February 22, 2002
On Friday, February 22, 2002 in Montgomery, Alabama, a press conference for religious leaders and faith-based organizations was held on the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building concerning an anti-gay "legal" opinion issued by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in a case against a lesbian mother. The following statement issued by Soulforce, Inc., was read at the press conference by Soulforce supporter Rev. Richard Barham, pastor of the MCC Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
Justice Moore’s concurring "legal" opinion called for the state to use its power to prohibit homosexuals from raising children through physical penalties, including execution. In a long opinion based on religious rhetoric that cited passages from the biblical books of Genesis and Leviticus, Moore called homosexuality "sinful", and "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God."
The press conference, which drew approximately 150 supporters and dozens of TV cameras and newspaper reporters, was sponsored by Alliance for Civility and Tolerance of Alabama, Equal Partners in Faith, Equality Begins at Home of Central Alabama, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
February 22, 2002
"IF YOU ARE GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, OR TRANSGENDER – GOD LOVES YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!"
Here we stand again in Montgomery Alabama, working to free minorities from oppression and discrimination. As Martin Luther King stated, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The ruling and opinion of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore is an excellent example of the cross over of religious teachings and civil laws: religious teachings that demean and demonize GLBT people are transformed into civil laws which discriminate against, persecute and seek to legitimize physical violence.
Unfortunately, Justice Moore’s words are more than hate-filled rhetoric; his legal interpretation has the force of law, which will incite some to physical violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. So clearly does this illustrate the relationship between a general hostility towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and the lack of civil rights protections. This also clearly indicates that misguided religious policies and teachings are the basis for discrimination and cause suffering and death.
Soulforce, an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, has trained over 1000 people in the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as taught by Martin Luther King. Over 500 people were arrested during nonviolent civil disobedient protests at major denominational meetings of United Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Southern Baptist, while applying these to the liberation of sexual minorities.
Soulforce supporters in Alabama and across the United States will continue to relentlessly challenge misguided religious teachings until they can no longer contribute to a climate of hostility in this country against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. This means challenging Justice Roy Moore, and the spiritual and physical violence his ruling incites.
As people of faith, the leaders of Soulforce wish to say again, "IF YOU ARE GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, OR TRANSGENDER – GOD LOVES YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!"