Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Posted by: I Hate Gay People | June 29, 2007 at 03:19 PM
I checked the IP address of this post, and to my surpise, this is out of Marlborough Massachusetts, and not Fred Phelps' part of the world. Let this post serve as an example to those of you who don't think the hate that GLBT community faces is real, or serious. Let us stand united in the desire to end hate like this by reaching out and learning to love one another. It is only through love that we learn who we are meant to be, and it is by love that our individual differences become our strengths. we are better than this, but we have to put effort into the system if we expect change. Be the change you wish to see in the world, and then you can expect the world you deserve.
Larry Cirignano attorney asked Worcester District Court Judge David Ricciardone during a June 28 pre-trial hearting to drop the civil rights charge against him for an alleged assault against a pro-gay demonstrator last December. The former Catholic Citizenship executive director faces both the civil rights charge and a misdemeanor assault and battery charge for allegedly shoving Sarah Loy, who was taking part in a demonstration in favor of civil marriage rights near Worcester City Hall. The pro-gay demonstration was planned to counter a demonstration by the group VoteOnMarriage.org held at city hall that day, and Cirignano was one of the speakers at the VoteOnMarriage rally who urged the passage of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Cirignano allegedly assaulted Loy after she crossed over into the VoteOnMarriage crowd.
Tim Connolly, spokesperson for Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr., told Bay Windows that Ricciardone took the defense motion “under advisement” and will issue his decision on it July 13.
If going into a crowd and physically attacking a member of an opposing point of view is not a civil rights violation, what the Hell is?! Worcester District Court Judge David Ricciardone needs to hear from us loudly and clearly that the civil rights violation is valid, and should stand. People need to take ownership of their actions rather than try to lie their way out of the problem they created for themselves.
Mass Marrier has also covered this story.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
WASHINGTON D.C. – Governor Deval Patrick will introduce the eight Democratic candidates vying for the 2008 Presidential seat at the "All-American Presidential Forum," broadcast live from Howard University on Thursday, June 28th.
The forum, to be aired on PBS, will be moderated by Tavis Smiley, and will mark the first time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime. Panelists will include Tavis Smiley, Michel Martin of National Public Radio, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. and USA Today and Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham.
Last fall, voters across the country spoke loud and clear about their desire for change. In Massachusetts, voters answered Patrick’s own call to action. His historic grassroots campaign and positive message are an important part of the nation’s new agenda of change.
The debate is sponsored by PBS and Howard University.
WHO: Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic Presidential Candidates for 2008 (U.S. Senator Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Senator Barack Obama , New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson)
WHAT: All-American Presidential Democratic Forum on PBS
WHEN: Thursday, June 28, 2007 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: Howard University, Cramton Auditorium
Monday, June 25, 2007
Her change of heart, recounted by the Boston Globe, happened because she came to see the gay men -- among the nearly 10,000 gay couples who've wed in her state since 2004 -- as the neighbors eager to lend a hand.
"If they can't be married in Massachusetts, they're going to leave -- and then who would help me with my lawn?" she asked, urging her state lawmaker to also change and protect gay couples' right to marry by blocking a referendum designed to abolish that right. That lawmaker did change.
And so did others, leading to a stunning victory for equality: On June 14, opponents of gay marriage failed to clear a very low hurdle. To put the anti-gay measure on the state's 2008 ballot, they needed just 25 percent of the legislature. They fell 5 votes short.
The proposal was crushed, 151-45, after Gov. Deval Patrick weighed in against it. Afterward, he declared, "In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure." Now, a ban couldn't go to voters until 2012, after five more years of lovely married gay couples mowing elderly neighbors' lawns.
June 2007 is the month gay marriage proved it won't always be a "hot button." Massachusetts demonstrated its comfort.
Just days later, the state Assembly in neighboring New York embraced allowing gays to marry, 85-61.
That was the fourth time a state legislative body has voted to open marriage to gay couples. California has done so three times: Nearly two years ago, the Senate and Assembly passed it, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed. The Assembly passed it again on June 5 by 42-34.
Gay leaders find success has key ingredients: Build a statewide coalition that includes clergy, unions and business. Plus, get gay couples and their allies to describe the pain marriage discrimination causes. Also, a governor's support is hugely helpful. Patrick and New York's Eliot Spitzer both won landslides last November as vocal advocates of gay marriage.
"What politicians are realizing is that the smart money is betting on the future, and the fact that young people support this and that the American people are increasingly open to it," says Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry.
Support for gay marriage is inching toward a majority -- to 46 percent in the national Gallup poll released May 26. Support is overwhelming -- 62 percent -- among voters under 35.
Equality has friends of all ages, of course. On June 12, the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia ruling that swept away laws against interracial marriage, Mildred Loving spoke up for gay marriage.
Mrs. Loving, a black woman now in her late 60s, said the case she and her white husband Richard won "can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
Freedoms are secured one court case at a time, one legislature at a time, one lawn at a time. That truly is the American way.
Reach Deb Price at (202) 662-8736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Assembly took a big step toward getting gay marriage legalized in New York Tuesday by passing the watershed Marriage Equality bill.
The bill passed the Assembly floor by a solid margin with a vote of 85 to 61.
The vote came after advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes in Brooklyn as well as around the state bandied together to get their local Assembly members to approve the measure, which was initiated by Governor Eliot Spitzer.
In essence, the bill will amend the domestic relations law in relation to the ability to marry, by giving same sex couples the legal right to wed. It would also insure that the bill “does not improperly intrude into matters of conscience or religious belief,” meaning that clergy and religious leaders would not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages if they don’t want to.
Over 50 Assembly members sponsored the bill, including downtown Brooklyn legislators Joan Millman, James Brennan, Joe Lentol, Hakeem Jefferies, Felix Ortiz and Kings County Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez.
According to an unofficial tally of the vote, all of the above legislators voted in favor of the bill as well as Assembly members William Boyland, Jenelle Hyer-Spencer, Rhoda Jacobs and Alan Maisel.
Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who was chair of the committee that brought the bill to the floor, also voted in favor of the bill.
Brooklyn Assembly members Peter Abatte, Bill Colton, Steven Cymbrowitz, Diane Gordon and Dov Hikind voted against the bill. Crown Heights Assemblymember Karim Camara and Brighton Beach legislator Alec Brook-Krasny abstained when the vote was called.
“The Assembly has demonstrated once again that it is the leader on civil rights and providing equality for our community where it didn’t exist before in New York,” said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, which has been working with other gay political groups to get the bill passed.
Van Capelle said that the vote came about thanks to a “bipartisan group of Assembly allies from Western New York to the Hudson Valley to New York City and Long Island who spoke strongly to say that New Yorkers want marriage equality for all families.”
Although the vote passed the Assembly, advocates said that the bigger fight is yet to come – winning the hearts and minds of the members of the Republican controlled New York State Senate.
As this paper went to press, Senate officials said that they will not vote on this bill this session, which ends this week.
“The [Assembly] passage of the marriage equality bill affirms the strength and commitment of our relationships with the legislature and the value and worth of our children and families,” said Cathy Marino Thomas, executive director of Marriage Equality New York. “Unfortunately, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno feels the need to play politics with this issue.”
Gary Parker, co-president of the Lambda Independent Democrats (LID), Brooklyn’s largest LGBT political club, said that the Assembly took “a courageous step in voting for Marriage Equality for all New Yorkers.”
“It is particularly heartening that a vast majority of Brooklyn’s Assembly members voted in favor of legal recognition of our families,” he said. “However, our work is far from done. LID will continue to work with the legislators who made the disappointing decision to vote against this important legislation. We will also work tirelessly to ensure that a democratic majority is brought to the State Senate as quickly as possible.”
“Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s refusal to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate will ultimately lead the Republicans towards becoming the minority party in the Senate,” he added. “Justice is on our side and it is only a matter of time until all Brooklynites are treated equally under the law.”
