Although Avondale United Methodist pastor Clare Chance has long supported the movement for LGBT equality, she remembers one day in particular that set her on the path to being a more active ally.
It was a Sunday, and she had just preached a sermon at her church, in which she casually mentioned that the original Biblical languages do not have a word for committed, loving, monogamous relationships between same-sex adults. Those words resonated with one of her congregation’s members, a man whose previous pastor had told him that his sexual orientation made him a “monster,” and that God could not love him.
“He was so relieved to know that the Bible did not describe him that way at all, and that he too was a beloved member of God’s family,” Pastor Chance said. “Looking at this dear man’s tear-stained face, I committed myself to stand with him and others like him, in opposition to the bigotry and hatred that is so damaging to the human soul.”
Now, she’s using her voice as a faith leader to speak in support of updating Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination. Faith and religious belief are often used by opponents of LGBT equality as an excuse to reject updating the law—an argument she feels she needs to refute with her own experience.
“All people are God’s beloved children … and especially in the eyes of God, all means all,” she said.” Jesus chose to spend time with and to teach the marginalized people of his society, setting the example for all Christians to stand against oppression and injustice.”
Pastor Chance says LGBT people are just trying to live full lives and contribute to the Jacksonville community as hardworking taxpayers, just like everyone else. They should have the same rights and opportunities as all other residents. Indeed, she says she would support the HRO even if she had very different religious beliefs, since in our pluralistic society all people deserve to be protected under the law regardless of one person’s religious belief.
“I support the HRO because I believe everyone has a right to use public services, buy their family some dinner, get and keep a job for which they are qualified, or live in any neighborhood they can afford—regardless of their race, their religion or their sexual orientation or gender identity.”