a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.

President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

So, to recap: There are five states which allow gay marriage and nine others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire (marriage pending), Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with one, New York, on the cusp of marriage equality (and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision on marriage).

If you've been keeping track, that's 15 (one immanently pending) jurisdictions in The United States with some form of marriage equality.

What does that mean for Episcopalians?

There are THIRTY dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jurisdiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions.

Don't believe me? Here are the facts:

Jurisdictions with domestic partnership or civil unions

State: California
Dioceses: 6 - California, Northern California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Diego

State: New Jersey
Diocese: 2 - New Jersey, Newark

State: New Hampshire (marriage pending)
Diocese: 1

State: Oregon
Diocese: 2 - Oregon, Eastern Oregon

State: Washington, DC
Diocese: 1

State: Washington
Diocese: 2 - Spokane, Olympia

State: Hawai'i
Diocese: 1

State: Maryland
Diocese: 2 - Maryland, Easton

State: Colorado
Diocese: 1

Jurisdictions in the U.S. that offer marriage equality to same-sex couples:

State: Massachusetts
Dioceses: 2 - Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts

State: Connecticut
Diocese: 1

State: Vermont
Diocese: 1

State: Iowa
Diocese: 1

State: Maine
Diocese: 1

Jurisdictions with pending marriage equality legislation:

State: New York
Dioceses: 6 - Albany, New York, Central New York, Rochester, Western New York, Long Island


How significant is that?
Well, there are 110 dioceses in The Episcopal Church - which means that

27% or well MORE THAN 1/4 of the
Episcopal dioceses are affected by marriage equality.

Like math? Want more?

Look at the latest numbers for Communicants and Average Sunday Attendance. I know. We all know that these are just estimates, but let's work with what we've got.

There are a reported 1,795,325 Communicants in good standing in The Episcopal Church.

The Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in The Episcopal Church is reported at 768,320.

If you look at the numbers for the 15 affected dioceses, there are a reported 664,166 Communicants.

The Average Sunday Attendance in those diocese is 28,334.

That means that 37% of Communicants in The Episcopal Church as well as those who attend our churches are directly affected by the pastoral concerns of their LGBT members who enjoy the civil right of marriage.

What does any of this have to do with recommendations of the ACC?

A whole lot.

We've been repeatedly asked to understand the contextual realities of the various dioceses and provinces in the World Wide Anglican Communion. And, I think we have made a serious effort to do just that.

It's time, however, to put the sacristy slipper on the other ecclesiastical foot.

The contextual realities of The Episcopal Church are that 27% of our dioceses and 37% of our Communicants in good standing are directly affected by the issue of marriage equality.

Isn't it ironic that the religious community, which has taken the lead on every Civil Rights issue - with the exception of the Americans with Disabilities Act - is woefully lacking in leadership on the issue of Civil Rights for its LGBT citizens?

Are we to turn our backs on this growing pastoral need in the name of unity?

How can we continue to honor the moratorium for authorization of liturgical rites of blessings for same gender couples when more and more states are moving ahead on the issue of civil rights for LGBT people?

I think the answer is obvious: Do the math!


David said...

i may not have taken high school trig, but the equation seems obvious to me

either the Church continues to bury its head up its proverbial, thereby continuing to insult the Holy Spirit very clearly at work within it's people; or it steps up to the plate and embraces the healing, prophetic role it is called to as the living Body of Christ is this world. thankfully, inspite of all their bad choices, the outcome is not in the hands of these councils, but in the hands of the Holy Spirit Herself!

'It's time, however, to put the sacristy slipper on the other ecclesiastical foot.'



ROBERTA said...

all this math is making my head hurt - but glad you did it - you've put it in perspective for me...thank you!

Bill said...

Elizabeth, You are confusing our dear friends on the right with all your facts and figures. They don’t like the facts, and the figures are giving them migraines. They remind me of the “Know Nothing Party” (also called the American Party) of 1840 – 1850 American political history. The Know Nothings were “empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed” by Irish Catholic immigrants. They didn’t want to know about facts and figures either. They weren’t concerned about the harm and anguish their politics was causing the immigrants. All they knew was fear and to this they reacted.

