Archive for January, 2014

80% of United Methodist Church Quits over Firing of Gay Choir Director

January 14, 2014

By Central Voice
Like any organization, secular or religious, churches cannot exist without rules.

They also cannot exist without members.

Last issue (Jan.-Fe. 2014), we reported that “outing” was not just for gay people anymore, after Lebanon’s Rev. Frank Schaefer used that word to describe what happened to him.

Schaefer was defrocked by the United Methodist Church for violating church rules when he performed a marriage ceremony for his eldest son, Tim, and his male partner in 2007. He is appealing the church’s decision because he disagrees with his church’s policy on LGBT individuals.

Now we can add the word “quitting” to the gay-versus-church vocabulary.

According to The Herald Bulletin, an Indiana church has seen about 80% of its members leave after a gay choral director was forced out over his sexual orientation.

Adam Fraley told the newspaper that he worked for the United Methodist Church in Alexandria for six years and attended with his partner. When a new minister took over the church last year, Fraley said that he resigned because of pressure about his sexual orientation.

With a twist only fate could provide Schaefer’s local situation began after the resignation of his congregation’s choir director. The choir director is also the mother of Jon Borger, the individual who made the formal complaint that led to his being defrocked because he married his son.

At the time of her resignation, Boger’s mother said she felt forced to leave, although not over anything to do with Schaefer and his son’s marriage or LGBT issues. About six weeks after his mother left her choir director’s post, her son registered his complaint against Schaefer – five years after Schaefer performed the ceremony.

The back story:
Schaefer told Central Voice that “In the fall of 2006 I put in writing to the Bishop and the church that I would be performing the marriage of my son to his partner. I received no response from church leadership.” The wedding actually took place in 2007. However, the formal complaint to the church hierarchy from then-fellow parishioner and now former church member Boger did not come until late in 2013.

Boger testified at Schaefer’s hearing, a procedure that in many ways mimics a formal court proceeding but is, in fact, a church proceeding that has no standing in the church-and-state separated legal system rooted in the nation’s history.

Boger, according to media reports, broke down on the witness stand when questioned by church counsel, describing Schaefer’s marrying his son and those who support his action as taking “the law into their own hands” and undermining the church’s credibility and integrity.

Although Boger meant church law, Pennsylvania law does not allow same-sex couples to marry, a law that is currently being challenged from a multitude of legal directions. In that regard both the United Methodist Church and Pennsylvania state law mimic each other.

Boger testified during the church trial that six weeks before filing his complaint that his mother, who was employed as the church’s choir director, felt as if she were forced to submit her resignation to the church. “He said the two events were unrelated,” Schaefer said.

And there you have it.

You can be “outed” for being gay.

You can “quit” if you disagree with your church’s policy regarding LGBT congregants.

You can be “defrocked” if your conscience tells you not to follow your church’s policy.

Prevent HIV Infection before Sex with New Method Available in Region; FDA Approved, Learn More Jan. 21, Jan. 29

January 14, 2014

Prep2013

Known as PrEp – or Pre-exposure Prophylactic – a new method of preventing HIV infection with an existing HIV medication is now available in the region. FDA-approved, the method involves taking Truvada as prescribed under medical supervision.

Truvada has long been established as a successful agent, when combined with other HIV medicines, to treat HIV infection. The PrEP method involves taking the medicine before sex in order to prevent infection.

Are you PrEped? Is this HIV prevention method for you?

Learn more about this new and effective HIV prevention strategy and determine if it’s right for you on Tues., Jan. 21, 6 p.m. at Alder Health Services, Harrisburg, 100 N. Cameron St., Ste. 301-East and Wed., Jan. 29, 6 p.m., Alder Health Services, Lancaster, 1891 Santa Barbara Dr., Ste. 104.

For more information, call 1-800-867-1550.

Gay and Progressive Politics Are Not Strange Bedfellows

January 9, 2014

Gay and Progressive Politics Are Not Strange Bedfellows
By Frank Pizzoli

Politics makes strange bedfellows. But there is nothing strange about the forces of gay politics and Progressive ideas crawling under the covers for a warm embrace.

