One Faith Leader’s Perspective on Houston Voters’ Rejection of Equal Rights Measure

Dry Bones in Houston
Rev. Dr. Michael Diaz
Days later, I’m still in disbelief. One hour I want to cry out at the top of my lungs, and the next hour, I want to sit in deadening silence. As I move from frustration to tears, I remember the last time I was this emotional. Back in May of 2014, Houston City Council passed the historic Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), ensuring Houstonians have the right to access employment, housing, and public accommodations without discrimination. I remember the courage exercised by so many friends. Many spoke their truth like never before in front of city officials, risking the little stability found in the closet by coming out for the first time ever on public television.

I was proud of my city that day. I feel ashamed today.

Despite our collective efforts as people of faith and equality, this week Houston voters emphatically repealed the Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. Let’s be honest. It wasn’t simply an ordinance. It was a statement about our values and how we as followers of Jesus commit to treating one another – with love and without discrimination. We had the chance to affirm the sacred value of every Houstonian. We had the opportunity to prove to the rest of the country and one another that we indeed value being the most diverse city in this USA.  Instead, we sent a message of blatant disregard for people like my own mother who years ago had to endure ridicule from apartment managers not wanting to rent to an unwed mother and child.  Blatant disregard for African American Houstonians who are forced to pay outrageous cover charges at establishments where our white neighbors get in for free. Blatant disregard for Latina lesbians being denied a job because of the languages they speak or the person they love. Blatant disregard for the dehumanization of children of God, our trans* neighbors.

In a year where we are experiencing record numbers of trans* people (especially trans* people of color) being murdered in cold-blood, a small minority group of evangelical pastors and right wing activists has the nerve to fear-monger, make up lies, and engage in spiritual violence towards our trans* siblings, all for political purposes. MCC’s Moderator, Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, saw how anti-LGBT faith leaders rooted their advocacy in bigotry and hatred, “It is a sad day when church leaders use fear to enforce prejudice.”

I, too, am sad because like many of you, I feeI did all I could do and it was not good enough. The brittle bones of HERO and the brittle bones of hope-filled people were finally beaten down by hate, racism, transphobia, and oppressive rhetoric. After all of the organizing, phone banks, and volunteer hours from so many fair-minded Houstonians, it still wasn’t good enough.

As I wrestle with this phenomenal tragedy, scripture reminds me that the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of a valley of dry, brittle bones. Notice the story is grounded in a valley, not a mountaintop. Maybe that’s where unique opportunities for transformation are supposed to take place – in valleys. Yes, positive change happens on mountaintops by way of broad coalitions of community organizations like we had in Houston. But justice-minded people must also work directly in the valleys where dehumanized Houstonians, our trans* siblings, have been made to feel like dry, brittle bones. As justice-minded people, our goal is not only to change public policy, but to transform dry bones into hopeful hearts and transformed minds.

I firmly believe the Houstonians who voted against HERO did so out of fear. After being preyed upon by vicious transphobic and homophobic forces themselves, I wonder how dry are the bones of voters themelves, especially those from communities of color. Maybe it’s time we come down from the mountaintop and and commit our work to the valleys of dry bones all around us.

Rev. Troy Plummer-Treash, Senior Pastor of Resurrection MCC here in Houston, declared that “Our struggle is not over,” and he is right. Just as Ezekiel stood among the dry bones and prophesied of their resurrection and transformation into a revived community, maybe that’s our first step as well….

Stand alongside our LGBT Houstonians, especially are trans* siblings. Speak life into dry bones, not only with our words but with our presence. Love our neighbor anew. Hug and comfort our neighbor. Allow our trans* friends to authentically share their stories, share their commitment, and share their leadership. Let’s make space for them to find and use their voice so they are not longer dry bones, but empowered Houstonians.

Then, let’s engage Houston voters in the valley also. We now know more about what our neighbors think about this issue.  We know that we must engage them where they are.  We know that we must be true and authentic, sharing our stories of transformation, our commitment to equal protection for all people, our resolve to work toward an end of economic exploitation, racism, the sexual exploitation of young people, equal rights for women, homelessness, and so many other social justice issues.  We must struggle in the valley with all people on the margins so that we truly see each one another as children of God.

I prophesy, not from the mountaintop, but from within the valley. I prophesy over dry bones, bones battered with homophobia and transphobia, bones that rest in the ballot boxes of Houston. Through our organizing and advocacy, and our love, we will make space for Spirit to breath new life into voters. They will rise up, new and transformed and we will work hand in hand in the valley.  The valley will be restored. Houston will be restored. We will redeem the outcome of Tuesday’s election. We will be proud of Houston once again.

