Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Missouri River Flips!

The last yes vote on amendment B came in last night. Missouri River Valley voted 50-41-6 in favor! Previously, that presbytery consistently had voted against equality. 34 presbyteries flipped from a previous no to a yes on equality!

Of the two remaining presbyteries, one will not vote, and the other will likely be a voice vote no. This Missouri vote was nice as according to this article a committee of legislation had advised the presbytery to take 'no action' which would have been the same as a no.

The final score will be 78-95 (or 78-93-2 as two presbyteries didn't vote).
It is much closer than that. I am pleased that Bruce Hahne painstakingly did the stats for this. Here is his latest wrap (not including tonight's vote).

The "popular" vote (not including Missouri River Valley) was 10,359 in favor to 10,791 opposed or 49%-51%. That's tight.


Even the presbytery vote was closer than 78-95 shows.
If nine more presbyteries had voted yes, it would have passed, 87-86.

Here are the nine with the closest no votes. They are listed with their final vote. If the number of commissioners (in parentheses) had voted yes instead of no, it would have taken only 20 votes to turn this. Twenty out of over 21,000.


Cincinnati--83-83 (1)

Central Nebraska--21-21 (1)

Mission 181-181 (1)

Pines--34-36 (2)

Carlisle--71-74 (2)

Homestead--37-40 (2)

Florida--41-46 (3)
St. Augustine--68-75 (4)

Eastern Oklahoma--49-56 (4)

If a butterfly beat her wing a different direction in the Amazon, it would have happened.

Mini-rant: People on both sides didn't think it could happen. Before the voting even started, allies (
allies!?) were defeatist and threw in the towel with the "no action" option. Better not to try in the first place than to try and lose?

A lot of good things happened this year. The General Assembly ruled a 30 year authoritative interpretation as having no further force or effect. Beautiful.

The General Assembly also passed
ye olde scruple (which might make it possible for some LGBT people to be ordained) so we take what we can get. Between now and June 2010 when the next General Assembly meets we will likely have some court cases ("scruple me this, Batman").

One session has already sent a delete G-6.0106b to its presbytery.

Not sure yet what the opposition will be up to doing. They might try to pass some moratorium on voting or whatever.


I am for a moratorium. Along with a moratorium on voting to remove G-6.0106b, I propose a moratorium on court cases. No more court cases against LGBT people, sessions, or presbyteries. Allow LGBT candidates to be ordained and let G-6.0106b stay in the book for all I care (as it says nothing about LGBT people anyway).

I am not talking about the scruple thing. I mean no scruples, hassles, extra hoops, or court cases regarding LGBT ordination. Period. In return, for the other side, to respect their freedom of conscience, no hassling of those who refuse to participate in an ordination/installation service of an LGBT candidate.

I am not sure how that would be written up and I am not sure if both sides could compromise on this.
Who knows? Maybe the General Assembly will work a miracle and allow a compromise that will respect freedom of conscience for everyone without having to go through another vote.

I do know that from my side, anything short of allowing ordination/installation of LGBT persons is not acceptable.
After all, we are only 20 commissioner votes away.

Kudos and many, many thanks to More Light Presbyterians, Covenant Network, That All May Freely Serve and all who worked with them.

Thanks especially to all those who attended presbytery meetings and told the truth.

Thanks also to those in the opposition who were gracious through this. I do know that most who voted no are not homophobic, against equality, or mean spirited. We are all struggling to do the right thing. We do need to find a space large enough to protect the freedom of conscience of the minority (whoever that minority will be).

Many important stories were told in this process. Many hearts and minds were changed. It was disappointing, I know. But, we will get there and the journey itself is gracious. The ultimate hope is that there will not be two sides but one.


16 comments:

  1. 20 votes. Wow. So close. Shouldn't be to hard to get 20 commissioners to presbytery meetings in 2010 to vote on the Northside Amendment.

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  2. BTW, I love that Missouri River defied expectations (particularly the crowing of the LayMAN yesterday predicting they'd take no action) and voted on B anyway.

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  3. I'm so proud of the presbytery that ordained me.

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  4. Wow,

    And what about the number of Presbyterians they represent?

    I bet that the membership in the Presbyteries that voted for equality greatly outnumbers those that voted to continue oppressing the LGBT community.

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  5. Jodie,

    Sorry to disappoint you, but the presbyteries that voted Yes on 08-B only represented about 51.5% of PC(USA) members (using 2006 membership numbers). It is pretty close no matter how you look at it, but at least this way it is greater than 50% for equality.

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  6. Adding to what I wrote earlier:

    I wouldn't think this way of looking at the numbers is very valid, considering that half of the votes come from the Clergy members. It's the Clergy that tend to be progressive not the pew sitters.

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  7. Arthur,

    Maybe, but on this topic I think the general population is coming around to accepting gays as regular people faster than the clergy. At least among the college educated.

    And there is a definite generational thing too. My kids think nothing of it and wonder why anybody ever did. It's not that they are rebelling. It's way past that. To them, LGBTs are just another part of the scenery of life.

    It would be interesting if the general population did the vote instead of the Presbyteries. Just to see where the average pew sitters really sit.

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  8. The number one factor in regards to acceptance is when the "issue" is shown in reality to be people we know.

    It is a great deal more difficult to discriminate against June and Marsha than an abstraction like The Gay.

    That is why these votes are so important. People get a chance to hear stories if not always from at least about real people that our abstract ideologies harm.

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  9. @Jodie

    "I think the general population is coming around to accepting gays as regular people faster than the clergy."

    I tend to think so too, but I haven't seen any data in support or against that. It may be out there, I just haven't seen it.

    "And there is a definite generational thing too."

    Absolutely! Unfortunately our denomination is graying. This is not good news. I suspect those young people who are leaving the church are exactly the ones we need.

    @John

    "The number one factor in regards to acceptance is when the "issue" is shown in reality to be people we know."

    Do you think the Clergy's relative tendency toward acceptance is possibly due to a higher degree of familiarity?

    We pew sitters can just walk away and see/learn nothing, but Clergy are more likely to stick around and see the influence of the Spirit.

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  10. "I tend to think so too, but I haven't seen any data in support or against that. It may be out there, I just haven't seen it."

    There is a new poll examining mainline Protestant clergy and their support for LGBT rights that shows support for either civil unions or marriage at over 60% (~30% support marriage, ~30% support civil unions. The number who support marriage is something like 30%, I think, which is less than the population at large, however, if asked if they'd support marriage if they don't have to conduct the ceremony, the number comes closer to the population at large.

    http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=18133

    Hard to compare the numbers though because all these polls ask differently worded questions.

    Notice, by the way, that if Arthur's numbers are correct and the "Yes" vote this year represented 51.5% of Presbyterians, but only 49% of the votes cast, that the vote is skewed in favor of the far right. It isn't a huge difference, but we've been hearing for years from the right wingnut propaganda machines about how this whole process is designed to marginalize so-called conservatives and how the whole PCUSA is skewed in favor of us godless liberal socialist fascist gay atheists. Clearly that isn't the case and we've got the numbers to prove it.

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  11. Arthur,

    I think regardless whether people are clergy or laity, familiarity generally leads to acceptance.

    The exception is when ideology is so strong. Fundamentalist clergy hate gay people so much that familiarity is not a factor.

    Most normal decent people have the ability to have their consciences raised. But when ideology is too strong (fueled by religiously-endorsed bigotry) then even parents reject their own children (with whom they are certainly familiar).

    This is what we see within the right wing of the church.

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  12. @Alan

    "Notice, by the way, that if Arthur's numbers are correct and the "Yes" vote this year represented 51.5% of Presbyterians, but only 49% of the votes cast, that the vote is skewed in favor of the far right..."

    I think we need to be careful what we try to conclude here. It has been my opinion that our Sessions don't constitute a valid random sampling of our congregations (they aren't really intended to be), and we only send a small sub-set of them to vote at Presbytery. I think the skewness you observed may itself be somewhat random. So 51.5% or 49%? I think the confidence bands are so large (relative to your hypothesis) that you can't really distinguish, and I mean neither the fundies or the progressives.

    @John

    "I think regardless whether people are clergy or laity, familiarity generally leads to acceptance."

    I agree, but I was asking if you thought Clergy might be more motivated to engage with people whom they might otherwise be motivated to avoid if they weren't Clergy.

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  13. @John

    "The exception is when ideology is so strong. Fundamentalist clergy hate gay people so much that familiarity is not a factor."

    I spent most of the day today convinced in my own mind that my faith wouldn't allow me to be as cynical as you appear to be in the above statement.

    Then I read this screed: http://www.robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm

    It ruined my whole day!

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  14. Yes, but Gagnon is clearly a mental case.

    I would not be surprised to find out he has an addiction to male prostitutes. He so fits the profile.

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  15. Jodie,

    I've seen you write similar things about other people in the past, and truth be told, I've given it very little appreciation. This time though, I think you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is a lot of people really like what this guy says. What really burns me about his latest nonsense is the total lack of documentation. That's pretty low even for him.

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  16. Arthur,

    I don't know about whom I've made similar comments. Care to remind me?

    "The problem is a lot of people really like what this guy says."

    They also liked what Ted Haggard used to say.

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