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Showing posts from May, 2009

Complaining About E-Mail

This week, on the same day, California's Supreme Court upheld the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and President Obama announced who his pick for U.S. Supreme Court will be.

This led to a flurry of e-mails.

I think I got announcements about the California decision from Triangle, Michigan Equality, the Lansing Association for Human Rights (LAHR) (two or three e-mails), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the UUA. Fortunately, I did not get one from Jackson PFLAG, which sticks to monthly newsletters. I got announcements about Obama's decision from Planned Parenthood, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), MoveOn, and President Obama (twice). That's at least a dozen e-mails to tell me two pieces of information.

Now I admit it could be worse. There are a lot more agencies I could've gotten e-mails from that I do get e-mails from regularly, and there are a lot of agencies I don't get e-mails from that I could subscribe to. But th…

Michigan

Michigan is having a hard time right now. No news there. My city, Jackson, Michigan, topped Forbes' list of the 10 Worst Small Cities for Jobs. Five other small Michigan cities made that top ten list as well. And of course we're well represented on the mid-sized and large-sized cities lists, as well, with Detroit coming in number one on the latter. Find any other gloomy list of worst places to be in this economy, Michigan cities are sure to be on it.

Michigan churches are having a hard time, too, of course. When times get hard, discretionary income goes down. And churches are, well, discretionary, particularly in the guilt-free UU version where tithing isn't a religious obligation in the same way that it is in some other faiths.

One measure of rough things are in Michigan might be to look at the level of ministerial transition. Sometimes these transitions are a result of ministerial tenures happening naturally, but sometimes they're because of a need to decrease the leve…

Next Up: Planned Parenthood

Once again, Planned Parenthood is coming under attack in the community, this time from the Columbia School District, where a group of parents have lobbied the school board to get PP removed from the sexuality education curriculum. The school board meeting was last night, and a number of supporters turned out. I don't know yet when they'll make their decision. Here's the statement I made to the board:

Hello; good evening, I’m the Rev. Cynthia Landrum, and I am the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty, a church that has been in this area for 153 years, often with members who are not only taxpayers, but parents of children in this school district, and sometimes teachers, as well. Our church is a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood, a decision we made by congregational vote about four years ago. We are also part of a denomination that believes strongly in the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. In 1994, we passed an “Resolution of Immedia…

Lobbying with HRC

I'm back now from the whirlwind HRC Clergy Call. I want to tell you about the experience of lobbying itself. Amongst the 300+ clergy and other participants from all 50 states, there were only two of us from Michigan, myself and a very wonderful staff person, Heather Grace, from the Faith Action Network of the American Friends Service Committee. HRC provided a staff member to go with each state team, as well. We had Cristina Finch, who grew up in Michigan.

So the three of us together went to see Senator Levin and Senator Stabenow, and we met with their staff representatives (although not the senators themselves). Levin is already a co-sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Act, which is wonderful, and we're hoping for Stabenow's co-sponsorship, as well. The meetings were upbeat and very friendly to our message. We're hoping both of them will vote for the employee non-discrimination act when it is introduced. Since the AFSC doesn't have a position yet on the Matthew Shepard …

Why This Is Important

Today is the lobbying day with the HRC Clergy Call. We're spending the morning in lobbying training. As I sat down in the bench marked "Michigan," I introduced myself to a man standing in the aisle from South Carolina. He told me about his step-son, Sean William Kennedy. Sean was in his twenties when he was killed in an anti-gay hate crime. His murderer got a very short jail sentence, cut shorter because hr earned his GED.

Some people don't believe hate crime legislation is necessary, because it's already covered by other laws. I invite them to learn about Sean: http://www.seanslastwish.org. And another quick answer... This federal legislation kicks in when local law enforcement doesn't adequately prosecute, for example because of prejudice.

Why Do We Need the T?

Why do we need the T in lgbt? That was the question we started with at the HRC clergy call today. And well we should examine this. One of the hard truths being told here is that HRC hasn't always been a strong advocate for transgender people. Another hard truth is that it's still not always easy to be transgender in Uu congregations, even "Welcoming" ones. This is still our cutting edge.

One answer is that transgender people help us to break out of the tired question about whether or not sexuality is a choice, and move us to a question about the societal construction of gender, breaking us out of binay paradigms.

One speaker pointed out how many places where sexual orientaion is becoming a protected status, where gender expression is not. Even repealing"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will not protect a transgender person in the army. And in Jackson County, we know well how easy it is to fire someone for being transgender.m

HRC Clergy Call 2009

My morning of the HRC Clergy Call began with waking up in the wonderful home of UU minister Ginger Luke, who was kindly hosting six ministers coming to clergy call. She kindly took us in groups to the Metro station. Cynthia Cain, from Lexington, KY, and I bravely started out, but our train broke down at Dupont Circle. Because of the crush trying to get in the already-full trains, we decided to go out (in thr rain) and try to hail a cab. Two unsuccessful blocks later, Cynthia went into the Peruvian embassey and asked for help. Thet pointed us to a hotel at the corner--The Beacon, if you can believe it! I looked over to the Beacon and atRTED LAUGHING. Right across the street was the HRC headquarters! We went in from the rain, and the friendly receptionist called a cab for us. We arrived at the beautiful Calvary Baptist Church just in time to hear the end of Bishop Gene Robinson's kmeynote address. It's so good to be here, in a room full of clergy of different faiths, who all cel…