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Religious Groups Gather in Support of Lesbian and Gay Rights

A National Religious Leadership Roundtable representing more than 40 religious groups recently held a meeting to discuss ways to foster acceptance of lesbian and gays within religious institutions. Attendees at the Colorado Springs, Colorado gathering represented Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Quaker, Methodist, Lutheran and Mennonite faiths. Rabbi Stephen Foster of Congregation Emmanuel in Denver was one of the conference’s distinguished attendees. He called for greater efforts to involve heterosexuals in the bid for more acceptance of gay and lesbian people. “You have framed this as a gay rights issue,” Foster told attendees, “I believe it is a civil rights issue.” Laura Montgomery-Rutt, national organizer for Equal Partners in Faith, said she is frustrated by perceptions that religious people are by definition homophobic. “Part of our message is that the religious right absolutely does not speak for all people of faith, even though they kind of frame the debate that way.” Roundtable participants agreed that there is much work to be done before acceptance of lesbian and gay worshippers becomes commonplace in religious institutions, but were optimistic nonetheless. “At no time in history has the conversation been so intense, have we had people so involved in thinking about the issue, whatever side they may be on,” said famed Methodist minister Jimmy Creech.

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AP - August 24, 1999