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Help make Anti-LGBT “Conversion Therapy” Illegal in your state

We are continually alarmed by the number of people, especially youth, who are subjected to so-called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” that seeks to teach them that their sexual orientation and gender identify or expression is inherently evil and can be changed. This is not only an affront to our religious beliefs, it has been repudiated by the American

Medical Association and the American Psychological Association and condemned by those who have survived it.  It is spiritual and psychological abuse, and it is time to end it.  Only two states (California and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia have statutory bans on “conversion therapy.”  Several high profile teen suicides (Leelah Alcorn and countless others) offer us a wake up call.  We have the power to create meaningful change in the lives of marginalized youth.  We enlist your help to ban such harmful work in

every state in the nation.

Here are some actions you can take to help end so-called “conversion therapy” and to save the lives of countless LGBTQI persons who are forced to endure it:

  • Use change.org to start your own online petition drive to force your state legislature to act.  Talk about why this is important, especially from your faith perspective.  New York’s petition provides model language if you would like to use it.
  • Share your petition on social media (and feel free to tag the Global Justice Institute and MCC).  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are popular options.  Use the hashtag  #BornPerfect
  • Meet with your State Representatives

    Photo Courtesy: Out & About Nashville

    and State Senators and ask them to sponsor legislation that would ban “conversion therapy.”  State legislatures are meeting now. If you need help crafting talking points, the Public Policy Team can help you.

  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights has attorneys and policy experts who can support your work.  They are working with sponsors in several states.  Check out their resource guide here.
  • Invite your congregation and pastoral care ministries to pray for those who have suffered through “conversion therapy.”  Intercessory prayer works.  It changes lives in ways seen and unseen.
  • Engage in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue about the harmful effects of “conversion therapy.”  Talk about the psychological and spiritual damage is causes. Several advocacy groups are making the victims’ stories available online.  Share them.  Teach our colleagues in ministry.  We can all work toward agreement to do no harm.

Leelah begged us to do these things.  In her suicide note, she said, “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f****d up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”  Do it for all the other youth whom we do not know.   Help ban “conversion therapy” everywhere.   All of God’s children deserve our love, support, and action.

 

For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at mccadvocacy@mccchurch.net.

 

This action alert was prepared by the Public Policy Team of 

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.

MCC PAD Fast and Prayer Vigil for Justice

Join MCC in a 24-hour Fast & Prayer Vigil for Justice on 15 January 2015, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. This will be an intentional time for individuals and faith communities to pray about and reflect upon the question:  How can we BE JUSTICE that leads us through reconciliation to peace?

 

MCC’S People  of African Descent (PAD) ministry is encouraging all faith communities to either (1) host a local Fast & Prayer Vigil for Justice and/or (2) invite the people of their faith communities to participate in the virtual MCC Fast & Prayer Vigil for Justice which will take place on Facebook . We ask that you LIKE the Facebook page today to received updates. Also, please SHARE theFacebook page with your Friends.

 

All are encouraged to post their prayers, reflections and meditations on the MCC webpage dedicated to the vigil.You may begin posting now about what you will fast from, pray for and ultimately what action you are being led to take.

 

Please let us know if your faith community is participating by contacting Rev. Vickey Gibbs at RevVickeyGibbs@MCCchurch.net.

Black LGBT Religious Leaders Statement of Unity and Purpose

Black LGBT Religious Leaders Act with Historically Black Churches: “Black Bodies Matter”

