Hundreds of prominent faith leaders oppose anti-LGBTQ measures advancing in Texas Legislature
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Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
Texas clergy demonstrate against discrimination.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Prominent faith leaders from across the country joined forces today in urging Texas legislators to oppose a series of anti-LGBTQ measures advancing rapidly through the state legislature, specifically calling out controversial anti-trans bathroom bills, HB 2899 and SB 6, and several religious refusal bills that provide businesses and government entities a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans. Nearly two dozen anti-LGBTQ bills are under consideration in Texas. The call for opposition was made via a letter signed by more than 100 national religious leaders from across the country, and hand-delivered to legislative offices today with another letter signed by more than 200 Texas-based faith leaders. Texas clergy also gathered outside of the House chamber to pray and to take their message opposing discrimination directly to legislators.
The national letter, which was signed by the heads of seven religious denominations, the president of eight seminaries, and the leaders of more than 40 religious organizations, among scores of other high-level leaders, asserts that the proposed measures “threaten the dignity and equal treatment of LGBTQ people and violate the very tenets of love and justice that are the backbone of our religious traditions.”
“Legislation that allows discrimination against LGBTQ people violates the basic tenets of any faith,” said Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, who is among the signatories of the national letter. “The ideas of justice and equality in the eyes of God are among the most fundamental elements of faith and are the values our democracy was founded on. We cannot stand silent while politicians seek to marginalize and dehumanize vulnerable members of our community – and especially justify doing so in the name of religion.”
Faith leaders were compelled to join forces and speak out as anti-LGBTQ bills are gaining traction in the Texas legislature. The controversial, anti-trans “bathroom bill” known as HB 2899, would ban cities across Texas from passing non-discrimination ordinances to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination and nullify existing non-discrimination ordinances that currently protect millions of Texans. The bill is similar in scope to legislation enacted in North Carolina that spurred public outrage and backlash, resulting in a boycott of North Carolina by corporations, sports leagues, and celebrities and, according to a recent analysis from the Associated Press, will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years. Unlike North Carolina, Texas has coupled its attack on transgender residents with a broader effort to undermine LGBTQ equality. The Legislature is considering bills that permit or even require discrimination in almost every facet of life, often under the guise of protecting “religious liberty.”
Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Seminary NYC said: “Our faith traditions call us to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. God beseeches us to treat each other with dignity and respect. Our faith does not justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, or anyone else. The idea of religious freedom—which is a core principle of our democracy—has been distorted by those who seek license to treat LGBTQ people as less than human. Wherever human dignity is threatened, our faith requires that we speak out.”
In addition to the letter from national religious leaders, which was organized by the Religious Institute, more than 200 faith leaders in Texas also signed a letter to legislators
and gathered at the Capitol today
to pray and demonstrate their strong opposition to the proposed measures. Texas Believes (www.TexasBelieves.org
), a coalition of interfaith clergy who support equality for LGBTQ people, organized the event, which included delivering both letters in person to legislative offices.
“The outpouring of opposition from faith leaders of all backgrounds should make the moral argument very clear to legislators set to cast votes to legalize discrimination,” said Rev. Karen Thompson, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church-Austin. “The Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated – is a basic tenet of every major faith tradition. Lawmakers can’t hide behind religion in passing these discriminatory measures.”
Below is the full text of the national letter as well as the list of more than 100 clergy who signed the letter (which you can also access here
). The Texas letter can be accessed here
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May 3, 2017
To: All public and elected officials,
As religious leaders and people of faith, we are committed to creating a society that embraces the diversity of God’s creation and affirms the inherent dignity, agency, and worth of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. We believe all people must be free to express their gender and sexuality, unburdened by discrimination, unequal treatment, or systemic injustice. We come from many places, backgrounds, and religious traditions, but we hold these commitments and beliefs in common.
Our faiths compel us to oppose legislation that seeks to stigmatize and marginalize transgender people in particular, legitimize discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, or abuse the notion of religious freedom to deny basic rights and protections to others. In many cases, these bills further false narratives and lead to greater hostility and violence toward transgender and gender non-conforming people. These bills also threaten the dignity and equal treatment of LGBTQ people in general and violate the very tenets of love and justice that are the backbone of our religious traditions.
We will continue to speak out against all attempts to use religion to demonize, discriminate against, or bring harm to LGBTQ people, and transgender people in particular, in the public sphere. We encourage all elected officials to join us in publicly supporting policies that promote the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people, including non-discrimination and access to public accommodations. Together, we must commit to creating communities that embody justice for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
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