BOSTON – Monday, June 25 – U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today informed Governor Deval Patrick that Massachusetts has been chosen as the site for a National Renewable Energy Laboratory Wind Technology Testing Center.
This state-of-the-art facility will become a leading center for large wind blade testing in North America, capable of assessing the structural integrity and durability of commercial wind-turbine blades of up to 230 feet in length. The wind test center will be located in Charlestown, in the Boston Autoport property owned by Massport and currently operated by Diversified Automotive.
“Hosting a national wind technology testing center will boost the clean energy technology sector already taking root in Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “This is an important win for us, and further proof that Massachusetts is on the way to becoming a global center for renewable energy.”
Rapid growth in wind turbine size over the past two decades has outgrown the capabilities of DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center, located outside Boulder, Colorado, which operates the only blade test facility in North America capable of performing full-scale testing of megawatt-scale wind turbine blades. The Massachusetts testing center is the first of two announced today by Secretary Bodman. The second will be located in Ingleside, Texas.
“These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of competitiveness of the U.S. domestic wind energy industry,” said Secretary Bodman. “We congratulate Massachusetts and Texas for their outstanding proposals and we believe this work will build upon the Administration’s goal of prompting states to research, develop, and deploy more clean energy technologies.”
“I commend Governor Patrick for his leadership in bringing this important investment to Massachusetts and for his commitment to keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of new energy technologies for the future,” said U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. “This partnership has the potential to produce the breakthroughs vital to guiding our nation to a cleaner, more independent energy future, and it’s gratifying that Secretary Bodman and the Department of Energy have confidence in that potential.”
“I am proud that Boston has been chosen among cities across the US to be the home for the National Renewable Energy Lab Wind Blade Test Facility,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Boston is among the world’s leading cities for clean technology innovation, an emerging economic cluster that will help advance Boston and the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate protection goals while creating good jobs.”
U.S. DOE will provide $2 million in technology licensing and leases, as well as staff support to certify and launch the facility. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which will lease space for the facility from Diversified Automotive, is providing, through its Renewable Energy Trust, more than $13 million in grant and loan financing for construction and start-up costs for the center, which will eventually become self-sustaining. MTC financing consists of:
$7 million grant to fund capital cost of the building
$5 million in loans for potential capital costs
$1.2 million as a working capital loan
MTC will also create a $5 million fund to support extraordinary research opportunities related to the test center’s work.
Other partners in the winning proposal include the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory and the state’s Executive Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Housing and Economic Development.
Although the facility itself will at the start employ just eight technicians, examining two blades at a time for three to four months, the testing site is expected to become a hub of wind-turbine engineering, with blade designers and manufacturers drawn to the area.
“This national testing facility will be a magnet for the emerging wind-energy industry, which is ultimately a precision engineering and composite materials business,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Dan O’Connell. “Massachusetts has a proud history in this field, and this center will translate into new jobs for years to come.”
The wind turbine test facility announcement comes on the heels of Evergreen Solar deciding in April to locate its first U.S. solar-panel manufacturing plant in Massachusetts, after working closely with the Patrick Administration on new initiatives to spur the adoption of solar energy in the Commonwealth, and after moves by clean-energy entrepreneurs to organize a trade association following Governor Patrick’s encouragement to do so.
“Thanks to intellectual resources, venture capital, and entrepreneurial spirit, Massachusetts is well positioned to become a national and international leader in clean energy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “Massachusetts can blaze the trail toward a clean energy future, and the world will follow.”
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I was devastated by the news my son is gay. But God isn't finished with him—or me—yet.
Shirley A. Rorvik | posted 5/10/2007
I first became aware of how much I despised homosexuality when I worked at a savings and loan in 1981. Don [not his real name], referred to as a "queer" in our small town, shoved his savings passbook across the counter for a large cash withdrawal. He glanced over his shoulder and spoke to his companion, a good-looking boy of about eighteen. The boy laughed and his eyes met mine, full of mockery and challenge. I swallowed hard and shuddered, then handed Don the wad of bills, and they walked out arm-in-arm.
At home that night, I described the incident to my family in a voice tinged with disgust. "Thank God there's none of that in our family." In fact, people thought our family had it all—good marriage, comfortable home, successful careers. Our oldest son, Rick, was happily married with three children. Tim, our younger son, sang with his girlfriend in the high school choir. Few people knew of my husband's chameleonlike personality.
But one night seven years later, I feared for my life in the throes of my husband's drunken rage. The next day I confronted him. I couldn't live with his drinking problem any longer, and I urged him to seek help. Instead, he moved out. Several months later, he divorced me. To pay off our debts, I sold our home, moved into an apartment, and started rebuilding my life. I'd been through hell and survived. Nothing would ever again shake me like that.
The end of our thirty-year marriage created an upheaval in my sons' lives. Rick and his wife divorced about a year later. Tim abandoned college and joined the U.S. Marine Corps, going first to San Diego, then to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. I prayed for his safety, not knowing a greater battle in spiritual warfare awaited his return. After his discharge in May, 1991, Tim remained in San Diego.
Then, on January 3, 1992, an emotional earthquake shattered my world. The pages of Tim's letter trembled in my hand as I read: "My sexual orientation has bothered me since I was twelve. Please, Mom, listen to me. I feel a strong attraction for men. I understand how you must feel . …"
Coffee splashed as I slammed my cup on the table and threw down the letter. No, Tim couldn't possibly understand, or he'd never have written this. I lurched up from the sofa, his words scorching my mind.
" … I am who I am, and it's taken me thirteen years to be able to accept this. … "
Thirteen years? No. No, I'd have known. What about his girlfriends in high school and college? How could he be gay? What happened? Where had I failed?
I fell to my knees sobbing. Then pulling myself off the floor, I grabbed my keys, snatched up Tim's letter, and ran to my car, taking off in the winter night.
As the speedometer reached 80 mph, a snow-covered guardrail suddenly rushed toward me. Terrified, I twisted the steering wheel. The car skidded, then held on the graveled shoulder. Peering into the darkness, I searched for familiar landmarks. Finally, I recognized a farmhouse. I'd gone more than fifty miles from home.
I pulled off the deserted highway onto a side road and stopped the car. Punching open the car's moon roof, I tilted the seat back and gulped clean, cold air. After a long while, I sighed. Okay, Lord, I give up. What do you want me to do? Switching on the map light, I picked up Tim's letter. This time I heard his pain: "I feel alone. I'm so afraid of my family rejecting me. … You're still my mom, and I still love you. I always will."
I had to hear Tim's voice, so I drove back to my apartment and dialed his number. When Tim answered, tears flooded my eyes. I told him I loved him, no matter what. But, I said, homosexuality is a sin. "You're not alone, Tim. I'm here and Jesus is too. God loves you. Remember Romans 8:38-39? Nothing can separate you from God's love in Christ Jesus. But you must renounce this lifestyle."
Tim sobbed, unable to speak. After a few moments I said, "I'll call you tomorrow. I love you, Tim." Sorrow filled my heart as I hung up.
Over the next few weeks, we talked on the phone or through letters. I needed answers. "Tim, why? Was it the war? Did something happen over there? Or when you were little?"
Eventually, he opened up. "Remember the older boy in my third grade class? The bully?" Tim said. "Well, he cornered me one day after school--" his voice broke. "After that, he told everyone I was a fag. Nobody wanted to be around me."
He told me of a couple more childhood incidents when older boys had threatened or bribed him into cooperating with their sexual indulgences. Then came another shock.
"Did I ever tell you about the time Dad took me to a gay community in Massachusetts right before I joined the Marines?"
The phone turned to lead in my hand. "No," I whispered.
"It was a business trip. When the business was done, that's where we went, to a town on Cape Cod. It's a gay community." He paused. "Well, maybe you didn't know. You guys weren't divorced yet, but Dad had moved out."
