michael j. morris


Blue Wedding: Venice

I apologize for my recent absence from my blog. For those of you who do not know, my computer crashed two weeks ago. It was under warranty and so the repairs will be covered, but going through the proper channels always takes time. For now I am borrowing friends’ computers wherever I can. Today I finally feel as if I have time to update my blog.

Last weekend was the Love Art Laboratory (Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens) Blue Wedding in Venice. I so desperately wanted to be in attendence, but financially that was impossible at this time. Today I finally came across images from the wedding, and I wanted to share those images with you. They are my joy today, and I hope they are joy for you as well.

I feel as if there is so much I can say about my perception of this work, and my evolving perspectives on the work of Love Art Lab. As I have written before, I think that their work represents something about inegrated living/loving/making, a conflation of creative practice, politics, ecology, sexology, sex and personal partnership, individual and communal identity, ritual and performance, and so many other elements of what it means to be human. As I experience this wedding vicariously, all of these things come to mind. But more than ever before, either because of the specific perspective of this documentation or because of my own artistic/scholarly concerns at present, I am aware of the politics of body morphologyand performanceand the unique subculture of body identities that I see represented in the documentation.

The images include a series of photos of Natalie Loveless doing a performance piece as part of the celebration that involves microfilament, dye, etc. I find it stunning, and so I have dedicated quite a few photos to it. This specific piece is might be central to the subculture of body morphology that I read through these images. The piece literally uses the body as the site for transformation, literally reshapes and recolors the body of the artist. I find that fascinating.

I think there is also an interesting question of costume . . . and suddenly I feel as if I am touching a new idea (for me). I have a perspective surrounding the body, that of the tension between the “social body” (the body as we present it and as it is perceived interpersonally in society) and the “actual body” (the unique morphology of the individual body). This is only one potential taxonomy for ways of looking at the body, and I think identity is situated somewhere in the midst of these. I am wondering as I look at these images where the concept of “costume” or even “role playing” might enter into this taxonomy. I am thinking of costume or role playing as a chosen social body that deviates from our regular social body, wearing clothes that are different than our regular clothes, make-up or paint that we do not usually don. How might costume enter the discussion of the politics of bodily identity? And what  significance/implications (for the individual and the community) might there be in the space created by the Love Art Lab wedding celebrations for diverse body expressions, including costumes and role-playing?

These are scattered speculations that are sparked by these images.

I want to post a bit from the “Artists’ Statement” for this event:

“For our seventh wedding, and in our Blue Year, we will marry the Sea. We are passionately in love with her and desire to take care of her in order to help save her. We are eco-sexuals, meaning that we find nature incredibly romantic, extraordinarily sensual, and an exquisite lover. Additionally, we are “sexecologists,” who combine sexology and ecology, and we intend to make the environmental movement a little sexier.

 

Why marry the sea in Venice? During the Renaissance, the Doge (chief magistrate) de-

creed that, “Venice must marry the sea as a man marries a women and thus become her Lord.” So each year the Doge would go out on a boat and drop a ring into the water. But can people really Lord over the Sea? What is perfectly clear is that people do have the power to destroy her, and are rapidly doing so. We will follow the tradition of marrying the Sea in Venice — as two women who have moved beyond the dominant-male and submissive-female dynamic, as seductive eco-sexual artists, and as global citizens who care deeply about the welfare of our planet.”

All images are by Mark Snyder via facebook.

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LGBT Pride Month

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA     
A PROCLAMATION

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA



Chakras, Marriage, and the Love Art Lab

I’ve been reading about chakras lately. I am preparing a guided experience for my somatics survey class as well as deepening my knowledge/experience of yoga (both for my own journey in the form, as well as in preparation to begin teaching yoga for the Department of Dance at OSU in the fall). I am mainly reading from Anodea Judith’s Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System. The energetic or subtle body has been a focus of my yoga practice for some time, but this is the first time that I have delved very deeply into this system of understanding of the body/human experience.

Judith calls chakras “organizing centers for the reception, assimilation, and transmission of life energies.” The seven main chakras are as follows:

Chakra One (Muladhara): Located at the base of the spine, associated with survival. Its element is earth.

Charka Two (Swadhisthana): Located in the lower abdomen is associated with emotions and sexuality. Its element is water.

