Ray Essman signed LGBTQ open letter to our fellow Tennesseans via Sara Mitchell 2016-12-18 09:39:32 -0600665 signatures
An open letter from Tennessee's LGBTQ community to our fellow Tennesseans
As members of the LGBTQ community, we write to our fellow Tennesseans a month after the election and a month before the upcoming state legislative session.
In recent weeks members of our community have experienced grave assaults on our safety and dignity. A gay, gender nonconforming man was murdered. A transgender woman’s car was burned. The signs and doors of a church that affirms our community have been vandalized. A gay couple received a package with a knife sticking out and a message attached urging them to leave the state.
These attacks upon individuals and institutions have put our lives and safety at even greater risk than usual. They contravene the welcoming traditions of hospitality for which Tennessee is known.
The time we have entered is critical. Many are calling for healing in the wake of a divisive election. Healing is difficult while fresh wounds are being inflicted such as discriminatory state legislation.
So we are speaking out for our safety, dignity, and equal rights under the law.
Our struggle is not against your values, unless you value discrimination. LGBTQ Tennesseans are your neighbors, your family members, your health care providers, firefighters, grocery clerks, teachers, elected officials, and we fill many other roles vital to the life of small towns and large cities. Many of us grew up and continue to be active in the same faith communities as you.
In the long story of our community’s struggles, we have relied on our own strength to sustain us. We have also experienced the joy of working with countless allies. Now is a time for allies to speak out with us and we invite people of good will throughout the state to build a stronger, inclusive, welcoming Tennessee to meet our state’s common challenges together.
If you share these values and priorities, we invite you to add your name to this letter.
Ray Essman endorsed 2015-08-21 19:42:04 -0500
Updated with response: Stand against the hate of Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ in McMinnville
UPDATE: Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ called us this morning and talked about his views. He is not pro-equality, but he wants to make absolutely clear that he does NOT support the stoning of LGBT people. You can read his response at the link.
The New Civil Rights Movement has reported on the teachings of Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ in McMinnville in which the pastor tries to justify the stoning of LGBT people as biblical.
People of faith and people of no particular faith alike reject the dangerous extremism of Pastor Bailey. At a time when hate crimes are up against LGBT people in Tennessee and at a time when the nationwide murders of transgender people in particular have reached crisis levels, such hate has no rightful place in religion or in civil society.
Despite the pastor's notoriety, hate will NOT define McMinnville or the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee. We were in McMinnville recently for the Summer of Love tour with a strong showing of equality advocates. Read the report if you doubt there are many great people in the area living their hopes for full equality. Upper Cumberland Pride, which serves the region, is an organization that is growing again and now reunited to TEP. We know they will continue to raise awareness for the safety and equality of LGBT people in the area.
We urge people of good will across the state and nation to stand with those in McMinnville and the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee and against the hateful rhetoric of Pastor Bailey. Add your name as a show of solidarity!Endorse