LGBT Black Christians and faith leaders join tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/ denominations and allies to wear black to church on Sunday, December 14 in response to police brutality: “Black LGBT bodies must matter, too!”
Spokespersons
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM)
  • Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC)
Black America faces an unspoken agenda of terror and racism. In response, tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/ denominations and allies across the country will be wearing black on December 14, 2014, to protest the criminalization, disproportionate incarceration, and killing of black and brown people by law enforcement. As Black lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) religious leaders, we are all too familiar with oppressive systems that discriminate and kill.
Over the last six years, fair minded Americans have moved the country to elect our first Black president, opened the doors of marriage to same gender loving people in over 35 states and Washington D.C., began a national conversation on the inclusion of transgender brothers and sisters, and confronted the need to finally address immigration reform. This decided shift toward progressive social values has been met with an escalating conservative backlash most abhorrently embodied in the aggressive policing of Black and Brown bodies. The conservative climate has also led to rampant unresolved murders of transgender people.
Action: As more than 150 Black LGBT faith leaders, we commit to mobilize our LGBT led congregations, denominations, and faith communities to participate in a day of solidarity and to pray for healing, justice, and holy boldness as we respond as a united front. We call for the Black community and our allies to stand with us. In turn, we sign on to the following actions:
  • Intentionally collaborate with Black civil rights and faith-based organizations, Black church denominations, and grassroots social justice actions.
  • Participate in Black Lives Matter Sunday, December 14, by wearing black in solidarity and offering prayers to stop the violence against African Americans, to heal Ebola in Africa, and to end to the exportation of homo-hatred by conservative Evangelicals.
We, as LGBT religious leaders across faith traditions and across our country have created an historic alliance among ourselves as we assert that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We declare and decree our wholehearted commitment to participating in a new wave of sacred resistance to power structures, which demean black bodies, and reinforce policies, that undermine the life, and vitality of our community. We uphold that All Black Lives Matter and condemn all the ways Black bodies are marginalized, and subjected to hostility.
To that end, we call for all Black religious voices to unite together across the diversity that exists among us to proclaim that we stand on the side of justice for all and that every life is sacred. To do so we must connect the dots between the forms of oppression that rise up from the toxic root of racism. We stand against oppressive practices wherever they exist and are committed to the practice of peace and we encourage our communities to find common ground.
We commit to moving from the margins to the middle as we articulate an integrated multi-issue justice movement embracing the totality of concerns impacting Black and Brown bodies: police brutality, mass incarceration, violence against trans people, income inequality, immigration discrimination, malnutrition, gun violence, the assault on reproductive health, unequal pay for women, inferior education, disproportionately high HIV/AIDS, Ebola, the homeless crisis among black gay youth, and the lethal exportation of homophobia to Africa by the Religious Right.
As demonstrators around the country are organizing themselves to speak truth to power, we join our voices to this chorus of justice seekers and stand in solidarity with all who seek to change the ways our communities are oppressed and disenfranchised. In response to grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, and in other parts of the country where Black lives are ended senselessly over minor offenses or for no offense at all, our hearts are broken by the lack of justice for the victims of violence at the hands of law enforcement. We grieve with the families in St. Louis, Cleveland, and New York City who have lost their loved ones. We are also dismayed by militaristic police tactics that try to silence the voices of peaceful protesters reacting to the lack of justice from our legal system.
As religious leaders, we lift our voices in solidarity with the families, protesters, and all those who stand against discrimination. We affirm that the walls of racism, homophobia, transphobia and injustice must be pulled down in our communities, nation, on the continent of Africa and throughout the Diaspora.

Statement in response to immigration reform actions by U.S. President Barack Obama

November 21, 2014 – Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute applaud U.S. President Barack Obama for making bold moves to reform the U.S. immigration system.  Building on the immigrant reform actions of his nine predecessors, he announced changes that would permit children brought to the U.S. by their parents to remain indefinitely, expand the system of work permits, reduce barriers to higher education, and support family unification for certain bi-national families.  These measures constitute a major step in the right direction.

 

While we applaud President Obama, we are reminded that these actions fall short of the comprehensive immigration reform we, along with all other fair-minded stakeholders, have been seeking for years.  We must not leave LGBT families separated across borders, isolate and marginalize LGBT asylum seekers, or exclude any immigrant group from access to health care and social services.  Money spent on border security would better serve immigrants’ need for quality health care, education, affordable housing.  Despite these shortcomings, the President’s reforms constitute an expanded foundation upon which we must pursue greater freedoms.

 

We remind the President and Congress that immigrants are our sisters and brothers, neighbors, co-workers, friends, classmates, and fellow parishioners. They are contributors to healthy, vibrant communities. They are all children of God who deserve dignity, respect, and the freedom of opportunity that all other U.S. residents enjoy.  Because executive actions by any President are temporary, we call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation to ensure that all who desire a better life in the United States have a permanent and legal pathway toward that pursuit.

