By Rev. Jerry Stephenson
I served in the United States Marine Corp because I love my country. I was willing to give my life for our freedom. I am a fighter for what is right and just. When I came out of the closet after having been a Southern Baptist minister and seminary professor for fifteen years, I knew God had a plan for me.
Well, I was surprised when I realized that God wanted me to speak for the LGBTQ+ community against the evangelical and fundamentalist hate towards God’s wonderfully created people.
Since 1992, I have been fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. We have come a long way in our quest to be free to love another person, share our lives, get married, and have children.
As I write this, I am having all kinds of emotions about the state of our country. The division, hate and mass shootings are taking a toll on our liberty, one layer at time. The right to do with our bodies what we want is under attack.
I am fearful, but at the same time, angry at the insanity of the Republican Party and the fundamentalist Christian movement who demonstrate the very hate and hypocrisies that Jesus spoke against in his day.
These modern religious zealots know nothing of God. They mock the religion they profess to believe in and are devoid of decency. They lie, undermine their faith for political power, and lack the moral fiber they demand of others. It is no wonder society laughs at them, because there is nothing good that comes out of their mouths.
We now confront the whole issue of Roe v. Wade, which the Supreme Court is expected to overturn any day. Whatever you believe from a religious standpoint on abortion is your personal business. But your faith belongs inside the church and is not to be imposed on other people who don’t share your beliefs. That’s why America was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Too bad today’s right wing conservative movement is more interested in standing by Vladimir Putin than standing up for the United States Constitution. They believe in authoritarianism and want to take away our right to vote.
In this month of LGBTQ Pride, we must stand firm and recommit to fighting for our future. HELL no, we aren’t going back into the closet. Our voices need to be heard. I didn’t serve in the Marine Corps to protect liberty abroad, just so a group of un-American, homegrown fanatics could steal our freedom at home. It’s time to take our country back and reaffirm American values: Freedom, liberty, human rights, LGBTQ equality and religious pluralism.