Dan and Marvin provide a critical glimpse into the time when they both served on the Presbyterian Special Committee on Human Sexuality between 1998 and 1991. This report is timely and as challenging today as it was then, especially in light of the possibilities in a better understanding of who we are and the opportunities to influence the church and society, as a result of recent changes in the Presbyterian Church USA and elsewhere.
From the transcript, available at tamfs.org/interviews :
"my name is Erin Swenson and I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m actually a retired member of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, and I am as far as anyone knows, the first ordained minister in any mainstream denomination to change sex and stay ordained."
"And being transgender does not mean that you are really different than everybody else. At least not in nature, perhaps but in degree – and I think every transgender person, I’m a little biased, I think every transgender person is their own prophet. Our culture has become pretty rigid as far as gender is concerned. I mean we’re not as rigid as some of the countries in the Fertile Crescent – but we are still – middle school is a harrowing experience for many kids, primarily because of the expectations of gender and girls starving themselves and boys engaging in acts of violence just to establish a gender identity. I think one of the things that every transgender brings to the community is a message that we don’t have life with that oppression."
I’m Helene Loper. I’m from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was born, baptized, raised, confirmed and Presbyterian trained, but my own story is that I was outed while I was in seminary by someone who was in the closet. The Presbytery Committee on Preparation for Ministry did not tell me that was the issue for why they were not wanting to approve my candidacy.
When I finally figured out what the problem was, it was right before I was starting my senior year. So, I came out, but in the process I had to leave the Presbyterian process. So I knew I as leaving the Presbyterian Church in order to follow my call to ministry.
Excerpt of Bear and Susan's comments on why marriage is important?
"The difference between a contract and a covenant for us was really significant. We had the contract, essentially, with our domestic partnership, because once marriage equality hit California for that little brief time, essentially they said, “It’s now going to be as difficult to separate from a domestic partnership as it would be getting a divorce. So, essentially you’re married, but you’re not married.”
So, the contract was already there. It was the covenant. It was sharing making our love and commitment to each other, our exclusive lifelong commitment to each other – public, celebrated before God and all these witnesses. And that’s what it was, including our kids.
Also, there is language involved – if you use the word “this is my partner” – you’re not exactly sure what that means. It could mean any number of things (business partner…). But when we got married, Susan inherited, I mean she became my kids’ “mother-in-law-in-law,” and I became the mother-in-law of her kids and grandchildren, my mother became her mother-in-law – and now there’s language. And people understand that.
So, when we’re out with Susan’s kids they’ll introduce me to their friends as their mother-in-law. And that’s different from saying my mother’s partner or something., because there is the in-law, which actually means “in-law.” And that was important to us." Full transcript at tamfs.org/interviews
This was recorded at Rock Stars & Prophets: Generations of Justice and Love at Stony Point Center, Stony Point, NY. Sponsored by That All May Freely Serve, the video was taken in early April of 2015. We so miss Carol who left us on April 15, 2016.