As Tim described the incident, it became clear his father had been to this place before. My heart raced. "Did anything happen? I mean--"
"No, Mom, nothing happened. Dad wanted to go to this gay bar. He laughed and joked with these guys. I kept my eyes glued to the TV and didn't talk to anybody. I didn't know what to do. I just wanted to die." Bitterness laced his words. "I don't think I've ever come so close to hating him."
I recalled other business trips when Tim was nine or ten. At the time, I was pleased my husband was spending time with this younger son. Did something happen then? I tried to question Tim, but he refused to talk about it. He didn't remember. He thought he'd had a happy childhood. I let it go.
As the weeks went by, I felt ashamed and afraid. My prayers seemed inadequate. Desperate, I called my dear friend Dory, a nurse. Her nonjudgmental, no-nonsense voice offered strength. She told me about Barbara Johnson's book, Where Does a Mother Go to Resign? I read it and called Barbara. This dynamic woman shared hope, encouragement, and the names of two other women in similar circumstances. I wasn't alone.
I learned about Exodus International, a worldwide Christian ministry dedicated to helping men and women who want to overcome homosexuality and turn to Christ. From Exodus, I received the names of two Christian men in San Diego who had renounced homosexuality and were available to counsel others. Excited, I called Tim with the good news, convinced he would grab this opportunity to be free from bondage. I was wrong. He said he wasn't in bondage. He didn't want to be free from homosexuality. He said he was born this way, and Jesus knew.
How could he be so deceived? From the beginning, I'd taught him about Jesus, whom he had invited into his life at the age of five.
Through the years, I'd had no inkling something was wrong. Did Tim ever hint at trouble? Did I really listen? Were there dark secrets in our household? I don't know.
After Tim's letter in 1992, I regarded my adult son as a victim. "They" had caught and trapped him. "They" were faceless, nameless, evil people. Homosexuals. Enemies.
But God wasn't finished with me yet. That spring, Tim brought a friend home—a homosexual. The enemy had arrived on my doorstep. I was tense but quickly realized Tim's friend was even more nervous. I sensed his fear of rejection. Mothering instincts surged, and my heart reached out to him. He wasn't an enemy—he was a wounded soul.
My quiet times with the Lord changed from selfish pain and anger to genuine grief for Tim and others like him. Satan blinds them to the truth and deceives them.
The change in my attitude toward homosexuals was tested in my workplace where some of my colleagues apparently are gay or bisexual; I no longer avoid them. They're real people, just like me. The Lord's softened my heart, and I've learned to hate the sin while I love, or at least care for, the sinner.
Tim often brings homosexual friends when he comes to visit me and my new husband, Chuck. He once told me, "You guys are living proof to my friends that heterosexual marriage can work." Perhaps he, too, is seeking proof—and hope—for himself.
When Chuck proposed a few years ago, I told him about Tim and about my commitment to the Lord to be available to Tim and his friends. Chuck regards Tim as his own son and together we've opened our home to these wounded souls, many of whom have been rejected by parents and siblings. Tim never asks to stay overnight when he has a companion. Their conduct is above reproach in our home. Often an arrogant attitude masks their pain, but it soon dissolves. Some of them jokingly call me Mom.
If the opportunity arrives to present the gospel, I do, usually in the form of my own testimony. This opens the door for them to express their views of Christianity. I hear anger. These young men say they've been rejected by their own churches and therefore, they imply, by God. They've turned their backs and buried themselves in resentment and fear.
How can we reach these hardened hearts? For me, evangelism begins with friendship. I am one small part of God's whole plan—perhaps I can plant one tiny seed, and the next one will plant the garden, and others will nourish it. As I write, Tim seems resigned to being homosexual, but he gives clues that he's not a practicing homosexual. It's a fine line of distinction, perhaps even a rationalization. Only God knows the heart (1 Kings 8:39). Jesus, Tim says, is his best friend. I believe him. But I also know Jesus is more than a friend—he is the Savior and Lord. God heard that five year old's prayer inviting Jesus into his life. Even if Tim has strayed away, God hasn't moved. He'll be there when Tim chooses to resist the devil and listen to the Holy Spirit.
My heart still hurts. My son's life is far from happy, his future uncertain. The New King James version of Psalms 56:8 says God puts my tears in his bottle. My hope rests with the Lord. "They will return from the land of the enemy [Satan] . …Your children will return to their own land" (Jer. 31:16-17). In the meantime, God has called me to pray for and love Tim, and to be available.
Shirley A. Rorvik is a freelance writer living in Montana.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
BOSTON – Thursday, June 21, 2007 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray testified today before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of House Bill 3991, An Act to Reduce Gun Violence and in support of House Bill 501, An Act to Enhance Information Sharing Concerning At-Risk Juveniles.
“Gun violence claims lives and causes immeasurable pain to the families of victims. We simply cannot allow this spiraling violence to continue, “ Lt. Governor Murray told the committee.
House Bill 3391 would enhance the prohibitions on the sale of illegal guns and initiates the process of ending gun violence in 3 significant ways:
The bill proposes to shrink the supply of illegal guns, by limiting gun buyers to one firearm purchase per month, reducing gun trafficking by “straw purchasers” who purchase firearms for prohibited buyers.
The legislation also would empower prosecutors to charge, and judges to sentence, those who possess a firearm during a crime of violence with tougher penalties.
The bill also proposes to make defendants charged with possession of a firearm eligible for detention pending trial and those charged with a felony involving the use of a firearm and the use of physical force presumptively ineligible for bail pending trial.
House Bill 501, An Act to Enhance Information Sharing Concerning At-Risk Juveniles, would ease current restrictions to allow a wide range of government agencies – school officials, juvenile court personnel representatives from district attorneys’ offices, DSS case workers, and others – to meet, share information and devise a comprehensive, coordinated response for meeting the needs of at-risk juveniles.
Lt. Governor Murray was joined by a host of public safety professionals and local and national experts on gun violence, all of whom expressed support for the Administration’s proposals.
In expressing support for the administration’s proposal to limit gun purchases, Daniel Vice of the Brady Campaign to Stop Handgun Violence stated, “By limiting firearm purchases to one per person per month, a gunrunner is unable to obtain many handguns at one time, dramatically reducing the profitability of gunrunning. Quite simply, these laws put most gun traffickers, and their straw purchasers, out of business."
John Rosenthal, of Stop Handgun Violence, added, "I support and applaud the Governor's anti-gun trafficking bill. Legitimate gun owners like myself recognize that this common sense legislation does not infringe on our constitutional rights but will deny criminal access to multiple gun straw purchasing. This bill will effectively help close off the pipeline of guns to the criminal market and will continue Massachusetts role as the national leader in gun violence prevention."
"Anyone in the possession of an unlicensed firearm is a threat to public safety, and this bill gives law enforcement another tool to take those who commit violent crimes with unlawfully possessed guns off of our streets," Middlesex County District Attorney Leone said. "By taking these people off of the streets, we are better able to protect witnesses from fear and intimidation as well as prevent additional crimes from being committed."
Brookline Chief of Police Daniel O’ Leary, on behalf of the Major City Chiefs Association, also expressed strong support of the Administration’s anti-crime package. "I applaud the Governor's efforts to have legislation enacted that will reduce gun violence, enhance public safety through pre-trial detention of dangerous felons, and help prevent crime through enhanced information sharing amongst law enforcement and social service workers who work with at risk youth,” said Chief O’Leary. The Major City Chiefs association is comprised of 30 police chiefs from Massachusetts communities with populations of more than 40 thousand residents, and who have more than 75 sworn officers serving in their police department.
Nancy Robinson, of Massachusetts Against Trafficking Handguns (MATH), added, “The MATH Coalition asks, ‘Where did the gun come from?’ after every shooting to get to the root of the problem with illegal gun trafficking. A major source of crime guns are traffickers who buy handguns in bulk, the way some of us stock up on paper towels at Costco. The Governor's bill will limit how many handguns traffickers can buy at one time and work to stop gun trafficking in its tracks.”
