Where there is love, there is Justice

This was the sermon I delivered at the Multi-Faith Prayer Service in Washington, DC on Sunday April 26 for for Unite for Marriage.  It was delivered at the National City Christian Church.

Where there is love there is Justice. We gather here in this sacred place for seeking many things. We seek strength from one another as our lives are under scrutiny once again by the nation’s highest court. We fill our hearts with love for one another. We prayerfully seek God’s holy presence by our side. You O Holy one did not you make us also in your image? Everyday our humanity is questioned. Our humanity is daily threatened by so much pain and violence, an assault on personhood.  Our dignity is daily threatened by words and deeds across this nation as LGBT people seek to live and love in peace.  This night before our case is presented in the earthly court we appeal to Divine Justice in Your Heavenly Court, God.  We know that love and justice flows from You. You taught us with your words and deeds. You advised us to pursue justice vociferously. Tzedek Tzedek tirdof, Justice justice you shall pursue. And we have lived your words.  This LGBTQ movement for equality has been on the move. State by state. Conversation by conversation, lawsuit by lawsuit, wins and losses at the ballot box. But we have kept moving forward. Pursue justice You told us and that what we all have done and worked for activist, lawyers, and the everyday people who just wanted to marry their partner whether they were together 5 months, 5 years or 50 years  Tuesday the Supreme Court can bring about a full measure of Your justice God by extending marriage equality throughout this land. The time for love is now. The time for justice is now. For where there is love there is justice.

A teacher took a group of high school seniors on a nature hike. They walked along the winding trail of a steep hillside until they reached an area that looked out over a lush valley. The rocky hill behind them stood in stark contrast to the terraced slopes before them on which olive trees and grapevines were planted.

“Isn’t it remarkable,” said the teacher, “that right on the other side of this hill is a rocky slope that leads down to a muddy river. But on this side is a fertile valley where things are blossoming

“The same sun shines on both sides of this hill and the same clouds bring rain to this whole area. Yet, most of the growth is happening over here,” the teacher said, pointing to the valley before them.

The students looked about and nodded silent.

“I want you to think about this,” the teacher continued.  “At one time the valley wasn’t so lush and green. It was rocky and the landscape looked the same as the hill behind us.

“But with vision and hard work, the rocks were removed, the ground terraced, the soil prepared, trees and vines were planted. Lovingly the ground was nurtured. And after a while things took root and began to grow. For where there is love, there is growth.

“This valley is what your life can become,” the teacher said.  “Until now, everything you’ve learned, experienced has brought you to the place where the rocks have been cleared away. You will grow more.

In a few weeks you will graduate, the teacher told the seniors and then it will be up to you to build the terraces and plant the seeds that will develop throughout your lives. You will have the responsibility to love the land, to nurture it and help it grow.

“No work, no planting”, the teacher commented as he pointed to the rocky hillside behind them, “you’ll end up with a lot of obstacles to negotiate around.

“A plan and hard work will yield a fruitful growth, the teacher said pointing to the valley below. “it will take even more hard work to maintain this kind of growth , but which would you rather your life resemble.  (Bits and Pieces, Ragan Communications).

No matter the decision of the court win or lose, we will as a community need to maintain the growth and justice that we have sought. In either case we must love more-for where there is love there is justice. Even if we have a successful outcome in June and marriage bells ring across the land our work to bring justice and equality will not be over. There are still rocky cliffs in our way. We need full employment protection and protections in housing and education.  We need to adopt our children without hurdles and have access to the health care.

Our work for justice will continue no matter the outcome in June.

Through prophet Micah We were instructed: What does God require of you? Only Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Your God.  This is what we have done in the courts and at the ballot box and in our daily lives. We have sought to uplift equality and liberty for LGBT people. And tonight we seek, God, Your Loving Presence. Walk with us! Share Your bounty and abundant love with all those who seek to create a world where human dignity is lifted on high. For where there Your love is, there is justice. Teach us to do as You have instructed us despite our neighbors’ objections. To love them as ourselves. Spreading Your message of unending love. Ahavat Olam. Eternal love  for Your creations

We gather here tonight to inspire each other and to send a message loud and clear to everyone in this nation. That people of faith stand with the LGBT community. This is not religion against queer people but rather a revolution has occurred and I am proud to be a part of this. At the core of my religious faith is the eternal promise of justice for all.  Not for some but a vision that one day all people of good will and good faith and no faith shall sing in one voice an anthem of peace and liberty.  And we cannot gather tonight only 35 miles from Baltimore when there are others who lack equality and justice. Our community has known police brutality. After all the Stonewall riots were a response in 1969 to continued police harassment. And there will be no justice and equality until all are at the table

In Jewish tradition we teach that the Sabbath is a foretaste of the world to Come. A messianic time of peace for all people. It is not  limited to just some folks but is available to everyone. The Sabbath is a model of how the world might be. A world where we aren’t rushed or preoccupied with work. A world where poverty and violence are gone. A world where someone always has your back. A world where children go to bed at night with warm full bellies, safe and secure knowing they are loved. The Sabbath is the taste of the ideal where we can rest from our labors and enjoy the true gift of freedom and taste God’s abundance bounty and give thanks for that bounty. Our gathering tonight is a similar taste of that world. To help us imagine a world where LGBT people are always safe from violence. A world where we can taste the bounty of our love and equality. A world where there is no poverty of the body or the spirit. A world whether you pray to Jesus or Allah, Krishna or meditate on the energy of life can join in peaceful communion. A world where everyone’s got your back. A world where police protect the innocent rather than murder them. A world where the Supreme Court avoids politics and truly seeks justice and equality for all of Americas citizens including extending civil marriage equality throughout this nation.  For where there is love, there is justice.

