People traveled from Broward, Orange, Duval, Bay and many other counties in Florida to make a statement:
We're mad as hell and we aren't gonna take it anymore!
The Rally in Tally was a success in that it got the troops fired up to go lobby the legislature and demand of our elected officials that they quit the b-s. We want to end Florida's ban on gays adopting children, grant statewide domestic partnership benefits, add sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights law, and adopt the "Florida Healthy Teens Act" to update Florida's sex education courses, eliminating the stigma in those courses on homosexuality. You've got until May 1st, folks: get cracking!
My partner and I will be going to the legislature mid-week to lobby our local delegation. For once, we have at least one member, Representative Rehwinkle Vasilinda, who is a co-sponsor on some of the bills of interest to the LGBT community. Our other lawmakers will require a little more persuading. We'll see what we can do. Pray for us!
And, easily, one of the most personally moving moments for me was to see Fr. Lee Graham, the Rector Emeritus of St. John's, stroll up to the front to take a place amidst a younger generation of activists. Fr. Graham is no stranger to civil rights movements, having been one priest to visit Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Birmingham jail. He has on more than one occasion at St. John's taken the opportunity to draw the connections between the rights of a minority being the same and of equal value as the rights of a majority. And he has specifically called attention to the plight of LGBT people as the next civil rights struggle.
There remains a gap between the LGBT community and people of faith. But with each person of faith who takes the step forward and extends a hand in friendship to us, the fear and mistrust of the believer will melt away. You may never get large numbers of gay people to go to a place of worship, but at the very least you will be helping to put forth another face of God. Not the one twisted and snarling invectives, but the one many of us have to come to know: the God of mercy, compassion and unconditional love.