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Thursday, June 13, 2013

God is marching

What happens to a movement when the agitators for change from the far outer edge of society are joined by those who belong to the very organizations that once - and, in some cases, still - lead the oppression against them?

Last week, the Washington Post reported that, for the first time ever:
Organizers of this weekend’s Capital Pride named 14 faith-based groups participating in Sunday’s festival for the first time. They include Baptist, Lutheran and Quaker churches as well as the country’s largest Buddhist denomination, a Conservative synagogue and a Mormon advocacy group.
And, not just members of those religious denominations, but clergy and bishops and the head of the Jewish Reform movement, marching amidst a sea of rainbow banners and balloons and to the incessant beat of Very Loud music with a religious double entendre like "I'm A Believer" and "I Am What I Am" and "We Are Family". 

WAPO also reported:
Perhaps the most prominent first in 2013 will be the participation in Saturday’s parade of Washington National Cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Church and the site of many presidential funerals and major national interfaith gatherings. The Episcopal Church, a small but prominent Protestant denomination, has been generally in favor of gay equality for years but the Cathedral leadership has been raising the bar in the last few months.
The Episcopal Church?  "Generally in favor of gay equality"?

That has to be the understatement of the year!

It's not exactly "generally in favor" when you have institutional approval of LGBT people for ordination and marriage equality. 

Oh, we are not in 100% agreement on much of anything - as it should be - but "generally in favor"?  C'mon!

And, The Episcopal Church has been "raising the bar"? Oh, honey, we own the bar!

I know the source is WAPO, but sheesh!

Which gets back to my original question - especially if The Episcopal Church is, in fact, "small but prominent" and yet is really striving to live into the Gospel mission of "welcoming the stranger".

What happens to a movement when your detractors don't exactly wave the white flag and admit defeat but do concede - with palpable chagrin - that you have made advances in your cause? 

Looking at other movements may be instructive.

Take, for example, the Civil Rights Movement.

I find it hard to believe that sometime, before the beginning of summer, the Supreme Court will be rendering its decision on Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  As Nate Silver points out, "statistical analysis can inform the answers if applied thoughtfully. But statistics can obscure the truth when they become divorced from the historical, legal and logical context of a case."

Or, let's look at the Reproductive Justice Movement.

Just this morning the House Judiciary Committee signed off on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Yes, of course, it's unconstitutional. Yes, of course it won't pass the Senate and, even if by some weird set of circumstances it did, the President would veto it.

When did any of that matter to House Republicans - they who don't do anything but introduce yet another bill to defeat The Affordable Care Act?

I will remind you, gentle reader, that Roe v. Wade, which defined the viability of a fetus at 24 weeks - was passed in 1973.

The Birth Control Pill - along with other contraceptive agents and devices - have been with us for over 50 years. And yet... AND YET.... we are still having conversations about making contraception available to women as part of good preventative health care based on the objections of some religious leaders in some denominations. 

My point (and I do have one) is this: All justice movements - every single last one of them - require two things: vigilance and persistence.

Just as prejudice has to be "carefully taught", the effects of generations of bigotry and institutional oppression have to be carefully unraveled.

That takes time.

Generations of time.

So, yes, let's celebrate when men and women in purple shirts march along side us in PRIDE parades.

Yes, let's praise God when judicatory leaders issue statements celebrating PRIDE month and recommitting their efforts to fight against Hate Crimes.

And, absolutely, let's revel in the advances we've made and the victories that have been hard-fought and well-won.

But, don't let articles like this fool you. Or, lull you into complacency.

I know it's been almost 40 years but, in many ways, we've only just begun.

Yes, we've won some major battles, but the war is still on. Look, I don't like the war imagery, either, but for one who has been in this battle for 37 years, I can tell you from experience that, like it or not, that's the reality.  Well, my reality, anyway.  And, the reality of a lot of other people.

Masculine Femininity
Don't believe me? Well, why is it then that in New York City, the incidence of hate crimes against LGBT people has actually risen?

And, why is it that one young gay man - 32 year old Mark Carson - was murdered just last month in Manhattan?

Here's the truth of it, then: Despite all the progress we've made, homophobia is still alive and well and living in the hearts of many people in this country and around the world.

So, when you march in Gay Pride Parades, yes, do rejoice and be glad when you see your a contingent from your church holding your church banner,  or your bishop in purple splendor waving from the back of a convertible, or your judicatory leader marching along with you.

Know that, before they were there - before YOU were there - God was marching with us.

God is behind all of our progress. God has carried us and brought us to this moment in our history. And, God will not drop us on our heads - unless we have fallen asleep and need to open our eyes.

See also: vigilance and persistence.

So, march on, dear Queer sisters and brothers - LGBT and straight allies - one and all.

Know that our God is marching, too.

Glory, glory, Hallelujah!


Nan Bush said...

Elizabeth, you do *such* good work! Thank you yet again.

8thday said...

I do love the banner that states "The Episcopal Church welcomes Everyone" which is how I feel it should be, but someone once told me that is only "code" for welcoming gay folks.

What seriously interests me is this -

It's not exactly "generally in favor" when you have institutional approval of LGBT people

Does the Episcopal Church have institutional approval of any other groups of persons? Or is it only the gays that need approval? Did inter-racial couples need institutional approval to marry?

And a follow up to that - if an institution "approves" a group, I assume they can also change their minds and disapprove them?

