Wow! Wow! And triple wow!!! What an incredible experience I had attending the Human Rights Campaign's Clergy Call for Justice and Equality last week!
The primary message of Clergy Call is that religion is no longer a means to
hinder civil rights. Instead, God's Good News advances the concept of
equality for all people. Nearly 300 of us gathered from every state in the
country and from more than twenty faith traditions in Washington D.C. from
Sunday - Tuesday evening. So that I could be in our pulpit on Sunday, I
missed that day's events but caught up as best I could on Monday.
Monday 8:00am: Monday was an intense whirlwind. Those of you who watch
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC are probably familiar with Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry.
She is professor of Politics and African Studies at Princeton University and was keynote speaker for the HRC event. Her grasp of the problems associated with all types of discrimination and her informed perspectives were wonders to be hold. Pens and pencils of participants eagerly and speedily jotted down gems of statistics and facts.
Ten minute break.
There was also a panel discussing pending legislation that was framed in
references to the LGBTQ community but which would impact the general
population as well. Retired Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson was among the
Twenty minute lunch break. Delicious salmon salad / grilled chicken salad
Afternoon sessions focused on "training" for Tuesday's lobbying of our
senators and congress persons. These several hours were just as packed with information as was the morning.
Mid-way through the training we got a second ten minute break.
Finally came dinner-on-our-own time; a whole hour and one half! Would you
believe I had a salad and red wine at an Irish Pub? The other five in our
group thought it was a bit peculiar.
Monday evening lasted until 9:30pm and included a worship service of
meditations and music. Nice.
Tuesday began at 8:00am. After a briefing and distribution of schedules for each of us stating the times of our appointments with our legislators, we got into the nitty gritty of the bills we were addressing; the Defense of Marriage Act, Labor Discrimination and Bullying (the last two have fancier names but my descriptions suffice).
Eventually, we boarded busses to go to the Capital where a two hour press
conference was held. There we were! All of us dressed in clergy "uniform"
seated in the hot D.C. sun. You'd have been proud of me with a TIE and COAT and CLERICAL STOLE. There were 8-1- speakers from many faith traditions, but in my opinion, the HRC President, Joe Solomonese was the most dynamic. After that we had lunch in the Senate Dining Room, which is actually a cafeteria with nary a Senator in sight!
Fifteen of us from Texas (I the only DOC parish clergy) visited the offices
of Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. We met, not with the senators but
with staff. At Conryn's we met in the hall outside the office with the
staff member taking notes on our questions and comments. The same was true
at Bailey Hutchison's although tere we were directed to a conference room.
The subgroup of three that I as in visited congressional offices. Of the
three we visited, only one invited us in to a small staff office. I took
the lead with the member who represents our church's district, Pete Sessions. There were no notes taken during our hall-staff meeting.
The event was closed that evening with a reception for participants at the
Human Rights Campaign offices. I slept during most of the flight home the
I deeply appreciate the congregation's support in my taking time to attend
the Clergy Call.