I stand today as a Houston faith leader to present this letter of support for the Equal Rights Ordinance which has been signed by70 leaders of congregations in this city. The moral fabric of our society is shaped not only by our private spiritual practices, but also by the values embodied in our laws as a community. As clergy supporters of this ordinance we come from a variety of religious traditions, yet we support the dignity of every human being which requires treating each member of our community fairly, equally, and with respect. The Equal Rights Ordinance seeks to extend these values to all the citizens of the city without imposing one set of religious beliefs over those of others.
I am the rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. My support of this ordinance is an extension of the mission of our parish—St. Stephen’s was the first church to racially integrate its preschool; the first Episcopal church in the state of Texas to call a woman as lead pastor, and the first Episcopal congregation in Houston to conduct blessings of same sex covenants. Our history is that as people experience change toward greater justice, there is more love and reconciliation.
Other clergy on this letter signed for a variety of reasons. We share a commitment that this ordinance acknowledges the fundamental value of protecting Houstonians from discrimination AND preserving the religious liberty of congregations and religious organizations to believe and practice as they feel led.