In response to the anti-gay constitutional amendment that is being proposed in the North Carolina legislature in the coming weeks, nearly 250 Clergy and Faith leaders from across the state have signed onto a declaration which affirms that,
These faith leaders, in submitting their names to these three principles, show us once again that the love of God knows no gender or sexual orientation. Many times, those of us in the LGBT community view religion and religious organizations as hindrances in our effort to gain social equality with our heterosexual brethren. Too often, we see religious groups (such as Focus On The Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic Conference, and the Southern Baptist Convention) working to deny us our rights and "change" our God given sexual orientation, and thus we falsely paint all religious organizations as being the same way.
- While we respect the fact that debate and discussion continue in many of our religious communities as to the scriptural, theological and liturgical issues involved, we draw on our many faith traditions to arrive at a common conviction. We oppose the use of sacred texts and religious traditions to deny legal equity to gay and lesbian people.
- We oppose any amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would prohibit gay and lesbian couples from receiving the protections like health benefits and hospital visitation afforded by recognition of their relationships.
- We affirm freedom of conscience in this matter. We recognize that the state may not require religious clergy to officiate at, or bless, gay and lesbian marriages. Likewise, a denial of state civil recognition dishonors the religious convictions of those clergy, supported by their faith communities, who officiate at and bless gay and lesbian marriages.
Thankfully, these 200+ clergy members in North Carolina - from diverse denominations, movements, and religions - are working to shatter this misconception. These clergy are telling LGBT people that God accepts and affirms us for who we are, and not what men want us to be. They affirm that not only are LGBT people welcome in their congregations, but they also affirm that our relationships and love are valid and sacred before God.
Not only is this bridge building between the religious and LGBT communities happening in North Carolina, but it is happening across our nation. From here in Memphis, where religious groups have allied with the Universities SafeZone program, to national denominations such as the Presbyterian Church (USA) affirming the place of openly gay leaders, we are seeing the walls of institutionalized religious discrimination come tumbling down.
This is just another reason my friends, why it is essential that we be out and proud in our religious groups and communities; for without our voices being heard, we will remain an invisible minority, and change, instead of being slow to come, will not come at all. Thus, my challenge to you is that no matter how hard it may seem, live with dignity, honesty, and openness in your daily life...because YOU are change.