The above ad appeared Thursday in the Carolina Peacekeeper, a black community newspaper in Guilford County, NC. Pictured is a group of African-American interfaith clergy, all of whom are speaking out against North Carolina's Amendment One, a legal effort to ban marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.
Changing policies that prohibit United Methodist clergy from presiding at union or marriage services for same gender couples is an issue that ought to be a “slam dunk” for the United Methodist Church. Logic, let alone our United Methodist commitment to the ministry of ordained clergy, is torn to shreds when United Methodist clergy are able to bless buildings and animals and homes, etc., but are not allowed to bless the loving commitment of woman to woman and man to man.
This week, I'm watching and praying for the United Methodist Church as they meet in General Conference. Among all the issues, there are major decisions about whether lesbian and gay people can be married and serve as clergy. These deliberations are not new to me, or to the United Methodist Church. I pride myself on my United Methodist identity and heritage. My father and my grandfather were both United Methodist ministers.
Advocates for LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church lovingly confronted the dismissive and hurtful words, actions, and attitudes of anti-LGBT delegates at its General Conference. Retired bishops and African-American church leaders joined voices to call for the inclusion of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church, while advocates for full inclusion addressed the anti-LGBT statements and actions of conference delegates.
Gay rights activists argue that the UMC must become more inclusive to attract young Americans who view the sexuality prohibitions as hypocritical. Conservatives counter that only churches that hold fast to traditional doctrines are growing. United Methodists who support gay rights have proposed about 100 resolutions this year that would lift the bans and excise the “incompatible” phrase from the Book of Discipline. Leading up to General Conference, they argued that momentum is on their side.
Joseph Amodeo, who recently resigned from the board of Catholic Charities and launched a Change.org petition to urge Cardinal Timothy Dolan to meet with and help LGBT youth in need, said that support “has been overwhelming.”
On Thursday, April 19, the board of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies voted nearly-unanimously to reverse this ban and will start accepting gay and lesbian students beginning next year. Rabbi Mauricio Balter, President of the Israeli Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly, is supportive of the vote.
LGBT Mormons and their allies gathering at the Circling The Wagons Conference witnessed the premier of this video by Kendall Knox -- the same Kendall Knox who last month produced an It Gets Better video featuring gay Mormons at Brigham Young University. This vid, too, is part of the It Gets Better series. It, too, features Mormons. Only these are straightfolk -- het Mormons who maybe once disliked or feared the LGBT community, but were turned around after a friend or family member came out.