 

For more information on MCC/GJI’s immigration reform principles, see our statement “No Stranger to God: A Call for Sensible Immigration Reform that Supports and Reunites Families

National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath

A diverse coalition of faith groups has come together to oppose gun violence in the U.S.  Faiths United, which MCC and the Global Justice Institute have endorsed, is inviting congregations, houses of worship, and people of faith to participate in the annual Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend (Thursday – Sunday, December 11-14, 2014).  The timing coincides with the anniversary of the elementary school shootings in Newtown,GunViolencePreventionSabbathConnecticut.  Sponsors hope to double participating from the previous Sabbath’s 1,000 places of worship. The weekend will start with a special December 11 event in the nation’s capital hosted by theWashington National Cathedral.  It will include an interfaith service honoringthose whose lives were lost to gunfire, special prayers for their families, and training sessions to help community leaders implement strategies to reduce gun violence.

 

The Public Policy Team encourages MCC congregations to take Faiths United’s Pledge Against Gun Violence and to sign up to host a local gun violence prevention event during this special weekend.

 

To aid you in these and other efforts, Faiths United is providing the following resources:

Through faith, we find the inspiration to be the blessed peacemakers the world so desperately needs.

 

For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at mccadvocacy@mccchurch.net.

Continue The Momentum For Environmental Justice

World leaders are gathering again to develop next steps in addressing the global climate change crisis.  Earlier this year, Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Presiding Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, helped lead a diverse coalition of faith groups participating in the People’s Climate March. The march called on world leaders gathered for the UN Summit on Climate Change to take an aggressive stand against air pollution. These leaders will assemble again in Lima, Peru (1-12 December 2014) for the Framework Convention on Climate Change. As part of the 20th Convening of the Parties, they will identify the broad areas of international agreement around carbon emmissions caps, financial support for clean energy production, and workforce development for “green” economies.

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Faith groups will be present to ensure they produce a framework that reflects our core values of justice, broad enviornmental stewardship, jobs for all, protection for the vulnerable, and relief from poverty.  We must be bold.

Because of the work and advocacy of activists the world over, Global leaders ARE LISTENING.  This week, China and the United States of America, two of the world’s largest air polluters, announced a new program to reduce carbon emissions over the next twenty years.  We must keep up the pressure so that these nations fully implement the plan and that other nations join in the effort.

Here are some actions you can take, wherever you live in the world, to maintain the momentum leading up to the Lima conference:

  • Contact your national government’s foreign ministry or (for expatriates) your local embassy and demand that leaders issue legally binding solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide meaningful support for poor and vulnerable communities.
  • Submit a personal pledge of sustainability and share it with Creation Justice Ministries on Facebook and Twitter and share your reflections every day during the meeting in Lima (1-12 December 2014), Tag @ourvoices2015 and use the hashtag #climatechorus
  • If you reside in the USA, sign Creation Justice Ministries’ petition to President Obama and the Congress and send a letter telling the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with its Clean Power Plan.

Reflecting our sacred duty to exercise stewardship over all of God’s creation, MCC stands in solidarity with environmental justice advocates around the world.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at mccadvocacy@mccchurch.net.

Metropolitan Community Church Response to Children’s Immigration Crisis

When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Sovereign your God. –Leviticus 19:33-34 (CEB)

SOS: Save Our Children

The world is facing a humanitarian crisis along the border between the United States of America and Mexico. Over 50,000 young people have arrived in the U.S. seeking freedom from violence and oppression and opportunities for meaningful work and basic education. They are innocent children— our sons and daughters, cousins, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, God’s children. They are crying out in need. The world must respond with favor, compassion, and resources. Indifference would be the most awful thing in the world.

Being compassionate requires us to examine the reasons families have in sending their vulnerable children to cross the border. A wave of violence has swept the central parts of Iberoamerica, violence unseen in recent history. Children and their families are making the rational choice to seek shelter and refuge outside of their home countries and in the United States because the treachery of the journey and the uncertain fate awaiting them there pales in comparison to the known threats on their lives at home. They seek nothing more than a better life. As people of faith, we cannot idly sit by and let their struggles and their hopes be in vain.

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute call on elected and appointed officials at all levels of government and society to provide safe harbor for these children. Housing them in anything less than stable homes is inhumane. Robbing them of educational opportunities, suitable food, fresh clothing, and connection with loved ones in the U.S. is unjust. We must not treat them like criminals. They are our children. They are the world’s children. As such, they are gifts to be cherished. We invite faith leaders of every tradition to join us in this call for justice.

