November 21, 2014

Tips for Families During the Holidays

November 29, 2010

National PFLAG has adapted a piece by Mariana Caplan entitled When Holidays Are Hell…A Guide to Surviving Family Gatherings  to help parents and siblings make the up-coming holidays really welcoming for visiting LGBT family members.   It is reproduced below;

If you are the friend or family member of someone gay…

  • Get support for yourself. It is important to realize you are not alone.
  • Take your time. Acceptance may not come instantly, but be honest about yourfeelings.
  • Don’t be nervous about using the “correct” language. Honesty and openness creates warmth, sincerity and a deeper bond in a relationship. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask for help.
  • Realize that the situation may be as difficult and awkward for your GLBT loved one as it is for you.

Before the visit…

  • Practice in advance if you are going to be discussing your family member’s sexual orientation or gender identity with family and friends. If you are comfortable talking about it, your family and friends will probably be more comfortable too.
  • Anticipate potential problems, but do not assume the reactions will always be what you expected.
  • Consult with your GLBT loved one when coordinating sleeping arrangements if he or she is bringing home a partner.
  • If your family member is transgender, practice using the correct pronouns.

During the visit…

  •   Treat a GLBT person like you would treat anyone else in your family.
  • Take interest in your family member’s life. He or she is still the same person.
  • Don’t ask your GLBT family member to act a certain way. Let them be their natural selves.
  • If your GLBT family member is bringing a partner, acknowledge him or her as you would any other family member’s partner.
  • If your GLBT family member is bringing a partner, include him or her in your family traditions.
  • Ask your GLBT family member about his or her partner if you know they have one.


Going Home for the Holidays, Tips for LGBT Folk

November 29, 2010

National PFLAG has compiled the following advice:

Tips for a Happy Holiday for GLBT People
The holidays can be a stressful time for GLBT people or families with GLBT members, but there are several strategies that you can use to help reduce stress and create a happy holiday this year.

If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender…
  •  Don’t assume you know how somebody will react to news of your sexual orientation or gender identity — you may be surprised.
  •  Realize that your family’s reaction to you may not be because you are GLBT. The hectic holiday pace may cause family members to act differently than they would under less stressful conditions.
  •  Remember that “coming out” is a continuous process. You may have to “come out” many times.
  • Don’t wait for your family’s attitude to change to have a special holiday. Recognize that your parents need time to acknowledge and accept that they have a GLBT child. It took you time to come to terms with who you are; now it is your family’s turn.
  • Let your family’s judgments be theirs to work on, as long as they are kind to you.
  • If it is too difficult to be with your family, create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved ones.
  • If you are transgender, be gentle with your family’s pronoun “slips.” Let them know you know how difficult it is.
  •  Make a decision about being “out” to each family member before you visit.If you are partnered,

Before the visit…

  • Discuss in advance how you will talk about your relationship, or show affection with one another, if you plan to make the visit together.
  • If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.
  • Have alternate plans if the situation becomes difficult at home.
  • Find out about local GLBT resources.
  • If you do plan to “come out” to your family over the holidays, have support available, including  PFLAG publications and the number of a local PFLAG chapter.

 During the visit…

  • Focus on common interests.
  • Reassure family members that you are still the same person they have always known.
  • If you are partnered, be sensitive to his or her needs as well as your own.
  • Be wary of the possible desire to shock your family.
  • Remember to affirm yourself.
  • Realize that you don’t need your family’s approval.
  • Connect with someone else who is GLBT—by phone or in person—who understands what you are going through and will affirm you along the way.







May 6, 2014


“By regulating who ministers can and cannot marry, and criminalizing them if their faith traditions skew from the law, the UCC claims that North Carolina’s marriage laws interfere with a minister’s rights to marry whomever they choose – as is their right within the denomination.”

Here is the complete story, exerpted from

UCC Church Sues State of North Carolina

Written by Anthony Moujaes
May 1, 2014

There are about 70 marriage equality cases moving through the judicial system in the United States, but the lawsuit brought by the representative body of the United Church of Christ is distinct. What makes the case unique is that the UCC is standing on the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, efforting to protect the rights of clergy and the principal of freedom of religion, a first in the wave of lawsuits across the country challenging laws regarding same-sex marriage.

