4/28/09

Letter From Transgender Faith Leaders in Support of an Inclusive Federal Hate Crimes Bill(HR1913)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Decision-maker,

We the under-signed support an inclusive federal hate crimes bill (HR 1913) because we think it is good for the community to take seriously crimes such as the brutal murder of Angie Zapata in Colorado this past year. Reflecting upon the past weeks of Allen Andrade’s court trial, we are grateful for responsible investigators, prosecutors, and a jury who invalidated a harmful and re-victimizing “trans-panic” defense. No one is responsible for their own beating, bashing or killing. When some people are especially targeted for being different or for being queer, it makes sense that the community will act to especially protect them.

We wish that such a law could have protected Angie before her death. But in reality a great number of supports in a community are needed to reduce our vulnerability – namely, social and economic justice for all.

The ‘guilty’ verdict reached in a court of law dignified, but could never repair, the value of Angie’s life and the gravity of her loss. Yet, our experience in ministries that work toward nonviolent alternatives, reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders does not allow us to believe we can achieve safety by disposing of people behind bars. They are still with us. They are still part of us. We will be praying for the gay men and transgender inmates who face violence while they serve their time, who may even be serving their time in the same facilities as Allen Andrade. We will be praying for Allen as well, now cut off from the prospect of wholeness and reintegration with his community.

We who lead faith traditions hold to a story of justice that does not end with retribution, but rather with restoration. In the struggle against violence and deprivation, we applaud not only the work of the National Center for Transgender Equality to raise specific issues like hate crimes law, but also the work of Senator Webb (S.714) in raising a commission to address a general issue: criminal justice reform. It is high time.

We support legislation today that honors human dignity and possibility. Diversity is a fact of God’s creation -- except for poverty, which is our own creation. Where there is personal or systemic hate and disregard, we urge lawmakers to respond. Not only with indignation but with moral imagination.

Sincerely,

•The Rev. Malcolm Himschoot (Commerce City, CO)
United Church of Christ

•Nicole Garcia (Louisville, CO)
Transgender Representative, Lutherans Concerned/North America

•Mr. Barb Greve (Hamden, CT)
Co-Founder, Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together

•Rabbi Levi Alter (Malibu, CA)
President, Female-To-Male International (Human Rights Gender Non-Discrimination Organization)

•The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge (Allston, MA)
Priest, St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Co-Chair Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, TransEpiscopal

•The Rev. Dr. Julie Nemecek (Spring Arbor, MI),
Co-Director of Michigan Equality

•Chris Paige (Philadelphia, PA)
Founder, TransFaith Online

•Seth Donovan (Denver, CO)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Full Inclusion Committee

•The Rev. Sean Parker Dennison (Salt Lake City, UT)
South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society

•Barbara Satin (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)
Executive Council, United Church of Christ and Institute of Welcoming Resources and Faithworks Associate of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

•Noach Dzmura (Berkeley, CA)
Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

•Senior Minister Carmarion D. Anderson (Dallas, TX)
Living Faith Covenant Church

•Minister Monica Joy Cross (Berkeley, CA)
Pacific School of Religion

•Angel Celeste Collie (Chapel Hill, NC)
Metropolitan Community Church

•Rabbi Elliot Kukla (San Francisco, CA)
•The Rev. Megan Rohrer (San Francisco, CA)
Director, The Welcome Ministry

•Richard Juang (Cambridge, MA)
Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality

•Rebecca Anne Allison, MD (Phoenix, AZ)
President-Elect, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, United Church of Christ

•The Rev. Pat Conover (Silver Spring, MD)
Minister, United Church of Christ
Steward, Seekers Church

•The Rev. Allyson Robinson (Gaithersburg, MD)
Associate Director of Diversity, Human Rights Campaign, Alliance of Baptists

•Jakob Hero (Berkeley, CA)
Pacific School of Religion

•Kate Bowman (Denver, CO)
Board Chair, The Gender Identity Center of Colorado

•The Rev. Vicky Kolakowski (Berkeley, CA)
New Spirit Community Church

•The Rev. Paul Langston-Daley (Glendale, AZ)
Minister, West Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

•The Rev. Michelle Hansen, S.T.M., M.Div. (Waterbury CT)
Episcopal Priest (Retired), TransEpiscopal, Treasurer and Moderator of the Twenty Club

