During the 2008 election year, one of the biggest political fights in the California state ballot was on Proposition 8, a proposition against gay marriage. Sadly, the proposition passed. One of the keys to the passage of Proposition 8 was the efforts of the Mormon church, the Evangelical church, and the Catholic church to lobby its members to vote for the measure. A friend of mine told me that two weeks before the elections, the pastor in the evangelical church that he attends in Cupertino had a sermon against gay marriage.
After the elections results, many gay rights activists went on marches to protest of Prop 8. In anger, some activists vandalized Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic property. Though I was against Proposition 8, I was also against the vandalizing of Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic churches. I wrote a few blogs that you can read here, here, and here where I describe how there are Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics who support LGBT rights. When I attended an Evangelical church, I met Evangelicals who either supported gay rights or had gay friends and family members and were bothered by how these friends and family members were treated by other people in the church. I worried that in their anger over the passing of Proposition 8, many gay activists would develope a prejudice against Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics, when in fact there are many Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics who support gay rights. I was also worried that attacks on the church would give conservative Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics ammunition to marginalize their more liberal counterparts.
I received quite a few negative reactions from my blogs. Many gay rights supporters were angy that I would support gay rights but also defend Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics. In my WordPress blog, one person commented:
Whilst I support your stance against religious persecution (which is what prop 8 actually is: persecution of people on religious grounds) the fact that you permit right wing radicals to usurp your agenda is essentially a cop out allowing your principles to be compromised. So what value does your faith have if you don’t protect it.
If you don’t stand up then you acquiesce. If you allow the so called conservatives to dominate, you actively support your religion’s values being besmirched and rendered irrelevant.
Thank God I’m an atheist, I’d be really ashamed to be considered a Christian.
In another blog, a person commented:
I feel that the Mormon church along with any other group that publically lobbied for prop 8 is a legitimate target for protest by those who are outraged at the outcome of this vote. The LDS church took official action as an organization to publically support prop 8 and to exert pressure on it’s membership to work and donate for it’s passage. Some pprincipled members publically opposed their church and should be applauded for doing so. But Mormons who oppose prop 8 should welcome ongoing protests, and join in with them.
I’m sure that you are right that there are many members of this church, and of many other churches or organizations, who may disagree with the policies of their group, yet remain silent out of fear. Unfortunately, when we allow ourselves to be numbered with a group that takes a public stand, our silence is effectively a voice in favor of that stand – no matter what our private feelings may be. I may sympathize with such a person’s fear, but I can’t allow that sympathy to keep me from voicing my dispeasure with the group which they are silently allowing to represent them. If I remain silent out of politeness, I merely compund the error of the person who remains silent out of fear.
Though I disagreed with some of the things they wrote, I agreed with the two commentators that Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics who support LGBT rights have to speak out inside their churches and challenge their more conservative churchgoers. Ten years ago, the Evangelicals who supported gay rights kept their opinions private because they did not want to against the people in their church who were against gay rights. The problem with that is if the only Christian voices that people hear are conservative voices, people will assume that those are the only voices in Christian churches.
In the 3 years since that election I learned that there are Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic groups that are fighting for gay rights and that more Christians in each denomination are speaking out for their gay friends and family members. This is important for both the LGBT and the Christian communities. Here is a list of Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic groups fighting for gay rights.
EVANGELICALS FOR LGBT RIGHTS
SOULFORCE is a group founded by Mel White (a former a former seminary professor and ghostwriter for the Rev. Jerry Falwell) and his partner Gary Nixon to fight homophobia within the Evangelical church. Soulforce promotes activism to show the connection between anti-gay religious dogma and the resulting attacks on the lives and civil liberties of LGBT Americans. Here is their Facebook page.
FAITH IN AMERICA is an Evangelical group fighting religious based bigotry that encompasses the attitudes of prejudice, hostility or discrimination that are falsely justified by religious teachings or belief. You could also join their Facebook page.
A youtube video of a Soulforce civil disobedience protest against Focus on the Family
A youtube video of the Soulforce Equality Ride in 2008
A youtube video of a Faith In America debate with Evangelicals in South Carolina on gay rights
CATHOLICS FOR LGBT RIGHTS
DIGNITY USA fights for the rights of LGBT Catholics within the Catholic Church. Athe United States, Dignity USA worships openly with other GLBT and supportive Catholics, socialize, share personal and spiritual concerns, and work together on educational and justice issues. Here is their Facebook page.
NEW WAYS MINISTRY is a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities. Through research, publication and education about homosexuality, the ministry fosters dialogue among groups and individuals, identify and combat personal and structural homophobia, work for changes in attitudes and promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian people as full and equal member of church and society. Here is their Facebook page.
CATHOLICS FOR EQUALITY was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered family, parish and community members. Here is their Facebook page.
Three youtube videos of a Dignity USA convention for LGBT Catholics and Catholics who support LGBT rights
A youtube video of the clash between New Ways Ministry and Cardinal George, Archdiocese of Chicago
A youtube video of a New Ways Ministry fight for gay marriage in Maryland
A youtube video of a speech by Father Joe Palacios for Catholics for Equality
MORMONS FOR LGBT RIGHTS
AFFIRMATION serves the needs of gay Mormon women and men, as well as bisexual and transgender LDS and their supportive family and friends, through social and educational activities.
A youtube video of an introduction to Affirmations
A youtube video of the 2010 Affirmation Conference
Two youtube videos of an Affirmations rally against LGBT suicide
In the past few months I’ve also written two blogs on religious people who have spoken in youtube against homophobia and churches against homophobia.