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Sexual Orientation Diversity is an Intentional and Sanctified Part of Creation
National Religious Leadership Roundtable May 24, 2001 -- The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), representing leaders from 40 faith-based traditions, released the following statement against so-called "conversion" therapy. The controversial practice, disavowed by mental health professionals, attempts to "convert" or "repair" the sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
   
 
 
The statement reads:
    The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR) affirms that gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) individuals are an intentional and blessed part of Creation. Therapies to "convert" or "repair" a person's orientation are misguided and should end. Such therapies deny the inherent holiness of GLB people.
   
Spiritual Worth
    Proponents of so-called conversion therapy rely on a premise rejected by millions of individuals and entire denominations. They declare that homosexuality and bisexuality are unhealthy and that a good relationship with God requires a heterosexual orientation. Among the many traditions that counter this inaccurate assessment and uplift the presence of God in GLBT people's loving relationships are:
    The United Methodist Church says, "Homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are persons of sacred worth..."
    The Episcopal Church says, "...Homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all others upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concerns and care of the Church."
    The Union of American Hebrew Congregations says, "In accordance with the teaching of Reform Judaism that all human beings are created 'betzelem elohim', (in the divine image), Reform Judaism has strongly condemned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
    We concur. We honor and hold sacred mutual loving relationships, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the participants. Therefore, we reject efforts to induce or shame anyone into changing their sexual orientation since they are devoid of spiritual grounding.

Is Change Possible?
    Much of the debate about conversion therapy has centered on the question of whether GLB people can become heterosexual. This is question irrelevant. Sexual orientation is intrinsic, powerful and sacred. As such it should be honored as a gift from God to be celebrated, not a problem to be "fixed." In fact, research has shown that trying to force change can cause serious harm.
    Research has demonstrated that sexual orientation exists on a spectrum from absolute homosexuality to absolute heterosexuality. Some people live on the polar ends of that spectrum and are likely to be immune to change. Others - some studies say the vast majority - live between the poles. Those who embrace this blessing often identify as bisexual. Those who live in this place of possibility but aren't supported in its holiness may well be those most vulnerable to "conversion" attempts.
    As people of faith, we understand and rejoice in our knowing that sex and gender cannot be reduced to biological "givens," but are fluid social, cultural, and spiritual constructs that can change in the lives of many (but not all) individuals and peoples over time. We welcome the blessings and learnings conferred upon us by this beautiful variety and complexity.
   
Political Implications
    There are political implications of the research race to prove whether one is born gay or can "change." A recent study claims a high "success rate" of so-called conversion therapies and insist that if anyone CAN "become heterosexual," then everyone MUST. This false argument has been used to undermine non-discrimination and hate crimes laws that cover lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
    We offer an alternative view and suggest that an analogy between sexual orientation and religion helps illuminate the spiritual violence inherent in the thinking described above.
    We are free and unfettered in our religious affiliations and must be similarly so in our intimate and significant relationships. Just as our right to religiously affiliate does not require that our faith practice be biological or life-long, our sexual orientation does not need to be biological or life-long. Those who are called to love others of the same gender, whether as gay, lesbian or bisexual, should be honored and protected, for these are paths full of grace, integrity and loving kindness.
    We have hope that those who fear the grace inherent in same-sex loving can themselves seek change, and come to accept and appreciate our blessing.
    For all who believe that gay, lesbian and bisexual orientations and transgender identities are sanctified, we ask that you join us in creating welcoming and affirming beloved communities in all faith traditions. Together we can ensure that our holy GLBT brothers and sisters will never again feel the pain and condemnation of the call to "convert."
    The National Religious Leadership Roundtable members are leaders of over 40 faith-based organizations including Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Mormon, Black church, and other religious and spiritual traditions. Together they work in partnership with other justice-seeking groups to: amplify the voice of pro-GLBT faith organizations in public discourse; promote understanding of and respect for GLBT people within society at large and in communities of faith; promote understanding and respect within GLBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty; achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice. It is convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and was founded with Equal Partners in Faith. For more information, visit www.ngltf.org/pi/nrlr.
   
Participants in the National Religious Leadership Roundtable include, in alphabetical order:
    Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
    Affirmation: United Methodists
    Al-Fatiha Foundation
    American Friends Service Committee
    Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
    Bretheren Mennonite Council
    Christian Lesbians OUT
    Christians for Justice Action
    Dignity/USA
    Disciples Justice Action Network
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Equal Partners in Faith
    Fellowship of Reconciliation
    Fellowship Tabernacle
    Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples
    Human Rights Campaign
    Inner Light Unity Fellowship Church
    Integrity
    The Interfaith Working Group
    Interweave Continental
    Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
    Kashi Ashram
    Lutherans Concerned/North America
    Methodist Federation for Social Action
    More Light Presbyterians
    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
    New Ways Ministry
    People For the American Way
    Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays
    Q Spirit
    Reconstructionist Jewish Federation
    Sacramento Grove of the Oak
    SDA Kinship International
    Soulforce, Inc.
    That All May Freely Serve
    Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
    Unitarian Universalist Association
    United Church Coalition for LGBT Concerns
    United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network
    Woman Vision
    Women's Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual
    World Congress of GLB Jewish Organizations
   
To read the report Calculated Compassion, please visit www.ngltf.org/downloads/calccomp.pdf. The report documents the links between the ex-gay movement and the religious right's retooled assault on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. It was published by NGLTF, Political Research Associates, and Equal Partners in Faith in 1998.
Roundtable Contact: frank morris susa, Q Spirit Roundtable Steering Committee spokesperson frank@2w64.com


 

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