Thursday, September 08, 2011

Javen Swanson: "Don't Get Disappointed, Get Organized"

My friend Javen Swanson, pictured at right with his husband Oby Ballinger at July's Basilica Block Party, is Field Organizer with OutFront Minnesota. He's an incredibly effective community organizer and an all-round inspiring individual. Recently he posted an important article on the OutFront MN website about the role of people of faith in the pro-marriage equality movement and the September 19 launch of a multi-faith, broad, and inclusive coalition committed to inspire, educate, organize and mobilize people of faith to achieve justice for all people.

Catholics for Marriage Equality MN is part of this exciting coalition, which goes by the name of the Faith Organizing Community. In our Mission Statement we note that as a coalition of people of faith, our activities "arise from, but are not limited to, the movement to win freedom for all loving couples to marry in Minnesota."

I hope you can join us on September 19 for the official launch of the Faith Organizing Community (details here). To inspire you to do so, here is Javen's September 8 OutFront Minnesota article.


Don't Get Disappointed, Get Organized

By Javen Swanson

Field Organizer, OutFront Minnesota
September 8, 2011

If you're a pro-LGBT person of faith, you probably share my disappointment every time you read a news story portraying religious people as universally opposed to LGBT equality. I am a gay man who is preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a Protestant Christian denomination that ordains gay and lesbian clergy and recognizes same-gender marriages. I worship in a church that welcomes LGBT people, and invites and expects us to participate fully in the life of the congregation. I studied at a seminary where students had more interesting things to discuss than whether God loves LGBT people.

In my experience, people of faith are pretty supportive. Some of them are even shining examples of what fierce advocates for LGBT equality can be. So I wasn't really surprised when a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found strong support for marriage equality among people of faith. Majorities of Americans affiliated with a non-Christian religions (67%), Catholics (52%), and white mainline Protestants (51%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Even more people of faith think gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, including most non-Christian religiously affiliated Americans (81%), Catholics (72%), white mainline Protestants (69%) and black Protestants (59%).

Let's not kid ourselves. There are plenty of religious people who oppose marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. In fact, those who support the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman in the state of Minnesota espouse almost exclusively religious arguments to support their position. But they by no means speak for all people of faith.

That's why we're getting organized! People of faith are at the heart of the movement for marriage equality in Minnesota, and our voices will be heard. On September 19, we will officially launch the faith-led effort to bring marriage equality to our state. We are building a broad, inclusive, multi-faith coalition — and we hope you'll join us. See you on September 19!

To read Javen's inspiring June 8, 2011, letter-to-the-editor of The Lake Country Echo and Pine River Journal, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day — September 3, 2011
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Attitudes: An Overview
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Jonathan Capehart: "Catholics Lead the Way on Same-Sex Marriage"
Joseph Palacios: "The Church is Not the Victim"
A Hopeful and Encouraging Trend
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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