Archive for June, 2012

St. Georgians, from left: Ron Garner, Aleeda Crawley, your humble scribe, the Web Goddess, the Rev. Chris Carroll, David Gorman, Bill Jaglowski, Bruce Lyons, Kevin Clark, Tony Bousanti. Chris West took the picture.

The Web Goddess and I were part of a contingent from St. George’s Episcopal Church in the Gay Pride March in Manhattan Sunday.  It was our second march — some of the same people participated in 2007.

I was struck, in a very positive way, by the pervasiveness of corporate sponsorship.  Coca-Cola was the “Presenting Sponsor,” and all of the T-shirts for the parade marshals and other volunteers said “Diet Coke” on the front.  (Mischievous thought: is Diet Coke more gay than “regular Coke”?) Other sponsors included Macy’s, Delta Airlines, AT&T, Citigroup, Target and New York Life.  There were less staid sponsors and participants as well, of course, but the buy-in from the titans of commerce testifies to the inevitability of equal rights.

Lots of NYC police marching in uniform — not just the Gay Officers Action League, but a dozens-strong police marching band as well.  The cop on duty at our intersection was bantering with the crowd.

The March has gotten huge, creating a prosperity problem for participants in the staging areas. We had been told to expect to step off around 12:15, but it was about 3:30 when we finally left 38th Street and set foot on Fifth Avenue.  We could have had brunch.

Several of the St. Georgians wore the T-shirt the Web Goddess designed five years ago — a Rainbow Jesus Fish with the legend “I’m a Christian, and I support Equality”.  As we waited to march, three passers-by asked permission to take a picture of me and the shirt.

There were just 11 of us from St. George’s, but we packed a lot of diversity into a small group: gay and straight, black and white, male and female, clergy and laity, Democrats and Republican.

The huge LGBT for Obama contingent was passing out signs and big round stickers, which I tore off as quickly as my gleeful friends could slap them on me. (The comeback that didn’t occur to me in time: “No thanks, I go the other way.”)  The Log Cabin Republicans were represented by about four guys with brave smiles.

It pains me that my party is on the wrong side of this issue, but the resistance is only going to weaken over time.  This is the civil rights struggle of our era, and the road leads in only one direction.

Welcome, Patch readers!

Louie Crew preaches at St. George's Episcopal Church, Maplewood. Photo by Nina Nicholson

Louie Crew, the founder nearly four decades ago of a national gay-acceptance organization within the Episcopal Church, preached at my home congregation in Maplewood Sunday as part of the church’s celebration of Gay Pride Month.

Same-sex marriage has become a prominent issue in recent years, but the idea is not entirely new.  Crew, an emeritus professor of English at Rutgers University in Newark, told the St. George’s congregation he had solemnized his relationship with Ernest Clay in 1974, in a private ceremony based on the wedding service in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

“After we married, I wrote my parents,” Crew said from the pulpit.  “They replied with the hardest letter I ever received.  They knew I was gay, that was not the problem.  Ernest being black was the problem.  They wished us all happiness, but asked me not to bring him home.  They hoped that I would continue to visit, but they did not want to ‘put their friends to the test,’ they said.”

Crew continued, “I showed Ernest the letter.  He responded with his enigmatic smile. … [Ernest said] ‘they have every right to be who they are. You could not love me had they not taught you how.’”

Over the years, Crew’s parents gradually became more comfortable with having a gay black son-in-law.  One day Crew’s father called and asked to speak to Ernest.

“Ernest, we’re Christians,” Crew’s father said. “But we’ve not behaved like Christians to you, and we desperately need your forgiveness.”

“That’s easy,” Ernest said.  “You have it.”

Crew told the congregation Sunday, “I not only believe in the Holy Spirit, I have seen the Holy Spirit happen.”

Crew noted that many gay people have much less redemptive stories about their families.  “We know full well that we did not choose our biological families, but we can, and must, choose as family those whom we respect and those who treat us with respect. That’s why St. George’s has been such a special place for at least four decades.”