Secretary of Public Safety Kevin M. Burke noted that this proposal is part of a broad effort the Administration has initiated to address the Commonwealth’s crime problems. “Passage of this proposal would strengthen the efforts being undertaken by the Administration through the Anti-Crime Council. The Patrick/ Murray administration also secured supplemental funding for new officers and for a second round of Shannon Grant funding, and this legislation would strengthen the community policing work being undertaken by local law enforcement and our community-based partners.”
The Anti-Crime Council was established by Governor Patrick in April of 2007, meets monthly, and is currently focused on the issue of guns and gang violence. The Executive Office of Public Safety is currently accepting applications for the Charles E. Shannon Jr. Community Safety Initiative grant program (“Shannon Grants”) . This is an $11 million grant program to support regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combat gang violence through coordinated programs for prevention and intervention, law enforcement approaches, prosecution, and reintegration. The contracts for current Shannon grant recipients run until September of 2007.
Attached is a full list of the people and organizations who testified in support of the Patrick/Murray Administration’s anti-crime package.
He was the quintessential American Man, the very epitome of Mr. Modern Middle Class.
Born in 1960 of Italian-American Catholic parents who taught that nothing was more important than the family, and that by the Word of God each one of us should always know who he is and what God expects him to do. And God expects a man to be a Father. A cold sober role model who would dish out the discipline when necessary, go to work every day and provide. And the father must always keep his feelings, his emotions and yes, his insecurities, in check. The man does not cry; he does not complain; he doesn't ask for help; he never admits failure or weakness.
And he filled the role perfectly from the time he was sixteen until he was forty-five. But somewhere along the line, the reality that is modern America began to interfere. His wife was not to work outside the home, his children would be educated in a Parochial school; he would provide them with a house and all the conveniences of the Middle Class. And he would work as hard as necessary; and he wouldn't complain; and he wouldn't ask for help.
He bought his first home in Northeastern Massachusetts when he was only 20. The mortgage was high, but a man does what it takes. He works; fifty-five, sixty hours a week. A man has to be the role model for his children, even if there is no time to actually be there. As the family grew, the neighborhood started going bad. The crime rate had gotten so bad that when he sold to buy a bigger piece of the American Dream, the house was worth barely what he paid for it. But he bought a bigger house, with the bigger mortgage to be paid for with just a little bit more overtime. Then as many who have climbed the corporate ladder have learned, there comes a time when one reaches a level of competency that one becomes too important to be paid overtime. Placed on salary, the bills mounting, the credit card maxxing out, he saved his cash flow with the newest manifestation of the American Dream, the Home Equity Line of Credit.
Then one day a few years ago something seem to change. He didn't feel quite right; maybe just getting older. He couldn't seem to get a good night's sleep anymore. Sometimes he would feel an ache where there didn't used to be. A ten-minute commute started feeling like a chore. Life didn't seem like much fun anymore; hobbies seemed like work. The doctors didn't know what to do; his body checked out fine. They did suggest that maybe he was working too hard, but you know, a man has got do what a man has got to do. Men don't slack off; they suck it up, and they don't complain.
His wife wasn't feeling well either. She didn't feel quite right; maybe just getting older. She couldn't seem to get a good night's sleep anymore. Sometimes she would feel an ache where there didn't used to be. Life didn't seem like much fun anymore; nurturing her children seemed like work. But she had to do what God expects her to do.
The trips to the doctor started getting a little more frequent. Yeah, cholesterol was bit high, but there's a drug for that. Blood pressure was bit high, probably just middle age; there's a drug for that. A good night's sleep is hard to come by, but there's a drug for that. Pains here and there, nothing major, just makes it a little harder to get out bed, but there's a drug for that.
And then there was the sense that nothing was real anymore. The doctor suggested a psychiatrist, but men don't do that. Men take personal responsibility, you know; men don't talk about things like feelings and emotions or worse, insecurities. Insecurity, that's the big one. If there is one thought that should never cross the mind of man it is this: "What if I can't do this?" Not an option. A man must do what a man must do, that is what God expects him to do.
But at some point even a man has to change strategy. He and his wife were prescribed anti-depressants. Health insurance doesn't cover it all. More debt on the house, more pain to deal with, more drugs to ease the pain. Work is getting harder now; life is beginning to feel like a stupor. But the bills have to be paid.
He quit his job just so he could take his retirement money to pay down some debt. Getting another job should be easy. After all a professional Engineer with twenty-five years experience should have no problem. And he didn't. In fact found a job in a matter of weeks. After a while, his new employer began to notice that he was not always focused. Sometimes in the morning it would seem that the sleeping pills were still in control. Or the painkillers. Or the anti-depressants. Or something.
He was fired. Getting fired comes dangerously close to questioning one's reason for living.
He sold the big house. He sold his musical equipment. He sold his record collection, his stamps, his coins. He sold it all. Everything he had ever worked for was gone, and the cash was just not quite enough to pay for it all. He admitted to me once that he knew that he didn't make it. He knew he didn't do what God expected him to do. He told me that his family would be better off without him. A man who doesn't provide, protect and defend is useless.
I do not know the official cause of death; the family isn't saying. He was 46.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
BOSTON – Wednesday, June 20, 2007 – In an effort to promote economic development and help create new jobs across the Commonwealth, Governor Deval Patrick today signed an Executive Order formally establishing his Development Cabinet.
The key to the Commonwealth’s economic success is the full and effective coordination between state agencies. The Development Cabinet facilitates that coordination by bringing together the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of Administration and Finance, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, the Secretary of Transportation and Public Works.
Chaired by the Governor, the Cabinet meets twice monthly to identify opportunities where Secretaries can work together on projects that will expand the economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Cabinet activities are overseen by Director Ron Marlow, who was appointed by Governor Patrick last month.
“Our success in advancing an agenda of economic growth, business development, job growth and infrastructure projects will depend on the close collaboration between various agencies,” Governor Patrick said. “Business benefits when roads are easy to travel, talented teachers are in our schools, and when their workers and their families are healthy. Understanding those links will help us ensure that we, as a Commonwealth, prosper and compete on a global level.”
Under the Executive Order the Cabinet is responsible for coordinating the economic development policy-making process; ensuring coordination between and among state agencies on priority economic development projects; providing advice on economic development policy to the Governor; ensuring that economic development policy decisions, projects, and programs are consistent with the stated goals of the Administration; and monitoring implementation of the Governor's economic development agenda.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are committed to creating over 100,000 new jobs during their 4-year term by streamlining the government approval processes and investing in pro-growth initiatives like education, health care, stem cell research, infrastructure and workforce housing.
Since first convening in January, the Development Cabinet has assisted the Governor in crafting a number of proposals to improve the state’s business climate.
During the last five months, the Governor has announced initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness of environmental regulation; appointed the state’s first-ever permitting ombudsman to help spur economic growth by speeding approval time from two to three years to just six months on development projects; announced plans to begin modernizing and reforming the state procurement process to simplify how businesses participate and to expand the pool of companies who compete to provide Massachusetts with goods and services; expanded the Massachusetts Office of Business Development sales force to help businesses grow in size and strength, to encourage large companies here to remain here and to encourage new ones to make the Commonwealth their home.
The Governor also announced a $1 billion life sciences initiative, calling for investment in stem cell research and technology and a public-private partnership to spur life sciences innovation and job creation.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
BOSTON—Tuesday, June 19, 2007 –Governor Deval Patrick today announced that his recently created Readiness Project will include a review of the University of Massachusetts system. The review will focus on internal and external collaboration between campuses, other higher education institutions, and with the public and private sectors to determine how to better serve University students and the Commonwealth and to strengthen the University’s standing among the nation’s universities.
