YouTubeTwitterFacebookTwitter
           
I'm NEW to MCC... Tell Me More!  |  Find a Local Church  |  Give To MCC  |  Contact Us

Archive for the ‘Global Justice News’ Category

Who am I to judge?

Pope Francis asked a stunning question: “Who am I to judge?” This was in response to inquiries about whether or not there are gay priests in the Vatican — the now-renowned “gay lobby.”

In a 90-minute interview returning from his travels in Brazil, an affable, relaxed Pope Francis covered a range of topics, but the “who am I to judge?” response made the world do a double take.

Seriously?

“Who am I to judge?”

Well, the pope! You are the pope who inherited two millennia of, well, pontificating about what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s immoral.

I am sure the Vatican leaders are wringing their collective hands over a pope who may be viewed as a security and PR nightmare. He may seem out of their control, dispensing mercy and off-the-cuff pastoral kindness that blurs the lines of official church policy and pronouncements. We could almost feel the winds of Vatican II blowing.

My hope is that this is not just the kind of rock-star popularity that masked the sometimes-kind conservatism of John Paul II. He gave “warm fuzzies” to big crowds but became increasingly dogmatic as a corrupt system of financial and sexual exploitation lurked beneath the surface.

Pope Francis’ step toward humility was stunning, but few are naïve enough to think that everything has changed. Gay priests must still be celibate, and Pope Francis declared that “the door is closed” on the ordination of women. But what the pope did in that interview was to begin to live up to the Catholic Church’s own teachings about humankind.

Honestly, if all Christian denominations and traditions lived up to their own teachings about humanity, there would be a great revolution of respect. But that respect must include women as full human beings, worthy of greatness — worthy of ordination — and it must include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

I sincerely hope this pope really does want to shake up things. Celibacy should be optional. Catholic women need the church to move into the 20th, not to mention the 21st, century and recognize their full eligibility for the priesthood. Sexual assaults on children must be eliminated. Decisions about contraception, reproductive health and choice should be in the hands of women, not by unaffected men who like to dictate policy. The use of condoms to save lives through prevention of HIV/AIDS must be commonplace. A revolution of respect can happen!

Virtually every faith tradition has a core belief that human beings have inherent worth as creations of God. The inherent worth of each human being means that Christians should be aghast at the brutal murders of gay men in RussiaCameroonYemen and even in theUnited States.

In South Africa, where so-called “corrective rape” is used mostly against lesbians but also against transgender people and gay men, the brutality is shocking and too often endorsed by family members. Duduzile Zozo was raped with a toilette brush and left to die in early July. Bishop Tutu presided at her memorial service and famously said that he “would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.”

Most anti-LGBTQ rapes, beatings, tortures and murders happen with little comment because it is too dangerous to report the assault or murder of a gay friend or family member for fear of police reprisal. Even with high publicity, the Cameroon police do not seem to be pursuing the person(s) who murdered gay rights advocate Eric Lembembe. Instead, Cameroon police arrested three organizers who have been critiquing the lack of action by Cameroon officials!

Where are the faith voices? Pope Francis, we urge you not to be silent! Use your moral weight to stop vicious attacks and cruel persecution. Promote a campaign for tolerance. We do not have to punish people for being different!

Why are Christians silent when Eric Lemembe is tortured with a hot iron in his own home? Why are Christians silent when lesbians are raped — even raped to death? Why are Christians silent as Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and so many other countries pass laws that make talking about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people punishable by prison or fine?

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently condemned LGBTQ people and promised to cut off our heads. Pronouncements like these are de facto endorsements of street violence, mob attacks, family rejection and official persecution against anyone who is perceived to be LGBTQ — as well as against their families. Mugabe is a Catholic who should hear from his new pope that violent homophobia is unacceptable for Catholic leaders.

Although the pope did not suddenly change the church’s view that LGBTQ people should remain celibate, whether as priests or as lay people, he did tell Christians around the world that it’s time to live up to the highest values of the faith rather than descend to base disrespect for human beings.

Pope Francis modeled a more tolerant approach to LGBTQ people. He is the first pope to use the word “gay.” Tolerance is a humble platform from which people across the world can be speaking out for mutual respect. It is not a perfect platform, but it appears that it might suit a pope who doesn’t think of himself as infallible but as a human being who respects God’s good diversity. How refreshing!

As the head of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in 40 countries, I know that it is time that Christians step up and strive to fulfill the basic teachings of Jesus: Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit prisoners — and, like the pope, judge not.

