If the Church Is Serious About Welcoming Gays…


MARIANNE DUDDY-BURKE and MARY ELLEN LOPATA | New York Times | April 5, 2013

IN an Easter morning appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, spoke words that some gay and lesbian Catholics thought they might never hear.

Asked by the host, George Stephanopoulos, what he would say to people who felt excluded from the Roman Catholic Church because of their sexual orientation, the cardinal said: “Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness.’ ”

Just words? Perhaps. But many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics have been waiting for decades to hear words of solace and comfort from a church hierarchy that has too often repaid their fidelity with marginalization and condemnation. To hear Cardinal Dolan, arguably the most prominent Catholic prelate in the United States, say that “Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me,” was an unexpected gift to gay Catholics and their families and allies.

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NV: Lawmaker: Bill to legalize marijuana is about ‘coming to terms with reality’


Matt Woolbright | Associated Press | April 6, 2013

CARSON CITY — State lawmakers heard passionate arguments Friday over a  measure that ends the prohibition on recreational marijuana use in Nevada and  funnels the tax revenues toward the underfunded state education system.

Assemblyman Joseph Hogan, D-Las Vegas, presented AB402 to members of the  Assembly Judiciary Committee with just a week to go before the deadline for  bills to clear their first committees.

Hogan said the bill is not about smoking marijuana, but rather is “about  coming to terms with reality and showing some courage.”

“The prohibition against marijuana has essentially failed,” Hogan told  committee members. “It has created a black market that hangs like a cancer  alongside our unfunded education system.”

The bill would place a 25 percent excise tax on each grower, manufacturer and  purchaser of marijuana. Those proceeds would go toward early childhood education  and literacy programs in K through 12th grade, Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las  Vegas and the other primary sponsor of the bill, said.

“There’s a lot of money involved. This is huge,” Martin said. “The marijuana  market exists and we’ve closed our eyes to it like we did in the old days to  gambling, or alcohol, or brothels, or whatever.”

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Why Facebook matters in the fight for gay marriage


Russell Brandom| The Verge | April 2, 2013

If you’ve been on Facebook in the past week, you’ve probably seen it: the red equals sign. Human Rights Campaign launched the movement last Monday, as the Supreme Court moved towards a ruling on Prop 8. According to Facebook, it spurred an extra 2.7 million people to change their profile pictures the following day. As political consultant Jessi Langsen of H+K Strategies told us, “It’s not something we’ve seen before on that scale.” Facebook campaigns crash and burn all the time, but this one worked, providing a popular and visible show of support at a crucial time for the issue.


Why did this campaign become a political force?

 

More impressive, the outcry on Facebook and elsewhere seems to have had a real impact on lawmakers. Two GOP senators have already come out in favor of gay marriage — the second just this morning. Even the Supreme Court has noticed the impact. During deliberations, Chief Justice Roberts said to a pro-marriage lawyer, “As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case.”

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Third major oil spill in a week: Shell pipeline breaks in Texas


RT News | April 6, 2013

Thousands of gallons of oil have spilled from a pipeline in Texas, the third accident of its kind in only a week.

Shell Pipeline, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, shut down their West Columbia, Texas, pipeline last Friday after electronic calculations conducted by the US National Response Center showed that upwards of 700 barrels had been lost, amounting to almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

By Monday, Shell spokespeople said inspectors found “no evidence” of an oil leak, but days later it was revealed that a breach did occur. Representatives with the US Coast Guard confirmed to Dow Jones on Thursday that roughly 50 barrels of oil spilled from a pipe near Houston, Texas and entered a waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Pope urges action against child sex abuse


Al Jazeera | April 6, 2013

Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to “act decisively” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished, the Vatican has said.
The pope asked Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the head of the Vatican department that deals with sexual abuse, to “act with determination” in those cases, the Vatican said in a statement on Friday.

