Monday, January 30, 2012

Integrity USA Goes to Washington

Rev. Harry Knox

I’ve lost count of the times I have trekked to Capitol Hill in Washington to lobby right wing Republican senators on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and now the Safe Schools Improvement Act. The polite, non-committal responses we always receive might discourage me if I didn’t have the benefit of clarity around my mission as an advocate for justice.

Rev Harry Knox of Integrity, Ja' Briel Walthour, Trey Ramsey, Minister Joshua Holiday of the Fellowship visit Sen Saxby Chambliss' (R-GA) office.

Why do I keep lobbying enemies of justice, as I did last week as part of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Lobby Day? Three reasons come to mind:

1. The Bible says I should not only pray for my enemies, but should seek to bless them. (Matthew 5:44) It was my privilege to introduce staff members of Sens. Johnny Isaakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia to two beautiful representatives of Georgia’s transgender and queer communities – Ja’Briel Walthour of Hinesville and Trey Ramsey of Atlanta. Ja’Briel and Trey blessed everyone in the room as they courageously shared their stories of being denied promised promotion because of gender transition and of having been harassed in Georgia schools because of perceived sexual orientation.

2. The young staff members, who hear our stories (so their bosses won’t have to) are the next generation of leaders in their party – and they are different from those in power today. Polls show we are making significant inroads into the hearts and minds of young Republicans. So I am never discouraged at seeing “just a staff member”. I was once one of those young Republican staffers, and I know the future can be different for them if they are exposed, as I was, to new ideas.

3. Ja’Briel and Trey and I are empowered and encouraged for having told our own stories. It feels good to have taken action for justice, even if we don’t know what the direct outcomes might be. As we sought to bless our enemies, we found ourselves blessed. Thanks be to God.

When I was executive director of Georgia Equality, the local LGBT newspaper often asked me a question: “Since the Georgia legislature is stacked against you, and Georgia Equality has so little money, and people are hesitant to take risks for your cause, do you really think you have the resources you need to be successful?” My answer was always the same. “No; so we better get started.”

For some reason, the press never printed my response. I don’t think they understood what we in Integrity understand. We don’t have to know the outcome before we respond to God’s call to action. It’s a matter of faith; and it’s what makes us different from those who leave the world largely as they found it. Heaven save us from that fate.

The Rev. Harry Knox is Executive Director of Integrity USA

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