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The Affirmation Messenger

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  • Marcela Sud
    The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. At the Creating Change Conference, Mary
    Mensaje 1 de 18 , 21 feb 2011
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      The Affirmation Messenger
      THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
      The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee.
      Mary England & Dan Choi
      At the Creating Change Conference, Mary England met LGBT rights activist Dan Choi

      My Experience at “Creating Change”


      by Mary England
      February 20, 2011


      The last two editions of The Messenger have highlighted the Creating Change Conference in Minneapolis. This was my second time attending Creating Change and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, learning new tactics in achieving equality for the LGBT community, meeting new people, and just having a good time.

      Thursday’s training sessions consisted of day long institutes. I overslept on Thursday and the session I was going to attend was full, my second choice class was delayed, so I picked a class that sounded good entitled “Queer it Up.” It was indeed an interesting class but it was more geared toward Campus Pride and in starting Gay and Straight Alliances on Campus and in High Schools and I was actually the oldest person in the class. Throughout the weekend there were many choices of classes to attend and by the time conference was over my brain felt half-fried with all the information it absorbed.

      On Friday evening there were several different receptions. The reception I chose to attend was entitled Faith in America. It was a delightful reception and the highlight of that evening for me was meeting Dan Choi. Those of you who are my Facebook friends got a post with my picture with Dan. I have a deep respect for Dan who took the courage to openly speak out and help pave the road in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

      Faith in America was founded in 2005 and their mission is to educate people about the harm caused to the LGBT community when religious teachings are misused to justify and promote hostile attitudes and actions toward LGBT Americans. We have all experienced this and some of us have experienced more harm than others.

      One of the goals of Affirmation is to meet the needs of persons experiencing frustration and alienation from family, friends, and even the church because their orientation. Faith in America knows all too well that LGBT people are the victims of discrimination. Their research has confirmed that most anti-gay prejudice and discrimination is based upon religion. One of their findings is that if a person believes sexual orientation is a choice they are 70% more likely to be against equal LGBT rights but if they believe that sexual orientation is a part of how you are created then they are 70% more likely to be in favor of LGBT rights. They have a very simple goal: to effectively counter-message the bigotry, prejudice and hostility against the LGBT community which has been sold to the public for decades under the guise of religious beliefs and teachings. For more information on Faith in America please visit www.faithinam erica.org.

      Best Regards,


      Mary L England
      Senior Vice President
      Affirmation Gay & Lesbian Mormons

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    • Marcela Sud
      The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. If you do not wish to receive The Messenger,
      Mensaje 2 de 18 , 9 mar 2011
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        The Affirmation Messenger
        THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
        The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. If you do not wish to receive The Messenger, please send me an email with the subject line, “Remove from Messenger.”


        Maryland House of Delegates Chamber

        David Melson
        Affirmation Calendar

        March 25-27
        Executive Committee Meeting in Cleveland

        March 30
        Borderlands” premieres in Salt Lake City

        June
        Pride celebrations held across the world

        June 8
        Anniversary of the revelation that lifted the ban on African-Americans males holding the priesthood (1978)

        June 11
        Anniversary. Affirmation was organized on this day in Salt Lake City (1977)

        July 24
        Pioneer Day

        August 3-6
        Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City

        September 16-18
        Affirmation Conference in Cleveland and Kirtland

        October 11
        National Coming Out Day

        December 1
        World AIDS Day

        December 8-9
        Anniversary. Affirmation was organized nationally in Los Angeles (1979).

        December 25
        Christmas

        Freedom for Some

        by David Melson
        March 7, 2011


        I have spent much of this last month, and particularly this past week, roaming the halls of the Maryland State Capital in Annapolis, meeting with elected officials, testifying before committees, and working for the passage of two important pieces of legislation: “The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” (marriage equality) and “The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act.”

        The marriage equality bill has made it most of the way through the legislative process and three critical votes; it faces one more vote for passage, and then goes to the Governor who is waiting to sign it into law. The anti-discrimination bill is just starting on its journey through the process. This has been a tough battle for many of the legislators. More than one official described being subjected to an “unprecedented” level of intense pressure from a coalition consisting of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Catholic Church, and the LDS Church (with almost all of the funding coming from the latter). Multiple sources have stated that the coalition plans to spend up to $50 million to block or defeat these two bills in Maryland.