Crew’s sermon continued St. George’s month-long observance of Gay Pride Month.  The prior Sunday, St. George’s presented a forum with the former leader of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination, and the church sponsored a table at Saturday’s South Orange-Maplewood LGBT Pride Festival.  On June 24, a contingent from the church will march behind a St. George’s banner in the Gay Pride March in New York.

(Welcome, Patch readers!)

I’m like reasonably civic-minded and well-informed and stuff.  (I have a blog, you know.) I called the GOP presidential contest way back in January.  By the time I started my blog in July 2008, the presidential contenders were already set.  But if I’d started a few months earlier, I know I would have had a lot of snarky stuff to say about New Jersey’s meaningless June primary election.

Except this year there’s actually something going on.  Not at the top of the ticket, of course.  But a Congressional seat opened up this year in the only way it was going to happen:  The incumbent died.

Here’s what I had to say about Donald Payne Sr. after voting in the general election  four years ago:

I voted straight Republican. Aside from the Presidential race, I was voting in the interests of divided government, not because I prefer the positions of whoever the GOP Freeholder candidate was over the positions of whoever the Democratic Freeholder candidate was. The Republicans did not field a candidate for Congress, so I couldn’t vote against Donald Payne, short of writing someone in. I’ve got nothing against Payne other than the fact that he’s a product of the Newark Democratic machine who has served 10 terms in Congress already.

The Web Goddess and I voted at 6 a.m. that day, but I’ve already missed that window today.  I’ll vote after I get off work.  In the meantime, I’m hereby asking my blog and Facebook friends for input on my important vote for Congress.  Should it be Donald Payne Jr., who sits on his father’s old chair on the Newark City Council and now seeks to turn the Congressional seat into a hereditary peerage?  Or should it be fellow Newark City Councilman Ron C. Rice, son of former Newark City Councilman Ronald L. Rice?  Or there are four other candidates, one of them is the mayor of Irvington, the next town over from me.

Wait a minute!  I’m a Republican!

Anybody know if New Jersey is one of the states where any voter can vote in either primary?  And if not, anybody have any thoughts on the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate?  The polls close at 8 p.m.

Update: They handed me a Republican ballot when I signed in, because that’s how I’m registered.  If I were independent, I think I could have voted in either primary.  Just about the only contested GOP race was for U.S. Senate, and I voted for State Sen. Joe Kyrillos, rather than any of the three Tea Party-ish candidates running against him.  Kyrillos won in a walk.  Despite the fact that it’s frustrating and feels somewhat useless to vote in really lop-sided races, I’d still rather have that than a Florida 2000 kind of scenario.

 

Welcome, Patch readers!

Joan Garry at St. George's

Many people were outraged when Dharun Ravi, who was convicted of bias intimidation for spying on a roommate who later committed suicide, was sentenced to only 30 days in jail.  Some went so far as accusing Ravi of “murdering” Tyler Clementi, who was gay.  But a gay rights activist speaking at my church in Maplewood Sunday had a different take.

“Ravi’s not a murderer, he’s a bully – one of many bullies that Tyler Clementi faced in his life,” said Joan Garry, former executive director of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination).  “Those bullies were not just the ones standing by his locker – many of them were standing in pulpits.”

Gay Pride 2007 - that's me on the left

The reference to pulpits reinforced the title of her speech, “LGBT People, Bullying, and the Deeply Held Religious Belief Card.” Garry spoke to a noontime audience at St. George’s Episcopal Church, kicking off our celebration of Gay Pride Month.  Next Sunday the sermon will be preached by Louie Crew, former Rutgers professor and founder of the Episcopal gay rights group IntegrityUSA.  On Sunday, June 24, the Web Goddess and I will join other members and friends walking behind a St. George’s banner at the annual Gay Pride March in New York City.

