Rev. Mark Byrd and other Tallahassee clergy outside the Leon Co. CourthouseThe times they are a-changin' in Leon County.
In 1992... the predominant religious feeling in the county could be seen on signs like this one that was put up along Apalachee Parkway in protest of a Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Today, clergy representing Temple Israel, MCC, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, and Unitarian churches spoke out in favor of the proposed Human Rights Ordinance. And although the clergy weren't there, St. John's did express support for the ordinance which will extend protections from discrimination in employment and housing to the LGBT community.
The impetus for the clergy to speak up came as some other churches have been ramping up their anti-gay rhetoric to stop the ordinance from going forward. As one could predict, the most right-wing churches have been telling their congregations that the County Commission is planning to adopt a "Homosexual Rights" ordinance. Hence, today's news conference emphasized the proper term--Human Rights Ordinance-- with some clarity that God is still speaking, and still drawing more and more people back into the fold, and has not shooed away the LGBT faithful or left them to be devoured by the wolves. Others noted that the application of moral codes of conduct from BCE times simply doesn't work in the 21st century. And still others made the point that it was an obligation of the church and church leaders to stand with those who are the persecuted, the scorned, and the most vulnerable to attack in our society.
In short, on the issue of including LGBT people as "Human" deserving of rights, the ones on the right do NOT speak for the ones on the left... or even in the center. And the left and the center are becoming a much bolder group.
Many thanks to those clergy and churches who lent their names and their presence before TV cameras to stand with the LGBT community. With you all beside us, we know that the enemy will not triumph, and God will continue to speak.