Press

Faith leaders hail Lutheran vote to allow ministers who are in committed same-sex relationships

Date: 
August 21, 2009

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Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 — The National Religious Leadership Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, hails the new policy adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its biennial assembly in Minneapolis, Minn., to allow people in committed same-gender relationships to serve in ministry, ending a policy that had opened leadership posts to them only if they remained celibate. It also encouraged its congregations to find ways to support or recognize members in "accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

Statement by Emily Eastwood, Executive Director
Lutherans Concerned/North America
National Religious Leadership Roundtable Member

"Today I am proud to be a Lutheran. Supporters and advocates of full inclusion have longed for this day since the inception of the ELCA, and for many of us what seemed like a lifetime. The ELCA has always had gay ministers, now those and all ministers are free to claim who they are and to have the love and support of a lifelong partner, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, which is all we ever asked. Policy change is a beginning not the end. We need to change practice as well as policy. Discrimination will diminish over time now. We pledge to work with the church, including with those who would oppose us, for reconciliation to fulfill our collective mission to spread the love of Christ for the sake of the world.

"For the first time, the church has recognized the centrality of family in the lives of its LGBT ministers and made provision for the service in ministry of those ministers in committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships, ending the discriminatory two-tier system of the past and holding all ministers to the same high standard in their relationships.

"At the same time, the church has demonstrated an understanding of the necessity for the bound consciences of its members to be respected by all. Congregations that wish to call a qualified minister in a committed, long-term, same-gender relationship may do so without hindrance. And, congregations that do not wish to do so cannot be required to ever do so."

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The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of leaders from pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith, spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

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.