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Behind the California Supreme Court decision that gives the "right to marry" to same-sex couples are the bold steps taken over four decades by onetime Pentecostal minister Troy Perry in trying to establish legal and religious rights for gays and lesbians... The United Church of Christ, which joined a brief in the California case, approved overwhelmingly in its 2005 convention a resolution supporting legalization of same-sex marriages. Bill McKinney, president of the UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, said the seminary "celebrates this historic decision."
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said today that he's "extremely pleased and honored" that he's been asked to officiate 18 weddings for gay and lesbian couples at City Hall... Among the clergy who joined Dellums were PSR alumna Rev. Lynice Pinkard of the First Congregational Church of Oakland and the Rev. Dr. Mark Wilson of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.
Bay Area priests began blessing the partnerships of gay and lesbian couples at least three decades ago, but often in clandestine gatherings... "What some churches and faith communities here in the Bay Area have helped to do is show that social justice for LGBT people is part of a broader social justice commitment for all," said the Rev. Jay Johnson, senior director for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion in Berkeley.
Dozens of churches throughout the state have endorsed a November ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. But when same-sex couples begin leaving municipal offices next week with marriage licenses in hand, some clergy will be meeting them at the altar... Jay Johnson, a director at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, says there are clergy who, while supporting gay marriage, refuse to sign state marriage certificates because they don't want to blur the line between the religious and the secular.
Responding to controversy about a New York Times op-ed piece on Islamic laws on apostasy, Mahmoud Ayoub, visiting professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at PSR, said, “Whether (apostasy) is punishable by death or not, there are different opinions.”
"A Death Penalty Curriculum" - a two-disk set of lesson plans and multimedia components - has been developed for use in local churches by the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer (PSR alumnus), pastor of Niles Congregational UCC in Fremont, Calif.
Some clergy are asking why in the matter of marriage only they have to sign a legal document. "The term 'sanctity of marriage' implies marriage is an inherently religious ceremony and it's not," said Jay Johnson, senior director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at PSR.
William McKinney said the ruling was applauded on his campus, which is a multidenominational, theologically liberal Christian seminary. For Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (PSR Distinguished Alum 1998), who heads the Conservative Jewish congregation at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, the court's decision has changed the way he will handle celebrating the unions of gay and lesbian couples at his synagogue. "I did not in the past. I will now," he said in an interview.
From the pulpit of a Danville church, the leader of the 1.2 million member United Church of Christ on Sunday urged those gathered to start a national, "sacred" conversation about one of the most toxic topics in American life: race.
Professor William McKinney, an ordained UCC minister and president of the Pacific School of Religion, a UCC-affiliated seminary in Berkeley, said that church is perhaps the place where society segregates itself the most. McKinney was a visitor in Danville on Sunday. "There's a paradox that in a (denomination) that talks the talk as much as anybody that we remain divided racially," he said.
Rising second-year PSR student Michael Mallory's article on intersex genital mutilation (see pdf page 87) begins: "Fear, shame and secrecy surrounding issues of genitals and sex have stymied our understanding of sexuality and how gender roles are constructed. This miscomprehension has been the impetus for parents whose children are born with “ambiguous” genitals to seek reconstructive surgery for them..."