The Governor’s Readiness Project, a group of state education, business and community leaders headed by former Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tom Payzant, EMC Corporation Chairman and CEO Joseph M. Tucci and Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott, is responsible for implementing the Governor’s pre-k through workforce education plan. The Governor will charge several subcommittees of the Readiness Project to make specific recommendations to implement the various aspects of his education plan. Public higher education, including the structure of and collaboration within the University of Massachusetts system, will be among the issues addressed.
“The University of Massachusetts offers our students an educational opportunity unlike any other. But we must be responsive to the ever-changing demands of a global economy to ensure that our graduates are able to compete—and win—in the workplaces of today and tomorrow,” Governor Patrick said. “That is why I have asked the Readiness Project to recommend strategies to implement a new vision for public education, including how to enhance the vital role of the University of Massachusetts.”
The project's review will not encompass the University President's authority to make personnel decisions in consultation with its Board of Trustees, and eliminates the need for the previously recommended University of Massachusetts taskforce. The Readiness Project is required to report recommendations to the governor no later than March 31, 2008.
University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson and University Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen P. Tocco expressed their support for the Governor’s review.
“The University of Massachusetts very much appreciates Governor Patrick’s decision to deepen the important discussion now under way about the University’s quest for national prominence, with a focus on how collaboration can fuel UMass in its effort to take its rightful place alongside the very best public universities in the nation,” said Wilson. “This discussion is of critical importance to the University and to the Commonwealth as we seek to position our students and our state for success in the global innovation economy. The Governor rightly places the emphasis on collaboration, believing, as we believe, that collaboration is the key to building a University of true national distinction and acclaim. This is the right discussion at the right time and once more we applaud Governor Patrick for putting education and excellence first.”
BOSTON – June 18, 2007 -- Governor Deval L. Patrick today announced the recent filing of an executive order re-establishing the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. The executive order restructures the Council and calls for specific projects to help the Council focus its work. Governor Patrick also announced the appointment of Sheridan Haines to lead the Council. Ms. Haines currently serves as Deputy Director at Jane Doe, Inc., a social service and advocacy organization that protects victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“I have seen first-hand, at different times in my life, the ways that violence, abuse, and crime can destabilize the lives of individuals, families and communities,” Governor Patrick said. “It is vital that victims of sexual and domestic violence receive the protection and care they need. I am pleased to have Sheridan Haines, with her leadership and experience in assisting victims, on board to head our efforts."
Ms Haines added, “I am deeply honored to be invited to serve Governor Patrick in this capacity. To have the opportunity bring the voices of sexual and domestic violence survivors to the State House, and to work across disciplines, secretariats and departments to accomplish targeted results for victims and survivors across the Commonwealth is indeed an exciting new endeavor for me.”
In addition to streamlining the structure of the council from over 300 members to 30, the executive order filed by the Governor requires the council to produce a guide for Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to consult when responding to an adult sexual assault. It also requires the council to revise and update the Massachusetts Policy for Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence (which was last updated in 2002).
The Council will also consider the need for further legislation to protect victims, punish and treat perpetrators, and reduce and prevent incidence of sexual and domestic violence. Members will continuously evaluate the response of law enforcement, judicial and health and human service systems to the needs of victims and consider measures to reduce incidents of assault though education and awareness. In addition, the Council will consider measures to better enable victims to transition from violent relationships to violence-free lives.
The Council will be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray and will consist of up to 30 members appointed by the Governor. The Council will submit an annual report to the Governor with its findings and recommendations.
Ms. Haines has worked for Jane Doe, Inc. for the last 6 years, the last 5 as Deputy Director. Prior to her work at Jane Doe, Ms. Haines was the executive director of the Samaritans of Boston, a non-profit suicide prevention center. She also worked 8 years as a program planner for the Elizabeth Stone House, located in Jamaica Plan, MA, where she was responsible for the management and direction of non-profit alternative mental health program for women in recovery from emotional distress, domestic violence and chemical addiction. She is a resident of Jamaica Plain, MA.
Friday, June 15, 2007
The Aerospace States Association (ASA) last week elected Vermont Lt. Governor Brian Dubie to serve as its Chairman for the next two years, and Lt. Governor Tim Murray of Massachusetts to serve as Vice Chair.
Lieutenant governors from twelve states were elected to leadership positions. Dubie said, “I am honored to serve as Chairman, and am delighted that Lt. Governor Murray has agreed to help me lead the association and spearhead our initiatives in Aerospace R&D – an area where his experience and his passion to serve the people of Massachusetts will make a difference for our nation as well.”
Dubie went on to say, “ASA is becoming a major grass-roots force for improvements in aerospace policy and education throughout the country. Lt. Governor Murray and our 2007-2009 leadership team will shape new initiatives to advance states’ interests and heighten our influence on key aerospace and aviation issues.”
The group’s top issues include R&D funding, workforce training, economic development in aerospace and aviation, excellence in math and science education in every state, and factors to keep states competitive in a global marketplace. Committees include Aerospace R&D, Aviation, Education, Membership, Policy, Space and Workforce.
ASA is a bi-partisan organization representing the grass roots of American aerospace and aviation. It is a scientific and educational organization of Lieutenant Governors and Governor-appointed delegates. ASA was formed in 1989 to promote a state-based perspective in federal aerospace policy development and to support state aerospace initiatives that enhance student/teacher education outreach and economic development opportunities. ASA maintains direct ties to the executive branches of state governments throughout the nation.
Learn more at http://www.aerostates.org/
Thank you to our straight friends Allan and Brandi, who came out to support us.
Thank you to Andy Apperson, photographer and historian, who is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Andy volunteered his time to take pictures and video of this momentous occasion. His girlfriend Liz wanted to assist, but was needed at work.
Ray and I sign the requests for a marriage license!
I like the sign in the background that points the way to the Freedom Trail. Notice the HRC equality sticker on it?
Tom Lang and Aaron Toleos at our victory supper!
Dr. Patricia Gozemba, Professor Emeritus at Salem State College at the Boston GLBT History Project fund raiser turned victory celebration later the same day. Dr. Gozemba, Karen Kahn, and Marilyn Humphries are the Authors of Courting Equality.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Prior to his A&F appointment, Dormitzer was an investment banker with UBS. As Managing Director and Manager of the Boston office, Dormitzer led the bank’s Massachusetts public finance operations, assisting the Commonwealth on major infrastructure and affordable housing activities, including work for transportation authorities and the State Treasury.
A graduate of Harvard University, Dormitzer worked for the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee earlier in his career. He is Treasurer of the Board of Trustees for Worcester Academy and lives in Wellesley with his wife and their two daughters.
“Alan LeBovidge has done a stellar job as DOR Commissioner and leaves the agency in very good shape,” Dormitzer said, noting that DOR’s Data Warehouse Project recently won the Federation of Tax Administrators 2007 Award for Outstanding Compliance Program while generating more than $200 million in collections.
An agency under Administration and Finance, DOR collects the state’s revenue on which the annual budget is based, administers tax policy and Child Support Enforcement and oversees municipal finance law.
LeBovidge has directed DOR and its 2,200 employees for 5 ½ years after coming out of retirement following a 32-year career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in which he served as a partner and oversaw tax operations.
“I have very much enjoyed my time here working with a group of professionals who deserve all the credit for DOR’s successes and increased efficiencies on behalf of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth” LeBovidge said.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Although I was born in the Bronx, New York, I grew up in New Hyde Park on Long Island, a mere short drive to Hicksville, where Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the UFMCC, was born and where she first went to church. This sermon is touching on a number of levels, and I wanted to share it with you.
Metropolitan Community Churches
A Sermon by the Moderator
of Metropolitan Community Churches
Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
"No Place Like Home"
by Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
Delivered at Hicksville United Methodist Church, Hicksville, New York (Rev. Wilson's Childhood Church), May 13, 2007
A Pride Month Reflection by Rev. Wilson - June 2007
Around the world, this is is Pride Month -- though, depending on the seasons and circumstances, some places choose a different time of year for this observance. Many local MCC churches host Pride events and celebrations, and you'll find valuable MCC Pride resources, including worship materials, ideas for community outreach, and sample press releases by CLICKING HERE.
