New York resolves

The Diocese of New York, meeting in convention, passed resolutions on marriage equality and on Occupy Wall Street.


On marriage equality clergy ask to be allowed to act as agents of the state in all marriages:

[ 7 ] RESOLVED, That, the 235th Convention of the Diocese of New York

urges the 77th General Convention to revise the current Canons of The

Episcopal Church with regard to marriage, to provide for the marriage of

same-gender couples in those jurisdictions that have or will have civil

marriage for same-gender couples; and be it further

[ 8 ] RESOLVED, That the Diocese of New York urge General Convention

diligently to continue the work called for in its Resolution C056, to

“collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for the

blessing for same-gender couples;, and be it further

[ 9 ] RESOLVED, That the Diocese of New York, in light of its continued

support of faithful and committed same-gender couples, including the

support for civil marriage equality by the 232nd Convention of the

Diocese and our Diocesan Bishop and other leaders, encourages the Bishop

to interpret Resolution C056 of the 76th General Convention (“bishops,

particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where

same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal,

may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of

this Church”) to mean that clergy throughout the Diocese are permitted

(but not required) to sign marriage licenses and officiate at marriages

for couples legally eligible for marriage in the State of New York.

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell comments at An Inch at a Time:

The fact that the Episcopal Diocese of New York stepped up today on marriage equality is good news not just for gay and lesbian Episcopalians but for everyone tired of having bigotry masquerade as Christianity on issues of LGBT equality.

On Occupy Wall Street:

An Occupy Resolution adopted by the Episcopal Diocese of New York on January 14, 2011

RESOLVED: In response to the Bishop’s Address, the 235th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York joins in affirming:

[1] that the Occupy movement has shed light on the challenges we face as both citizens and followers of Jesus Christ;

[2] that unfettered capitalism has resulted in unacceptable inequities within the fabric of our society;

[3] that non-violent protests and direct actions of the Occupy movement, including actions of conscientious civil disobedience, have a time honored place in the formation and growth of a more civil society;

[4] that, in contrast, protests and direct actions that are mindfully designed to provoke confrontation and violence are to be discouraged in any social or political movement;

[5] that in all cases, we call upon law enforcement to respond to any protest and any direct action with restraint and respect for the safety and human dignity of protestors, and in respect of the rights of a free press to witness and record such events;

[6] that we affirm those members of each order of ministry in the Episcopal Church – laity, deacons, priests, and bishops – as well as some parishes – who have made decisions, based on their local circumstances, abilities, and resources, to open their hearts and doors in support of local Occupations;

[7] and that we encourage all members and institutions of the Diocese to prayerfully consider their own level of interest, engagement, or support of the Occupy movement; acknowledging that some will choose to engage, and some will not.

submitted by The Rev. Wm. Blake Rider, Rector

Christ Episcopal Church

Poughkeepsie, New York

Explanation

For over a year, since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December of 2010, the world has watched the rise, in country after country, of social and political movements calling attention to inequities within the basic economic, civic, and in some cases political systems of each country. In the United States, this phenomenon has become known as the Occupy Movement – once centered upon Occupy Wall Street – but now widely spread across the country. Each county within the bounds of the Diocese of New York has experienced some manifestation of the Occupy Movement.

The Movement has been characterized by conversation and debate in its General Assemblies, in rallies, the Occupy camps, protests, and direct actions. Many individuals within the Diocese of New York – lay and ordained – and many parishes – have engaged the conversation regarding the economic inequities that have been highlighted by the Occupy Movement, and considered their response, if any.

The intent of this resolution is:

• to acknowledge the (presumed) broad consensus that inequities in our social, economic, and political life do exist

• to acknowledge that the rights of protest, peaceful assembly, and a free press are worthy of our unqualified support

• to acknowledge that civil disobedience likewise holds an honored place within our society – when accompanied by the conscientious decision to accept the civil consequences of one’s actions

• to call upon law enforcement to always plan, strategize, and perform their duties with an aim to bring no harm to participants in any protest or direction action, much less to those who are merely standing as witnesses or as members of the press

• to affirm those members of the Diocese and parishes who after prayerful reflection and due consideration have decided to stand with the Occupy Movement

• and to acknowledge that after the same prayerful reflection and due consideration, some members of the Diocese and parishes will hold the contrary position, and not be in support of the Occupy Movement.

