Calling All Clergy: Please Report to Washington D.C.
Until this week, I had never stood side by side with a Pastor from the Metropolitan Community Church while our gathering was blessed with a Buddhist incantation. I didn’t know it before, but I was missing out. In the sweltering D.C. sunshine, Unitarian Universalists chatted Old Testament with Reform Jews, while Southern Baptists debated queer theory with Mennonites. All were taking part in the struggle that continues to define modern America: the struggle towards equality.
This May 22-24, I joined faith leaders from all 50 states and dozens of faith traditions and the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights organization in the country, to talk to members of Congress about passing legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from bullying in schools, discrimination in employment, and marriage inequality. Over 240 Representatives and Senators had an opportunity to hear from faith leaders who feel compelled by their values and faith to support laws that protect all human beings.
It is to America’s credit that the thriving religious freedom within our country allows each citizen to hold whatever personal beliefs they choose. However, all too often religion has played an instrumental and inappropriate role in the fashioning of public policy. Rarely has this been more true than in the debates surrounding the rights of the LGBT community. By coming together in Washington D.C., interfaith clergy worked together to show that there are diverse views within the religious community on this issue, rather than one overriding narrative. Their message: no matter what your walk of life or way of worship, there must be a place for you in a welcoming American community.
Currently, only a patchwork of laws, ordinances and business policies that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity exist across the United States. They create protections for some people in some places, but what should be a smooth blanket of protection is a ragged cloth with holes in them the size of Texas, Florida, the Dakotas and Virginia – to name a just a few. Legislation is on the table to create protections for every citizen of this country that is targeted for employment discrimination because they are, or are perceived to be, gay or transgender. This legislation has been on the table for so long that it is beginning to gather dust. The hundreds of leaders that came to Washington this week to stand with the LGBT community have helped to dust it off, and lay it square under the nose of the legislators who make decisions on our behalf. Their passion and persistence is instrumental to the ongoing struggle for equality.