“We Dare Not Confuse Sincere Prejudice with Sincere Religion”
MCC global moderator to witness signing of presidential executive orders with NO added exemptions
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson has been invited to the White House to witness President Barack Obama sign two executive orders. The first will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1965 Lyndon Johnson executive order which banned discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or nationality in hiring by federal contractors. The second order adds gender identity to the list of protected classes of federal workers and was first signed by President Richard Nixon, who added disability and age. President Clinton added sexual orientation, and President Obama adds gender identity.
“We are thrilled that President Obama will sign executive orders to include sexual orientation and gender identity within Federal policies of non-discrimination. It is even more historic because no sweeping religious exemptions sponsored by conservatives will be added,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC).
“Using religious exemptions as a smokescreen for discrimination is the kind of persecution the First Amendment to the Constitution helps us to avoid,” said Dr. Wilson. “Everyone loves religious liberty, but we dare not confuse sincere prejudice with sincere religion. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people know that exemption from the law is a dangerous by-product of religious bigotry, not religious liberty.”
“MCC stands with all people of good will to support President Obama in this historic action,” said Dr. Wilson. “It is a deep honor to represent Metropolitan Community Churches at the signing event. While these executive orders will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for federal contractors and workers, we will not rest until Congress passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with no religious exemptions so all Americans will be hired and fired based on their work and integrity rather than their gender identity or whom they love.”
“We know that conservatives will continue to market their prejudices under the guise of religious freedom, but we will not let their brand of judgmental Christianity be the only voice of faithful Christians that the public hears. We are LGBT and straight people of faith together who know that we are created in the image of God,” said Dr. Wilson. “We categorically reject the disastrous religious dogma that God wants Christians to hate some people.”
17 July 2014 -‐-‐-‐ Today, as Israel and Hamas took a brief recess from their 10 -‐day war, only to have that lull in fighting marred by the deaths of 4 Gaza children hit by missiles while playing on the beach near their homes; while violence claimed the lives of innocent civilians from the airport of Kabul to the streets of places like Syria and Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, someone shot an airplane out of the sky over Donetsk in the Ukraine, an already war-‐ravaged area of the globe. Fields with purple flowers became the unintended resting place of 295 people on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The flight manifest has yet to be released, but we know from our friends around the world that at least 5 AIDS activists on their way from points in Europe to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne were among those lost.
At times like this, our hearts are broken for the families and friends, the allies and co -‐workers of all those lost to violence and the senseless tragedies it produces. While many on the airwaves debate who is responsible for the tragedies, I am drawn to the example of Jesus, who when pressed by the crowds of unrelenting needs around him for relief and healing and peace, would go off to a lonely place to pray.
And so, I ask all MCCers and people of faith to join me in prayer now.
We give you thanks for the gift of life,
and the chance you give to all of us
to live each day with a heart for compassion and care
and a spirit attuned to peace.
We mourn all our brothers and sisters lost
to violence and needless violence and tragedy today,
especially those on Malaysia Airlines flight 17
and those 4 little boys on the beach in Gaza Cit y.
Be with their families and friends left behind,
and help them to find some comfort in knowing that
they are at peace with you, and that
we will all one day be together again.
With a full heart, O God, we pray for
peace on this earth
and goodwill among a ll.
Regardless of our political persuasions or belief systems,
help us to renounce all violence and to seek to live
in a way that promotes the wellbeing of all your children.
Give us all the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Christ,
Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. +Amen
The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
MCC is long tenured in the response to HIV as it was the first Christian denomination to minister to those with HIV/AIDS. The CDC announcement is good news to our churches because it gives us an additional tool to reduce new HIV infections.
