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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Episcopal Church Approves Gay Couples’ Same-Sex Blessings

Posted: 07/10/2012 8:03 pm Updated: 07/10/2012 11:43 pm

Sixteen years after first allowing gays and lesbians to become priests and nine years after electing its first gay bishop, the Episcopal Church on Tuesday became the largest Christian denomination in the U.S. to offer religious blessings to same-sex couples.

The monumental decision, approved by a thick margin at the church’s triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, means that priests in the 1.9 million-member church can officiate blessings to same-sex couples who are in long-term relationships beginning in December.

The church’s House of Deputies voted 171 to 41, with nine people saying they were divided, to support a same-sex blessings liturgy that will be used during a three-year trial before the church meets again and decides if it should be permanent. The deputies’ vote was done in two parts, with lay members approving the blessings by 78 percent and clergy members approving by 76 percent.

The vote followed Monday’s decision by the church’s House of Bishops supporting the measure by a 111 to 41, with three abstentions. Both groups have to approve new legislation.

Some Episcopal bishops currently allow same-sex blessings in their dioceses, but many have said they will not allow them unless the church has an official liturgy — the words exchanged between a couple and a priest during the ceremony.

The new liturgy will not be mandatory. Bishops who do not approve of same-sex relationships will be allowed to bar its use in their dioceses. Priests who choose to not perform same-sex ceremonies will not face discipline.

The liturgy does not represent a religious marriage — the church defines marriage as being between a man and a woman — though some clergy in states that allow civil marriage officiate secular marriages in their churches.

During debate on Tuesday, many members of the church spoke in favor of same-sex blessings, while fewer spoke against them.

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Williams: Christians need to confront shame and disgust over homosexuality

Archbishop makes one of strongest interventions yet on issue that lies at heart of some of deepest divisions in church

Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 27 June 2012

Rowan Williams the archbishop of Canterbury has said the church is still ‘scratching its head’ about its position on same-sex marriage Photograph: Nick Cunard/Rex Features

Christians need to confront feelings of embarrassment, shame and disgust over homosexuality, the archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In one of his strongest interventions yet on an issue that lies at the heart of some of the deepest divisions in the church he leads, Dr Rowan Williams said the church was still “scratching its head” about its position on same-sex marriage.

He was speaking at an event involving Christian teenagers at Lambeth Palace, his official residence in London, which was entitled “Help, my friends think I’m mad” and where some of the discussion focused on how Anglicanism was viewed from without.

Dr Williams also turned to the question of women bishops, which is due to be considered by the Church of England’s general synod next week, saying it was another issue that gave the impression that sex was “the only thing the church is interested in”.

The Daily Telegraph reported him as saying: “Same with same-sex marriage, where once more we’re used to being alongside people who are gay; many of our friends may be – indeed we may be – wrestling with that issue ourselves, and the church is scratching its head and trying to work out where it is on all that, and what to think about it.

“What’s frustrating is that we still have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that that just sends out a message of unwelcome, of lack of understanding, of lack of patience.

“So whatever we think about it, we need, as a church, to be tackling what we feel about it.”

The archbishop’s comments come after the Church of England was criticised this month by gay rights campaigners for delivering an uncompromising warning to the government against pressing ahead with a controversial proposal to legalise gay marriage.

Introducing same-sex marriage could lead to the church being forced out of its role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state, the church claimed in a submission in response to the government’s consultation on gay marriage.

The National Secular Society on Tuesday published a legal opinion it obtained in response to the church’s submission. The opinion, which has been written by barrister and human rights expert Dr Ronan McCrea and sent to equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, said the church’s failure to distinguish between social, religious and legal institutions of marriage “confuses the issues”.

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A Church Fit Only for Bigots and Hypocrites

By Nick Cohen, The Observer UK, 17 June 12

The Church of England’s stand on homosexuality and women priests is isolating it from the rest of the country.

Archbishop Rowan Williams in Harare in 2011. (photo: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)

I realised that beards and soft words do not a liberal make when the Archbishop of Canterbury toured the Sudan in 2006. His visit coincided with the first genocide of the 21st century: the massacres in Darfur. The forces of the Arab-supremacist government in Khartoum were fighting a war to the knife with black Africans that left hundreds of thousands dead. The slaughter might not have been happening as far as Rowan Williams was concerned. He was the regime’s guest and refused to bear witness to the suffering or criticise its perpetrators.

I thought at the time that among the reasons why I could not believe in God was the shabbiness of his representatives on Earth. The archbishop’s officials explained that he did not wish to be undiplomatic, but I did not wholly believe them either. Williams seemed just the type to believe that crimes against humanity were colour-coded. One should denounce atrocities committed by the west, of course, but stay silent when the criminals had black or brown skins for fear of being thought a cultural imperialist or neocolonialist.

Now that Williams and his fellow bishops are so angry at the possibility of civil gay marriage they are talking of disestablishing the church, we should acknowledge that Williams has always been prepared to accommodate reactionary forces abroad to further reactionary ends at home.

Those who knew him when he was young are shocked. He was once liberal on the question of whether Anglicans should tolerate gay and lesbian love and openly homosexual priests. As the church has had closet cases for two millenniums, who have lied to themselves, their congregations and, on occasion, to the poor women they manoeuvred into loveless marriages, I would have thought that honesty would have been the best argument for equality. But as we have seen, honesty is not a virtue the archbishop treasures.

Instead, Williams developed an eccentric but, I happily admit, touching line of thought. He took a scene in Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet in which Sarah Layton, a respectable daughter of the regiment, is seduced by a worthless man. Williams told members of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in 1989: “There may be little love, even little generosity, in Clark’s bedding of Sarah, but Sarah has discovered that her body can be the cause of happiness to her and to another. It is this discovery which most clearly shows why we might want to talk about grace here. Grace, for the Christian believer, is a transformation that depends in large part on knowing yourself to be seen in a certain way: as significant, as wanted.”

