Friday, September 15, 2017

General Convention 2018: A Time to Celebrate


Donate to the General Convention 2018 fund

Less than a year from now we will have finished General Convention (GC) 2018. This is the first opportunity Integrity USA has had to actually celebrate what happened during General Convention 2015.

GC 2015 represented the accomplishment of a legislative mission that began in earnest about 26 years ago. At the Episcopal Church-wide level, canon law now exists that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity…among all of the other prohibited discriminations in the life of the church, access to the ordination process and a myriad of areas that impact the lives of all, but especially the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-plus (LGBTQ+) members of the church.

Similarly, we now have rites to celebrate same sex unions, including the first reading of changes to the language of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to make marriage rites gender neutral. These rites in conjunction with the Supreme Court ruling in July 2015, makes marriage between members of the same sex available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of the United States. We do note that the bishops of eight of the 101 domestic dioceses still do not permit same sex marriages in their dioceses, in clear violation of canon law.

The overarching mission of Integrity USA has been accomplished at the church wide legislative/canonical level. What still remains to be accomplished needs to be done at the diocesan/parish level as grass roots missionary work.

So yes it is time for celebration.

Integrity USA wants to celebrate at GC 2018 in two ways: One is in staffing a booth in the exhibit hall. The other is in sponsoring a Celebratory General Convention Eucharist. The cost of both is outside our budget. So we turn to you.

We need to raise approximately $42,500 to support our booth in the exhibit hall and to cover the expenses of a General Convention Eucharist (space rental, communion supplies, bulletins, etc., usual expenses for a large Eucharist outside our normal church setting.)          

Those of us whose names appear below have served as national presidents of Integrity USA. We seek your prayerful support and your financial support to help us make GC 2018 a holy celebration for the accomplishments achieved over decades of work. Will you join us?



Kim Byham
Fred Ellis
Bruce Garner
Matt Haines
Caro Hall
Michael Hopkins
David Norgard
Susan Russell

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Millstone of the Nashville Statement

In Nashville in October of 2014, I joined about fifteen LGBTQ people who were invited to a closed-door, off-the-record conversation with the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I was disappointed, this week, to recognize the names of many from that meeting on the list of anti-LGBTQ evangelical leaders who drafted the “Nashville Statement,” a comprehensive fundamentalist Christian manifesto on sexuality and gender.

That 2014 meeting went late into the night, and the discussion was intense. What I remember most clearly were the pleas and tears of some of these men in attendance (all of them were men) begging us to understand that they didn't hate LGBTQ people––saying how much it hurt them to have people call them “bigots” and “homophobes.”

We ended the evening having all promised more kindness, more listening, more respect, and more dialogue, and I, perhaps naively, hoped both sides were sincerely committed to those goals moving forward.

In the subsequent months and years that followed, and with growing intensity since the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015, they have abandoned all remaining pretense of tolerance for the LGBTQ community. Since then, they have demonized and pathologized transgender people, lobbied for bills that discriminate against LGBTQ people under the name of "religious freedom," and created a martyrdom complex for their own decreasing social relevance.

A year after the meeting in Nashville, I traveled to Louisville, for a biblical counselor's conference on what they billed as "Transgender Confusion." At the conference, one of the Nashville Statement's signees said during his presentation that any parent with a transgender child should sever ties with the child completely––that they should abandon their child for being transgender. When asked about their responsibility to LGBTQ lives––particularly the alarming numbers of LGBTQ youth lost to suicide––the panel denied culpability, smirked at the notion of their theology being toxic or harmful, and suggested that while such deaths are tragic, the reality of eternal separation from God (damnation) was far sadder.

Once again, there were tears because the issues of gender identity and sexuality supposedly represented a crisis at the very foundation of the Gospel and the social order itself (I've always believed that Jesus was the foundation of the Gospel, but I digress).

And so I'm here a couple of years later, seeing and hearing the same things from these men, all crying the same crocodile tears of "loving conviction" for people they have fought so passionately to demonize and blame for their own diminishing power and influence.

In the age and spirit of Trump, their bigotry is once again emboldened by their ties to political power. In fact, several of its prominent signatories make up the President’s faith advisory council. Much like white conservative evangelicals in the Reagan era, these desperate men feel like maybe, just maybe, they haven’t lost the culture war once and for all, and the Nashville Statement serves as proof that the old guard is still holding out.

