Monday, February 9, 2015

Friend of the Court Brief in Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz

It is my joy and privilege to announce that Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) (http://flgbtqc.quaker.org/) joined many other faith groups on a friend of the court brief filed on 2 February by Kramer Levin in Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz, a Puerto Rico marriage equality case before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

More info is available here:

Yet again I will tell you that, as with the other Kramer-Levin briefs we've signed on to, I highly recommend reading this.  It's easy to read, and brilliant.  And super-encouraging for people of faith, and people in faith communities, who support marriage equality for same-sex couples -- and also who are working to prevent some faiths from being legally privileged over others.

You can read the brief here:

More information, and a list of briefs, at:
http://stasa.net/resources/quaker-friends-resources/court-briefs

And -- NEW! -- also at:
http://flgbtqc.quaker.org/resources.html#courtBriefs 

Congratulations to all the signatories! And deep gratitude to everyone who worked on this brief.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A love note from your Recording Clerk

This is an email I recently sent to the list-serv for Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC)

It's been a little over a year since Nominating Committee approached me and asked if I'd be willing to consider serving as FLGBTQC Recording Clerk.

To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.  Recording clerking is really, truly, absolutely Ministry That Would Not Have Occurred to Me.

Taking minutes by hand is painful for me.  I didn't have a laptop until very recently.  I am a terrible minute-taker in secular meetings.  I had never been remotely interested in being a recording clerk, and had in fact actively avoided recording for committee meetings.  It never occurred to me that I might have skills which are good for a recording clerk to have, or that I could be good as a recording clerk.

What changed?

Well, when I carefully asked F/friends on Nominating if there were any particular reasons they'd thought of me (I'm sure my dubiousness was thinly cloaked), I got a lot of really good answers.  The kind which sounded to me like Friends were listening to Spirit, and also like they know me pretty well, and were putting what they know of me together with things I hadn't thought of and the needs of the community.  (Go, Nominating.  This is a form of eldering: helping people recognize gifts of the Spirit they haven't recognized in themselves, and asking that those gifts be used in the service of the Spirit and the community.)

In Britain Yearly Meeting, Presiding Clerks record.  If I wasn't willing to learn to record, that meant I was cutting myself off from the possibility of serving as clerk of my Local Meeting or Area Meeting.  It meant I was deciding for Spirit ahead of time that I would never do this work.  That struck me as a Bad Idea.  

But the big thing that decided me was you, collectively.  Was this community.  I realized that if I was going to learn to be a Recording Clerk, I couldn't think of a better place to do it.  I have have been part of the Meeting holding newly-fledged co-clerks as they found their wings.  I knew you would hold me, as you / we always hold the clerking team, and that even if it wasn't particularly graceful, there would still be grace.  Lots of grace.

I began to feel really grateful for this opportunity, and excited about learning a whole new skill.

After I went on the clerks' training course at Woodbrooke, I knew I had what I needed, except for the experience of actually doing it.  And I was pretty sure I could be a good-enough recording clerk while you helped me become a better recording clerk.

The really good news is that it turns out I truly enjoy recording clerking.  Who knew?  And I really enjoyed being part of Quaker process in this particular way, a way I never have before, during our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business last summer.

I love Quaker process.  I have always especially loved Quaker process in the FLGBTQC community.  Being able to come to our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business has helped sustain me during some periods which were particularly dry when it came to spiritual community.

I also love nurturing Quaker process, and I love that this service is another way I can help do that within FLGBTQC.

Right now, many of us are getting ready for Mid-Winter Gathering and for our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business there.

So, I ask that you continue to hold me, and the entire clerking team, in the Light and in love, in that same way I knew deep down I could count on you to do while I learned I could do something I had never done before.

With love,
Stasa

p.s.  Thank you.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friend of the Court Brief in Brenner v Armstrong and Grimsley v Armstrong

It is my joy and privilege to announce that at the end of December, Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) (http://flgbtqc.quaker.org/) joined many other faith groups on a friend of the court brief filed on 19 December  by Kramer Levin in Brenner v Armstrong and Grimsley v Armstrong, Florida marriage equality cases before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

More info is available here: 

Yet again I will tell you that, as with the other Kramer-Levin briefs we've signed on to, I highly recommend reading this.  It's easy to read, and brilliant.  And super-encouraging for people of faith, and people in faith communities, who support marriage equality for same-sex couples -- and also who are working to prevent some faiths from being legally privileged over others.

