Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Morning Male Beauty

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The Forgotten History of Gay Marriage


Today is Easter Sunday.  It is also the day on which I will marry my boyfriend/partner/best friend (thoughts and reflections and photos will be posted later).  Some asked if we picked Easter Sunday to make a statement, but the reality is that it was the day that worked best to have those we wanted included to be present.  Given the animus toward gays held by many of the "godly folk" its worth looking at some of the forgotten history of same sex marriage in the early Christian church before the Church fathers rewrote history to fit their own agenda.  A piece in Care2 looks at this history.  Here are excerpts:

Republicans and other opponents of gay marriage often speak of marriage as being a 2,000 year old tradition (or even older). Quite apart from the fact that the definition of marriage has changed from when it was a business transaction, usually between men, there is ample evidence that within just Christian tradition, it has changed from the point where same-sex relationships were not just tolerated but celebrated.

In the famous St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai, there is an icon which shows two robed Christian saints getting married. Their ‘pronubus’ (official witness, or “best man”) is none other than Jesus Christ.

The happy couple are 4th Century Christian martyrs, Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus — both men.

Severus of Antioch in the sixth century explained that “we should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life.” More bluntly, in the definitive 10th century Greek account of their lives, Saint Serge is described as the “sweet companion and lover (erastai)” of St. Bacchus.

Yale historian John Richard Boswell discovered this early Christian history and wrote about it nearly 20 years ago in “Same Sex Unions In Pre-Modern Europe“ (1994).

In ancient church liturgical documents, he found the existence of an “Office of Same Sex Union” (10th and 11th century Greek) and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century Slavonic).

He found many examples of:
  • A community gathered in a church
  • A blessing of the couple before the altar
  • Their right hands joined as at heterosexual marriages
  • The participation of a priest
  • The taking of the Eucharist
  • A wedding banquet afterwards
  •  
  • A 14th century Serbian Slavonic “Office of the Same Sex Union,” uniting two men or two women, had the couple having their right hands laid on the Gospel while having a cross placed in their left hands. Having kissed the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

    In late medieval France, a contract of “enbrotherment” (affrèrement) existed for men who pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ – one bread, one wine, and one purse.

    Other religions, such as Hinduism and some native American religions, have respect for same-sex couples weaved into their history.

    When right-wing evangelical Christians talk about “traditional marriage,” there is no such thing.

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    More Saturday Male Beauty


    Will the 10th Circuit Dismiss Utah's Appeal of Marriage Ruling?

    As most readers will recall, last December a federal district court struck down Utah's ban on same sex marriages.  The posture of the case was that the plaintiffs sued the Governor, Attorney General and the Salt Lake County Clerk - who was responsible for issuing marriage licenses as the defendants.  On appeal, the County Clerk did not appeal the district court ruling.  Now, based on questions raised during oral argument before the 10th Circuit, anti-gay forces in Utah are worried that the 10th Circuit may dismiss the appeal for lack of standing - i.e., the absence of the County Clerk as an appellant.  Obviously, the irony would be ever so sweet if the appeal was dismissed and the lower court ruling was left standing.  Here are highlights from the Salt Lake Tribune:

    There’s a small concern lurking beneath the surface in Utah’s same-sex marriage case, a quiet question that some experts say could derail the state’s push to permanently ban gay and lesbian unions.

    Although few believe it poses a serious threat to the case’s trajectory — likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court by summer — the question persists:   Could Kitchen v. Herbert be thrown out on a technicality? 

    On Tuesday, Utah’s lead counsel Gene C. Schaerr drew attention to a question posed to both sides by a three-judge panel at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week regarding whether the lawsuit targeted the appropriate state and county officials. 

    In the Utah lawsuit, the three couple plaintiffs represented by Peggy A. Tomsic and James E. Magleby named the governor, the attorney general and the Salt Lake County clerk in the case.
    They allege these three officials are responsible for same-sex couples being denied marriage licenses and for out-of-state marriages remaining unrecognized in Utah.

