[NLGTF Press Release, Aug. 24, 1999]
The National Religious Leadership Roundtable wrapped up a two-day meeting here after more than 200 people attended a public forum Monday night that acknowledged the unique contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people.
The Roundtable is an interfaith network of leaders from pro-GLBT faith, spiritual and religious organizations working in partnership with other justice-seeking groups to amplify the voice of pro-GLBT faith organizations in public discourse; promote understanding of and respect for pro-GLBT people with society and in communities of faith; promote understanding and respect within GLBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty; and achieve commonly held goals which promote equality, spirituality and justice.
Roundtable attendees represent hundreds of churches and synagogues and millions of worshipers. The Roundtable is co-sponsored by the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Equal Partners in Faith.
“In recent years, people of faith have served on the front line against homophobia and paid severe consequences for their support of GLBT equality,” said Urvashi Vaid, director of the Policy Institute of NGLTF. “From Reverend Jimmy Creech to Sister Jeannine Gramick to the 68 ministers of the United Methodist Church facing trial for holding marriage ceremonies, the civil rights movement and the faith movement are intimately linked. The truth is that a vigorous, pro-GLBT, faith-based movement exists and is growing stronger.”
The public forum, entitled, “Spirituality and Sexuality: In the Image of God,” attracted reporters from The New York Times and the Associated Press as well as GLBT media and local broadcast and print media. Also in attendance were representatives of anti-gay religious right political groups.
The forum featured Rev. Creech, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church who was put on trial for holding a covenant ceremony between two women; Rabbi Stephen Foster, from Denver who was active in the fight against Amendment 2 in Colorado; Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and founder of the Religious Coalition’s Black Church Initiative; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the GLBT-synagogue Congregation Beth Simchat Torah based in New York City; Rev. Patti Ackerman of Integrity, an Episcopalian group; Rev. Elder Nori Rost of the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church in Colorado Springs; and Rev. Bill Johnson of the Office of LGB Concerns of the United Church of Christ.
“Religious fundamentalists cannot claim to speak for all people of faith,” said Rev. Ackerman. “Controversy surrounds GLBT issues precisely because consensus in faith communities does not.”
“We as people of faith affirm that standing for GLBT equality does not conflict with our religious beliefs,” said Laura Montgomery-Rutt, national organizer for Equal Partners in Faith. “Our voices are growing stronger by the day and will not be silenced.”
Monday night’s public forum was held in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable. The Roundtable includes more than 40 national leaders from a wide array of faith traditions, including Unitarian Universalist Association of America, Al-Fatiha Foundation (LGBTQ Muslims & Friends), American Friends Service Committee, U.S. Urban Rural Mission, World Council of Churches, Dignity/USA (Catholics), World Congress of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Jewish Organizations, United Methodist Covenant Relationships Network, The Interfaith Working Group, Reconciling Congregations Program, Disciples Justice Action Network, Methodist Federation for Social Action, The Interfaith Alliance, Soulforce, Inc., Unity Fellowship Church, New Ways Ministry, Integrity (Episcopalian), Affirmation (United Methodist), The Brethren/Mennonite Council, Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance, Inc., Lutherans Concerned/North America, More Light Presbyterians, Metropolitan Community Church, AIDS National Interfaith Network, Christians Lesbians OUT, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, Interweave, Q Spirit, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Evangelicals’ Concerned, Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministires and United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns.
Equal Partners in Faith is a multi-racial, multi-faith national network of religious leaders and people of faith committed to equality and diversity. Our diverse faith traditions and shared religious values lead us to affirm and defend the equality of all people, regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. Equal Partners in Faith actively opposes the manipulation of religion to promote exclusion and inequality.
The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a think-tank dedicated to research, policy analysis, strategy development and coalition building to advance the equality and understanding of GLBT people