When Hartford (Conn.) Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner (1829 – 1900) and friend of Mark Twain made his pronouncement he could not have foreseen the state of affairs for today’s LGBT individuals and issues of economic justice.

Although 12-year old Queers for Economic Justice is closing due to funding crunches, their mission remains noble: To challenge and change systems that create poverty and economic injustice…and to promote an economic system that embraces sexual and gender diversity. Economic justice and sexual and gender diversity are not strange bedfellows.

Amber Hollibaugh, QEJ founder, recently repeated to Central Voice what she told a larger media audience.

“It’s profoundly disquieting that in the midst of the current economic crisis, you have no idea that the recession had an impact on our community. It makes me insane, because this idea that all LGBT people are wealthy, and mostly white is a dangerous myth,” she said.

There were 46.5 million people living in poverty in 2012. That means about 1.4 million of them were in the gay community.

Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues in “Out for Change: Racial and Economic Justice Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities” and the Center for American Progress note the economic difficulties within the gay community.

Ongoing discrimination against LGBT workers leaves them economically vulnerable and makes it difficult for them to financially provide for their families, the center reports.

Almost one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 % of children living with a female same-sex couple are in poverty, compared to 12.1 % of children living with married different-sex couples.

Furthermore, 14.1 % of lesbian couples and 7.7 % of gay male couples receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, compared to 6.5 % of different-sex married couples.

Black LGBT people in particular lag behind in multiple areas of economic security due to the heightened vulnerability that stems from race-based and anti-LGBT discrimination and stigma.

The LGBT community is economically and racially diverse despite media depictions of gay families as financially secure and predominately white. In fact, a 2012 Gallup poll revealed that nonwhites were more likely than their white counterparts to identify as LGBT, with African Americans topping the chart as the racial and/or ethnic group most likely to identify as LGBT.

This security in their identity as LGBT people does not make them immune to the effects of bias and discrimination. Black LGBT people are more likely to be living in poverty than their peers, and black same-sex couples have poverty rates at least twice the rate of black different-sex married couples.

Black men in same-sex relationships are more than six times as likely to be in poverty than white men in same-sex couples—18.8 % to 3.1 %, respectively—and black women in same-sex relationships are three times more likely to be poor than white women in same-sex relationships—17.9 % to 5.1 %, respectively.

Trying to find an LGBT organization that does more than pay lip service to the idea that
“the gay” and economic issues go hand-in-hand is like trying to find a virgin at an orgy.

“It seems to me the mainstream LGBT movement groups depend on labor for muscle and mostly don’t return the favor on economic justice issues. In fact, the LGBT groups take big corporate donations from some of the worst actors in the corporate world (Citibank, Walmart, Paul Singer, David Koch, etc.) which buys those companies and individuals good will and makes the groups shut up about their injustices,” observes Andy Humm, co-host with Ann Northrup of New York City’s Gay USA weekly news broadcast.

Humm means economic injustices.

One way to measure – and reward – companies with gay laurels is to include questions around economic issues of social justice. Perhaps someday a high HRC rating will reflect a commitment to both gay and economic justice issues.

Molchany and Sims Introduce Pay Equity Legislation

January 6, 2014

As part of a larger effort to address the concerns of Pennsylvania women, state Reps. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., introduced a bill today (Jan. 6) that would clarify and update the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits.

Rep.  Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny

Rep. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny

“The average woman earns 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. In the Pittsburgh region, the wage gap is closer to 73 cents per dollar,” Molchany said. “While the entirety of the wage gap can’t be blamed on discrimination, the fact that any of it could be attributed to someone’s sex demands attention.”

House Bill 1890 would update the conditions under which employers could pay different wages because of a factor other than sex. These factors would include specific, job-related attributes such as education, training and experience. The bill would also strengthen anti-retaliation protections for employees attempting to bring a pay-equity lawsuit against their employer and those who share information about their pay.