Like Sarah Layton, gays and lesbians also deserved the body’s grace. Even in the Bible, “there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm”. His words read as well today as they did then, but Williams has forgotten what he once knew.

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Anglicans threaten rift with government over gay marriage

Church says introducing same-sex marriage legislation could lead to it being forced out of traditional wedding role

“It seems odd that the Church of England should be obsessing about a few thousand gay couples once again when there are currently 3 million children in Britain living in single-parent households.” Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, which campaigns for gay rights.

Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 12 June 2012

The Church of England has delivered an ­uncompromising warning to the ­government against pressing ahead with gay marriage proposals. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

The threat of an unprecedented clash between church and state over the issue of gay marriage has opened up after the Church of England delivered an uncompromising warning to the government against pressing ahead with controversial proposals.

Introducing same-sex marriage could lead to the church being forced out of its role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state, the church claimed in a potentially explosive submission in response to the government’s consultation on gay marriage, which closes on Thursday.

The submission’s warning of a potential clash between canon law – that marriage is between a man and a woman – and parliament is likely to put pressure on the prime minister, David Cameron, who has spoken out in support of gay marriage and already come under fire from supporters of the proposals for allowing a free vote amongst Tory MPs.

In a 13-page submission, the church says it cannot support the proposal to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.

“Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history,” it says.

“Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.”

The controversy comes at a particularly delicate time for the church itself, which is in the middle of a process that will choose a new Archbishop of Canterbury later this year to replace Dr Rowan Williams.

Internal debates on gay rights have been particularly heated during his tenure as he struggled to balance the CofE’s own factions at the same time as holding together the disparate worldwide Anglican communion of 80 million members.

The church’s submission warns that despite ministerial assurances that churches would not have to conduct gay marriages, it would be “very doubtful” whether limiting same-sex couples to non-religious ceremonies would withstand a challenge at the European court of human rights.

This could make it impossible for the CofE to continue its role conducting marriages on behalf of the state, it warned.

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Vatican Scolds Nun for Book on Sexuality

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and RACHEL DONADIO, June 4, 2012, The New York Times

Sister Margaret A. Farley said she did not intend to express official Catholic teaching. Yale Divinity School

The Vatican’s doctrinal office on Monday denounced an American nun who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School for a book that attempted to present a theological rationale for same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce.

The Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret A. Farley, was “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology,” and should not be used by Roman Catholics.

Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”

The book, she said, offers “contemporary interpretations” of justice and fairness in human sexual relations, moving away from a “taboo morality” and drawing on “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”

The formal censure comes only weeks after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a stinging reprimand of the main coordinating group of American nuns, prompting many Catholics across the country to turn out in defense of the nuns with protests, petitions and vigils.

The nuns’ organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said on Friday that its board had declared that the Vatican’s accusations were “unsubstantiated,” and that it was sending its leaders to Rome to make its case. Three bishops have been appointed by the Vatican to supervise an overhaul of the nuns’ organization.

The censure of Sister Farley, who belongs to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is the second time recently that a book by an American nun has been denounced by the church’s hierarchy. In 2011, the doctrine committee of United States bishops condemned “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” by Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a professor of theology at Fordham University in New York.

The Vatican’s doctrinal office, led by an American, Cardinal William J. Levada, has spent more than two years reviewing Sister Farley’s book, which was published in 2006. The office first notified Sister Farley’s superior of its concerns in March 2010, and said it had opened a further investigation because a response she had sent to the Vatican in October 2010 had not been “satisfactory.” It said her book had “been a cause of confusion among the faithful.”

The dean of Yale Divinity School, Harold W. Attridge, a Catholic layman, and the president of the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Patricia McDermott, issued statements in support of Sister Farley. So did 15 fellow scholars who, in a document released by the divinity school, testified to Sister Farley’s Catholic credentials and the influence she has had in the field of moral theology.

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Methodists Vote to Keep Homosexuality “Incompatible”

by CANDACE CHELLEW-HODGE, May 3, 2012, Religion Dispatches

lansingunited.org

The United Methodist Church voted today to keep intact its section in the Book of Discipline that call homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” and sanctions only heterosexual marriage. New wording would have removed those passages.

The vote came after a debate that became contentious when one African delegate compared homosexuality to bestiality and declared that God would not create humans as gay or lesbian.

During the vote, supporters of the petition to change the Book of Discipline stood at the edges of the convention floor, or the “bar” as the church calls it. As the debate continued, many delegates moved from their seats to join the members on the margins to show their solidarity. In the end the petition failed to pass.

When the conference reconvened after a break, those who supported the petition remained in the hall, singing as business began again. The presiding bishop, Michael Coyner of the Indiana Conference, shut down the meeting, calling the LGBT advocates a “security concern.”

The morning’s vote and actions by the bishop were a disappointment to David Braden, the director of development for the Reconciling Ministries Network, which works for the full inclusion of LGBT people into the UMC:

“We grieve that the United Methodist Church really had the opportunity to live into inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ and live into its tagline of Open Hearts, Open Doors, Open Minds and extend its welcome to LGBT people and unfortunately, chose not to do that. We grieve that UMC continues to harm and discrimination against LGBT people. We’re already here in the United Methodist Church and we will continue to be that shining light on top of the hill to show the world what it means to be UMC, and that is to welcome all people.”

Even if this petition failed, said Daniel Viana, a Brazilian-born music minister at a small conservative Hispanic UMC in Chicago, the presence of LGBT people and their allies at the convention is a strong witness to just how active the LGBT community already is in the church.