Their 2014 and 2015 tears, confessions, and prayers have amounted to nothing more but a revived lust for dominance, subjugation, and the placing of an unbearable burden around the necks of LGBTQ Christians. There was no love in their words and tears then, nor is there any love in their words now; and without love, God cannot be present in anything they profess.

At the end of the day, I’m left to wonder what tears they’ll cry at the end of their time. Will they weep with remorse for lifetimes of cruelty when they find LGBTQ people in the Kingdom of Heaven? Or will they weep with disappointment and anger when they find that God is infinitely more loving and inclusive than they ever imagined?

Justin Davis
Queer Christian and LGBTQ Advocate


Dates: 

  • “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage” Conference 10/28-29/2014 (Start date may have been 10/27) Nashville, Tennessee, Gaylord Opry Hotel
  • “Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity” Pre-conference 10/5/2015, Louisville, Kentucky, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Homosexuality Conference: 



Transgender Conference:







Friday, August 11, 2017

Update from Texas and the Transgender "Bathroom Bill"

As the special session of the Texas Legislature winds down, I would like to make a few observations on the life lessons I have learned as a Loud Mouthed Transgender Texan of Faith.

With only a week to go (as of this writing) the chance of a “bathroom bill” getting passed by the Texas House of Representatives is getting smaller and smaller. We must stay vigilant during the remaining days of the special session and also be alert to the Governor’s next political move.

First of all, I would like to say thanks to everyone who stood with and by me in so many ways that I can never fully express the love that I felt. Standing with so many other transgender/non-binary folks and our allies gave me a glimpse of what solidarity must look like. Testifying, lobbying, and sometimes even having to justify my right to exist was both daunting and lonely. For those who bought gas, put me up for the night, supplied coffee, shared a smile, sent me an encouraging Facebook post, and most especially those who reached out and gave me a hug when I was ready to give up on the world, I say "Thanks." I may have often gotten lonely but I knew that I was never truly alone. Most of you know that I can be very high strung and emotional but one of the things that always kept me grounded was the fact that on every trip to Austin, I was able to spot out fellow Episcopalians in the crowd.

One of the sadder aspects of this battle has been both the loss of support and the lack of support that
resulted from me making a public stand. Friends and family have either strengthened their connections or have further distanced themselves from me. I mourn for the losses. For me to be a Christ-like role model, I must be honest about myself and be very public about my support for the rights of the transgender community. God in all of Her glory will not let me rest until I have stood up for every young person who has not yet found their own identity and voice. Nor will I be able to rest until I have spoken out for every trans elder in our community who is just beginning to find their voice. I will raise my voice until we can all stand together with one voice.

I have been disappointed in leaders, most especially certain religious leaders, who seem to lack the
courage to publicly stand up for all of God’s children. Showing your support silently or in ways that are so safe that it renders your support to be invisible has been the toughest realization to bear. I and others like me will carry on with or without you. In the end, you are accountable to God for your own lack of courage. I have greater respect for folks who have the courage to voice opinions that are
different than mine than I have in folks who hide in the shade and make no stand at all.

While this battle may be winding down (at least temporarily) in my part of the world, the real battle is
just beginning on two important fronts. First of all, we must reach out to those who have been damaged by the open hostility shown to so many trans folks of all ages. We must show love and real support to those who have lost faith in the decency of humankind. Secondly, we must find a way to educate those who did not stand with us and somehow find a way to work and walk together. After all, there will be further battles to fight. To make an ally out of a foe may be God’s toughest assignment yet, but imagine the things that we could accomplish together.

There are so many folks that are fighting for social justice in our country at this time. I know that you are often weary and tired, but always keep in mind that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Lastly, I ask that you pray that my own wounds will heal so that I may better see Christ in others.

S Wayne Mathis
Vice-President for Local Affairs, IntegrityUSA

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Transgender Discrimination at the Highest Levels of Government

I find myself baffled at the just plain old meanness and nastiness of the Trump Administration. Trump himself seems to delight in being mean to others. He has clearly shown himself to be what he has been all along: a bully, an insecure man who demands loyalty and cannot cope with those who do not hand over their loyalty to him. Perhaps someone should remind him that loyalty per his own oath of office and that of every federal employee is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. It is not to pledge loyalty to any single individual or group….just to the Constitution.

