LGBT Rights and Gun Violence Prevention: Engaging Your Congregation in National and Local Campaigns
Over the past few months, we have received many calls from engaged congregants and members of social action committees asking the same question: How can my congregation get involved in local and national campaigns? As Congress takes up important causes such as gun violence prevention and LGBT rights, we all want to know how we can make a difference. At an engaging workshop at the Consultation on Conscience, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, talked about the importance of mobilizing our congregations in national campaigns around social justice issues.
Sharing some success stories with those in attendance, Laser told the story of Reform Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, who, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, has become a leading voice for gun violence prevention in Ohio. Highlighting Rabbi Nosanchuk’s efforts, Laser explained how congregational leaders have the power to influence national debate. Laser also pointed to the great work of Reform congregations in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C., who despite being represented in Congress by members who support gun violence prevention and LGBT equality, worked to engage sister congregations in battleground states, maximizing their voice and amplifying the voice of the Reform Movement. These efforts, she explained, led to wonderful op-ed pieces, in-district visits and great media hits, such as the one earned by Georgia Rabbi Elana Perry, who received deserved attention for organizing a gun violence prevention roundtable.
On the topic of LGBT rights, Laser featured the wonderful efforts of Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman, who testified in the Utah state legislature in support of a nondiscrimination bill. Rabbi Jean and Rabbi Cohn both authored op-ed pieces on LGBT equality in West Virginia, advocating for the state’s own nondiscrimination act.