FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Tom Zigo | [email protected] | 703-347-4327
More Than 100 Prominent Faith Leaders from Across the Country Join More Than 200 Texas Clergy in Urging Opposition to Series of Anti-LGBTQ Measures Rapidly Advancing in Texas Legislature
Hundreds of Clergy Assert “Bathroom Bills” like HB 2899 and Cluster of Religious Refusal Bills Are Counter to “Backbone of Religious Traditions,” Hand Deliver Letters of Opposition to Key Legislative Leaders As Clergy Gather Outside of House Chamber for Prayer Gathering
Washington, D.C. – Prominent faith leaders from across the country joined forces today in urging Texas legislators to oppose a series of anti-LGBTQ measures advancing rapidly through the state legislature, specifically calling out controversial anti-trans bathroom bills, HB 2899 and SB 6, and several religious refusal bills that provide businesses and government entities a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans. Nearly two dozen anti-LGBTQ bills are under consideration in Texas. The call for opposition was made via a letter signed by more than 100 national religious leaders from across the country, and hand-delivered to legislative offices today with another letter signed by more than 200 Texas-based faith leaders. Texas clergy also gathered outside of the House chamber to pray and to take their message opposing discrimination directly to legislators.
The national letter, which was signed by the heads of seven religious denominations, the president of eight seminaries, and the leaders of more than 40 religious organizations, among scores of other high-level leaders, asserts that the proposed measures “threaten the dignity and equal treatment of LGBTQ people and violate the very tenets of love and justice that are the backbone of our religious traditions.”
“Legislation that allows discrimination against LGBTQ people violates the basic tenets of any faith,” said Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, who is among the signatories of the national letter. “The ideas of justice and equality in the eyes of God are among the most fundamental elements of faith and are the values our democracy was founded on. We cannot stand silent while politicians seek to marginalize and dehumanize vulnerable members of our community – and especially justify doing so in the name of religion.”
Faith leaders were compelled to join forces and speak out as anti-LGBTQ bills are gaining traction in the Texas legislature. The controversial, anti-trans “bathroom bill” known as HB 2899, would ban cities across Texas from passing non-discrimination ordinances to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination and nullify existing non-discrimination ordinances that currently protect millions of Texans. The bill is similar in scope to legislation enacted in North Carolina that spurred public outrage and backlash, resulting in a boycott of North Carolina by corporations, sports leagues, and celebrities and, according to a recent analysis from the Associated Press, will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years. Unlike North Carolina, Texas has coupled its attack on transgender residents with a broader effort to undermine LGBTQ equality. The Legislature is considering bills that permit or even require discrimination in almost every facet of life, often under the guise of protecting “religious liberty.”
Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Seminary NYC said: “Our faith traditions call us to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. God beseeches us to treat each other with dignity and respect. Our faith does not justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, or anyone else. The idea of religious freedom—which is a core principle of our democracy—has been distorted by those who seek license to treat LGBTQ people as less than human. Wherever human dignity is threatened, our faith requires that we speak out.”
In addition to the letter from national religious leaders, which was organized by the Religious Institute, more than 200 faith leaders in Texas also signed a letter to legislators and gathered at the Capitol today to pray and demonstrate their strong opposition to the proposed measures. Texas Believes (www.TexasBelieves.org), a coalition of interfaith clergy who support equality for LGBTQ people, organized the event, which included delivering both letters in person to legislative offices.
“The outpouring of opposition from faith leaders of all backgrounds should make the moral argument very clear to legislators set to cast votes to legalize discrimination,” said Rev. Karen Thompson, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church-Austin. “The Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated – is a basic tenet of every major faith tradition. Lawmakers can’t hide behind religion in passing these discriminatory measures.”
The Religious Institute is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.