Public Statement by World’s Largest Predominantly Gay Church Group Metropolitan Community Churches on the Passage of Marriage Equality in England and Wales

Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide join in the celebration of Marriage Equality in England and Wales.  After passing in the British House of Commons yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II has given her assent to the bill.  Although the monarch’s assent is a formality in the United Kingdom, it makes the measure official.  Marriages could be held in England and Wales as early as next summer.

This measure in England and Wales marks another watershed accomplishment on the long road to full equality under the law for LGBT residents. “On behalf of the friends and members of Metropolitan Community Churches, I salute all those who stood up for full equality, including marriage equality of all citizens of England and Wales,” said The Reverend Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.

Marriage Equality supporter Sarah Jane Ramage said, “I am very happy that this legislation has passed. Many people have campaigned for many years. The Rev. Sharon Ferguson of MCC North London and LGCM was part of the equal love campaign that three years ago sought to raise the profile of the differences between civil partnerships and marriage. It is great to be celebrating the success of that and other initiatives.  I look forward to seeing the remaining inequalities affecting same sex couples and trans people removed.”

MCC’s Global Justice Chair, The Reverend Pat Bumgardner said, “We won this battle for Marriage Equality because of hard work — because of people like Rev. Sharon Ferguson, Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of North London. We won, because though ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice,’ and Marriage Equality is the just, the right thing to do AND — don’t ever let anyone tell you differently: it is the MORAL thing to do. The angels and saints of heaven are rejoicing tonight.”

“For 42 years, the denomination of Metropolitan Community Churches has been at the forefront of the marriage equality movement. Today, along with people of goodwill everywhere, we’re celebrating the marriage equality victory in England and Wales,” said The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Marriage Equality of The Global Justice Institute.

This Statement prepared by The Global Justice Institute of Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.  Rev. Pat Bumgarnder, Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Marriage Equality and Relational Issues

Contact

Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls for Prayer and Personal Discernment as Zimmerman Trial Verdict is Released

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches

Calls for Prayer and Personal Discernment

as Zimmerman Trial Verdict is Released

 

Earlier this evening, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman, a now 26-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

 

Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when, walking to his father’s home through a residential area in Sanford, Florida on a rainy evening , he was shot in the heart after an altercation with Zimmerman.   Wearing a hoodie and talking on his cell phone, having just purchased a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea, Martin became a symbol of young people of color across the United States who are often targeted by law enforcement, shop owners and other citizens as “suspicious.”

 

Approached and followed by Mr. Zimmerman for this reason, a physical fight ensued that would end in the death of a child, and come to symbolize our nation’s on-again/off-again struggle to accept and value its diverse citizenry.

 

As a community of largely LGBTI people of many religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of us know what it is like to be viewed with suspicion simply because of who we are.  Many of us still live in parts of the world where our sexual orientations or gender identities are sufficient to endanger our lives.

 

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents, appealed for peace in the wake of a verdict and said that they could finally see “the end of the tunnel.”

 

The real end of the tunnel for all of us will be on that day when we stand face to face with the Creator God who made us all and pronounced all life good.  In the end, we will be invited to share one table together.  The Gospel of Matthew says people will come to that table from East and West, North and South, meaning from many directions.

 

I know the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches may be coming from many directions with regard to this case and all the issues it has raised, from racially motivated animosity to the use of firearms.   People around the globe suffer and struggle daily with the loss of children’s lives to violence — violence that is often times fueled by the failure to value the diversity of God’s creation.

 

Yesterday at the United Nations, another child targeted by violence, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan named Malala, spoke to the world saying that education is the key to a future of peace and good will for all of us.  Shot because she was a girl wanting to go to school in a culture devaluing its female children, she said, “They thought that the bullet would silence us,” but what really happened was that “weakness and fear died…and courage was born.’

 

I urge all of us on this night when many of us may be reacting with shock, disbelief and anger and others with support for a legally rendered verdict, to really search our hearts and minds and spirits for the ways prejudice and fear have weakened our commitment to the prophetic vision of a world where lions lay down with lambs, and little children play safely over adder’s dens.   I urge all of us as people of faith to recommit to the Biblical injunction against taking a life for any reason.   The legal standard for “self defense” can never replace Scripture’s call to love others as God loves all of us.

