JULY 4 PRESS CONFERENCE AT 1:15 FOLLOWED BY CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Demonstration to Cap off a Summer of Civil Disobedience and Arrests All Across the United States in Protest of the Exclusion of God’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Children
June 26, 2000 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt, Media Coordinator
Laguna Beach CA – On July 4th, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender individuals, and their families, friends and allies will join together in Denver to protest the exclusionary practices by many churches in the Episcopal Church USA and support the full inclusion of GLBT individuals in all aspects the church. The protest is being organized by Soulforce, an ecumenical people of faith network committed to applying the principles of nonviolent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.
"The Episcopal Church (ECUSA), like other denominations, continues to debate whether LGBT persons are worthy of full inclusion and membership," declared Kate Bishop, Soulforce Co-chair in Denver. " The debate itself is harmful and damaging to those within and outside of the Church. Although the Church presents itself as "liberal" and far ahead of other denominations, if justice and how it is applied toward LGBT members is used as a measure, ECUSA fairs no better than other denominations."
People of faith from many denominations will be taking part in the protest and anticipated arrests. The day begins with gathering at 8am on July 4th at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 16th and Ogden. A Soulforce Training in Nonviolent Resistance to Injustice based on the principles of Gandhi and Martin Luther King will be led by Dr. Mel White beginning at 8:30am, followed by a picnic. The training is open to media.
As Bishops and Deputies arrive for their Opening Orientation Session at the Colorado Convention Center, 14th and California Streets in Denver, Soulforce supporters will be standing in silent vigil to greet them. A press conference will take place at 1:15 on the Convention Center steps, featuring distinguished Episcopalian leaders and other friends and allies. After the press conference, many of the participants are expected to take place in an act of non-violent civil disobedience leading to arrest.
"From the beginning of this tragic debate, Episcopal bishops, priests, and laity have taken courageous and costly stands for full inclusion of sexual and gender minorities," explained Dr. Mel White. "However, there are fundamentalist forces working within the Anglican Communion in this country and abroad that are trying to turn the entire denomination against God’s GLBT children. We are here to say that this debate must end! We hope that Bishops and Deputies will not be swayed by the dangerous and regressive voices nor by the toxic rhetoric of those who wish to oppress us."
To participate in the direct action, individuals must take part in the Soulforce non-violence training the morning of July 4 or in a brief training at the Convention Center, 12:45 p.m. All participants are required to sign, wear, and uphold the Soulforce "pledge to nonviolence" used by Dr. Martin Luther King and his marchers in 1963.
Similar acts of protest were held during the United Methodist General Conference in May, and the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian General Assembly earlier this month. In November, a Soulforce delegation will conduct another civil disobedience at the meeting of the National Council of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.