From guest blogger Rev. Megan Rohrer…
Yesterday hundreds of clergy and faith leaders, including about fifteen Lutherans, went to Capitol Hill as a part of the Human Right’s Campaign’s (HRC) Clergy Call. Their goal was to remind their elected leaders that progressive faith leaders who preach and teach that equality is a right for all people stand with the majority of Americans. In fact, a new poll from HRC shows that 86% of Americans of faith reported that their faith leads them to believe that all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, deserve equal protections under the law.
These faith leaders represented millions of parishioners, members of denominations and individuals whom they’d prayed with and for. Some of the most moving pleas at the press conference were calls to end the funerals that pastors had been doing for gay youth who falsely believed they had no other options. Leaders urged congress to pass the Safe Schools and Anti-bullying Acts that could provide nationwide support for these youth.
Leaders also told stories of the many marriages they had performed that were not supported by civil laws and urged the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). If passed faith leaders would not be forced to perform marriage ceremonies, but as the law stands many argued that their freedom of faith was infringed because they are prevented from legally marrying couples.
But, as a pastor to the homeless I always remember that life, dignity and equality don’t simply come from the ability to get married. I also know that if we are going to be a community that seeks family values as our platform, we need to care about housing, health care and jobs that support and keep safe people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. And though leaders have been lobbying for it for years, we must still encourage our political leaders to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
I think this bill is particularly important given the startling fact that only 12% of transgender individuals in my home town of San Francisco are employed. This statistic comes from one of the most open and supportive cities in the country. The low employment rate of trans individuals, along with the discriminatory way trans bodies are hypersexualized, leaves few options for many members of the San Francisco trans community besides sex work.
Just as Jesus ate with and advocated for the sex workers, who because of unjust laws pertaining to the status of women and widows, we must advocate mightily for equal employment opportunities for all types of bodies and cultures.
The laws and acts outlined here are the legislative priorities that HRC lifted up today. Please read my previous blog post to learn more about legislation pertaining to Homeless LGBT youth.
You may be wondering, what does all this political stuff have to do with me? Well, if we are to be biblical people, we must be political people. Why? The title of the Bible is “good news” which in Greek (the language the parts about Jesus are written in) is the title of the political newspaper put out by the Caesar (fancy name for a presidential guy). Thus, when the gospels say “the good news of Jesus Christ,” it really means “the politics of Jesus Christ.”
So whether you lobby political leaders, write letters, talk with your friends or just read the paper asking yourself how it jives or conflicts with the gospel, follow Jesus’ political lead. But, be warned Easter people that, like Christ, being political can get you into trouble. But I guess that’s what the Lutheran commandment, “sin boldly,” really calls us to do.
Rev. Megan M. Rohrer is a nationally recognized leader on issues of homelessness, gender, sexuality and faith. Executive Director of WELCOME – a communal response to poverty in San Francisco, CA, Pastor Rohrer is an activist, advocate and educator who speaks and preaches nationally. Megan is a member of Proclaim, was on the historic ELM roster, and is on the clergy roster of the ELCA.