Task Force mourns death of the Rev. Peter Gomes

March 01, 2011

Pedro Julio Serrano
Communications Manager
(Office) 646.358.1479
(Cell) 787.602.5954

WASHINGTON, March 1 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the death of the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, an openly gay Harvard minister, theologian and author, who died yesterday at the age of 68.

Statement by the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"In many Christian circles, when a person of faith passes, the pastor will speak of them by quoting Jesus, ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ Sometimes this phrase is over used. But today, truer words were never spoken. Rev. Peter Gomes epitomized one who lived his life seeking to be a good and faithful servant — of the God he loved. He sought to live in passionate relationship with the Scriptures — not engaging them as a monolithic, final word, but as a beloved companion to be grappled with, challenged by and by which to be guided but not bludgeoned.

"For those of us who are religious and affirm the dignity of all persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Rev. Gomes was a light and a model. His passionate sermons, his incomparable work with the Scriptures and his visible love of God and God’s creation will be greatly missed."

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"In the passing of Rev. Peter Gomes, the world has lost a mind, a voice, an advocate, an artist of words rarely seen in this day and age. Rev. Gomes was certainly among the most talented, powerful orators I’ve ever had the joy of listening to, or ever will. His theological interpretations, his wit, his politics, his view of justice challenged even the most capable of those opposed to any of his views. Rev. Gomes spoke eloquently and frequently in support of marriage equality in Massachusetts during that state’s fierce struggle to protect the right of same-sex couples to marry.

"He came out as a gay man when it was scandalous for clergy of his position and caliber, of any caliber, to do so. And yet, he did so with a clarity and grace that provided theological shelter for many a young person struggling with their sexuality. At the time, he said, ‘I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. ... Those realities, which are irreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God.’

"I had the honor of attending a small, raucous, dignified dinner party he hosted at his home at Harvard for some of us who were graduating from the Kennedy School of Government in 2001. There, he showed his rare ability to take one, small topic — in this case, a lesson on how to give and receive a proper toast — and turn it into a feast for the ears. Rev. Gomes, to your voice! To your voice."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.