Thursday, September 11, 2008

California's top Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban
The state's six highest bishops go on the record against Prop. 8, the fall ballot measure that would reverse the California Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex couples to marry.
By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 11, 2008

California's six most senior Episcopal bishops Wednesday unanimously declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage.

The bishops argued that preserving the right of gays and lesbians to marry would enhance the "Christian values" of monogamy, love and commitment. "We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruno, flanked at a news conference by fellow clergy members and gay and straight couples, added: "We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage." By going on the record against Proposition 8, which would reverse the California Supreme Court's decision in May to legalize same-sex marriage, the bishops waded into a volatile political and religious controversy.

Gay marriage has strained the Episcopalians' international body, the Anglican Communion, with hundreds of bishops from Africa and elsewhere threatening to break away over attempts to change church doctrine and practice. The issue has created theological fissures in other Protestant denominations, including Presbyterians and United Methodists, with some Methodist ministers in California pledging to perform wedding ceremonies in defiance of their national church.

Proposition 8 supporters, intent on protecting what they call a 5,000-year-old tradition codified in the Bible, are mobilizing forces across several religious groups. The Protect Marriage Coalition announced plans last month for 1 million Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus to plant 1 million "Yes on Proposition 8" lawn signs in their frontyards. In addition, the coalition is sending volunteers door to door to speak with voters and planning an advertising campaign, to begin as early as the end of this month.

But in a joint statement, issued Wednesday at the diocesan headquarters in Echo Park, the six bishops said that "society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment."

The statement was signed by Bruno and Bishops
Marc Handley Andrus, Barry L. Beisner, Mary Gray-Reeves, Jerry A. Lamb and James R. Mathes. (Three assistant bishops -- Chester L. Talton, Sergio Carranza and Steven Charleston -- also signed.)

The bishops concluded: "We believe that this continued access [to marriage] promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving and hope."
Their work is designed to counter the huge organizational and financial push the amendment is receiving from leaders of the Roman Catholic and Mormon faiths.


You may remember this very talented young man, Canadian singer Daniel Okulitch, from some rehearsal pictures I posted for the new opera based on the horror movie, The Fly. Well, it’s finally opened in Los Angeles and has proved a disappointment except for the production and performance. Here are some excerpts from Anthony Tomassini’s New York Times review:

The latest manifestation of that effort came on Sunday afternoon, when Los Angeles Opera presented the American premiere of “The Fly” by the Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore, best known for his scores for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy [and “Silence of the Lambs”]. With a libretto by the playwright David Henry Hwang, the opera is based on the director David Cronenberg’s 1986 film, for which Mr. Shore wrote the music. Mr. Cronenberg, working closely with Mr. Shore, directed this opera, a co-production with the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, where the work had its world premiere in July.

But despite the inventive staging and all-out efforts of an admirable cast — especially the courageous performance of the Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch as Seth Brundle, the obsessed scientist who morphs into the hideous creature he calls Brundlefly — “The Fly” is a ponderous and enervating opera, and the problem is Mr. Shore’s music.

At one point in Act II, Mr. Okulitch, his skin now covered in hideous scales, is suspended by wires. He enters his studio upside down, crawling along a ceiling crossbeam and then slithering head-first down a metal column, singing all the while. This is something voice students are not prepared for in conservatory training.

Mr. Okulitch, who has a warm and lyrical voice, sings with conviction, intelligence and volatility. His voice is not large, and he is sometimes drowned out, though that may be the fault of Mr. Shore’s sometimes misgauged orchestration or Mr. ]Placido] Domingo’s conducting.

The lovely Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose sings Veronica, the most dramatically pivotal role, with vulnerability, quiet intensity and lush colorings. She too takes risks with her portrayal. Wearing just a slip in an intimate romantic scene with Mr. Okulitch, she writhes with pleasure as he fondles her breasts and strokes her crotch. It’s hard to imagine even a go-for-broke artist from earlier times, like Teresa Stratas, consenting to such a thing. For better or worse, opera is breaking new ground.


The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush AND Dan Quayle

< No, I know all the war rhetoric, but it's all aimed at achieving peace.

> The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.

The church is going nuts over here in the UK over this whole issue of gay marriage or civil ceremonies etc. The Anglican church in particular is at breaking point. I also know of some catholic priests who have no problem with gay people and gay marriages either and I know for a fact they are happy to give private blessings in defiance of their national church too. And good on them I say! Its about time they actually started practicing peace and love and equality. The drop in people choosing a career or calling in the church has fallen in this country dramatically. When a recent survey was done of people aged 16 - 40 over here, over 95% stated they had no interest in any of these organized religions because they simply thought the church was out of touch and was not actually preaching the gospel as it was meant to be. Queen Elizabeth was once over heard saying 'how it was time to modernize and change with the rest of the world' and she is the head of the church of England!! She may be old but her majesty is wise, I just hope her church leaders and the rest of the religions will hopefully think this way soon too. :-)
Mark--everybody thinks Elizabeth is a fossil, but just look at the change she's presided over. She became Queen because her uncle had to abdicate due to his desire to marry a divorced woman; three of the Queen's four children are divorced, and the one who has remarried may some day be crowned if he can manage to outlive her.

One of our close friends does publicity and event management for gay Bishop Gene Robinson. He came back from Gene's recent trip that coincided with the big gathering there, and had very interesting stories to tell.

We heard over here that they allowed women to become bishops which came as a real surprise, but are holding the line against gays. Do you have a sense of the percentage of Anglican priests who are gay? Informed estimates of Catholic priests here run as high as 50%. And that surely means 50% of the hierarchy is gay, as they can only come from the rank and file.

I would think the pressure to accept gays and to drop the stern condemnation of everything gay will very soon become too much to resist.
Somewhat bizarrely the Catholics are not going to have the same 'problem' with gay priests as the Anglicans. The Anglicans problem is that they allow - encourage - their priests to marry (but take a pretty dim view of extra-marital activity), so their downer on gays is clearly double standards.

Whereas the RCs are absolutely consistent - no nookie, no relationships, ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever. Of course we know the truth is more complicated, but a gay Catholic priest can't really complain about not being able to live openly with a partner because it's exactly the same for a straight. And a celibate gay Catholic priest is okay, because he is a living demonstration, like celibate straights, of how it's possible to have sexuality but not be active. (Rubbish, in my opinion, but that's the official line...)
Just thought I'd pop in to say hi... "hi".
I had written a comment but I didn't think it saved lol I totally agree with you buddy. Sooner or later things are going to change because I have never seen so much talk and division as I see now over these issues. Gene actually had so much support over here when he visited but those kind of reports where not given as much coverage as the puritans were given lol I must dash as its the last night of the proms here so need to give my tux an airing lol you and Fritz have a fantastic weekend :-)
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