        A few things have changed however since Prop 8 in California. The most important is that we have reached a “critical mass” in the fight for equality in the United States, with a majority of adults in the U.S. now stating that they are in favor of marriage equality for LGBT citizens. Second, the LGBT community is much more cohesive than it was in the California campaign; hundreds of organizations are now working together, talking the same themes, coordinating their actions. Third, our message has changed; we are no longer preaching about legal rights, civil rights, or tax advantages. LGBT organizations are now talking about families and values; our families are every bit as worthy and important and as valuable to society as anyone else’s. We have now claimed faith and religious values as our own; those who teach hatred or fear or discrimination in the name of God have ceded their claim to the mountain top. And finally, the coalition has become its own worst enemy; people have heard the more raw edges of its message and have increasingly become repulsed.

        There appears to be a very good chance that both bill will be passed and then signed into law by Maryland’s Governor in the coming days, although Maryland does allow a bill to be challenged by petition and sent to the voters for approval. 63% of registered voters tell the pollsters that they would support both bills (about the same per cent age that supported overturning Prop 8 a few days before the California election). Five states and the District of Columbia now have marriage equality, Illinois and Hawaii recently approved civil unions, and New York and Rhode Island may approve marriage laws in the next few weeks.

        Today is Fat Tuesday – the culmination of Mardi Gras and of Carnival – and the day before Ash Wednesday. For the less liturgical, Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). This is seen as a time of reflection and sacrifice, and recalls the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert, and the forty days that Moses spent in the mountains (while his people built the golden calf). My hope is that those who have strayed or who have found sadness or remorse, might contemplate their lot, seek to reorder things, and might make peace with themselves and with others over the coming forty days.

        The Executive Committee will be meeting later this month in Cleveland. If you are interested in being involved in Affirmation on a broader level, attending an EC meeting is a great place to check things out and get started. We would love to see you there. And please start making plans for this year’s conference in September in Kirtland and Cleveland. Along with being one of our most reasonably priced events in many years, this will also be one of our most unique and special events. Much of Saturday’s program and the Sunday devotional service will be held in the historic Kirtland Temple. For the traditionalist side of your being, Sunday lunch will be served by the Relief Society in the cultural hall (literally), and for the social side of your being, our hotel is within easy distance of two universities, Playhouse Square (with 14 live theaters) , great night clubs and restaurants, Progressive Field (home of the Cleveland Indians), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even the trip from the airport is easy and inexpensive.

        Have a great week!

        With hope, faith, and love,


        David Melson, President
        Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons

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      • Marcela Sud
        The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. Mary England Affirmation Calendar March 25-27
        Mensaje 3 de 18 , 14 mar 2011
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          The Affirmation Messenger
          THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
          The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee.



          Mary England
          Affirmation Calendar

          March 25-27
          Executive Committee Meeting in Cleveland

          March 30
          Borderlands” premieres in Salt Lake City

          June
          Pride celebrations held across the world

          June 8
          Anniversary of the revelation that lifted the ban on African-Americans males holding the priesthood (1978)

          June 11
          Anniversary. Affirmation was organized on this day in Salt Lake City (1977)

          July 24
          Pioneer Day

          August 3-6
          Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City

          September 16-18
          Affirmation Conference in Cleveland and Kirtland

          October 11
          National Coming Out Day

          December 1
          World AIDS Day

          December 8-9
          Anniversary. Affirmation was organized nationally in Los Angeles (1979).

          December 25
          Christmas
          Standing Our Ground as Gay Christians

          March 14, 2011

          Many of us have experienced the retching pain of being rejected by the Christian community and we all know too well the few scriptures that are used over and over to condemn the LGBT community. Most of these people take the words literally, completely reading the words out of context. Can anyone really be surprised at this? People are handed an ancient book, written in ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and then translated again into German & English and then they are expected to make sense of it. Most of these folk rely on what the preacher says it says. So, how do we as gay Christians stand our ground and defend ourselves against these otherwise good-minded people?

          First and foremost is to know and understand our self worth and that we are worth defending. Christ gave us a new commandment to love one another as he has loved us, but if we do not love and value ourselves, how can we love and value our neighbor? We are also commanded to love our enemies. The same thing applies. If we can’t love ourselves, loving our enemies will be impossible. Success in our spiritual development is to love ourselves. Our worth is built upon our own self-esteem; it can be only be found within ourselves, it’s not somewhere out there.

          Keep in mind that the LGBT community isn’t the first group of people to be shunned by good willing conservative Christians, nor will we, unfortunately, be the last. We have a special empathy for those who are marginalized by society, one that exists because of who we are and what we have experienced. Deep within our souls, we know the truth: We are just as God created us, and that is all that matters.