In some sense, Pride does begin at home. I recently had an opportunity to return to Hicksville United Methodist Church, the church I grew up in in Hicksville (on Long Island), New York. "Hicksville" is not so called because it is rural (it is very suburban); rather, it is named after some of my ancestors who settled the area, the Hicks' family, who, among other things, founded the Hicksite Quaker movement (sounds like a fun Google research project).
Preaching there was surreal for many reasons. The churchâ€™s tradition is that anyone who grew up and became a minister, even if not a Methodist minister, is invited back to preach at least once.
Needless to say, my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail!
But, the new minister, Pastor Tim, having been informed by the previous pastor about long-time member Barbara Wilsonâ€™s "somewhat-famous daughter," asked my mother if she thought I would come home to preach.
She accepted on the spot on my behalf. She knows me well.
So, on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I worshipped with some of my childhood Sunday school teachers and with families I had known and grown up with. They received my sermon (below) with grace and enthusiasm. My mother said that it was even talked about in the grocery store later that week and was still being discussed in the church two Sundays following. My mother was proud, a great gift of grace in and of itself; as were the friends and members of Hicksville United Methodist Church.
This is not a liberal church, nor is it a fundamentalist church. It is somewhere in that vast, muddled middle. Truthfully, sitting in the chair that the pastor of my childhood sat in every Sunday, anticipating preaching from that pulpit, I had a moment of homophobic anxiety just before I got up to speak. That made me nearly laugh out loud. Going home can easily make you feel -- almost instantly and so unexpectedly -- like a 10-year old. "God," I thought, "let me just do what I came to do, what maybe only I can do today, what I was born to do." Which is to tell the story of Metropolitan Community Churches, a story of Jesus and Pride and justice and hope -- and to do so with joy and confidence.
While I was at the church, a couple of people came out to me, or semi-came out. But mostly, it seemed folks were just glad to see me -- glad I cared enough to come home one Sunday and tell them where I had been, and how much they, and that church, had meant to me as a child. And that even though I had to leave them to find my new home in MCC, it was great to get the invitation at last!
On that May morning just before the start of Pride Month, as I was welcomed back into the church of my childhood -- the church that first showed me God's love, that taught me to love God in return, and that nurtured my childhood faith -- I felt so thankful for them. Thankful, and more. I was proud of them.
Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches
SERMON: No Place Like Home
May 13, 2007 (Motherâ€™s Day)
Delivered by Rev. Nancy Wilson
Hicksville United Methodist Church, Hicksville, New York
TEXT: Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 16
Hicksville United Methodist Church, in this location, this building, is the same age as I am. My parents attended the very first service in this building, Palm Sunday 1950, about four months before I was born. So I first attended church, this church, in my mother's womb.
My brother Dave and I were talking the other evening about how we knew every nook and cranny in this big church building, with all of its classrooms, corners and staircases. We reminisced about all the basketball games, volleyball games, church dinners, and scout meetings that took place in this church.
In 6th of 7th grade, I started to feel this sense of calling to ministry, and I begged Mary Lou Blackwood, our Director of Religious Education (in that day, that's what women did who were not really encouraged to become pastors) to let me teach 4th grade. She had an opening, and couldn't fill it. I pleaded and begged her to let me teach, but she would have none of it. Finally, in desperation, she said I could teach 4th grade if I could find an adult to sit in the classroom with me. My mother was already teaching, so I asked her friend, Mrs. Vivian Havenor, if she would sit in my class, which she did for three years. She repeated the 4th grade for three years! She never felt comfortable teaching, but this was something she could do to help me and the church. She was my best student, really. What a great gift she gave me!
I thank God for so many teachers and families that were a part of this church and our lives in those days. I will never forget the Sunday that our high school Sunday School teacher invited Mr. Oike to share with us. He was the father of church friends of my brother, and he and his wife helped with church, and with scouting -- you name it. He came that day to tell us of a terrible time in their lives. As a young married couple, they were forced to leave their homes in California and live in an interment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Having never heard about this in my history class in high school, I was shocked and horrified. But Mr. Oike talked about forgiveness, and about letting go of the past, and his love for his church and country. I was in awe of him and his wife.
My brothers and I bought our Christmas gifts every year from the church's annual Womenâ€™s Bazaar, and our families just traded all our cast away stuff, it seemed. Mrs. Mae Biser and I counted the 9:45 AM Sunday School offering at the little desk under the stairway to the social hall. She had a great giggle! Over the years, I sang in three of the five choirs conducted by Richard Bean. It was to Associate Pastor Nick Nappi that I first confided my thoughts that I might be called to ministry, and he took me seriously.
I loved Cranston Clayton's preaching, and what an honor is it today to sit in his seat and to preach from the same pulpit he preached from! He had that Tennessee drawl, but was always quick to let you know he was not a fundamentalist (for Northernerâ€™s in those days, that was a stereotype we had of Southerners). He preached Biblically-based, challenging social gospel sermons from his own lectionary.
I was never so proud as when he and Mr. Nappi went to the March on Washington in 1963, to hear Dr. King, when I was 13. He was not perfect, though. When I came to tell him about my calling, he told me that theological education was wasted on women (probably because his daughters went to seminary and then married ministers). I asked him if he knew any women ministers, and he did know one. I asked him for her address and to his credit he gave it to me.
When he took in members, Clayton would say, "This is not the only church; and it may not be the best church; but itâ€™s a pretty good church, and we hope you will be at home here." I have stolen that line many times myself over the years.
Our theme today is about "home."
In the reading from Acts 16, Lydia opens her heart and home to Paul and Silas, and to the gospel of Jesus. She welcomes these strangers and her home becomes the meeting place of the first church in Europe.
The Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, speaks of a heavenly vision! Eugene Peterson's translation says that "God has moved into the neighborhood, making a home with men and women..."
John, in the 14th chapter, from Jesusâ€™ farewell speech, speaks of God's mansions, in which there is plenty of room for each of us. That home in eternity starts here and now, as Jesus says, "if anyone loves me, God and I will make our home in them." What wonderful examples and promises for us.
There are three things I want to share about "home" today:
1) Home is not a place. Now, it is hard to tell that to folks in Greenburg, Kansas, who just lost their physical homes. But, they did not just lose structures. They lost a way of life, networks of relationships and patterns of living. Home is relationships, it is love. God is love, and where God is, there is home for us.
I am grateful that I grew up in a home where there was love. My parents loved each other, and us, no matter what. Our home was not the building, it was our family and friends. Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the gift of the home I grew up in. So many people have very difficult beginnings in life.
As an adult, I found a spiritual home in Metropolitan Community Churches. MCC was founded by a gay man, Rev. Troy Perry, in 1968. He had been a Pentecostal minister, but when he came out, he lost everything -- his church, his home and family. Finally, he had a spiritual experience in which he felt God telling him that it was okay to be gay, and that he needed to start a church that would faithfully preach the Gospel to and open the doors to everyone, including gays and lesbians.
From that one church in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches now has hundreds of churches and spiritual outposts in 28 countries around the world. People who were spiritually homeless now have a spiritual home. It has been the joy of my life to serve this church for nearly 35 years as a pastor and Elder.
One of our large churches, MCC New York, not far from here, dedicates the first floor of its building to its food pantry, which feeds 5,000 people a month, and a shelter for homeless gay and lesbian youth. These kids do not just need a safe place to sleep, though they do need that. They need love, relationship and to be valued. This is what MCC New York provides -- a real home.