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British Conservatives lead charge for gay marriage

By Anthony Faiola, Published: March 29, 2012, The Washington Post

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP - Recently, David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government has launched an effort to grant gays and lesbians the option of entering civil marriages.

LONDON — Americans watching the latest push for social change in Britain might feel as if they had stepped into an alternate political universe: Here, the Conservatives are leading the charge for same-sex marriage.

Gay couples in Britain won the right to civil partnerships in 2004, which granted them nearly the same legal status as married heterosexual couples while avoiding the controversial use of the word “marriage.” But Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative-led coalition have launched a historic drive to grant gay men and lesbians the option of also entering into civil marriages, touching off a surprisingly fierce uproar in largely progressive Britain and fueling a rebellion on the right as the party comes under heavy fire from traditional allies in the British clergy.

Yet challenging tradition appears to be exactly Cameron’s point. The proposal, put forward this month despite the lack of a strong clamor for marriage within Britain’s gay community, is nevertheless emerging as the cornerstone of a bid by the 45-year-old prime minister and other young leaders on the right here to redefine what it means to be a modern Conservative.

“I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative,” Cameron said in a recent landmark speech on the issue. “I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

Spurred to action by a book about a child with two dads, the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher rushed a ban through Parliament in 1988 forbidding local governments and schools from promoting homosexuality, with same-sex couples then described by law “as a pretended family relationship.” Twenty-four years later, strategists see Cameron’s decision to champion the gay marriage cause as an attempt to seize the mantle of progressive change from the left and broaden the Conservative Party’s appeal among an increasingly key voting group: young urbanites.

To be sure, since returning to power in 2010 after 13 years in the political wilderness, the Conservatives have pursued causes at the core of their founding beliefs: slashing the deficit, cutting public payrolls and moving to lower taxes. Yet the party of Thatcher has also sought to reinvent itself by becoming what one Conservative strategist called “very pro-gay.”

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1 in 10 Alberta men say violence against women is OK: Poll

Richard J. Brennan, Mar 14 2012, thespec.com

break‑the‑cycle.jpg

Almost one in 10 Alberta men contacted for a recent survey believes hitting a woman is okay if she makes them angry.

That was one of several troubling findings in a Leger Marketing survey of 1,000 men in the western province made public this week. The survey also found that 40 per cent of men surveyed say women who dress provocatively risk being raped.

“This is first study of its kind that has been done in Alberta and I believe in the rest of the country,” Ian Large, vice-president for the Alberta branch of Leger Marketing, said Wednesday.

“Alberta has a particularly bad reputation in this area,” Large told Torstar News, adding that the men surveyed were remarkably honest.

According to a report released by Statistics Canada in 2011, Alberta and Saskatchewan have the highest rates of spousal abuse in the country at eight per cent.

Those taken aback by the “ground-breaking” results include Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who says she was sickened by some of the findings.

Redford said the statistic showing that 21 per cent of men surveyed said slapping a child’s face is acceptable behaviour “made me sick to my stomach.”

“I think that is very troubling, and as a mother of a nine-year-old, I want us to do better as a community,” she said. “We have to start saying to people that this behaviour is inappropriate … It’s not acceptable in Alberta in 2012.”

Redford said the “silent majority” has a role in ensuring this kind of behaviour is not tolerated and that families feel safe in their own homes.

The Leger survey results were released in Calgary Monday at the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) annual “Breakfast With the Guys” fundraiser, designed to encourage men and boys to take a stand against domestic violence.

The survey was completed from February 6 – 27, with 1,000 men, 18 years of age or older, living in Alberta. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Among the alarming results:

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A Quiet Struggle Within the Gay Marriage Fight

By MATT SMITH | February 18, 2012 | The New York Times

Worshippers at a service at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Clergy members and the church are in a battle of their own over gay rights. Noah Berger for The Bay Citizen

Straight couples dressed in tuxedoes and pastel-colored gowns were forced to wait in a hallway outside the San Francisco recorder’s office on Tuesday as 10 Bay Area Christian leaders sat in a circle inside singing “We Shall Overcome,” “Chapel of Love,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.” It has become an annual Valentine’s Day protest of the city’s inability to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, an authority that is on hold until appeals of a court’s decision to strike down California’s gay marriage ban are exhausted.

“We’re just going to keep knocking at the door until justice is available to all people,” the Rev. Karen Oliveto, a Methodist pastor of San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church, said after sheriff’s deputies handcuffed her and her fellow protesters and led them to jail.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit earlier this month upheld a decision declaring Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, unconstitutional. The ruling represented a milestone in the secular struggle over gay rights. In the shadow of that struggle, however, a quieter battle is being waged within churches over whether gay people can be married and ordained.

Long before the issue of same-sex marriage grabbed the spotlight, liberal Protestant pastors in Northern California were fighting against church rules prohibiting ordination and marriage of homosexuals. That internal church struggle is broadening nationwide.

In recent years, mainline Protestant denominations — which are different from evangelical Christian churches that read the Bible as literal truth and emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus — have one by one changed rules that had prohibited marriage and ordination of gays and lesbians. The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ at one time all barred same-sex wedding ceremonies and ordination of gay clergy members, but they have changed those rules over time.

The last holdout among major mainline Protestant groups has been the United Methodist Church,

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Washington State Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill

By WILLIAM YARDLEY | February 2, 2012 | The New York Times

the Washington state Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage! feministing.com

SEATTLE — Washington appeared almost certain to become the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage after the State Senate voted late Wednesday for a measure that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry beginning this summer.