His stance against transgender men and women serving in the United States military is not justifiable by any logical measure. But then again, we are not dealing with logic here. Any person who wants to serve or is serving in the military should be judged by only one standard: Does she or he meet the mental and physical requirements to serve. Those are essentially the same for cisgender men and women. Why should there be a different standard for transgender men and women? There should not be. Anything else is purely and blatantly discrimination based on gender expression and gender identity. Such discrimination is wrong and unjustifiable.

Trump’s position, regardless of what his military “experts” tell him is at odds with the policies of our major allies. Canada, Australia and Israel, to name only three, all allow transgender women and men to serve in their military units. Are we really so arrogant that we think they are wrong and we are right here?

Integrity USA stands in support of transgender women and men serving in our military.

We do so with the full backing of The Episcopal Church. Canon law in The Episcopal Church prohibits discrimination against transgender women and men (as well as a host of other variations in the human expression of sexuality, ability, etc.). “The law,” so to speak is on the books and has been for several years now.

I urge everyone who reads this to do exactly what I have been imploring all to do for months now: call, email, write, visit your elected representatives in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Make your opinions known. Cite the canon law that governs our church. Cite basic human dignity and decency. Cite the decisions rendered by a number of courts that prohibits such discrimination.

It is time to raise some hell, my kindred in Christ. It’s time we flipped the tables of the money changers in the Temple. Our transgender kinfolk need us now more than ever.

Remember that when the civil and human rights of any begin to be chipped away by prejudice, bigotry, meanness and nastiness, there is nothing to prevent those same bigots from going after the other civil and human rights we have. Speak out. Silence will still equal death.

Bruce Garner
President, Integrity USA

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June 30 Friday Flash (reposted again)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 Friday Flash June 30 (Reposting second attempt)


This is the URL to what appears below. I'm experimenting to see if what ultimately gets posted is the same as what appears on Walking With Integrity. Being mostly a luddite with this stuff, please bear with me as I learn the processes. Thanks, Bruce


http://cts.vresp.com/c/?IntegrityUSA/ab432d90a6/0f53c7189f/2fea4c2c1d


Today is the last day of June. This brings what is traditionally known as “Gay Pride Month” to a close. The “title” has been changed through the years so that it is actually “LGBTQ+ Pride Month now to reflect our intentional recognition that it includes others than those who identify as lesbian or gay. Celebrations, parades, demonstrations have been happening all around the country with most last weekend, the traditional anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that began the civil rights movement aimed at LGBTQ+ people.


Do we have a reason to celebrate? To be proud of who we are as LGBTQ+ people, and in our case LGBTQ+ people of faith?


The answer is complex and can be answered as yes and no. Yes, because we should be justifiably proud of the enormous accomplishments that have been made in the 48 years since Stonewall. Some would say that our movement has been on the “fast track” for what has been accomplished.


No because there remains much TO accomplish for us and for women, people of color, people of differing ethnicities, different faith expressions, and basically anyone who does not identify as essentially straight white and male in this country. The political climate right now and the continued actions of both Congress and the current administration are glowing illustrations of what is still to be done….for so many.


On a positive note, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NLGTF) announced yesterday that pressure on the Administration for Community Living (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) had worked and they were restoring the questions directly related to LGBTQ senior citizens that they had planned to eliminate. See, calling, writing, contacting does work!


To reverse-paraphrase an Easter hymn: The strife is NOT over, the battles are NOT won, victory is not yet in hand.


On a more somber note, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, resigned from his last formal church role for his part in ignoring reports of sexual abuse by now disgraced and former bishop Peter Ball. It was, once again, a problem many knew about but did not address.


Peter Ball had a history of engaging in sexual abuse. Reports were ignored. While I certainly have no credentials related to psychotherapy, it has long been my personal contention that when we force someone into a box they were not intended to fit, there will eventually be an “explosion” and inappropriate actions and behavior will result.


How long have we, as a church and a society, forced women and men into the large box called the closet because of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression? Did no one ever contemplate the consequences of forcing people to appear and act differently than their authentic selves? Did no one ever consider that the pressure of the box, the closet, would eventually result in an explosion?


Human beings are human beings. We can only cope with so much pressure for so long. Hopefully we are beginning to see less and less sexual abuse as we are being allowed to be our authentic selves. The remaining question is whether we will actually be our authentic selves. As you have read and heard from me countless times now, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Ask why the work and sacrifices of so many to create a Pride Month has not moved you to act. At a recent exhibit and conversation about HIV/AIDS I was once again reminded that our silence really could mean our death.


Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA


________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org.


________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference A first-ever major conference on LGBTQ Christian history is happening on October 31-November 2 in St. Louis. Rolling the Stone Away will bring together dozens of elders, saints and prophets of the past five decades to honor their deep impact on U.S. social and religious institutions and to reflect on how this history informs our movements for justice today. "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to interact in-person with most of the movers and shakers of LGBT Christian movements," notes Conference Coordinator Mark Bowman. "This is the kind of unique gathering that you will want to be able to say 'I was there!'" Click here to see the amazing diversity of early activists that you will see there. Watch the website for updates. Reserve your place there by registering now. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends.


________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________

Friday Flash June 30

This is the URL to what appears below. I'm experimenting to see if what ultimately gets posted is the same as what appears on Walking With Integrity. Being mostly a luddite with this stuff, please bear with me as I learn the processes. Thanks, Bruce http://cts.vresp.com/c/?IntegrityUSA/ab432d90a6/0f53c7189f/2fea4c2c1d Today is the last day of June. This brings what is traditionally known as “Gay Pride Month” to a close. The “title” has been changed through the years so that it is actually “LGBTQ+ Pride Month now to reflect our intentional recognition that it includes others than those who identify as lesbian or gay. Celebrations, parades, demonstrations have been happening all around the country with most last weekend, the traditional anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that began the civil rights movement aimed at LGBTQ+ people. Do we have a reason to celebrate? To be proud of who we are as LGBTQ+ people, and in our case LGBTQ+ people of faith? The answer is complex and can be answered as yes and no. Yes, because we should be justifiably proud of the enormous accomplishments that have been made in the 48 years since Stonewall. Some would say that our movement has been on the “fast track” for what has been accomplished. No because there remains much TO accomplish for us and for women, people of color, people of differing ethnicities, different faith expressions, and basically anyone who does not identify as essentially straight white and male in this country. The political climate right now and the continued actions of both Congress and the current administration are glowing illustrations of what is still to be done….for so many. On a positive note, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NLGTF) announced yesterday that pressure on the Administration for Community Living (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) had worked and they were restoring the questions directly related to LGBTQ senior citizens that they had planned to eliminate. See, calling, writing, contacting does work! To reverse-paraphrase an Easter hymn: The strife is NOT over, the battles are NOT won, victory is not yet in hand. On a more somber note, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, resigned from his last formal church role for his part in ignoring reports of sexual abuse by now disgraced and former bishop Peter Ball. It was, once again, a problem many knew about but did not address. Peter Ball had a history of engaging in sexual abuse. Reports were ignored. While I certainly have no credentials related to psychotherapy, it has long been my personal contention that when we force someone into a box they were not intended to fit, there will eventually be an “explosion” and inappropriate actions and behavior will result. How long have we, as a church and a society, forced women and men into the large box called the closet because of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression? Did no one ever contemplate the consequences of forcing people to appear and act differently than their authentic selves? Did no one ever consider that the pressure of the box, the closet, would eventually result in an explosion? Human beings are human beings. We can only cope with so much pressure for so long. Hopefully we are beginning to see less and less sexual abuse as we are being allowed to be our authentic selves. The remaining question is whether we will actually be our authentic selves. As you have read and heard from me countless times now, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Ask why the work and sacrifices of so many to create a Pride Month has not moved you to act. At a recent exhibit and conversation about HIV/AIDS I was once again reminded that our silence really could mean our death. Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org. ________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference A first-ever major conference on LGBTQ Christian history is happening on October 31-November 2 in St. Louis. Rolling the Stone Away will bring together dozens of elders, saints and prophets of the past five decades to honor their deep impact on U.S. social and religious institutions and to reflect on how this history informs our movements for justice today. "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to interact in-person with most of the movers and shakers of LGBT Christian movements," notes Conference Coordinator Mark Bowman. "This is the kind of unique gathering that you will want to be able to say 'I was there!'" Click here to see the amazing diversity of early activists that you will see there. Watch the website for updates. Reserve your place there by registering now. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends. ________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Flash June 23