Our work and ministry continue.  Let’s cause some #HolyTrouble.  Here are actions you can take to help to advance equality for LGBT and anyone who faces discrimination and marginalization:

  • Participate in the 40 DAYS OF FAITH IN ACTION campaign by the National LGBTQ Task Force (a follow up to the Faith & Family Power Summit) with resources available here.
  • Add your name to Believe Out Loud’s open letter to Houston voters telling them the discrimination is not a Christian value.
  • Use social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram) to share your story about how natural and loved by God your family is.  Use the hashtags #HolyTrouble and #FaithFamilyLGBTQ
  • More firmly establish partnerships among your congregation, other local faith groups, and social justice organizations so you can host educational forums on religious liberty, religious exemptions, and equal rights.  The Public Policy Team is available to consult and help organize. If you would like our support send us an email.
For more information, contact

Sign the petition – stop the drownings

We’ve been shocked by the image of the drowned innocent boy all over the media this morning and have joined this campaign demanding EU politicians take urgent action to save lives and give sanctuary to people fleeing war and hunger.

They’re meeting in a few days so we need to act fast. Join me here by signing the petition, sharing the link on any social media you’re on, and forwarding the email below to friends and family:

Help End the Ban on Gay Blood Donations

For the first time since 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering amending its blanket ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). The proposed new policy would only permit donations from men who have abstained from sex with men for at least twelve months. The FDA says the waiting period is needed because “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”

donotuse blood

Though we applaud the incremental progress this represents, we find the FDA’s rationale highly problematic. Should the change take effect, the FDA would continue to base its MSM selection and screening policy on outdated theories and centuries-old stigma rather than evidence-based criteria. For example, the viral life cycle of HIV is not linked to behavior. Based on the FDA stance, it would follow that all persons engaging in penetrative sexual acts should be subjected to this year long abstinence period.  Current laws and regulations mandate all blood donations be screened for a range of potential threats, most of which are no more common among MSM than other groups. Therefore, we believe the system will remain safe with no ban on MSM donations. 

As the “church with AIDS” we know that all blood is sacred and raise significant concerns over the role of stigma and homophobia in the FDA’s proposal. Giving blood to save lives is a sacred ritual. It is an act of kindness and compassion. In the practice of our faith, we seek to model Jesus commandment to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:29). Gay men care about our neighbors. The government should not prohibit MSM from serving others with its proposed continuation of the ban on blood donations. 

 Here are actions you can take to help end the ban:

  • Write the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability at and tell them that the proposal is inadequate and unscientific and that the ban should be completely overturned.
  • Sign up for action alerts from the National Gay Blood Drive.
  • Sign the Global Justice Institute’s Petition at
  • Read and familiarize yourself with the details of the FDA’s current policy

For more information, contact

This action alert was prepared as a collaboration between MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council (Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., Chair) and the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute (Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Chair).

Public Policy Team Decries Massacre and Calls for Preaching, Practicing, and Praying for An End to Racially-Inspired Violence

On Wednesday, June 17th, the world drew a collective gasp of horror once again, as yet another senseless act of gun violence claimed 9 innocent, caring, faithful lives at an historic Black Church, Emanuel AME, in Charleston, South Carolina.
ABC News

Photo Credit: ABC News

While studying the Bible together, a young man, apparently well-schooled in racially inspired hatred and animosity, announced he would kill those gathered simply because they were black.


There are no words to take away the anger, pain, sorrow and loss of the families and friends of the victims and the community of Charleston, or that will adequately address the outrage of those among us who have spent lifetimes working for the dismantling of racism and its systemic supports and the promotion of goodwill among all.


There are, however, words to address this senseless act: STOP THE VIOLENCE! STOP THE HATE! JUST STOP IT! Pass sensible gun laws that protect society from the animosity of the few. Reinstate the legal protections that many fought and died for, like equal voting rights legislation and equal educational opportunities and job programs. Teach and practice love before all other options.   Teach and practice kindness, compassion, acceptance, generosity and appreciation of difference. Someone taught that young shooter that difference was to be eliminated, not reverenced as a part of God’s good design.


There are words we can all remember and hold on to for inspiration and guidance as we move through this tragedy. A little over 50 years ago, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, facing a similar tragedy with the murder of 4 little girls at Sunday School in a Church in Alabama, called the nation and the world to accountability when he said, those who have been taken from us have something to say.


“They have something to say to every minister of the Gospel who has remained

silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows. They have something to

say to every politician who has fed his constituents the stale bread of hatred and

the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government

that has compromised …. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we

must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned

not merely about WHO murdered them, but about the system, the way of life

and the philosophy which PRODUCED the murderers. Their death says to us

that we must work passionately and unrelentingly to make the American dream

a reality.”