Supporters had considered the Senate to be the more challenging chamber in which to pass the bill, but it was approved easily, by a vote of 28 to 21, after less than 90 minutes of debate. The measure now moves to the House, where it has wide support and could be voted on as soon as next week. Gov. Christine Gregoire has urged the bill’s approval. The governor is a Democrat, and both legislative chambers are controlled by Democrats.

“Regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail,” Senator Ed Murray of Seattle, the prime sponsor in the Senate, said in his final remarks before the vote. Mr. Murray, who is gay, has noted many times publicly that he and his longtime partner hope to marry in their home state.

The measure, echoing one passed in New York last June, includes language assuring religious groups that they would not be required to marry same-sex couples or allow them to marry in their facilities. Washington would join New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa as states where same-sex couples can marry. Washington, D.C., also allows same-sex marriage.

Washington has steadily expanded rights for gay and lesbian couples since 2006, when it approved domestic partnerships. In 2009, it passed a so-called everything-but-marriage bill, which was challenged in a public referendum and upheld by voters, 53 to 47. Opponents of the marriage bill say they will challenge it in a referendum this fall. The Roman Catholic Church is among the opponents.

The floor debate late Wednesday was civil and relatively succinct.

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Pope Benedict XVI: Gay Marriage A Threat To ‘Future Of Humanity’

By Philip Pullella, HuffPost, January 10, 2012

VATICAN CITY, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said on Monday that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself”.

The pope made some of his strongest comments against gay marriage in a new year address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican in which he touched on some economic and social issues facing the world today.

He told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper “settings” and that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said.

The Vatican and Catholic officials around the world have protested against moves to legalise gay marriage in Europe and other developed parts of the world.

One leading opponent of gay marriage in the United States is New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, whom the pope will elevate to cardinal next month.

Dolan fought against gay marriage before it became legal in New York state last June, and in September he sent a letter to President Barack Obama criticising his administration’s decision not to support a federal ban on gay marriage.

In that letter Dolan, who holds the powerful post of president of the U.S. Bishops Conference, said such a policy could “precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions.”

The Roman Catholic Church, which has some 1.3 billion members worldwide, teaches that while homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are, and that children should grow up in a traditional family with a mother and a father.

“The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue,” Benedict told the diplomats.

Gay marriage is legal in a number of European countries, including Spain and the Netherlands.

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Capitalism and Loneliness: Why Pornography Is a Multibillion-Dollar Industry

US women adjusted to new roles in the marketplace. Unfortunately, men did not make comparable changes. They held on to the privileges that came with men’s provider roles and women’s full-time service in the household.

29 December 2011 | by: Harriet Fraad and Tess Fraad Wolff, Truthout | Op-Ed

(Photo: Dave 77459 / Flickr)

Massive social changes in the US labor force and in commerce have transformed the economy and powerfully affected personal relationships. Since 1970, we have changed from being a society of people connected in groups of every kind to a society of people who are too often disconnected, detached and alienated from one another.

One is the loneliest number, and in their personal lives, Americans are increasingly alone.

What Has Happened to Us?

In the 1970s, the American dream of 150 years duration ground to a halt. From 1820 to 1970, every US generation did better than the one that preceded it. In the 1970s, computers began to replace millions of US jobs. International communication systems became so sophisticated that factories could be moved overseas, allowing the livelihoods of more millions of Americans to be outsourced. Civil rights and feminist gains had given women and minorities access to a depleted job market. Militant left trade union movements or political parties were not there to protest. Wages flattened. Profits rose with productivity and the share distributed to the top rose, rather than being distributed in wages. Wealthy banks issued credit cards with high interest rates that allowed them to make even more money on funds formerly paid out as salaries.

Men were no longer paid a family wage. Families suffered. Women poured into the labor force to make up for lost male wages. Until this point, most women’s work was primarily labor in the home: creating domestic order and cleanliness, performing childcare, and providing social and emotional services for the family. After the 1970s, the majority of women worked outside of the home as well as within it. Now, practically all women work outside the home, currently constituting almost half of the labor force.

Before the movements for racial and gender equality, the best jobs were reserved for white males who were an overwhelming majority. Within our racist and sexist labor force, white men had what ultimately amounted to two wage bonuses: one for being white and another for being male. Beginning in the 1970s, it was no longer necessary to give financial bonuses to white men. Indeed, it was not necessary to pay higher wages to any workers in the US labor force. Workers’ salaries flattened even as they increased their efficiency. This meant that ever more profit was made and accumulated at the top.

American white men lost a good deal of the male hegemony that accompanied steady jobs and wages that could support a family. When millions of manufacturing jobs were outsourced, our economy became a service economy. Neither the greater physical strength nor the higher levels of aggression associated with males are particularly welcome in a service economy. Heterosexual personal relationships that had developed on the basis of a male provider income could not hold. Those gendered roles were sexist and limiting. However, they could have been transformed politically without economically and psychologically traumatizing the American people.

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Kirk seeks to deny same-sex marriage to other communities

By staff writers, 2 Dec 2011, Ekklesia

Affirming Christians and equality advocates have expressed disappointment at the Church of Scotland’s negative response to the Scottish Government’s consultation document, “The Registration of Civil Partnerships, Same Sex Marriage”.

The Kirk, Scotland’s largest Presbyterian denomination, made a statement yesterday through its Legal Questions Committee, claiming that the Government’s proposals to allow non-religious people, smaller churches, liberal Jewish groups, Quakers, the Pagan Federation and Unitarians to celebrate lesbian and gay unions undermines society and the traditional meaning of marriage.

Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister at Aberdeen’s Queen’s Cross Church, commented: “While the Kirk may not yet be in a position to celebrate equal marriage itself, it is disappointing that it has used its voice to deny the possibility to any other religious community.”