Joint Statement in Response to Yehuda Levin on the Death of Leiby Kletzky.

The murder of Leiby Kletzky was a tragic event that has brought together people of all faiths and creeds in grief and heartache. Young Leiby’s death reminds us that consolation comes from all peoples, not just peoples of a particular stripe.

 

The disgusting attribution made by Yehuda Levin, that young Leiby’s death happened because of the recent acceptance of same sex marriage in the state of New York is a bastardization of Jewish law and a deep insensitivity to the family of this innocent and sweet child. Yehuda Levin’s public displays are an abomination.

 

Some in the Jewish faith might be opposed to marriage for gay men and lesbians while others celebrate this law as a watershed moment of our religious history . In essence, those differing views are the beauty of Judaism; different colors and voices that make the tapestry and harmony of the Jewish religion.

  As our Sages teach: “These and these are the voice of the Living God.” But, no one in our tradition can take any comfort in the senseless death of this young boy, regardless of his religion, background or orientation.

 

Our good senses might tell us to ignore such fringe behavior exemplified by Yehuda Levin. However, trivializing the murder of this boy undermines the very core principles that are undeniably part of our Jewish faith. For this reason, we cannot sit by silently while the props and garb of Judaism are being used in disguise to espouse un-Jewish behavior.

 

We condemn, without reservation, these deeply painful correlations of Leiby’s death. We offer our condolences to the Kletzky family. May Leiby Kletzky’s soul be bound in the bond of life. May his memory be a blessing.

 

Rabbi Denise 

 L. Eger

Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

Temple Emanu-El, Closter NJ

Always a Bridemaids Never a Groom

Please see my good friend Robin Tyler’s amazing and funny Show on June 19 at the Acme Theatre on La Brea.

ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A GROOM (the love story behind Prop 8). 

Performing Artists  Robin Tyler When: Sunday 06/19/11 3:00 PM Ticket Price: $25.00 for Ticket without dinner discount. $30.00 for Ticket plus 25% Amalfi Dinner Discount. Show Type: Comedy Showroom: Guest Shows Robin Tyler performs her solo comedy show, ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A GROOM (the love story behind Prop 8). REVIEW: Robin Tyler’s Play is Brilliant! Nicole Murray-Ramirez social published 23 Sept. 2010 Robin Tyler’s one woman play, “Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Groom,” met with rave reviews during its run at the Diversionary Theater-it was like a walk through the history of our GLBT movement in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70,s, 80,s, 90’s-and present-just simply brilliant and a must see play which I predict will win every award there is-can’t wait to see this play on film! REVIEW: Robin Tyler’s “Bridesmaid” is a must see. Joyful romp through her life story is a buoyant trip through gay history Morgan M. Hurley – SDGLN Copy Editor September 17th, 2010 “Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Groom”, is a fabulous and delightful romp through her personal and mostly public life, which frankly reads just like the encyclopedia of gay history. With just a stool and a small table at her side, Robin dutifully chronicles her life story for the audience, interspersing it with her quick wit, audience interaction, and a multimedia presentation that includes old photos, newspaper clippings, home videos and television footage, in a montage that is all at once fun, passionate and historically riveting. I found myself totally enamored with the bold and gregarious entertainer she was, long before I knew her name. You must go see this show. When it is over, you will feel exuberant, personally empowered and exceptionally honored to have been in such an intimate setting with this living legend. Check out Robin in Phyllis Diller’s First Annual Women Comics Show in 1979: http://youtu.be/BUB5w5anVLc Tickets: $25 online, ticket without dinner discount. $30 online, ticket plus 25% Amalfi dinner discount. $30 at the door (dinner discount not available at door). Enjoy fantastic dinner and drinks before or after the show at the adjoining Amalfi Ristorante & Bar! Info and reservations at http://www.AmalfiRistorante.com.

Click here for more info or to order tickets

Squelching weddings

The Ninth Circuit Court could have lived up to its more progressive interpretations of Constitutional Law. But they chickened out.  They refused to lift the stay on California same-gender weddings that they imposed pending a decision in their federal court case. The case known as Perry vs Schwarzenegger was appealed to the Ninth Circuit after Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of overturning Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit suspended his ruling demanding the immediate resumption of weddings.

This is “an intolerable delay” since they sent it back to the California Supreme Court for a ruling on who has standing to bring the case and defend the case since the state has refused.  And the people who brought us Prop 8 are trying to defend it in court. The California Supremes said they needed the rest of the year.  Thus it be at least a year before it gets back to the 9th Circuit.

“The right to marry is not an abstract principle any more than might be said about the right to vote, the right to speak and the right to practice one’s religion,” Olson said. “Every day our fellow citizens are denied their most basic civil rights that their friends and neighbors freely enjoy … that discrimination inflicts countless injuries.”

So for now weddings for gay men and lesbians are squelched!

DOMA Repeal on Deck

On Wednesday Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. This is the federal law that was passed during the Clinton Administration that set aside the fourth amendment to our Constitution saying that states did not have to recognize all marriages done in another state.  Specifically aimed at marriage between same-sex couples.  Of course the White House just in recent weeks agreed to stop defending DOMA in the court cases that are pending. There are two federal cases challenging sections of the Defense of Marriage Act.  And it is DOMA that makes it impossible to have marriages legally performed in certain jurisdictions recognized for purposes of Social Security and other federal benefits and rights.

So Brava to our Senior Senator from California.  Thank you for serving us so well.