As much as I appreciate religious institutions finally unclenching their fists, it still seems to me rather insulting and contrary to Gospel teachings, to have to be "approved" by a church.

Sextant said...

Lovely quote in the photo. BTW in the actual quote, if the man brings false witness against his wife because he doesn't like her, he will be fined 100 shekels. But if her father can not prove she was a virgin, then the people will stone her to death... lovely.

What happens if the man is not a virgin?

Why are boys not given purity rings?

Interesting post, and you are right in all your observations. If any one doubts voting rights, just review last summer's voter ID laws that were passed.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Nan

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

8thday - You ask interesting questions. TEC has non-discriminatory canons the way our culture has laws - all to protect those who aren't white, male, ablebodied and straight

Funny thing about that, eh?

Back in the day, one Hispanic gay man stood up in a meeting and said, "How nice of you to 'include' me. Whose house is this anyway? I am baptized. I'm already included."

Thus began the "beyond inclusion" movement. It continues today.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sextant. I think you know the answer to your own questions. I don't know how men like you - and there are many but we need so many more - can live with the majority of men in this world.

MarkBrunson said...


Like so many, we can live with them because they think we are like them. If you mean "stomach them" - I'm not sure I can, any longer. This "Ra-ra, I'm a man, smell my pits and bow before my balls" attitude is not just depressing, it's bestial - not animal, since even animals recognize the strength of females - just bestial. I wish us to be one people - can we ever be, after so much damage, so much unearned distrust? Can women, if they are given their just place, ever trust us enough to act together, ever resist the very just urge to get their own back? I hope so, but they will have to be extraordinary people, after the misuse they've been subjected to.

Sextant said...

Elizabeth & Mark,

The way I live with men is not...I have little tolerance for macho bullshit and have few male friends.

To amplify what Mark said, I find the stereotypical porn image of a woman on her knees before an erect man to be hideously repulsive, and the whole "ho bitch" cum in her face nonsense that goes on in porn to be extremely damaging to both women and men. Kids see this shit and think that is how sex should be. Why the subservient ho bitch something to be despised, yet this testosterone soaked beast brutalizing a woman half his physical size is something that we should admire? Why do women tolerate that shit?

I live with a woman who is not only my wife, but my best friend, confidante, and my lover and only lover. She is the light of my world, and yes my Soulmate, trite as that may be. We have never been ones to have our night out with the boys or girls...we do things together. Thirty eight years ago I was teetering on the gutter, and this wonderful woman grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the abyss. Anything decent in my life I owe to her.

I do have male friends from work and none are what you would call macho dudes...all are happily married and honor their wives.

I tend to agree with Mark regarding macho men and I worry what is going to become of society with the current trend of people living alone. Many young men are just sort of dropping out of life. They prefer porn to real women, live at home with their parents and keep minimal jobs to keep them in beer money. I don't know, I guess that I am old school. I think people belong together in loving it hetero or same sex. Yet I read of the difficulties young women have finding suitable young men. I read with fear about women being willing to support a child alone but not willing to support a do nothing husband. I don't blame a woman for not wanting to support a husband, but why is that even a consideration?

Ooops too long continued below.

Sextant said...

Continued from above.

Why are so many young men not interested in marriage and family life? I blame some of it on the economy. Many men are not cut out to be professionals. They can run a machine but they are never going to sit down and provide counseling of some sort. We used to have many manufacturing jobs where a man could earn a decent living without having a PhD. I must confess that I was embittered about how the country in 2009 rose to the occasion to save the banks and big insurance companies with hardly a peep, but when it came to saving the auto industry there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth...and indeed there were those politicians who said let Detroit go to hell in a hand basket. So there is part of what has happened to our young men. They are not considered worthy by society.

There was an article in the latest issue of The Atlantic about what heteros could learn from gay marriage.

Much of it was centered on the idea that gay couples have to work out the roles of marriage because there is no traditional standard role templates (who takes out the garbage, who feeds the baby) like there are in hetero marriages. I think this a wonderful idea. Maybe hetero men (and some hetero women) may learn from our gay compatriots in this strange and wonderful journey called marriage how to treat their spouse with respect and human dignity.

Women no longer need men to make their way in the world, and that is good. But does that mean that marriage as we knew it should just come to an end? Can men learn to adapt or are they going to just crack open a beer and turn to the latest porn video?

I see a lot of lonely people in the future.

I hope that heteros can learn from gay marriage, and that gay couples can strive for the best conditions from traditional marriage. I have always considered this men from Mars, women from Venus to be bullshit. We are all from Earth, we are all human beings. We can all treat each other with respect, love, and human dignity. We all need a rock to cling to, a safe harbor to drop our anchor and ride out the storms of life. We all need someone to love and someone to love us.

Michael Woerner said...

Hi Mthr. Elizabeth,
My name is Michael Woerner. Did you work at the Chase-Brexton Clinic in Baltimore, MD in the 80s and 90s? I used to work with Bill Urban at the Baltimore Alternative, and just wanted to say thank you for all that you and Greg Wise did for me at that time. My health is great (25 years with HIV) and I joined the Episcopal Church in 2010. I also married a wonderful man who shares my love for the Church.

If this is you, you can write me at, if you want.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, Michael,

Guilty as charged. I'm so glad you are one of those who had a positive experience at CBC during those wild, awful years of pain and uncertainty. And, I'm so glad you are doing well.

Makes my heart sing.

Congratulations on your happy marriage. Please feel free to contact me at motherkaeton at gmail dot com.