January 22, 2013: No More Special Rights; Only Equal Rights

Posted on : Jan 24th, 2013 | By | Category: Still Speaking

“Surely, I perceive that God shows no partiality* (has no favorites*).”  Acts 10:34

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I listened to President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday.

My dear friend and colleague, the Rev. Howard Warren, had a great response to those who used scripture to try and condemn LGBT persons as “less than” or “sinful.”  He’d say, “There’s no asterisk (*) in the entire bible!  The Bible doesn’t say, ‘Surely, I perceive that God shows no partiality* (has no favorites*).’

*except gay and lesbian folk, or * except women, or * except white people, or *except legally born citizens.

No exceptions!  Period.”

Finally, after all these years, the President of the United States named Gay and Lesbian people as equals – not as exceptions to the rule(s).

Yesterday in his inaugural address, he said,

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

[You’d almost think Mr. Obama was here for my Christmas Eve sermon!  Talk about “stars that still guide us!”]

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.   Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law  – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.   Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.   Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

Those words alone changed the entire conversation for Americans who seek equality and justice for GLBT Americans.  By including gay rights (Stonewall) with human rights (Selma) and women’s rights (Seneca Falls) the argument about LGBT people wanting “special rights” was eviscerated.  It’s done.  Gone.  Over with.  And were that not enough, the Inaugural Poem was written and read by Richard Blanco, a gay Hispanic man, who was absolutely brilliant!  And the benediction was offered by a heterosexual Latin American Episcopal priest, The Rev. Luis Leon, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, who just announced that the Cathedral would celebrate equal marriage rites for same gender couples!

I am so proud that we of West Hollywood Church have been at the fore of all the civil/human rights movements of the last 60 years, but I am especially proud of our first African American President for proclaiming in one of the most historically important ways – in a Presidential Inaugural Address – that the struggle for gay and lesbian equality is not a special right, but a human right in our new American society.

All of this of course, happened on the day in which we honor the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who so prophetically and eloquently said, “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice.”

We are getting closer and closer to that spiritual place that Peter discovered shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus: “Surely, I perceive that God shows no partiality (has no favorites).”    No asterisk.  No exceptions!

Thanks be to God.  AMEN.



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