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20 Comments
  1. Jim Guthrie

    I see by an AP story this week that some churches are providing overnight space for Occupy people. I don’t see the TEC represented in the story.

    From an Associated Press Story:

    “On Monday, the metal barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park were removed for the first time since the November raid. But protesters still can’t set up tents to camp overnight.

    Their current home is the West-Park Presbyterian Church, a 100-year-old house of worship that badly needs renovation. Occupy organizers see the cracks in the ceiling as an opportunity to repay the favor by helping to fix the place up.

    About 70 Occupiers are staying there and about 30 or so at Park Slope United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.

    Nobody is allowed to stay in the church during the day. At night, the place is patrolled by an Occupy security team led by Marine Corps Sgt. Halo Showzah, 27, an Iraq War veteran from the Bronx. ”

    —- end AP quote —-

    Cheers,

    Jim Guthrie

    Brooklyn, NY

  2. James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

    In response to Rev. Russell’s stance on LGBT issues: as long as words like “bigotry” and “homophobe” are used, there will never, ever be any fruitful dialogue with traditional Christians who doubt the sacred compatibility between homosexuality and salvation. My question is this: do liberals really want dialogue or to use their ideology as a weapon?

    Respectfully,

    James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

  3. Murdoch Matthew

    It would be fun to turn the projections of James P-M back on him, but he doesn’t quite use “ideology as a weapon” — more as a fortress to protect himself from evidence-based understanding of the world.

    How many factual errors in the traditional narrative would he have to recognize before questioning details of his ideology? The earth is not flat, the sky is not a dome from which is hung star-lanterns, living creatures are not separate creations but developments of a common life (people and carrots have a common ancestor), the world didn’t end in the generations of Jesus and Paul, and male/female are not separate estates but developments along a continuum. The scriptures offer values, not facts, but applying the values must be based on experience, not dogma.

    Even in scripture, the writers of Leviticus and Romans don’t disparage homosexuality, a concept foreign to them, but disapprove a certain unmanly act. Nowadays we recognize the existence of same-sex relationships and orientations, which may be expressed in many ways (not always physically). As recently as 1980, less than half of gay men in a survey engaged in the icky behavior that Paul disparages in his letter to the Romans. So the strictures of Leviticus didn’t apply to half the gay community. I’m sure Mr. P-M isn’t interested in such fine distinctions; Paul and Leviticus probably wouldn’t have approved if matters had been explained to them. It may be that the Holy Spirit used their culture-bound views to block a clear condemnation of a natural, productive phenomenon.

    Nevertheless we now have the experience of a significant percentage of the human race exploring same-sex attraction, finding it liberating and productive, pairing off happily, and making contributions to the whole society. We see how the former attempt to enforce the tradition’s silence on sexuality led to circumscribed and warped lives for many individuals and did great damage to the ones they loved, and attempted to love.

    Mr. P-M is free to ignore evidence, or to follow only the authorities who confirm his prejudices, but when he attempts to impose his uninformed views on people who know differently from their own experience, he comes close to exhibiting “bigotry.” And if he isn’t “homophobic,” whence cometh his discomfort at other people living their lives freely and quite apart from him?

  4. Jim Naughton

    I would be interested in hearing people’s thoughts about when it is okay to use a word like bigotry or homophobia.

    I don’t think everyone who opposes marriage equality is homophobic or bigoted. (Although I am interested to know what activities–if any– such folks are involved in to make sure that all Americans are treated equally under the law.)

    I do think that everyone who believes consensual sexual activity between two adults of the same gender should be punishable by imprisonment or death is a bigot.

    Obviously, those aren’t exhaustive criteria, just few thoughts.

