Candlelight, Big Screen for Oral Arguments: At 9AM on March 5 in San Francisco the California Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the legal challenge to Proposition 8 which revised the California constitution to deny marriage to same-sex couples. The hearing will take about 3 hours.
On the eve of the hearing candlelight vigils are being held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Modesto, San Diego, Stockton, Fresno, Napa, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Visalia, Bakersfield, Roseville, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Chico, Santa Maria, Palm Springs, Thousand Oaks, Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Santa Cruz, Sonora, Orange County, Ventura, Riverside, and Tuolumne in California, and in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuscon, Arizona, and Tulsa, Okahoma.
Bay Area TV station KTVU reports that a jumbotron will be set up in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza (pictured) to broadcast the proceedings to passersby. The jumbotron project is an effort of Marriage Equality USA.
It is not known at this time if there will be a web cam to allow Internet viewers to see the jumbotron broadcast.

Women Praying for Unity: The Anglican News Service estimates that more 3 million people will observe World Women's Day of Prayer on Friday, March 6 using an order of service prepared by Christian women in Papua New Guinea. The theme for this year's Day of Prayer is In Christ There Are Many Members Yet One Body.
The symbol (pictured) for 2009 World Women's Day of Prayer shows a cross with a bilum draped over it. Bilums are hand-woven string bags, widely used in Papua New Guinea. The bags are strong and versatile, carrying everything from food to babies. While Papua New Guinea is culturally diverse, the string bag is common to many.

GLAD Takes on DOMA: On March 2, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a legal challenge to section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At issue is the use of DOMA Section 3 to deny spousal protections under the 1,138 federal laws which take marital status into account. The suit argues that Section 3 violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection as applied to federal income tax, Social Security, federal employees and retirees, and in the issuance of passports.
The plaintiffs are eight married couples and three widowers, each of whom is currently eligible for a federal program. Each has applied for federal benefits that were denied because of DOMA Section 3
DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton (pictured) on September 21, 1996 at a time when no state had yet legalized same-sex marriage. It was feared at the time that at least one state would do so and that other states would be compelled to recognize the marriages under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Vermont legalized civil unions in 2000 and Massachusetts approved same-sex marriages in 2004.

Out of the Gender Binary for Lent or Longer: Last year we took note of Out in Season, A Transgender Encounter with the Church Year.
The recently released seasonal meditation for is a collaboration among Monica Cross Jakob Hero, Megan Rohrer, and David Wynn. (Yes, the Rev. Megan Rohrer of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) and the Welcome Ministry).
The meditation reads in part:
The journey of Lent to baptism at Easter is an ancient Christian practice. Through the centuries, many churches have set aside this holy time as a prayerful one for spiritual formation and preparation for the rite of baptism to be celebrated on the great day of resurrection and new life.


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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:

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    Just as old are connections between baptism and the transgender experience. When our group looked at the lives of many of the earliest Christians, we believe they connected their baptism to gender transformation as well as spiritual transformation. What happens when one "puts on Christ" at baptism (Galatians 2:20, 3:27; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24)?
    The space created for individuals to transgress gender stereotypes should not be forgotten. We believe this is significant and complements, rather than contradicts, Bible passages that see gender boundaries destroyed in Christ (for example, Galatians 3:28, “there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”). We connect new birth in Christ and the transforming possibilities of these holy days with new life discovered through the transgender experience.
    And though we are tardy in reporting it, Friday February 27, the first Friday in Lent, was TransAction Day, a national day to encourage dialogue about gender, gender roles and the full range of gender identities, and to advocate for inclusive, safe schools for all students.
    TransAction Day was the occasion for us to learn about Peterson Toscano's Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible, a theater piece that presents the Bible's transgender characters: "people who do not fit in the gender binary, and who in transgressing and transcending gender, find themselves at the center of some the Bible's most important stories."
    Transfigurations will be presented as part of the spirituality track at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference June 11-13.

    Theologians in Augsburg: More than 100 theologians will meet in Augsburg, Germany for a week-long (March 25-31) consultation titled Theology in the Life of Lutheran Churches: Transformative Perspectives and Practices Today. The event is organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for Theology and Studies (DTS) in cooperation with the of the University of Augsburg.
    The meeting will focus on how theology and practices are being transformed in light of the quite different assumptions and approaches present in one global confessional family. Participants will define how these different perspectives are reshaping Lutheran theology in the twenty-first century.
    Among the topics to be addressed are In a Global Communion, Is your Bible my Bible?, Resistance, adaptation or challenge? How versatile is Lutheran theology in new contexts?, and The church’s public vocation in society.
    The meeting is the final event in the DTS Theology in the Life of the Church (TLC) study program begun in 2004.

    Meanwhile, Back in West Bend: On Tuesday March 3, our far-flung reporter tried to attend a meeting of the board for the West Bend Community Memorial Library in West Bend, WI, a town of about 30,000 residents approximately 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee. On the agenda for the Tuesday meeting was a complaint from two West Bend residents about books for youth addressing homosexuality:
    We find the books for youth on homosexuality to be biased, gay-affirming, promotional and romanticized. We believe our library should be offering appropriate, wholesome literature to our youth instead of pursuing the illegitimate goals of transforming the views of other people's children on the contentious issue of homosexuality.
    More information about the complaint is available from blog postings.
    The complaint asks that the library provide access to "faith-based" books and books that "oppose a pro-homosexual ideology." It also asks that the library either remove or restrict access to a web page that lists books about LGBT topics for youth. In addition, there are objections to specific books as pornographic.
    Interest in the library discussion was high and the board meeting was moved to the West Bend City Hall, a larger venue. Apparently word had also spread that the meeting might be newsworthy, and Milwaukee news media were heavily represented. After some delays and a head count by local police, it was determined that the crowd that had gathered was larger than the 265-person capacity of the city hall chambers. The meeting was canceled and everyone sent home.
    There is no word yet on a new date for the meeting. Perhaps there's still time for West Bend to borrow San Francisco's jumbotron.

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