“It seems there is still a long way to go before gay people, and their loving relationships, are valued by the Church of Scotland,” he added.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “I find it difficult to fathom why the Church of Scotland seeks to impose its view on the whole of society when we do not seek to impose our views on it.”

The latest Scottish social attitudes survey found that 60 per cent of Scots agreed with gay men and lesbians have equal marriage rights, against 19 per cent who opposed it.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that her administration is still likely to press ahead with reform, which will allow same-sex unions but will not in any way force the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church or others – including fundamentalist groups – who oppose same-sex marriages, to perform them.

The Kirk’s statement reads as follows:

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Kentucky church votes to ban interracial couples

Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church votes on resolution that says the church ‘does not condone interracial marriage’

Associated Press | guardian.co.uk, | 1 December 2011

A tiny church in rural Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from joining its congregation, pitting members against each other in an argument over race.

Members at the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Kentucky voted on Sunday on the resolution, which says the church “does not condone interracial marriage”.

The church member who crafted the resolution, Melvin Thompson, said he is not racist and called the matter an “internal affair”.

“I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil about a race,” said Thompson, the church’s former pastor who stepped down earlier this year.

“That’s what this is being portrayed as, but it is not.”

Dean Harville, the church’s secretary, disagreed – he said the resolution came after his daughter visited the church this summer with her boyfriend from Africa.

Stella Harville and Ticha Chikuni, now her fiancé, visited the church in June and Chikuni sang a song for the congregation. The two had visited the church before.

Harville said he was counting the church offering after a service in August when he was approached by Thompson, who told him Harville’s daughter and her boyfriend were no longer allowed to sing at the church.

“If he’s not racist, what is this?” Harville said.

The vote by members last Sunday was nine to six, Harville said. It was taken after the service, which about 35 to 40 people attended. Harville said many people left or declined to vote.

The resolution says anyone is welcome to attend services, but interracial couples could not become members or be “used in worship services or other church functions”.

Stella Harville, a 24-year-old graduate student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana, called the vote “hurtful”.

“I think part of me is still in shock and trying to process what’s been going on the past few days,” she said. “I really hope they overturn this.”

The church’s pastor, Stacy Stepp, said on Wednesday he was against the resolution. Stepp said the denomination’s regional conference will begin working on resolving the issue this weekend.

The National Association of Free Will Baptists in Tennessee has no official position on interracial marriage for its 2,400 churches worldwide, executive secretary Keith Burden said. The denomination believes the Bible is inerrant and local churches have autonomy over decision making.

“It’s been a non-issue with us,” Burden said, adding that many interracial couples attend Free Will Baptist churches. He said the Pike County church acted on its own. Burden said the association can move to strip the local church of its affiliation with the national denomination if it’s not resolved.

“Hopefully it is corrected quickly,” Burden said.

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B.C. judge upholds Canada’s polygamy laws

Religious freedom doesn’t protect polygamy, B.C. court says in landmark case
James Keller

POLYGAMY Children play outside the Mormon Hills school in the polygamist community of Bountiful, B.C. Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press


VANCOUVER The harms that polygamy inflicts on women and children outweigh any claims to religious freedom, a B.C. judge said Wednesday in a landmark case that is almost certainly destined for the Supreme Court of Canada.
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Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court concluded Canada’s 121-year-old polygamy law is valid as long as it isn’t used to prosecute child brides, and he suggests it should be interpreted that way.
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“This case is essentially about harm. … This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage,” wrote Bauman.
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“Polygamy’s harm to society includes the critical fact that a great many of its individual harms are not specific to any particular religious, cultural or regional context. They can be generalized and expected to occur wherever polygamy exists.”
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Bauman accepted evidence that polygamy inherently leads to a long list of harms, including physical and sexual abuse, child brides, the subjugation of women, and the expulsion of young men who have no women left to marry.
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Bauman’s decision isn’t binding, although the case is expected to end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, which would have the final say on Canada’s polygamy law.
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More than two decades of controversy surrounding the isolated religious commune of Bountiful, B.C., where residents follow a fundamentalist form of Mormonism that believes polygamy is required to attain the highest level of heaven.
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Domenick Scudera: My Gay Lifestyle


November 1, 2011

I live the gay lifestyle, the gay lifestyle that is often mentioned by some Republican candidates for president. For those who are unfamiliar with the lifestyle, this is a typical day:

7:00 a.m. I wake up, and just as I have done every morning since puberty, I choose to be gay today. This will come as a great relief to my gay, homosexual, male lover who lies beside me. Because being gay is a choice, our relationship is a gamble day to day. Even though we have both chosen to remain gay and to be together every day for the past 16 years, we never take anything for granted. One of us just might throw in the towel one day and give up the lifestyle.

7:30 a.m. I take a gay shower and let the gay water rinse off my gay body.

8:00 a.m. I have a gay breakfast of cereal with milk, and a good, strong, gay cup of coffee. I am fortified for another day of ruining the fabric of American society.

9:00 a.m. I start my morning shift as a gay hospital volunteer. The hospital is not gay, just me. The patients are mostly normal people. But it is OK. The hospital has a rule that all volunteers must sanitize their hands before meeting with patients. This is to avoid spreading germs, but I think that hand sanitizer is also effective in stopping the transfer of my gayness to other people.

12:00 p.m. I return home, eat a gay lunch and take my gay dogs for a walk. Well, I am not sure if the dogs are actually gay. I have heard it said that homosexuality does not exist in the animal kingdom because it is not natural, so chances are that the dogs are not gay. But because they live with me and my gay, homosexual, male lover, they are perceived by others to be gay. I would feel bad about this, but the fact is that I need these dogs. They are the closest that I will ever come to having actual children, because, as everyone knows, gays should not (and cannot) have children. I push this out of my mind as I walk the dogs gaily through the neighborhood.

