GLAAD Religion, Faith & Values staff helped spokespersons from the National Religious Leadership Roundtable refine their speeches for a press conference in Puerto Rico, where Representative Luis E. Farinacci Morales, recanted a previous vote against same-sex marriage and spoke out for the first time in support of marriage equality. The National Religious Leaders Roundtable press conference and three day meeting in Puerto Rico were part of events for the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.
At the press conference, on May 13, GLAAD staff stood with more than a dozen other national LGBT and straight ally faith leaders from Protestant, Catholic and Jewish traditions, where spokespersons expressed their shock and grief at the brutal murder and decapitation of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, but also expressed their deep concern for the murderer, Juan Martinez Matos, as another life lost to homophobia as he was sentenced to 99 years in prison the day before the press conference.
Besides the press conference, these faith leaders devoted time to build skills to function at the intersections of issues related to race, orientation, economics, religion, gender identity, age, ability, etc., so that differences become opportunities to build bridges rather than become obstacles. The group worked across lines of difference within its own membership and participated in a town hall meeting at one of the five, ”open-door” churches in Puerto Rico. Community members discussed how to deal with fundamentalism and shared stories of their successes and challenges.
The National Religious Leaders Roundtable three day meeting was part of a week of events in Puerto Rico leading up to the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. The NRLR is convened by the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce to bring together heads of LGBT denominational groups and faith staff from national groups like the Human Rights Campaign, Taskforce, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and GLAAD.
GLAAD will continue to work collaboratively to amplify voices of faith through the media to reject violence and support equality.