Despite the growing trend that embraces equality for all people there are still those with deep-seated bigotry who continue to bar us from our constitutional rights as human beings and Americans. For some, like Charles Worley, simply denying our basic civil rights is not nearly enough and actually advocate against our very right to exist. I for one, take that very personally and is one major reason why I do the work I do. Continue reading
No matter what side you are on in the debate over same-gender marriage, there is a simple path for everyone to get what they want, full civil rights for same gender couples AND protection of the institution of marriage. How? The conversation should never include religion period! As citizens of this country, we are Americans first. As a democracy, we are governed first and foremost by our Constitution. In that document is the protection for religious freedom AND equal protection under the law. Although many Americans are Christian, not everyone is! We are Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics, Spiritualists, Atheists, Humanists and everything in-between. Within each of these belief systems are conservative, moderate and liberal factions. How then as a free democracy can we possibly think we can solve any social or political issue when religion is part of the discussion? Itâ€™s worse than trying to herd cats. Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the national Interfaith Alliance, put it very simply, â€œIn a democracy, the Constitution trumps all.â€ If you want a theocracy, get an island and start one. If you value REAL freedom and Democracy, letâ€™s separate the legal contract, rights and responsibilities of what we now universally call marriage from religion entirely for EVERYONE. The solution is civil unions for all and marriage only for religious groups. ALL religious organizations will have an exemption and donâ€™t have to â€˜marryâ€™ anyone they donâ€™t want to. However, anyone can become Civilly United. Thatâ€™s the easy part. Each side must to give something up. ALL Americans have to give up the term â€œmarriageâ€ and ALL Religions have to give up preventing LGBT people from obtaining full rights and responsibilities that now come with heterosexual marriage in all states and federally. Thatâ€™s the hard part.
Imagine for a moment a tall, well dressed, gray haired man who is also a minister with a thick southern accent. You might already have some preconceived ideas of what this man is about. You might also be in for a big surprise.
“Support for same-gender marriage comes down not to a question of what it means to be a good Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or Muslim, but what does it mean to be a good American.”That is most certainly not the average southern Baptist minister, that is Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the national Interfaith Alliance, a man that perhaps, on the outside, may seem to fit a number of stereotypes but as soon as he opens his mouth you will find a savvy and progressive political mind. And, with just a small peek behind the well tailored suit and crisp starched white shirt, is a heart big enough for the world. With his strong Louisiana southern drawl, Gaddy makes politics sound like poetry and the fight for religious freedom and civil rights the mandate our time and essential for saving our democracy.
“Early on the evening of this past October 28th at the White House, I shook President Obama’s hand,” says Gaddy, “We shared a smile as I thanked him for signing a meaningful piece of expansive hate crimes legislation. But it took so long, too long because prejudice biased untruths and mean spirited partisanship. As the President walked away, I held Judy Shepard, Mathew Shepard’s mother, in a long tearful embrace in which words were not necessary to lament how long it had taken to secure a comprehensive hate crimes bill how much hurt had lined the pilgrimage but how in perseverance across more than a decade we finally could celebrate reaching a goal that we had been striving for, for over a decade.”As a deeply religious man, Gaddy is on a relentless campaign for not only ensuring religious freedom; he is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity and founding intentions of our Constitution. A staunch advocate for the separation of Church and State, Gaddy believes we can have it all, and that includes same-gender marriage! Gaddy is a man who, above all, wants to maintain the integrity of religion and government. He is emphatic that in order to do that, we must keep them separated. This is a man who embodies the very balance we long for in this highly charged politically partisan and religiously divided time in our country. Gaddy just might be one of the most progressive influential role models of our time. He is certainly one of the greatest allies of LGBT civil rights. On November 17th Boise was graced with the sharp mind and quick wit of Rev. Dr. C. Gaddy as the keynote speaker for the Interfaith Alliance of Idahoâ€™s annual meeting and dinner. Gaddy spoke to a very diverse gathering of about 80 at the Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, on the status of the National Interfaith Alliance and our nation.
“I’m an 88 year old Jew and I have never heard any Christian minister ever talk like you,” says Joe, a man in the audience. “Amen,” says another.This is just a small hint of the impact Gaddy can have on a room. Listening to Gaddy’s address, “The Crisis No One Talks About,” I hope you can feel at least some of the inspiration and hope that filled the room that night. Gaddy is introduced by Interfaith Alliance Chair, Ed Keener. Rabbi Daniel Fink offers a blessing following Gaddy’s address after which there is a question and answer period with the audience. If you would like to hear more from Welton Gaddy about Religion and Politics and how that has affected LGBT issues then listen to my full hour interview with Dr. Gaddy.
This morning I had the distinct honor and pleasure to sit down for an entire hour and talk with the president of the National Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. Dr. Gaddy is quite an accomplished religious and political leader. He has authored 20 books and just last year published the powerful and poignant paper, “Same-Gender Marriage & Religious Freedom, A Call to Quite Conversations And Public Debate” The reverend is an active practicing Baptist minister from Louisiana and the host of State of Belief, a weekly talk show on Air America Radio, and a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show.
“..the old cliche was, hate the sin love the sinner You’re not condemning homosexuality, you’re condemning a person!”The reverend was called by the Obama transition team to advise the incoming president on issues related to religion and politics. Dr Gaddy played a key roll in working to get the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes bill passed and was in the oval office with Judy Sheppard when President Obama singed this historic legislation into law. Our conversation focuses on the collision of religion and politics and how that has affected the national conversation on same-gender marriage. We talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints involvement in anti-gay ballot initiatives across the country, and what needs to happen to achieve true equality. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Pam Baldwin for arranging this wonderful opportunity. Stay tuned for more from Dr. Gaddy! As I See It… will soon post his keynote address to the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho’s annual meeting and dinner.