  5. E Sinkula

    I would have a respectful conversation with you James if you would give me a chance? If you had questions about why I believe why I do, and would not berate me or treat me as though I cannot be your brother in Christ if I understand the scriptures differently on this important issue then I would be happy to chat.

    Eric

  6. Murdoch Matthew

    Name-calling in general is not constructive. If “Gay” doesn’t define a person, neither does “Bigot.” There’s lots of person not touched by the label. The labels do, however, point to certain positions under discussion. I tried, in my posting above, to allude to those positions without pinning them to an individual.

    There’s even more of a problem with the term homophobe. People disturbed by the idea of homosexuality don’t necessarily fear it. Heterocentrist might come closer to their position. They want to privilege the majority, not necessarily to demean the minority. Of course, white persons may not hate or fear colored people when they demand that they “know their place,” but the result is hateful nevertheless, and a climate of fear is induced. The same with opposition to gay visibility — what may be sought is social comfort, not to have to deal with an unwelcome idea, but the result is harmful to those whose experience is being denied.

    (Of course, some people do fear same-sex desire — that unwanted or unacknowledged yearning within themselves, as has recently been seen in Rightwing politician after Rightwing politician.)

    It’s always better to take issue with specific positions or opinions; name-calling is just another form of throwing rocks.

  7. Jim Naughton

    Murdoch, the problem I have with that approach is that we still have oppression but no oppressors because we do not call them out on what they are doing. Also, I don’t think that calling a bigot a bigot is name calling anymore than I think calling someone tall, tall is name calling.

  8. Clint Davis

    Hell-bound, less-than, unsaved, incompatible with salvation, immoral, corrupt, unworthy, unfit…all these words are indicative of an ideology used as a weapon. You lob these words at gay people, someone dies eventually. Or gets beat up, or run out of the village, or dragged through town or whatever. When you’ve been on the receiving end of these words, you know this to be true, because that threat is always there, and you’ve seen others victimized by those for whom this language is routine. You’ve known hostile and difficult environments when a community is steeped in these words, and their use, and the dehumanizing ire that accompanies them, is acceptable. You’re fighting for your sanity, your emotional and physical well-being, your economic opportunity in some places, and the opportunity to pursue the kind of happiness that everyone else has, but that many of those “everyone”s would deny you with glee and smug righteousness.

    In other words, the gay person is fighting for a life free and undisturbed, the liberal (though also some conservatives for other reasons) is fighting for their gay friends to have a life free and undisturbed; and those who claim traditional values are trying to convince everyone that classifying someone and/or their life partnerships as unfit, sick, unlovely, disgusting, unsaveable, immoral or whatever–along with whatever actions go along with those words–should and must be acceptable in polite society and public discourse, else their liberty is infringed upon.

    It is obvious that those who claim their liberty is in peril because fewer and fewer find their discourse fair and just have far less of a claim of injustice than those for whom “traditional” opinions, and the language and actions accompanying them, mean social, economic and possibly physical harm. And if “traditionalists” assert that gay people “deserve it” for whatever reason, then they willfully ignore all the evidence, scientific and otherwise, that sexual orientation is an inborn trait.

  9. Murdoch Matthew

    Jim: Tall is verifiable (although relative), Bigotry is opinion. You can’t judge from outside whether someone is misinformed, invested in a compelling worldview, or just hateful of difference. Calling people bigots doesn’t usually inform or change them, it just sets up an exchange of invectives.

    But as Eric S. notes, opponents of gay visibility often aren’t seeking discussion; they want to bully gays back into the closet where they won’t have to think about them, or their implications for the tradition. Calling them bigots has had the constructive effect of making them uncomfortable with their rhetoric — Papist Cardinals now accompany their assaults and misinformation with declarations that they aren’t bigots, just orthodox.

    So, yeah, if you’re in a rock fight, throw rocks. Labeling certain positions as bigotry makes them less appealing to people who just want to think well of themselves. Certainly our opponents haven’t been shy about retaliating by trying to label us as “intolerant” and “anti-Catholic.” Nevertheless, if you’re trying to persuade people, or bystanders (often the real audience), appeal to evidence and experience.

