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INTERFAITH ALLIANCE STATE OF BELIEF RADIO JULY 13, 2013 RUSH TRANSCRIPT: Meg Riley and Rosemary Bray

McNatt Click here for video Click here for audio [REV. DR. C. WELTON GADDY, HOST]: On June 25th, the US Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, in practical terms invalidating federal oversight of voter disenfranchisement efforts across the country. In the hours that followed, it was hard to see as anything other than cynical the immediate actions in numerous jurisdictions to implement voting rules that would previously have been challenged on constitutional grounds. The following day, the Court handed down decisions that had the effect of lifting restrictions on same-gender marriage in California, and neutering the anti-gay rights most powerful weapon the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. To fit that historic week into a newspaper headline, one would have to say something like sexual minorities win, racial minorities lose. But that would imply a zero-sum game that my next guests contend couldnt be farther from the truth. It would also imply that the game is over. It's not. But in fact, the anti-gay right is furiously fundraising around the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings, and catapulting shiny new ex-gay propaganda into the public discourse, as well as swearing to, quote, defy the rulings - whatever that might mean. Regarding the Voting Rights Act ruling, the suggestion that the issue will now have to be addressed in Congress was met, frankly, with widespread cynicism. Since then, however, its encouraging to note that the Senate Judiciary Committee has, in fact, scheduled hearings on the matter for July 17th. The bipartisan witness panel will include civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who played a leading role in the VRAs reauthorization. So theres yet a battle to be fought, and I can't think of two better people than those to fight it. The question is, who's going to join with them? Joining me now are two Unitarian Universalist pastors who recently co-wrote a powerful commentary on just this question. Its headlined Justice is Justice, and were going to link to it from stateofbelief.com so you can read it for yourself. Meg, Rosemary, welcome to State of Belief Radio! [REV. ROSEMARY BRAY McNATT]: It's so good to be with you. [WG]: It's exciting that yours is more than a call for unity in the struggle for justice; it is, in fact, a demonstration of that unity.

Rosemary, you're an African-American pastor working in New York City, with its profound economic and social inequalities; Meg, you're a Lesbian pastor with a long history of fighting for marriage equality in Minnesota and nationally - and listeners, I need to tell you that both of these people are dear friends of mine. But I want to ask each of you: what moved you to collaborate on this piece? [RM]: This is Rosemary. I think I wanted to reach out, because I was mumbling to my self in the house the whole week while this was going on. And whenever I start talking to myself about stuff, it means I need to be writing about it. And I didn't want to just write a piece that said, "Oh, you know, this is really making me angry; oh, we need to come together around these things." I wanted to do what I try to do in my life and in my ministry, which is to partner with people around common issues. And Meg and I had worked together on other things throughout the years, and I knew that Meg was active in marriage equality movements in Minnesota the way I've been active in them in New York. And so I felt like it was a good way for us to kind of speak and exemplify what we are after. [WG]: Meg, what about you? [REV. MEG RILEY]: Well, you know, to have such a victory on something so close to me as marriage equality come down so significantly close, chronologically, to such a horrible decision by the Supreme Court - and I should say that both Rosemary and I, being Unitarian Universalists, we lost two Unitarian Universalists to the struggle to get that Voting Rights Act passed. There's a great article in the latest "New Yorker" that really details the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and there are three people who died from that: Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American man who, really, died trying to defend his family from a violent White sheriff; and two Unitarian Universalists who both were killed because they went to be of support as allies from the North: James Reeb, a minister, and Viola Liuzza, a lay woman, who both were murdered. And I think both Rose and I felt like, you know, part of being part of a tradition is you stand up when others in your tradition - when their legacy isn't being respected, much less John Lewis and everybody else who put their lives on the line for that. So when Rose called me, I just was thrilled to be able to also take some action, because it's so easy to to just be all tied up in knots and rageful and helpless and all of those things that are so unpleasant. So it was pure joy to do that together. [WG]: The article that you wrote is headlined, "Justice is Justice." And I want to ask each of you, if you will, to briefly define what that word "justice" means in your ministry and in your life. As you well know, there are some people now who are saying that you really better watch out for these people who are talking about social justice - or justice of any kind - because they're dangerous people. And I don't think that was the compliment for justice that you two and I have in our minds. So would you define "justice," as each of you do that?