All of us can and must do something every single day we are blessed to grace this earth to make that dream of a world at peace with its God-given diversity a reality.   As the saying goes, “See something, say something.” Never ever allow a racist remark to go unchallenged or pass for humor. Push for strict and enforced gun legislation that will eliminate easy access to weapons that do nothing but take life. Challenge legislators to reinstate the principles and practices of law and governance that challenge inequality and promote the value, dignity and worth of each life. Preach, teach and practice the ways of nonviolence.


As we collectively mourn this needless tragedy at Mother of Emanuel, let us remember the promise of that community’s name ~ that God is with us ~ and that we can do all things through the One who strengthens us.


Let us pray to the Mother of All Life for the courage to do the things and live in the ways that bring peace to this earth and honor the promise of all life.


Let us pray together ~


God of hope and healing,
We hold the people of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC (USA) in our hearts today.  We grieve with them as they face the violent and tragic loss of nine members, including their minister.


The people of Mother Emanuel have faced hatred and oppression in the past, and have risen like a phoenix from the ashes of despair and heartache with you by their side.

We pray that they will once again rise from this painful moment, and will be an example of hope that cannot be destroyed, integrity that will always survive, and community that no prejudice can divide as we stand together in solidarity.

Holy One, bless the dear people of Emanuel AME Church and all of us, and let the power of your love bring healing to the hearts and minds of people everywhere who continue to face hatred, injustice, and undeserved pain.

And, loving Spirit, we pray also for the assailant who took innocent lives.  Even as Justice demands that he be held accountable, mercy also requires that we pray for the healing of his soul, and for all souls that have not learned to replace blind hatred with love of self and


Join the Human Chain of Peace Against Hatred and Discrimination in Seoul

Join us in supporting The Korea Queer Culture Festival and organizers who have been blocked by local government and police from having the Seoul Pride parade after 16 years. In response to demands by anti-LGBT secular and religious groups, the Seoul police agency officially banned the Korean Queer Culture Festival, which is scheduled for 28 June. The parade traditionally marks the end of the three week-long festival (which starts 9 June).  Anti-LGBT demonstrators recently gathered outside of the Seoul City Hall carrying bigoted signs referring to the Seoul Mayor as the “Mayor of Sodom.”  Religious groups have also pressured South Korean government officials to place hardships on Festival and parade organizers.

We are determined to meet hatred and bigotry with activism and prayer.  MCC is joining our South Korean brothers and sisters in joining a “Human Chain of Peace Against Hatred and Discrimination” on 9 June and and again on 28 June.  We call on fair-minded people of faith around the world to join us.
  • Sign the Online Petition, encourage others to do the same by sharing it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc).  Show your support for all of those fighting to show their pride.
  • On Tuesday, 9 June Pray for Justice, Peace, and Pride for the organizers and participants in the Korea Queer Culture Festival (Virtual, Global Prayer Chain)
  • On Tuesday, 28 June, pray for Justice, Peace, and Pride for the Seoul Pride Parade organizers and participants (Virtual, Global Prayer Chain)

None of us are free until we all are free to express our pride and our innate God-given human dignity in the public square.


For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at

Update on the Kimmer-Kamba Cultural Center

By: Stan Kimmer

Africa-May-Blog-01-300x249I know it has been a while since my last update on my work in Kenya,
Africa, and that is because there was a change in direction. If you
look at my original Africa Center Page first created in late 2010, you
will see the short story and my vision to want to make a significant
impact in one of the poorest medium size cities in Kenya, Mtito Andei.

After a number of false starts and being frustrated with local
corruption, I needed to put the work with my initial partner Global
Roots on hold. While considering how to reengage in this work, I was
having a growing relationship with Rev. Michael Kimindu; pastor of
Neema Metropolitan Community Church in Nairobi, Director of African
Affairs for the Global Justice Institute, and leader of Other Sheep –
Africa.Africa-May-Blog-04 (At that time I was board chair of Other Sheep in the United
States.) Since Rev. Kimindu is originally from the area near Mtito
Andei and speaks the native Kamba tribal language of that area, I felt
he could be an ideal partner to help this work progress.

Rev. Kimindu visited me last May while in the USA (see photo) and we
further discussed teaming on this project. I ended up moving my church
membership from my local MCC Church in North Carolina to Neema MCC so
I could provide my church tithe support, and discussed the idea of
Neema MCC and Other Sheep Africa teaming with me to make the
Kimer-Kamba Cultural Center a reality. Sometimes multiple groups with
a similar vision and mission need to combine efforts and resources to
progress the hard work.

