Monday, November 3, 2008

With Liberty and Justice for All?

On Saturday 1 November I attended an ecumenical prayer service which was held at Saint John's Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles, California. Present at that beautiful event which gave witness of God's all embracing love, were various clergy. It reminded me of the fact that as we draw closer to the God of us all, who is love, we are drawn closer to each other. At one point a same sex parent spoke of a recent conversation held with their adopted daughter. The girl became upset when she saw a car pass by with a "Yes on 8" bumper sticker. She said: They shouldn't be allowed to put that out in public. The parent patiently explained that we live in a democracy and that everyone has a right to express their opinion, as long as they don't hurt anyone. The girl thought for a moment and said: but, they are hurting someone, they're hurting our family!

From the mouth of babes! My grandmother used to say that small children and drunks never lie. I cannot think of a more powerful way of expressing what tomorrow's vote means. It is about safeguarding the rights of all families in our state. It is about protecting our constitution from being altered to enshrine bigotry. It is about protecting all of our citizens from having to live in fear. From having to suffer discrimination. From having to defend their existence in the face of condescension and sometimes, outright hatred and physical hostility. We're better than that. We're voting for that little girl, for her family and for all Californians.

On Sunday 2 November I attended a rally in front of City Hall in Fresno, California. For those of you unfamiliar with that part of our state, it is a very politically and socially conservative area. The bullet proof vest which I was lent by homeland security reminded me that there are still school yard bullies. Cowards who attack those they think are weaker or, who challenge their own insecurities. I received an E-mail that a local "yes on 8" minister was going to release this congregation from services early so, that they could infiltrate and disrupt the rally, I mused: Is that what Jesus would do? It was a sunny and beautiful day and over 1,000 very motivated No on Prop 8 people stood in front of the podium. A podium which I was privileged to share with many wonderful dignitaries including the granddaughter of the late Cesar Chavez, Cristina. The infiltrators never showed up. Shakespeare said: "The brave man dies but, once. The coward dies one thousand deaths."

I had the opportunity to enjoy a conversation with Cristina while we were waiting our respective turns to speak. If it wasn't for Cesar Chavez, many of the few rights and protections now afforded to migrant workers in California would not exist. We recalled the time in our national history when people like the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez were seen as subversive. When they were told: "This is how things have always been." Cristina said, that if her grandfather were alive today, that he would be working for NO on Proposition 8. That he always championed the cause of any person or, minority group that found itself being attacked. There was a lot of hatred directed at Dr. King and Cesar Chavez a few decades ago. Some people still resent them today. But, their courageous stand moved our nation a little closer to making good on our Pledge of Allegiance: "with liberty and justice for ALL.'

PLEASE, join with us tomorrow on Election Day. Please, vote NO on Proposition 8. There will be long lines at the polls tomorrow. Expect to wait 90 minutes or even 2 hours at some locations, before you get to vote. Go with friends and family. Make it part of a day together. Invite neighbors and co-workers.


Leonard said...

Thanks Padre!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that you had to wear a bulletproof vest to come back to Fresno.

Doesn't say much for the City of Fresno, does it?

I wish I had been there but cowardice won out. I need my job and I do work for the church. People do know who I am. I am sorry.

But I did have a little petty moment today: our house received a call from the Yes on 8 people asking us for our support. I let the lady know that we had already voted on 8. I let her know that we voted No. She was not happy.

Father, forgive me for I have sinned.

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much Father for your example, your courage, and your presence at the rally Sunday.

rob said...

Dear Fr. Farrow,

I've been following your story since it broke a few weeks ago. I'm am now an 'out and proud' gay Episcopalian yet I struggled for years with faith & sexuality issues. When I saw that you were heading towards Los Angeles, my first thought was the hope that you might find affirmation and support in the Episcopal community. Obviously, from the comments above, that has happened. I especially wanted to recommend to you Fr. Mark at St. John's, whom I suspect you now know. He's one among many shining lights in this Diocese. It seems that Our Lord is indeed taking care of you. Don't be discouraged. Many are praying for you.

Rob Merrell

David@Montreal said...

Father Geoff

writing from here in Montreal, you have no idea just how many Canadians' prayers and hearts are with you folks today.

living in a country which has for more than two decades afforded full protection to LGBT lives, and which for a decade has celebrated and recognized our legal marriages, I can have no real idea of the ugliness and embodied fear you, Susan+ and our brothers and sisters have daily stood up to.

But you've had and continue to have our hearts and prayers.

In a very strange but powerful way, this is also our election as on the cusp of a wondrous transformation, the whole world has a stake in the outcome of your election and the defeating of the Proposition on Hate.

Being an Anglican, I have no idea of the horrors awaiting you with the hierarchy of your denomination.
I can only pray and urge you not to lose faith. Not to lose site of the great cloud of witness in most all denominations who have come out to stand with you, to uphold you in prayer. Not to lose site of the beautiful vision of the service at All Saints last Sunday.

It is my sense that through all of this the Holy Spirit has called you into an ever larger, prophetic role of priesthood, and those of us who have met you through this medium, and upheld you in prayer- even at this distance will not forget you.

I hope the embodiment of your vocation in this space will continue, if only that our prayers continue to be informed of your situation and we might continue to be blessed by your witness.

I'd also remind you, dear brother the Anglican Church is always there for you- arms open wide- recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you.


Anonymous said...

In the homerun derby your blog has beome, you've hit another one out of the yard. Well said! Great advice!

Anonymous said...

I wept with joy, fear, pride and hope as I carefully marked NO on prop 8. Fr. Geoff, I've said it so many times, yet again I say thank you for taking that brave step which, on one hand cost you dearly, yet on the other hand has opened the door around the world for your voice to be heard. You are a true and great blessing to countless numbers of us.

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff, many of us in New York State are following this closely. We wish everyone the best. You are a brave man. Thank you for taking a stand.

Angel said...

Hello Fr. Farrow,

Hope everything is well for you and your loved ones. Just wanted to tell you, thank you for every thing you have done for so many people. We LOVE and MISS you so much,(Max and Taffy too). And we'll always admire you for everything you do and for what you have done. You will always be our hero.

Love Chris & Angel

Anonymous said...

Whatever happens tonight, know that you and the people of California (and so, all of humanity) are in my prayers. Our struggle may be long, but I will not stop working for equality. Your story has inspired so many to do the same.

Thank you for your sacrifice. May God protect you better than any bulletproof vest.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised a Catholic in Fresno....currently and sadly i'm ashamed to say that. I'm sorry you had to wear a bullet proof vest, i'm sorry i wasn't at church that morning to stand and applaud you. I don't understand how so many fresno ministers can be so judgemental and hurtful i don't see that as being a true christian in any way. But i will proudly say I voted NO on 8. Most of my family say i am putting my gay and lesbian friends before my church but i feel that I am putting the rights of gods children first. You are an inspiration and i thank you.

CDE said...

Looks like Prop 8 passed.