Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies Statement on Anti-LGBTQ Votes at 2012 United Methodist General Conference

May 3, 2012
Bernard Schlager, PhD

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry is deeply saddened by today’s vote at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in Tampa, Florida, which leaves unchanged the denomination’s official position that homosexuality is sinful. By a 572 to 368 margin Conference delegates voted to leave in place the following statement in the church’s Book of Discipline: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching”. In addition, a proposal by LGBTQ-affirming Methodists to have the Conference acknowledge that Methodists could differ on the issue of homosexuality while remaining together as one church was also defeated by a similar majority of votes.

We share the deep pain of our Methodist sisters and brothers who have worked long and hard over many, many years to bring their church in line with other mainline Protestant denominations that have joyfully embraced LGBTQ persons as equal in status to non-LGBTQ persons. Homosexuality is not a sin and we pray that the hearts and minds of all Christians will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit who is calling upon Jesus’ followers – in all denominations and traditions – to accept, welcome, and affirm us as their sisters and brothers in Christ.

During conference floor debates on these proposals one delegate likened homosexuality to bestiality and also stated his belief that God does not create people to be lesbian or gay. In addition, when LGBTQ-affirming delegates gathered in the convention hall during a break to show their support for changing the anti-gay language in the Book of Discipline by praying peacefully together in song – and then continued to sing as the next plenary session began – the presiding bishop called off the session and closed down the hall because he viewed the LGBTQ advocates as a “security concern.” Comparing LGBTQ persons to animals and declaring LGBTQ advocates a security concern is no way for Christians to speak about one another.

Since 2000 CLGS has worked with United Methodists and all people of faith to advance the well-being of LGBTQ people and to transform faith communities and the wider society by taking a leading role in shaping a new public discourse on religion and sexuality through education, research, community building and advocacy. We will continue, of course, to do this life-saving work even as we mourn today with our Methodist colleagues this defeat at General Conference 2012. In closing, I reprint, as a sign of our steadfast support for LGBTQ Methodists, their families and their allies, the following statement issued today by David Braiden, Director of Development at Reconciling Ministries Network:

“We grieve that the United Methodist Church really had the opportunity to live into inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ and live into its tagline of Open Hearts, Open Doors, and Open Minds and extend its welcome to LGBT people and, unfortunately, chose not to do that. We grieve that [the] UMC continues to harm and [support] discrimination against LGBT people. We’re already here in the United Methodist Church and we will continue to be that shining light on top of the hill to show the world what it means to be UMC, and that is to welcome all people.”

CLGS 3 May 2012 Statement on UMC Vote.pdf71.01 KB