“This isn’t just another one of the 69 cases bringing equal protection and due process challenges,” said Heather Kimmel, associate general counsel for the denomination.

In addition to the lawsuit, the UCC and other plaintiffs are asking the U.S. District Court to grant a preliminary injunction to temporarily stop North Carolina from enforcing the law before the case is heard. It would allow pastors in the state to perform the religious ceremonies they feel called to perform until the case is decided.

“In asking for the injunction, we are asking for the court to say the state cannot enforce these laws,” Kimmel said. The UCC is one of three groups of plaintiffs in General Synod of the UCC v. Cooper — a dozen North Carolina clergy from Christian, Jewish and Unitarian faiths, and LGBT couples wishing to marry are also part of the lawsuit.

Kimmel outlined some of the key claims raised by the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, April 28, and what the roadmap might look like for the case this summer. In the 29-page document, the UCC claims that North Carolina’s marriage laws violate the freedom of religion protections under the First Amendment, as well as the freedom of association that, according to the Supreme Court, is implied in the First Amendment.

The lawsuit names 11 defendants, which include North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, and several register of deeds and district attorneys in the state.

“The defendants will have a chance to object to our motion for preliminary injunction, and the UCC will have an opportunity to reply to that objection,” Kimmel said.

The defendants have 15 days from the date of filing to file their objection to the preliminary injunction. The North Carolina attorney general has asked for a stay in another North Carolina lawsuit that challenges the marriage laws on equal protection and due process grounds. His argument for a stay is based on a legal challenge of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage that will be argued in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes both Virginia and North Carolina. A U.S. District Court judge already ruled that Virginia’s ban is unconstitutional. If that decision is affirmed, the North Carolina court might apply that ruling to declare Amendment One unconstitutional. The Fourth Circuit could rule on the Virginia case by the end of the summer, but until then, attorneys for the plaintiffs would like an immediate injunction instead of waiting.

“We’re hopeful our judge will rule in favor of a preliminary injunction before the summer, and not stay the case,” Kimmel said. “But it is hard to speculate on how long before a judge will do anything.”

There are 33 states that limit marriage to one man and one woman, though lawsuits challenging marriage laws in nine of those states will be heard in U.S. appeals courts this year. North Carolina’s restrictions, however, went an extra step by threatening to criminalize clergy for performing weddings – legal or ceremonial – without a valid marriage certificate.

Amendment One, the name of North Carolina’s marriage law that voters passed in 2012, limits domestic legal unions to one man and one woman. Under state laws consistent with Amendment One, it is a misdemeanor for ministers to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that has not obtained a license — which are not available to same-sex couples. Offenses are punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or probation and community service.

In its argument, the UCC relies on two Supreme Court cases in particular to show that North Carolina’s marriage laws are unconstitutional.

In a recent case from 2012, the court ruled that governments may not interfere with an “internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.” But by regulating who ministers can and cannot marry, and criminalizing them if their faith traditions skew from the law, the UCC claims that North Carolina’s marriage laws interfere with a minister’s rights to marry whomever they choose – as is their right within the denomination.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the First Amendment protects the “right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends,” and that governments may not infringe on that freedom through “intrusion into the internal structure or affairs of an association.” The case, Boy Scouts of Am. v. Dale in 2000, established that the Boys Scouts can legally exclude gay members through their right to associate.

“We’re using that anti-LGBT decision to say that our beliefs allow our clergy to perform same-sex marriage, but the North Carolina laws infringe on bringing people together for the purpose of celebrating those beliefs,” Kimmel explained.

For more information, visit

Southern States Will Receive Focus by Gay Rights Advocates

May 2, 2014

The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians.

The effort will shift tens of millions of dollars in the next few years to what advocates described as the final frontier for gay rights: states like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, where Republicans dominate elected office and traditional cultural views on homosexuality still prevail.

For a full story, See

Glossary of LGBT terminology–You might not know all of these!

February 21, 2014

I found this helpful and up-to-date glossary in a Tumblr blog (reprinted with permission)

“So the recent “big news” on the social media front this past weekend centered around Facebook. Recognizing that not all individuals identify as heterosexual, there are now options for their users when setting up their Profile. Options, you ask? How can there be options? Male. Female. What more can there be?

Well, a lot actually.

