Challenge of prejudice remains in post-election USA, says Soulforce

By staff writers
November 6, 2008

The director of a leading nonviolent US task force for lesbian and gay people, which includes many religious believers, has said that the election of Barack Obama is “a day of blessing seasoned by loss,” given the bigotry of some local issue votes.

“Even as America’s historic presidential election ushers in a new dawn of fairness and inclusivity, a majority of voters in Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida have voted, once again, to exclude some Americans from the fundamental promise of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’,” pointed out Jeff Lutes, executive director of Soulforce.

Soulforce was founded by two Christians who used to work for right-wing evangelist Jerry Falwell. It now includes people of all faiths and none, and is inspired by Dr Martin Luther King Jr and other non-violent activists to take direct action against anti-gay prejudice and for equal rights in a just society.

Lutes continued: “Ironically, from the very beginning of his campaign, President-elect Obama abjured the politics of division and exclusion that have marred our political process by depicting some groups - immigrants, poor people, people of colour, and LGBT people - as dangerous “others” who threaten our national identity. Obama’s own story gives us hope for a more perfect, and more fully inclusive, union. But, as always in our nation’s history, there remains more work to be done in order to make our most cherished ideals a reality.”

He added: “My heartfelt gratitude goes to all of the dedicated, tireless people who worked to defeat discriminatory ballot measures [against gay rights]. Soulforce shares your pain, disappointment, and concern for the many couples and families who are more vulnerable because of this legislation.

“The extent of the misinformation that we faced in these struggles was daunting, but please know that your work has already borne fruit. And take comfort in knowing that those who voted for discrimination are mere footnotes to larger trends in public opinion - which is shifting in favour of legal recognition of same-sex couples—and to the larger narrative of American history - which is continually refining its promise of liberty and justice for all.”

The Soulforce Q Equality Ride launched on October 1, 2008. This year it will focus on the South, journeying to fifteen schools of various denominations, including some faith-based historically black colleges and universities. True to its purpose of going where it is needed, the 2008 Equality Ride will visit both undergraduate schools and graduate level seminaries.

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