  10. Jim Naughton

    Murdoch, I think bigotry is sorta kinda verifiable. But I believe the standard has to be high.

  11. garydasein

    I am not sure someone can e oppose civil marriage equality and not be bigoted because there is no other way to give same-sex couples the same rights as other couples: 1,324 rights and obligations in New York State and 1,138 at the federal level. Not to be for marriage equality is to support unfairness. Civil unions are separate and unequal.

    But a better approach is focus on the movable middle and appeal to their better natures. Rather than saying something is homophobic it would be better to say it is unfair that any group is denied basic rights.

    Strengthening equal protection guarantees rights for all and not just some.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  12. James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

    All concerned,

    I have read all of your responses to me very carefully. I was impressed with the enlightened responses that separated bigotry from ideological disagreement. I am foremost interested in dialogue, not namecalling or rock-throwing. The primary mistake many people make in this discussion is confusing theological and sociopolitical stances; they’re not one and the same. For example, homosexuality in my opinion is a bar to Christian salvation. However, I have no problem in supporting gay rights as a political agenda since I am a Libertarian. I am extremely disappointed with the judgmentalism and degradation in some posts here – especially from a group of people who supposedly ask for tolerance. In a world where Church and State are separate, we need not to read-in to people’s opinions with our own bad judgment.

    Sexuality and race are not the same thing: A gay person can choose to commit a homosexual act whereas I can be anything other than white. Sure, I can live the lifestyle of another race, but that does not mean I would be accepted by them. Therefore, to oppress a race is bigotry. However, to tell the truth about the morality of homosexual behavior is not bigotry. I am also a bigot if I oppose the theological adoption of polygamy? Where does this end?

    I am open to dialogue. However, any view that does not support the authority of Scripture is immediately nullified in my opinion. First of all, the Bible does not say the world is flat. It does include poetic language alluding to that affect. In Luke, Jesus talks about his return that takes place both a daytime and nighttime. What does that indicate? If we throw the Bible away or attack its validity, then we have no source at all for Jesus Christ. There’s no such thing as Christianity without scripture. Anything else is pure idolatry, i.e., making God into our own image.

    Mr Sinkula, I respect you and everyone here as peers and seekers. I may say some things that upset people, but I am not out to judge or ridicule anyone. I used to be on CARM and left it a long time ago because of its anti-Christian behavior.

    Respectfully,

    James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

  13. Lawrence Graham

    What is a bigot? Webster’s on-line dictionary says, “bigot… : a person who is obstinantely or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance” Homophobia? Webster says, “homophobia … : irrational fear of, aversions to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.”

    It may be nice to use soft and comfortable words to sooth the feelings of others, but it is not just. Justice requires us to boldly rebuke bigotry and intolerance, and to proclaim instead God’s love for all humanity. Justice requires us to call these human failings by their proper name, whenever and wherever we encounter them.

  14. tgflux

    I don’t think everyone who opposes marriage equality is homophobic or bigoted.

    JimN: among those who advocate civil unions for all, and/or radicals who want to abolish the institution of marriage altogether, that may well be true.

    Then, I suppose, there could be those who would argue that marriage be reserved only for opposite-sex couples who could PROVE, a priori, their fertility/fecundity. [Denying it for the post-menopausal, or post-vasectomized/tubal-ligated (etc), or zero sperm-counted!]

    Mr Pirrung-Mikolajczyk doesn’t strike me as any of these (OCICBW).

    And to whom: homosexuality in my opinion is a bar to Christian salvation.

    Which Christian tradition would that be? Even among Papists, Conservative Evangelicals, homosexuality (i.e., orientation) is not so regarded, AFAIK.

    Once we get to the subject of the “homosexual act”, then we have to get specific. Homosexual dishwashing? Homosexual dog-walking? Homosexual hugs (w/ how much front-to-front touching?) Homosexual cheek kisses? Homosexual pecks? Homosexual back-rubs? Homosexual foot-massage?

