Monday, November 17, 2008

Address to the Mayor and City Council of West Hollywood, California.

Tonight, I was invited to address the Mayor and City Council of the City of West Hollywood. To my pleasant surprise, I was honored with a commendation by West Hollywood for my efforts in working towards the promotion and preservation of civil rights. I humbly accept this honor on behalf of all of those who have marched and worked to overturn the hate law which is Proposition 8. The following, is the text of my address to the City Council.

On November 4th, we experienced a breakthrough in our history as a nation. We elected the first African American president of the United States of America. With this exceptional act, we turned a corner in our history as a nation and helped to realize the dream of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A dream in which a person would not be judged by the color of their skin but, by the content of their character.

As if this accomplishment was not enough, the character of President-elect Barack Obama and his vision for our nation have given birth to a new found spirit of hope and optimism. A spirit has been enkindled in our nation which we have not experienced since the election of the JFK.

We need to draw strength, inspiration and courage from this new spirit of hope and optimism because on that same night of November 4th, something unworthy of the spirit of America happened with the passage of Proposition 8: a hateful law. In the tradition of the Nuremberg laws and Jim Crow laws, a slim majority of the electorate of our state was manipulated by what is arguably one of the most deceptive and unethical election campaigns in recent memory.

And yet, something remarkable has happened in the wake of this attempt to enshrine discrimination in our state’s constitution. Across our communities, our state and our nation, people have poured out onto the streets, campuses, civic centers, and government centers to voice their support for equal rights. I was privileged to participate in Sabbath services at Kol Ami synagogue here in West Hollywood on Friday evening. After the services, a woman who had been at Stonewall came up to me and said: “This is a second Stonewall.’ The movement has begun.

The Spanish mystic, Theresa of Avila once observed that: “God writes straight with crooked lines.” I believe that what is happening now is an illustration of that wisdom. Perhaps, losing on this proposition initiative is precisely the catalyst that our community needed to energize us and give us a renewed strength and vision. Those who would strip us of our rights and human dignity are quick to invoke their idealized social order and the name of God. Whether racists of 40 years ago, or the bigots of today, they have unwittingly pushed us too far and have given life to a new movement. We will fight harder than ever before; we shall overcome.


Fran said...

That is great news Fr. Geoff. You have trod quite a long path in a short time.

I love your St. Teresa quote - there was someone who went outside the lines and was not fully appreciated in her own time.

My friend met you at Temple Kol Ami, he is Catholic but his partner is Jewish. It sounded like a lovely event. You are so embraced with love and respect by so many.

David@Montreal said...

a very real relief to see you posting again. remembering you daily on my prayers and practice- one among countless many, i was concerned by your silence of late.

your witness to City Council is a powerful witness, and like you I believe that those who fearfully hate have no idea just what wonder may have been uncleashed with the outcome of prop-hate.

what a wondrous time to be alive- to be able to witness the clear working of the Holy Spirit through our LGBT tribe to just perhaps bring Christianity into a more authentic engagement with our God.

what a blessing also to be born one of us, to be able to live, love and praise outside the monolith of patriarchy.

hugs and thanks


Leonard said...

Fr. Geoff,

I was inspired by your address to the West Hollywood City Council/Mayor...I´ve just featured you on my blog today...hope it´s ok...thanks, Leonardo Ricardo

Randol Teodocio said...

Hi Father Geoff.

I just want to leave you a brief note to say how impressed I was with your bravery in the days before the Prop. 8 election. I am also lifted by your current blog postings, and hope they continue.

My partner and I got married by our pastor three days before the election, and consider ourselves lucky. We now want for everyone, what we were able to enjoy.

On Halloween, we went to a fundraiser party for "No on 8." We were the "pharaoh twins." He was an actual pharaoh... and I was you... a "Farrow." Not sure if you pronounce your name the same way, but we went with it.

I loved the costume, because each time we had to explain it... it gave me the opportunity to tell your amazing story.

Again, thank you for your work! Keep it up.


David@Montreal said...

Geoff (not for post)
though it is not a national holiday in my country- we do Thanksgiving in October here- you're courage and witness are cause for thanks here in Montreal this week-end

i hope & pray you are well, as an Anglican i confess to a certain mistrust of the Roman curia, so be wise brother, take care and please don't settle for anything less than your sonship of the true & living God

your brother in Christ


SFbruiser said...

Thank you for your brave words, Fr. Geoff.
I urge everyone not to give up hope. The struggle for equal rights is NOT over.
Continue to press and pray for change while striving to understand and love our opponents just as Jesus taught us.

Mareczku said...

Those were beautiful words Father. I am glad to see you stand up for what you believe in. Those were kind words about Barack Obama. I have Catholics on other blogs to take me to task for voting for Obama. They told me I was a sinner and all sorts of nasty things. I did have issues because I am a pro-life Catholic but I hope that Obama will reach out to the Catholic and other pro-life people. Hopefully Obama will be a good President. I think he brings hope to a lot of people.

Peace - Mareczku

Mareczku said...

Interesting observations there, Father Geoff. Just stopping by to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day and don't eat too much turkey. Love and blessings to you.


Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

What an honor !!!

I have been in the past in West Hollywood for the Gay Pride Day Parade. And my memoires being there are still with me and have remained a significant source of support and pride for me. It is amazing what that community can do to bring a real sense of feeling being alive and feeling proud who we are as LGBT people.

I owe a lot to the people of West Hollywood who belabored over putting on the Gay Pride Day Parades, as well as to the people of San Francisco who do the same. Being in the crowd for tens of thousands of people is an experience one never forgets. It is extremely important to hold on to this experience when you move into an activist role for change, even in the face of great odds.

But to hear about the honor that they bestowed on you is more than heartwarming. Your acceptance of the invitation extended to you from the Mayor and City Council of the City of West Hollywood speaks volumes about love and human respect. Their invitation to you proves that they are accepting of everyone even a Catholic priest. And your acceptance and presence there for me speaks of Christ love for all people. Most importantly it validates that no one has a right to say who God loves and does not love. Because when I was at the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood I felt the presence of Christ through the whole day throughout the city. Looking back I remember how safe and happy I felt in the mist of thousands and thousands of strangers who did not seem like strangers but more like family. It was a real slice of heaven. This event with you and the people of West Hollywood proves I was right in my thinking.

We may think that we lost in November 2008, but it may be the beginning of something quite wonderful. The resiliency to the LGBT community is always astounding. All that true love just cannot die or be stopped; it is quite powerful to move forward brining all people closer together to become one in love.

With all best wishers,