For the Virtual Ritual for LGBTQAI Justice by members of the National Religious Leaders Roundtable of The Gay and Lesbian Task Force that occured following the election and marriage equality votes.
- by Rev. David Weekley -
“The wounds of my people wound me too. Is there no balm in Gilead? Who will turn my head into a fountain and my eyes into a spring of tears so that I may weep all day, all night for the wounded out of my people?” -Jeremiah 8: 21-23
“It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.” -Sven Lindqvist
(Both quotes are from the Introduction to M. Shawn Copeland’s, Enfleshing Freedom: body, race, and being)
When I first heard about this virtual post-election ritual I had no idea what to expect. This is because I had no idea what I would experience on November 6. My greatest hopes were for the re-election of the first President publically committed to marriage equality and full civil rights for our community, and at least one victory in one state where marriage equality was on the ballot. What happened truly exceeded my hopes. Today I believe we celebrate and move into a new era in the effort to achieve full equality for transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, and queer-identified people. I believe this not only because of what happened on Election Day, but HOW it happened.
Preceding this Election Day, 32 states had voted on the definition of marriage, restricting it to heterosexual unions. Now, three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington have voted BY POPULAR BALLOT, to support marriage equality; and a fourth state, Minnesota, refused to write its same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution. This is the first time ever that marriage equality has passed in any state by ballot! In addition, New Hampshire is the first state to elect all women as its governor, senators, and congressional representatives. And in Wisconsin, Tammy Balwin is elected as the first openly lesbian senator.
Yes, we still have much work to do, and we know our nation remains polarized around many issues. Still, the results of this election bring hope to me as an American, as a transgender man, as a United Methodist Clergy, as a person of faith, and as a human being, that the tide has turned, and that the expansion of marriage equality and the election of a president who supports justice and equality for all LGBTQ people will not only inspire other states to follow, but encourage Congress to move toward full protection for all LGBTQ citizens.
As a Christian this election is both inspiring and affirming for me. When people look at me too often they see a white, male protestant “clergy-man” and identify me as “enemy” I understand this, because traditionally it has been that same population that is most outspoken and openly hostile toward our community. For years I and other progressive Christians have grieved this perception and longed for the day when the gospel was no longer twisted and distorted to represent and enforce a conservative and unjust political agenda. As I said, I know we have a long way to go, but the tide has turned.
John Wesley declared there is no holiness but social holiness. He dedicated his life to acting on behalf of those who were marginalized and deprived of justice in his lifetime. He did this because he believed this is what it means to follow Jesus as a disciple. He did this because of his faith in a God who loves all people, and who passionately desires just and right relationships. As a United Methodist I follow Wesley in this spiritual tradition, and in his understanding of the gospel as GOOD news of freedom, inclusion, and justice for all people.
This election, some of the wounds of our people have been recognized and addressed. Perhaps the fountain of tears may become a fountain of joy as we continue living and working together. I believe, as Sven Linqvist stated in his commentary on the Holocaust, “It is not knowledge that we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.”
My hope and prayer today is that this Election has shown that as individuals and as a nation we do have the courage to understand what we know, to draw conclusions, and to act with justice.
. . .
Rev. David Weekley received a B.A. in Psychology from Cleveland State University and worked as a counselor before and after his ordination. After two years working in a small psychiatric hospital, his belief that many problems are spiritual led him to graduate school, first to graduate school in Phenomenology of Religion, and then to seminary at Boston University School of Theology, from which he graduated in 1982 with a Master of Divinity degree. Rev. Weekley was ordained in The United Methodist Church in1982. From the outset, he sought to combine his local church responsibilities with justice issues. From the beginning, he also learned it was unsafe to be a transgendered clergyperson in the church. He has served as Chairperson of our Annual Conference's Division of Social Concerns, and Board of Church and Society. He has been involved with "Affirmation" and now "RMN" at both the conference and local church level. Rev. David Weekley is currently attending Boston University School of Theology where he is enrolled in a doctoral praogram. Since sharing his story in 2009 he has had several opportunities to participate in educational events, and advocacy work focusing on transgender issues. His book: "In From the Wilderness: Sherman, She-r-Man" was published by Wiph&Stock Publishers in February 2011.