Dear Open and Affirming family:
The new year will bring new challenges to the Open and Affirming movement. I’m asking for your support, and your congregation’s support, so we can meet these challenges with confidence and strength.
It’s too early to predict exactly how the new Administration that takes office on January 20 will affect the hard-won rights of the LGBTQ community in this country. But we do know our rights and our freedoms may be in danger.
- The President-elect has already pledged to sign the “First Amendment Defense Act,” a law that will allow public officials, private business owners, landlords and even health-care providers to discriminate openly against LGBTQ people in the name of “religious freedom.”
- Most of our federal protections against discrimination in housing, employment and health care are the result of executive actions by the Obama Administration. They could be erased in one day.
- While marriage equality appears safe for the immediate future, the new President’s appointments to the Supreme Court and the federal bench may further erode protections in state and federal law.
- And men the President-elect has placed into positions of power — especially future Vice President Mike Pence as head of the transition team, Ken Blackwell as that team’s chief of domestic policy, Ben Carson as Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, Tom Price as Secretary for Health and Human Services, and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General — are dedicated opponents of civil protections for LGBTQ citizens. All of them opposed marriage equality. All of them advocate using religious freedom as a cover for discrimination. Ben Carson even compared same-sex relationships to pedophilia and bestiality — and he’ll be enforcing federal policies that until now have protected LGBTQ Americans from housing discrimination!
How far will Donald Trump go when he becomes President? We’ll know after January 20, but already it’s clear that a new political climate has energized and empowered the anti-LGBTQ movement not only in Congress but in states throughout the country.
Much of what we have built together in the past decade may now be in danger. We must be vigilant, and our vigilance must extend beyond LGBTQ rights. Attacks on women, immigrants, Muslims and people of color are also attacks on the LGBTQ community. Our freedoms will never be secure as long as anyone in this country is threatened with hatred and violence.
This is why it’s important that the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ stand with our LGBTQ members and neighbors, and why it’s important that the ONA Coalition have the financial resources we need to lead our movement in the coming year.
The ONA Coalition receives no regular funding from Our Church’s Wider Mission. We depend on contributions from individuals and pledges from ONA churches to develop the resources and training programs that support congregations in mission, ministry and advocacy.
Thanks to your support, the Coalition leads the largest and fastest-growing LGBTQ-welcoming church movement in the world. Now I’m asking you to make a special contribution before December 31 so that together we can build an even stronger movement in our church, our communities, our states, and our nation.
You can help in five ways:
- Contribute online at www.openandaffirming.org/donate.
- Copy this letter to members of your congregation, and ask them to support us.
- Encourage your congregation to pledge annually to the Coalition. Pledge forms are available on our donation page, and I’ll be glad to write a special proposal for your church if requested.
- Explore the Coalition’s website for resources and ideas that will help your congregation make a difference in your community.
- Join us at the National ONA Gathering June 27-29 in Baltimore — right before General Synod — and together with ONA leaders throughout the country help us plan for our movement’s future. Registration opens January 2 on our website.
Your gift counts. You and your church can make a difference. Our faith gives us hope, and hope will not fail us. Whatever challenges the new year will bring, we will face them together.
Yours in hope,
Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