Chakra Three (Manipura): Located in the solar plexis, associated with personal power, will, and self-esteem. Its element is fire.

Chakra Four (Anahata): Located over the sternum, associated with love. Its element is air.

Chakra Five (Vissudha): Located in the throat, associated with communication and creativity. Its element is sound.

Chakra Six (Ajna): Located in the center of the forehead, associated with clairvoyance, intuition, and imagination. Its element is light.

Chakra Seven  (Sahasrara): Located at the top of the head, associated with knowledge, understanding, and transcendent consciousness. Its element is thought. (Judith 25)

 

As I have been dipping into this study, it has revitalized me a bit after a week of disappointment and anger surrounding the state of equal rights in this country. As I have incorporated these ideas into my meditation practice, I have brought more wholeness and connectivity to my daily experience.
And I’ve made some other connections between chakras and same-sex marriage, mainly through the beautiful work of the Love Art Lab

Here is how the Love Art Lab introduces themselves:
“We, Elizabeth M. Stephens and Annie M. Sprinkle, are an artist couple committed to doing projects that explore, generate, and celebrate love. We utilize visual art, installation, theater pieces, interventions, live-art, exhibitions, lectures, printed matter and activism. Each year we orchestrate one or more interactive performance art weddings in collaboration with various national and international communities, then display the ephemera in art galleries. Our projects incorporate the colors and themes of the chakras, a structure inspired by Linda M. Montano’s 14 Years of Living Art. 

“The Love Art Laboratory grew out of our response to the violence of war, the anti-gay marriage movement, and our prevailing culture of greed. Our projects are symbolic gestures intended to help make the world a more tolerant, sustainable, and peaceful place.”

 

Every time I visit their website, I leave inspired (and not only because I am greeted with a flow of “We love you”s). In Annie and Beth’s work, I see an elegant and provocative synthesis of living, loving, and art-making. There is something beautifully balanced in their work, a way of addressing a more complete way of living and being in their practice. I love that their weddings are organized around the chakra system. I love that their material is both personal and universal. I love how queer it is, how subversive to normativity, and yet joyously so. Their work carries intense personal and political weight, and yet it is full of light and love and fun. It sometimes involves risk and vulnerability, and yet it seems to demonstrate that risk and vulnerability are okay, they are a part of living, and a BIG part of loving. I think I want to share some of their work with you as a counter-balance to the anger of my previous post. It isn’t that I’m not still angry and fed up of the voices that discuss homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the terms detailed in my last post; but in addition to anger, I also want to honor love and balance and connection. I want to relate the beautiful elegant system of the chakras to holistic, healthy living and loving. And I want to honor same-sex marriages that exist, whether or not they are recognized by the government. That’s a crux in this debate surrounding same-sex marriage: it isn’t whether or not anyone has any say as to the existence of same-sex marriage; it’s about civil rights. But for now, I hope you are as inspired by the beauty and joy of the Love Art Lab as I am:
(all materials are from the Love Art Lab website)

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“25 Ways To Make Love With The Earth:

1. Tell the Earth, “I love you. I can’t live without you.” 
2. At first you may feel embarrassed to be lovers with the Earth. Let it go. It’s OK. 
3. Spend time with her. 
4. Ask her what she likes, wants, and needs– then try to give it to her. 
5. Massage the Earth with your feet. 
6. Admire her views often. 
7. Circulate erotic energy with her. 
8. Smell her. 
9. Taste her. 
10. Touch all her all over. 
11. Hug and stroke her trees. 
12. Talk dirty to her plants. 
13. Swim naked in her waters. 
14. Lay on top of her, or let her get on top of you. 
15. Do a nude dance for her. 
16. Sing to her. 
17. Kiss and lick her. 
18. Bury parts of your body deep inside her soil. 
19. Plant your seeds in her. 
20. Love her unconditionally even when she’s angry or cruel. 
21. Keep her clean. Please recycle. 
22. Work for peace. Bombs hurt. 
23. If you see her being abused, raped, exploited, protect her as best you can. 
24. Protect her mountains. Stop mountaintop removal mining. 
25. Vow to love, honor and cherish the Earth until death brings you closer together forever.”