[MR]: Well, what comes to me first is, "justice" is not "just us." And whenever you're thinking "just us," you're not thinking about justice. Rose, I'll let you talk. [RM]: That's right, that's right. For me - and I really do try to come at it as a pastor - and for me, it is about the fullness of life and about the inherent worth and dignity that all of us, really, are born with, and the capacity to live that out in the world. And anything that blocks that capacity deserves our attention, our focus, our energy to move those obstacles aside. And I really believe that the time has come for people to stop being in silos around which particular issue is the more important issue, because what we know and what we can see is that the people who oppose justice are people who are working against a wide variety of people who they do not believe deserve that fullness of life. It is up to us to twist that narrative, and to work together in ways that our opponents don't necessarily expect. [WG]: Well said. Id like to read you a quote from a recent interview that we did with Valarie Kaur. Valarie's a Sikh-American activist and filmmaker whos with the Groundswell Movement at Auburn Seminary. This is what she said: Our struggles are part of a greater movement for equality and dignity in America. It is the old way of fighting that we fight for our own selves, our own issues, our own causes. [...] More an more, we're realizing that we must stand together to make progress in this country. Isn't that what you all are calling for? [MR]: Yes. I think that she's lifting up what Dr. King called a, you know, we're woven into a garment of mutuality, and I'm somebody who draws from the Buddhist teachings, and there's the notion of "dependent co-arising," and so everybody can't rise until the whole garment is brought into this, and I think she's saying exactly what... I mean, when I say justice isn't just us, that's a little tiny thread over there, but it's not the garment. [RM]: I also want to add, Meg and Welton, that I think that those who oppose that broader vision of justice are counting on our differences, whatever those are, to distract us from the larger justice that we seek. And that we have seen that in the marriage equality movement quite blatantly, where one chapter suggested that it would be useful to agitate among African-Americans who might oppose marriage equality to increase their presence so that the marriage equality movement or action might be defeated in that state. And the idea that one group would be used against the other is what people have been counting on, now, for generations. And it's time we put an end to that. We're smarter than that. And people who think, for example, that the Voting Rights Act doesn't matter, should pay attention to what happened in Texas. The fact that Wendy Davis is sitting in Texas, in the legislature, able to do that filibuster, came about because the very district that she was in was called to account by a provision of the Voting Rights Act. That Voting Rights part - Section 4(b) - doesn't exist anymore. When it's time for Wendy to be reelected, she is likely to lose her seat. And we need to remember that she is the person who's protecting women's rights today in Texas.

So everybody who thinks that it doesn't apply to them needs to wait a minute, because if it doesn't apply to you yet - it will. [WG]: There have certainly been some - and you alluded to this - AfricanAmerican pastors and congregations who have actively worked against campaigns for LGBT equality Maybe the most painful statements have been from leaders who reject, out of hand, any comparison between the struggle for racial equality and for LGBT rights. And sadly, those are often the voices that get broadcast in mainstream media. Rosemary, I want to ask you: where should LGBT people look to find allies in the African-American community? [RM]: I think they should actually look everywhere! Just because a pastor is speaking from a pulpit and saying things that are hateful and homophobic doesn't mean that everybody in the congregation feels the same way. And people who are in the African-American church community are not monolithic, and I think that we may be oversold by the media the idea that there is opposition in the African-American community. All Gay people are not White! There are the same number of Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender African-Americans in our community as there are in other communities - and some of those people are in church. So we should not assume that there is not support. There's also some affirming churches - very specifically, affirming African-American churches - that are very upfront about their support of marriage equality and a full range of rights and privileges for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people. So I think that we need to be discerning, in the way that we're discerning about everything else, and we find our allies one-by-one, and that we make partnership with them one-by-one. [MR]: And I'll chime in to say that there's also an organization called Many Voices, which is a Black church movement for Gay and Transgender justice. Cedric Harmon, who I suspect - I know you know, Welton, and I suspect others know of, is co-director there, and there's been organizing; but as Rosemary mentioned, it really is the White right that is so suddenly interested in what African-Americans have to say about this - and really... [RM]: ...Yes! And they've never cared before! Isn't it amazing to have that kind of attention when no one's ever cared! [WG]: Uh-huh! A number of national and local LGBT groups spoke out immediately against the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act, but the general perception has been - and I underscore "perception" - the perception has been that for the most part, their focus has been on celebrating victories in the LGBT community. That's understandable, of course; but Meg, what should the LGBT community do no to demonstrate its solidarity with other minority groups? [MR]: Well, I think, first of all, something that we've needed to do for years is to facilitate the leadership of the non-White GLBT leaders who have been working