PA State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

PA State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

“Pay-equity laws have been around for 40 or more years,” Sims said. “Clearly it’s time to strengthen and update them to bring about real pay equity for the many working women in Pennsylvania who are still shortchanged.”

House Bill 1890, which was introduced with 45 bipartisan cosponsors, is a part of a larger package of bills supported by the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus.

“The agenda is not just about reproductive health,” Molchany said. “It’s about economic justice, support for families, and making Pennsylvania a national leader in supporting all of its citizens with the tools to succeed.”

“We live in a country that guarantees each of us full equality under the law,” Sims said. “Right now, in this country and in this state, more than half of our population is being insidiously discriminated against. This bill is long overdue.”

This legislation is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, which also includes workplace accommodations for pregnant women, sanitary conditions for nursing mothers, increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings, protections for domestic violence victims and a ban on intimate partner harassment (often referred to as “revenge porn”).

The Women’s Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators partnering with interest groups and advocacy organizations seeking to develop and implement legislation and social policy that protects and respects a woman’s right to make private, personal medical decisions.

One-man Musical Mayhem Comes to Open Stage Jan. 10-11

January 6, 2014

One-man Musical Mayhem Comes to Open Stage Jan. 10-11

Mark D. Lingenfelter brings THE LAUGHS, THE LEGEND, THE LINGENFELTER to Harrisburg on January 10-11, 8 p.m. to Open Stage of Harrisburg, 223 Walnut Street, located on the street level of the Walnut Street Parking Garage in downtown Harrisburg.

The presentation is Mark D. Lingenfelter’s autobiographical one man show comprised of a collection of stories and songs about his life growing up as a preacher’s kid in rural central Pennsylvania with a love of musical theatre.

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“It’s the story of a person wanting to keep everybody happy and looking for a place to fit in,” says Mark. “It’s a coming of age tale, if by “coming of age” you mean someone reaching his mid-thirties and realizing everything he thought he wanted really wasn’t what he wanted anymore. It’s about putting on the quintessential living room musical.”

Lingenfelter is a performer who blogs and vlogs at his own website, adventuresofmark.com, a website devoted to his musings, rants, opinions and
humorous takes on finding the adventure and humor in the every day. The Laughs, The Legend, The Lingenfelter (The Three Ls, for short) is in essence, the live version of the site and uses stories, videos and songs to tell the story of Mark’s life and his take on the world around him.

Lingenfelter has worked in the theatre as a performer, a director, a choreographer and teaching artist. Favorite roles include Frank Shultz in Show Boat, Sir Evelyn in Anything Goes, Hysterium in Forum, David in The Santaland Diaries and various roles in the multi-character comedies Greater Tuna, The Dining Room and The Good Doctor. Directing and Choreography credits include Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Little Women, Lucky Stiff, and Seusical, and for the past two years, he has staged Theatre Harrisburg’s Annual Arts Awards Gala. He has been a teaching artist with Open Stage of Harrisburg and Inside Broadway in New York City.

Admission is $18. Advanced ticket purchase at 717-232-OPEN (6736) or visit openstagehbg.com. The theatre lobby opens one hour prior to performance.

PARTY TIME: Exile at LUX Night Lounge Jan. 4

January 2, 2014

Jan. 4 is the next monthly Bear/Leather/Fetish event at LUX Night Lounge York, PA.

“This coming weekend will be the first Saturday of the month and a whole new year. That means all the Bears, Leathermen and Fetish Guys will be at LUX,” says Charles King, event organizer.

Lux-EXILE-blue-poster

The launch event had “a great turnout and lots of hot men,” King says. LUX Night Lounge offers a full-scale lgbt nightclub venue located at 1327 N. Duke Street, in North York.

Hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is free parking in the club’s lot and nearby on the street. The club can host a capacity of 350 in two large spaces for a total of 4,000 square feet– an enclosed Lounge with barside and other seating and a Dance Area with VIP Seating, table top and lounge areas. The venue nine large screen displays and a 14-foot projection screen in the Dance Area.

Info: 717.793.377