Following the pledges of many United Methodist clergy to perform marriages for all couples in Minnesota and Northern Illinois, more clergy from a variety of denominations are speaking out in support of LGBT people and against discrimination.
The Houston Clergy Council, which describes itself as “a welcoming and affirming interfaith coalition of Houston area religious leaders,” has issued a statement criticizing Texas Governor Rick Perry’s upcoming prayer event. The clergy stated concerns about the separation of church and state, as well as the Christian-exclusive nature of the event. However, their main concern was that the prayer event is funded by the American Family Association, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The clergy signers oppose the American Family Association for being both anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim. The document states, “We believe it is inappropriate for our governor to organize a religious event funded by a group known for its discriminatory stances.”
Meanwhile, Clergy in the Midwest issued The Heartland Proclamation, which both affirmed the lives and realities of LGBT people and issued an apology for remaining silent while LGBT people were condemned and excluded. As of this writing, the list has over 151 signers. The apology stated, “We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death.” The proclamation was unveiled today in Omaha, but clergy from other heartland states can add their names to the supporters of the roster.
In Arizona, another type of apology is being sought. A coalition of LGBT organizations, including the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Believe Out Loud, Faith in America, Get Equal, Soulforce, and Truth Wins Out presented a petition to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, asking for an apology for the harm it is causing to the LGBT community. The coalition hoped that the Southern Baptist Convention will recognize and confess the role it plays in LGBT discrimination. Yesterday, the coalition was able to secure a 30-minute meeting with Bryant Wright, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The coalition was able to give real examples about family rejection and lives broken by so-called "ex-gay" programs, all based on Southern Baptist Church teachings. The meeting was described as "cordial," but Southern Baptist leaders refused to change their church teaching.
As the summer continues, we will likely see more clergy of many faiths and denominations voice their support for LGBT people in a variety of ways. GLAAD continues to support progressive clergy voices of all religious traditions as they speak out for justice, reconciliation, and equality.