When Rev. Kimindu visited with in my home in 2014, we started the
discussion of him becoming the lead partner in my vision for the
Kimer-Kamba Community Center in Mtito Andei.

Africa-May-Blog-03Rev Kimindu agreed and at the beginning of the year he and his wife
Robai moved themselves and Neema MCC from Nairobi to Mtito Andei so he
could start this ministry and oversee this work. Using some existing
funds and with additional generous donations from Bobbi and Kathy
Graham-Ward of North Carolina, 2 acres of strategically placed land
near a new university was purchased and building began.
And now the building is complete for the first activities starting
this month! Multiple ministries and organizations will now share the
• The Kimer-Kamba Cultural Center which will focus on vocational and
cultural education and economic empowerment
• Other Sheep Africa / Kenya, providing a positive accepting ministry
to sexual minorities
• Neema Metropolitan Community Church, part of a global denomination
of over 200 local congregations located in 40 countries worldwide,
providing an open and inclusive ministry to all people
• Global Justice Institute, focusing on increasing global justice and
equality for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people in all
areas of the world.

Rev Kimindu (on the right) first traveled
with me to Mtito Andei, Kenya when I was last there in 2011.

I am hoping that my original partner Global Roots will also want to
become a part of this innovative collaborative work after Executive
Director and my good friend Rick Montgomery or his deputy Patrick
Firouzian travels to Kenya this summer to access progress and
applicability to his work.

Activities at the complex will include education, affirming worship
open to all people, nurturing people in need of justice, education
around early childhood development and more. The future vision
includes collaborating with the new local South Eastern Kenya
University – Mtito Andei Campus, and the Kenya Wildlife Service. We
also need to build Phase II which will include two classrooms, an
office and a guest room, which will facilitate most of this work.

Tax-deductible contribution can be made to support this work. Checks
should be designated for “Kenya work” and written to Other Sheep, and
mailed attn.: Stan Kimer, 4404 Pamlico Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.
Additionally, 5% of gross receipts of my consulting practice, Total
Engagement Consulting by Kimer, will continued be contributed to this

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Sunday, 2015 May 17

 What MCCers Can Do

Conceived in 2004 by French activist Louis-Georges Tin to commemorate the decision of the World Health Organization (1990) to de-pathologize homosexuality by removing it from the International Classification of Diseases, May 17th has become a globally recognized day to raise awareness of LGBTQI lives and call attention to efforts to end discrimination and violence and promote equality.


This year, from China to the Congo and Canada, LGBTQI peoples and our allies in over 170 nations will sponsor conversations, festivities and events, as well as demonstrations and marches for an end to the criminalization of Queer life and the implementation of policies that recognize and respect the diversity of God’s creation.



In Botswana, activists will showcase the first short theater production focusing on original works with Queer themes.  In Iran, the Iranian Queer Organization will make sure that IDAHOBiT artwork is available in Farsi.  The United Nations Human Rights Office in New York City will highlight Queer lives worldwide on screens in Times Square.


Everyone can do something to highlight LGBTQI life and our victories or address the challenges that remain before us.


The Global Justice Institute and the Moderator’s Public Policy Team invites MCC congregations around the world to make May 17th INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, BIPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA SUNDAY!


Here are some suggestions for you, your congregation, or your ministry:

  • Host a gathering and invite your neighbors, family and friends to the movement for equality in your location and make them aware of what volunteer or organizational opportunities are available.  Invite a local activist group to speak or provide resources.
  • Host a Bible Study, preach and pray about ending discrimination and promoting peace and goodwill throughout the earth.
  • This year’s theme focuses on youth.  Volunteer at a local youth shelter or conduct a drive to support the work of a local youth initiative that includes LGBTQI kids.
  • Add your community’s support to a local legislative drive to promote equality and safety for all youth.  (In the United States, contact your U.S. Senator and encourage him or her to move the Safe Schools Improvement Act to end bullying against Queer youth out of committee and onto the floor for a vote.)

Every word offered, every event celebrated, every step taken, every prayer lifted up can and will make a difference for God’s LGBTQI peoples and a world at peace with its own diversity.  You can inspire others around the world by sharing what you do.  Send your stories and photos to The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt of the Public Policy Team at


Thank you for making this world a better place.



This action alert was prepared by the Global Justice Institute and the Public Policy Team of

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute, Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner-Chair.