June 23, 2017 Friday Flash ________________________________________ Support our Mission This week brought us the US Senate’s version of the revised health care plan that is supposed to replace the the Affordable Healthcare Act with something “better.” I’ve come to the conclusion that “better” actually means more beneficial to the profits of the health insurance industry. I see nothing in the Senate proposal that is helpful to those most in need of healthcare insurance: The poor and marginalized, including LGBTQ+ citizens of this nation. The group that will benefit most from the Senate proposal is the so-called “1 percent” of our population. Why would I bring this up here? Well so many members of Congress are very clear and concerned that people see them as having solid Judeo-Christian values. It baffles me how they could support either the House or Senate version of healthcare reform bills. Both versions are about as far from Judeo-Christian values as one could get. This is where I urge you to write to your elected representatives and express your opinion on this matter as the Senate prepares to vote next week. I wrote to both Senators from Georgia, even with the full realization that neither really cares. Both are rich and have little contact with any constituents who live at or below the poverty line. If you want to see what I said to them, please go to my Face Book page…..I posted the body of the letter there. The question continues to come up about whether or not the work and ministry of Integrity is still needed. The above is one example. Politicians need to hear something other than the religious right on issues of substance that reflect how we treat members of our society. Another reason for the ongoing need for Integrity is in the article below repeated from last week. Who would have thought that a conference on so-called “conversion therapy” would be taking place in California….in the Diocese of San Diego. The voice of Integrity needs to be heard in both faith and secular settings to debunk the myth that someone can change their sexual orientation and provide pastoral care to those who have been victimized by the practitioners of this obscene process According to a report noted in an article below, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that it is permissible for people in Mississippi to discriminate against others because of their religious beliefs. People who profess to be Christian can refuse services to LGBTQ+ folks, Muslims, people of color….essentially anyone at odds with the narrow beliefs of the service provider. The voice of Integrity is still needed in Mississippi. Presuming this case gets appealed to a higher court, the justices need to hear a voice other than the religious right. In Province IV at least two dioceses continue to refuse to marry same sex couple and will not allow LGBTQ+ members of our church to hold some positions of leadership...in violation of several articles of canon law. Even in the state of New York there is a diocese that will not marry same-sex couples and has refused to allow legally married same sex clergy to carry out their ministries in that diocese. Is there a doubt that the voice of Integrity and the voices of LGBTQ+ Episcopalians needs to be heard in the church and in secular society? Are you a member of Integrity? If so, make your voice heard and contribute to our operations. If you are not a member, we invite you to join….regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. No matter your relationship to Integrity and/or the church, the voice of more moderate people of faith needs to be heard in the deliberative processes at the national and local level in our nation. Our silence really could mean our death. So, who have you written, called, texted, emailed, or contacted to express your views? If the answer is “none” then look at yourself and ask why you are so complacent. Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ________________________________________ Integrity Houston Pride Parade Integrity Houston is hosting a Pride Street Eucharist and Pride Parade, Saturday June 24th from 6 pm- Midnight. Click here to see the Facebook event for more details. ________________________________________ Integrity San Diego Protests Conversion Therapy Conference Integrity San Diego was present to protest the Restored Hope Network national conference. There was a vigil on June 15 at 5:30pm. Demonstrations of love and acceptance organized by a group of San Diego LGBTQ organizations will follow on June 16 and 17 at the sites of the hotel and conference. All are welcome to join! You are also invited to participate with St. Paul’s at San Diego Pride on July 15. And read the Integrity blog post regarding this protest, written by The Rev. Jeff Martinhauk . ________________________________________ Appeals Court Upholds MS Religious Freedom Law A federal appeals court says Mississippi can start enforcing a law that protects merchants and government employees from being forced to participate in activities that run contrary to their religious beliefs about sexuality. ________________________________________ 12 Year Old Girl Comes Out to Her Mormon Congregation Savannah, 12, made a decision this January; she was going to come out as lesbian at her Mormon Church. Nothing was going to stop her….Official church policy welcomes members of the Mormon faith that have same-sex attractions. Church teaching, however, mandates that members with same-sex attractions cannot act on those feelings. They must remain celibate and they cannot get married to members of the same sex. ________________________________________ Celebrating Pride? If your organization is celebrating pride this month or this summer, post it on our Facebook Group page or share it with mel@integrityusa.org. ________________________________________ Once in a Lifetime Conference Prophets young and old will tell the stories of our history and explore our future at Rolling The Stone Away conference, this October 31-November 2, 2017 in St. Louis. Rolling The Stone Away will honor elders, saints and prophets from all generations, from many Christian denominations, and mark the ground-breaking achievements, relentless commitments, and often painful sacrifices these leaders have made in religious organizations over the past five decades. Moreover, the next generation will be in the house and will shine a light on what comes next. Integrity USA has been on the planning team for this event and look forward to being with as many of you as possible who can join this gathering. We are considering a small “reunion” during the time of the conference for our family and friends. ________________________________________ We Are Orlando ________________________________________ 800-462-9498 info@integrityusa.org www.integrityusa.org