All methods of HIV prevention should still be applied in addition to this new scientifically proven method of taking a daily dosage of Truvadaas described in the guidelines under the direction of a medical professional with the required counseling. However, MCC emphasizes that PrEP is not a substitute for condoms, but another option now available. No single intervention is completely protective in preventing HIV transmission. Clean syringe exchange for people who use drugs, widespread distribution of male and female condoms to populations at risk for HIV transmission, reducing the number of sexual partners, universal access to health services and anti-retroviral treatment, eliminating gender-based violence and gender inequality, age-appropriate sex education and repealing laws criminalizing people with HIV and sex workers and people most at risk for HIV transmission are interventions that we know will work.
PrEP is a medical advance that is the product of peer reviewed research and international scrutiny, and should be made universally available.
We still need a cure for AIDS and a vaccine for HIV. Recognizing that PrEP is not a cure or a vaccine for HIV, we now have evidence that it can reduce HIV infections among populations most at risk for HIV transmission. While new HIV infections overall have declined somewhat worldwide, they are either not declining or increasing in populations most at risk for HIV such as gay men and men who have sex with men and transgender persons.
MCC and the Global Justice Institute call on the world’s medical community to marshal resources and make personal commitments to providing PrEP-inclusive medical care to all those at risk of HIV transmission including those who are incarcerated. We call on people of faith to do the work of justice, in the private and public sectors, by opposing all systems of domination and marginalization that make the use of PrEP necessary. We will judge our work complete when the world fundamentally agrees on the sacredness of sexuality and no one abuses this fundamental freedom.
Click HERE to download information provided by MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council on PrEP, andHERE for the CDC’s guide to how to talk with your doctor. Click HERE for the Advisory Council’s information on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
This statement was prepared by the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council and the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,
Metropolitan Community Churches
Today, along with fair-minded people of faith around the world, Metropolitan Community Churches celebrate Marriage Equality in the state of Idaho, USA. Every picture and video we see and every story we hear of committed same-sex couples and allies celebrating, fills our hearts with joy and gratitude.
On Tuesday evening, May 13, 2014, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale issued a ruling that struck down Idaho’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. Her ruling will take effect on Friday, May 16, 2014, at 9:00 AM. Although Idaho Governor Butch Otter has requested a stay of the order and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden plans to do the same today, no court action on those requests has occurred.
Marriage Equality is important to Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). The Rev. Elder Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches, performed the first same-sex wedding ever in the United States in 1968, according to Time Magazine. Rev. Perry continued his marriage equality work throughout his ministry as Founder and Moderator of MCC. “MCC’s commitment to the work for Marriage Equality continues today, not only in the United States, but all over the world. We will not rest until full Marriage Equality is established,” says The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Marriage Equality and Relational Issues for the Global Justice Institute.
Marriage Equality is becoming the law of the land in many places. “We look forward to its full implementation in Idaho, all over the United States and around the world.” said MCC Moderator The Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, “When it comes to Marriage Equality, justice is raining down like water.”
Once again, hearty congratulations and blessings to the people of Idaho.
Prepared by The Moderator’s Public Policy Team and the Global Justice Institute
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director
DAY OF ACTION – MAY 17
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights . . . Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is entitled to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law without any such discrimination whether or not the enjoyment of another human right is also affected. The law shall prohibit any such discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against any such discrimination.” — The Yogyakarta Principles, 2006
In the past year, several nations have passed new laws to enshrine into their legal and cultural institutions discrimination and criminalization against their citizens on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Uganda and Nigeria have passed anti-homosexuality laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity with life imprisonment and impose harsh penalties for those who advocate for civil and human rights for LGBTI persons or who fail to report same-sex behavior. The Russian duma passed a “gay propaganda” law, which makes it illegal to talk to children about “non-traditional sexual relationships,” creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression and leading to increased persecution of the nation’s LGBTI community. Now, more than ever, people all over the world who suffer from violence, hatred, discrimination, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity need the support and solidarity of allies who are free to bear witness to the need for civil and human rights protections for all people.