    Football players give each other a playful pat on the bum: would a homosexual player be barred (or else perdition)? Is a homosexual female ob/gyn in danger of her mortal soul? (Or a male homosexual urologist/proctologist?) Knowing women and chocolate: if one homosexual woman gives another homosexual woman “Death By Chocolate” (w/ subsequent ecstasy!), does Satan do a happy dance?

    To discuss it, is to sink into absurdity. Because the subject IS absurd!

    JC Fisher

  15. Gary Gilbert

    Jerome Pirrung-Mikolajczyk, You say you are open to dialogue as long as people accept your own subjective reading of the tradition that same-sex sex is immoral. Charming! So you speak for God? You say gays can become celibate, thus inflicting psychological harm on a whole category of person. Could you become celibate, when celibacy is a calling for certain persons and not something to be imposed on anyone?

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  16. James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

    Mr Gilbert,

    My reading of Scripture cannot be subjective if the black-and-white words of the Bible say, “A man shall not lie with another man as if with a woman is an abomination” and that “homosexuals do not enter God’s kingdom.” Additionally, the full weight of Christian history and tradition stand behind this. If by the Anglican “Three-Legged Stool” that homosexuality is sinful, then it is not my reading that’s subjective but your own. Your reading does not come from the apostolic tradition.

    God speaks for himself, in his Scriptures. Additionally, both Jesus and Paul discussed celibacy in positive terms. I don’t think it’s wise to question their judgment. Jesus even said, “There are those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.” Celibacy does NOT cause psychological harm at all; no psychologist would make such an argument about heterosexuals. Why do so for gays?

    For everyone who wants to call me a bigot, what do you think about polygamy? Should it be legalized?

    Respectfully,

    James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

  17. Murdoch Matthew

    Mr. Pirrung-Mikolajczyk:

    I don’t think you’re being hypocritical in signing your comments “Respectfully,” but you make discussion impossible when you rule Biblical authority off the table. The Bible is a collection of writings by authors mostly unknown in situations lost to us. Their grappling with values can be valuable to us today, but their concepts of the physical world, and even of human nature, are no longer tenable. We know now about physics and biology. The “black-and-white words of the Bible” that you appeal to are in translation; your interpretation of them reflects schools of hermaneutics, not direct communication of the text.

    You cite Leviticus — what other prohibitions and commandments in that text do you live by? And the original text seems garbled (as are many of the scriptural references to sexuality — sexual terms and slang change rapidly). You cite Corinthians on “homosexuality,” but that word, even that concept, was unknown at the time. And the reference of the word (previously translated as “effeminate”) are cloudy — it calls up a clear picture in modern use, but scholars cannot say what it meant to Paul. Your certainty is based on a modern reading of modern translations.

    If you are right-handed, it might seem obvious to you that people favoring their left hands are odd-balls, just making trouble — as that poor kid in my second-grade class was continually told, “trying to be different,” “showing off.” However, Lefties are now known to be wired that way. Sexuality also appears to be part of how the brain is set, and there’s not just male and female but a continuum of development. Traditional teaching is silent on sexual orientation, and the traditional approach has been silence on the existence of people who don’t conform to the majority (which isn’t as homogeneous as supposed). The challenge to tradition has come from those whose own experience, like that of left-handers, informs them that the majority has it wrong.

    You want to save the original teaching by recommending celibacy to those attracted to members of their own gender. Live quietly as individuals and don’t bother the 80 percent with the news that their tradition is incomplete, or off base. Sorry, I tried that, and even married a good woman, and I found that shame, guilt, and repression were lousy ways to live. Continually circumscribing your feelings means you live in tension and cannot love freely. Bad for you and for your family. If you’re called to celibacy, fine, but you can’t impose it on others, particularly on those outside your supportive circle.

    I tell people who are invested in restrictive worldviews that the world is as it is, whatever we think of it. If your ideas are wrong or somehow out of sync with reality, the world doesn’t change if you change your mind — things go on as before, only understood differently. As you can see from entries on the Episcopal Café, many people are rethinking the tradition; not abandoning it, but seeking to preserve and apply its values in the present world of evidence and experience.

