350 Faith Leaders, Congregations Host Weekend of Action in Support of Transgender Protections Bill
April 8, 2016

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Boston — This weekend, more than 300 clergy and over 50 congregations are participating in a Weekend of Action hosted by Freedom Massachusetts in support of the transgender protections bill. The various actions include dedicating part of a service to nondiscrimination through a reading, psalm, or blessing; inviting a speaker to educate congregants about the transgender protections bill; letter-writing campaigns to local elected officials; and more.
The initiative marks the launch of the Faith Leaders for Freedom coalition, a a diverse group of clergy from across the state working in support of legislation fully protecting transgender residents from discrimination.
“As an African American Baptist, I believe denying transgender Americans access to public spaces is eerily reminiscent of the country’s last century Jim Crow era denying blacks access to lunch counters, water fountains, and restrooms, to name a few,” said Rev. Irene Monroe, WGBH news commentator, Huffington Post blogger, and syndicated religion columnist. “I know that policing my transgender brothers and sisters in public spaces also gravely impacts gender non-conforming people, as well as the rest of the community. Democracy can only begin when those at the margins have the same access to what others take for granted. That’s what the social gospel of Jesus instructs us to do.”
Maureen Mulhern, LICSW will be speaking at the First Church Somerville, which is hosting an entire service in support of the transgender protections bill. The service will be held at 10am at 89 College Ave, Somerville MA 02144. Media can RSVP to [email protected]freedomforallamericans.org.
“Long before I took vows to serve as a Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Mass., I believed deeply in my baptismal vows and strived to live them daily – love my neighbor as myself and strive for peace and justice, respecting the dignity of every human being,” said the Rev. Roy (Bud) Cederholm of the Bishop Suffragan Diocese of Mass. (retired). “Vows and principles similar to these are found in all faith traditions and serve as a just and moral mandate for legislation that protects the dignity of our transgender neighbors in public places.”
The full list also includes Bishop Alan Gates, Episcopal Diocese of MA; Bishop Devadhar, Bishop to the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church; Rev. Dr. Jim Antal: Mass UCC Conference Minister and President; and more.
“Every year, during Passover, we tell the story of our people’s Exodus from Egypt, when we were enslaved simply because we were Jewish,” said Rabbi Devon A. Lerner, DD, MSW. “The story reminds us, in our own time, that we should never discriminate against anyone, simply for being who they are. God created all of us equally with no qualifications. Gay and lesbian people were once denied these protections because of who they love. Now we must all stand by our transgender friends and neighbors to ensure that they too are protected against discrimination.”

The faith leaders signed a pledge stating: “We believe in treating others the way we’d like to be treated. But in Massachusetts, there are no explicit protections ensuring transgender people cannot be turned away from a hotel or denied service at a restaurant. We should all be treated equally under the law. As Faith Leaders we are called to take a stand for those who face discrimination to repudiate acts of prejudice. The proposed legislation extends basic civil rights to those who too often live in fear of harm. We ask our elected leaders to join us in supporting this legislation and to ensure its swift passage.”

For the full list of congregations, faith-based organizational partners, and faith leaders for freedom, visit http://www.freedommassachusetts.org/faith2/#.
Freedom Massachusetts is the bipartisan campaign working to ensure all people are treated fairly and equally under the law.

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