The pontiff asked for “stepped-up measures to protect minors and help those who were subjected to such violence in the past”.
In a meeting with Mueller, Francis said that combating the abuse was important “for the Church and its credibility”, the statement said.
It was the first official word on the issue from the pope, who was elected on March 13 to succeed Benedict XVI, whose papacy was marred by relentless paedophilia scandals with tens of thousands of victims over several decades.

The statement noted that the policy followed “the line established” by Benedict XVI, who was the first pope to apologise to victims and called for zero tolerance against sexual abuse by priests.

Francis inherited a Church mired in problems and a major scandal over priestly abuse of children.

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Liberals fuming over Social Security cuts in Obama’s budget proposal


Agence France-Presse | Raw Story | April 6, 2013

President Barack Obama will make key concessions to Republican foes next week when he unveils his US budget that proposes cuts to cherished entitlement programs, the White House said Friday.

Obama’s fiscal blueprint slashes the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, in what a senior administration official described as a “compromise offer” that cuts federal spending, finds savings in Social Security and raises tax revenue from the wealthy.

Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner are opposed to new tax hikes, after the president secured $600 billion in increased tax revenue in a year-end deal.

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Obama says budget that cuts Social Security and Medicare benefits aims to reinvigorate middle class


Agence France-Presse | Raw Story | April 6, 2013

US President Barack Obama said on Saturday his budget blueprint due to be unveiled next week will aim to reinvigorate America’s middle class while introducing reforms to curb the mushrooming deficits.

“Our top priority as a nation, and my top priority as president, must be doing everything we can to reignite the engine of America’s growth: a rising, thriving middle class,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “That’s our North Star. That must drive every decision we make.”

The comments followed reports that in his budget proposal, Obama will make key concessions to Republicans by offering to cut some entitlement programs like the Social Security retirement program and Medicare, a health care plan for the elderly.

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Rand Paul Says Gay Marriage Debate Should Continue At The State Level


On Top Magazine | April 6, 2013

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite and possible 2016 presidential candidate, has said that the gay marriage debate should continue at the state level.

In an interview on CBN’s The Brody File, Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican who is opposed to marriage equality, predicted that supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are going to “lose that battle.”

“If we keep it that way, maybe we can still have the discussion go on without making the decision go all the way one way or all the way the other way,” Paul told host David Brody.  “Because I think, right now, if we say, ‘Oh, we’re only going to have, we believe in a federally mandated one-man-one-woman marriage,’ we’re going to lose that battle, because the country’s going the other way right now.”

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Soulforce Presents New Online Community!


Soulforce Presents New Online Community! April 6, 2013

We are proud to announce that our new online community Solandres is ready and excited for big things to come – and we want you to be a part of the excitement!  We are currently looking for persons willing to participate in our leadership group for the community.  This will be a unique opportunity to contribute you’re personal talents so if you are engaged and passionate we’d be honored to have you on our team.

 

Read more below and download the application.

 

Completed applications may be sent to:  zachary@soulforce.org

 

The online community project, Solandres, is an important component in Soulforce’s continued efforts to sustainably confront oppression against Lesbian, Gay, Bi-, Trans*, and Queer individuals.

 

The purpose of SolandRes [Solidarity + Resistance] is to broaden the scope of our outreach. We hope our online community will evince the analysis that many oppressions (sexism, racism, transphobia, ageism, sizism, homophobia, xenophobia just to begin) share common roots in fundamentalism in the United States. Those ideologies and political forces are not, of course, limited to this country, but their history here has shaped how oppression manifests in diverse communities.

Another purpose of Solandres is to provide a platform for the many constituencies struggling against fundamentalism to grow their capacities as movements by sharing best practices, interacting across social sectors to share skills, building a shared analysis of fundamentalism, and identifying alliances out of the shared understanding that many oppressions have a common root.

 

Specifically, Solandres is an online community, a resource site, a home for all of the information, stories, experiences, and technical skills in activists’ localized endeavors to achieve equity and dismantle oppression. By gathering young leader’s input, experience, and desires for a more inclusive community, school, or church we can better maximize deconstructing the roots of oppression.

