A few weeks ago, I was invited to be part of a press conference at the Human Rights Campaign’s 2011 Clergy Call in Washington, DC. Every two years HRC brings people of faith together to lobby elected officials regarding legislation that will ensure civil and human rights for LGBTQ people. I was only able to attend one day of the jam-packed event, but it was clear that the folks who took the time and effort to be there were passionate, thoughtful and faithful. I had the chance to meet and talk with many who simply believe that their faith compels them to speak out on behalf of all people, and in this case the LGBTQ community.
The press conference itself was an experience in itself. We started orientation very early in the morning, it was hot outside, the busses were not quite coordinated and did I mention it was hot? The speakers for the press conference were the following: Sharon Groves, HRC; Joe Solmonese, HRC; Rev. Geoffrey Black, United Church of Christ; Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist Church; Tequina Boston, Unitarian Universalist Association; Rev. Winnie Varghese, The Episcopal Church, Rev. Nancy Wilson, Metropolitan Community Church; Bishop Yvette Flunder, Rabbi David Saperstein, Blayne Higa, Jon Karamatsu and myself.
I would encourage you to take some time to watch and share all of the videos if you have the time. Below are a few of videos from the event that I thought were particularly moving. Check out more recaps from HRC as well as a pretty good article from the SF Bay Times.
And Bishop Yvette Flunder, The Fellowship closed it out!
My video can be seen here
And yes, despite all my whining about how hot it was, I kept my suede jacket on the whole time 😛
Statement from Bruce Reyes-Chow
2011 Human Rights Campaign Clergy Call
Washington DC, May 24, 2011
Greetings. My name is Bruce Reyes-Chow. I am the pastor of Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco and a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and I stand before you today, humbled by the opportunity to share my story.
- I stand before you as a grandchild of immigrants from China and the Philippines; deeply committed to the Asian American community knowing what discrimination does and how important it is to have allies who speak out.
- I stand before you as a proud and persistent Presbyterian, a denomination that for decades, studied, debated and prayed until just a few days ago dropped our institutional obstacles to ordained leadership of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
- I stand before you as a husband, married to an amazing woman for 20 years and the father of three beautiful daughters knowing that no one should ever be prevented from marrying the person they love free to build a family and a home together.
- I stand before you with hope that things are changing. Since March, four independent polls by Gallop, ABC, CBS and Public Religion Research Institute show consistently that more than half of the country supports marriage equality. Among young adults, 70% support legal marriage for same-sex couples.
Despite these dramatic numbers, supportive people hesitate to speak out. For too long, too many of us well-intentioned people of faith have ignored our call to seek justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with our God . . . Even in the face of the blatant failure of society to ensure the safety of our schools and to fight the bullying of LGBTQ young people in our midst—too many of us remain silent.
For those of us who sit in places of privilege and influence, we can always find an excuse to remain silent on the plight of LGBTQ young people in our communities. But make no mistake, the deafening silence that screams from our church communities gives tacit approval to the obvious violence that is inflicted upon LGBTQ young people in our schools. Emotional, physical and spiritual violence perpetrated by others and violence done by their own hand. Now is the time when people of faith must choose to speak out.
- For those who believe that equality is not just for the privileged, it is time to speak.
- For those who believe that justice is not a luxury for times of plenty, it is time to speak.
- For those who believe that God liberates us from the bonds of exclusion, it is time to speak.
- For those who believe that hope is not a dream, conviction is not a liability and civility is not a weakness it is time to speak.
We who are supportive can no longer afford to be silent – it is not enough to have gotten this far and think that someone else will carry that cool drink of water to the thirsty.
We must no longer remain silent, clothed in the comfort of our status and the privilege of our station, but we, people of faith, must speak out to ensure that our young people, regardless of their sexuality or gender are safe and free from the words, actions and silence that has caused so much pain.
It is time to speak: in the faith communities in which we gather, in the schools that nurture our children and in the halls of government tasked with protecting its citizens. People of faith, let us no longer be silent about the struggles facing LGBTQ people.
Let us no longer be silent, now is the time to speak!