Which side of history shall we stand on?

Rev. Rebecca Voelkel

Rev. Rebecca Voelkel

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

Have you ever had an experience when you know you’re on the right side of history? I had one last night when I heard the news that the Twin Cities Presbytery became the 87th presbytery in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to ratify an amendment that ended ordination discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Their vote means that the majority of presbyteries have now approved this change that was started by the vote of the General Assembly which met here in the Twin Cities last July.

It comes on the heels of the August 2009 vote in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting at its Churchwide Assembly here in Minneapolis, took similar action when it removed any barriers for ordination for LGBT persons. And the vote by the Episcopal Church USA at its General Convention meeting here in 2003 in which it confirmed the election of Bishop Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in that denomination.

For those of us who are religious — I’m a pastor in the United Church of Christ — and are related to the LGBT community — I’m a lesbian who is partnered and has a young daughter — and who live in Minnesota — I live in Minneapolis — there is a sense of gratitude and pride that all of these momentous, world-changing events have happened here.

It is partly because of this gratitude and pride that the decision by the Minnesota state Senate to put forth a constitutional amendment aimed at hurting me, my family and those I love comes as such a kick in the gut. I spent several hours last night praying and talking with friends and family (my family comes from good Scottish Presbyterian roots) and chosen family about the joy and gratitude to God for the Presbyterian vote. And just when the movement of the Spirit, the celebration of the extravagant welcome of God is palpably present, the forces of fear and meanness seem to have stepped up to the plate.

The irony is not lost on me that just as the Church takes one step forward in following the path that Jesus laid — one of ever-expanding circles of justice, love and inclusion — my state seeks to take several steps back by banning me and my partner from forming covenant, celebrating love and protecting our daughter. WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?)