Friday, November 7, 2008

The struggle continues.

On Wednesday 5 November, there was a protest march which ran through West Hollywood, CA. On Thursday 6 November there was another protest march on the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles. Today, 7 November there will be a protest rally in front of City Hall in Palm Springs, CA. On Sunday 9 November there will be a protest march on the State's Capitol in Sacramento at 1 PM. Other protest marches are occurring in San Francisco and throughout the state. This is reminiscent of the tumultuous times of 1968.

On the evening of 4 April 1968, while he was standing on a balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That it turn prompted mass civil disobedience by African Americans throughout America. The assassination of Dr. King was not simply the assassination of one person, it was an attempted assassination of hope. Hope that America could fulfill her mission and be an inclusive society with liberty and justice for ALL.

The decision by 52% of the electorate of California to deny equality for ALL this past week, was also an attempted assassination of hope. Hope that our State was somehow, better than that. That we would not vote for discrimination. That we would stand with minorities in our society and protect their rights. That did not happen. As in 1968, the forces of bigotry, hatred and smug supremacy prevailed. Then, this prompted an out pouring onto the nation's streets of those who were oppressed by an unjust majority. That is happening now again. Dr. King once observed that: "A riot is the voice of the unheard." Unlike then, violence has thus far thankfully been averted.

Many in society in 1968 hoped that African Americans would simply calm down and that society would return to "business as usual" once the blacks were put back in their place. I'm sure that many of those who voted "yes" on Prop 8, as well as the Architects and chief patrons of Prop 8, hope that once the "fags" calm down, it will also be "business as usual". Well, it wasn't the case in 1968 and it is not the case now.

So, where do we go now? Now, is a time for those who voted NO on Prop. 8 to do several things.

Here's a starter list:

1) Find out what business gave money to "yes" on Prop 8 and cease doing business with them. Ask your friends and families to boycott those businesses. This includes not only corporations but, Realtors, contractors, lawn services, any business, no matter how small. Send them an economic NO when you use one of their competitors, send them a copy of the receipt and let them know this is business you would have given to them if not for their bigotry.

2) If you are a Catholic who's parish actively supported "yes" on Prop 8, here are some things you can do. Do not put your contribution into the collection basket at Mass. The collection is assessed (taxed) by the bishop. In my Diocese, the tax amounts to 17%. That means that 17 cents of every dollar you put into the basket goes to the bishop. Instead, make out a check to your parish and drop it by the church office as a "special gift." If the bishop starts taxing "special gifts" then, offer the parish to pay for part of the utilities bill, etc. with your check made payable directly to the appropriate company. Thus by passing church hands altogether. In this way, you help your parish and send the bishops a message. Oh, don't forget to write your bishop a letter and let him know that a) you are doing this, b) why and c) that this will continue until a public apology is issued for having supported "yes" on Prop 8.

3) Press your bishop continually and publicly about equal employment protection and domestic partnership health benefits for gay/lesbian church employees.

4) Do not donate to Diocesan Appeal campaigns but, only to funds with restricted application. For example, a hospital, an orphanage, a school, etc.

Any other suggestions? Let me know and I'll be happy to pass them along. As one reader said, this is not over. It won't be over until we have liberty and justice for ALL.

16 comments:

Birdie said...

Father Geoff, I LOVE the suggestions for concrete action. This gives us a nonviolent way to express our outrage in a very effective way. Does anyone have a list posted somewhere of those businesses who contributed to Prop 8 (and the other legislation in FL and AZ)? I will be glad to support the boycott in my home state here in the Midwest.

steve v said...

EXCELLENT ideas about actions everyone can take in their day-to-day lives to let the supporters of Prop 8 know that this issue will not go away.

Though I no longer a Catholic because I'm gay, I was born and raised within the Church and know first-hand that the local parishes do the brunt of the good work and ministries that are the church's true calling. Donating money directly to support these local programs is important.

An alternative might be rather than send money, purchase and donate a coffee machine for the soup kitchen, bedding for the homeless shelter, uniforms for the kids' sports teams, even office supplies for the church office.

Being a tax preparer in SF, your readers should know that these gifts are tax-deductible, as are the direct payments to utilities on behalf of the parish, ONLY IF the church gives the giver a letter acknowledging the gift and the amount. Remember, the IRS REQUIRES this documentation to take the tax deduction.

I hope that local pastors or parish councils can cooperate and don't cut off their noses to spite their faces. And if they prefer not to accept and recognize the gifts, find someone else who will - in these economic hard times, there are many non-profits out there who would be more than glad to accept any gift in any form.

And again, NCLR, Lambda Legal and the ACLU Foundation are all non-profits - contributions to which are tax-deductible. Virtue doesn't always need to be it's own reward.

Lastly, during the election, there was an email circulating to make a donation to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Sarah Palin, with the idea that Planned Parenthood would send Gov Palin an acknowledgement of the gift given in her honor.