 

Now they are into their Blue year with two exciting weddings planned and other art events already taking place:

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So I know just scrolling through these images (and following links to more image galleries and videos) I am thoroughly inspired, to live and love and create. I hope you are too.

I’m off to see RAVE, the newest BacKspace show here in Columbus. Should be a blast.

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Prop. 8 Upheld

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/us/27marriage.html?_r=1&hp

Today the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Proposition 8 in the state of California. From the New York Times (link above):

“Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

“Justice George wrote that Proposition 8 did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the right to such a protected relationship, but argued that it “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.””

This makes me crazy. It offends me that this is the perspective of the law being upheld in the country in which I live. While it is true that the state of California does allow same-sex civil unions that offer equal legal protection under the law (along with four other states and the District of Columbia; see HRC’s website for the full info on same-sex marriage rights in the United States), civil unions are issued by and recognized BY THE STATE, whereas the legal status of “marriage”, while issued by the state, is recognized by the Federal Government, a recognition that is accompanied by more than 1,100 federal rights, benefits, and privileges. What I cannot wrap my head around is how a state supreme court can offer “equal state rights by another name” as the illusion of true equality. Nor can I understand to any degree how a federal government that currently supports this inequality is doing nothing in this or similar situations.

Then I recall that there are powerful voices in our nation advocating against equality. I hate that I came across this commentary on Anderson Cooper 360 today. I hate that things like this are being said.

Tony Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council. Here is the Family Research Council’s official press release on today supreme court ruling in California:

 “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2009

CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Maria Donovan, (866) FRC-NEWS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today praised the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold democracy and reject efforts to strip the right of the people to amend the state’s Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. 

“Over one million Californians signed petitions to place Proposition 8 on the ballot and over seven million voters approved the measure on Election Day. California’s Constitution gives its citizens the right of self-governance and we are pleased that the court resisted demands to strip the right of the people to amend the state constitution. Even this widely-recognized liberal court understands that overturning Proposition 8 would represent a repudiation of the state Constitution it is sworn to uphold. 

“Unfortunately, the Court chose to ignore the plain meaning of Proposition 8 and will force state recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses issued last year. The Court’s recognition of these ‘marriages’ clearly seeds the ground for a possible legal battle before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“At every opportunity, the people of California have voted to protect marriage because they recognize the far reaching consequences that redefining marriage will have for children, the family, religious liberties, businesses and every facet of American society. Today’s decision should encourage pro-family activists not only in California but across the country. Marriage redefinition is not inevitable unless advocates of the family stand aside and allow it to happen.”

– 30 –

 

I am offended to read praise for empowering a population to impose inequality in a nation that was supposedly founded on equal rights for all citizens. I am offended that this issue is touted as an issue of faith, family values, or semantics rather than one of civil rights. I am offended that heterosexual marriage is elevated as somehow sacred simply on the basis of it being between a man and a woman, no matter its content, no matter its foundation or integrity. I am offended that the re-definition of the legal status of marriage to recognize same-sex marriages is discussed as anti-family and the end of civilization as we know it, as if marriage has not been understood and re-defined culturally throughout history. The Family Research Council made similar statements in April after Iowa moved to recognize same-sex marriage under the law. 

 

 

The court decision is discussed with language such as “forcing same-sex marriage on an unwilling populous,” as if the decision to recognize equal rights for same-sex couples means that the population of Iowa at large will be subjected to non-consensual homosexual unions. It offends me that same-sex marriage is discussed as the gateway to polygamy and marriages between adults and minors, as if the one logically leads to the next. It offends me that the contemporary American definition of marriage is touted as the icon of “5000 years of human behavior,” as if past centuries in cultures around the globe have not recognized all sorts of variations not only on the formal composition of a marriage, but also the meaning which the culture gave to it. 

Earlier this year, I wrote a letter to the FRC responding line by line to their official statement on homosexuality. At the time I did not feel it necessary to make my statement/response public, but today as events such as the California Supreme Court decision continue to unfold, and as organizations such as FRC continue to proliferate statements of their views into arenas of public discourse, I felt the need to make my statements more public as well. It can be viewed here.

