Vignettes of equality

As you've probably seen in the news, the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in California.

It was pretty energizing to hear San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on the radio the day of the announcement, speaking at an impromptu rally at City Hall.

Today I heard George Takei, who played Sulu on the original Star Trek, on the Stephanie Miller radio show, talk about his wedding plans with his partner of over 20 years. They'll be getting married at the Japanese American museum and cultural center in Los Angeles.

When I first moved to New York City in 1989, I read the Village Voice regularly. There were still a couple of sexual revolutionaries writing for the paper then, and they saw marriage as bourgeois and counterrevolutionary, whether straight or gay. Interesting how things have changed for many gays and lesbians, who just want to have their committed relationships recognized on an equal basis with straight couples. (And let's put in a good word for transgendered people to get married, too. We need a gender matrix, not just a gender spectrum, don't you think?)

San Francisco Meeting has recognized same-sex marriage since 1971. Yet, from what I understand, we've never taken a same-sex marriage under our care. Perhaps now is the time.


Guest post by KW: A disciplined Rule

This is from KW in SF Meeting, quoted from an email he recently sent:
We are a disciplined Rule, more disciplined than the British army, as disciplined as the Trappists, and at a very deep level. To be a Friend is to learn to have a deep sense of others' credibility, a profound deference for their views, -- and for the need to wrestle to agree on stuff. It's hard.
I asked K for permission to post to my blog, and he wrote, "Thank you for your recent letter." He must have overlooked my request in the midst of other business about which I was writing. I will see him at our meeting's annual Memorial Day retreat at Quaker Center in Ben Lomond, and will check to make sure he's okay with this.


Trees of Righteousness

Today was the last day of College Park Quarterly Meeting's spring session at Ben Lomond Quaker Center, under the redwoods.

Robin M. has already blogged about the session from on site at Quaker Center. I'm back on the land line at home.

The official theme for the weekend was diversity and differences among Friends. I missed most of the special sessions on the topic, though. Instead, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the children's program, both to be present to my sons, especially Six Year Old, after a week of many evening or morning meetings for work; and to give moral support and a listening ear to the single member of the Children's Program Committee who actually attended the sessions.

There was a fair amount of discussion throughout the weekend. One exercise, which I missed, involved people placing adhesive dots on several ribbons that each illustrated a spectrum between poles of several axes of diversity: gender identity, sexual orientation, seasoned Friend or new, young/old, etc. Interestingly, class was one of the axes, but "white/person of color" was not.

For me, the spectrum from "Bible-centered/Christ-centered" to "nontheist," with the label "universalist" on the middle, was simply inadequate. There are nontheists who are strictly a-theistic, and there are some who acknowledge a mystery greater than ourselves which they cannot with integrity give a name to. There are Christian universalists. I clearly am a Quaker who reads the Bible, yet personally, being "in the middle" didn't seem to fit, because I identify somewhat with all these pieces. Perhaps fortunately, I missed doing the exercise in real time, so it was only intellectual for me at that point.

I had promised to participate in a Saturday interest group on "Scripture as a guide to Friends." For me, this was the real theme of the weekend. Fortunately, I didn't have to prepare anything, and the primary person who was asked to help with this interest group actually had done a great worksheet that I'll write about later.

I also attended half of Bible study both Saturday and Sunday, so that added to the scriptural focus for me.

Today, the plenary session ended with worship sharing on some queries about diversity. It was quite powerful. After a short break, we entered intergenerational meeting for worship with the children among us for about 35 minutes. Ministry rose up that had started working in me during the worship sharing. There was a piece I meant to include at the end, which I left out and which seems right to include at the end of this brief summary here:
According to the book of Luke, Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee with the scroll of Isaiah, at the start of what we label chapter 61: "The LORD has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. This is the year when the LORD God will show kindness to us."

The passage goes on to say, "The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn... He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. They will be called "Trees of Justice," planted by the LORD to honor his name."

I believe Jesus was referring to this passage when, in Mark, he said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted... Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they will be filled."

We are called to different pieces of this work of justice, whether to end the death penalty, end the war in Iraq, teach young people, teach adults, or bring ethical principles into business.
What I didn't say, but which caused me to choke up when reading the phrase "Trees of Righteousness," is how much I have gained by getting to know the sturdy Quaker trees of my monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings. Praise be to God that I have been given these blessings, these blessed Friends!


Another Quaker teacher fired over California's loyalty oath

Hat tip to Common Dreams:
Published on Friday, May 2, 2008 by The Los Angeles Times

Teacher Fired For Refusing To Sign Loyalty Oath

Cal State system ousts another instructor who objects on religious grounds to a pledge adopted by California in 1952 to root out communists.
Here's my choice for a pull-quote from this article:
The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Note that the oath itself is part of the California state constitution, and is thus literally constitutional at the state level, and I believe it has been litigated in the federal courts. What's less clear is how much leeway or interpretation is allowed the state employee. Previously, Quaker Marianne Kearney-Brown was reinstated at Cal State East Bay after the Attorney General's office issued an opinion saying that "defending the constitution" did not require taking up arms.


And this is (part of) why I live in the Bay Area

But first: Maybe I should live in Aotearoa/New Zealand. If you don't read the blogs of Jarrod McKenna or Wess Daniels -- though if you read my blog, then you probably do (or maybe you ARE Jarrod or Wess :) then you might not have seen this post by Jarrod about ANZAC Ploughshares deflating a dome for a spy satellite dish in Aotearoa/New Zealand:

ANZAC Ploughshares!!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The San Jose Mercury News reports today the Eyes Wide Open exhibit will be back in the Bay Area, after being front-page news in 2005:

Palo Alto to host exhibit highlighting human cost of Iraq war
The traveling American Friends Service Committee's exhibit called "Eyes Wide Open," showing the human cost of the Iraq war, is coming to Palo Alto this weekend.... The display, at King Plaza in front of City Hall at 250 Hamilton Avenue, opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and closes on Sunday at 6 p.m. The idea was started by the American Friends, a pacifist Quaker organization.
And you may have heard about this event up and down the West Coast. From SF Chronicle/sfgate.com:
Dockworkers walk off job at ports up and down coast to protest war