Since 2005, millions of concerned people worldwide have joined together each year for a day of action against anti-gay prejudice and gender-based discrimination, highlighting personal stories and direct action to bring equal rights to LGBTI persons in every corner of the world. Now understood to be the “international LGBT solidarity day,”
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) has inspired more than 100 countries to engage their citizens and institutions in intentional conversations around the rights and quality of life issues for sexual minorities within their borders. As a result, a global movement for civil and human rights for LGBTI people is fomenting unprecedented momentum for change. But more needs to be done.
On May 17th, join others from all over the world in raising your voice in your church, school, and/or community against homophobia and transphobia. This is our opportunity to bring a message of equal rights and non-discrimination to regions and countries where civil and human rights have been stifled and to build alliances with those who are willing and able to mobilize for action in a comprehensive campaign for equal rights. Further, all of our actions against homophobia and transphobia forecast to political leaders and social and religious institutions that the demand for civil and human rights for LGBTI people will not be silenced.
MCC’s Public Policy Team joins in solidarity with LGBTI persons and allies in observance of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and urges all members of MCC to raise their voices against anti-gay prejudice and discrimination.
There are many ways that you can participate:
The resources below can help you make the most of your observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia:
This statement was prepared by Rev. DeWayne Davis and Angel Collie for the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches/The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support the Global Justice Institute.
The Global Justice Institute is the non-profit advocacy and resourcing arm of Metropolitan Community Churches. We “do justice, show kindness, and live humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). From helping LGBT activists in Uganda to resourcing communities of women in Pakistan to fighting for marriage equality in the U.S.A. and beyond, the Global Justice Institute is effecting change and making a difference throughout the world. Please consider making a generous contribution in support of this work. Donate now.
An Italian advocate for transgender rights and former member of parliament was detained at the Olympics for unfurling a rainbow flag with “Gay is OK” on it. Russian officials denied it, but the Italian foreign ministry activated its crisis protocol for Italian travelers in trouble.
Russian President Vladamir Putin showed up last week at a celebration party for Irene Wust, an openly lesbian gold medal winner from Netherlands. Just days before, outside of the Olympic arena, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) supporters were arrested during a peaceful protest.
When the Olympians go home, it will be business as usual. Orthodox Church leaders will continue to work hand-in-glove with the political machinery that scapegoats LGBTQ people. The lack of outcry against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws are producing a climate where gangs now go “hunting” to track down gays to torture them. Their impunity is so great, that many were willing to be filmed for an upcoming documentary without disguises while they humiliated and brutalized a person they identified as gay.
Read more on the Huffington Post here
11 FEBRUARY 2014 | BY ANNA D’ALESSIO
Gay people in Nigeria are calling on the world to help them protest against anti-gay laws.
Signed into law by Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan in January this year, the Solitary Alliance is hoping international pressure could help repeal the legislation.
The law prescribes 14 years of imprisonment for LGBTI people in the country, and also criminalizes the witnessing or aiding of same-sex relationships.
Michael Ighodaro, gay rights activist and human rights advocate, said: ‘Aside from the fact that sections of this law are in direct violation of our fundamental human rights – freedom of expression and assembly, freedom to have a private and family life – and set back the provision of healthcare services, they effectively signify that it is open season to attack the LGBT community.’
Since the signing of this law, a number of people have been arrested.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people, as well as their friends and family, are living in fear against state-sanctioned violence.
The Solitary Alliance, Nigeria calls on the rest of the world to join in a Global Day of Action on 7 March to stand against homophobia and the violation of human rights.
Ighodaro added: ‘The world has been silent on the passage of the bill, the silence is like saying Nigeria gays are not as important as gays in Uganda or Russia.’
‘That’s why we are calling on everyone to come out on [7 March] to show solidarity to Nigeria’s LGBT community, to show that the world has not neglected us.’
DATE: 16 January 2014
“Government-sponsored terrorism of its citizens is heinous!” says global faith leader
The global leader of the world’s largest church that affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people condemned the mass arrests and torture of LGBTQ people in Nigeria. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global moderator of Metropolitan Community churches, announced a call for all faith leaders and persons of good will to speak out against the brutality being demonstrated by Nigerian officials.