2) Secondly, the journey is our home! The Bible is full of stories about journeys, exoduses and exiles. Jesus and his family were homeless for a time, refugees in Egypt. As an adult he said, "The Son of Humanity has no where to lay his head." Though he had a home in Nazareth, and some say Capernaum as well, and while he seemed at home in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, he was on the road for most of his ministry, dependent on the hospitality of others.
Jesus had a journey with his mother, as well. In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 3, we read that Mary and Jesus' brothers and sisters came to look for him. They were worried about his preaching and miracle working, worried for his reputation -- maybe even worried for his safety and sanity. The disciples told him his family was there, but Jesus said, "Who are my mother and my brothers? Those who do the will of my Parent are my mother, and brothers and sisters." There were obviously family tensions in the beginning. But, on the cross, Jesus says to his mother, who is faithful, and who is there with him, "Woman, behold you son, son, behold your mother." He found a new home for her with the Beloved Disciple, redefining home for her, in a new relationships. What a journey they had!
I think of my own journey with my family, with my parents. When I came out, long ago, it was not easy. We struggled a lot. But love kept us communicating, and ultimately my mother said that she knew that if she was not to lose me, she would have to be willing to learn and stretch. It was the relationship that became more important than anything else, and it made the difference.
Following Jesus does not always mean we will be comfortable, or totally "at home." It may mean we leave the comforts of home, are challenged, take risks. Our journey to God is our truest home.
3) Third, there is good news! God wants more than anything to be at home in us, in our hearts and lives an relationships. God yearns to be on the journey with us, for all eternity, and right here and now.
Years ago, when I was pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, Marlene came to church one Pentecost Sunday. She had been away from the church her whole adult life, and felt quite alienated. But after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she started to feel a need to reach out, spiritually.
Months later, in conversations with Marlene, we discovered that her most positive memory of the Portuguese Catholic Church in she had grown up was of a festival and parade, in which, at age 10, she had played Mary. It turns out that that festival was Pentecost, the same day she had come to MCC for the first time! It's like we have a homing instinct within us that drives us to the place we need to be to re-connect with God and community.
I remember a conversation with Marlene one Sunday evening after church. She stopped me, all smiles, and said, "You know, when I came to MCC, I was looking for two things: to be healed of the cancer, and to re-connect with God and community. If I could only have one (her cancer had metastasized), I am glad that I was able to make that re-connection. Of the two, I got the best one!"
Marlene died just two weeks later. But I will never forget her words that night, and her gratitude for the God who yearned to make a home in her heart.
I want to encourage you, Hicksville United Methodist Church. The neighborhood here in Hicksville has changed a lot from the 1950's and 60's when I was growing up here. We live in very challenging times in our nation and the world. It is not as easy, nor as simple, to be the Church of Jesus Christ here in Hicksville, New York, as it might once have seemed.
I encourage you to keep your hearts and doors, your home, open, to the journey. Keep open to newcomers, strangers, those who will visit your new food pantry that is just opening, your coffee house. Practice the kind of inclusion that will honor your vision and mission.
Continue to be a place where home begins, as it did for me; where God finds a home, where women and men and people of all ages find God and their callings; where God is welcomed into the neighborhood.
Sermon Delivered By:
The Reverend Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches
Monday, June 11, 2007
BOSTON – Monday, June 11, 2007 – Today Governor Deval Patrick filed legislation to criminalize mortgage fraud as part of a comprehensive plan to prevent predatory lending and protect families facing foreclosures. The bill follows several regulatory changes already put in place by Governor Patrick to address the rising tide of foreclosures in Massachusetts. In April, the Commonwealth established a hotline for consumers and began assisting homeowners in crisis.
“We must help homeowners facing foreclosures,” said Governor Patrick. “The problem is complex and requires a comprehensive approach that provides for greater education and information for consumers before securing a mortgage; a more responsive legal framework for homeowners facing foreclosure, and clear consequences for those who engage in mortgage fraud. Massachusetts homeowners and their families deserve no less.”
Today’s legislation, “An Act Implementing the Division of Banks Mortgage Summit Recommendations,” implements recommendations from the Mortgage Summit Working Group that was convened in response to rising foreclosure rates. The Working Group, led by Commissioner of Banks Steven L. Antonakes, included nearly 50 participants from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the mortgage lending industries who convened to develop a comprehensive foreclosure prevention strategy.
This legislation increases protections for consumers and provides penalties for mortgage fraud.
The bill includes the following provisions:
· Criminalizing mortgage fraud. In response to rising instances of mortgage fraud, the bill would define mortgage fraud in statute and create criminal penalties for violations.
· Prohibiting abusive foreclosure rescue schemes. With many people facing the threat of foreclosures, unscrupulous individuals and groups have preyed upon consumers’ fears of losing their homes by promising to allow homeowners to stay in their home in exchange for signing over the property. Many people who fall victim to this scheme think that they are making mortgage payments when in fact they are paying rent. This bill would prohibit such agreements unless the purchaser is a direct relative.
· Requiring a Notice of Intent to Foreclose and Right to Cure. The bill sets out a right to cure for a consumer that is in default and requires the holder of a mortgage to inform the consumer of this right in addition to the intent to foreclose if the consumer does not cure the default.
· Prohibiting a lender from making an adjustable rate subprime loan unless the borrower opts-out. In reviewing default rates and foreclosure information, subprime fixed rate loans have performed well and allowed consumers with impaired credit to reestablish their credit history. Subprime adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), on the other hand, have very high default rates and higher foreclosure rates. This bill would prohibit any lender from making a subprime ARM unless the consumer affirmatively opts-out of the fixed rate product and presents a certificate indicating that they have received homebuyer counseling.
· Establishing a central repository of foreclosure information at the Division of Banks. The bill would require lenders and servicers to send a copy of the Notice of Intent to Foreclose and Right to Cure to the Division of Banks as well as the details of any final foreclosure. In addition, the bill requires the Division to establish a database of foreclosure information to track geographic and industry trends relative to foreclosures.
Several other provisions of the legislation address other lending and foreclosure issues identified by the Mortgage Summit Working Group.
Since April, when Governor Patrick first instructed the Division of Banks to seek case-by-case foreclosure delays for homeowners who filed complaints, more than 400 people have reached out to the Division. Just under half of those individuals were already in foreclosure and needed immediate relief. The Division was able to secure 30- to 60-day stays in the foreclosure process in most of those cases. Due to these stays, many individuals and families were able to refinance or are in the process of refinancing their loans, were able to modify their loan terms, have received credit counseling, or were able to sell their homes. In addition, homeowners who contacted the Division and were in financial distress but not yet in foreclosure were partnered with counseling agencies that offer comprehensive services that can help them change direction and hopefully prevent foreclosure from occurring.
In addition, the Division of Banks is also continuing work on the other Working Group recommendations. These include implementing regulatory changes that increase licensing and education requirements for mortgage lenders and brokers to eliminate disreputable firms and practices, and building on the partnerships between government, non-profit organizations, and the mortgage industry to improve the support for homeowners and monitoring of the industry.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
“To ensure our children receive an unparalleled education, we need a team of the brightest leaders and thinkers in education, in business, and in local communities to work through the challenges and the solutions we face as we usher in a new era in education reform,” Governor Patrick said. “Tom, Joe, and Jackie are terrific leaders with the experience and ingenuity we need to accomplish our goals. We know where we are headed. The job of this team will be to implement that vision.”
With Governor Patrick’s vision for the future of education in the Commonwealth as the goal, the project team will develop a 10-year strategic implementation plan that will secure the Commonwealth’s position not only as a national education leader but also as a global education leader.
The Project is to focus specifically on how best to implement the Governor’s vision, including recommendations for fundamental, systemic change to:
· Deliver universal early education and care for 3-4 year olds as well as Full-Day Kindergarten;
· Expand time for teaching and learning;
· Improve teacher licensing and certification on a broad scale;
· Enhance and improve teacher mentoring, induction and professional development;
· Align curricula throughout the entire system;
· Position and support charter schools, pilot schools, and traditional district schools so they are cooperative components of a comprehensive system;
· Improve MCAS and introduce additional standards and assessments;
· Universally extend education an additional two-years; and
· Fund the education system as envisioned adequately, equitably, and reliably.
