April 16-17, 2007
I am Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, author of Would Jesus Discriminate? The 21st Century Question, Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and an ordained minister of a gospel of good news delivered by a subversive Rabbi — a Teacher named Jesus Christ. The good news Jesus delivered is this — the Divine is in each one of us — we are the beloved people and children and family of God and nothing can separate us from that love. And, as children of God, we are not to be muzzled like oxen. We are worthy of our labor — worthy for hire. (1 Timothy 5:18)
As a pastor, I am often the first person called after a partner or other family member when a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person loses a job. People in our community get to process all of the same stages of grief about losing a job that other people do, but they have to do so without benefit of the protection of law and with the added burden of being fired just for being who they were born to be. We get to go home and tell our spouses and our children the bad news that the pay check isn’t coming not because we did a bad job or even because of sanctioned layoffs in a down economy but because of whom we are.
As a pastor and a citizen of the United States, I believe we have a moral and civic responsibility to say once and for all, stop discrimination in the workplace against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. My great-grandfather would have said, "Let me earn my keep and you earn yours." Let me share a personal story with you.
My spouse, Sue, and I have been together 29 years. She retired early in 2005 from a small public school district in Texas after a life-time of distinguished service as an elementary counselor. She decided it was time to retire when the superintendent of schools asked her to remove a Human Rights Campaign sticker from the back of her car. A school board member had suggested that this sticker meant Sue was gay. She told him that the sticker was about human rights and, by the way, she was gay and she wasn’t going to take the sticker off until there was no more need for it in this country. Until that incident, we never felt afraid for her — even though the neighborhood where she worked was a high-crime area. Now the real risk of harm felt like it could come from her co-workers or supervisors or one of the fundamentalist church goers who represented a large population of the parents. And, we knew and we know today that no one would do anything if someone hurt her—beat her up as she left school at night or raped her to prove that she could be "cured" of her lesbianism.
We are also here today to remind our neighbors and legislators that hate crimes legislation is not about limiting free speech, but about limiting real acts that terrorize, maim and kill real people in our communities. It is time for equal protection under the law for employment and for hate crimes protection to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Now is time to do the right thing.