Yesterday was definitely one of those whirlwind days. Fortunately for me, my schedule was totally clear which meant I could go here, there, and everywhere, without much trouble. My day started with the morning realization that our new state legislature would be sworn in that morning. Normally, I would thank God for deliverance from having to be there as a reporter. But this day was different. Because, on this day, Florida would finally have two openly-gay state representatives seated in the House chamber. I got out my some of my best clothes, and trudged up the hill to the state Capitol building, quietly humming an antiphon we sing at Easter:
"On this day, the Lord has acted. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
And I was! I was smiling. I was laughing. And I was enjoying myself in a way that I never have in all the years that I have entered that ugly structure where sausage is made at the expense of real lives. On the way in, I met the parents of a newly-elected legislator who unseated one of the rising stars of the Tea Party-infused state Republican party.
"Oh, thank you for having a son, and congratulations!" I said. They laughed.
There are advantages to having once been a member of the Fourth Estate. Namely, nobody questioned me when I fell in with the reporter pack to gain access to the House floor. I found one of our two new gay boys, State Representative Joe Saunders and his partner Donald, and snapped a quick picture of them. I gave Joe a big, long hug, and promised him that the community was there to help him however he needed it.
Such an amazing accomplishment as having out-and-proud members of the Florida House is a sign that "the times they-are-a-changin'."
In stark contrast, the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is the reminder that we have not fully realized equality here in the United States or certainly around the world. After stopping in briefly at a church function happening at the home of our associate rector, I headed out to the local LGBT community center to listen to speakers and bear witness to the candle lighting ceremony. With each votive candle, we heard the names, ages, and circumstances surrounding the death of a trans individual, killed in the past year. There were 38 names in all, and those are just of the ones we know. Many of the people had been mutilated in some way, almost as if the killers were so appalled by the person's outward appearance that they felt the need to destroy it. As people placed their candles around the heart, I repeated in silence my own private prayers for each of these souls snuffed out by transphobia violence. I thought about the resurgence of the "kill the gays" bill in Uganda. I thought of trans friends I have made in Tallahassee, and the educational Voices of Witness documentary, "Out of the Box" about the transgender people of faith in the Episcopal Church. And I thought how much further we still need to go if we are going to live into the vows of our baptismal covenant to "strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being."
So many have died and, are still dying, for the right to live and love in peace. As we celebrate the accomplishment of LGBT people finding a place at the table of state politics, we must also continue our commitment to raise up all people and refuse to make peace with attempts to put us in an early grave. We must stay on the battlefield, and we must have the voices of others joining us in this race after God's promise that all will be included in the kingdom and have eternal life.