Global Justice Institute/MCC Partner with Blue Diamond Society 

The earthquake in Nepal has claimed the lives of thousands and devastated the lives of tens of thousands.  The Global Justice Institute and Metropolitan Community Churches are partnering with the BLUE DIAMOND SOCIETY, an organization working for the wellbeing of the LGBTQI communities in Nepal, with over 200,000 members. blue diamond


The devastation in Nepal, especially rural areas, is overwhelming, and many nations are stepping in to help.  The LGBTQI communities, however, are often overlooked and underserved if served at all.  Camps are being set up and segregated by gender, often leaving “third gender” people to fend for themselves.


The body of Ciatala, a third gender person, was located in a teaching hospital and the Blue Diamond Hospital was able to spare her an unidentified mass grave and provide a proper funeral with her mother in attendance today.


The Society is searching for the dead and trying to meet the needs of the surviving.  Immediate needs are survival needs — portable bathrooms that do not exclude trans people and can help  with hygiene and disease curtailment, tents, clothes, blankets, umbrellas, food, water, medicine, fuel for generators — the list is long and the need immediate.



  • Please pray for all effected.
  • Send contributions to meet the needs of those effected to the Global Justice Institute today, and 100% of donations marked for Nepal will be immediately forwarded to the BLUE DIAMOND SOCIETY and its critical work on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Nepal.
    • Make your check payable to “Global Justice Institute” and put “Nepal” in the memo field.  Mail it to “The Global Justice Institute, 446 West 36th Street, New York, NY USA 10018”.
    • Donate online (safe and secure) by visiting HERE. You need a valid credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.  Please be sure to put “Nepal” in the donation dedication box in the section for Special Purposes.

National Faith Call to Prayer

Friday, 3 April 2015, 12:00/Noon – 1:00PM/ET

Dear Friends,

Many have become aware of what is taking place recently in Indiana regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  In other states similar laws have passed or are being proposed.It is interesting that this signed law of discrimination led into what many observe as Holy Week.  Sadly, this new law is not a sign of Holy Week, but a cause of Holy Unrest.  The question that is before is, how will we respond to this injustice that is not only affecting those who live in Indiana  but is also having an adverse impact on people throughout our nation.For Christians, this is the week we remember that “Jesus confronts the principalities and powers in Jerusalem to ask that God’s love and mercy be extended to all . . .” LoveThyNeighbourT

For people of the Jewish faith, “this is a time when we remember that we were once slaves in Egypt, lost and forgotten, . . .” and we must continue to add our voices to call out this current injustice.

For many who observe other spiritual traditions or no particular faith tradition, there is nevertheless a strong sense that, as Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We invite you to join us today, Friday, Good Friday, from 12:00/Noon – 1:00PM/ET for a National Faith Call of Prayer.  When you join the call, you will hear faith leaders from around our nation offering prayers for and brief comments about this unjust law.

Confirmed invited presenters include:

Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Presiding Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
Bishop Steven Charleston, Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University
Rabbi Denise Eger, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rev. Canon Susan Russell, Senior Associate at All Saints Church Pasadena, CA
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director, Global Justice Institute, MCC, NYMinister Whittney Murphy, Christian Theological Seminary

Rev. Melody Merida, Minister of Congregational Life, Life Journey Church, IN

Rev. DeWayne Davis, Senior Pastor, All God’s Children MCC, Minneapolis, MN
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral MCC, Fort Lauderdale, FL

To join the call and listen to this presentation on Friday, April 3 at Noon/ET:
Dial In Number: 1.626.677.3000
ID Number: 778024

Awareness, Affirmation & Action

A Conversation and Call To Action


MCC Public Policy Team members Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin (Sunshine Cathedral’s Executive Minister and member of MCC Governing Board) and Rev. DeWayne Davis(Senior Pastor of All God’s Children MCC) invite you to join them as they present a conference call series titled “Awareness, Affirmation & Action.”



From the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, to institutionalized racial targeting in Ferguson, MO, USA to a series of African-American youth being killed by authorities in various cities, to voting rights being threatened, to remembering the struggles of the Civil Rights era during the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march, we continually are witnessing events that impact human dignity, security, and well-being.  These reminders let us know that our work for justice is not yet complete; there is much more to do.


We invite you to join the call and listen to voices that will inspire and challenge us to keep our movement for justice alive and strong.

  • Thursday, April 2nd – 2:00 PM/ET – Bishop Dr. Yvette Flunder, Founder & Senior Pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
  • Thursday, April 9th – 2:00 PM/ET – Ruby Sales, Human Rights activist
  • Thursday, April 23rd – 2:00 PM/ET – Imam Daayiee Abdullah, an “out” gay Muslim cleric

Call in information:

Call Center:   1.626.677.3000

ID:                 778024


For more information please email Rev Dr Robert Griffin at