Faith Leaders: Indiana Should Expand LGBT Rights

by Timothy DuWhite

Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted by 141 religious leaders from Indiana.

As clergy and faith leaders who serve diverse religious communities across Indiana, we are dedicated to affirming the religious freedom of every individual. We believe that all people are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect as children of God. We are also united in our affirmation that the state should update its civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The religious liberty upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse faith traditions to flourish. We deeply cherish this religious freedom.

Recently, however, what we have seen promoted as defending religious liberty often reflects a narrow perspective that does not respect the diversity of faith and belief that makes our state and nation strong. The citizens of Indiana should not live in fear of losing their jobs, being denied housing or declined service and public accommodation because of who they are.

Our faith traditions emphasize justice and mercy. Our society is not just when our friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens are being treated as less because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our society is merciful when we seek to understand the point of view of those who may differ from us on important social concerns or whose life experiences may be different from our own. When any one of us is denied full protection as a human being, no human being is safe.

The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including clergy and religious congregations, who object to same-gender marriage already is protected by the First Amendment and federal law. As clergy and faith leaders, we do not all agree on issues and we stand by the right of others to hold beliefs that may differ from our own.

Updating our civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity transcends the issue of same-gender marriage and should become a rallying cry for people of faith who believe that all Hoosiers should be treated with respect and dignity.

In the upcoming Indiana General Assembly session, we have an opportunity to address centuries of discrimination against gay and transgender people. We stand together urging lawmakers to seize this opportunity to make clear that our state welcomes and protects everyone.

The Rev. Dr. Bunny Alexander
The Rev. Kevin R. Armstrong
The Rev. David A. Berry
The Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton
The Rev. Dr. Wayne G. Boulton
The Rev. Ray Bowden
The Rev. Dr. Nancy R. Bowen
The Rev. Jeffrey L. Bower
The Rev. Kevin A. Bowers
The Rev. Peter Bunder
The Rev. Seth Carrier-Ladd
The Rev. Dr. David A. Chaddock
The Rev. Gordon Chastain
The Rev. Carrie Smith-Coons
The Rev. Shawn Coons
The Rev. Monique Crain Spells
The Rev. Deacon Barry Cramer
The Rev. Clarinda E. Crawford
The Rev. Lisa Crismore
The Rev. Dr. Teri Crouse, JD
The Rev. Darrel Crouter
The Rev. Fred Crysler
The Rev. Darren Cushman Wood
The Rev. Ronald J. Degges
The Rev. Dr. John E. Denson, Jr.
The Rev. Larry E. Dimick
The Rev. Sara Dingman
The Rev. Danyelle Ditmer
The Rev. Joshua Ditmer
The Rev. Dr. Patricia Donahoo
The Rev. Dr. Donald R. Durrett
The Rev. Joseph Easley
The Rev. Dr. William G. Enright
The Rev. Brian T. Flory
The Rev. Rob Fuquay
The Rev. Dr. Lewis Galloway
The Rev. Dr. Daniel R. Gangler
The Rev. John P. Gardner
The Rev. Sarah Ginolfi
The Rev. Steven M. Giovangelo
The Very Rev. Brian G. Grantz
The Rev. Dr. Richard L. Hamm
The Rev. Dr. David Hampton
The Rev. Sandy Harlan
The Rev. Robert Heimach
The Rev. Herbst-Kim
The Rev. Dr. Mark W. Hetrick
The Rev. Dr. Jim Higginbotham
The Rev. Donald B. Hill
The Rev. Dr. Jake Hofmeister
The Rev. Rhonda J. Hopewell
The Rev. Jill Howard
The Rev. Jenny Hulen
The Rev. Joyce Hunn
The Rev. Dr. Carol Frances Johnston
The Rev. Verity A. Jones
The Rev. Elizabeth Kaznak-Hall
The Rev. Dr. A.D. Kelso
The Rev. Won Ho Kim
The Rev. Canon Debra J. Kissinger
The Rev. Kimberly C. Koczan
The Rev. Dr. John Koppitch
Rabbi Brett Krichiver
The Rev. Keith A. Kriesel
The Rev. Dr. S. Kim Leech
Mae L. Leech, C.R.E
The Rev. Arianne Braithwaite Lehn
The Rev. Jeffrey Lehn
The Rev. Gray Lesesne
The Rev. Tracey Leslie
The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Lindley
The Rev. Trish Lisa
The Rev. Charlotte H. Lohrenz
The Rev. Warren P. Lynn
The Rev. Donald R. MacPherson
The Rev. Dr. Ray J. Marquette
The Rev. Dr. Filipe N. Martinez
The Rev. Michael Mather
The Rev. Dr. Donald McCord
The Rev. Linda McCrae
The Rev. Melody Merida
The Rev. Dr. M. Kent Millard
The Rev. Christen Pettit Miller
The Rev. Emily W. Miller
The Rev. Jeff Miner
The Rev. Cheryl Montgomery
The Rev. Dr. Jim Montgomery
The Rev. Dr. Michael H. Montgomery
The Rev. Ruth Chadwick Moore
The Rev. Dr. E. W. Morack
The Rev. Doris E. Mote
The Rev. Robert W. Myers
The Rev. Lisa Shubert Nowling
The Rev. Dr. Bradley Pace
The Rev. Barbara Parker
The Rev. Dr. Linda Patrick
Pastor Michael Phipps
The Rev. Lana J. Robyne
The Rev. Kevin Rose
The Rev. Anne Rosebrock
The Rev. Chip Roush
The Rev. Michael Samson
Dr. Dennis C. Sasso, Senior Rabbi
Dr. Sandy E. Sasso, Rabbi Emerita
The Rev. Dr. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes
The Rev. Dr. Carolyn J. Scanlan-Holmes
The Rev. Dr. Lee Schaefer
Rabbi Hal Shevitz
The Rev. Dr. Dave Schmidt
The Rev. Gretchen S. Schneider
The Rev. Michael Scime
Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow
Pastor Karl S. Shelly
The Rev. Brian Shivers
The Rev. Mary Slenski
The Rt. Rev. William E. Smalley
The Rev. Callie J. Smith
The Rev. Jean M. Smith
The Rev. Diane Shockley Spleth
Rex A. Sprouse, Pres. Clerk, Ohio Valley YM, RSoF (Quakers)
The Rev. Michael Srbljan
The Rev. Don Summerfield
The Rev. Brenda Sutton
The Rev. Dr. Teri L. Thomas
The Rev. Justin Thornburgh
The Rev. Dr. L. Eugene Ton
The Rev. Madison M. VanVeelen
The Rev. Kurt A. Walker
The Rev. Sharon E. Watkins
The Rev. T. Wyatt Watkins
The Rev. Bev Weaver
The Rev. Kirsteen Wilkinson
The Rev. E. Suzanne Wille
The Rev. Brian Williams
Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill
The Rev. Brent Wright
The Rev. Vivian Wyatt
The Rev. David Zier
The Rev. Anastassia Zinke

Originally published at the IndyStar; photo via flickr user FOR-USA Fellowship of Reconciliation