In this issue:
National Coming Out Day
October 11, 2007 is National Coming Out Day! Churches, religious leaders, and faith groups around the country are lifting up this special day and raising awareness of coming out issues.
Local Spotlight: Western Michigan: In Michigan, Concerned Clergy of West Michigan is offering a worship service of Wholeness and Healing for National Coming Out Day. The theme for this service is “Home” inspired by local and national stories concerned with difficulties LGBT couples have in buying or renting a home and the large number of LGBT homeless youth.
This interdenominational worship service is the result of the collaborative efforts of various religious leaders from all over Western Michigan working together to present a message of support and love for the LGBT community. Leadership for this service includes Rev. Matt Cockrum, associate pastor at Fountain Street Church, Rev. Val Ambrose of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Rev. George Miller from Burlingame Congregational UCC, and Rev. Bill Lyons, from St. John’s UCC of Grand Rapids, MI. The Grand Rapids Women’s Choir is also presenting the music at the service.
In addition to worship, a reception, which includes information booths featuring local non-profits supportive of the LGBT community, will follow the service. The service is intended to provide healing and inspire as well as open up communication. All people are invited to the service and reception. For further information, contact Rev. Miller at 616-828-2758
The LGBT Coalition of Western Michigan has also published a special Coming Out Day advertisement in the Grand Rapids Press, for Coming Out Day 2007, which states that “the West Michigan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coalition salutes all persons and organizations who have come out of the closet in support of dignity, respect, honor, and equal and fair treatment for all, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or straight.”
These events in West Michigan are a great model for raising awareness around National Coming Out Day!
What’s happening in your area for National Coming Out Day? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Policy Updates
Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act
On May 3, 2007 the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592), with a strong bipartisan margin of 237 to 180.
On September 26, 2007, in a bipartisan vote of 60 to 39 the Senate accepted cloture which ended debate on the companion bill, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and then moved to approve it by a voice vote -- attaching it as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense Authorization bill.
We celebrate this historic step toward equality for LGBT Americans, which updates and expands the federal hate crimes laws to include bias motivated violence based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability, and provides new resources and tools to assist local law enforcement in prosecuting vicious crimes.
Please contact your senators and thank them! [U.S. Capitol switchboard 202.224.3121]
Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA)
The Employment Non-discrimination Act, passed by the Senate earlier this year, was originally introduced in the U.S. House as H.R. 2015. It would have made it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee simply based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
On September 27, 2007, the US House decided to divide ENDA into two pieces of legislation – one focusing on sexual orientation and the other on gender identity.
Please contact your Representative today [U.S. Capitol switchboard 202.224.3121], identify yourself as a person of faith and a constituent, and encourage them to support a fully-inclusive ENDA and vote against any amendment to strip ENDA of transgender coverage.
Recent News article: UCC leaders protest transgender exclusion from proposed non-discrimination legislation
To see UCC public policy statements concerning the affirmation of transgender people within the United Church of Christ and supporting their civil and human rights: http://www.ucc.org/lgbt/statements.html
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will sponsor
the 20th Creating Change Conference on February 6 -10, 2008 in Detroit MI.
Creating Change aims at building LGBT grassroots political power by giving you the tools and practical skills you need to take home and to take action. Prepare to be challenged to do your best work on behalf of LGBT people. Over five full days, you will participate in top-level trainings, rigorous workshops, caucus and networking sessions, and action-planning with our movement’s best thinkers and brightest innovators. Workshops include a pre-conference Faith Institute - a full day led by the National Religious Leadership Roundtable focused on LGBT issues and faith, as well as sessions throughout the conference on faith and LGBT concerns.
Creating Change’s purpose is to transform our society so that the diversity of human expression and identity is valued and honored. To find out more about Creating Change and to register: www.creatingchange.org
|Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns|
Health and Wholeness Advocacy, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115
216-736-3218 www.lgbt.org www.ucc.org/lgbt