 

Pray with me this night for the family of Trayvon Martin who, regardless of a verdict, lost a child to fear and violence.  Pray for the day when all of us are at ease in the presence of difference and see only in each other’s faces a brother or sister in Christ.

 

+Nancy

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator

Metropolitan Community Churches

 

This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.  For more information or to arrange further comment

contact The Rev. Jim Merritt, Public Policy Team Communications, at

.

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Senate and House leadership

Dear Congressman/Senator:

 

We are writing to express our strong support for legislation that would enhance the United States anti-trafficking policy by upgrading the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau. We represent members of both the current and previous President Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As members of the current President’s Advisory Council, we studied the issue of domestic and international trafficking for most of the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama.  One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to a Bureau.

Our April 2013 Report states: “The Council appreciates and acknowledges not only the diplomacy and monitoring carried out by J/TIP, but the level of expertise and innovation the Office brings to the anti-trafficking movement.  This Council believes that it is vitally important that the State Department’s J/TIP be elevated to a State Department Bureau, on equal footing with the Regional Bureaus and other priority issues for this Administration. Making J/TIP a Bureau would improve collaboration with the Regional Bureaus, Embassies, and international interlocutors.”

We are grateful that legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to upgrade the Office to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.  This simple redesignation, which does not involve additional bureaucracy or expense, will give J/TIP and its leadership access to the Secretary of State and parity with regional Assistant Secretaries. This upgrade is required for the issue of slavery eradication to receive the attention it requires.

As leaders of faith based and community organizations, we respectfully urge you to support this legislation, which sharpens the United States’ most precious diplomatic tool.  The men and women who staff and lead the J/TIP Office are the nation’s leading experts on modern day slavery.  While we understand that anti-trafficking concerns will sometimes be preempted by other U.S. interests, we believe that it is essential that J/TIP’s leadership have a seat at the table where key decisions on diplomacy and strategy are being developed and implemented.

We respectfully urge you to support H.R. 2283, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith in the House and S._____, companion legislation in the Senate that is sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal.

For information, please contact Allison Hollobaugh, and Joel Cohen, .

Sincerely,

 

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Policy Link

Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

Lynne Hybels, Co-founder, Willow Creek Community Church

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church

Miaohong Hsiangju Liu, Buddha’s Light International Association

Maria Nagorski, Executive Director, Fair Chance DC

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Assembly

Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Elder Steven Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Susan K. Stern, Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Past President, Leadership Council of Women Religious

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

Dr. Arturo Chavez, President, Mexican American Catholic College

The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches of Christ-USA

Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Nancy Ratzan, Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners

The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Secretary of State Kerry

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington DC

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to express our strong support for current legislation that would enhance the United States anti-trafficking policy by upgrading the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.

We represent members of both the current and previous President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As members of the current President’s Advisory Council, we studied the issue of domestic and international trafficking for the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama.  One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a Bureau.

Our April 2013 Report states: “The Council appreciates and acknowledges not only the diplomacy and monitoring carried out by J/TIP, but the level of expertise and innovation the Office brings to the anti-trafficking movement.  This Council believes that it is vitally important that the State Department’s J/TIP be elevated to a State Department Bureau, on equal footing with the Regional Bureaus and other priority issues for this Administration. Making J/TIP a Bureau would improve collaboration with the Regional Bureaus, Embassies, and international interlocutors.”

We are grateful that legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate entitled, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” to upgrade the Office to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.  This simple redesignation, which does not involve additional bureaucracy or expense, will give J/TIP and its leadership access to the Secretary of State and parity with regional Assistant Secretaries. This upgrade is required for the issue of slavery eradication to receive the attention it requires.

As leaders of faith based and community organizations, we respectfully urge you to support this legislation, which sharpens the United States’ most precious diplomatic tool.  The men and women who staff and lead the J/TIP Office are the nation’s leading experts on modern day slavery.  While we understand that anti-trafficking concerns may sometimes be preempted by other U.S. interests, we believe that it is essential that J/TIP’s leadership have a seat at the table where key decisions on diplomacy and strategy are being developed and implemented.

We respectfully urge you to take any action in your authority to elevate the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau.

Sincerely,

 

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Policy Link

Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

Lynne Hybels, Co-founder, Willow Creek Community Church

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church

Miaohong Hsiangju Liu, Buddha’s Light International Association

Maria Nagorski, Executive Director, Fair Chance DC

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Assembly

Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Elder Steven Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Susan K. Stern, Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Past President, Leadership Council of Women Religious

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

Dr. Arturo Chavez, President, Mexican American Catholic College

The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches of Christ-USA

Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Nancy Ratzan, Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners

The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only

MCC stands in solidarity with ICM Brasil – Igrejas da Comunidade Metropolitana do Brasil and everyone in Brazil.

