2013 was a big year for LGBT equality, and the LGBT religious movement had several significant moments as well. Take a look at the list below:
Marriage equality and the United Methodist Church
After failing to change the denominational policy about LGBT people in 2012, more and more United Methodist leaders have not only pledged, but actually performed weddings for same-sex couples. Some of the best-known leaders were Bishop Melvin Talbert, who married a couple in Alabama; Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who performed the wedding of his son and husband; and Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was recently defrocked for performing the wedding of his son and wedding.
LGBT Native Americans marry with the blessing of their tribes in Oklahoma:
Jason Pickel married his longtime boyfriend, Darren Black Bear, in Oklahoma in October. Despite the fact that Oklahoma will not recognize, the marriage took place on tribal land with the blessing of both the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. It is not only the marriage for a happy couple, but also a demonstration of the sovereignty of the tribes. There are several Native American tribes that recognize marriage equality.
Lutherans elect openly gay and Native American bishop
The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin was elected the first openly gay and Native American bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. When it was a possibility that he might be elected, Bishop Erwin reached out to GLAAD for assistance. GLAAD broke the news, which was then covered by the USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and The Advocate. Bishop-Elect Erwin marched in the Los Angeles Pride parade in June, and was installed in September.
LGBT Catholics continue to struggle for space within the church
On Easter morning, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan stated his love for LGBT people. However, the actions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy contradicted those words. Two of the high profile cases of LGBT Catholics was Columbus physical education teacher, Carla Hale, and Long Island parishioner Nicholas Coppola. Hale was fired after her spouse was listed in her mother's obituary. The students and parents of Bishop Watterson High School started a Change.org petition that garnered over 130,000 signatures.
In April, Nicholas Coppola was told that he could no longer participate in any activities of his parish after his wedding to his husband. GLAAD helped Nicholas deliver over 18,000 signatures to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, asking that Nicholas be allowed to resume his involvement in his Long Island parish after getting married.
Black LGBT Christian voices
Two major projects this year gave voice to Black LGBT Christians. One project, The New Black, is a documentary that follows six African-American faith leaders to explore how Black, faith, and LGBT communities intersected in Maryland's campaign for marriage equality, where the role of the Black church as the community's institutional pillar took on a whole new dynamic. Additionally, recognizing that black LGBT Christians often face discrimination in their communities and churches, Many Voices attempts to change the culture of the church by making it a place where all are welcome. In order to perpetuate this message, Many Voices began a video campaign highlighting the personal faith stories of LGBT people of color. The campaign will highlight one video per week between National Coming Out Day and Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Religious support for Boy Scouts policy change
The Boy Scouts dropped their ban on gay Scouts in May, and that decision was supported by a wide variety of religious denominations who supported the Scouts. While much media attention went to the reactions of religious groups who opposed removing discrimination from the Boy Scouts, many more religious groups supported the change. Some denominations called for a complete repeal of the ban on gay Scouts and leaders as early as February, while others expressed their support for lifting the ban on Scouts when that plan was proposed.
God Loves Uganda
At the end of the year, Uganda passed its draconian anti-LGBT law. The new law provides a life sentence for LGBT people, as well as hefty prison sentences for people who do not turn in a known LGBT person. Throughout this year two documentaries has been showing people the US-based roots of the anti-LGBT law, as well as its devastating effects on LGBT Ugandans. Call Me Kuchu, followed the slain Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato. God Loves Uganda, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Roger Ross Williams, highlights the U.S. roots of the bill. God Loves Uganda has also been named to the short list for an Oscar nomination.
Transgender faith leaders
On one hand, the Jewish Daily Forward profiled six of transgender rabbis in a series on the topic, giving visibility to what is often an invisible community. At the same time, Azusa Pacific University asked theology professor Adam Ackley to resign after he shared with the community that he was transgender. Like with Carla Hale, students rallied to support the conservative Christian professor.
Exodus closes down
For a while, people had seen a shift in the rhetoric of Exodus and its president, Alan Chambers. However, people didn't expect the announcement that came in June that stated that the organization was shutting down. Exodus had been the largest so-called "ex-gay" organization in the world, with several affiliates. The announcement that the organization was closing came just before Our America with Lisa Ling was set to show a follow up to her controversial program on so-called "ex-gay" programs. Alan Chambers issued his own personal apology to those who were hurt by the "ex-gay" activism.