          Best Regards,


          Mary L England
          Senior Vice-President
          Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

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        • Marcela Sud
          The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. David Melson Affirmation Calendar March 25-27
          Mensaje 4 de 18 , 22 mar 2011
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            The Affirmation Messenger
            THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
            The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee.

            David Melson
            Affirmation Calendar

            March 25-27
            Executive Committee Meeting in Cleveland

            March 30
            Borderlands” premieres in Salt Lake City

            June
            Pride celebrations held across the world

            June 8
            Anniversary of the revelation that lifted the ban on African-Americans males holding the priesthood (1978)

            June 11
            Anniversary. Affirmation was organized on this day in Salt Lake City (1977)

            July 24
            Pioneer Day

            August 3-6
            Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City

            September 16-18
            Affirmation Conference in Cleveland and Kirtland

            October 11
            National Coming Out Day

            December 1
            World AIDS Day

            December 8-9
            Anniversary. Affirmation was organized nationally in Los Angeles (1979).

            December 25
            Christmas

            We Are Strong


            by David Melson
            March 21, 2011


            I had the opportunity yesterday to meet with the AffirmationDC Chapter to watch the film “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons.” The film covers the history of people of Color in the LDS Church, from Elijah Abel, baptized in 1832 and ordained by Joseph Smith as the first Black man to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, up until the present day. Later in the evening, a group of us watched the final episode of “Big Love,” the HBO series about the polygamous Hendrickson family of Utah.

            The central theme of both programs is built around the trials and the pain and the conflicts that arise out of the interpretations that different people can put on the beliefs and doctrine of the Church. A Black Bishop in “Nobody Knows” wisely points out that churches, prophets, apostles, and members all make mistakes, or act, at times, without listening to the Holy Spirit, just as all individuals do. That is an essential element of the plan of salvation, and the instrument through which we – as individuals or as institutions – grow in wisdom. Bill Hendrickson, in one of the final scenes of Big Love,” teaches that “faith comes from our families, our marriages, and not the other way around.”

            Both shows hold great lessons that apply to LGBT Mormons. As we fight for equality and for recognition of our relationships and our families, as we fight for faith and for our values, even as our church seems to spend increasing amounts of energy to preach hate rather than love, to bar the door and shut us out, we can look up and see the mountain top in front of us, just inches away. “We are strong, we have been forged, we endure.”

            Later this week, the Executive Committee will meet in Kirtland. I hope that you plan to join us there in September for Affirmation’s Annual Conference. The conference devotional service will be held in the Kirtland Temple, a historic first. If you would like a preview, join us this weekend!

            We also take time to extend our prayers to the people of Japan this week as they mourn their losses from the recent natural disasters there. Please think about them this week.

            With hope, faith, and love,


            David Melson, President
            Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons

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          • Marcela Sud
            The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. From left to right: Sam Wolfe, George Cole,
            Mensaje 5 de 18 , 28 mar 2011
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              The Affirmation Messenger
              THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
              The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee.

              Executive Committee at the Kirtland Temple
              From left to right: Sam Wolfe, George Cole, David Melson, Mary England, Randall Thacker, and Fred Bowers at the Kirtland Temple.


              Joshua Behn
              Affirmation Calendar

              March 30
              Borderlands” premieres in Salt Lake City

              June
              Pride celebrations held across the world

              June 8
              Anniversary of the revelation that lifted the ban on African-Americans males holding the priesthood (1978)

              June 11
              Anniversary. Affirmation was organized on this day in Salt Lake City (1977)

              July 24
              Pioneer Day

              August 3-6
              Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City

              September 16-18
              Affirmation Conference in Cleveland and Kirtland

              October 11
              National Coming Out Day

              December 1
              World AIDS Day

              December 8-9
              Anniversary. Affirmation was organized nationally in Los Angeles (1979).

              December 25
              Christmas
              Claiming an Identity As Our Very Own

              by Joshua Behn
              March 28, 2011


              This past weekend, Affirmation's Executive Committee met in Cleveland in preparation for the September conference. The weekend happened to coincide with the 175th anniversary of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple (Sunday, March 27, 1836), and the date was marked by three commemoration services (one Community of Christ and two LDS) in which the bell of the Temple was rung 175 times.

              The Committee members who witnessed the observances raised their voices with others in W.W. Phelps' anthem "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning," looking forward to sharing the experience in conference in less than six months.

              In many ways, the conference will be a return to our roots, a simpler time, where in 1833 during the "Gathering of the Saints," Mormonism was simply one of many homegrown American-Protestant philosophies.

