“On Faith” blog previews 2009 Clergy Call
May 4, 2009
Washingtonpost.com's On Faith blog previews the 2009 Clergy Call (with a shoutout to HRC Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox):
Today, more than 300 clergy from a variety of faith and denominations will fan out over Capitol Hill to preach a unified gay-rights message to members of Congress: Pass the hate crimes bill that would give sexual orientation and gender identity the same federal protection as race, and pass the employment non-discrimination bill that would protect gays. Clergy Call is the second clergy event organized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay-rights organization that has been pushing for the legislation for years and has an ambitious legislative agenda for this Congressional session. The hate-crimes legislation passed the House of Representative last week and the group is "cautiously optimistic" about the Senate, according to Harry Knox, the Human Rights Campaign's director of religion and faith program. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (that is, transgender people) is expected to be introduced later this summer. President Obama has pledged to sign both bills. Indeed, he co-sponsored the two bills during his tenure as a U.S. senator from Illinois. ...The Human Rights Campaign took on conservative Christians when it launched its religion and faith program as a way to use the language of faith to push gay-rights issues. Knox, who attended Lancaster Theological Seminary but was denied his divinity degree because he was gay, has been urging gay-rights activists to use their faith when lobbying for increased rights for gays in Congress and state houses. Clergy Call was previously held in 2007, which brought 230 religious leaders to Washington. ...Aside from the hate-crime bill and ENDA, gay-rights groups are also aiming for other victories, including bills that would extend partnership benefits to federal employees, repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and overturn the military's "don't Ask, don't tell" policy But Knox says that, at least for now: We'll just be focused on hate crimes and ENDA this time as they are the topics that are currently before Congress."
Click over to On Faith to read the full post. It's been updated with a link to an excellent memo (PDF) produced by progressive think tank Third Way that addresses questions regarding the religious expression protections in the hate crimes bill.
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