Wednesday, August 25, 2010



Words cannot express how much I have enjoyed my time with you over the past year. I believe we have done great work in bringing people of faith together to support Marriage Equality in Iowa.

It is with deep regret that I inform you that my work with Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and the Faithful Voices program is at an end.

This was not an easy decision for me. I have loved my time here, both with the organization and in this great state. The Des Moines community has been more than kind to me and I was lucky enough to find a welcoming and warm faith home at Plymouth Congregational Church. However, as many of you know, in April of this year my husband moved to Pueblo, Colorado. After much prayer and consideration we have decided that the best decision for our family is for me to join him there. I am looking forward to continuing working for social and economic justice in that area.

I hope you will remember the value of having an organization that ensures that the voices of progressive people of faith are heard. The work must continue so that we may create a more civil, fair and free Iowa. Please continue to support Interfaith Alliance of Iowa with both your time and your resources.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Overcoming Frustration

Yesterday, One Iowa held a very successful rally in downtown Des Moines. I was proud to see many people of faith there to support Marriage Equality. I spent the event walking around, meeting new people and handing out cards with Faithful Voices information on it. I was feeling energized and positive and full of hope.

Then, just as I was leaving, a young woman approached me, my card in her hand, and asked me what “this Interfaith thing” was all about. I explained the mission of Interfaith Alliance and the work that Faithful Voices does. She responded with “but doesn’t the Bible say that homosexuality is an abomination?”

Oh. Boy.

Now, despite my positive feelings about the event, I have to admit that I was also burning up from the heat, badly in need of some H2O and really wanting to get home so I could call my husband and talk about our days (for those of you who don’t know, my husband has been living in Colorado since April). What I didn’t want to do was get into a theological discussion with a girl who had obviously had quite a bit of training in Evangelical debate. But it’s my job. It’s what I encourage you and all the other people involved with Faithful Voices to do every day. Share your story. Share your faith. Share why YOU support Marriage Equality. I should be pretty good at it, right?

Well, as yesterday proved, not always.

I just couldn’t seem to gather my thoughts together. I could feel myself getting frustrated and restless and just plain angry. I wanted so much to practice civility in the conversation...but I wanted almost equally to just shake her and shout “why can’t you understand!?!”

“Isn’t there only ONE Truth though?” (Seriously, lady, there’s sweat dripping down my legs)
“What about Sodom and Gomorrah?” (I just want to talk to my husband, is that so hard?)
“But shouldn’t the people get to vote on that?” (Gah!)

Luckily, we were interrupted by some clip-boarders and it gave me a few moments to gather myself. After they left I turned to her and said “Listen, I have to go, but I encourage you to look at the resources on our website. The point is there are different faith perspectives on this issue and that’s why our constitution protects religious freedom and civil rights.” She said thank you, handed me a pamphlet and I walked away. As I looked down I saw written on the front:



So...did I run away? Yes. Did I fail miserably at having a meaningful conversation with someone on the “other side” of this issue? Pretty Much. Does it mean I should give up? Stop trying? Avoid people who disagree with me at all costs?


It means that even those of us who do “relational organizing” for a living mess up. And let our emotions take over a little. And get distracted from talking points. And get out done.
It means that I need to keep working, and talking and trying.

Have you ever had moments like that? Did you get right back on the horse? How do you stay encouraged when you feel like you didn’t do your best?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marriage Equality Creeds

My mother, a UCC minister, has been on sabbatical for the last month and a half. Over that time, she has been studying the concept and meaning of covenant. Each week, she shares some of her thoughts from her studies on her blog, and each week I have to fight the temptation to share her blog with you. I especially wanted to share with you her post on the covenant of marriage, and the things she happened upon when researching that particular subject. I resisted the temptation, because I didn't want to be nepotistic.

This week, I just can’t resist drawing from her writings to start a conversation with you. Here’s an excerpt:
I don’t think I made it clear that while I understand our churches to be non-creedal, I recognize each Christian’s creed as essential to the health of their faith. Creeds in this sense are central to the life of covenant churches because part of what we covenant to do in loving each other in the way of faith, is to honor each other’s journey of faith and our creeds are the markers of where we have come on our journey.... Just because we don’t share the same confession doesn’t mean it isn’t important for us to share our own creeds with each other. Our UCC description of creeds as “testimonies not tests” of faith clearly implies that we are to be sharing our testimonies of faith with each other.

Now, many of your may be asking, “what does this have to do with marriage equality” or “hey, is this Faithful Voices post only directed to Christians?”
The answer is that her discussion on testimonies of faith, and her subsequent sharing of her own personal creed, got me thinking about how important it is that we each have our own personal creed when it comes to Marriage Equality. When I was interviewing for my position here, our Executive Director Connie asked me “if you were in an elevator with someone and had one minute to describe your support for same-gender marriage, what would you say?” I have to say, at the time I was totally at a loss for an answer. As an organizer I am always telling stories, listening to stories, seeking out stories. Stories by their nature are longer than an elevator ride. I still think they have a very important role in the movement we are creating, but I realize now how important that short answer is as well. Boiling something down doesn’t dilute, it makes it stronger! I realize now that what Connie was asking me for was my testimony, my creed. I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and I want to share my creed with you. I would then like to hear your creeds on why you support and defend Marriage Equality. Please share them here in the comments. I’m looking forward to seeing the variety of responses!