Maybe we can do the same on behalf of a few of our favorite bishops and other church leaders? Do good works on their behalf, send money to the right organizations in their honor - and ask that a letter be sent to the bishop letting them know we're trying to undo the damage they've caused? Or just make the donation, and send a separate letter yourself.

Just be sure that your voice is heard and that we hold them accountable for their actions.

steve v said...

Please note that this is a duplicate comment that i just sent, but didn't get a confirmation when the screen cleared. Sorry for the trouble...

EXCELLENT ideas about actions everyone can take in their day-to-day lives to let the supporters of Prop 8 know that this issue will not go away.

Though I no longer a Catholic because I'm gay, I was born and raised within the Church and know first-hand that the local parishes do the brunt of the good work and ministries that are the church's true calling. Donating money directly to support these local programs is important. An alternative might be rather than send money, purchase and donate a coffee machine for the soup kitchen, bedding for the homeless shelter, uniforms for the kids' sports teams, even office supplies for the church office.

Being a tax preparer in SF, your readers should know that these gifts are tax-deductible, as are the direct payments to utilities on behalf of the parish, ONLY IF the church gives the giver a letter acknowledging the gift and the amount. Remember, the IRS REQUIRES this documentation to take the tax deduction.

I hope that local pastors or parish councils can cooperate and don't cut off their noses to spite their faces. And if they prefer not to accept and recognize the gifts, find someone else who will - in these economic hard times, there are many non-profits out there who would be more than glad to accept any gift in any form.

And again, NCLR, Lambda Legal and the ACLU Foundation are all non-profits - contributions to which are tax-deductible. Virtue doesn't always need to be it's own reward.

Lastly, during the election, there was an email circulating to make a donation to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Sarah Palin, with the idea that Planned Parenthood would send Gov Palin an acknowledgement of the gift given in her honor.

Maybe we can do the same on behalf of a few of our favorite bishops and other church leaders? Do good works on their behalf, send money to the right organizations in their honor - and ask that a letter be sent to the bishop letting them know we're trying to undo the damage they've caused? Or just make the donation, and send a separate letter yourself.

Just be sure that your voice is heard and that we hold them accountable for their actions.

steve v said...

In response to birdie's question of a list of contributors to Prop 8: there is an online searchable database that was accessible thru the San Francisco Chronicle's website sfgate.com

It is the public record of contributions for and against Prop 8 - nationwide. It is staggering the amounts of money individuals from many states sent in to support Prop 8.

www.sfgate.com/webdb/prop8/

EJ said...

Father Geoff,

I am a non-practicing Catholic and a lesbian. Though my church growing up was very liberal I felt uncomfortable with the religion and the community at large when I came out. I have had a very hard time being both gay and Catholic. That being said, I still love the basics of Catholicism and could not fathom joining a different religion. Soon, hopefully, after many years away from the Church, I will find a place where I am comfortable being gay and Catholic.

That being said, I really appreciate your blog about the struggles within the Church about homosexuality. It means so much to me that you are standing up for me and others like me.

Wednesday night I was also at the WeHo rally and march. It was amazing to see my community rally around the cause like it did. I will always remember it as a defining moment in my life and in our struggle for rights.

As a note, there is also a rally tonight at 6 pm at Sunset Junction (Silverlake). I hope you can make it.

Peace.

Frank said...

Father Farrow, First I want to thank you for standing up in your Parish against prop 8. I know the stand you took cost you dearly and tome you are a hero! Thank you for the suggestions for action. It is important that as we move forward in this fight that we take and apply the lessons learned from Dr. King, Ghandi and so many others and resist in non violent peaceful ways. I read that you lost your salary when the church removed you from your parish. I do not know if you have a support system and I want to know how we can support you during this process of transition in your life. Thank you for being a hero and let me know how we can help you too.

Birdie said...

An Open Letter to Affirming Christians

What? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. I think you’re saying that God loves—who? Everyone? No matter what? Is that it? I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I’m getting the message clearly. I’d like to get closer to hear what you’re saying, but I keep getting pushed away by those who cry out that God has limits on His love. They’re spending a great deal of money, time and effort to make sure that message is loud and clear. The only other ones who are just as deafening tell me there is no God. What? I’m sorry, but if you want me to hear you, you’re going to have to speak louder than they are. If you can find me. With my hands over my ears, I’m outta here.

Shout.

Paloma said...

Dear Father Geoff, Bless you for your courage! Catholic support of Prop 8 in California has wounded me deeply. I am not LGBT, but accept all humans. You are like the light at the end of the tunnel. That light will radiant as we get closer to justice prevailing. Thank you for your loving guidance.

Jay Hubbell said...

If you are upset about the role churches played in taking away the rights of gays and lesbians with the passage of the anti - gay proposition 8 you can file a complaint with the IRS.

