Washington Blade, "Church’s Gay Rights Debate a ‘Baby Step’ Forward"

Church’s Gay Rights Debate a "Baby Step" Forward


Friday, May 30, 2008

The National Black Justice Coalition is hailing a local church’s gay rights debate as "a baby step" forward.

Dr. Sylvia Rhue, the organization’s religious affairs director, said the May 24 debate at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., was a valuable meeting between Bishop Harry Jackson and gay rights supporters.

"Bishop Jackson did say that this is the first time that he’s heard such cogent answers to these questions and that he had heard things he’d never heard before," she said. "This is a baby step thing."

The meeting, coordinated by the National Black Justice Coalition and Soulforce, took months to organize.

Soulforce first contacted Hope Christian Church in December to see if local same-sex couples could meet privately with Jackson. Rhue said plans were made so all involved could hold a "civil discourse on common ground."

But in an unexpected twist three days before the meeting, Jackson’s anti-gay High Impact Leadership Coalition issued a press release saying Soulforce had "targeted" the church "for protest and demonstration."

Soulforce responded by calling on Jackson to share a "heart-to-heart" conversation with gay rights supporters, and Rhue said an agreement was reached to hold the meeting along with a debate.

Rhue said about 60 people attended Saturday’s debate, and she and other gay rights supporters returned to the church for Sunday service.

Soulforce Calls for Inclusive ENDA

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771

On Wednesday the Washington Blade reported that House Democratic leaders are "strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA."

Today Soulforce joins other national LGBT organizations in opposing the removal of protections for transgender Americans from ENDA.

Statement from Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director

"Religious right organizations such as the Traditional Values Coalition have used the same old tactic of misrepresenting social science to lobby against gender identity protections in ENDA."

"Soulforce urges members of congress not to compromise on workplace equality. Now is the time to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’"

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org