Friday, March 18, 2011

At least I'm better than you

Some tidbits that have accumulated over the last 10 days.

Gay legislators make a difference. David Pierce is a representative in the New Hampshire state house. He and his partner Robert Duff are raising two daughters. As is the case with other gay legislators Pierce's speeches to the chamber include personal details and sometimes sway colleagues. They form collegial relationships with members of the other party. Pierce spoke about how some people don't think he, his children, and his partner should be a family. That was enough to change at least one vote in favor of gay marriage in that state.

In Maryland a marriage equality bill passed the Senate but was shelved by the house. In Iowa the GOP is trying to drum up support for a marriage protection amendment. In Washington a bill would define out-of-state marriages as translating to civil unions within the state. Official public debates in all three places have brought out people saying things that are both ridiculous and vile. At least in Maryland and Iowa that has included prominent black pastors claiming how dare those gay people equate their struggle with ours!

Alvin McEwen, who is both black and gay, has had enough -- again. He says that it isn't about an Oppression Olympics where only those at the bottom deserve to be brought into the mainstream, that one must deeply suffer to be made worthy.

McEwen didn't quite say it but I had an insight. Black leaders may be saying this because no matter how bad they have it and how miserable they are they can at least say, "Even so, I'm better than you."

Rev. Greg Renstrom leads the Wesley United Methodist Church in downtown Minneapolis. It is near a gay district so several years ago declared itself to be gay-friendly. Renstrom is now taking it one more step. He has announced he will perform same-sex union blessings for any couple that requests it. Yes, this is in violation of church rules and could cost Renstrom his job. Not that he's concerned about it -- he is already at retirement age and his annual pay is $1 because the church is struggling financially.

The church hierarchy hasn't taken action -- yet -- because no couples have asked for a blessing yet. But the offer has gotten the notice of the gay community. And that is good.

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