You can read the brief here:
http://bit.ly/BrennerGrimsleyBrief

More information, and a list of briefs, at:
http://stasa.net/resources/quaker-friends-resources/court-briefs

Congratulations to all the signatories! And deep gratitude to everyone who worked on this brief.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Being in community when our Gods are different

This autumn, I had the privilege to attend Rhiannon Grant's workshop "Or Whatever You Call It" with F/friends from South East Scotland Area Meeting (Quakers).  It was an interesting and fun workshop, and I'm glad we brought it to SESAM.

Much of Grant's work with Quakers centres on how modern Friends use language to talk about That-Which-Is-Sacred, and is particularly informed by philosophy.  My work amongst Friends starts from experience, and then comes to language pretty quickly: we need language to reflect our experience, to be able to talk to each other about it, one way to be in spiritual community with each other.  And Quakers are very wordy, very language-oriented people.  So her approach was really interesting for me.  

After spending the day in different kinds of exercises, thinking and talking about different words, and what they mean, and why, and different names for Whatever You Call It, we settled into large-group worship-sharing with this query:

Does telling your truth require you to use any particular words? 

Quite a lot came bubbling up for me during this worship.

----------------

In order to be a faithful Friend, {my truth requires me to / Goddess requires me to / I must} use words some Friends often react to with hostility.  Goddess.  Witch.  Pagan.  Priestess.  Gods.  But other minority Friends, especially other Pagan and non-Christian Friends, are often very relieved to hear those words.

If I am speaking my own truth, in my own words, not translating into other people's words / language, then yes, it does require particular words.

To what extent are we obligated to translate as we speak?  As we listen?  Why am I so often, as a minority, the person expected to do both?

I, as a non-Christian Friend, am expected to be conversant about Jesus.  Why aren't other Friends expected to be conversant with other Gods?

Yes, well, Quakerism is also historically white and straight as well.

Gods, plural.  If you want me to take your relationship with Jesus, Spirit, God, Whatever You Call It, seriously, and I want you to take my relationship with the Goddess / the Gods seriously, we both have to allow as how they both might exist -- and are not the same.

---------------- 

Among Friends, I no longer have to pretend my wife is a man and I'm in a mixed-gender relationship.  I no longer have to translate into heterosexual marriage terms for other Friends.

I should not have to pretend I'm in relationship with a different Deity than the One(s) I am in relationship with, either.

If you want me to take your relationship with Jesus, Spirit, God, Whatever You Call It, seriously, then you need to take my relationship with the Goddess / the Gods seriously.  

Brigid is not Jesus in a skirt.  And the Cailleach is neither.

I am talking about radical equality.

Jesus is a privileged god in Quakerism.

Jesus cannot be a privileged god if we are all Friends and all Friends are equal.

What does radical equality ask of each of us when it comes to being present with, bearing witness to, each others' spiritual lives?  When it comes to being in spiritual community with one another?  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Suicide prevention, support, and resources

There is an excellent and timely post by dualitea at Tenure, She Wrote, about the increase in suicide attempts after highly-publicized suicide deaths.  The article includes resources for talking about suicide and supporting people who are struggling. 

It's helpful.  Please read it.  Thank you. 
Research has shown that there is an uptick in the number of suicide attempts following a highly publicized suicide death. Such has happened recently within the trans community, which is prompting this off-day post. Given that 41% of trans people have attempted suicide, right now would be an excellent time to reach out and support the trans people in your life, as well as brush up on your skill set of responding to [those] in crisis who confide in you.
http://tenureshewrote.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/suicide-prevention-psa/

Friday, December 5, 2014

The queer surcharge

Let's talk about the queer surcharge for a moment. 

Here's just one example: 

People in mixed-gender legal marriages, how much did it cost you to get married?  I don't mean the ceremony, the reception, and all that stuff -- I mean the marriage license, the legal part, where you went down to city hall or the registry office or wherever and filled out paperwork and got a piece of paper (or several) back.  How much did your marriage license cost?  If a ceremony was a legal requirement for your marriage license to be valid -- it is in some jurisdictions -- then go ahead and add in the cost of a registry office, or justice of the peace, or similar, ceremony. 