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Conversion Therapy



I last wrote for Integrity USA nearly a decade ago when I was on the Board. We were coming out of a church-wide conversation about how we were going to treat LGBT people, and those of us in Integrity were both excited and curious - excited about the Church growing more fully into the love of Christ as and curious what the future of Integrity would be. Ten years later, as a priest at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego (a Proud Parish Partner of Integrity), my experience is that we still question what direction Integrity is going. Here in San Diego, we often ask whether we still need Integrity, given the rapid change and acceptance of LGBTQ people in the life of the Church.

Recently, though, I have been reminded how shortsighted we are being when we ask if Integrity still has a role. Later this month, a Christian church in San Diego will host a national conference on conversion or reparative therapy. The “Restored Hope Network” will bring people from all over the country to offer "hope for those struggling with sexual and relational brokenness." They claim to offer a "cure" for homosexuality.

I must admit I was shocked when I learned that this conference was happening. For one, I thought reparative therapy died a few years ago with the dissolution of Exodus International, which closed in 2013 after its president apologized, acknowledged that conversion therapy does not work, and that changing sexual orientation is not possible. My understanding is that his ex-wife and a few other remnants of Exodus formed the “Restored Hope Network.”

I was even more surprised that such a conference would be held here in San Diego because in California and seven other states, so-called “conversion” therapy is illegal for minors, an acknowledgement of its dangers and lack of efficacy.

I have never been a victim of conversion therapy, but after seminary I spent several years working in a mental health inpatient hospital as a chaplain. I heard firsthand the awful stories of people who had their identities stripped away from them at the most tender moments of their lives. I met too many people who had attempted suicide because they had become deeply convinced by religious authorities that they were flawed and had no hope for a meaningful future.

When I was on the Board of Integrity, I toured churches as a representative of Integrity. Again, I heard stories of rejection and pain caused by conversion therapy. I listened to stories of struggle with self-acceptance and acceptance by God after religious abuse.

The damage caused by religious abuse, which includes conversion or reparative therapy, is real, is tragic, and pains the heart of God. Conversion therapy simply does not work and, in fact, causes damage. LGBTQ young people who experience rejection because of their identity are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide as those who are accepted.

What is the future of Integrity? I do not know what it will be, given that the Church now has canons on the books to welcome and affirm our unique and God-given gifts - thanks be to God! Still, it is easy to become complacent once we have gotten for ourselves what we have sought, even when we know there are parts of the Church where those canons have yet to be fully realized.

Still, for me, Integrity has never been about only you and me.  It has always been about all of us; everybody; the whole human family. So I can tell you this: Integrity San Diego will be present to protest the Restored Hope Network national conference, and if you are in Southern California I hope you will join us. Because no child of God deserves to hear that they are anything less than fully loved by their Creator, that their gifts are a treasure to be cherished, and that they are themselves a part of this wondrous creation.

We will follow that up a month later with a fabulous pride celebration, where the Cathedral is an official stop for Pride week festivities when we will host an Interfaith prayer service featuring MCC founder Troy Perry. We will also take the lead on an interfaith “Pride with Prayer, Pride with Purpose” sub-theme in the official parade delegation. We will participate because Integrity, the Church, and all of us need to remind the whole world that LGBTQ gifts are meant to shine, and shine brightly!  We, all of us, are a part of this multi-colored rainbow body, straight and gay and genderqueer and trans. All of us, with our different functions and gifts and skills, are necessary to make this Body of Christ work together in harmony for love.

Wherever you are this pride season, I pray that you will live it fabulously in the unceasing love of God, and mindful of the justice that seems to be more and more needful every day.

The Rev. Jeff Martinhauk
St. Paul’s Cathedral San Diego




All are welcome to join us in this protest.  There will be a vigil on June 15 at 5:30pm, followed by demonstrations of love and acceptance organized by a group of San Diego LGBTQ organizations on June 16 and 17 at the sites of the hotel and conference. You are also invited to participate with St. Paul’s at San Diego Pride on July 15.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Where is the Fire?