My Marriage Equality Creed:
I believe in God, who created me and loves every person unconditionally, as a parent loves a child. I believe in Christ, who redeems me, and every person, with a grace that surpasses our understanding. I trust that God intended for us to read the scriptures with not only our hearts, but our minds as well. I do not believe same gender affection is a choice, just as it is not my choice to have opposite gender attraction. We are all perfect, as God has created us.
I believe also that the United States Constitution grants equal protection to every citizen. I know that the right to marry gives couples the opportunity to provide for each other, care for each other, and create families together. I know that what happens in the court house is separate from what happens at the altar. I know that I will fight to protect the rights of others, as we are none of us safe until we are all safe.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aloha Civil Rights?

Yesterday, the governor of Hawaii vetoed that state’s civil union bill. You can see the article on The Advocate for more details, but one line from her statement really got me thinking. Explaining her reasons for the veto, Gov. Lingle said, “The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day. It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials.”

The Iowa Family Policy Center has titled their anti-equality campaign “Let Us Vote.” Their website says that it “is your right to vote on the definition of marriage.” It is interesting to me that this group has decided to headline their argument with a pronouncement of a “right.” What that quote translates to me is “it is your right to vote on other people’s rights”, or “it is a Conservative Christian’s right to vote on the religious views and practices of other Iowans” or “it is OUR right to vote on THEIR life.”
Does it bother me that a gay teenager has to sit through a church sermon telling him God hates him? Yes, it does. On a theological and moral level it bothers me deeply. Do I want the Iowa government to legislate that a minister can’t do that? No. What I want is for the Iowa Constitution to be upheld, both in its guarantee of equal rights and its protection of religious freedom.

My church and denomination affirm the value of all people, regardless of affectional orientation. My church performs same gender marriages. We believe that marriages, like the other covenant relationships we enter into as people of faith, are open to all people. The Iowa Family Policy Center can tell us we are wrong; the government of the state of Iowa cannot. The churches and ministers who support the IFPC can choose to not perform same gender marriages in their churches. For that matter, so can the churches and ministers who support the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. Churches get to control what goes on at the altar. What the churches cannot and should not control is what goes on at the courthouse. The Supreme Court did their job; they interpreted the Constitution and now the equal protection that has always been the law of the land is recognized and is being upheld.

What do you think is a good argument to NOT vote on equality? When opponents of civil marriage confront you on the issue, how do you respond? Many of us have religious reasons for our support. What are your civil reasons?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Keep on Keeping On

Isn’t it funny how quickly time passes? I feel like I just began my work with Faithful Voices, but the truth is I have been here for nearly 10 months. Before we know it, a year will have passed.
The program has evolved and changed as I have settled into my role here. We had a really excellent conference shortly after I arrived, and I have already begun work to make this year’s even better. I have traveled across the state to meet with old and new friends of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and started genuine, caring conversations with many people. I have strengthened ties of friendship and mutual caring between Faithful Voices and One Iowa and attended or organized events, forums and film showings to continue our work together.
Yet, I feel there is still so much to do.
Despite the fact that I become more confident every day that Marriage Equality is secure legally in Iowa, I still feel that there are far too many Iowans who need to hear progressive voices of faith speak up on the issue. Despite the warm welcome I received when I moved to this state, I feel that there is still much work to be done to make this state more welcoming, not only to LGBTQ people, but to all people. Despite the fact that I have met countless faith leaders who are willing to engage in conversation on difficult issues and to open up their arms and their places of worship to all, I still feel there are too many members of the clergy who are closing doors.
Where do we go from here?
I think the thing to do is to “keep on keeping on.” A large part of the power of community organizing is the ripple effect, the idea that one conversation you have can turn into four other conversations, which turns into sixteen, and so on. For me, this is the difficult part, because it is the part that I don’t get to see. I have faith and trust, however, that all the people I have met with have been sincere in their intentions to open up conversations in their communities. What I need to do now is to continue building relationships with those of you I’ve met and to work on creating new connections.
Have I met with YOU yet? Call me, email me, or write something on the Faithful Voices Facebook page and we will get together and talk about strengthening the movement for protection of Faith and Freedom in your community.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why Should People of Faith Care?

In a new weekly series, we will be showcasing different resources from our website.
This week, we look at the section titled “Why should people of faith care?” It’s a question a lot of people ask us here are Faithful Voices. It’s true, there are so many things in this world to care about. Why should Marriage Equality be one of them?
From our website:
“All across Iowa, in many families and faith communities, Iowans are thoughtfully talking about whether and how to recognize a life commitment made by two men or two women in love. People of faith and goodwill who support marriage equality come to this place from a few different directions.”

To read more go here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't let what happened in Maine happen in Iowa!

Here, on The Advocate, you can read about how a ballot measure to strike down Maine's gay marriage law passed yesterday.
While being sad and angry at this turn of events, we at Faithful Voices are looking towards the future, to the work still to be done, and to the hope tomorrow still holds.

Again, our Statewide Conference on Marriage Equality is going to provide skills and tools for people of faith to use so that what happened in Maine does not happen in Iowa. In addition to the workshops on dealing with conflict in congregations and having difficult conversations, there will also be workshops on advocacy and action. If you are someone who has decided how they feel about this issue, and decided you care about equality and protecting the separation between church and state, then please come to the conference and learn the skills to turn this belief into action. If you aren't sure about the issue yet, there are other workshops that will appeal to you.

You can register for the event on our website.