“Today, we face a global crisis with Nigeria being the latest outbreak of hate and violence against sexual minorities. Nigeria has a population of 169 million people, which means millions now have to hide or flee to avoid imprisonment and torture. It means vigilante beatings and killings will be on the rise. Fear will prevail,” said Dr. Wilson. “The new law impacts all Nigerians. As one person commented, ‘When the police enter your house, arrest you for no reason, torture you to confess you are gay, you’ll understand how crazy this law is.'”
“Right now, it is reported that dozens of LGBTQ people are being rounded up, imprisoned, and tortured so that they will reveal names of people to be arrested and tortured — to reveal more names. Where will this end? Why are religious people silent in the face of this vicious persecution?” asked Dr. Wilson. “Persecution and brutality are not cultural differences; these are crimes against humanity!”
“When Nigeria’s law says, ‘A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years,” the average citizen should know that any person could be accused of being gay,” said Dr. Wilson. “Political enemies, visitors from other countries, irritating neighbors, and anyone who is the least bit different can be a target for this vicious campaign. This must stop!”
“It must stop in Nigeria. It must stop in India. It must stop in Uganda. It must stop in Russia. It must stop in Jamaica. It must stop in the United States, where almost 25% of transgender people in a recent national survey reported experiencing ‘catastrophic discrimination.’ Every year, we mark more murders — many unsolved, where transgender people are often dismembered, burned, mutilated, and subjected to other overkill practices that reveal untold levels of hate.”
“Religious people should be on their knees to God asking for forgiveness because so much of this hatred is rooted in misguided religious beliefs. It is far past the time for religious leaders in every country to speak against the demeaning, persecution, torture, imprisonment, or murder of people because of whom they love or how they express their gender. Demand that government officials respect the human dignity of all citizens. Lives are at stake.”
World’s Largest Democracy
Reverses Decision Upholding LGBT Equality
Activists Vow to Fight On
On Wednesday, December 11th, the Supreme Court of India hearing the case of Suresh Kumar Kaushal v. Naz Foundation overturned the historic 2009 Delhi High Court ruling decriminalizing the life of LGBT citizens in India and upholding the full equality of all India’s peoples.
The former February 2009 decision had been hailed as an historic victory for all nations plagued by the remnants of colonial era imposed legislation. Chief Justice Shah’s premise of “constitutional morality” and the principled belief of Dr. Ambed Kar that majorities have no right to discriminate against minorities simply because the former outnumber the latter served to embolden a decade of activism in India that changed the face of LGBT life and inspired Queer people throughout the region.
Today’s decision will, in effect, reinstate section 377 of the Penal Code dating back to 1860 and India’s days under British Imperial rule, imposing a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted of “sex against the order of nature.”
Though today’s decision represents a loss, it also serves as a reminder to all of us that laws come and go with political and social climates. We must not be defeated by the momentary defeats, nor be content with singular and isolated victories, but rather keep our eyes on the prize of universal and full human equality for all people everywhere.
We must hold to the conviction that human rights are not given or taken away by courts or legislators. Human rights belong to all the people of God by virtue of our common humanity. What we fight for is the recognition of the inherent truth that we are all the valued and beloved children of God, worthy of being treated equally and with dignity in all things.
Let us all commit to living our lives openly and with heads held high, and to praying for our brothers and sisters in India who must once again summon the resolve to battle both the external forces of hatred and violence that are fueled by decisions such as today’s, and the fear and temptation to hide that become the internal battles of those under siege. Let us together pray for the day when honesty is no longer criminalized, but rather recognized and lauded as the virtue of all people who know themselves to be fully human and absolutely created in the image of God.
This statement prepared in conjunction with the Global Justice Institute
and the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches,
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director, Mr. Kareem Murphy, Public Policy Team,
and Rev. Jim Merritt, Marriage and Relational Equality Liaison.
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.
“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 Russia, Cameroon, Yemen 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.