All yesterday I had half-recollections in my head, kind of like an ear-worm but not music, instead a name: Gerry Studds. I kept wondering: why hasn’t his name come up recently, in all the furor about public figures and sex scandals. Was I remembering right — what did happen to him?
I did remember who he was: a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts; his district covered much of Cape Cod. And he got in sex trouble — but from there it was kind of hazy.
So I looked him up. Turns out he was gay (I remembered that), and — well, some basics first:
He was elected to Congress in 1972. His district is known to outsiders as a place where many well-heeled folks hang out in the summer. But the locals are heavily involved in fishing. And so Studds became an expert on fishing and maritime issues. He also helped preserve many stretches of their beaches. Continue reading Remembrance of Sex Scandals Past — Gerry Studds
Many friends of mine are upset about a recent anti-LGBT screed called the Nashville Declaration. I don’t begrudge their anger; yet I wish they would take a break from the issuance of indignant counter-screeds to ponder some of the upside resources offered by this piece.
I urge this because the “Declaration,” and its sponsor, the “Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood” (the Bibs, for short), look way overdue for a new approach: lampooning.
I mean, at the least, the Bibs deserve a Career Achievement Award from LGBT groups.
Continue reading The Nashville Declaration Is a Hoot
Most of my work there, directly or indirectly, was aimed at helping people get out of the Military. And I don’t regret a minute of it.
But there was an exception: we also worked to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” [DADT] to let LGBT GIs stay in.
Continue reading Here We Go Again: Trump vs. Transgender Soldiers
Earlier this year I posted about a controversy at Friends Central School in Philadelphia, where a Palestinian Quaker, Sa’ed Atshan, was invited to visit and speak, then abruptly disinvited & the two teachers who invited him, Ariel Eure and Layla Helwa, were suspended.
The previous posts are (here, here , here & here).
The news site philly.com reported on May 10 that the two teachers have now been terminated effective June 30. Along with that decision came an invitation from the school to Sa’ed Atshan to speak at Friends Central sometime in the future, on “his personal experiences and path to peace education.”
The report added that
[The suspended teachers] were offered severance pay of $5,500, but that is contingent on their dropping a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, said Mark Schwartz, their lawyer.
“This is a ridiculous offer,” he said. “I’d be surprised if they took it. Unlike the school, these two have some principles.”
School representatives on Tuesday declined to give a reason for the terminations.
Continue reading Update: Friends Central School Fires Teachers Who Invited Palestinian Speaker; Invites Him Back
The Long Read:
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel. The story below is not. It is true, and it happened in 1990, but its reverberations are still being felt, and are maybe stronger and deeper now than when they burst into view. Margaret Atwood’s fictional vision was directly relevant to it — as well as that of another novel which became its mirror image. Read on to understand why.
It begins with a showdown at Silver Bay, involving witches versus demons.
I. Gilead Meets the Goddess
New York Yearly Meeting gathers at Silver Bay, a resort complex on Lake George, north of Albany. Silver Bay is a lovely and peaceful setting, to which many New York Quakers return as pilgrims each summer seeking rest and renewal among Friends.
When the yearly meeting gathered in July of 1990, rest and renewal seemed in short supply. The 1980s had not been easy for New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM).
While many other unprogrammed yearly meetings were growing, New York’s membership declined by about ten per cent; the body struggled to meet its budget; and worst of all, its annual sessions were wracked by chronic wrangling, over doctrine and morals. An effort to rewrite its Faith and Practice, pending since 1977, dragged on abrasively throughout the decade; by 1990, this process had become so acrimonious that the Yearly Meeting put it on hold for a year.
In its travail, New York had become a kind of field laboratory for an ongoing experiment in institutional Quaker ecumenism. Unfortunately, in the latter years of the 1980s, many of the results of this test had not been promising, and never more so than at its 1990 session.
Continue reading The Handmaid’s Tale 1990: When Frightening Fiction Including Quakers Crashed into a Frightening Quaker Reality (And After)
NOTE UPDATE BELOW: From sources in the Northwest, we have been sent the text of a draft plan to split Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), over the issue of affirmation of LGBT persons.
This issue of affirming meetings has been intensely debated across NWYM since the summer of 2015, when the yearly meeting elders announced a decision to expel West Hills Friends in Portland from NWYM because of its openly affirming stance. But after several meetings & many young Friends appealed, the power players in the yearly meeting were unable to agree to carry out that decision until now.
The document below is a draft plan for the split. It reportedly was considered, tweaked, and agreed to at secret meetings in the past several days. It is expected to be announced to NWYM generally soon, perhaps this coming weekend (Jan. 28-29). Continue reading BREAKING: Split Over LGBT Said Imminent for Northwest Yearly Meeting
Northwest Yearly Meeting is notorious for its institutional culture of secrecy; indeed, I think they could teach the CIA some tricks.
So imagine my surprise when a clandestine collective which can be called “Quaki-Leaks” passed along some emails hacked from the listserve for NWYM pastors. There were other posts,but these offer an illuminating glimpse of what goes on behind one of the numerous veils that shroud much (too much, in my view) of NWYM’s proceedings. It is a useful followup to yesterday’s post regarding the ‘Way Forward” ultimatum letter.
The posts dealt with the impending midyear sessions that begin this weekend, and the hot issue of what to do about LGBT-friendly meetings. The samples presented here offer three distinct views of the situation, with some qualifying comments by the NWYM Superintendent. We’ll finish with some brief comments of our own. Continue reading Push & Pushback in the Northwest “Showdown”
What a difference an earthquake makes.
Yes, on November 8th many foundations were shaken. Received knowledge was proved ignorance: conventional wisdom unmasked as folly.
Now a great many of us are warily counting down the days til we have answers to a set of unavoidable, unnerving questions:
— Which of the several wars called for by the new rulers will we be thrust into first? And then?
— How many millions of people will be seized off our streets and cast into what outer darkness?
— What can we expect from a “Justice” Department run by a relentless foe of every recent advance in civil rights, women’s and gender equality, voting protections and criminal justice reform?
— How much of the remaining health and social safety net for seniors, the poor, sick, and disabled, is to be shredded right before our eyes? Continue reading Ultimatum in Northwest Yearly Meeting?? (Yawn.)
The news articles and media commentary sampled here are part of the ongoing international fallout from the NC Legislature’s legislative fiasco of December 21. That was when, after announcing a deal with the Charlotte City Council to repeal the notorious Bathroom Bill, the GOP-dominated chamber double-crossed Charlotte and let the law stand.
Continue reading HB2 Fallout: $42K Taxpayers Money Produces $Millions in Bad PR