Gandhi’s Grandson, Civil Rights Heroes to Lead May 10 March for GLBT-Rights

April 20, 2000


Civil Disobedience at Ecumenical Event in Cleveland
Soulforce Seeking Volunteers Willing to Face Arrest

(Laguna Beach, CA, April 20, 2000) Soulforce, an interfaith organization seeking justice for sexual minorities, announced today that well-known leaders from the U.S. civil rights movement, and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, will join hundreds of Soulforce volunteers in non-violent civil disobedience at the United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, May 10.

"We are using this civil disobedience and mass arrest to deliver a clear message to leaders of all the Christian churches," says Soulforce Co-Founder, Dr. Mel White. "This tragic debate about God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered children must end. The suffering has gone on far too long. We are recruiting and training our allies to help us end that suffering."

The Soulforce Nonviolence Training (May 9) and Direct Action (May 10) are timed to coincide with an appearance at the United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland by the Archbishop of Canterbury and ecumenical leaders from various Christian churches. "We are not attacking Archbishop Carey, the other religious dignitaries or even the United Methodist Church," explains Karen Weldin, a Co-Chair of the Soulforce event. "We are attacking their anti-homosexual policies that lead to wasted lives, broken families, and divided churches." Greg Marlan, also a Co-Chair adds, "We waited patiently for more than thirty years for church leaders to take a stand for truth. Our patience has run out."

Soulforce organizers are recruiting and training hundreds of volunteers to participate in the civil disobedience and arrest. Arun Gandhi, author and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, and heroes of the African-American civil rights movement will be the first arrested to demonstrate their solidarity with the struggle for justice by sexual minorities.

"Gays and lesbians have a more difficult time than we did," says James Lawson, one of Dr. King’s close associates and current Chair of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. "We had our families and our churches on our side. All too often, they have neither."

The Rev. Dr. James Lawson and the Rev. Dr. Robert Graetz are just two of the civil rights heroes who will train marchers in nonviolence (May 9) and lead the Soulforce Direct Action (May 10). Dr. Lawson is the distinguished United Methodist pastor who worked side-by-side with Dr. King training the young people who staged the lunch counter sit-ins and the Freedom Rides. Rev. Dr. Robert Graetz is the white Lutheran pastor whose home was bombed because he stood with Dr. King during the Montgomery bus boycott, 1955-1956.

"We remember when the Bible was misused to exclude racial minorities from the churches," says Dr. Rodney Powell, a leader in the nonviolent student movement in the 1950s and 60s. "Today that same Bible once misused to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation is being misused to support intolerance and discrimination against sexual minorities. We African-Americans had to take our truth to the streets before anyone would listen. It’s time homosexual-Americans took their truth to the streets as well. This Soulforce event gives us that chance."

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the 7:00 p.m., May 9, training in nonviolent civil disobedience and the 7:00 a.m., May 10, mass arrest go to the Soulforce University page.

ABOUT SOULFORCE: Soulforce, Inc. is a non-profit organization which trains and mobilizes an interfaith, ecumenical network of volunteers committed to implementing the Gandhian and Kingian principles of nonviolence to seek justice and equal rights for sexual minorities.

Rev. Mel White
Ph: (949-455-0999
Fax: (949) 455-0959

Co-Chair, Greg Marlan
Co-Chair, Karen Weldin
Dr. Rodney Powell
Dr. James Lawson
Dr. Robert Graetz

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