Pentecost took place: Where is the fire? Where is the Spirit that should be igniting us?

The latest issue of Time magazine to land in my mailbox is dated June 12, 2017. Exactly one year prior to that date, June 12, 2016, we learned of the massacre of 49 children of God in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I remember the date of course, but for additional reasons: I was handed the information about the tragedy just minutes before I stepped into the pulpit to deliver the sermon for the 25th and final Province IV Network of AIDS Ministries Annual Retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center. I changed the beginning of what I had planned to preach… we prayed and observed a moment of silence for those murdered in a place where they went to celebrate, not die. The meaning of that horrendous event would continue to sink in as the day progressed.

I scanned that Time magazine to see if there was any mention of the largest mass killing of its kind on the first anniversary of that killing. I found nothing. A year after the murder of 49 innocent people and Time makes no note of it. My most cynical self says that it was because most of those killed were queer and/or people of color. My heart tries not to have such feelings. My brain looks for other explanations. None come to mind.

The bottom of page 9 of the June 12 Time has an article under the heading of “Human Rights” about the purge of gay men in Chechnya. My spine shivers when reading about what has been going on there. I find myself a bit lifted by the offers of asylum to gay men, many of whom are Muslim. The last sentence is the response of the United States government to the issue of asylum here: “The U.S., however, said no visa exists for this kind of ‘humanitarian relief’.”

The response by my own government just plain pisses me off! If it doesn’t invoke the same reaction among all of us, then we clearly are not paying attention. Our government’s response essentially says that queers do not matter enough to be considered for asylum from nations that torture and kill them. What else could “this kind” imply?

I have been beating the same drum for weeks now: Who have you written, called, emailed, texted, tweeted, written to about the things that impact your or someone else’s life in a negative way? As long as we remain silent and complacent and complicit, we risk death… if not of the body, then the spirit and perhaps the soul. Silence equals death. Complacency equals death. Complicity equals death.

If you have taken no action then I invite you to go and stand before a mirror and ask yourself this: Why am I not worth having myself or others strive for justice and peace for me? Why am I not worth having my dignity respected? I would love to be wrong, but taking no action implies to me that we don’t consider ourselves worthy enough even to expect the basic premises of our Baptismal Covenant vows to be applied to us.

My beloved kindred: The Day of Pentecost brought us the flaming fire of the Holy Spirit to build a fire under us and prod us into action. Will we use that gift as a way of proclaiming justice and equality for all? Or will we just hide away somewhere and wring our hands in fear? The 49 who died a year ago deserve better. Can we offer it?

May the Orlando 49 continue to rest in peace. May the memory of their deaths move us to action.

Bruce Garner, President

Integrity USA

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Restroom Wars

      This week, the Texas Senate considered Senate Bill 6 which is commonly referred to as the Anti Transgender Bathroom Bill. The bill would require all persons to go to the restroom according to the designation on their birth certificate. Since making a gender marker change on a birth certificate is difficult in the best of circumstances and impossible in other cases, it would mean that the Transgender community would be required to go into restrooms that do not equate with their physical presentation.
      Despite an overwhelming number of witnesses who gave highly compelling testimony against the bill, it passed out of committee around 5am on Wednesday morning.  This was after nearly 20 hours of oral testimony.  The battle is not over. The bill now goes to the full Senate, where it is likely to pass.  Hopefully, it will be more difficult to pass it through the Texas House of Representatives.
It is important to know that the two Co Conveners of Integrity Houston, Rev Lisa Hunt and myself (Mx S Wayne Mathis) testified against the bill during the Senate’s State Affairs Committee hearings. My own objections were supported by the Board of Integrity Houston having authorized me to convey their official objections to the bill.
      The day was filled with anguish, compounded by the often open hostility from several Senators and their invited witnesses towards members of the LGBTQIA community.  What gave me strength throughout the day, evening and well into the night was the support of MY community and my church.  Both Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings have publicly stated their opposition to this legislation.

      Integrity Houston wishes to say to the LGBTQIA community that we have and we will stand WITH you.  We will support you in the capitol and we will support you throughout the state. As our buttons at diocesan council stated, “I’ll go with you” to the restroom that best meets your needs.

S Wayne Mathis and Rev. Lisa Hunt, Co-Conveners of Integrity Houston

 S Wayne Mathis
Vice President of Local Affairs