At the same time, I am encouraged that their are public advocates for equality to continue to be just as vocal as the FRC. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement today:

5/26/2009

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the California Supreme Court’s split 6-1 decision today ruling that Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, is valid.  As a result of the court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton, California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage rights for same-sex couples.  As same-sex couples and allies from across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online, YouTube video set to the song “I Won’t Back Down”: www.HRC.org/California
 
“Today’s ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality.  The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex couples out of basic constitutional protections,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback.  There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation’s largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.” 

One significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT equality.  The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC’s Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as HRC’s National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California.

“This ruling couldn’t be more out of step with what’s happening across the country,” said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. “We have no choice but to return this basic question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back to the voters.”
  
“While we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8 vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the sting of this ruling,” added Solmonese.
 
Over the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples has changed dramatically.  For the first time, more Americans say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it (46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in late April.”

 

Below is the video referenced in the body of HRC’s statement. If nothing else, it inspires me to hope.

 

I am sure there are some who might read this and wonder what relevance it has to me creative activity or work as a dance artist/scholar. The shortest answer is that it is all connected. As I make work, as I consider the body and its social relevance, I am brought face to face with the society in which I am creating, in which I am living. As I consider the subjects of my research, I consider the research and analysis and writing that has not been done, that has not been explored by dance scholars. This was the fuel for my recent presentation on the negotiation of gender in the work of Bronislava Nijinska. I am currently exploring the potential for analyzing the work of Frederick Ashton through a queer lens. Ashton was a homosexual choreographer, and yet his work has rarely been considered for its potential as a contributor to queer culture or a queer contribution to dance culture. It all relates, it all synthesizes, and part of the purpose of this blog is for these ideas and interests from seemingly disparate parts of living and making to co-exist in this space, to find relationships and offer new points of interest in the process. If this particular post seems too political or too removed from art/dance/creative activity, I encourage you to reconsider it as a component of the making, of the thinking that leads to the making, of the living which fuels and influences and shapes the making. I encourage you to follow a trail of “tags” and see how ideas start to relate, maybe in ways that they didn’t before.



In response to the Family Research Council
24 February, 2009, 1:03 am
Filed under: culture | Tags: , , , ,

This is a letter that I wrote to the Family Research Council in response to their official statement on homosexuality. During the time at which I wrote it, I didn’t feel the need to make it a public statement, but as events in our nation continue to unfold, it felt more necessary that these sort of responses exist in a public arena, just as do the words and ideas to which they are responding.

My letter was originally addressed to Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council. I never received a reply.

The statements of the FRC are in regular type; mine are in bold.

 

“Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.” 

As a homosexual, it offends me to be told that my conduct, completely removed from its content or intentions, is detrimental to my society and myself. Before a Council appoints itself as judge and jury of such things, it should consider that perhaps the truly harmful conduct is sexual conduct divorced from love or the authenticity of the individual. It should consider the harm done to individuals living in secret repression because their families, churches, governments, and societies tell them that to express who they are and what they feel constitutes a threat to themselves and their society. I offer that perhaps individuals who are faced with this sort of oppression, the oppression of shame, secrecy, dishonesty, and a cultural education in self-hate and condemnation, at the hands of those in positions of power are the true victims of harm in our culture, and their suffering is a far greater detriment to society.

“It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.” 

I find it arrogant, ignorant, and narrow that this Council has appointed itself the judge of that which is natural and unhealthy. Despite whatever moral systems might be interpreted or derived from sources such as scripture, we as human beings were not given a manual of natural and unnatural, especially when it comes to our bodies and our interpersonal relations. What we have been given is our own experience, a legacy of human inquiry and investigation serving as the foundation for scientific exposition. And from these inquiries, it can certainly be said that negative physical and psychological effects can be a side effect of all kinds of sexual and emotional conduct, even church and government sanctioned heterosexual marriage. Equally, all kinds of sexual and emotional conduct can be expressed in healthy, life and love affirming manners, including those of homosexual couples.

“While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn.”

The origins of same-sex attraction, like all aspects of human identity, are indeed complex. Like all aspects of human identity, there is no convincing evidence that any essence is purely the product of genetics apart from the influence of environment. Identity is always a negotiation of the predetermined (genetics) and the circumstantial (environment). The question of whether homosexuality stems primarily from a persons genes or their environmental condition becomes remarkably less important when one questions whether heterosexuality stems more from genetics or from a society that dictates that heterosexuality is the only acceptable interpretation and expression of oneself.

