For my entire professional career (16 years) I have been a pastor of a church in what is called a mainline protestant denomination of Christianity. My denomination, for the past 40 years or so, have been wrestling with what they call “the question of homosexuality and Christian faithfulness.”
24 years ago, as a first semester freshman in college, I woke up to the reality that the binary gender/sexual reality into which we force human beings is cruel. People fall along a spectrum when it comes to sexual identity and gender identity. It took personally getting to know people who were Gay, and taking the time to listen to someone else’s story, for me to be able to read my sacred texts through new eyes and see how abusively 7 little misunderstood texts had been used.
There are few things more cruel in all the world than for a system of government or religion to attempt to control an individual's gender or sexual identity.
Since I’ve become a minister I’ve pushed hard for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community within the life of my denomination—publicly defying the rules when the rules were unjust. I have written strong public statements that have gained hundreds of signatures, as we’ve pushed our denomination to publicly ask forgiveness for past judgement and to profess a new and open position.
I have married more LGBTQ couples than straight couples over the years. I have offered support and encouragement to transgender individuals within my town and region. My congregation called a married Lesbian woman with children to be our co-pastor back in 2008, at a time when we weren’t allowed to do that.
I am thankful for major strides made in America under President Obama, in regards to LGBTQ rights. I am thankful, too, for what felt like an opening in society, in terms of acceptability of LGBTQ marriage and adoption and other things that felt obvious to me, but that were still unresolved societally.
This Pride Month, 2017, I just want to say to everyone in NJ, I am committed to fighting for the LGBT community.
With the current President and Congress that we have we cannot let up. We need to defend gay marriage and health care access that is related to sex reassignment surgeries and hormone prescriptions. We need to create supportive housing for LGBTQ homeless youth and create curriculum for schools and work places that help educate the public about the reality of sexual and gender identity related topics. We need to also seriously address youth suicide as it relates to sexual and gender identity societal trauma. We need a steady voice in Trenton--but more than a voice--we need someone with ears to hear. We need a governor who will listen to the unfolding 'new asks' of a community that is just finding some level of societal freedom and that is working out, together, what its particular needs will look like.
The last shall be first.
For far too long the LGBTQ community has been last. Last, I’m ashamed to say, largely because of the abuses of organized religion.
This November vote for a Governor who has boldly fought the fight for LGBTQ rights within organized religion. I’m proud to bring this commitment to fight, and to protect, to state government as well.