Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Who am I to judge?" pope Francis unmasked.

Please Note: The Prime Mover in passing this hateful law was the Roman Catholic Church. Remember all the LGBT folks fainting when pope Francis said: "Who am I to judge?"

Please understand that his famous "change in tone" was meant to improve PR for the Catholic Church in the West and NOT to help LGBT people. He is not our friend.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Will Pope Francis challenge President Putin on his country's persecution of LGBT people?

This week Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican. So, why is this meeting happening and why is it a big deal, anyway? Let’s be candid, Putin is not dropping by to borrow a cup of sugar, well possibly a metaphorical cup of sugar. A little bit of sugar to help the poison of Russia’s newest pogrom on LGBT people go down, or at least make it more palatable.

Why the urgency?

The 2014 Sochi Olympics are taking a hit.

The word “boycott” is on the lips, not only of activists, but of athletes, and consumers. Corporate sponsors are questioning consumer blowback. All this is spilling over to talks of boycotts of investment in Russia and has the potential of developing into a divestment movement like that against South Africa because of its apartheid laws in the 1980s.

Additionally, serious questions have been raised about how participants and visitors will be treated during their Olympic stay in Russia. Conditional and nuanced assurances by Russian officials have left many, as the French say: Unconvinced. Anyone with internet access can view videos of Neo-Nazis torturing gay men that they have lured into traps. In public streets and squares rightest thugs openly attack LGBT folks who attempt to engage in free public speech, or as Putin calls it “homosexual propaganda.” Wearing a rainbow could land you in the hospital, in jail or both. The police and judicial authorities turn a blind eye to these flagrant assaults and fail to prosecute thugs, who become de facto enforcers of Putin’s decrees.

Petitions have been circulated asking Nations to boycott the Olympics, comparing this Olympic event with Hitler’s hijacking of the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda device to sell the New Germany to the world. Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the Russian Band Pussy Riot, explains the parallel:

“In an interview with the BBC, Samutsevich said it was all but impossible for Russian athletes to mount any sort of protest as they would lose their livelihood. "[The Olympics] could be a source of national pride. But what is happening now, and there is no other way to describe it, is right-wing fascism. This is what the Olympics are turning into and even sports people are being pressured into adopting these views. Rather than celebrating about sporting achievement it becomes about propagating these views.”

Putin needs some of the heat taken off, his attempted justification that his antigay-laws are to “protect children,” although taken from the playbook of Anita Bryant and the “good” folks at the discredited National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has no foundation in reason. Putin himself said famously in his oped in NY Times "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.."

This was stated, rightly, as a rebuke to President Obama’s claim of American Exceptionalism; however, doesn’t it also apply to the LGBT minority in the Russian Federation?

While the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has been very supportive of Putin, many roll their eyes, seeing Kirill, the Russian Church and Media, as being merely a rubber stamp of the regime. Where to turn?

The answer came in the mail on September 4th 2013. A letter from Francis to Putin praising him for his new role as President of the G-20, in Francis’ words:

“I am aware that the Russian Federation has participated in this group from the moment of its inception and has always had a positive role to play in the promotion of good governance of the world’s finances, which have been deeply affected by the crisis of 2008.”

Francis’ letter to Putin goes on to encourage Putin’s role as “Peacemaker” in Syria. Although not stated explicitly, it implies a role for Putin as a counterbalance to the U.S. in Middle East politics. It is all very sweet and could signal a honeymoon between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church. Consider that it has only been four years since diplomatic ties with Russia and the Vatican have been reestablished after centuries of distance and cold distrust. Both Russia and the Vatican desperately need to refocus on new issues, to “change the subject” of the conversation. This meeting allows both of them to accomplish this effectively. The cost, spiritually and in terms of justice, are LGBT people and their lives.

With Syria, the Middle East and Russian relations on the table, will Pope Francis speak up on behalf of LGBT victims, or will their continuing persecution be seen as the price of a sweet deal? Perhaps Francis could simply smile, if the subject is raised by a pesky reporter, and ask: “Who am I to judge?”

Friday, August 2, 2013

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" -Pope Francis

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Last week pope Francis uttered those words to the press while aboard the papal airplane bound to Rome from Brazil. Many have praised the pope’s use of the word “gay” and his promise of not judging as a tectonic “breakthrough” and as being a “game-changer” within catholicism.

Last week something else also happened, Ken Bencomo a beloved English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School, an all-girl school in Glendora, California was fired. Why? Ken Bencomo went down to the County Clerk’s Office in San Bernadino and purchased a Civil Marriage License from the state of California. He married his partner Christopher Persky.

Evidently the catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose H. Gomez, wasn’t watching the news the day that pope Francis made his “who am I to judge” statement.

What can you do?

Don’t just leave, tell the church why you’re leaving. Write a letter to pope Francis, mail a copy to archbishop Gomez and finally, cut and paste a copy of your letter to the change.org petition demanding that Ken Bencomo be reinstated immediately as a teacher at St. Lucy’s.

