This entry was originally posted July 17, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”
“You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”
-President Andrew Shepherd
“The American President”
I’ve gotten to the point in the convention where people switch from saying, “I heard you speak yesterday” to “You look tired.” Yes, we are almost at the end and just in time. General Convention is starting to wear me down and out. There’s an emotional toll to being here that I think goes unsaid and sometimes unnoticed. When sitting on the floor you find yourself getting very invested in things. You’re happy when something you liked is passed, disheartened when people speak ill of something that you find important, and angry every time someone tries to call for an amendment out of order. I am starting to understand why the people who have been doing this for years have developed an ability to immediately let go of something once we’ve adopted or rejected it, as though they never even cared. It’s a defense mechanism. I’m still not convinced it’s for the best, but it does seem to work.
For me personally, today was probably the least cut-and-dry day we’ve had, and therefore required an emotional overload. It’s easy when we’re talking about the Anglican Communion and gay marriage. But this stuff was hard.
We started with our discussion of the budget. Amendments were proposed for about an hour, though nothing was ever passed. Many spoke to the idea that we should simply adopt the budget as is, knowing how much work Program, Budget, and Finance put into it and how hard it would be to tinker around with it now.
One of the most difficult moments was when one of the committee chairs had to speak about the changes made to Women’s Ministry, which has been cut entirely. While the logic was sound, by the end she was clearly holding back tears and only barely got through to the end of her speech. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be a woman on that committee, having to knowingly do away with an entire department that took women so long to get in the first place. In the end the budget was passed, unchanged. We found out later that when the House of Bishops looked at the budget they took all of three minutes and passed it without debate.
Later on I found myself in a very difficult position with C023: Same-Sex Unions: Defense of Marriage Statuses. The resolution called on congress to repeal the “Defense of Marriage” statute passed in 1996, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. I find “Defense of Marriage” to be a pretty disgusting document, but unfortunately there was more to it than that.
First, there’s the idea of whether or not the church should involve itself in public policy at all, at least in this way. There are plenty of people on the floor of the house who feel these kinds of actions serve no purpose other than to divide us on political issues which we don’t need to agree on in order to continue our work. While I haven’t made up my mind yet, I see their point and am inclined to agree.
Second, the resolution calls on “all Episcopalians to work against the passage of so-called “Defense of Marriage” statues and state constitutional amendments.” I take serious issue with this, as it asks everyone to lobby for this cause, regardless of their own personal beliefs and convictions. I said yesterday how much I think this church needs to hold on to their conservative brothers and sisters, and this is not only a slap in the face to them, but it goes against the historic and wonderful Episcopalian attitude of “agree to disagree.”
It was an exceptionally hard decision for me, but in the end I had to vote no on the resolution. I personally would advocate against this statute and any others like it. If I were in congress I would tell them to throw it out, and I would certainly vote for repeal. But I will not vote for something that forces others to work for a cause they whole-heartedly believe is wrong.
We are asked as deputies to ‘vote your conscience.” The problem with the conscience is that it usually tells us things we do not want to hear, and mine was telling me that this resolution would hurt conservative Episcopalians more than it would help LGBT ones. It felt a bit like betrayal, but in the end I voted no on C023. It passed in the House of Deputies with a simple but clear majority in a Vote by Orders.
The next big thing to play with my emotions was D066: Official Youth Presence Vote, which I’m afraid I will have to come back to at a later date. It’s a subject that deserves a blog entry all it’s own, and as it is already getting late I feel that I should close for the day. Know that the resolution asking for a constitutional change that would give vote to the Official Youth Presence (who currently have only seat and voice) was referred to the Standing Committee on Constitution and Canons.
Also coming soon should be video and pictures from the U2charist that I attended tonight. Like in previous U2charists, the service was amazing and the sermon inspiring, even if two and a half hours is a bit long.