Now, how many marriage licenses, or equivalent, have you had to obtain for your current marriage?  For that one marriage, for you to be married to the same person? 

Most of your friends in same-gender marriages, when we've had access to legal recognition of our relationships at all -- through domestic partnerships, civil unions, civil partnerships, or even civil marriage -- have had to do this many times.  Each time we move, each time the law where we live changes, we have to get re-married. 

And it almost always costs money EACH TIME. 

That adds up. 

And we're not even talking about the costs in time, energy, and resources other than money. 

We're also not even talking about other ways which being someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer costs more money than being someone who is straight does. 

So, allies: something to think about.  Ignorance -- "Gosh, I had no idea!"-- is not an excuse. 

----------

For more information on having to get married over and over and on the queer surcharge, see:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ally behavior: Pagan organizations, where are you?

Re-posted from Crystal Blanton (via Facebook):

I am noticing... again... the silence of the Pagan organizations in light of the recent unrest, death of unarmed black men, injustices, protests, and harm within society. As a POC Pagan, I am looking out into my community and I do not see the community standing up for me.

This is an opportunity to stand up and support the people of color within the Pagan community, and society, by saying... we see you. We are not ignoring you, we are not staying silent.

When the Pagan community does not stand up to support the POC members within their community that are hurting, it is an "in your face" way of reminding us that we are not welcomed.

An African Zulu greeting "Sawubona" translates to mean... I see you. More than the normal seeing.... seeing the core, our humanity, our spirit, our worth... our souls.

So tonight I am saying to the Pagan community, I see you..... the question is... do you SEE us?

https://www.facebook.com/RevCrystal.Blanton/posts/10205684978908620

Black lives matter.  Pagan organizations are predominantly white, and they need to speak up. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

I have just update the list of communities presenting A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual this year, including:

  • Edinburgh, Scotland; 
  • Costa Mesa, CA; 
  • Indianapolis, IN; 
  • Louisville, KY (new this year! w00t!); 
  • Pomona/Galloway, NJ; 
  • Dallas, TX;
  • and hopefully Hamilton, NJ, Gettysburg, PA, Clemson, SC, Spokane, WA, and Madison, WI. (I'm still waiting to hear back from some folks.)

Details at
TinyURL.com/WinterSolsticeSinging/Participating-Communities

If your community is presenting this and you're not listed, please get in touch!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thank you again to SheWho


Way back in 2002, SheWho feminist women's vocal ensemble recorded the CD for "A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual" for me and my co-author. It was a one-off for them -- not part of their musical life long-term -- but it took a lot of their time and energy. That CD has certainly been part of my life long-term, and as I'm doing a lot of intensive teaching of this music right now, I find myself again grateful for all the time and work those eight women put into our project. There are of course things I'd do differently, mostly thanks to what I learned by doing this CD, but the CD has definitely stood the test of time as a fabulous resource for people learning this music. Thank you again, Karen Escovitz (Otter), Amanda Albright, Anne Cummings, Debra D'Alessandro, Gili Ronen, Hilary Barrett, and Juliet Spitzer.

For more information about SheWho -- or to order their fabulous independent CD, "The Earth Will Turn Over" -- please see:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Trans Lifeline and other crisis and suicide resources

There's a new hotline for transgender people in crisis, Trans Lifeline.  They've been open for a few months but just went public, and the response seems BIG.

If you've got a few bucks, even $5 or $10, please consider donating to them -- you can help save someone's life: http://www.gofundme.com/translifeline.

If you are struggling with suicide, please, talk to someone.  

  • In the US, anyone can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline free from anywhere at 1-800-273-TALK.   You can also livechat from their website, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
  • In the US, LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) can also reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.  You can also text or chat: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now#tt
  • In the US and Canada, transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people can also call the Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860.  Please see their website to confirm staffing times: http://www.translifeline.org/
  • In the UK, you can call the Samaritans anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on 08457 90 90 90. 
  • In Scotland, you can call the Breathing Space phoneline, which is available 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday - 6am Monday), and 6pm - 2am on weekdays (Monday - Thursday), on 0800 83 85 87.