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Speech at The Denton Day of Decision Rally

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Friends this evening I have a question for you…

Do you believe in the power of love?

Do you believe in the power of love?

Do you believe in the power of love?

I am Rev. Jeff Hood…Pastor of The Church at Mable Peabody’s…a fabulously queer community.  I arise tonight…as a Queer American…to celebrate…this unquestionably momentous time…love is winning.  I believe that we are standing in a holy and sacred space…at a time to celebrate love defeating the evil of bigotry.  I am with you to celebrate…but I am also with you to tell the truth.

 

You see this afternoon I wavered a bit about what the tone of this speech would be.  I oscillated between two great paths within my spiritual tradition…whether I would be a celebrant or a prophet for this gathering.

I chose prophet.

There is no question that a major victory has been achieved.  We have all worked very hard for this day.  In striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on Proposition 8 the Supreme Court of the United States of America partially affirmed a truth that we all know…that it is wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of orientation and identity.  Notice I said, “partially affirmed.”  The federal government did not step in to stop the legal oppression and marginalization of queer folk that takes place by state governments all over the country.  The truth is that the State of Texas can still legally treat queer folk like shit…denying queer folk many of the rights that are guaranteed to folks not deemed queer.  Also do not let this large rally fool you into thinking that Denton, Texas is blameless.  Just a month ago the Denton City Council refused to pass a resolution supporting marriage equality.

 

Tonight, I call on the federal government, the State of Texas, and the City of Denton to tell the truth of love and stop the oppression.

 

I also am here to apologize that there are not more religious leaders from our community on this platform.  I don’t have to think long to understand why they are not here.  All I have to do is look on Facebook and see the comments that the parishioners of many of these churches are making.  So on this day, I must also tell the truth about some of the religious leadership of this community.

If you want to find some of the local sources of oppression, you don’t have to look far.

Tommy Nelson, the Pastor of Denton Bible Church, declared on June 14, 2012, “The idea of homosexual marriage is a moral and theological sleight of hand.  It is not raised from any perspective of wisdom but from a concession to the humanism, perversion, and weakness of our age.” (http://dentonbible.org/notes/dbc-response-to-obamas-support-of-same-sex-marriage/)

 

The Village Church currently sponsors gay recovery groups at all four of their campuses, including here in Denton. (http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/jesus-and-homosexuality/)

Matt Chandler, the lead pastor of the four Village Churches, said a few months ago that he was upset when evangelicals are treated like the “American Al Qaida” for opposing same sex marriage.(http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/6798/megachurch_pastor__we_re__american_al_qaeda__for_opposing_homosexuality)

To him I respond, if you don’t want to be treated like the “American Al Qaeda” then quit acting like it!
There is no question that much damage has been done to queer folk in this community and others by these conservative spaces and others like them…but the story does not end there.

 

A few months ago, our church helped lead the community in purchasing an ad in the Denton Record Chronicle for churches to show their support for LGBTQ inclusion in their churches (http://revjeffhood.com/press/).  Out of the over 70 churches located in Denton, there were eight ministries that signed, two of those were campus ministries.  Three of those ministries have representatives here on these steps.

The parties that I was most disappointed in were all of the mainline or moderate churches in this town.  There was tremendous fear that they might lose the support of the church hierarchy or part of their membership if they signed such a statement.  They can do more and haven’t.  Such activity only allows the oppression to continue.

 

Tonight, I ask the religious leadership of this community to tell the truth and stand on the side of love…if you don’t then you have no right to speak about a God who has called God’s self love.

 

I also arise tonight for my twin sons Jeff and Phillip and the unborn child my wife is carrying.  I want them to know that their dad loves them enough to fight for their right to marry whoever the hell they want.

 

Tonight, I declare that I will not stop telling the truth and fighting for a world where my children can be whoever God has created them to be.
There are many truths this hour.

We are gathering to celebrate marriage equality…but downstate in Huntsville, Texas a more somber occasion is transpiring.  Kimberly McCarthy aged 52 is being executed.  This is the 500th modern execution in Texas.  A broke down unjust system has claimed the lives of 500 people without shuttering.

 

Last night, women had to storm the Texas State Capitol in order to have their voices heard.  Folks in power have refused to hear until forced to listen.

 

There are indeed many truths this hour…but this community gathered here has a special ability to share the truth of love.  To turn the tide of despair into hope.  To turn the tide of marginalization into inclusivity.

 

Jesus says in John 8:32, “The truth shall set you free.”

 

You…the Queer folk gathered in this space…have an ability to share truth and free our world with your love.

 

Love is the only path to freedom.

I believe that we are the hope of love…we are the promise of tomorrow…if and only if we will continue to be the truth of today.

 

This is our hour to create the beloved community inclusive of all people that all of us have dreamed of.
Are you ready to love?

I feel the power.

Now go love somebody!

 

Amen.

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