     Why would Utah’s lead attorney be volunteering to the court that the governor and attorney general are, in fact, the proper people to sue?   If the court finds that they’re not, the appellate judges may decline to rule in the case, leaving Judge Robert J. Shelby’s ruling to stand as law in Utah. 

    During Utah’s arguments last week, Judge Jerome A. Holmes — widely considered to be the "vote to get" in the case — asked Tomsic to explain why the defendants her plaintiffs had singled out were appropriate. 

    Further, he asked whether the state continued to have the right to appeal the case, given that Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen declined to appeal Judge Shelby’s Dec. 20 decision to overturn Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.

    "You sued the clerk of court," Holmes said, referring to Swensen. "But the clerk of court is not on the appeal, and, it would seem to me that creates a fundamental basis for concern about where jurisdiction lies in this case. "
     
    It is not known when this decision may be issued, though experts estimate it could take anywhere from one to three months.

    Should the court rule on the merits of the case and side with — or oppose —the lower court’s decision, its ruling would effectually extend to all states in the 10th Circuit, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

    The "Down Low" Sex Life of Jesus


    When I was relatively new to blogging I was lucky enough to be invited to the LGBT Blogger Summit orchestrated by Mike Rogers and underwritten in part by Progressive Insurance and Microsoft.  Among the bloggers I got to meet was Irene Moore, an ordained minister and someone who resisted the anti-gay message so often associated with American Christianity.  As a woman, she also found the patriarchal structure of Christian churches less than appealing, not to mention inconsistent with the true history of early Christianity before that history was rewritten to fit the agenda of those seeking power over and control of the Church's message.  Irene has an interesting piece in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News that uses the recent stories on the apparent antiquity of the so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" to review the Church's historic problem Jesus' sexuality.  Here are some highlights:  

    While many biblical scholars have ignored non-canonical texts like the gnostic and apocryphal gospels that suggested Jesus had a wife, they are now not ignoring the 2012 discovery of a faded fragment of papyrus that suggest he did.

    According to this month's New York Times article, "Papyrus Referring to Jesus' Wife Is More Likely Ancient Than Fake, Scientists Say" the papyrus is now known as the "Gospel of Jesus's wife."

    This discovery, however, disrupts the Christian church’s depiction of Jesus for many reasons. The Church doesn't want to say that Jesus had a wife because his evangelizing with 12 disciples clearly points to the fact that he wasn't a family man.

    Also, the Church doesn't want to accept that Jesus might have been married to Mary Magdalene -- the second most important woman in the New Testament Scriptures after Mary, the mother of Jesus -- because the misogyny written in the patriarchal narratives of Jesus's ministry cast her as a whore.

    New evidence suggests that Mary Magdalene may have been one of Jesus's disciples, may have bankrolled his ministry, may possibly have been his wife, and that Mary Magdalene was clearly Jesus's go-to-girl for a lot of things.

    This discovery, also, reopens the “down-low” secret about Jesus’ sexuality that not only attacks the pillars of Christianity, but also profoundly plays into the oppression that women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people face today in both church and society.

    And that open secret about Jesus’ sexuality — suggesting that he was gay or married, not that the two are mutually exclusive if Jesus was on the “down low” — points to the cultural war issues we are wrestling with today, namely the institution of marriage, women in the church, and gay clergy.

    However, the debate about Jesus’ sexuality takes him from his mother’s womb to his tomb. The Christian depiction of Jesus as that of a life-long virgin who had no sexual desire and who never engaged in sexual intercourse raises anyone’s suspicion, because by today’s sexual standards, Jesus’ homosocial environment of 12 men suggests, according to the law of averages, that at least one out of the bunch was gay.

    Given the nature of compulsory heterosexuality playing in Jewish marital laws during Jesus’ time, Jesus might have been forced to be on the “down low” -- if gay.

    Encrypted in Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1498 painting “The Last Supper” is a spiritual and sensual narrative about both the sacred feminine and homoeroticism found in religious life.

    And while many Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals find Da Vinci’s sensuous painting blasphemous, Da Vinci’s gay male homoerotic subtext pries open the door to the alluring quality about the Roman Catholic Church that gay men find both rabidly homophobic and ravenously homoerotic.

