The Common Good

Justice for All Means Justice for Gays and Lesbians

I wonder how we find room for hatred. My conscious is often too packed with confusion, sadness, loneliness, doubt, joy, laughter, and the other facets of our emotionality to let hatred squeak its way inside. Somehow, though, humankind always finds room for hatred. In our ignorance, we have found anger. In our tendency to fear the "other," we have found targets. This has led to the series of suicides and hate crimes against the gay community which has dominated the headlines recently.

Tyler Clementi
, a freshman at Rutgers University, whose roommate secretly taped Tyler during intimate encounters with his male partners and then screened the footage, jumped from the George Washington bridge this past September. Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old boy hung himself following relentless bullying for his sexuality. Justin Aaberg, another openly gay teenager, recently committed suicide in response to bullying. Earlier this month Raymond Chase, a college sophomore, hung himself in his dorm room. Most recently in the news was the vicious gang attack against two 17-year-old boys and a 30-year-old man thought to be gay in the Bronx.

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These events are unacceptable: moral and spiritual offenses to our own humanity.

Each individual is a creation imbued with the same opportunity for civil rights. Last weekend, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Believe Out Loud Power Summit in Orlando, Florida, Rev. Rebecca Voelkel offered these words: "The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to work for justice, inclusion, and right relationship for all people, and all means all." The church has often neglected, renounced, or castigated the LGBT community, discounting the men and women amongst us. We cannot skate across an issue because a history of denial has tainted our compassion. Christ came to redeem all of us: each woman, each man, and each child regardless of sexual orientation. We must respond.

As people of faith, we have influence -- influence in our churches, communities, schools, and other countless platforms where we must denounce the hatred fueled by ignorance against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. The ministry of Jesus contradicts anything which spoils or destroys. I can no longer stand the continued resistance against the LGBT community, a resistance that has turned deadly.

Instead, let us be united in our humanity and embrace our brothers and sisters -- all of them.

Hannah Lythe is a policy and outreach associate at Sojourners.

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