As we all know, Proposition 8 passed with the barest majority but also with the illegal help of church groups from around the state and the country. According to Section 501(c)(3), all non - profit organizations must follow this section of the code: “ no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.”

I would argue that spending months on end preaching lies about the Proposition, using teleconferencing to help recruit more churches and helping to raise millions of dollars in an effort to pass the proposition qualifies as violation of the “no substantial part” rule.

The non - profit is also banned from using deceptive or improper fundraising practices by creating lies about the effects that Prop 8 would have on the state in an effort to create panic amongst the lower echelons, who tend to be easily influenced by that type of advertising.

I have attached the official IRS complaint form that I encourage you all to use to make a complaint against any church or non - profit organization that participated in raising money for the passage of Prop 8, or that encouraged their members to support the proposition.

Please bear in mind, those activities are illegal. If the churches want to be a PAC, that’s fine: pay your taxes like the rest of us. Otherwise, the Constitution is fairly clear on the matter of separation of church and state.

The IRS will investigate all claims, but they tend not to take any action unless they receive a lot of public complaints, so spread the word and forward this to everyone in CA.

Bryan Galt

FranIAm said...

Great, great suggestions Fr. Geoff!

I am writing this comment from Washington, DC where I am attending a meeting of AU, which works tireless for the separation of church and state.

Last night we were just discussing that the election of Obama will drive many on the religious right to work harder at the state and local level to make sure that basic rights and dignities are denied to many.

And if Prop 8 is not an example of things going bad at the state level, I don't know what is.

We need to stay focused. As a church going person of faith I am as deeply concerned about my own church denying freedom to others.

Which, deep sigh inserted here, happens all the time.

Aman Chaudhary said...

Great parallel regarding the assassination of hope.

episcowill said...

Birdie .. Though there are very likely other lists as well, this is one with which I am familiar.
http://www.afterellen.com/node/39787
Hope that helps. You could also google Business supporting the props in the other states you have mentioned (be sure and include Arkansas as well).
Hope that helps,
Will

steve v said...

One of the ideas floating around the internet is to ban together to demand that the IRS remove the tax-exempt status of the Morman Church/Church of Latter Day Saints because of the excessive lobbying they did to pass Prop 8.

Don't do it - good intention, bad idea.

By the way, Padre, it's great to see you get your voice. The kid gloves are off, man, and it's great to see you come out of your corner swinging. No more apologies. You continue to be an inspiration and leader. Hang in there.

Please ask your readers to go to this website:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/7/144813/561

It's a site called the Daily Kos and he explains why this is a very BAD IDEA on legal, political and ethical principles. It is well worth the read.

We are angry, frustrated and feeling betrayed, but we have to take the moral high road to win this fight, and we will.

afeatheradrift said...

Very excellent suggestions. Having left the Catholic Church over such issues as this, I will have to come up with other means to support gays and lesbians and continue the fight for equality. Blogging seems never quite enough. I am blessed with a Episcopal diocese wherein such issues are dealt with from a more compassionate angle. But I thoroughly like the idea of boycotting those businesses who contributed to the passage of the referendum.

Kevin said...

I told a Priest friend of mine that time will tell if these Prop 8 folks are really concerned about protecting marriage. I read in the paper over the weekend that they will try and push this to other states and try and stop Obama from expanding gay rights! Well, now we know. They aren't interested in protecting marriage at all! They never were. This is just a front to what truly lies in their hearts!

steve v said...

Received this email today from a friend of mine, thought I'd pass it along...

Send a message to the Mormon Church, whose members raised more than $15 million to fund the deceitful advertising campaign for Proposition 8, the initiative that takes away the right to marry for same sex couples in California!

Make a tax-deductable donation, in the name of the president of the Mormon Church, to support the legal organizations working to invalidate Proposition 8 and to fund grass-roots activities in support of full marriage equality. For every donation of $5 or more, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will send the following postcard to President Thomas Monson’s office in Salt Lake City, acknowledging your donation in his name:

Dear President Monson:

A donation has been made in your name by _________________ to “invalidateprop8.org” to overturn California's Proposition 8 and restore fundamental civil rights to all citizens of California. The money will be donated to legal organizations fighting the case and to support grass-roots activities in support of full marriage equality. Although we decry the reprehensible role the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leadership played in denying all Californians equal rights under the law, we are pleased a donation has been made on your behalf in the effort to overturn the discrimination your church members helped enshrine in the California Constitution. Given that throughout its history the Mormon Church has been subjected to bigotry, we hope you appreciate the donation in your name to fight religious bigotry here in California.

Let’s work to overturn Prop. 8 while sending a message to the Mormon Church that it’s wrong for any organization to exert political influence to deny the civil rights of any group!

Click here to donate: http://www.InvalidateProp8.org



And let's not forget that it was our very own Catholic bishops who invited the Mormons into California to help them with fighting to get Prop 8 passed.