We call on governments from around the world to address the violence in Iberoamerica that is driving migration. We call on the U.S. government to open our immigration system so that civil society can care for these children. The crisis highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform and we call on the Congress to take that measure back up. Through the lens of compassion, let us see this crisis. Through the lens of faith, may be stand up and respond.

This statement prepared by Kareem Murphy on behalf of The Moderator’s Public Policy Team, Metropolitan Community Churches, The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
To contact the Public Policy Team: RevJim@RevJim.org.

FIRST-EVER (USA) NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK

MCC, GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE, AND HIV/AIDS ADVISORY COUNCIL JOIN TESTING CAMPAIGN

MCC has partnered with the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS) to promote the USA’s first-ever National HIV Testing Week.  It begins Saturday, June 21 and runs through June 27.  The theme is “Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV.”  The partnership seeks to increase how many people know their HIV status.

Culminating in National HIV Testing Day (Friday, June 27), the campaign encourages everyone, including churches, to reach out to health providers and community organizations to plan and expand events to raise awareness, provide testing, and offer supportive services that encourage people to get into care.  Events and testing sites are being hosted around the nation, and they include government offices, doctor’s offices, health clinics, bathhouses, bars, and chemical dependency treatment facilities, among others.  Check out www.nhtwus.org to find a testing site near you or your church.  logo-transBG

 

Here are some actions you can take to engage the campaign:

  • Share your story/program about what you and your church are doing to promote testing, treatment, and/or care.  Share them here.
  • Download, share, and promote the coalition’s Testing Week resources.
  • If your congregation or ministry group does not currently have an HIV/AIDS program in place, consider using this year’s Testing Week to plan the launching of one. Resources on how to start that discussion can be found here.

Knowing one’s status is a crucial first step in getting people into systems of treatment and care.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Treatment Cascade analysis shows that the path to health and viral suppression starts with diagnosis.  If we can get people tested, they will know their status. If they know their status, we can link them to systems of care.  If we can link them to care, we can support them so that they stay in care.  If we can get them to stay in care, we can support an appropriate antiretroviral therapy program.  And if we can keep them on their medication and accessing other supportive services, we can keep them alive and thriving.  It all starts with testing.  As people of faith, we are called to do this work.

 

Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV

METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES WELCOMES NEW CDC GUIDELINES ON THE USE OF PrEP FOR HIV PREVENTION

Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) welcomes the May 14, 2014 announcement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

(See http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/PrEPguidelines2014.pdf)

As the oldest Christian denomination primarily serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community around the world, MCC is long tenured in the response to HIV.  The CDC announcement is good news to our churches because it gives us an additional tool to reduce new HIV infections.

All methods of HIV prevention should still be applied in addition to this new scientifically proven method of taking a daily dosage of Truvadaas described in the guidelines under the direction of a medical professional with the required counseling.  However, MCC emphasizes that PrEP is not a substitute for condoms, but another option now available. No single intervention is completely protective in preventing HIV transmission. Clean syringe exchange for people who use drugs, widespread distribution of male and female condoms to populations at risk for HIV transmission, reducing the number of sexual partners, universal access to health services and anti-retroviral treatment, eliminating gender-based violence and gender inequality, age-appropriate sex education and repealing laws criminalizing people with HIV and sex workers and people most at risk for HIV transmission are interventions that we know will work.

PrEP is a medical advance that is the product of peer reviewed research and international scrutiny, and should be made universally available.

We still need a cure for AIDS and a vaccine for HIV. Recognizing that PrEP is not a cure or a vaccine for HIV, we now have evidence that it can reduce HIV infections among populations most at risk for HIV transmission.  While new HIV infections overall have declined somewhat worldwide, they are either not declining or increasing in populations most at risk for HIV such as gay men and men who have sex with men and transgender persons.

MCC and the Global Justice Institute call on the world’s medical community to marshal resources and make personal commitments to providing PrEP-inclusive medical care to all those at risk of HIV transmission including those who are incarcerated. We call on people of faith to do the work of justice, in the private and public sectors, by opposing all systems of domination and marginalization that make the use of PrEP necessary.  We will judge our work complete when the world fundamentally agrees on the sacredness of sexuality and no one abuses this fundamental freedom.

Click HERE to download information provided by MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council on PrEP, andHERE for the CDC’s guide to how to talk with your doctor.  Click HERE for the Advisory Council’s information on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

This statement was prepared by the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council and the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,

Metropolitan Community Churches