Online Extra: Wedding Bell Blues: Robinson bringing God Believes in Love to Grace Cathedral
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Prominent gay religious leader Bishop Gene Robinson will be in San Francisco this weekend to talk about his book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage.
Robinson, who was the first out gay person elected to the episcopate when he became bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, will appear at 9:30 a.m., Sunday, October 7 at Grace Cathedral's Gresham Hall, 1100 California Street, San Francisco, as part of the church's Forum series.
Robinson's election helped lead to a call from some Anglican Church leaders for the Episcopalians to stop authorizing same-sex unions and stop allowing lesbians and gays to take high positions in the church. He plans to retire as bishop in 2013.
In the book, which was published in September, Robinson addresses 10 questions people frequently ask about same-sex marriage. Each of the queries, which range from "Why gay marriage now?" to "What if my religion doesn't believe in gay marriage?" gets a chapter.
In a phone interview Monday, October 1, Robinson, who married his longtime partner, Mark Andrew, in January 2010, said the book has a few target audiences.
One is "people who would probably consider themselves tolerant of gay and lesbian people," but who don't always support same-sex marriage and ask the types of questions addressed in the book."
"Equally, my sense is that gay and lesbian people themselves, as well as our allies, would be a little more vocal in their advocacy, except they don't have the words to use" when family members or co-workers ask why they should support marriage equality, Robinson said.
Robinson uses personal anecdotes throughout the book, such as in the chapter devoted to "What's wrong with civil unions?" when he recalls the experience of two men who came New Hampshire to get married.
After filling out the paperwork, one of the men burst into tears.
"I had no idea this would mean so much to be," Robinson quotes his friend as saying. "I was there, filling out this stupid form with all my information in order to be able to affirm and support my relationship with Dan – the relationship which for 25 years the government hasn't acknowledged or given a damn about. ... And when the town clerk, the lowly representative of the government, congratulated us and wished us well in our marriage – and genuinely seemed to mean it – I nearly lost it right there! I had no idea!"
Hospital workers, law enforcement officials, and others may not be aware of the rights people in civil unions have, and "a simple 'We are married' takes care of the confusion," Robinson, who was once married to a woman and has two children, says in the book.
After his Forum appearance Sunday, Robinson will preach at the 11 a.m. choral Eucharist. For more information, visit http://www.gracecathedral.org.
Napolitano announces support for same-sex binational couples
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced recently that she plans to direct the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to issue guidance to field offices codifying that LGBT family ties would be recognized in immigration cases.
In a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) dated Thursday, September 27, Napolitano said, "In an effort to make clear the definition of the phrase 'family relationships,' I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase 'family relationships' includes long-term, same-sex partners."
Napolitano added that "as with every factor" identified in a June 2011 memorandum from ICE Director John Morton, "the applicability of the 'family relationships' factor is weighed on an individualized basis in the consideration of whether prosecutorial discretion is appropriate in a given case. "Napolitano's announcement is in response to an August letter sent by Pelosi and other members of Congress calling on DHS to recognize the ties of same-sex partners or spouses "as a positive factor for discretionary relief in immigration enforcement deportation cases," a Pelosi spokesman said in an email blast.
Many same-sex couples where one partner is from another country have faced being split up when the foreign-born partner is threatened with deportation.
In a statement, Pelosi said Napolitano's directive "is welcome and will provide a measure of clarity and confidence to families dealing with separation in immigration cases. Our nation is served when loving families are kept together."
However, Pelosi said, there's "more to do."
She said, "We need to pass the Uniting American Families Act and the Reuniting Families Act," which address binational same-sex couples, and relegate the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships "to the dustbin of history."
"From supporting marriage equality to seeking fairness in our immigration laws, the Obama Administration has embraced progress for LGBT families – progress that will and must continue," Pelosi added.
PFLAG-SF launches fundraising effort for Washington marriage campaign
The San Francisco chapter of Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays is working with Washington United for Marriage to raise money and publicize that state's Referendum 74. The measure, which is on the November 6 ballot, would uphold a bill Washington lawmakers approved earlier this year that recognizes same-sex couples' right to marry.
The local PFLAG chapter produced and launched the video, which is titled Meet Ray and Lori and features two of the national group's San Francisco board members. Lori, a Chinese-American woman, discusses historical marriage bans that would have banned her marriage to Ray, who's white and grew up in Washington.
For more information and to view the video, visit PFLAG-SF's fundraising page at https://secure.qgiv.com/hobnob/team/9946.
Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson