Friday, June 24, 2011

Marriage Equality has come to New York, my home state

by Rev. Steve Parelli
Bronx, NY
June 24, 2011

"If Christian mercy is gone, then at least Venetian justice still exists." - From the movie Dangerous Beauty.

New York passes Marriage Equality!

Where I could not find, as a gay man, "Christian mercy" within my own evangelical Baptist denomination and within my own nuclear "born-again" Christian family, I have, instead, been handed justice from my secular State. 

I grew up in up-state NY; my first senior pastorate was in Western NY where two of my four children were born; and NY is where I have lived with my spouse (married in California in 2008) since 1997.

Joe Solomese may have it backwards when it comes to Obama in DC and the republicans in Albany

By Rev. Steve Parelli
Steve Parelli at June 20,
2011, demonstration
for Marriage
Bronx, NY
June 24, 2011

Marriage Equality:  Who's Walking Slowly and Who's Evolving?  Does Joe Solomese of the HRC have it all backwards?

I just  heard Joe Solomese on Andrea Mitchell msnbc say that Obama is "evolving" while the republicans in Albany are "walking slowly." Actually, it is the republicans who are "evolving" and Obama is "walking slowly." Andrea Mitchell in her live one-on-one interview asked Solomese all the right critical questions about Obama's "evolving" but Joe didn't have any hard answers for fear, so it appeared, of putting Obama in even the slightest of bad light. 

If you paid over $30,000 to hear the president speak at last evening's NYC LGBT event, then I suppose you wouldn't want to throw cold water on the occasion, either.  Seems Joe doesn't wish to.  Even so, for that kind-of-a-price, its worth getting it right:  Obama is walking slowly and the republicans in Albany are evolving.

A republican and evangelical Christian, former Iowa state Senator Jeff Angelo supports marriage equality

Rev. Steve Parelli
Albany, NY
June 20, 2011
Photo by Kelly Mapes
Posted by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Bronx, NY
June 24, 2011

Another leading republican and evangelical for Marriage Equality

According to an article by Loren A. Olson (M.D. - Psychiatrist) in yesterday's The Huffington Post (dated June 23, 2011), entitled Iowa Republicans for Marriage Equality,
"former Iowa state Senator Jeff Angelo launched Iowa Republicans for Freedom whose mission is to change the hearts and minds of Iowa's social conservatives who currently oppose marriage equality.
"Angelo was a three-term state Senator who did not seek reelection in 2008. He has not always been on the side of same-sex marriage. Five years ago, Angelo, an evangelical Christian, co-sponsored a bill to amend the state's constitution to prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. Now he says that his views have evolved because of his relationships with Iowans who have families with same-sex couples. Angelo has said that he believes his new position is consistent with basic GOP values: individual freedom, limited government, and the pursuit of happiness."
Editor's Personal Note: I grew up evangelical and up-state NY republican.  So then -- I'm so excited when I see the religious political conservative person shift in his/her thinking. It has been, in large part, my mission to focus on "people like me" in telling my story. Putting a face on homosexuality within the community in which I grew up. (Jose, my spouse, also grew up evangelical.) - Steve Parelli

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bible characters David and Jonathan were lovers says my neighbor, Jonathan Atkin, in an email to NY Senators telling them to vote "Yes" on Marriage Equality

"President of Brandeis and Judaic scholar pointed out to me nearly 25 years ago, in the synagogue, during the high holidays, how King David and Jonathan were documented as lovers" - Jonathan Atkin

Editor's note :  Jonathan Atkin is my neighbor.  Jose (my spouse) and I met him by chance one day while returning from the subway to our home.  You guessed it, he's an openly gay man.  We've kept in touch.  He asked me for the names of the conservative NY Senators who are known to be in opposition to Marriage Equality.  Here's what he wrote them. I especially like the part about David and Jonathan - Steve Parelli

June 23rd 2011
Dear NY State Senators:

I am a captain and certified boat handler. To navigate in smooth seas, is never easy. To navigate in rough storms takes exceptional skills and leadership.

At the least, I expect leadership from the Albany Senate, not head in the sands or ducking into safe harbors on the threat of rain drops or political retribution. That is just wrong.

Pass the marriage act, now, that provides basic rights to same sex couples that other Americans take for granted.

Those of you who are hiding behind religious objections and obfuscations: SHAME. This is a country that has in theory, separation of church and state.

Those of you who need religious bolstering, my god father, now passed, and former President of Brandeis and Judaic scholar pointed out to me nearly 25 years ago, in the synagogue, during the high holidays, how King David and Jonathan were documented as lovers. Judaism at least nodded its history to reality thousands of years ago. It is more than enough time to act on this to bring the United States up to standards that recognizes universal rights for all. Otherwise our vaunted values of this country become a mockery.

If there are legal issues regarding venues, non profits and faith based groups that simply want to avoid law suits then, sure, write into the legislation their exemption. No big deal. There are plenty of organizations, venues, and others that will be glad to reap the millions of dollars in economic stimulus that equality of marriage will bring to them. The others, will be left out. Too bad.