“Here’s another important thing I learned about bullying,” Garry continued.  “Standing behind every harassed child is a whole lot of clueless adults…. There are certain people who don’t want to be anything other than clueless.  Those are the people we will never get.  But converting the clueless is the path to victory.  And how do we do that?”

Designed by the Web Goddess; click image to order without markup at Cafe Press

Not through the time-honored defense mechanism of blending into the background.  “Gay and lesbian people walk this really fine line, right?  We want folks to know the realities, we want to tell stories, but we want to fit in. We want to be treated like anyone else…. but in order to get the rights we deserve, we have to talk, we need to tell our stories, and we need to stick out.”

Garry said when she asked New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand how to get through to people who are not interested in the issue, Gillibrand responded, “It’s so easy… because people don’t want government interfering in their lives.  And for Republicans? They want government to be smaller, not bigger.”

Some gay people might wish they were straight, but “not me,” Garry said.  “It is because of my difference that I have found my voice, that I moved from corporate America to make a difference in a non-profit space, [and that I have] a commitment to social justice that seems super-urgent.”

“Even when we lose, we win,” she said. “An opportunity to publicly argue about what is right, what is just, what is fair — even if we lose in the short term,  it’s an opportunity to be visible, to open up many eyes, and equally as many hearts.”

She closed by saying “the movement for LGBT equality is the civil rights issue of our time.  It presents us with an opportunity to speak out and stand up and do something. I’m pretty sure that’s why they call it a movement.”

I missed the game, darn it, but this compilation of all 27 of Johan Santana’s outs has given me a taste of the first Mets no-hitter.

If you care about the Mets, it’s well worth the 4-plus minutes it takes to watch.  Heck, if you care about baseball at all, it’s worth it.  I love how it starts out as a routine game and builds up into something where the announcers are first keeping quiet about the fact that Johan had not given up a hit… then the growing excitement, then the spectacular defensive plays to keep it going.  Then the celebration at the end.  Congrats, Johan… congrats, Mets fans everywhere

Early on in the Obama administration, I had a series of blog posts labeled “Bush’s Third Term.”  I meant it in a nice way.  Here’s a snippet from February 2009, five weeks after the inauguration:

After winning in November, Obama co-opted Hillary and her one-time support for the war by naming her Secretary of State. But the clearest indication that the grown-ups would be in charge of the war came when Obama announced that he was retaining Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who oversaw the turnaround in Iraq. I feel much better about the Obama Presidency now than I did on Election Day.

More than three years have passed since then, and Obama surrogates have taken to crowing that “General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead.” The Obama campaign engaged in an unseemly end-zone dance for the first anniversary of the Osama takedown.  As so often happens, it falls to Charles Krauthammer to pull all the pieces together into a sardonic mosaic.  In his column yesterday, Dr. K wrote:

The Osama-slayer card having been vastly overplayed, what to do? A new card: Obama, drone warrior, steely and solitary, delivering death with cool dispatch to the rest of the al-Qaeda depth chart.

So the peacemaker, Nobel laureate, nuclear disarmer, apologizer to the world for America having lost its moral way when it harshly interrogated the very people Obama now kills, has become — just in time for the 2012 campaign — Zeus the Avenger, smiting by lightning strike.

A rather strange ethics. You go around the world preening about how America has turned a new moral page by electing a president profoundly offended by George W. Bush’s belligerence and prisoner maltreatment, and now you’re ostentatiously telling the world that you personally play judge, jury and executioner to unseen combatants of your choosing and whatever innocents happen to be in their company.

This is not to argue against drone attacks. In principle, they are fully justified. No quarter need be given to terrorists who wear civilian clothes, hide among civilians and target civilians indiscriminately. But it is to question the moral amnesia of those whose delicate sensibilities were offended by the Bush methods that kept America safe for a decade — and who now embrace Obama’s campaign of assassination by remote control.

Moreover, there is an acute military problem. Dead terrorists can’t talk.

It’s always hard to decide what to leave out of a Krauthammer cut-and-paste.  Read the whole thing.