I am the Rev. Winnie Varghese, I serve an Episcopal Church in the Bowery in New York City. I stand here, not because I work in congregations filled with people affected by these laws. I stand here because I work in congregations filled with people from all walks off life who pledge at their baptism to respect the dignity of every human being as a part of our walk in faith with the risen Christ. We as Christians believe that love and justice conquer death, and we see that fulfilled in the person of Jesus, who calls us to follow him.
Today we are inspired by the all of the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews and others who have no barriers to membership or leadership in their faith communities based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of us have been working for twenty, thirty, forty or more years.
The Episcopal Church by act of its General Convention beginning in 1976 has held us as Episcopalians responsible to work for the equal treatment under the law of gay and transgender people. Over the years we said clearly what that would mean including decrying acts of violence, calling for police support in creating and enforcing safe communities, civil marriage equality and fair treatment for transgender persons.
All parents and families want to believe it is safe for our children to go to school, but we know it is not. Our children are mocked and tortured in places that should be havens for their development as engaged and responsible citizens. When death overcomes the hope of their young lives, it is the responsibility of faith communities to stand up and say it is immoral. It is immoral to for our children to live with unchecked abuse from their peers, it is immoral when gay and transgender kids are cast out by their families, it is immoral when churches tell them God does not love them and it is immoral to have no federal laws against bullying or employment discrimination.