In closing, after you pass this seemingly monumental legislation, in two years, everyone will be scratching their heads and saying, wow, what was all the fuss about? The world will continue to revolve, the US will continue to prosper, the heavens will not unleash biblical plagues and we will all be just fine.

So, stop the bickering, the small mindedness, resolve the issues and pass the bill.

Kind regards,

Captain Jonathan Atkin
Bronx, NY


In a dramatic public apology on the Senate floor today (June 20, 2011), New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says his not voting for marriage equality was "the biggest mistake of my career"

Posted by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Source:  Garden State Equality
June 23, 20100

Contact: Steven Goldstein, Garden State Equality Chair  cell (917) 449-8918

Monday, June 20, 2011 --
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, the most powerful leader in New Jersey after the Governor, apologized on the floor of the state Senate today for his not voting for marriage equality in January 2010. When the Senate voted then, the New Jersey legislature was in post-election lame duck session and Democratic Governor Jon Corzine had days left to his term. Chris Christie's election had turned a sure thing into rapid collapse.

Today Senator Sweeney called his abstention – equal to a no vote in the New Jersey legislature – ”the biggest mistake of my legislative career."

Senate President Sweeney's exact words today:
"Seventeen months ago, I stood up here and made the biggest mistake of my legislative career. I made a decision based purely on political calculations not to vote in support of marriage equality. I failed in my responsibility as majority leader of this house of government to actually lead. I was wrong. To my fellow colleagues, to staff, and to those watching upstairs, let me tell you: never, ever again will I allow that to happen. The time for political calculations is over."
Reaction of Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein:
"We welcome Senate President Sweeney’s support with open arms. The world evolves, and our responsibility as advocates is not to hold grudges, but to pass laws.

"Today we indeed have the votes to pass marriage equality in both houses of the New Jersey legislature. But we do not have enough votes, to be sure, to override Governor Christie's veto. It means New Jersey will have to win marriage equality through other means.

"Stay tuned for an announcement very, very soon. We are ready for the next round of our monumental fight to win equality for all."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

David Tyree of of Super Bowl fame meets Marriage Equality supporter Rev. Steve Parelli

David Tyree (left) with Rev. Steve Parelli
State Capital at Albany, NY. June 20, 2011
Photo by Kelly Mapes

By Rev. Stephen Parelli
June 22, 2011
Bronx, NY

What David Tyree and my football-loving father have in common:  they've fumbled

Last week I heard CNN's phone interview with David Tyree.  I think I was doing the dishes at the time.  As I listened, I realized quickly that I was hearing the usual evangelical rhetoric when it came to Marriage Equality. 

As a former evangelical Baptist minister, I know well how the talk goes.  In fact, after coming out as an openly gay man in 1997, I began the long, hard journey of unraveling the evangelical talk that was deeply ingrained in my mind and heart.

The unraveling process, the decoding process, the making visible what was the invisible grid of the evangelical mindset, and the following of the strands of thoughts that had been personally inculcated, were the means by which I began to dismantle conclusions I had previously never questioned.

It was a spiritual journey.  A setting-free journey.  A I-can-think-for-myself journey.

David Tyree (left) with Rev. Steve Parelli
State Capital at Albany, NY. June 20, 2011
Photo by Kelly Mapes
Yesterday at the demonstration in Albany, I saw signs that said "Defend Biblical Marriage."  As a young man, I was introduced to the motto "Think Biblically."  As an openly questioning gay man, I concluded that the last thing Jesus did was to "Think Biblically."  The so-called religious-right Biblical thinking of Jesus' day was intolerable for the Master.  The last motto Jesus would have adopted (in the context of his times) was "Think Biblically."  He challenged his listeners to think otherwise.  What was Biblical for the religious leaders of Jesus' day was not "Biblical" for Jesus for a considerable part of his teachings.

Yesterday at the state capital in Albany, I had the opportunity to meet David Tyree.  He was gracious enough to acknowledge me when I approached him.  I think I caught him glancing at my poster.  Someone close by asked me if I knew who the gentleman was.  "No," I said.  "That's David Tyree,"  I was told.

Rev. Steve Parelli
Albany, NY
June 20, 2011
Photo by Kelly Mapes
I never heard of David Tyree until last week when I heard his phone interview with CNN.

By the photos, here, you can see we met and smiled.  My dad follows football big time!  Maybe he'll see this blog and think again about his last words to me: "You're dead to me," he said.  And with that he walked out of my life on every level.  I wonder if David Tyree, while keeping his faith, would forever cut his son out of his life if he were to learn his son were gay.

Most likely not, not the way David Tyree talks about father's needing to be in the lives of their sons.  So, I'm guessing that David Tyree would continue to speak and see his son if he were gay . . . just don't give his son marriage equality.  God wouldn't allow for that. That's too much acceptance.  So, then again, maybe my football-loving dad is right --- just cut the gays out altogether.

Either way, I think David Tyree and my football-loving father have both fumbled the ball in this what-do-we-do-with-gays department.  Where's the real love, the equality and the justice for all.  No touch down here!

Former evangelical Baptist minister goes to Albany in support of Marriage Equality

Rev. Steve Parelli,
former evangelical Baptist
minister for Marriage Equality
Albany, NY.  June 20, 2011
By Steve Parelli
June 20, 2011
Bronx, NY

My "Marriage Equality Demonstration at Albany Capital, June 20, 2011" web page has the following items:
  • ABC 7 Eyewitness News video with Steve's poster board photo of Steve and Jose on their wedding day
  • WCBS-TV video of Steve with poster board wedding day photo
  • Nathaniel Brooks of The New York Times photo shot of Steve with poster board, wedding-day photo
  • Photo of Steve Parelli with David Tyree
  • Video of religious right singing
  • Letter to Five Key Senators
  • A personal writing on how I felt demonstrating

Former evangelical Baptist minister holds his gay wedding-day photo high above the opposition at the Albany captial same-sex marrioage demonstration

By Steve Parelli
June 21, 2011
Bronx, NY

Rev. Steve Parelli holding
wedding-day photo

The euphoric feelings that caused me to breakout in dance! (Like David before the ark)

Outside the state Senate chambers in Albany, I danced down the hallways between two rows of the chanting, singing religious right who were opposing marriage equality. It was liberating.

I was standing at one end of the hall with other marriage equality supporters. This particular group from the religious right were lining both sides of the hall, separate from where we were standing.

I decided to walk between the rows of the religious objectors with my head held high -- with my wedding-day poster board photo held above. The picture said it all: I am a very grateful gay man for the wonderful partner, I believe, God has granted me.

I felt so victorious, so vindicated, so lucky to be me - a gay man - with a loving partner, that I began to dance as I walked.

At times I looked heavenward toward the ceilings of the hall in happy self-affirmation, as if God were smiling.

"This is my father's world" they sang. And I sang it, too. It was liberating to raise my voice in chorus with theirs, albeit our singing had to carry two-different implied meanings.

Rev. Steve Parelli displaying his wedding-day photo
 before the religious right opposition.  State capital,
Albany, NY.  June 20, 2011
For one Christian (myself) to stand before one's opposition - other Christians (them) - and say "No, this is what I am before God as I understand God for myself,"  is the historic Reformation cry. It is the spirit of Protestantism: To know and believe in God according to the dictates of one's own conscience.

I was protesting in that spirit before today's inheritors of the ways of the Reformers.

And, like then, to protest openly, before your religious brother, against the generally accepted body of belief was for me, in these halls of the state capital, very liberating.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As a New Yorker and a former evangelical Baptist pastor, I urge you, Senator, to vote for marriage equality

From: Stephen Parelli
Sent: Wed, June 15, 2011 6:54:39 PM
Subject: As a New Yorker and a former evangelical Baptist pastor, I urge you to vote for marriage equality


John Flanagan

(518) 455-2071

Roy McDonald
(518) 455-2381
James Alesi
(518) 455-2015
Stephen Saland
(518) 455-2411
Mark Grisanti
(518) 455-3240


Rev. Stephen R. Parelli, MDiv
Executive Director
Other Sheep
2962 Decatur Ave., 5D
Bronx, NY 10458
718-360-0884 (office/home)
347-497-0861 (cell)


Please vote for Marriage Equality


I grew up in the Syracuse, NY, area. I now live in NYC with my partner of 13 years. We were married in 2008 in California. He is a native of Brooklyn. I was an evangelical Baptist pastor until age 44. I am now 58 years old.

My partner, Jose Ortiz - a guidance counselor in the NYC public schools - and I both grew up evangelical Christians and were both taught that our sexual orientation is an abomination before God. It will be decades before the evangelical church welcomes us, I fear. We trust we don't have to wait that long for our civil rights.

My conscience before God is clear. I am a gay man. By nature? By nurture? Or both? I don't know; but this I know: I am constitutionally gay. May New York State give me marriage equality irrespective of what religion may or may not teach about same-sex marriage; and may I choose to attend the church that best represents my views and my convictions about my sexual orientation.

Vote for equality; let the church be the church and let the state be the state. Please vote for equality. Vote for sexual minorities.

(My parents have cast their "vote" - they have chosen to not speak to me ever; they live in the Cortland, NY, area. If you listen to constituents like my parents -- like the James Dobson crowd -- you will vote no. My own parents have disowned me -- I pray my state will not disown me. My right as a gay man to marriage equality in no way hinders the James Dobson crowd's right to marriage; why do they choose to keep from me the rights they enjoy?)

------End of email to the Senators-----------------------------

Note:  The above Senator names were provided by Citizen Link, A Focus on the Family Affiliate.  Of course, I used Citizen Link's action alert to tell the senators just the opposite of what Focus on the Family was asking for.