Dear leaders, members and friends of the Metropolitan Community Churches in Brazil:

In this important moment of mobilization in Brazil ,I would like to express my solidarity with you and my support of the demands being expressed at the protests throughout the country. Those valuable acts of courage make me feel proud of our people, our brothers and sisters in Brazil. I would love to be there with you to march, requesting not only for “Circuses” (Confederations Cup) to be offered but also for “bread” to be a reality for all (respect and dignity for indigenous peoples, sexual minorities, Afro-Brazilians, the Landless Workers) and to be available on every table and in every household.

Much more that the $0.20 increase in transportation fares is at stake in Brazil. People’s social unrest must be expressed, heard, respected. It shall not be silenced. Governments’ betrayals (independently of their political party) shouldn’t be tolerated by the people anymore.

As an Elder at the Metropolitan Community Churches, I demand in God’s name that the requests and demands of our beloved Brazilian peoples be answered. Brazil is much more than the World Cup. Brazil is much more than the Olympic Games organization that only benefits a few. Now is the the time for Brazil to take the lead, to make itself heard with a strong voice in the world, to demand a government that works with and for the people, not to benefit from them.

Dear Brazilian men and women, the whole world is looking at you, our hearts going to you in solidarity. Your legitimate demands will be able to create a Brazil that can help, support and treat with dignity and respect each and every one of its inhabitants. No one and nothing can stop you from protesting, for demanding that Brazil for which you have fought so hard to build, that so many men and women have worked for to make the country a place of human rights building a more human nation.

We trust that President Dilma’s government will be able to keep up with this historical moment that you are living as a courageous and brave people.

I want our MCC Churches in Brazil to know that during the protests on Thursday, each and every one of our leaders, members and friends will be with you, thinking about you, praying for you, and following any developments.

Another world is possible, a new Brazil is possible, too.

My solidarity and prayers are always with you.

Blessings,

Rev. Hector Gutierrez

MCC Elder

Supreme Court Defends First Amendment Rights Engaged in the Fight Against AIDS For U.S. Organizations

Today, six justices of the Supreme Court of the United States issued the majority  decision in Agency for International Development, et al. –v- Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. et al., finding that federal agencies mandating that organizations receiving government funding for the global fight against AIDS must hold the same opinion as the United States government to qualify for funding.

Responding  to the escalating pandemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the Congress of the United States passed the “United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003,” allocating billions of dollars to fund non-governmental organizations around the globe in multi-faceted efforts to increase access to treatment, offer supportive care, train health care workers, accelerate research and reduce at-risk behaviors.   As part of efforts designed to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, at that time the fourth highest cause of death in the world,  legislators recognized sex trafficking as a factor in the escalation of the disease.

Congress charged the Department of Health and Human Services {HHS} and the United States Agency for International Development {USAID} with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the 2003 funding Act.  The agencies then developed protocol that required recipient agencies, in effect, to adopt the United States government’s position opposing prostitution and sex trafficking as a policy statement in order to qualify for funding.   Agencies of the United Nations, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Health Organization were exempted from the regulation.

The Alliance for an Open Society and others  challenged that requirement based on the first amendment right in the United States guaranteeing freedom of speech and the right to hold opinions and policies at odds with those favored by the government.

“The Supreme Court decision today,” said The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, “represents a victory for all those engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  The issue is not whether any of us who have long worked in this battle are promoting particular behaviors,  but rather our ability to reach those most in need of safe space and compassionate care. “

“The decision today prevents the U.S. government from telling people what they must say in cases where being judgmental may well determine whether individuals most at risk get the help they need in either remaining HIV-negative or managing their health status in a life-affirming way,” added The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair of the Moderator’s Public Policy Team.  “We serve in a movement of faith founded on the teachings of a man who cautioned against judgment,” she added, “and who proclaimed that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter heaven before many others.  Today, at least, they will be free to enter the offices of agencies around the globe who can offer them the information and health care access critical to saving their lives now.”

This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team of

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.

For more information, contact The Rev. Pat Bumgardner .