Here is a sample of a letter, feel free to use/modify it:

His Holiness
Pope Francis
The Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness,

Last week your holiness made the statement: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Yet, archbishop Jose H. Gomez, fired Ken Bencomo a beloved English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School, an all-girl school in Glendora, California. The bishop did this simply because Mr. Bencomo is gay and entered into a Civil Marriage under California state law.

There are many heterosexual teachers working in Catholic schools who have been divorced and remarried. These teachers, although technically “adulterers” according to church teaching, have not been fired. It is clear that Mr. Bencomo was targeted for special treatment, simply because he is gay.

Tragically this is not an isolated incident but part of an aggressive national and international campaign by bishops, which includes misuse of donated funds, to deny LGBT people of their human dignity and civil rights.

This forces me to conclude that your words are false and empty promises and merely congenial non-substantive rhetoric, your inaction and the actions of the bishops demonstrate a persistent and unjust persecution gay people. I do not wish to be an accomplice to this continuing injustice.

I therefore am informing you of my decision to formally leave the catholic church. I was baptized at (insert name of the church where you were baptized) in (insert year of baptism). Please have them make notation of my decision in the baptismal register.

Most Sincerely,
(your signature)

CC: Jose H. Gomez and Change.org

Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Help this go viral. If enough people speak-up and take action, it will be noticed by the bishops and the pope.
This is the one thing they most fear, because the true wealth (and power) of the bishops are the people. This will cause bishops to think twice about inflicting similar injustices again. It also calls on pope Francis to back his words with real substance.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RUN! Do not walk, to the nearest exit!

Yesterday my phone rang, it was a reporter from a news station in Fresno asking for an interview on the pope Francis’ statement on gay priests. Later, Telemundo called asking to arrange for a camera crew to interview me at home. I sighed as I poured myself a cup of coffee and then read through the statement.

Bottom line: It is a way of appearing to change everything without changing anything. Lets examine the actual statement:

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

“If someone is gay...”

Substitute the word “straight” for “gay” and you begin to see the problem; in fact, whenever an issue arises regarding gender orientation, simply do that: Substitute the word “straight” for “gay.” Does the statement still make sense?

It only makes sense if you believe that being gay is somehow disordered or defective. The official teaching of the Catholic church is precisely just that. The Official Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2357 states:


Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.


“and he searches for the Lord and has good will”

Here is the translation of what the pope is saying in plain English, taken directly from the Catholic Catechism:


Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Bottom line:

"homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." Under no circumstances can they be approved. Homosexual persons are called to chastity.

Forget whatever your sexual orientation is, could you live this way? Could you spend your entire life without intimately loving someone else? Could YOU? Most of us discover our sexual orientation at puberty. How would you have felt [did you feel] when you realized that you were gay? How would [did] that change the nature of your relationship with your parents? Your brothers and sisters? Your cousins? Your classmates? Your friends?

It’s OK, I’ll just never :”act on it.” Here is where the teaching of the Catholic church totally falls apart. Here is where its inhumanity begins to reveal itself plainly. THINK of what the logical consequences are to these official teachings! THINK of the real world damage this does to a young LGBT person who hears these teachings from their priest, teacher, parent and family members. THINK!


Catholic moral theology isolates sex as “an act” and in doing this, it thereby effectively de-humanizes sex by removing it from its natural context, i.e. a relationship.

“Two principles capture the essence of the official Catholic position on the morality of sexuality: first, that any human genital act must occur within the framework of heterosexual marriage; second, each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. In [their book, "The Sexual Person] this comprehensive overview of Catholicism and sexuality, theologians Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler examine and challenge these principles. Remaining firmly within the Catholic tradition, they contend that the church is being inconsistent in its teaching by adopting a dynamic, historically conscious anthropology and worldview on social ethics and the interpretation of scripture while adopting a static, classicist anthropology and worldview on sexual ethics.

While some documents from Vatican II, like Gaudium et spes ("the marital act promotes self-giving by which spouses enrich each other"), gave hope for a renewed understanding of sexuality, the church has not carried out the full implications of this approach. In short, say Salzman and Lawler: emphasize relationships, not acts, and recognize Christianity's historically and culturally conditioned understanding of human sexuality. The Sexual Person draws historically, methodologically, and anthropologically from the best of Catholic tradition and provides a context for current theological debates between traditionalists and revisionists regarding marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, and what it means to be human.”

Pope Francis did NOT do that in his statement. What he did is accurately summed up by the following passage from Luke [11: 46-47]

“You lay impossible burdens on men but will not lift a finger to lighten them. Woe to you!”

At best, Francis is signaling a gentle course correction for Catholic bishops on this issue. When you’re an infallible institution, you can’t admit you made a mistake, you can’t admit that you have been wrong. Individual lives that are ruined or destroyed are unfortunate “collateral damage” that are sacrificed for the reputation of the institution. When all objective evidence contradicts something the church teaches, they simply emphasize something else. Prelates smile, employ humor, emphasize something else and are congenial.

