Thursday, March 19, 2009

Equality Arizona E-News

Top Story- a 20 year struggle for inclusion continues

Lisa Larges, a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, was blocked from ordination in 1992 by a court decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) because she was honest about being a lesbian. Larges has continued seeking ordination and on March 20, a hearing will decide if Larges' ordination will move forward or be appealed to the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church, the highest church court. A decision is likely to be announced the weekend after the hearing.

"Regardless of next week’s ruling, we know that this struggle will continue and inevitably end in gays and lesbians freely and openly serving our church as ordained officers, including as pastors and ministers" Larges said.

This has been a 20 year struggle for me as an individual, but we all know it is about much more than my personal calling to ministry, continue Larges. It is clear to me that as long as the Presbyterian Church practices faith based discrimination, it will be fighting a losing battle, because it’s already clear that Biblical scholarship, theological perspectives and cultural changes are moving our church inevitably toward inclusion. That day can’t come too soon, because until it does, our church will continue to wreak spiritual damage in the lives of Gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons and their families, and will turn away a whole generation of young people for whom the church's current policy is simply unacceptable. Although the ban against gay and lesbian ordination stands, a change in the church’s national policy allows individual exceptions if the candidate submits a statement of conscience against the prohibition.

Larges was the first to submit a statement of conscience and was approved to move forward in the ordination process. The hearing on March 20 will rule on charges claiming that while persons can dissent to theological views about gays and lesbians, they cannot be ordained as open and practicing unrepentant gays or lesbians.

To learn more about Lisa Larges click here

Political Update- Reproductive Health Legislation

HB 2654 and HB2400 have passed the House. The anti-choice agenda of the Arizona legislative machine is focusing almost exclusively on strategies to advance legislation that undermine a women’s right to access reproductive health care services, hurts families, promotes religion over science, and much more.

HB 2654 is a far-reaching, broad bill that will undermine the ability of women to access health care. HB 2400 is an attempt to duplicate a current federal law with a prohibition on certain abortion procedures which are already illegal in Arizona, as in the rest of the nation. We all want to reduce the number of abortions performed in Arizona. We must address this problem at its root, by addressing the epidemic of unplanned pregnancy. Teens are getting pregnant at a rate of 40 per day, and Arizona has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. It is the number one reason girls are dropping out of school.

More information from Planned Parenthood HB2564, HB2400

Issue Update- Marriage is a boost to the economy

Support is growing for legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine. The bill now has more than 60 lawmakers as co-sponsors. People are lining up to talk to their legislators, but it might not be the group of citizens you would imagine. Barbara Whitten from the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau said that when the bureau launched an LGBT tourism campaign several years ago the region saw a spike in people coming to the area.

Gay and lesbian buying power is estimated at $759 billion dollars for 2009. We are a powerful and loyal consumer group that should not be overlooked, rather embraced. On a local Arizona level, individuals in same-sex couples are more likely to be employed compared to married individuals. "78% of individuals in same sex couples are employed, compared to 59% of married individuals." according to the Williams Institute, in addition same sex couples in the state have a higher average household income, $69,372 vs. $68,648 for married couples, according to the same study. Our local partner, One Community, works to empower the gay and lesbian consumer and educate local businesses on the power of our diverse and loyal community. We vote with our wallet everyday.

For more information about how to vote with your wallet in Arizona visit our local partner One Community.

News from the Equality Arizona Education Institute - Pride Events Planned

Casa Grande March, Mar 28, 2009, 12:00pm - 3:00pm

Join us for the March for Equality at 510 E. Florence Blvd, Casa Grande, AZ. According to organizer Christopher Hall, this event will be much like Pride, but with a political twist, and with a march instead of a parade. The event will also include music, stand-up comedy, drag performances, food and other vendors, speakers and participation from Equality Arizona, Unified Voice, the Liberal Catholic Church International, and many other organizations working for equality.

For more information, contact Christopher Hall (520) 208-4681,

For information about transportation from Phoenix please contact Jimmy, 602-432-8021 or

Volunteer Opportunities

Phoenix Pride: Saturday & Sunday, April 18 & 19 2009 | Stand together.

We are looking for volunteers to march with our elected officials and lead the parade. Are you a newly registered domestic partnership in Phoenix? Would your whole employee or school group like to march with the politicians? Bring your signs; wear your logo shirts - it is most important that we march together. In this legislative climate it is more important than ever we show support for politicians working for the LGBT community.

We also need help in our information booth, as well as our beverage booths. This year we are adding coffee to the list. We need your help to make this happen!

Statewide Prides:

There are pride festivals around the state. Be active where you are! Join our new statewide Pride Outreach Team, or volunteer to support Equality Arizona at a pride festival in your area.

Email to participate.

This week on Equality Arizona Radio- V Day

Listen up as Emmy award winning host Donna Rossi talks about the “V” word. We're sitting down with Grassroots organizer Hillary Pinney of Planned Parenthood as she walks us through her experience with planning the 2009 V-day at ASU and the fight for reproductive rights of women everywhere. Don’t miss out on hearing about the partnership between Equality Arizona and Planned Parenthood.

download the podcast

Opinion- Michele White, Fair Trade Cafe

As a lesbian business owner, having been able to experience the warm and positive feelings of our LGBTQ community, I was drawn to create a space in which we could be ourselves, where we would always feel safe and welcome. I, along with two other business partners sought out to create that environment at the Fair Trade Café & Gallery.

To read the entire blog post click here.

Calendar items

Friday, March 20, 7pm, PFLAG Phoenix Film & Discussion Series showing of “In Good Conscience” For more information click here.

Saturday, March 21th, 6:15pm, Cielito Park, 3402 W. Campbell Ave , Phoenix, Candlelight Vigil on Three-Year Anniversary of murder of Maurice Dupree Green. For more information about the vigil, contact Megan Schmitz with Vice Mayor Simplot’s office at 602-262-4830.

Saturday, March 28, 6:30pm, Orpheum Theater 15 W. Aspen, Flagstaff, LUNAFEST, a fundraising film festival dedicated to promoting awareness about women's issues. The films, all created by female filmmakers, highlight women coming together in their communities. For more information click here.

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