For Immediate Release, Wednesday August 21, 2009

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

For many years those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer have known of anecdotal evidence that our sexual orientation or gender orientation is a basic part of our make-up.  Loving someone of the same gender is not a choice we consciously make one morning, nor is this something that can be changed by altering some ‘selection switch’.  Likewise, the idea that a person wakes up one morning and decides to go through the emotionally and physically painful process to change their gender on a whim is just as ridiculous.  Experience of psychological professionals has shown that such feelings cannot be ‘repaired.’  As the song says, “I am who I am.” Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) declared that no solid evidence exists that such “reparative” change is likely, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.  Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns applauds this recognition.

The APA is a 150,000 member organization of mental health professionals.  They are the most authoritative organization for issues of counseling, therapy, and mental and emotional health.  For this report, a six-member task force of the APA spent two years examining over 80 studies on sexual orientation change that dated back to 1960.  At their national meeting in early August, the APA's governing council adopted a resolution in support of the report on an overwhelming 125-to-4 vote.

Many of us have experienced, or know people who were subjected to, the so-called “reparative therapy” which seeks to change sexual orientation.  We recognize the fallacy of this effort.  At best, people learn how to mask their true feelings.  We cannot remove the same-sex orientation, but we can learn different-sex appreciation.

The decision of the APA also highlights the great harm created by those individuals and groups who continue to insist that change is somehow possible.  Affirmation recognizes that unfortunately The United Methodist Church is among these groups. While not promoting this discredited view as vocally as some organizations, the current policies in The Book of Discipline are based on an attitude of denying our God-given gifts and accepting us only if we can change.  This viewpoint is wrong from a mental health standpoint, as well as from a scriptural one that claims that we are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Nor is it being faithful to John Wesley’s declaration to ‘Do No Harm’.  Affirmation calls upon our denomination to recognize this great evil in its midst and realize that only when we love our neighbors in all their diversity, do we truly love God.  Remove the hate-filled statutes opposing our ordination and the recognition of our relationships.  It’s time for The United Methodist Church to live up to its advertising and truly “Open Doors” to all – especially those of its children who are specially gifted with same-sex orientation or transgender identities.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us: email: umaffirmation@... Affirmation web: http://www.umaffirm.org

For immediate release, Wednesday 5/20/2009

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

The season of Easter is a time of renewal, of love reborn, of hope rekindled, and of the resurrection of the One who is Life.  This Easter, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns, joins with others in the larger faith community in celebrating the recent decisions affirming same-sex marriage.  The Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the case of Varnum v. Brien, understands that different-sex and same-sex families have value and are to be legally recognized, honored, protected, and celebrated.  Affirmation was an Amicus in the case that resulted in this ruling.  Likewise, both the Vermont and Maine Legislatures and Governors have very wisely acknowledged that civil unions are not the same as marriage.  All loving couples deserve equal status and protection.  In addition, the legislative debates and decisions in New Hampshire and New York state legislatures are very encouraging.

This good news is not universally celebrated.  Alas, people are generally resistant to change, even when that change is to a more caring and loving and equal society.  While some people will still say these decisions are opposed to ‘God’s Will’, a clearer reading of the Scriptures does not support discrimination of same-sex individuals or couples.  Rather, we are to celebrate and use all of our gifts for God’s service in this world.

There will also be voices calling for popularist votes on this issue.  Yet even in this Easter season we cannot forget the voices of Lent, and particularly of Holy Week.  Those community actions so long ago show what can happen when mob rule takes over.  Rarely does a society grant civil rights to the oppressed.  It frequently takes strong individuals, such as currently sit in the Iowa Supreme Court and in the Maine and Vermont government, to guide our society into equality.

We recognize that these are civil decisions and not religious ones.  We hope the United Methodists of Iowa, Maine, Vermont, and eventually the entire United Methodist Church, will be able to rejoice in these decisions and honor those who choose marriage for their lives.  We pray for the best for all couples, both different-sex and same-sex, who decide to officially marry.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us: email: umaffirmation@... Affirmation web: http://www.umaffirm.org

For Immediate Release, Saturday November 28, 2009

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

'I've got good news and I've got bad news.' This stock line begins several
jokes. However, voting about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and queer folk is certainly not a joke. Affirmation: United
Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns
mourns the recent vote against marriage equality in Maine, while we
celebrate the vote in Washington affirming the rights of couples entering
into civil unions. People frequently refer to this as the 'everything but
marriage' law.

It is disturbing that our civil rights, our very lives and relationships are
being put to a vote. It is rare for civil rights to be granted by a vote of
society. The right of inter-racially different-gender couples to marry was
ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court. While some states
approved of these relationships, even in 2009 there are individuals who
disapprove. The United Methodist Church officially approves of the
ordination of women. Yet there remain congregations today who are still
uncomfortable with this belief. Probably the term 'marriage' vs. that of
'civil union' factored into the different election results in Maine and
Washington. Many people are still reluctant to expand their understanding
of marriage, of love, and of relationships.

And yet, Affirmation members remain a people of faith and of hope. As we
approach our 35th birthday as an organization, we recognize the distance we
have come in changes to the larger society. Thirty five years ago, few
people could even conceive of the idea of full marriage equality. At that
time, a vote would have been extremely lopsided against us. Today we are
usually within 5% to 10% of gaining acceptance. Our path through the tunnel
still appears very long and dark. However, we do see the light of hope at
the end of it. The Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout our country,
working to change hearts, minds, and votes. Affirmation looks forward to
the continue work of the Spirit, both in secular society and in our
denomination.

-30-

As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer
people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming
gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church
as we journey with the Spirit in creating God's beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and
Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization
with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us:
umaffirmation_at_yahoo.com
http://www.umaffirm.org

For Immediate Release, Wednesday January 20, 2010

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns is pleased and excited that Annise Parker has taken the oath of  office as the mayor of Houston, TX, and that Amanda Simpson is being considered for a position in the United States Commerce Department. People selected these women for these positions based on their skills, abilities, and merit. Our secular society has made major progress in being able to accept these out Queer women into these jobs. In the recent elections in Houston, the citizens showed that Annise's being a lesbian was not a factor in their choosing her to be their mayor. Similarly, Amanda's transitioning
did not cause her removal from consideration for a governmental job. We pray that someday soon The United Methodist Church will likewise learn such wisdom in selecting its ordained clergy leaders.

-30-

As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God's beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us:
umaffirmation_at_yahoo.com
http://www.umaffirm.org

For Immediate Release, Wednesday July 31, 2010

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

God's Spirit was clearly at work at the 2010 General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (USA). Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns supports their decision to ordain
gay and lesbian clergy who are in same-gender relationships. By this
action, the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins an ever growing number of
Judeo-Christian faith groups who recognize that God calls a variety of
people for the special service of ordination. More people of faith are
recognizing that God does not place limitations of race, of gender, of
physical abilities, nor of sexual orientation, on who God calls for service.
A majority of the local presbyteries still need to confirm this action.
While this confirmation has not occurred in the past, the number of
supportive presbyteries continues to increase. We pray that this time a
majority of the presbyteries will respond to God's Spirit and uphold this
decision.

Unfortunately, the General Assembly effectively tabled all discussion of the
definition of a marriage. The proposed statement would define a marriage as
being between two people, rather than the limited image of only opposite
gender individuals. The committee proposing this change approved it by a
wide margin of 47 in favor with only 8 in opposition. By this action they
neither approved nor rejected the change. They avoided the discussion. The
good news is that now the Assembly is sending both the majority opinion and
the minority opinion to all of the presbyteries to discuss. The eventual
approval of this matter is important to the ongoing ministries of the
denominational congregations and clergy. An increasing number of states are
recognizing the value of love between two adult persons, regardless of their
gender. Without the passage of this change, churches are limited in their
ministry to their members.

Affirmation is encouraged that the Assembly is sending both opinions to the
whole denomination. At least the Presbyterian Church (USA) is able to
acknowledge here that they are not of one mind. They are acknowledging a
healthy difference of opinion. We mourn that The United Methodist Church is
still not even to this point. Hopefully, the 2012 United Methodist General
Conference will be able to acknowledge that we are not all in agreement.
Perhaps, as has occurred with more and more faith groups, we will soon
celebrate God's call of service to all people and the love God gives us
between two adult people.

-30-

As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer
people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming
gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church
as we journey with the Spirit in creating God's beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and
Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization
with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us:
umaffirmation_at_yahoo.com
<http://www.umaffirm.org/> http://www.umaffirm.org

Past Affirmation press releases are available at:
<http://group.yahoo.com/group/UMAffirmation_PressRelease/messages>
http://group.yahoo.com/group/UMAffirmation_PressRelease/messages

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