I'll have more to say about this all later ... but for the moment, here are a few pictures from the evening and the text of my "thanks so much" remarks. There may be miles to go before we rest in the struggle for equality for LGBT Americans but there is no question we are further along that road than we would be without the tireless efforts of HRC. I'm proud to be a small part of that work as a member of the HRC Religion Council and look forward to the work we will do together moving ahead!
I am so delighted that we share not only this moment of celebration of what has been accomplished but a commitment to the work that lies ahead. And before I thank anybody else, I want to thank my fearless, faithful, fabulous wife Louise … who teaches me every day the meaning of both unconditional love and how to stay on message.
I am also so deeply grateful for the unfailing support of my rector, Ed Bacon, my clergy, staff and parish colleagues. Time does not permit a longer list than that, but you must know that I stand here tonight on the shoulders of countless numbers who have worked for decades in the Episcopal Church to plant the fragile seeds of inclusion while tirelessly pulling the stubborn weeds of racism, sexism and homophobia.
God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet, but a sign of how much has been accomplished is the presence this evening of Bishop Mary Glasspool – who is not … in spite of any rumors you may have heard … the second gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. She is actually the second one to tell the truth about being gay and still get elected – and I hope you will join me in thanking her for both her honesty and her courage!
“Set audacious goals and celebrate incremental victories” was the advice I heard years ago from an activist priest and tonight we are doing both. We are celebrating the victories of hate crime legislation passed and DADT repealed – even as we work toward the audacious goals of marriage equality, an inclusive ENDA and Just Immigration Reform … as we claim the promise that the arc of history DOES bend toward justice … that there’s no * after the “all” in liberty and justice for all that says “*unless you’re gay or lesbian/bisexual or transgender.”
The partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and faith leaders committed to LGBT justice is – dare I say it … (and if I can’t then who can?) … A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN. Because what the Human Rights Campaign figured out is that the best antidote to the venom of the Religious Right is a mobilized, messaged Religious Left.
And the work and witness of the HRC Religion Council – begun by Harry Knox and continuing under the inspired leadership of Dr. Sharon Groves – has not only mobilized and messaged us … your generous financial support has given us a bigger microphone for our message. And our message is this:
• God doesn’t discriminate against LGBT people and our government shouldn’t either.
• Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion and nobody has the right to write their theology into our Constitution.
• And when we preach about Protecting Family Values we preach about Values that Protect ALL Families.
I believe what Jesus taught me: that the truth will set you free.
And I believe what Janis taught me: that freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.
So tonight I believe we have nothing to lose as we recommit ourselves to the audacious goal of becoming a nation where liberty and justice for all truly means ALL – as we reconfirm the truth we hold self-evident that all people ARE created equal.
Your continued support of the Human Rights Campaign will help us all achieve that goal as partners in the work of bending that arc of history toward LGBT justice once and for all. Thank you again so very much! God bless! Shanti. Salaam. Shalom.