Monday, April 16, 2007

Religious Leaders Speak Out for GLBT Rights

Susan Russell and several other clergy spoke on Capitol Hill today in support of two major pieces of civil rights legislation — a bill to prevent hate violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and another to ban workplace discrimination against GLBT employees. Here are Susan's remarks...

I am the Reverend Susan Russell, a priest on staff at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California and President of Integrity, the voice of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church USA. It is a privilege to stand here today in solidarity with other faith leaders and with a majority of Americans who believe the federal government should act to end workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers. It is an honor to represent the Episcopal Church which stands as one of the over 210 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations supporting the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And I thank you for this opportunity to witness to the core values I hold dearest as an Episcopal priest and as an American citizen.

My son Jamie is currently serving on active duty in Iraq. One of the core American values he was raised to embrace -- and he understands himself to be defending -- is our pledge to be a nation of "liberty and justice for all." I believe these important pieces of legislation will help move us AS a nation toward that long dreamed of goal – that dream of liberty and justice my son and so many other brave Americans in harm's way have sworn to preserve and protect.

We are not yet that nation when the liberty to walk safely on the streets of America protected from bias motivated violence is not yet available to ALL Americans: passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will bring us one step closer to "liberty for all."

We are not yet that nation when in thirty-three states a hardworking American can be subject to the injustice of losing their job solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will bring us another step closer to "justice for all."

One of the primary tenets of all religious faiths is to love your neighbor as yourself and as a Christian I follow a Lord who called us to minister unto the needs of "the least of these" as we live out our call to do justice and to love mercy in His Name. These are the Traditional Christian Values I claim as an advocate for these critical pieces of legislation today.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Justice deferred is justice denied.” Extending hate crimes protection to include sexual orientation or gender identity is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Ending workplace discrimination is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Thank you.

Click here to read remarks by other clergy.

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