    You close with a Gotcha question: “Should polygamy be legalized?” Well, it was legal in Bible times; it was in fact “traditional marriage.” I’m dubious about it now, because it seems to reduce women to servitude. Marriage equality means equal rights and opportunities for all. But what is practiced and what is legal are not always the same. No need to inquire about the relationships of people you don’t know. I’ve read of several triads, as distinguished from couples, and they don’t seem to last; it’s hard enough to balance the needs and autonomy of two people, much less three. But triads were a traditional way for gay people to live in the recent past — married couples, with relationships on the side. Pairing off as we do nowadays seems more satisfying and stable.

  18. Gary Gilbert

    Mr. Pirrung-Mikolajczyk,

    Your prooftexting is subjective and disrespectful of scripture, the Episcopal tradition, and the dignity of the human person. Condemning people for falling in love with someone of the same sex is totally unacceptable. The Bible is not a weapon to be used against people.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  19. James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

    Mr Murdoch,

    I absolutely mean “respectively” since I know that my conservation with anyone here would be calm in person. I simply don’t get involved in heated arguments over theology; there’s no point. I try to treat people respectfully, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it. I’m in the military, so I have much practice!

    As far as polygamy in the Bible goes, God never permitted it. In Deuteronomy 17:17, God says, “And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself (NRSV).” The only Jews that had multiple wives were the monarchs, who did so in order to match their pagan counterparts. Hence, why God says, “[H]is heart will turn away.”

    To me, sexuality of any kind is not an argument of preference but of life and death. My disagreement with homosexuality has nothing to do with politics or social conduct, but with something more important and coincidental. We need to lay aside our this-worldly arguments and focus on what happens next. Even as a married heterosexual, I suffer, too. I must refrain from looking at any other woman than my wife – definitely from cinematic sex scenes and pornography. I have to deny myself. I am not an advocate of something that I don’t do myself; I lead by example. Yet, I do so joyfully knowing that I am right with God.

    God’s Word is absolute, i.e., not up to interpretation. Think of it like mathematics: no matter where you are in the world, 2 plus 2 cannot ever add up to anything other than 4. If God calls a man lying with another man an abomination, than that is what is. Note, Leviticus does not employ the word “homosexual”, it describes the act. So etymology is not the best argument here.

    Mr Gilbert,

    How can my interpretation of Scripture be subjective when over 90% of the world’s Christians understand that homosexual acts are incompatible with God’s Word? Also, the Episcopal tradition incorporates those of us who believe homosexuality is a sin as much as it does those of you who affirm it. As much as you would love to turn TEC into a haven for liberals, it is neither the stronghold for liberals or conservatives. There are still whole dioceses that reject the affirmation of non-celibate gay faith. About dignity: is it better to tell someone the truth to preserve their life or to pad them on the head (i.e., lie) and say it’s okay? Would you not put someone out if they were on fire? Or would you let them burn? My friend, I condemn no one; I simply must uphold what God says about the matter. Finally, Jesus does call his Word a sword that divides even family members. The truth does cause division, the separation of light and darkness. So, in some sense, it is a weapon. However, I don’t use it against people, but to show them the truth.

    Respectfully,

    James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

  20. Murdoch Matthew

    2 + 2 = 4.

    What does “dog” equal? Depends on your language, and your experience of four-footed animals. Not to mention fireplace equipment and action verbs.

    Words are sounds in the ear or marks on a page. All access to them is through interpretation. Language is inherently ambiguous. I’m sorry to have helped divert a discussion of marriage equality and Occupy implications into lengthy exchanges of opinion about texts and tradition. I should think twice another time.

    Today’s Lead posting, Losing their church: How the young navigate, has a useful sidelight on the situation:

    Many churches that dealt well with complexity didn’t require a sufficient amount of conviction or commitment of the young people that they work with. And then, conversely, those that had a strong degree of commitment and sort of emotional connection with the church didn’t deal well with the complexity. [slightly edited]

    Story is story. What matters is living.

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