Apparently, Facebook offers about 50 options. Well, I read that somewhere anyway. So, curious, I checked it out. Wow – there ARE a lot of options! (However I didn’t count them…sorry.)

It did get me thinking…are people familiar with the terminology that many individuals use to identify themselves? Maybe not. Would you like to know? Good! That’s what I like to hear – people who are interested in learning new information to help them become educated, open-minded, people of society.

We have heard the term “LGBT” in the media, but I’m not so sure people know what each of the letters stand for. I believe people know it is a term related to the gay community, but that’s about it. Sometimes you may hear it referred to GLBT, too – it’s all the same. When I studied for my LGBT certification (yes, that exists), it was always referred to as LGBT, so I will continue to do so in my writings.

“L” – Lesbian
“G” – Gay
“B” – Bisexual
“T” – Transgender

Sometimes you may see it written as such:
(These are a little less mainstream, but it’s good to be familiar with these, so you appear really

“Q”- Queer
“Q”- Questioning
“A” – Ally (that’s me!)
“A” – Asexual
“I” – Intersex
“P” – Pansexual

Okay. So, what do these terms mean?

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted romantically and/or physically to other women.
Gay: A person of one sex who is attracted romantically and/or physically to a person of the same sex. Generally the term is used when referring to men who are attracted to men, however this term can be used to include both males and females who are attracted to same-sex individuals..

Bisexual: A person of one sex who is attracted romantically/physically to a person of the same sex OR of another sex.

Transgender: This one can get tricky. A lot of people understandably confuse this with transsexual. Easy to do. Transgender refers to an individual who expresses themselves as the opposite sex from which they were born. This can include cross-dressers, transsexuals, and others.
The term transsexual falls under the umbrella term transgender.
Transsexual is defined as an individual who was born with the outward appearance of one sex, yet inside they feel like the opposite sex (gender identity). The body doesn’t match the psyche. Sometimes these individuals will choose to undergo surgery and/or hormone therapy to change their outward appearance to match how they feel inside. Others may not, but may dress as the person of the opposite sex to express their gender identity. Or they may not do anything. It’s a personal choice.
Often the word transgender is used when transsexual would be more appropriate. However, the term transsexual isn’t used as much as it used to be. It is best to ask the individual how they would like to be referred. I know a MTF (male-to-female) individual who uses the term transgender, which I totally get. Keep in mind, these terms refer only to gender identity (do they feel male or female) NOT their sexual orientation. It has nothing to do with who they are attracted to.

Queer: Used by those in the LGBT community to describe themselves as being unique. Can sometimes be interpreted in a derogatory manner, so be considerate when using this term.

Questioning: Refers to a person who is exploring their sexual identity, orientation, or gender identity.

Ally: Someone who supports the LGBT community.

Asexual: Not sexually attracted to any sex.

Intersex: More of a medical thing. A person is born with ambiguous male and female anatomy – external as well as internal. Sometimes it is obvious at birth, other times it isn’t noticed until puberty, and sometimes a person never knows! There are several medical conditions associated with being intersex, including Turner Syndrome and Klinefelter Syndrome. This has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Pansexual: Attracted romantically/physically to a person regardless of their orientation, gender, identity, or anatomy. It’s all about the person on the inside.

Phew! That’s a lot to take in. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz on this tomorrow. It’s just sort of nice to have a general idea of what people are talking about. And yes, it is confusing. Especially the transgender/transsexual language.

So, getting back to Facebook. I think it’s pretty cool that they are offering identity alternatives for those who do not identify themselves as either “male” or “female”. It’s all biology! Hormones, genetics, in utero growth….there are lots of reasons people are born they way we are. If you want more information, there are some great resources. I should know, I used these as my resources, too. (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) (Intersex Society of North America) (Gay Straight Alliance Network) (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes by Gerald N. Callahan, Ph.D.
(I loved this book!)”


December 28, 2013

December 26, 2013
New Victories for Marriage Equality

With every new court ruling or legislative enactment or popular vote affirming Americans’ fundamental right to marry, the arguments against same-sex marriage sound increasingly desperate and hollow.

Those arguments were dealt multiple blows in the past few days, first last Friday when a federal district judge in Utah invalidated the state’s constitutional amendment and laws prohibiting marriage between anyone other than a woman and a man. The suit had been brought by three lesbian and gay couples, but Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling immediately allowed same-sex couples to marry statewide, and by Christmas Day about 700 had.