1:00 p.m. I teach classes at a small, prestigious, liberal arts college. I am a gay college professor. The college is not gay, just me. But some may view the college as way too liberal, because “sexual orientation” is listed within the college’s anti-discrimination policy. This basically means that the college turns a blind eye as I infect the impressionable students with my gayness on a daily basis. I do not teach anything particularly gay in my classes. I am a theater professor, which, for all intents and purposes, is gay to most people, anyway.

6:00 p.m. My gay, homosexual, male lover returns home from his job. Luckily, he has chosen to be gay today, too, so we can sit down and have a nice, relaxing gay dinner together. We are aware that our relationship is ripping at the seams of our heterosexual neighbors’ marriages, but we choose to ignore this. If we were normal people, the guilt might weigh on us heavily, but we are gay, after all, so we do not have consciences. We eat in peace.

8:00 p.m. We go gay bowling at our Suburban Gay Bowling League. There are quite a lot of us homosexuals who gather each week to bowl at our local bowling alley. This makes the normal suburban bowlers uncomfortable, but we do not care. Some of them are openly hostile to us. The more polite ones just stare at us. It makes us feel like we are caged, exotic animals in a zoo. But we count ourselves lucky because the alley owners have sold out. They allow us to bowl here because they are desirous of our ample, disposable gay income. Ah, the almighty dollar! The owners show mercy on the normal suburbanites, though, by putting a buffer zone of two vacant lanes between our gay league and them. We are respectful of this line, which we call the “edge of gayness,” and do not cross it. We try to tone down our gaiety and frivolity by focusing intently on our bowling. The normal suburbanites never venture past their side of the line, either, because it would be unimaginable to them to interact with us.

11:00 p.m. My gay, homosexual, male lover and I collapse from the weariness of the gay lifestyle we have been living today. All of this subversive loving, volunteering, working, eating, playing and socializing is exhausting. Some say the gay lifestyle is self-enslavement, but we just cannot think about that now. Before we fall asleep, we each take out our personal, leather-bound copies of The Gay Agenda. The Gay Agenda is our Bible. We do not look at the real Bible because we are gay and therefore have no religion or morality. We read and strategize how we can best destroy American society tomorrow. Sharing a good, hardy, gay laugh, we each fall into a sound, gay sleep.

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Same-sex marriage legalised in New York state as hundreds wed

Fifth and largest US state so far to pass law, but same-sex marriages still not recognised by national government

Dominic Rushe in New York, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 July 2011

In New York's first legal same-sex marriage, Kitty Lambert, right, weds Cheryle Rudd at Niagara Falls. Photograph: David Duprey/AP

Just past midnight on Sunday at Niagara Falls in New York, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the state.

The couple were among hundreds of gays and lesbians married on Sunday as a new law allowing same-sex marriages in New York came into effect. Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, were married before more than 100 friends and family members in front of the famous water falls.

Lambert and Rudd have been together 12 years and met in Arizona after divorcing their respective husbands. The women have five children and 12 grandchildren between them. “We’re finally getting the same rights as everyone else,” Rudd told Associated Press. “Nobody can take that away from us anymore.”

In New York city 823 same sex couples were granted licences to wed on Sunday. Phyllis Siegal, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84, were the first same-sex couple to become legally married in the city. The couple live in Chelsea and have been together for 23 years.

Couples began lining up at the entry to the Manhattan City Clerk’s Office in New York at 4:30 am and a crowd gathered to cheer the newlyweds as they left the building.

City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is gay, told reporters: “They’re here in the most amazing of moments, where their hometown and their state are saying that their family matters, that their family is just as good as everybody else’s. And part of the law that in words said they were less than other people, which wasn’t true, is now gone.”

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated at the marriage between his consumer affairs commissioner Jonathan Mintz, and his chief policy adviser John Feinblatt Sunday afternoon at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence. The mayor has been an outspoken champion of same-sex marriage rights.

New York is the largest state so far to legalize same-sex marriage. Six other states including Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont already recognise gay marriages. Gay rights activists are pushing for New York neighbour New Jersey to recognise gay weddings. But most US states have brought in laws or constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage, and same-sex marriages are not recognised at the national level by the US government.

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New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Becoming Largest State to Pass Law

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and MICHAEL BARBARO | June 25, 2011 | The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a same-sex marriage bill into law late Friday in his office at the State Capitol. - Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

ALBANY — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born.

The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a packed but hushed Senate chamber. Four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.

With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong.

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July.

Passage of same-sex marriage here followed a daunting run of defeats in other states where voters barred same-sex marriage by legislative action, constitutional amendment or referendum. Just five states currently permit same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

At around 10:30 p.m., moments after the vote was announced, Mr. Cuomo strode onto the Senate floor to wave at cheering supporters who had crowded into the galleries to watch. Trailed by two of his daughters, the governor greeted lawmakers, and paused to single out those Republicans who had defied the majority of their party to support the marriage bill.

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For First Time, Majority of Americans Favor Legal Gay Marriage

by Frank Newport | May 20, 2011 | gallop.com

PRINCETON, NJ — For the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans’ views did not change.


1996-2011 Trend: Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?

These results are based on Gallup’s May 5-8 Values and Beliefs poll, which has tracked attitudes toward legalizing same-sex marriage each year since 2004, adding to Gallup’s initial polling on the topic in 1996 and 1999.

This year’s nine-percentage-point increase in support for same-sex marriage is the largest year-to-year shift yet measured over this time period. Two-thirds of Americans were opposed to legalized same-sex marriage in 1996, with 27% in favor. By 2004, support had risen to 42% and, despite some fluctuations from year to year, stayed at roughly that level through last year.