We have a similar situation in the Episcopal Church today. They are like people standing in the surf; standing not so firmly on sand that tends to wash away from under them. At each ebb and flow of the tide, each change in the legal marriage definition in various states, they sink a little lower until, in the end, they are just trying to keep their heads above the water. If they lose their fight, marriage as they know it in the United States will cease to exist. To some extent they are correct. Marriage as they know it; marriage which exists solely between partners as defined in ancient Jewish scripture, will be gone. That will be replaced with marriage between loving partners regardless of gender. It will have no effect on their traditional marriages. They will still be married and will still enjoy all the benefits of marriage. It will however usher in a broader, more equitable definition of the union of marriage. There will be those who don’t like it. There were those who regretted bitterly having to give up slaves. There were those who hated the thought of giving women suffrage, and maybe still do. But you know what; time moves on and before long this will all be just another foot-note in our evolution.

KJ said...

Is "x" our brothers and sisters throughout the world in harm's way?

BTW -- In Washington State (Olympia and Spokane Dioceses), our domestic partnership law was expanded recently, and the governor was said she will sign it. However, out detractors have begun collecting signatures for a Prop 8-like initiative.

Malinda said...

I do wonder about looking at the math - as much as I agree with it I can see it sending up as many barriers as it is attempts to break them down. Statistics, damn statistics!

You are on it about the message - maybe if we could all just step back or step up or whatever step it takes to look at the message as meaning, what we are called to do and be - maybe that is a step in the God direction. We are not numbers, but souls. Just a thought.

Jim said...

The short answer to are we turning our backs on our LBTG sisters and brothers in the name of unity is B033. As long as that thing remains un--repealed, yes, we are. It was wrong, it remains wrong, it has to go.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

David - there are so many who keep saying that this is such a minor issue, we shouldn't be paying attention to it. I hope this helps to contradict that.

Roberta - I hope I've made the case for those men in purple who have been drinking the Lambeth Kool-Aid.

Bill - I hear you. I'm not trying to make the case for the Wingnuts on the Right, but for our bishops who seem to like / want / need this sort of thing.

KJ - I will keep you in my prayers.

Malinda - you are absolutely correct. No civil rights issue, no issue of justice was ever won on numbers and statistics and demographics. It's always a matter of the heart. More on this in another post.


I was a history major because there was no math requirement ... and this math makes sense to ME!

You rock!

IT said...

only slightly O/T, I've started a new blog, Gay Married Californian, to start to tell our stories. Please come on over.

Jim said...

Of course, inevitably one will hear the response that the majority of Anglicans world wide are in Central African provinces where the idea of lesbians or gays being allowed to marry is anathema. And, indeed they are.

The answer to that is not however more restriction it is more freedom. The Anglican experiment will only work if the various provinces are free to deal with the cultures they serve.

That may be higher math than the control freaks can handle.


J. Michael Povey said...

Hello dear one

I am not sure that "the numbers game" helps.

The reactionaries in our Church also have their numbers.

"My numbers are better than your numbers" is hardly a gospel mandate.

I am not at all sure that numbers are ever that important. That's why I am suspicious of the Church Growth manias - as if Church Growth in and of itself is "A Good Thing".

What I do believe to be important, is to be connected with followers of Jesus, those who live the values of the Realm of God. Those followers are not necessarily in the Church!

I truly believe that living in and from that Realm is what Jesus is all about - and (in some senses) "to hell with the Church".



P.S. I get a bit cranky when folks talk about "building up the Realm of God". That's not our job! The Realm is already here.

Our blessed-nesses and our woes are anchored in that Realm.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I agree, Michael. I'm just trying to counter and, in fact, disprove the claim that marriage equality is not an important issue for The Episcopal Church. 27% of the diocese and 37% of the membership ain't exactly chopped liver. I'm not talking to the hard, fringe right, but the 'moveable middle.'