Blog of Rights

Joel
Engardio

There Will Be Days Like This

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 1:27pm
The "Day Without A Gay" protest coming December 10 sounds like a good idea for gays in California who had their fundamental right to marry eliminated by a simple majority vote. When all the gay doctors, waiters, police officers, hairstylists and firefighters call in "gay" and don't show up for work, maybe voters of Proposition 8 will regret having stripped rights away from a group of people they may depend on, but take for granted.

On Mormons, Marriage, Tea Cups and Kettles

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 2:57pm

The lights of local TV cameras seeking gay-on-the-street sound-bites illuminated the darker part of Broadway on the Upper West Side where thousands of people marched the other night chanting, "Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right."

I was one of them, upset and disillusioned that a right could be so easily eliminated for an entire group of people that included me. Sure, New York has never allowed same-sex marriage. But it was a right granted in California until a simple majority of voters decided that gay relationships weren't equal to their own.

I joined up with the march in progress at West 66th Street, in front of Manhattan's Mormon Temple. The spot was significant because California's constitutional amendment was bankrolled largely by the Mormon Church, which urged its members nationwide to donate tens of millions of dollars to stop gay couples and their families from receiving the same legal recognition and protections everyone else enjoys.

Freedom Alert: We're Losing California Marriage

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 11:01am
The right of gay couples to marry in California will be lost on Election Day if current polling trends continue. Please watch this urgent message from Matt Coles, director of the ACLU LGBT Project, and forward widely. If you get an error message while…

The Faces of Constitution Voters

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 3:33pm

Are you a Constitution Voter? We were in Mississippi last Friday for the first presidential debate, and found the Ole Miss campus crawling with students who care about the Constitution. Many of them pledged to vote based on how well they think candidates…

9/11 Families Ask for True Justice

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 1:38pm

A new ACLU video features family members of 9/11 victims calling for federal trials of terrorism suspects.

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google…

Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 10:31am

Most Americans have only seen Guantánamo detainees as one-dimensional caricatures. But a new ACLU video features original footage in which the men talk about their lives — before, after and during their detention by the U.S.

Good News for Gay Christians

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 11:39am

(Originally published in On Faith at washingtonpost.com.)

There's an online group of 13,000 gays who profess their belief in Christ. The Gay Christian Network is a bit of a miracle, given how hostile some religions are to gays.

While fundamental ministers decry the "homosexual agenda" and gay activists deplore "ex-gay treatment," the members of GCN must live the tug-of-war over their sexual identity and faith. That's why gay Christians will benefit from a recent report by the American Psychological Association that says efforts to change someone's sexual orientation don't work.

This isn't news to the many GCN members who are survivors of the programs that failed to turn them straight. But it might be comforting to a number of teens in the online network who fear being sent to a "reparative therapy" camp by their parents. A new generation of gay Christians could be spared pointless misery now that the word's largest association of psychologists has definitively declared ex-gay therapy is quackery.

Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 5:45pm

The Sunday collection plate is as American as religion itself. Americans are religious and generous when it comes to charitable giving. They often go together. There’s Catholic Charities and Mormons famously tithe a percentage of their…

USA Today: Beyond 'Gay Marriage'

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 10:15am

Today's USA Today includes a personal essay by the ACLU's Joel Engardio. Marriage equality is in the courts, the legislature, and the media more than ever before, but "Beyond 'gay marriage'" reminds us:

At its heart, though, it’s often just…

Our Gay Christian Neighbors

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 4:42pm

(Originally posted on the Washington Posts's On Faith blog.)

Near San Francisco's gay center, past the hill where Castro becomes Divisadero Street, a portable sidewalk sign points to City Church. That's where evangelical Christians gather every Sunday for worship in a converted theater. They are true believers: Jesus saves, Satan is real, sex is for the married and marriage is for the straight.

I didn't think a market for such beliefs existed in San Francisco, but hundreds of people and a full balcony proved me wrong. There were back-to-back services the day I attended. The congregants looked no different than the employees I saw on a visit to Google's Bay Area campus. These evangelicals wore Skechers, watched hulu, twittered and composted. They were high-tech professionals in their 20s and 30s who were mostly pro-life and partook of the body of Christ each Sunday. Many even voted Democrat because, abortion aside, it was the party they said that focused most on what mattered to Jesus — the poor, sick and environment. Same-sex marriage wasn't a factor because Barack Obama was against it.

I visited City Church because I wanted to see who in San Francisco might have voted for Proposition 8, which banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California. Nearly a quarter of San Francisco voters favored the ban, and that surprised me. Sure, the Bay Area overwhelmingly supported gays marrying, but in Silicon Valley — home to Google, YouTube, iPhone and a number of churches like City Church — 44 percent of voters didn't.

Alabama has the highest percentage of evangelicals, but by sheer size California has the greatest number: Two million, according to the Christian research firm Barna Group. The votes over marriage in California last year totaled 13 million and gays lost by 52 to 48 percent. That means any fraction of evangelicals changing their mind in the next, close election could make a difference.

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