Anaheim, CA (July 17, 2009): For the first time in its history, the Episcopal Church has taken official actions in support of transgender civil rights and inclusion at its 76th General Convention.
“It was a true privilege to participate in the legislative process of this Church, to bear witness to transgender lives and experiences, and to urge the Episcopal Church to fully include and to stand in solidarity with us,” commented the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, a member of TransEpiscopal and Integrity USA. “I am thrilled to be able to say that the General Convention voted overwhelmingly to put the Episcopal Church on record in support of such legislation as the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and analogous efforts at municipal and state levels. But I am even more moved to say how many people spontaneously shared with us how their eyes have been opened, their hearts turned, by our presence and stories here. To have someone stop me in a coffee line to say, ‘I had never thought about this issue before, and I’m going to take what I have learned here and share it with my little congregation in the Ozarks’ means more than I can say.”
Today the Convention completed approval of resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. The House of Deputies passed these resolutions overwhelmingly on Wednesday, and the House of Bishops then approved these resolutions today in near-unanimous votes.
These actions took place as the United States Congress debates both the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which respectively address hate crimes and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and disability as well as gender identity and expression.
Testifying in hearings at various levels of the Convention were representatives of the organizations TransEpiscopal and Integrity USA, including the Episcopal Church’s first openly transgender Deputy, Dante Tavolaro of Rhode Island.
In addition to today’s actions, earlier this week the Convention approved two other transgender related resolutions. The first adds “gender identity and expression” to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees, while the second calls for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.
“As we celebrate this moment and give thanks for the amazing allies walking with us, particularly Integrity USA and the Consultation, we look forward to progressing further toward full inclusion of transgender people —and, indeed, all people -- in all areas of ministry in The Episcopal Church.”
Contacts: Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge at email@example.com
Rev. Michelle Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org
And see our blog coverage of Convention at blog.transepiscopal.com
From Integrity USA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANAHEIM, CA (July 17, 2009)--The Episcopal Church turned an important corner at this General Convention and Integrity applauds the hard, faithful work of the bishops and deputies who brought us closer to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments. We came to this convention committed to moving the church beyond B033 and forward on equality for the blessing of same-sex unions--and we are beyond gratified that we have realized both of those goals.
Thirty three years after promising a "full and equal claim" to the gay and lesbian baptized, the Episcopal Church has affirmed equal access to ordination processes for all orders of ministry for all the baptized, has approved a broad local option for the blessings of our relationships, and has called the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.
It is a great day for the church and a greater day for the witness to God’s inclusive love.
"While Integrity’s advocacy work is not yet done," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "the actions here in Anaheim liberate us to get on with our evangelism work--proclaiming the good news of an Episcopal Church that welcomes not only LGBT people looking for a spiritual home but ALL those seeking a faith community that shares their core values of justice, compassion, inclusion, and love."
"We celebrate this historic movement forward and we commit ourselves to this church we love and serve to continue to witness to the good news of Christ Jesus present in our lives, our vocations, and our relationships. We call others to 'come and see' what we have found and seen and experienced in the Episcopal Church."
"Integrity applauds the hard work of all our allies in this struggle and lifts up particularly the witness of our TransEpiscopal colleagues whose courageous work at this convention has been truly extraordinary. We look forward to working with all our allies as we move forward together into God’s future, giving thanks for the good work here in Anaheim that has brought us closer to that church with 'no outcasts' to which former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning called us.
Louise Brooks, Director of Communications, email@example.com, (626) 993-4605