The Supreme Court has done us a big favor. In supporting gay marriage, it has encouraged the larger movement for human rights for gay people to deepen and to spread.
I won’t pop the cork on the champagne or say alleluia just yet. I want to get through the night in Greenwich Village and hope that the haters will not come out in too much force. Their hate now has nowhere to go but its final destination, of destroying that which they can’t abide. Once again, I am reminded how important it is to stop hate speech the second it starts. Otherwise it has nowhere to go but violence against the thing it hates, which has to be eliminated, according to the self-imprisonment created by hate.
It is going to be a scary night in the village, as have been many of the previous ones. We are going to do something small to stop it with dozens of other village churches. The Rainbow Sanctuary sticker will go on our door, saying quietly and firmly, this place is a safe space. It is a rainbow sanctuary at a time when the rainbows do need sanctuary. We do so on behalf of our sacred texts and equally sacred conversations.
In the early years of the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ, the movement that turned us into a gay friendly church, the very wise activists said, “don’t let the congregation just vote it, make them study it first.” Brilliant curricula were designed and used to interest adults in reading what scripture says about sex. The conversation was successfully queered. By queer I mean nothing more or less than the sexually unusual. We had to talk about what is usual sexually and what is unusual and what we thought and felt about it, in biblical terms. The congregations that bothered to do the 12-week study got “sticking” power: they learned to really care and be less afraid of the “unusual”, for themselves or others. The congregations that just said they were “O and A,” had less sticking power. They continued to harass their pastor if she did a gay service of union. They found ways to be “concerned” if more than two lesbian couples brought their children to church. “What if we become a gay church?” They harassed the holy with their high-minded, but scripturally illiterate “Concerns.” Now that the states are going to have to duke it out, we have hope for our great nation finally having the “talk” so many of us missed as adolescents. It is never too late to have a good childhood. Or to explore our illusions and delusions about the bible.
The bible is very clear about love being the central truth about God and about how we should live. The golden rule is core. The rest is not. Theologians insist that we interpret every scriptural verse using the love litmus. Christians also say Jesus is the one who refuses to have an enemy: why then would so many hate so inarticulately in his name? How did the name of Jesus get polluted by people who are afraid of homosexual sexuality? These matters all come to mind on the day of this monumental decision. We get a double gift from the Supreme Court decision: we get to talk about sex and about scripture.
In the opposition to gay marriage, we face Orwellian distortions of the sacred texts of Christianity. Poverty not sexuality is the theme of the bible. Peace not war is its method of achieving justice. Even the 9 texts that refer to homosexuality in the scriptures are misread: they oppose promiscuity in hetero and homosexual relationships: they do not prohibit homosexuality. Moral values and family values are found nowhere in a text where the hero is a single man and Moses had a dozen wives. Don’t count on the bible to help you get clear about homosexuality and whether it is “right” or “wrong.” It will just drive you to love and from there insist that all life and all humans are sacred.
Pain and possibility often comingle. Those religious groups who hope the conversation and marriage itself will be successfully queered will want to let others know. Order a rainbow sanctuary sticker from Judson.org. Let the world know you love scripture, you hate violence, and that you are a fan of conversations.
STATEMENT OF INTENT
RAINBOW DOOR, A FAITH COALITION
Violence against people perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) has existed for millennia. Recent anti-LGBTQ violence in New York City is the latest chapter in this sorry history of bigotry, oppression and discrimination. Urgent action is needed to put a stop to the growing number of targeted bashings and murders in our community.
Religion is complicit in this violence.
For too long, fearful religious rhetoric has been used to attack the LGBTQ community and to justify discrimination against its members. Rainbow Door is a coalition of faith leaders, congregants, and other LGBTQ allies who strongly affirm the right of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification, to be free of the burden of prejudice in their practice of religion and in all other areas of their lives. We reject the antiquated dogma that LGBTQ people are “sinful” or that their so-called “lifestyle” is immoral or threatening to religion or society. We support full equality for LGBTQ persons and encourage respect for their relationships both inside and outside the spiritual traditions that we represent.
We call upon faith leaders and communities to:
- acknowledge that speech condemning LGBTQ persons is violent speech and, therefore, unacceptable.
- encourage congregations and denominations to accept, affirm, and celebrate the whole identities of LGBTQ persons as gifts from God.
- mark their buildings with the “Rainbow Door” symbol of solidarity and sanctuary.
- exercise “Rainbow Door Safe Sanctuaries” practices, offering compassionate pastoral and congregational care to LGBTQ persons, not to convert or change, but to empower each person’s sense of wholeness and well-being, particularly in this current culture of anti-LGBTQ violence.
- choose to hold themselves accountable to this pledge of safety through education of other faith leaders and communities, through reexamination of their beliefs, actions, and words that instigate violence, and through support for the LGBTQ population in general, as well as all marginalized populations within it.
Our respective faiths call us to not only stand up for victims of direct violence and oppression, but to cooperatively work to transform violent religious rhetoric until all LGBTQ persons are safe inside and outside faith communities. We commit to this call not because of changing times, not because of shifting politics, but because our faith has commanded and will always command such truthful, anti-violent action.