Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Update: Knox on North Carolina Amendment Vote

Of Bad Days And Good
Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA

Today a sitting President of the United States said he believes lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry.  That makes this a very, very good day.  What Louie Crew and Ernest Clay began to model on behalf of gay and lesbian Episcopalians when Integrity was formed in 1974, was finally endorsed by the leader of the free world 38 years later.  President Obama spoke in powerful personal terms about the witness of his own gay friends, staff, and the parents of his daughter’s friends when he spoke of why he has changed his mind and turned even further toward justice.  Beloveds, we LGBT folk and our allies taught him to do that.  Our struggle is not over, but today is a very good day.

My heart hurts today for all my friends and colleagues in North Carolina who are mourning passage yesterday of an amendment enshrining discrimination in their state’s constitution.  Yesterday was a bad day. I remember well when the voters of my home state of Georgia passed such an amendment in 2004.  Back then, the vote in that Southern state was 77% in favor of discrimination.  What a change, eight years later, to see a neighboring and similar state vote roughly 60-40% to reject the plea of its lesbian and gay families for fairness. A 17% movement toward greater understanding has taken enormous work by advocates in NC.

I know this seems small solace in this moment, but I hope my beloved colleagues can hear my deep thanks for all they have done and will continue doing to make the Tarheel State safer and saner for LGBT people.  This year, equality and justice actually won in the counties that represent the Research Triangle and the city of Asheville.  There were no such victories to assuage our pain in Georgia in 2004
The movement for the freedom to marry in Asheville has had significant leadership from allied clergy since 2006, when my friend Rev. Joe Hoffman first preached a pro-inclusion sermon and set off a rollercoaster of response from other faith leaders in the region who were called by Joe’s courage to make their own stands for fairness for their LGBT congregants.  Because Joe and his colleagues stepped up, hearts and minds in Buncombe County have changed.  LGBT people in their city and county have the soul-affirming confidence on this tough day after that at least a majority of their neighbors stood with them in this struggle.  Thanks be to God.
The vital work of graceful engagement in North Carolina will continue this summer when the Democratic National Convention meets in Charlotte.  Charlotte-based Freedom Center for Social Justice ( is coordinating events with the Human Rights Campaign and others that will create dialogue with delegates from around the country around the need for inclusion of a strong marriage equality plank in the Democratic Platform on which President Obama and all Democrats will run in November. The Freedom Center will make sure people of color are speaking out for justice from a faith perspective in those conversations.  Bishop Tonyia Rawls, the founder of the Center, knows that good days – those on which we celebrate victories – are achieved by not being so dismayed by the bad days that we forget Who is bending the arc of history toward justice.  It is our daily walk of faith that calls us to keep telling our stories and calling our neighbors to account for how they treat us.

Many Integrity members were part of the campaign against Amendment 1 in North Carolina!  To all who did your part, Integrity members, and others, too, a hearty thank you from the Board and staff of Integrity.  Your witness will bear fruit for generations to come and God will be praised.

And to our President, God bless you, Sir, for your courageous statement of support for my family and untold thousands of others throughout our country and around the world.  You have made our day.

Rev. Harry Knox

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