Knox Pride Interfaith Coalition Letter

As the Tennessee state legislature begins its work in this new year, we, an ecumenical coalition of clergy, rabbis, and faith leaders from different religious traditions in Tennessee, wish to declare that we stand proudly alongside all of those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer members of our community, of our state, of our nation, and of the world, unconditionally and unequivocally.

While we walk different spiritual paths, we are united in supporting each individual’s human dignity and worth. We believe every person in Tennessee, and beyond, should feel safe and nurtured as they live their lives. We are united in believing that our LGBTQIA+ siblings are beloved children of God, however each of us defines that term, and are entitled to a safe space to be fully themselves.

Therefore, we urge an end to political hate speech against these communities and their members. Hate speech dehumanizes our friends and neighbors. Dehumanization leads to violence. We urge all citizens of the state of Tennessee, and especially our elected officials, to cease any form of speech that demonizes, vilifies, and dehumanizes members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In particular, we oppose Tennessee Senate Bills SB001, SB003, and SB005. These pieces of legislation prioritize discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community over the actual needs of Tennesseans. In addition to being blatant attempts at governmental overreach and removing decisions best left in the hands of parents, these pieces of legislation further stigmatize and dehumanize entire segments of our population. We believe that this not only violates the rights of those targeted by these proposed pieces of legislation, but they also seek to further divide our state and our country.

Finally, we affirm in the strongest language possible the beauty, dignity, and worth of all human beings, including LGBTQIA+ people. We believe each person is made in the divine image and is of infinite worth. We are committed to showing love for all and building a community where every person, regardless of race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or gender identity is safe, nurtured, treasured, loved, and able to live their lives and pursue happiness in freedom.

And to the LGBTQIA+ community: As leaders from a diversity of faiths, despite our differences of belief and creed, each of us agrees that you are loved – some would say God’s beloved. No matter how you identify, no matter which part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum you are part of, we believe you hold beauty, worth, and dignity. You strengthen our cities and our state, and we thank you for that. We stand with you. Know that we see you. Know that we love you. Know that we proclaim love.

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