But make no mistake, this pope’s congenial words offer ZERO relief for LGBT Catholics. They make no attempt to repair past evils inflicted on innocent people and so my advice is: leave! If you are LGBT leave the Catholic church, you can do better. If you are the parent or a family member of an LGBT person: leave! Your loved ones deserve better. If you are the parent of a child, leave! Your children absolutely deserve a healthier development. To raise an LGBT child in the Catholic church today constitutes de facto child abuse.

So, please, for the sake of psychological, emotional and spiritual well being and of love itself: RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit!

Post Script

And this headline after the pope's "hopeful statement:
" Gay Teacher Fired From Catholic School Shortly After Marriage Ceremony

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A roadmap for Equality in the U.S.

A lucid overview and explanation of what is coming next in our national struggle for Full Equality and human dignity.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Giant Step Forward in our Struggle for Human Dignity!

As a boy I never believed this would ever be possible. As a man I know what it has taken to make this possible. As a human being I appreciate both the liberation and spiritual wholeness that this represents.

As Rachel Maddow said: Mazel Tov!

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line

I have not posted here for several months and I will address that in my next post; however, I want to resume my blog commenting on yesterday’s significant developments.

Yesterday the long awaited decisions from the U. S. Supreme Court were finally announced. The first decision on DOMA was a substantive, although only a partial, victory. It was substantive because Section 3 of DOMA was struck down. The practical effect of this is that couples who are married in one of the states that recognizes full marriage equality for all of its citizens, will now have their marriages legally recognized by the Federal government.

Real world, this means they can file joint tax returns; in fact, they can amend their tax returns for the last 3 years, provided of course that they were legally married in a state that legally recognized their marriage. It means Social Security benefits for married partners. It means health care benefits. It means that persons married to someone in the military will now have access to base housing, spousal benefits and can be buried next to their husband/wife in a military cemetery. It means BI-national couples will not suffer the deportation of their other half by the INS. All of this and a myriad of other rights and obligations too numerous to list here.

For Californians, Prop 8 is finally dead, well almost. It will take 25 days for the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to be officially communicated to the Ninth Circuit Court. Upon that official communication, the Ninth Circuit will then lift its stay on the decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Governor Jerry Brown and the California Attorney General have already instructed all 58 counties in our state to immediately begin to issue Marriage Licenses once these legal technicalities are fulfilled. We should have Marriage Equality practically restored in California by the middle or end of July.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) had predicted a “HUGE” victory at the Supreme Court. He was correct, but for Marriage Equality and not for continued legal discrimination against LGBT people.

All of these developments are cause for joy and celebration. I recall being there at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vincente in 2008 when the evil, and now defunct, Prop 8 was declared legal. We marched from that corner up to Sunset Boulevard and then on to Crescent Heights and back down to Santa Monica. In a humorous aside my partner and I found ourselves at the head of the crowd. We decided to walk back to the parking lot where our car was, not realizing that thousands of people were following us up the small side street. That little gaff provided a much appreciated, and needed, moment of laughter in an otherwise difficult night.

Yesterday streets were closed down here in LA, and other places across California and America. This time it was not to protest an evil injustice; but rather to mark and celebrate the achievement of a milestone for justice and human dignity. Such celebrations were more than warranted, as Thea’s partner and survivor said to journalists: “If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do so!” Her love and wife were FINALLY recognized as valid and full citizens with the same equal rights and dignity that we all deserve! FINALLY!

Therein, however, lies the rub. Not everyone is equal. Proponents of injustice and inequality bellowed that 37 states deny those very rights to their subjects (citizens). They love to count their seemingly superior numbers; however, they conveniently overlook the populations of marriage equality v. discriminatory states. There are TWO Americas. I thought back to my 5th grade history class with Mrs. Martse, she explained the Mason-Dixon line to our class. It was an arbitrary line across America. A compromise, a way to accommodate two desperate views of humanity within a divided political reality.

The idea that an entire group of human beings can be abused, dehumanized, vilified and denied fundamental civil rights is not a new idea. The fact that other human beings can be so devoid of both empathy and wisdom, and create artificial justifications for such abuse of others, is a recurring tragedy within human history. Yet, here we are-again and so, while I rejoice that I live in a “Free” state, I lament that we live in a nation that is still half enslaved.

The words of President Lincoln speaking to this reality in his day, came to mind yesterday:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.

His words provide comfort and hope; but simultaneously they are a call to action until all of us in all 50 states, and internationally, are free. A Yale law school professor yesterday commented that the Supreme Court decision on DOMA will inevitably lead to full equality throughout America within five years. In principle that seems true; however, it takes blood, sweat and tears to translate principles into laws. It takes generations of such perseverance to then translate laws into social attitudes. Other people in other ages have overcome injustices and malicious prejudices, we will too and for the very same reason: because we have no other choice.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Until you find the courage to speak the truth, you will never experience freedom or know peace.

The greatest contribution that any LGBT person can make to the cause of justice and equality is to stand up in the light of day and speak their truth clearly.

Reason and truth spoken with courage and persistence will end bigotry in our laws, and will eventually move hearts and minds to full social acceptance.