              It was also, here at Kirtland, where this small and insignificant sect would take a divergent path from their fellow Christians. This road would lead to an identity so unique and unorthodox amongst theology that would ensure its' evolution into one of the major religions of the world.

              All that however, would be years in the future. At this stage, there was simply "The Ohio," where a handful of men would take a mishmash of farmers and tradesmen and mold them into a people, with their own identity.The Kirtland experience touches each of us differently. For some, it may be the trials and travails of kin and ancestors who helped to build a city of God. For others it may be the revelations and communications with numerous heavenly messengers. And for still some, it may be the very Temple itself. For me, personally, it is the soul searching and willingness to fight for what they knew to be true, that resonates the most. The lessons of Kirtland are as relevant today, as they were then.Possibly the most difficult part of coming out has been the feeling of being adrift on a wide ocean. We once knew ourselves to be special children of God, each with a specific mission and purpose, now a mere speck in a sea of millions who espouse very different values.

              It is in this confusing time of second adolescence where we ask ourselves questions that we previously thought we knew the answers to. "What do I believe in?" or "where do I go from here?" We have had to reevaluate everything we were taught and compare it to how it holds up to our actual life experience.

              We have eaten from the tree of knowledge and paid the price. But would we have it any other way? It is painful and often lonely, but it is also OUR truth, and we can never go back.

              Friends, brothers and sisters, there is hope still. And it is that hope for which we took our very first steps in acknowledging who we truly were and an integrity that we had to finally live up to. Like our early Mormon predecessors at Kirtland, we too have taken a step down an unknown road, to claim an identity as our very own. Not the identity the world would have us take, but the one which we were called to take.

              It is not an easy path, and it will be filled with trials and pain. But we will also have our triumphs. We will eventually gain our exaltation. Not as Mormons. Not as gay men and women. But as you and me. For who we are and what we have overcome. Not for who we aren't.

              I look fondly to the opportunity of joining you all in Kirtland in September. As befitting the recent feast day of St. Patrick, I wish to leave you all with an old Irish blessing:
              May the road rise to meet you in the morning,
              May the sun be always at your back,
              And until we meet again, may God keep you in the palm of his hand.

              Joshua Behn, Vice President
              Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons

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            • Marcela Sud
              The Affirmation Messenger The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee. Mary England Affirmation Calendar July 14-31
              Mensaje 6 de 18 , 1 ago 2011
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                The Affirmation Messenger
                THE AFFIRMATION MESSENGER
                The Affirmation Messenger is a weekly message from the Affirmation Executive Committee.



                Mary England
                Affirmation Calendar

                July 14-31
                "Mormons, Mothers and Monsters" staged in Pitssfield, Mass.

                August 1
                Deadline to submit a nomination for the Mortensen Award

                August 3-6
                Sunstone Symposium in Ogden

                August 12
                HRC Bus Starts Nationwide Tour in Salt Lake City

                August 15
                Deadline for on-time registration ($199) for the Affirmation conference

                August 25
                Deadline to reserve a conference room at a special rate

                September 16
                Deadline to declare candidacy for Affirmation President

                September 16-18
                Affirmation Conference in Cleveland and Kirtland

                October 11
                National Coming Out Day

                December 1
                World AIDS Day

                December 8-9
                Anniversary - Affirmation was organized nationally in Los Angeles(1979)

                Pioneers with Vision

                by Mary L England
                July 31, 2011


                It’s certainly been an exciting week. As we all know last week marked a triumphant victory as New York became the sixth and largest state to recognize same-sex weddings. I personally do not think it was just a coincidence that the date that same-sex couples could wed fell on July 24 know to Mormons as Pioneer Day or that the first to wed was a Mormon, Kitty Lambert and her partner Cheryle Rudd. It was a Pioneer Day in many ways across New York.

                Being a lesbian with a Mormon background has its own uniqueness. Its pioneers like Kitty that gives other women encouragement that they are not the only ones who want to share their lives with another woman. As our conference in Cleveland & Kirtland gets nearer I can’t help but think about the pioneers of today, the ones who stand firm to continue the fight for equality for everyone. “Visions and Blessings” will soon be upon us. Affirmation has a vision of reaching out to women and receiving the blessings that only women can bring.

                The early Saints had a vision and they were well blessed. The time has now come for us to receive the blessings and see the visions of the early Saints and to be able to worship in the Temple. Come share your visions in Kirtland and receive the blessings of being able to walk where the early saints walked.

                The early saints were pioneers in establishing religious freedom, and now today there are a whole new set of pioneers, establishing equality for all people. Come to Kirtland see the visions and receive the blessings.


                Mary L England
                Senior Vice-President
                Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

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