Another Step Forward in the Quest for LGBTQIA Justice in the UMC

Last week I wrote about the cases in the United Methodist Church related to the full inclusion of LGBTQIA persons. Hundreds of FOR supporters responded immediately to sign as supporters of the Easter Letter released by the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus: THANK YOU!

United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus members

As a member of Queer Clergy Caucus, I was in Newark for those hearings: we sang, we prayed, we stood and sat in silence, and we celebrated communion at the conclusion of the proceedings for all who were present. Regardless of what the church’s judicial body said, we embodied our calling and demonstrated the love of Christ for all persons.

Now, the rulings are outBishop Oliveto will remain a bishop, but queer persons in the process of becoming clergy will have a harder time resisting the unjust law that would seek to prevent their ordination.

Bishop Karen OlivetoThe judicial body did an interesting thing, though. It greatly expanded the category of those who are now “chargeable” — all the current and retired bishops of the western region who participated in the consecration of Bishop Oliveto, potentially all who elected her and supported the election, all who support LGBTQIA candidates for ordination — the number now named as guilty has grown exponentially.

In trying to enforce the discriminatory law, the judicial body wound up creating new unity and solidarity among those who are against it. As students and participants in social change movements, we know that when an issue shifts from being seen as the problem of a few to an issue affecting many, opposition to unjust power will soon reach a tipping point.

t was difficult to hear the discriminatory words in church law being repeated, and it was painful to see the election of my dear friend Bishop Karen Oliveto being questioned, but we knew it was quite likely that this “day in court” would come, and that ultimately, regardless of the decision, it would move our quest for justice forward.

And it has. Though much media coverage has focused on the reinforcement of discriminatory church law, the reality is that we are winning. When practically an entire geographical region of faithful leaders and laity is found guilty, then it becomes clear that the problem is with the law, not the people. The way forward is clear, and it is the way of solidarity in hope, faith, and love.

Meanwhile, in Texas:

In a press release issued this Wednesday, national religious leaders announced our clear opposition to a series of anti-LGBTQIA bills being considered by the Texas legislature. In solidarity with Texas clergy, who are leading this call, I am one of over 100 national faith leaders (including other FOR members) who are standing up for LGBTQIA rights in that state.

FOR has actively resisted discrimination against LGBTQIA persons for decades. Drawing on a long history of LGBT persons serving in FOR leadership, beginning in the 1910s and ’20s, we released our first formal statement on “LGBT Rights” in 1988. We continue to publish Walter Wink’s popular, timeless guide, Homosexuality and the Bible(available in single or bulk orders from FOR’s Bookstore).

This month, on May 17, we observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Whatever your faith, spiritual, or ethical community, our commitment at FOR is to partner with you to push for rights, dignity, and justice for all persons until all are free and live in peace.

We’re building a grassroots movement. Are you in?

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