    It is unlikely, given Jewish marital customs, that Jesus was not married, and he probably was assigned a wife long before he became an itinerant preacher and met up with male and female disciples on the road.
    I refuse to believe that an itinerant rabbi with a gang of 12 horny men, they were virgins, celibate and not married.
    - See more at: http://sdgln.com/commentary/2014/04/18/down-low-sex-life-jesus-comes-light#sthash.FOvFWaGS.dpuf

    I refuse to believe that an itinerant rabbi with a gang of 12 horny men, they were virgins, celibate and not married.
     I am in agreement with Irene.  Like so much else in the Bible, the true story - if Jesus really existed - was revised and modified to meet the needs of fallible men who were motivated by a desire for power and most importantly control over others. 
     - See more at: http://sdgln.com/commentary/2014/04/18/down-low-sex-life-jesus-comes-light#sthash.FOvFWaGS.dpuf

    Saturday Morning Male Beauty


    Democrats Need to Run on Health Reform





    The November elections are still more than six months away - an eternity in politics - and the playing field may be shifting more than some seem to realize when it comes to the Affordable Health Care Act, derisively known as Obamacare amongst those in the GOP who want to restore the Gilded Age and throw a majority of average Americans on the trash heap.  Ironically, many in the base of the GOP are too stupid to understand that folks like the Koch brothers have then targeted for the trash heap as well.  Despite the AHCA, America's healthcare system remains in crisis and, in my view, the only real solution is a national health care system that would put voracious health insurance companies out of business and force real reform in how medical care is delivered.  An editorial in the New York Times argues that instead of fleeing from the AHCA, Democrats need to campaign on it and healthcare reform.  Here are column excepts:

    The Republican attack machine, fueled by millions of dollars from the Koch brothers, has Democrats so rattled about the health reform law that many don’t want to talk about it. They’re happy to run on equal pay for women, or a higher minimum wage, or immigration reform — all of which provide important contrasts with a do-nothing Republican Party — but they haven’t said much about the biggest social accomplishment of the Obama administration.
    On Thursday, President Obama had a suggestion for them: How about standing up for the Affordable Care Act? Democrats, he said at a news conference, “should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people” have been helped by the law — people who now have health insurance for the first time, or were not kicked off a policy when they got sick, or who can now leave a job without fear of being uninsured. “I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it,” he said. “I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell.”

    Not only are the overall numbers strong, but a substantial portion of the sign-ups — 28 percent, so far — are between the ages of 18 and 34, a sign that healthy people are joining the system, which will help keep premiums affordable. That number should ideally be a little higher, but it is an unmistakable refutation of the predictions of failure from health care reform’s opponents.

    That’s exactly the right tone to take, and the White House itself has been slow to take it, uncertain until a few weeks ago whether the law’s most basic goals would be met. Now that the law is proving to be even more successful than expected, it’s time for Democratic congressional candidates to remind voters what government can accomplish.

    They can point out, as Mr. Obama did, that House Republicans have taken many votes to repeal the health law — and yet they have not voted on a single measure that would put people back to work rebuilding roads and water plants.

    It’s important to move on to jobs and the economy, as Mr. Obama urged Congress to do. But first voters need to be reminded that government programs can improve life for all Americans. When one of those programs begins to do its job, its authors shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

    Is the GOP Finally Accepting the Inevitability of Gay Marriage?





    Yesterday I had lunch with Wayne Coleman who had been the GOP candidate for the Virginia Senate seat vacated by Ralph Northam when he became Lt. Governor.  Coleman lost the election by less than a dozen votes and will admit that as a first time candidate he had made some missteps and had been portrayed negatively.  Having run for political office myself 20 years ago, I know all too well that they are few things more brutal and that the media and one's opponent will do all they can to destroy you.   At the time I ran for office, I was depicted as being "Christian Right" - I joked with Coleman that I guess I'd had the last laugh on that one.  Our lunch meeting was in follow up to our conversation at the HRBOR Third Thursday in March and the purpose was to (i) allow Coleman to let me get to know him and prove to me that he is no bigot, and (ii) for me to enlighten him on LGBT issues and prove to him that I am not a wild eyed bomb thrower.  I think we both accomplished our goals and I could easily see Coleman at a dinner party at our home in the future.  We both agree that the Christofascists are killing the GOP.


