Indiana and Gov. Pence- LGBT are also religious – its’ not mutually exclusive
Indiana Governor Mike Pence continued his delusional doublespeak during his State of the State address this week. While there are many examples where he contradicted himself from one sentence to the next, I need to address not only his, but some in the media who insist on repeating “religious rights vs LGBT rights”. It is distressing to see headlines and hear politicians use terminology that separates religion from LGBT.
Stop it. Many good women and men of religion affirm those who are LGBT. Clergy and religious ARE LGBT. This is not new nor recent. Even in Indiana. For almost two decades clergy and religious leaders have taken out newspaper ads, delivered petitions, sent letters to each legislator outlining their support for religious freedom. The freedom to practice their own denomination’s polity and doctrines to marry, bless, and affirm individuals and couples for who they are.
What Indiana wants to do is place religious rights not ahead of LGBT rights, but ahead of human rights. Because that is what LGBT rights are. Human rights.
One of the first public acts I did as clergy was to sign my name, alone with over 150 other clergy and religious leaders in Indiana, to a clergy letter-a full page ad that outlined support for LGBT. This original letter was signed by faith LEADERS throughout Indiana- seminary presidents and professors, Rabbis, Imams, Pastors, Conference Ministers representing over twenty- six faith denominations. This was in 2001. That today, in 2016 Gov. Pence, politicians, and media perpetuate RFRA and other legislations as a religious vs LGBT right is ludicrous. To be sure, it is the narrow view of some religions that attempt to dehumanize LGBT. Despite their right to practice these doctrines of faith they cannot trump human rights
Back home in Indiana, clergy and faith leaders have made their religious views affirming LGBT known to Governors and elected officials each year since 1998. That means Governors, O’Bannon. Kernan. Daniels, and Pence.
Any Indiana Legislator from the past 15 years who states she or he has not heard from religious leaders who support LGBT rights specifically in matters of faith is simply not telling the truth.
As past president of Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination(ICON) I know the work of the many faith leaders who gathered at the statehouse, held prayer rallies, met with Legislators, and testified when discriminatory bills came up year after year after year. At the beginning of each session we delivered letters to every Legislator and asked for meetings. The work has intensified in recent years as other coalitions have joined in the work of ICON and the grassroots organizations of the 90’s.
Do not insult us and all the people of faith who affirm the dignity and respect the religious freedoms of THESE denominations by perpetuating it is as religion vs LGBT. Call it what it is – SOME narrow religious views vs Human rights. Back to Gov. Pence- while he regularly meets with, and addresses certain clergy groups, he has continued to refuse to meet with clergy leaders who affirm LGBT rights to marry.
In 2004 my denomination, the UCC, began the “Still Speaking Campaign”- never place a period where God has placed a comma. Their four words and a comma campaign is for human rights and affirms the dignity of each person. It is time the Governor and General Assembly of Indiana stop discriminating against people of faith- especially those of us who affirm LGBT.