DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE — August 2020
There is still work to be done
By the Rev. Shanea D. Leonard, Associate for Gender & Racial Justice
It was a bright Friday in June 2015 when the nation thought it had finally settled the major civil rights concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community. As rainbow flags waved and several city squares erupted in celebration of marriage equality passing in the Supreme Court, it was far from the end of a centuries-old journey to equality for the marginalized LGBTQIA+ community. In this country there are still 28 states that do not have anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQIA+ people, including the state of Kentucky, where our denomination is headquartered. The fact remains that a person can still be fired, evicted, denied housing and deprived of services in any of these states simply if they are perceived as an LGBTQIA+ individual. Not only is this an attack on the human and civil rights of these marginalized Americans, it is also out of alignment with our Christian directive to do justice and exhibit love to all people.
In the wake of social uprisings across our nation, it is beyond time for us to live into what our public response is to the rights of all God’s people. In our confessions and General Assembly actions, we have verbalized that the core of our faith is inclusion and full welcome of marginalized individuals. And God is well pleased with that. Furthermore, it is important to not forget that as we affirm that Black Lives Matter, we do not assert this at the expense of Black trans people who are murdered and victimized at astonishing rates. Each year many cases of hate crimes against Black trans people, particularly trans women, go unsolved and swept under the rug of society. Even in the midst of racial tensions, many are not even aware of the murders of trans folks such as Tony McDade, who was killed at the hands of Tallahassee police during the same time period as the murder of George Floyd.
It is because of the values and principles expressed in our denominational creeds and the need to continue to support the LGBTQIA+ community that the Office of Gender & Racial Justice will be hosting a virtual convening of Presbyterian LGBTQIA+ pastors in September. The purpose of this gathering is to create space for the sharing of information, connection, growth and mutual support for those who are part of this community. It will be followed by a retreat in the spring of 2021. The Office of Gender & Racial Justice is dedicated to working for the equal inclusion of those most marginalized. It is what we believe as Presbyterians and what we are called to as followers of Christ.