Every three years the Episcopal Church meets for its General Convention — a ten day gathering of legislation and liturgy bringing thousands of Episcopalians together from around the church. The next General Convention is schedule for July 2018 in Austin, Texas … but that could change. In response to a transgender discriminatory “bathroom bill” (Senate Bill 6) filed last month in the Texas Legislature, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings are kicking up some dust with their letter to the Speaker of the House … written January 30th and released today.
As you are no doubt aware, this is not the first time that the segregation of bathrooms and public facilities has been used to stigmatize minority groups. “Bathroom bills,” as they are sometimes called, were passed during the Jim Crow era, and the bogus rationale advanced then is the same bogus rationale being advanced now: the safety of women and children who are no way under threat. The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has stood against fear and in support of God’s love by passing a resolution that reaffirms the church’s support of local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. The resolution also states our opposition to any legislation that seeks to deny the dignity, equality, and civil rights of transgender people.
The letter continued:
For us, as Episcopalians, the proposed Texas law is of particular concern. We are currently scheduled to hold our triennial General Convention—a nine-day event that includes as many as 10,000 people—in Austin in July 2018. Our church is proudly diverse: racially, economically, and in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. At our conventions, we are duty-bound to ensure that all of our people are treated with respect, that their safety is guaranteed, and that our investment in the local economy of our host city reflects our values.
In 1955 we were forced to move a General Convention from Houston to another state because Texas laws prohibited black and white Episcopalians from being treated equally. We would not stand then for Episcopalians to be discriminated against, and we cannot countenance it now. We would be deeply grieved if Senate Bill 6 presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than sixty years ago.
You can read the whole letter in this Episcopal News Service feature posted earlier today.
And then you can do three things.
- Give thanks for the prophetic and courageous witness of Michael Curry and Gay Jennings as leaders of our Episcopal Church.
- Follow this link and make a supportive comment on the ENS page.
- Pray without ceasing for the healing of the disease of transphobia and for all those oppressed and marginalized by its systemic toxin in our nation and our world.