hard for years to say that we're not two different communities, and really lift them up. Too much of the marriage equality struggle, I think, it's been framed as White, upper-middle-class couples, because it's unthreatening. But groups like the National Black Justice Coalition and Many Voices have been working for years to lift up other kinds of leadership, and so one thing is to support that. I think the really concrete thing coming up is the centennial of the March on Washington, at which Bayard Rustin - who was one of those may people who's both Black and Gay, was an absolute architect of that march - take that opportunity to lift up the unity of their communities and, you know, the 50 year history here. Also, I think, for me it means - you know, I got called recently by somebody saying, "Now that you have marriage equality in Minnesota, will you help organize Minnesotans to stand up for marriage equality in other states?" And I said, you know, it's great that you're doing that, and I can give you some names, but really, that's not where my energy belongs right now. I feel like I put a lot into marriage equality, and I'm really glad other people are; and I really want to put my organizing energy - of which we all have a limited amount, when we're ministers - I want to put that into voting rights, because that's going to be coming up everywhere, and, you know, it's going to require some creative coalition-building, and some hard work, frankly. It's going to be pretty hard work. [WG]: Yeah. You're exactly right. Rosemary, you want to comment on that? [RM]: I actually do. I feel like I want to see people in Freedom to Marry; I want to see people in Human Rights Campaign out there in public talking about the danger that we face with section 4(b)'s dismantling. That this is an issue that strikes at the hear of democracy. Because I really do believe that democracy is in danger in this country right now - and that sounds like a really grand thing to say - but the truth is, that in every capacity that I've been able to see, there are forces at work to limit our capacity to speak; to limit our capacity to vote; to limit our capacity for privacy; to limit all those things which make us the democracy and the democratic experiment that we are. The New York Public Library, right before the 4th of July, had a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on display. And I told somebody, "I'm going to go see it, because I want to go see the Bill of Rights while we still have one." That's how seriously I feel about what's happening right now. And so it is on everybody - no matter what their first issue is - to make sure that their second issue is democracy. Because without that, none of these first issues are going to matter. [WG]: The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt is Senior Minister of the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City. The Rev. Meg Riley is Senior Minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a Unitarian congregation without walls. Together, these two authored a powerful call for a recommitment to shared struggle, titled Justice is Justice. I am always pleased when I can be with either one of you individually; to get to be with both of you together is a real pleasure. And I should tell our listeners that

if you ever have a chance to talk to these two people about this article or anything else - don't plant your feet too well, because they'll run over you. They don't just talk about stuff, they actually do it! Meg, Rosemary, great thanks to you all. [MR]: I would encourage people to write positive things at the Huffington Post we had some pretty weird comments, and anything that helps keep those comments positive is always good. [WG]: Great. Well, listen, thanks to both of you for being with us on State of Belief Radio. [RM]: Thanks for having us, Welton! [MR]: Thanks for all your good work. State of Belief is based on the proposition that religion has a positive and healing role to play in the life of the nation. The show explains and explores that role by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America the most religiously diverse country in the world while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for sectarian purposes. Each week, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy offers listeners critical analysis of the news of religion and politics, and seeks to provide listeners with an understanding and appreciation of religious liberty. Rev. Gaddy tackles politics with the firm belief that the best way to secure freedom for religion in America is to secure freedom from religion. State of Belief illustrates how the Religious Right is wrong wrong for America and bad for religion. Through interviews with celebrities and newsmakers and field reports from around the country, State of Belief explores the intersection of religion with politics, culture, media, and activism, and promotes diverse religious voices in a religiously pluralistic world. Author of more than 20 books, including First Freedom First: A Citizens Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy leads the national non-partisan grassroots and educational organization Interfaith Alliance and serves as Pastor for Preaching and Worship

at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana. In addition to being a prolific writer, Dr. Gaddy hosts the weekly State of Belief radio program, where he explores the role of religion in the life of the nation by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America, while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for sectarian purposes. Dr. Gaddy provides regular commentary to the national media on issues relating to religion and politics. He has appeared on MSNBCs The Rachel Maddow Show and Hardball, NBCs Nightly News and Dateline, PBSs Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPANs Washington Journal, ABCs World News, and CNNs American Morning. Former host of Morally Speaking on NBC affiliate KTVE in Monroe, Louisiana, Dr. Gaddy is a regular contributor to mainstream and religious news outlets. While ministering to churches with a message of inclusion, Dr. Gaddy emerged as a leader among progressive and moderate Baptists. Among his many leadership roles, he is a past president of the Alliance of Baptists and has been a 20-year member of the Commission of Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance. His past leadership roles include serving as a member of the General Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Chair of the Pastoral Leadership Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and member of the World Economic Forums Council of 100. Rev. Gaddy currently serves on the White House task force on the reform of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Prior to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Dr. Gaddy served in many SBC leadership roles including as a member of the conventions Executive Committee from 1980-84 and Director of Christian Citizenship Development of the Christian Life Commission from 1973-77. Dr. Gaddy received his undergraduate degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and his doctoral degree and divinity training from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.