 

It is our hope that by developing and nurturing an online community of young adult activists, the opportunities to engage conversations of activism will create a sustainable season of justice. This is not a one-time period of activism – we desire to motivate young people into valuing activism as a way of life that creates equal access to equality, freedom, and social justice.

 

Solandres grew out of Soulforce’s desire to grow its sphere of influence in the conversation around inclusivity, equality, and social justice. The Solandres retreat will bring together 7-9 young social justice leaders who can best inform the efforts of the Solandres online community. After selecting the best, young adults from across the country, we will gather for 3-4 days with a focus on anti-oppression work and then tackle the logistical and creative challenge of creating and developing what Solandres will look like (with an expected launch date of October 1, 2013.)

 

From understanding content creation, editing, branding, messaging/consistency, leadership development, story boarding/editing/producing multimedia content, blogging, social media, web analytics, and how to create an online community and movement to engaging in powerful dialogue around the importance of this work in the broader conversation of social justice. Solandres is youth driven and all ages serving with a heavy emphasis on videos, multimedia platform reach, and how-to instructionals.

 

Our stories and experiences woven together will be the armature of Solandres.

Our leadership group must be willing to commit to 9 months of committed service to the project, with an opportunity to continue after.

 

The end user groups we would ultimately like to involve in this project include, but are not limited to:

 

1. LGBTQA people at schools where religion is an obstacle to queer liberation (to include CCCU schools, HBCU’s, supposedly secular schools in conservative areas)

2. LGBTQA people doing racial and economic justice work

3. LGBTQA people working on reproductive justice

4. LGBTQA people working on justice for indigenous/Native American justice

5. LGBTQA people working on immigration justice

 

Soulforce is looking for 7-9 twenty-something, engaged future leaders that are representative of the diversity of identities that make up the fabric of modern America. Solandres is helmed by Soulforce’s Director of Online Community, Zachary Pullin, who identifies as a Native American, gay, male. Our hope is that the Solandres leadership group will be made up of diverse individuals, as well.

 

Soulforce is looking for those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-, Trans*, and Queer people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, all education levels, People of Color, all abilities, all gender identities and expressions, all faiths, all sizes, and all citizenship statuses to make up its Solandres leadership group. It is imperative that our group is diverse to better accommodate the unique needs of anti-oppression and social justice work.

 

Orientation Dates – If you intend to apply, please make sure

you can attend this required orientation! May 31, 2013 – June 4, 2013 We may finish our orientation a day early, so please watch for a confirmed end date/time.

Interested?  download the application.

Completed applications may be sent to:   zachary@soulforce.org

            The Soulforce Team             Soulforce

Fearful Ugandan Parliamentarians want to vote in secret for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill


Melanie Nathan, April 06, 2013.

A committee meeting in Ugandan of Parliamentarians

A committee of Parliamentarians

An article has appeared in the Observer at the end of last month, noting that despite the popularity of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and the fact that if put to a vote it will likely pass, the Ugandan parliamentarians, out of fear of judgement from people in the West, want a private, secret debate and vote.

The basis of the Bill, otherwise known as The Kill the Gays Bill is premised as follows:-

Based on the foundations of “strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family”, that “same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic“, and “protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda”.

It is very difficult for me to understand the hypocrisy of MP’s who are afraid to stand openly behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  I do not understand how they think that the ‘The Kill the Gays Bill’ will have any less impact internationally if debated privately. Are they ashamed of the arguments they are going to make to promote its passage in Parliament? Do they really believe that the international community will let them off the hook after it is passed just because they have not seen what was said and noted exactly who of them voted?  It will be easy to determine who of the MPs voted for it.  If the Bill does see passage, in whatever form, with or without the death penalty attached, this Ugandan parliament will go down in global history as one which legislated hate and genocide and all of them will be held accountable, both as a group and as separate individuals.

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