Historic LGBT Church Leaders Condemn Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

“Russian tradition needs to meet universal human rights standards”

 

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in over 40 countries.  Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with a sitting president in 1979.  She is currently a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

 

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute publicly and firmly condemn the adoption of a federal law in the Russian Parliament that bans so-called “non-traditional sexual relations” and which mandates fines and jail terms for people convicted of sharing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) “propaganda.”

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, said:

“Tradition is not about an idyllic past, but rather an ongoing transmission of values. Non-discrimination is one of these values important for the whole society. LGBT people have always been part of the larger Russian community. The only difference today is visibility. Russian tradition needs to meet universal human rights standards, such as the freedom of expression, a principle that applies to all Russian citizens irrespective of their national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.”

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of Global Justice Institute, continued:

“Let me be clear. Tradition is less essential in a democratic society than justice. Stop invoking tradition to perpetuate discrimination at the highest level against our LGBT brothers and sisters from Russia! They will remain proud and visible despite these attempts to silence them, while our solidarity with the Russian civil society fighting for LGBT rights will increase. Censorship shouldn’t be a value that characterizes any nation in the 21st century.

“As a community of faith and a social justice institution, we reject the way the Russian authorities try to legitimize and legalize discrimination against LGBT people. Societal norms and traditions can’t be invoked in good faith when they deliberately harm vulnerable groups, such as LGBT people.“

 

The Global Justice Institute is a collaborative effort of Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, dedicated to fostering theological reconciliation, positive public images and economic development with LGBTI people around the globe.  For more information visit www.globaljusticeinstitute.com or contact Rev. Pat, Executive Director, at 

Moderator of world’s largest LGBT community of faith hails signing of anti-discrimination legislation by Puerto Rico’s Governor

Today, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, signed two bills into effect, one banning discrimination against the island’s LGBT citizens and another adding LGBT couples to protective provisions already in place in domestic violence statutes.

 

Governor Padilla’s actions followed on the heels of those of the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, when earlier this month she mandated that police in the city provide equal protection and access to support services regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

“While some religious leaders mounted a vigorous campaign to defeat these legislative efforts completely,” said The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, “I want to lift up and celebrate the courage and conviction of Governor Padilla in announcing as he presented the new laws, he felt he had done his duty as a Christian.”

 

“While a coalition of faith leaders was successful in eliminating clauses that would have more fully guaranteed equality in commercial accommodations, rentals and public transportation,” she continued, “I and the members and friends of ICM Cristo Sanador, our MCC congregation in San Juan, believe with all our hearts that there is much rejoicing in heaven today, for the good news that the Creator’s plan of universal human dignity and equality has taken another step forward in our lives.”

 

The Rev. Jorge Delgado Rivas, member of The Moderator’s Public Policy Team and the Global Justice Institute, expressed his gratitude to the members and friends of MCC in Puerto Rico have long witnessed and worked for this day.  “I am sure,” he said, “many of us remember well the days not  that long ago when crimes committed against LGBT people were not even listed as hate crimes in Puerto Rico.  I want to lift up the memory of people like George Steven Lopez Mercado, targeted as a teenage gay rights activist, and brutally slain.  The police investigator in that case told us that ‘people who lead this life style need to be aware that this will happen.’  Today my brother, Steven, your work on behalf of our people has proved fruitful and those of us born LGBT have taken a huge step forward n reclaiming our rightful place among the human family.  I thank you for praying for us, Steven, and I salute the Governor for keeping his word to us.”

 

Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated territory of the United States.  While Puerto Ricans elect their own Governor and legislators, many aspects of life in the island nation remain under the auspices of the Congress of the United States.  The first federally funded survey to determine the future of the island as either a state or a commonwealth has been promised.

 

Metropolitan Community Churches applauds the leadership of the Puerto Rican Governor and legislature, as well as the vision of its citizenry, in working for the fundamental equality of all God’s children.

 

This statement prepared in conjunction with the Global Justice Institute,

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

For more information about Metropolitan Community Churches, contact Ann Craig .

 

For more information about MCC’s Public Policy Team or the Global Justice Institute, contact The Rev. Jim Merritt at .

Prepared for change: There have always been gay Boy Scouts

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” This week, gay Boy Scouts are prepared for equality.  At the same time, they are prepared for discrimination.  They know that even if the policy changes to allow gay Boy Scouts, there will still be those who discriminate.  There will be those who are frightened by change and by the full range of human expression of love and family.

read the full article on the washington post website http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/05/22/prepared-for-change-there-have-always-been-gay-boy-scouts