From the President's Desk-March 2015
Whenever the term “equal rights” is thrown around, many think of LGBTI rights first, but it means so much more. Equality includes respecting women’s rights, civil rights, trans rights, elders’ rights, and immigrant rights, as well as the human rights that apply to all of us. There are so many voices that need to be heard to help wake us up, not just within our LGBTI Adventist movement, but in many other movements as well. I’m looking forward to the dialogue film that builds on Seventh-Gay Adventists, because it will be just one more opportunity to hear from more of the people we don’t hear enough from. Every story matters!
A few weeks ago, I saw a movie that helped me hear new stories when I went to see the film Selma with my partner. I was deeply moved by the film and by “Glory,” the song that plays during the credits. I get choked up when I speak about this; my heart aches at the racial discrimination that has torn this world apart for thousands of years and that still festers in my country. Hate is such an ugly thing.
I look at our church and see the same issues being fought over in society also being fought over in Adventism. Our church did little to fight for racial justice last century, and still discourages people from getting involved in this one. Some also feel that the church’s stance on women’s ordination makes women second-class church members. To withhold the name of a new, duly elected conference president because she is a woman is a pretty second-class move!
We’re also affected as LGBTI Adventists. There are Adventist leaders who don’t believe we should be allowed to participate in our churches at all, and others use their voices and votes to describe us as “less than.” I wonder if any denomination makes even one soul feel less equal than another, what kind of faith is it really practicing? There’s a huge disconnect in preaching “love thy neighbor” and then proclaiming that LGBTI individuals shouldn't belong as members.
I also wonder if a literal approach to Scripture makes it difficult for some Adventists to take in new discoveries and experiences and accept Scripture in a way that allows the church to treat us with the love and respect that every child of God should receive. Ellen White told us that the church would receive new understandings of God. But is the church willing to receive those new understandings?
Just this week, one of my dear friends and I were discussing how easy it is to get angry when one marginalized group doesn't seem to be as concerned about what’s happening to another group. My friend, a transgender man, is also Black, and asked me what prevents some White people from marching against racial injustice alongside our Black neighbors? Why isn’t the gay community rising up against trans attacks? Why have Adventist men been so slow to step up for women’s ordination.
While we should always stand strong for ourselves, we can and should also stand strong for each other. As a member of Kinship and a member of this LGBTI community, I have the ability and opportunity to stand strong for myself—and I will also stand strong for you. In Kinship, we care about each other; and together we can continue the fight for equality in the Adventist church and in our societies. Equality and justice is worth fighting for, not just for people like me, but for all.
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