“We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools.”

In turn, I oppose the ill-informed, unconcerned, unloving verbiage proliferated by your organization concerning me, those like me, our rights, and our representation in the media and in schools.

“Attempts to join two men or two women in “marriage” constitute a radical redefinition and falsification of the institution, and FRC supports state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent such redefinition by courts or legislatures.”  

In reality, marriage has always been redefined to reflect the values of the culture in which it emerges. Only a few thousand years ago, as recorded by scripture, marriage was defined in many cultures as including polygamy. In most cultures throughout history, even when those engaging in the union were heterosexual, the roles associated with marriage have varied to reflect the needs and expectations of the culture. It is an institution that emerges principally from the relationships that seek to define themselves as married, and secondarily from a society that agrees to recognize that union with those who have declared it. In reality, church, state, and federal governmental recognition is not necessary for same-sex marriage to exist. As long as couples pledge their union to one another, they are married. As these relationships continue to make themselves public and proclaim their commitment, our society will continue to recognize them as valid. It is only a matter of time before laws emerge to reflect those recognitions. What we homosexual activists seek is not a radical redefinition, but the state and federal rights, benefits, and privileges that are awarded heterosexual couples not on the basis of their love for one another, not on the basis of the sanctity of their marriage, not based on the fidelity of their relationship, nor even their ability or inclination to reproduce. They are awarded these rights, benefits, and privileges for filing a document that they states that they call themselves married. To not award these opportunities equally to homosexual couples is not affirming the sanctity of marriage nor the foundation of the family; it is the affirmation of discrimination.

“Sympathy must be extended to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and every effort should be made to assist such persons to overcome those attractions, as many already have.” 

Many have been destroyed by such attempts as well. In turn, I choose to extend sympathy to those who struggle with discrimination against those who are not like them. I extend sympathy to those who feel the need to exclude so that their rights maintain exclusive value. I extend sympathy to those who have been deceived, suppressed, and repressed by the opinions of organizations and individuals such as yourselves. I extend sympathy to those who will one day face the shame of serving as proponents of hate and segregation on the basis of difference in this country.

I do not write to you out of hatred, but out of offense and resentment. Your organization is in a position to do incredible good on behalf of children, born and unborn, families (no matter their composition), and personal liberty in our country. Yet you taint your efforts by weaving with them ignorance, discrimination, and hate. I trust that you have the best of intentions; I appreciate that you fear for the future and feel justified in blaming homosexuality for threatening our culture. But I ask you to consider that perhaps the words you say do more harm than good. Perhaps their capacity for individual destruction and giving sanction to more acute demonstrations of discrimination and hate is greater than you might perceive. Your organization serves as a conscience and moral compass for many in this country. I ask that as such you consider the words I have shared with you in response to your published statements concerning homosexuality, and the implications of your position of power in contributing to cultural liberty and respect for the diversity of what it means to be a human being.

Thank you for your time.

-Michael J. Morris



Milk, the Academy Awards, Same-Sex Marriage
23 February, 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: culture | Tags: , , , , , ,

Not that the Academy Awards matter to me almost at all, but I wanted to share these videos as a continued commentary on the film Milk and also as a contribution to the on-going public dialogue surrounding same-sex equal rights and same-sex marriage in this nation. Even though I wasn’t watching, I am pleased that these were words spoken to many Americans last night. Particularly moving was the speech by Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplay for Milk.



Gene Robinson’s invocation at the start of Inauguration week:
18 January, 2009, 11:39 pm
Filed under: cosmology, culture, inspiration | Tags: , , ,

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN.”

 

This is the only transcript I have found. I don’t know for certain that it is completely accurate, but I was moved by its essence. HBO did not broadcast it as part of its coverage of today’s event, and I cannot help but feel insulted by their omission in their coverage. But I was pleased that such ideas as are above articulated are being spoken in the process of Barack Obama becoming our next president.

 

Update:
I just found this youtube video. I haven’t checked it against the transcript, but it is definitely essentially the same. I hope you take the time to read or watch this eloquent prayer: