what Loving and loving are all about

I don’t feel quite right about focusing more on Cheerios than on the Lovings yesterday.  Perhaps I did it because this is the 4th Loving Day that I’ve had this blog so felt that I’d covered that already. Or, perhaps I did it because I knew I had this one in store for today.  This article, written by the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis (Ph.D/black woman married to a white man/woman of color and of God who stands for equal rights for all re:gay marriage) for the Huffington Post Religion blog, is all about liberty and justice for all.  On a good day I’m all about liberty and justice for all!  That there’s a place called “Middle Church” makes my heart swell.  I want to go to there.  I love knowing that Reverend Lewis exists.  I find inspiration in that knowing.  I love knowing what Mildred Loving thought and how she felt about life and love and equality, and am inspired by that too.

Let’s encourage one another to stop saying no to love.  Let’s encourage love in whatever form it arises.  Let us love that.

P.S. I also love that Willy Wonka meme, yet I have no idea what Mr. Wonka has to do with this, if anything.  That was my own find on the world wide web, not part of the Reverend’s article. Just for the record.

P.P.S. It is nearly impossible to be depressed and inspired at the same time, so let us also encourage one another to be inspired.  Or, even better, start living an inspired life yourself and watch the inspiration and the health of your community grow.

Making Love Legal

Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

Posted: 06/07/2013

Central Point, Virginia. 1958: Richard and Mildred Loving jailed. Their crime: marriage. He was white. She was black. “We were married on the second day of June. And the police came after us the fourteenth day of July,” Mildred Loving said in the documentary “The Loving Story” (HBO, 2011).

An anonymous tip sent police to their house in the middle of the night. Making love was a crime, too, for people of different races. The police found them sleeping. They were arrested for “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” Their marriage was illegal in 24 states in 1958.

Richard and Mildred pled guilty, and received a one-year prison sentence, which would be suspended if they left Virginia. They moved to Washington, D.C., sneaking home to see family and friends. Mildred wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy who referred her to the A.C.L.U. Richard told their lawyer, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Love was not enough to mitigate the racial fear and hatred that resisted their union. It was not enough to unravel the complicated narrative of white supremacy that led to segregation, to Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws.

In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision held that the prohibition of biracial marriage was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren and the other justices claimed that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival … Under our constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

No matter what society asserts about race, no matter what religious institutions teach about race and no matter the ethnicity of the couple, marriage is a basic civil right.

The Supreme Court changed the narrative, changed the story. And it changed the culture. According to Pew Research study of married couples (February 2012), the share of interracial couples reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent. In 1980, that share was just 3.2 percent.

The narrative of homophobia in our nation is also complicated and tragic. The culture has shaped it, religious institutions have often reinforced it, and fear feeds it. I believe that no matter what the culture asserts, adults have the civil right to marry, no matter their sexual orientation.

gay marriage is illegal so was interracial wonka

And I believe this is also true: Wherever love is, God is. The writer of 1 John says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.” I think it is important for congregations that teach “God is love” to also affirm the marriage of same-gender loving couples. They should have the civil right to marry and their love should be blessed in our churches.

On Sunday, June 9 at 6 p.m., at Middle Church, my white husband and I will celebrate Loving Day (celebrated nationally on June 12) and the landmark case that gave us the right to marry and live with each other. We will celebrate in hope that the Supreme Court will once again change the story, that it will rule on Prop 8 and DOMA in such a way that all couples have the right to marry in every state in our union.

Original gospel music by Broadway and television actor Tituss Burgess will be performed and there will be a renewal of vows for straight and gay couples. Burgess (Jersey BoysThe Little MermaidGuys and Dolls and 30 Rock), Alyson Palmer (of BETTY, whose music has been heard on The L-WordUgly Betty and Weeds), and Broadway’s Jenny Powers (Grease and Little Women) will solo at the event. Middle Church stands for the freedom of all couples to legally marry. During the commitment ceremony, all couples — no matter their ethnicity, or their gender or sexuality — can renew or make new vows to each other. We will celebrate loving, because we know for sure that love heals. Come and bring someone special with you!

Commenting on the similarities between interracial and same-sex marriage in 2007, Mildred Loving said,

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry … I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That is what Loving and loving are all about.

Amen, and may it be so.



no h8

This is so right on!  Thank you, Karen Finney.  I’m so glad my (white)grandparents allowed me in to their lives.  And so are they! It’s the “little” things…

On another note, this sentence, “the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy,” speaks to the very reason I fell down this rabbit hole I’ll now call the mulatto trail.  I realized one day that anti-miscegenation and the one-drop rule perpetuate the idea of white supremacy, and that by subscribing to that antiquated rule I was upholding that ridiculous notion.  The anti-miscegenation thing has legally been eradicated, but ask any interracial couple who has walked down a street together, and I’m sure they’ll tell you that on more than one occasion they’ve been given the evil-eye or gawked as if they were freaks of nature.  Or both.  And as for the one-drop rule, head on over to my youtube channel, scroll through the comments, and you’ll see that it looms large in the consciousness.  And many people don’t seem to be willing to let it go.

California Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ruling a Win For American Values



Yesterday’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional reaffirms a long-held American value that no matter how you try to spin it, separate is not equal. While some may not agree with same-sex marriage, history should remind us that our Constitution calls us to recognize that the laws in it apply equally, not to be picked apart to support a political agenda or bias. The arguments being used against same sex marriage are frighteningly similar and equally offensive as those once used against interracial marriage. While a Gallup poll in 1967 found that 74 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage, it’s almost hard to remember just how far we’ve come.

I was 16 years old before I was allowed in my grandfather’s home in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’s how long it took for him to even begin to re-think his shame over having a mixed-race granddaughter. He believed, as did many at the time, miscegenation was wrong on moral and legal grounds. Thankfully for me, my parents disagreed. They were married in New York City and had me despite the fact that it was illegal in their home states of Virginia and North Carolina to do so. Thankfully for our country, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court saw beyond the fear and bigotry of the moment and ruled that antimiscegenation laws violated fundamental American values of Due Process and Equal Protection Under the Law as guaranteed to every American by our constitution.

Just as some used to say that marriage is only valid between a white man and white woman, some now argue that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Arguments have also been made that same-sex marriage dilutes the institution of marriage, just as similar arguments suggested that interracial marriage diluted the white race. My personal favorite absurd justification says that (despite the idea that we are all God’s children and loved equally) gay marriage is against the laws of God and nature. That argument was used by Leon M. Bazile, the judge in the initial case against the Lovings, who said:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Loving case also recognized that the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy:

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

Similarly, as Judge Vaughn Walker today affirmed, denying gay couples the right to marry, not only denies basic civil rights, liberty, and freedom, but also codifies bigotry.

Karen FinneyKaren Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients in the areas of political and communications strategy. She brings over 16 years of experience in national politics and campaigns ranging from the Clinton administration to New York State to the Democratic National Committee.

another social taboo

The first taboo being openly discussing biraciality without adhering to the one-drop rule.  Of course I find this blog post to be interesting, or I wouldn’t put it up here.  I appreciate the bit about biracial identity as well as the outline of the overall struggle and the shame that go along with the labels of mental illness in this country.  Especially in the black community.

Coming out of an entirely different closet… the one of mental illness

by Eliza Barnett


Unfortunately as prevalent as mental health disorders are the nation (50+ million diagnosed in the US alone) and world wide, it still tops the ranks as the most difficult to admit.

Higher than revealing to be a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or molestation, harder than confessing a drinking problem or previous bankruptcy; surveys have even shown it to more difficult than admitting ones gender identity or homosexuality. Sufferers face significant social taboos. And it doesn’t affect just one type of person. Mental illness knows nothing of age, race, gender, or economic background.

You don’t have to personally admit it yourself to believe the notion the reality that people are more likely to break off, or not even start, a relationship with someone with mental issues -which I for one find particularly interesting because members of society are more likely to stay with someone with a physical disability. People with mental disorders tend to prefer to hide their illness like major depression and anxiety, because unlike people with physical illnesses, people with mental disorders must also fear being rejected by family & friends, harassed, fired or not hired, or denied child custody—just for starters.

(Please check out this personal blog discussing the Price of being Bipolar in Public)

Last week I had an entire conversation with a friend about them being practically afraid to admit their Christian faith at their workplace because of the negative assumptions his non-same faith based peers might think about his character or behavior.

Once you know someone’s religious preference it changes your whole personality to people who don’t agree with you. Sometimes it’s like every negative image or thought they have about it becomes who I am as a person- even though I haven’t changed. It’s their behavior towards me that has.

I’ve read more than a few articles of a biracial person attempting, or enjoying the ability to pass for one race over another—not because they have a problem with it necessarily themselves, but because other people do.

Sometimes it’s like every negative stereotype or prejudice they have against a race I share membership of encompasses who I am as a person. Granted racism is an ongoing issue for those of one race, but it is just as prevalent towards those of plural heritage.

Sexual orientation discrimination —don’t even get me started.

(great message board discussion here coming coming out as gay with coming out as bipolar)

Mental illness sufferers are also victims of discrimination and the issue continually needs to be recognized.

“I’m Asian, I’m gay, and I have faced discrimination – but not for the reasons most people think; it was actually when I got depression that I faced most discrimination.”

(Quote from an article in the Guardian)

Attempts to end this discrimination are being lead by strong individuals, in the public eye, and by everyday people. Changed perception comes through increased knowledge and visibility.

People need to be taught that mental disorders don’t come from places of personal weakness, and don’t make everyone violent or unpredictable. They need to be made comfortable in seeking help. (Two thirds of sufferers in need of treatment do not seek it. ) Even more importantly open, honest visibility helps others with the illnesses themselves to stand up without shame.

Negative stigma’s of this variety aren’t just external, they’re internal. Who wants to think of themselves as crazy…? When feelings of guilt, shame, or a notion that you’re somehow weakened for needing help are thrown in the mix, it only reinforces the negative feelings.

Isn’t it always the case that telling the ones you love is the hardest thing to do? This isn’t any different. And ignorance towards the idea of mental disorders can to be hard to deal with; some people may not even believe mental illnesses exist. Americans particularly have vast misconception that all mental disorders can be simply be self-corrected with enough work.

Similar to the first step in admitting you have an addiction; your own acceptance is where it all begins. Examine your own feeling first and foremost. You have control over who you tell, so it’s okay to be cautious about it.

“There is no rule for who needs to know about your mental illness diagnosis, but sharing it with someone is a great way to get support.

The silence helps maintain the ignorance about mental illness.”


That being said,

“It doesn’t mean that it is always beneficial to open up indiscriminately about mental health, to your detriment. It would be wonderful if everybody came out.

But it is a very subjective decision and consequences should be considered. Society isn’t at the place of acceptance that it needs to be. Not everyone in the world needs to know if you struggle with diabetes or hypertension or some other illness. The same is true for mental illness. Those with the disorder, are the ones in charge, and should think about what the payoff is to share information about their mental health. For example, if you need to miss work to see a psychiatrist, you might want to tell your employer about what you are going through.”

When someone does react negatively, agree to disagree or try to educate that person. Share educational materials. Share your own experience. And to those on the receiving end of the information, think before you speak.

“Try to react the same way you would if you were told about a physical health problem that you don’t know much about. Avoid trying to be the hero or savior. Being empathic and understanding is one thing, but trying rescue someone is a completely different. You shouldn’t try to fix them. This is something that is way beyond your capacity.”

Treatment and support from others goes a long way; the mental illness journey is a rough one for everyone involved. Help is required, it’s critical down the path of recovery, management of ones condition, and ability to lead constructive and healthy lives. Support can and does come from strangers as well, who share in this unity of diagnosis. As corny as it sounds, sharing is caring.

–Posted By Eliza Barnett

rabbis of color

I read an interesting article on the “first” ordained African-American female rabbi here.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a bit about biracials in there….

Alysa Stanton, now 45, recently passed another milestone on her spiritual journey. On June 6 in Cincinnati’s historic Plum Street Temple, she was ordained by Hebrew Union College, the Reform rabbinical school, making her the movement’s first African-American rabbi and the first African-American woman ordained by a mainstream Jewish denomination.

…She converted in 1987. Her mother and siblings quickly accepted her decision, although, she says, “none are running to the mikvah.” But many of her friends and fellow Jews were suspicious. “It was unusual in that I wasn’t converting because of marriage but because of spiritual reasons,” says Stanton. “My Christian friends thought I’d grown horns and some of my African-American friends thought I had sold out. And the Jewish community wasn’t as welcoming as it is today, either. It was a very difficult period.”

Stanton may be a new face in the mainstream rabbinate, but black rabbis have a long history in America. To Gordon, the very notion of a “black rabbi” is a nebulous modern distinction, particularly as a deeper understanding of genetics displaces earlier conceptions of race. There are Jews of all stripes, he says, “who are publicly known as white people but who in older times would have been known as ‘mulattoes’ or in some cases, given today’s term, ‘biracial.’” Thus, there may “already have been some technically African-American Jewish rabbis.”

Black Woman Rabbi