The Project will include a Leadership Team of well-known, national and local leaders of stakeholder communities including but not limited to the early education and care community, K-12 education community, community college community, higher education community, human services community, workforce development community, and business community. The members of the leadership team will be announced over the next two weeks.
The Leadership Team will be charged with creating a cluster of issue-specific subcommittees to assist in the development of implementation recommendations for target components of the Governor’s plan.
The Leadership Team will synthesize all action recommendations into a concise, coherent strategic-plan and will present the implementation plan complete with benchmarks, cost projections and timelines, to Governor Patrick no later than March 31, 2008.
Joseph Tucci is Chairman of the Board of Directors, President and Chief Executive Officer of EMC Corporation. He has been EMC's Chairman since January 2006 and President and CEO since January 2001, one year after he joined the company as President and Chief Operating Officer.
Tucci is a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). He is one of 150 CEO members of The Business Roundtable and the former chairman of its Task Force on Education and the Workforce. He is one of nine chief executives who steer The Technology CEO Council, the IT industry's leading public policy advocacy organization, and is a member of the Executive Committee of TechNet, a network of CEOs who work to advance the U.S.’s global leadership in innovation.
"So many important things flow from access to a first-rate education--the ability to acquire and extend knowledge, the habit of life-long learning, and the readiness to compete and meet life's endless challenges,” Tucci said. “And therefore I am honored and excited to be one of the chairs of the Governor's Readiness Project and to be working with Tom Payzant and Jackie Jenkins-Scott. Together we will build on the substantial foundation created by Massachusetts' successful Education Reform Law to create our state's next-generation education system, with the aim of producing tomorrow's inventors and innovators and advancing the Commonwealth's reputation as a global leader in education."
Over the past several years, Tucci has overseen the most aggressive new-product introduction cycles in the company’s history, led EMC into multi-platform open software for storage, information, and content management, expanded the company’s marketplace beyond the enterprise to commercial and small-medium businesses, broadened the company’s industry alliances, and established new selling, partnership, and distribution channels. Acknowledging EMC’s rejuvenation, the editors of Business Week named Tucci one of Corporate America’s best senior managers of 2004.
Tom Payzant is a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to that, he served as superintendent of the Boston Public Schools from October of 1995 until his retirement in June of 2006. Before coming to Boston, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as assistant secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education with the United States Department of Education. Over the past decade he has led a number of significant systemic reform efforts that have helped narrow the achievement gap and increase student performance on both state and national assessment exams.
“The challenge for an education leader like Massachusetts is to take action today that will secure the future of all students tomorrow,” said Payzant. “With leadership, vision, and a willingness to work together to make tough choices about the fundamental elements of our education system, we can take public education where it needs to go.”
In addition to his tenure in Boston, Payzant has served as Superintendent of Schools in San Diego, Oklahoma City, Eugene, Oregon, and Springfield, Pennsylvania. Payzant's work has been recognized by educators at the regional and national level. In 1998, he was named Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year. In 2004, he received the Richard R. Green Award for Excellence in Urban Education from the Council on Great City Schools. And Governing Magazine named Payzant one of eight "Public Officials of the Year” in 2005.
Jackie Jenkins-Scott has served as the President of Wheelock College since 2004. From 1983 until 2004, Jenkins-Scott served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Previous to that she held several positions with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Departments of Public and Mental Health. As community leader, public health advocate and innovative administrator, she has been a nationally known figure for the past twenty-five years.
“By focusing on the connections between all segments of the education system and between education and the broader community, we can be assured of the Commonwealth's continued leadership in the years to come", said Jenkins-Scott. "More importantly, we can assist every student toward the lifelong goal of economic success, health and well-being that we know a first rate education can provide. I am honored to be part of what will be an historic turning point for all students in Massachusetts.
Jenkins-Scott has served on many civic and community boards. She currently serves as a Board member of the Kennedy Library Foundation and Museum, the Board of Trustees of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Board of Directors of the Tufts Health Plan. She is a board member of The Boston Foundation and Century Bank. Jenkins-Scott was recently appointed to Co-Chair Boston Mayor's School Readiness Action Planning Team.
Friday, June 08, 2007
For those who need/want to read the text:
TRANSCRIPT – “Marriage Equality”
Hello, this is Governor Deval Patrick.
We continue to work hard on an ambitious agenda for the Commonwealth. We are moving forward on initiatives to keep guns and gang violence out of our communities, to create new jobs (such as with our life sciences and clean energy initiatives), to bring affordable healthcare to children and the uninsured, to reduce property taxes and to create the strongest system of public education (pre-K through college) in the history of our Commonwealth.
These are things that demand our focus and attention, yours and mine, now and over the next few years. None is easy. But success with each will strengthen this Commonwealth and secure the future for us and our kids. To make these initiatives succeed, we need to come together and stay together, to pull in the same direction.
But just at the moment we need to come together, another ideological issue threatens to pull us apart.
2007 marks the third year for marriage equality in Massachusetts. I know emotions run high on both sides of this issue. And while I know that some differ from me on my support for marriage equality, I think even the opponents have to acknowledge that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry has not undermined my own or anyone else’s straight marriage. The institution of marriage is as strong as ever. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
Even though there has been no disruption to family life, and even though most of us have accepted the notion that private choices between private adults ought to be respected and legally protected, there are still those who feel we ought to decide by majority vote whether this small minority ought to have a right to private choices. So, on June 14, at a constitutional convention here in the State House, our legislators will be asked to endorse a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.
For several reasons, I think they should vote “no.”
First, the court has not granted gay and lesbian couples any right different from anyone else. The court has affirmed the principle that people come before their government as equals, that’s all, saying simply that if the government is going to give marriage licenses to anyone, it has to give them to everyone, regardless of whether the spouse you choose is of the same gender.
Second, we have never in this state used the ballot process to limit individual freedoms and personal privacy. Our constitution is designed to protect freedom and stand against discrimination. Yet with this proposal we are being asked to take freedom away from some people and to insert discrimination into our constitution. Where then does that stop? Shall we take away the freedom to worship in religions that the majority does not approve of? Of course we shouldn’t.
Third, even if you don’t support marriage equality, you have to realize that if this issue is placed on the ballot for a vote in 2008, for the next two years little else we need to do will get done. If we don’t lay this question to rest at the constitutional convention on June 14, a toxic debate will eclipse all the other business that you and I care about and drive us apart, just when we most need to work together. Instead of advancing our agenda in Massachusetts, we will spend the next two years surrounded by advocates from all over the country trying to make Massachusetts a political circus.
A number of advocates and members of the GLBT community have asked me to help end this debate once and for all on June 14, and I will do all I can. But with due respect, it will not be just because I believe that marriage equality is right. It will be because I believe that equality is right. Because every time the court affirms basic equality for any one, it affirms basic equality for all of us. And whenever basic equality is threatened to one, all are threatened. That is as true today as it was on the great civil rights questions of the 50s and 60s.
I ask you please to stand with us. Whether you support the right of adults to make private choices about whom to marry or just feel that we have bigger challenges to face together, call your State Reps and Senators and tell them it’s time for us all to move on. Ask them to vote to defeat the ballot initiative once and for all in the constitutional convention on June 14. Ask your friends, your family and your neighbors to reach out as well.
In our Commonwealth, all of our citizens should share the same rights and responsibilities without regard to skin color, or religion or disability. Our justice cannot be conditional. On the decision to marry or anything else, people must be able to come before the law as equals. Let’s come together now and keep this item off the ballot, and, once again, let Massachusetts serve as a national model of progress.
Thank you again, and we look forward to hearing from you.