    How does this relate to the title of this post?  Because it underscores that some in the GOP are coming to realize that not only is same sex marriage on a nationwide basis is inevitable, but that it is something that they need to support. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the changing attitudes within the GOP outside of the Christofascist/Tea Party elements of the GOP.  Here are some excerpts:

    Conventioneers at the Nevada Republican Party just did a remarkable thing. They decided Republicans should be consistent with their philosophy of more freedom and less government—so they eliminated opposition to gay marriage from their party platform.

    And now there is a move to change anti-gay language in the national GOP platform. A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, which includes Margaret Hoover (who is married to Daily Beast editor in chief John Avlon), Abby Huntsman, Meghan McCain, and Tyler Deaton, announced Wednesday that they are launching a $1 million campaign to eliminate harsh language and replace it with unifying framing, while still respecting differing views on marriage within the party.

    The goal of the campaign is to reform the national platform. To do so, Young Conservatives are traveling to the four early primary states—New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina—this spring and summer to talk to elected and rank-and-file Republicans.

    The reform-the-platform campaign is a response to the Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project report (PDF) and the College Republicans report (PDF), both of which say the party has a major problem with younger voters.

    Gay marriage is the last frontier of civil rights in this country. But the train is at last leaving the station.  And it’s picking up steam fast. Recent polling reveals that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 now support gay marriage. Ten federal court judges in a row have now ruled favorably on the issue, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.

    Towering Republican figures such as Ted Olson, who successfully argued the recount before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, and former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, who recently starred in an ad extolling the values of marriage for everyone, are helping to lead the fight, sending a strong signal that it’s time the GOP shifted gears.
    Obviously, once gay marriage goes mainstream even within the GOP hate groups like Family Research Council and The Family Foundation here in Virginia will be facing major fundraising catastrophes and folks like Tony Perkins, Brian Brown and Victoria Cobb may be faced with the terrifying prospects of (i) having to get real jobs instead of peddling hate, and (ii) no longer being able to force their hate/fear based religion on others.

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    More Friday Male Beauty


    Wedding Weekend in Washington, D.C.


    Posting will be reduced this weekend.  Tomorrow morning Barry and I are headed to Washington, D.C., for our wedding.   It's an event that not too many years ago neither of us would ever have dreamed would be possible.  For me, after a coming out process that at times verged on a living Hell, its the culmination of the image in my mind of what I sought at the end of the journey: a legally recognized, committed relationship to a wonderful man.  All the plans are in place and family members who cannot attend will be staying at the house and other family members will be dog sitting the "furry children" as Barry calls the two Chihuahuas.

    A wedding commissioner for the District of Columbia will be officiating the ceremony,but Barry's dad - a retired Southern Baptist pastor - will be participating in the ceremony.  The actual ceremony will be conducted on the southeast corner of the top terrace of the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing Arts (pictured above).  With a forecast of good weather, the image below shows the view that will be the back drop for the ceremony (in the background is Virginia where our marriage still will not be recognized).

     Following the ceremony, we will dine in the Terrace Restaurant on the top level of the complex which is pictured below.


    The group in Washington will be small and intimate and later in the year when my oldest daughter and my grandson have returned from Washington State we will have the first of several receptions for family and friends.  Tonight we had dinner at the Hampton Yacht Club where we received congratulations and hugs from other members and the staff.  Living one's life openly and honestly does change hearts and minds.  We will take plenty of photos and there will be some updates as the weekend progresses.

    Main floor atrium - Kennedy Center
    For those who would like to do something in honor of our wedding, we will be setting up a page at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation where tax deductible donations can be made to the Hamar/HRBOR Scholarship that the Foundation manages for HRBOR.  Details will follow.