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United they fall

Charles Lewis, National Post · May 14, 2011

United Church of Canada Moderator Mardi Tindal - photo by Aaron Lynett/National Post

The United Church of Canada, which was formed 86 years ago with the grand vision to bring Protestants together “in one glorious national church,” is undergoing one of the most precipitous slides in modern religious history.

In the midst of a breathtaking erosion in its membership, the church is undertaking what some call a great experiment to redefine itself through an intense engagement with the surrounding secular world: Whether it be through advocating for the environment, fighting for the rights of homosexuals to marry or taking on the cause of the Palestinians, the church has attempted to blur the boundaries between religion and the broader society.

Supporters believe this strategy will eventually right the ship because they are following the word of God to engage in the world.

To others, though, the United Church is engaged in a self-destructive act, aiming to be so many things to so many people that it will morph into just another social advocacy group disconnected from 2,000 years of Christian tradition. Critics say there is a severe lack of orthodoxy, lax demands on belief and even too much latitude for ministers who can question the existence of God and the divinity of Christ.

Connie denBok, a United Church minister in Toronto, is among those who despair that the church has become so much of the world, so focused on popular issues, that it is evolving away from the core of Christianity.

“In the 1960s and ’70s, we became embarrassed about Jesus. And so we distanced ourselves from Jesus, and the point is, without Jesus there’s no point in having a church. iTunes has better music and the NDP has better policies; everything else we do now somebody else does way better. The only thing we can do is this Jesus thing,” she said.

“I would say that the United Church no longer has many unifying factors.”

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In Historic Vote, Presbyterians to Allow LGBT Clergy

May 11, 2011 | By Candace Chellew-Hodge | Religion Dispatches

The Presbyterian Church (USA) will begin ordaining gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clergy this summer after a majority of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries voted to approve Amendment 10-A.

The amendment removes language from the Presbyterian Book of Order – inserted in the late 1990s to prevent LGBT people from serving – that those called to be ministers, deacons, or elders are required to “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

The new language gives congregations the leeway they need to “examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office” and makes no mention of celibacy or relationship status. It does not mean that LGBT people must be ordained, but gives each presbytery the choice to do so if it wishes.

“What this does for LGBT people in the church is it creates an open way. People cannot be discriminated against in a categorical way because of their sexual orientation or marital status. This is an amazing moment in the life of the PC(USA),” Michael Adee, the director of More Light Presbyterians, told RD.

More Light has been working since 1974 for full equality for LGBT people in the denomination.

The Associated Press reports it was “the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., [that] cast the deciding 87th vote Tuesday night. Sixty-two presbyteries have voted against the measure and balloting will continue, but the majority needed for ratification was secured in Minnesota.”

Not everyone within that presbytery was happy with the vote according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune: “It’s very unfortunate we have to have this discussion today,” said Peter Hwang, a member of the Korean Presbyterian Church. “I think we should be ashamed of ourselves. This homosexual issue is breaking our church. We need to abide by Scripture.”

Despite the opposition, that final vote, according to Adee, means that the new amendment will go into effect on July 10.

After the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) lifted its celibacy requirements in 2009, allowing LGBT people to be ordained as ministers, many churches pulled out of the denomination in protest. Fox News reports that “about 100 of the 11,000 [Presbyterian] congregations had already broken away ahead of the vote.”

Adee doesn’t expect there to be a large exodus from the denomination after this ratification, mainly because of polity differences between the Presbyterians and the Lutherans. The ELCA made the change at a national meeting – but the Presbyterians were forced to have meetings and conversations about the issue and ratify the amendment presbytery by presbytery.

“Thousands of people had faithful conversations about ‘what does it mean to be the church?’ and ‘what does the Bible really say about this?’, so I think the cultural change will be further along for the Presbyterian church because of this long process,” Adee said.

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Progressive Christian: Wallis “No Longer Speaks for Us”

May 9, 2011 | By Sarah Posner | Religion Dispatches

Over at Episcopal Cafe, Jim Naughton wonders whether the big tent rather broadly known as “progressive Christianity” has collapsed, after Sojourners’ rejection of the Believe Out Loud ad. “Lefties” like himself, Naughton writes in retrospect, were wrong to let Sojourners founder Jim Wallis become “the embodiment of the Progressive Christianity in the eyes of the Obama administration and the Washington media, despite the fact that he wasn’t necessarily progressive on issues like abortion and LGBT rights.”

But now, Wallis as de facto leader is no longer “tenable,” Naughton contends. “The big tent collapsed this weekend, and it was Sojourners who yanked out the tent poles. Someone needs to alert official Washington that Jim Wallis and his minions no longer speak for us–if they ever did.”

Naughton raises an important point: whether Wallis actually represents a movement that could be described as the religious left is highly doubtful. First, Wallis himself has rejected the “religious left” label. Moreover, many who would consider themselves on the religious left reject Wallis as their leader.

Still, though, Wallis’ knack for self-promotion, combined with a lack of imagination on the part of both politicians and the media, has led to Wallis being viewed as one of the preeminent figures on the not-right-hand end of the Christian spectrum. After all, he is against poverty (although who isn’t?) and his campaign to fast in order to pressure Congress to not to cut programs to the poor attracted the support of New York Times foodie Mark Bittman. He’s calling on the Obama administration to end the war in Afghanistan, a stance that would put him in the same camp as Code Pink or the editorial board of the Nation.

As Presbyterian Pastor Katie Mulligan notes, though, writing in response to Sojourners’ rejection of the ad: “It is entirely possible to do good work in the world and at the same time contribute to the ongoing bigotry and oppression of queer folk.”