On Monday, another federal district judge, Timothy Black, ruled that Ohio, which also does not permit same-sex marriage, must recognize such marriages performed in other states.

Judge Shelby relied largely on the reasoning of United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court’s decision in June that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. He ruled that Utah’s Constitution and laws, which “demean the dignity” of same-sex couples “for no rational reason,” violated the United States Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit declined to stay the ruling, and the state plans to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Judge Shelby has laid out a thoughtful and methodical defense of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. He allowed that marriage laws are generally left to the states, but he explained that individual rights must trump states’ rights where the two conflict. Citing the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision striking down laws against interracial marriage, Judge Shelby wrote that the Constitution “protects an individual’s ability to make deeply personal choices about love and family free from government interference.”

In response to the plaintiffs’ complaint, Utah failed to present any rational connection between its laws and a legitimate governmental purpose. During a hearing earlier this month, Judge Shelby repeatedly pressed the state’s lawyers to explain how, as they contended, permitting same-sex marriages would undermine the incentive for opposite-sex couples to marry and have children. Their response: “We just simply don’t know.” Of course, it “defies reason,” as the judge wrote, that same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages one way or another.

Arguments like these are nothing more than the fading recitation of long-ingrained prejudices. The defenders of “traditional” marriage are losing — and much faster than anyone might have predicted even last summer.

Anyone, that is, besides Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most reliable votes against equal rights for gays and lesbians. In his angry dissent from the landmark 2003 decision striking down anti-sodomy laws, Justice Scalia asked: If states may no longer pass laws that express moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, “what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage” to same-sex couples? In a similarly hostile dissent in the Windsor case, he predicted that the court’s logic would soon lead to the invalidation of state laws banning same-sex marriage. So far, Justice Scalia has largely been proved right.

If Utah’s appeal is heard by the Supreme Court, the court should extend its repeated invocation of the equal dignity of gays and lesbians and strike down all bans on same-sex marriage.

Boy Scouts Will Welcome Gay Youth beginning January 1, 2014

December 28, 2013


At last! This will really help gay youth in North Carolina. It is NOT a sin.


November 11, 2013

This story appeared in the Burlington Times News on November 11th.


Published November 10, 2013 Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – About 50 ministers gave their symbolic support to a colleague facing sanctions from the United Methodist Church by participating in a same-sex wedding.

The wedding Saturday in Philadelphia was held about a week before the Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, about 90 miles to the west, will face a church trial for officiating over his son’s marriage to another man.

The clergy filled the front of the Arch Street United Methodist Church, blessing the marriage in defiance of church law, the Philadelphia Inquirer ( ) reported.

The closest rested their hands on the couple, Bill Gatewood and Rick Taylor. The others placed their palms on other clergy.

“Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder,” they said in unison.

A spokesman for the church’s eastern Pennsylvania conference would not comment about whether any of the participants may face discipline. Most of the 50 are Methodist ministers.

Taylor, 55, and Gatewood, 70, told the newspaper that all they ever wanted was a traditional wedding — with a blessing in front of the altar, an exchange of vows and a reception in the basement.

The event was largely symbolic, as same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Pennsylvania.

The couple, who met in a Philadelphia gay bar, have been together for 25 years. They said the church has helped them through some difficult times.

The Arch Street congregation, which is committed to the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations, had ministers who consoled them, added the names of their sick friends to the church’s prayer lists and performed funerals when their friends died.

“That’s why we want to get married in our church. We have many, many people who say, Why don’t you just go to New York or Delaware?” Taylor told the newspaper. “And it’s because we live in Pennsylvania and our church home is here and it means the world to us.”

Schaefer, 51, could be suspended, reprimanded or lose his credentials because he performed a wedding ceremony for his son in 2007 in Massachusetts. He had informed his superiors about it beforehand and did not face any consequences until April, when a congregant filed a complaint.

The United Methodist Church formally accepts gay and lesbian members but teaches that homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching.

Schaefer’s trial will begin Nov. 18 at a Methodist retreat in Spring City, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia. He could avoid trial by agreeing not to perform another same-sex marriage, but he has decided not to do that. Three of his four children are gay.


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