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A Joint Statement Human Rights Campaign Religion Council “We stand faithfully united – together!”

July 3, 2016

A Joint Statement

Human Rights Campaign Religion Council

“We stand faithfully united – together!”

With our eyes, we have borne witness to the consequences of virulent hatred and hate speech -- the loss of 49 precious souls in Orlando and the wounding of 53, a majority of whom were Latinx LGBTQ people, as a horrific reminder of the devastation this kind of rhetoric can wrought . Since the attack in the early hours of June 12, we have seen tears flowing in disbelief and anguish down faces of every hue.

 With our hearts, we have listened to survivors recounting the horror of an evening meant for laughter, dancing and socializing with friends old and new. We listened as they tearfully evoked the imagery of a gunman armed with a military-style weapon indiscriminately killing friends and loved ones - our sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and our queer familia.

With our ears, we have heard the sound of grief in both whispered prayers and cries offered aloud from many upon realizing that this heinous act tells us that there are people living among us who would visit death upon LGBTQ people – simply because of our sexual orientation and/or our gender identity.

With our bodies, we have bowed our heads in sacred postures of reverence and prayer, lifted our faces as a testament of our hope and raised outstretched arms to embrace our LGBTQ community, friends, families, congregations across faith traditions, and fellow citizens in Orlando and across the globe.

To our horror, in days following the tragedy we heard the ugly clamor of hate-speech from some who call themselves faith leaders and civic officials, lamenting that more lives were not claimed. As faith leaders we stand united and committed to eradicating theology that’s twisted as an excuse for people of faith to espouse hate. We resolve to work collaboratively and assertively against the furtherance of any theological position that does not hold sacred the humanity of all people. 

In the face of all this, the LGBTQ community---along with our families, allies and people of faith--- continue to embody hope, courage, and unrelenting faith that we will survive and, in time, heal. We see emerging a renewed commitment to resilience and a heightened sense of unity as we come to terms with the magnitude of what took place at Pulse nightclub. 

We stand faithfully united – together!

 As leaders from multiple faith traditions, some of whom identify as LGBTQ or Same Gender Loving, some of whom are heterosexual and/or cisgender allies, we commit to standing in solidarity not only with our LGBTQ community in Orlando, but in the many cities and states where we serve congregations, communities, universities, denominations, interfaith alliances, and, most importantly, families.  

We repudiate all forms of violence be it spiritual violence, emotional abuse and physical violence, and most especially gun violence. The tenets of our faith call us to stand in adamant opposition to laws and public policy that irresponsibly allow for indiscriminate access to assault weapons absent background checks. Therefore we stand in unity with the HRC Board of Director and the ensuing resolution calling for “sensible gun safety measures and restrictions on firearms without impacting the rights of responsible gun owners; and that we believe strongly in protecting the Constitutional rights of every American -- believing we can protect those rights and innocent people from violence” 

We affirm our commitment to stand as servant-leaders and proponents for non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We affirm our commitment to offer ourselves as agents of change, listening with deep compassion and an earnest determination to eradicate the effects of ignorance, discrimination and bigotry through our radically inclusive faith traditions. We affirm our commitment to deep humility, shunning paternal models of the past, and offering to listen, to support and to lead with you as called upon. We are here to serve.

We stand faithfully united – together!

Despite the malevolent actions of one, we are emboldened in our faith to work for full justice and equality, and inspired anew to bring about social and political transformation ensuring that all members of the LGBTQ community are safe, whether we are assembling in social spaces, community events, public venues, our homes, or our places of worship.

We will never forget the events of June 12, 2016. Through our collective and strategic action, we will honor each and every life lost, nurturing new partnerships and alliances that serve the greater good. Our intention is to inspire hope in place of discouragement, love in place of malevolence and resilience to sustain our individual and communal journey.

The evidence of every movement for equality and social transformation is that the Divine, in the many sacred and Holy expressions, is always with those who aspire to love, lay claim to justice not yet realized and cling to each other with compassion, hope and faith for a new tomorrow.

We stand faithfully united – together!

Imam Daayiee Abdullah

Founder and Executive Director, Muslim Education Center for Creative Academics Institute


Eliel Cruz

Executive Director, Faith in America


Rabbi Denise Eger

President, Central Conference of American Rabbis


Bishop Yvette Flunder

Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries


Rev. Wendell Griffen

Pastor, New Millennium Church


Rev. Candy Holmes

Program Officer, People of African Descent, Metropolitan Community Churches


Justin Lee

Executive Director, The Gay Christian Network


Minister Leslie Watson Malachi

Director, African American Ministers Leadership Council, People for the American Way


Rev. Damaris Ortega

Pastor, UCC Congregational Plainfield


Rev. Dr. Kenneth Samuel

Pastor and Organizer, Victory for the World Church, United Church of Christ


Rev. J. Manny Santiago

Executive Director, The Crossing Ministries


Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer

Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, United Church of Christ


Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman

Pastor, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church


Rabbi Gil Steinlauf

Senior Rabbi, Adas Israel Congregation


Dr. Justin Tanis

Managing Director, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry


Matthew Vines

Founder and President, The Reformation Project


Ani Zonneveld

Founder and President, Muslims for Progressive Values