It’s odd, then, that with the wide range of lefty religious voices on economic and foreign policy issues, as well as gender and sexuality issues, that Wallis has managed to win the attention of official Washington. When it comes to gender and sexuality, Wallis is downright conservative. These issues make him nervous. He describes addressing these issues as a distraction from his anti-poverty agenda, while many on the left, including the religious left, consider them essential issues, not distractions.

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Royal Wedding Ceremony Quite Dated, Hats Notwithstanding

Mary E. Hunt | May 4, 2011 | Religion Dispatches

This weekend’s royal wedding shored up the British monarchy for a generation or three. Its impact on Christian theology was equally stabilizing for the status quo. More’s the pity. I will leave the political questions for another day, but I cannot let one third of the world watch a Christian marriage ceremony without mentioning several troubling matters.

Three stand out: First, while much was made of the fact that Kate would not vow to “obey” William, she was still escorted by her father (the mother looked on), “given” in marriage to her husband by her father via the priest. The father literally handed (by the hand) her over to the priest who then handed (gave her hand) her to her husband. After decades of feminist theology this is as far as we are? I thought Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was a theologian first. Surely he knows something about how offensive it is to think of any woman being “given” to any man or vice versa. That they embrace one another mutually in a covenant makes more sacramental and social sense even if one is royalty and the other not.

Second, at the ceremony’s end the presider pronounced the couple “man and wife.” Every commentator I heard repeated it piously as if it were true. What happened to the husband? Some will argue that it is a matter of translation, but so are a lot of sexist images from the Bible and church history. Now we try to call things by their names. “Husband and wife” is a more accurate description of the reality and something that signifies the equality of the two. Small matter? Yes, only if you are not the wife.

Third, and this also passed most watchers by, the persistent use of exclusive language for the divine—I know the Book of Common Prayer is not gender neutral—made a traditional ceremony even more dated than it needed to be. So many references to Father, Son, Ruler, King for the divine made it a feminist theologian’s nightmare. Or, to be creative about it, here is a wonderful object lesson for our students about how God-language works to reify power structures. Now the world has concrete evidence that the problem feminists have been referring to is not simply about gender but about power. Here is a beautiful example of how baptizing the status quo takes place. Look at how effective such language is to reinforce and reinscribe monarchical rule. Add a frilly hat or an airy fascinator, darling, and God’s in “His” heaven and all’s right with the world.

Lest any reader think I am still grousing about not being invited, let it be known I arose at 4AM to watch from the splendor of my own pillows. The pageantry was second to none, making even the weekend’s beatification of John Paul II look a little pale. No one, simply no one does hats and fascinators like the Brits. Even the horses are a little more gussied up in England. The Queen herself set the pace with a yellow outfit from head to toe. One commenter suggested that she looked like a Peep, those pastel marshmallow treats, but I thought it became her and fit the occasion. So there.

Let me stipulate further that I was not expecting a barefoot in the park kind of wedding. I know the Church of England has its standards. Still, it was sad to see that despite all the talk about young royals and their more populist ways that religion would once again be the still point in the universe, that which hasn’t changed for centuries.

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To the Exclusion of All Others

In a liberal society, is polygamy still intolerable?

By Elizabeth Abbott | From the May 2011 magazine The Walrus

Two decades ago, RCMP officers drove up a winding road through the Creston Valley of southeastern British Columbia, past fields of timothy hay and cottonwood stands, to an unmarked settlement known as Bountiful. It looked a typical rural town — homesteads bordered by well-kept yards full of children running and swinging and cycling — but, in fact, the officers had come to investigate a complaint that two local patriarchs, young gun Winston Blackmore and his fifty-seven-year old father-in-law Dalmon Oler, were polygamists — an offence under Section 293 of the Criminal Code.

All 1,000 or so residents of Bountiful are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a Mormon sect that believes God’s chosen leaders should each marry several virgins and “multiply and replenish the Earth… that they may bear the souls of men.” Unashamed, Oler invited the officers into the fifteen-bedroom home he shared with his five wives and forty-eight children. Blackmore, who in addition to leading Canada’s FLDS operated a multimillion-dollar logging, trucking, and manufacturing business, was cagier about numbers, only admitting to having more than one wife. He was rumoured, however, to have at least twenty-five (many underage at the time he married them), and more than eighty children.

After a year-long investigation, the case seemed completely straightforward, but lawyers knew otherwise. While the Criminal Code defines polygamy as a crime, the Charter of Rights guarantees religious freedom, and in the summer of 1992, after consulting various constitutional experts, the BC attorney general’s office officially rejected the RCMP recommendations, on the grounds that Section 293 was invalid. Blackmore, puffed up with victory, is said to have mounted a framed copy of the Charter on his office wall.

But his troubles were far from over. Blackmore would soon became embroiled in an internecine leadership struggle with James Marion Oler, son of Dalmon; more concerning, Bountiful suffered from growing image problems. In the wake of the thwarted charges, BC’s secretary of state for women’s equality commissioned a committee on polygamy issues, which in May 1993 issued Life in Bountiful, a powerful indictment of polygamy, in particular forced marriage and extreme demands of obedience. “When does a culture stop being a culture,” the report concluded rhetorically, “and start being abuse?” A decade later, one of the committee members, escaped FLDS wife Debbie Palmer, published Keep Sweet, a sensational memoir dedicated to her eight children, “who lived through unspeakable horrors before I brought them out.” And in 2008, Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham published The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect, which documented, along with the sad fate of Bountiful’s girls, that of its boys, who were yanked from school and put to work, or expelled from the community to eliminate competition for brides.

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