2012 saw a new generation of religious voices speaking for LGBT equality. Some are new, and some have been around for a while. All of them have helped to change the religious landscape concerning LGBT people. Below, we’ll list for you ten of the most significant religious voices from 2012
The Revs. Sue Gabrielson, MacArthur Flournoy, Grant Stevenson, and Debra Peevey
You may not have heard of these four names, but their work was all over one of the biggest stories of 2012. They are the faith directors for the successful marriage campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, respectively. CNN highlighted how faith leadership in state campaigns and national organizations like GLAAD, will inform how marriage equality campaigns go forward in the future.
His YouTube video, posted in March has been viewed nearly half a million times, and he is becoming a voice of authority for evangelical Christians. When he visited New York, GLAAD created an event at Marble Collegiate Church that gave Matthew the opportunity to expand on his comments in his video. The event landed Matthew on the front page of the Style Section of the New York Times. Since then, Matthew has been giving interviews to everyone from the Christian Post to the BBC.
Pastor Joseph Tolton
Pastor Joseph Tolton enjoyed a dynamic year on multiple fronts. Joseph has been a leading advocate for LGBT people around the world, particularly in Uganda. His work has petitioned US faith leaders to speak out against the "Kill the Gays Bill" in Uganda. He also organized NoWedge2012, leading several prominent Black faith leaders to speak out in support of marriage equality and for those were not ready to speak out, avoid letting marriage equality become a wedge issue for the African-American community.
While Barbara Johnson was grieving the loss of her mother, the presiding priest stated, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.” This blatant lack of pastoral care to an LGBT person captured the attention of the nation.GLAAD worked with Barbara to tell her story and to shine a light of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s internal persecution of LGBT people.
Dominic Sheahan Stahl & Sacred Heart Academy Class of 2012
When Dominic Sheahan Stahl was uninvited from speaking at the Sacred Heart Academy graduation for being gay, the graduating class, which included his younger brother, rallied around him. They formed #LetDominicSpeak and worked with GLAAD to express their support for the alum. They formed an inclusive graduation event, in which the entire graduating class, as well as 600 people listened to Dominic give his speech, of which, GLAAD produced a video. Dominic has gone on to establish a “Live Through Love” foundation to raise scholarship money for LGBT students.
Sister Jeannine Gramick
Nuns were a big deal in 2012, and the LGBT community had a great ally in Sister Jeannine Gramick. She was one of the most visible pro-LGBT Catholic voices as Maryland adopted marriage equality and through the ballot process. She spoke about Roman Catholic hierarchy to MSNBC, and created a video series on The Daily Beast to discuss faith and life, including LGBT issues.
Rev. David & Deborah Weekley
After coming out in 2009, Pastor David Weekley has continued to be a voice for LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church. Despite not changing denominational policy, David continues to use his own story to advocate for change. For Transgender Awareness Week, Deborah shared with GLAAD about being the spouse of a trans clergy man. David was honored as the 2012 Man of the Year by the Northwest Gender Alliance.
Bishop Gene Robinson
Bishop Robinson is set to retire at the end of 2012, but he isn’t slowing down. He started the year at Sundance in the award winning film “Love Free or Die” and talked with GLAAD about the impact of the film. His denomination, The Episcopal Church made significant strides to LGBT inclusion, including blessings for same-sex couples and non-discrimination policies for transgender people. He wrote a new book, God Believes in Love. And he ended 2012 with John Stewart, talking about LGBT life in the church.
Chaim Levin was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community and now identifies as both gay and Orthodox. He has been outspoken about the harm he endured in a so-called “ex-gay” program. Levin joined three other plaintiffs to sue his “ex-gay” program for consumer fraud, detailing the degrading and outrageous things “therapists” had them do to try to change their sexual orientation.
The American Idol superstar saw her star rise a little more when she spoke out in favor of marriage equality, and named her faith as a reason for her LGBT support. "Our church is gay friendly," she said in the interview, "Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or [saying] 'everyone has to be like me'. No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody."
BONUS: President Barack Obama
While most people are aware that President Obama finally endorsed marriage equality, and won reelection after doing so, fewer people might be aware that he invoked his Christian faith and his role as a father to do so. “When we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I'll be as president.”