•Aidan Dunn (San Francisco, CA)
Stanford University

•Joanne Herman (Boston, MA)
Old South Church, United Church of Christ

•The Rev. G Green (Kenosha, WI)
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

•Ari Lev Fornari (Boston, MA)
Rabbinical Student

•Diane DeLap (Wilmington, MA)
Co-Spokesperson, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns

•The Rev. Sarah J. Flynn (Burlington, VT)
All Souls Ministry, American Catholic Church of New England

•The Rev. Dr. Erin K. Swenson (Atlanta, GA)
Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Presbyterian Church, USA

•The Rev. Sky Anderson (San Jose, CA)
Minister of Community Life, M.C.C. (Metropolitan Community Church)

•The Rt. Rev. Dr. Lynn Elizabeth Walker (Brooklyn, NY)
Orthodox Catholic Church of America

•Kelli Anne Busey (Dallas, TX)
Metropolitan Community Church

•Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Paterson, NJ)
Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University and founding memer of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus

•Mycroft Masada Holmes (Boston, MA)
Co-Chair, Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality
Chair, Keshet Transgender Working Group (TWiG)

•The Rev. Rik Fire (Warminster, PA)
Ecumenicon Fellowship

•The Rev. Laurie J. Auffant (Lowell, MA)
Unitarian Universalist Association

•Reuben Zellman (San Francisco, CA)

•Stephanie C. Battaglino (Cliffside Park, NJ)
Commissioner, The Oasis - the LGBTi Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, NJ

•Donna M. Cartwright (Baltimore, MD)
TransEpiscopal

•Kate Bornstein (New York City, NY)
Buddhist

•Woody Camacho (San José, CA)
The Metropolitan Community Church of San José

•The Rev. Jay Wilson (San Fransisco, CA)
The Welcome Ministry & Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

•Jeremiah Gold-Hopton (Atlanta, GA)
Worship Ministry, Northwest (Atlanta) UU Congregation

•Randall E. Klein (Walnut Creek, CA)
Founder, Light in the Closet Ministry, Hillside Covenant Church

•The Rev. Jake Kopmeier (St. Petersburg, FL)
King of Peace MCC

•Jake Nash (Cleveland, OH)
Minister of Worship, Emmanuel Fellowship Church
Executive Director, TranFamily of Cleveland

•Lauryn Farris (San Antonio, TX)
Lay Leader, United Church of Christ
President, San Antonio Gender Association

•Joni Christian (Kent, OH)
Visionary Kent UCC

•Elder Andrea' V. Boisseau AIS (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham

•Elder Sara Herwig (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham

•Elder Alanna Block-Butler (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham

Institutions are included for identification purposes only.

Carta para los Legisladores

CARTA PARA LOS LEGISLADORES
DE LIDERES RELIGIOSOS TRANSGENERO
EN APOYO A LA PROPUESTA DE LEY
EN CONTRA DE CRIMENES DE ODIO

Apreciado/a Legislador/a:

Nosotros, los que hemos firmado esta carta, apoyamos la propuesta de Ley Federal En Contra De Los Crimenes de Odio (HR 1913), porque pensamos

que refleja una protección justa para nuestra comunidad. Es necesario tomar en serio esta clase de crimenes tan graves y brutales como el de Angie Zapata en Colorado el año pasado. Agradecemos sinceramente que en el juicio contra Allen Andrade, tanto los investigadores, como los abogados del Distrito, al igual que el jurado; invalidaron cualquier defensa basada en “pánico contra transgéneros”. No se le puede hacer responsable a una persona de su propio maltrato, por sufrir violencia en contra de si mismo o hasta de ser asesinado simple y sencillamente por su identidad, o por ser ‘diferente’ a la mayoría. Lo justo, lo correcto y lo humano es precisamente protejer a estas personas.

Hubieramos querido que una Ley como la HR 1913, hubiera existido desde antes y hubiera protegido a Angie de ser asesinada. La realidad es de que necesitan dar su apoyo al resto de la comunidad para mantener la seguridad y protección de nuestra gente. Es necesaria una justicia social y económica para todos.

El veredicto de “culpable” que el jurado dictamino, dignifica y da respeto a la memoria de Angie, pero lamentablemente no compenza el valor de su vida y el dolor que nos ha causado su muerte. La experiencia que nos ha dado el trabajar en el ministerio basado en la no violencia, reintegración y rehabilitación de los ofensores nos ha demostrado que el hecho de ponerlos por un tiempo en las cárceles no nos garantiza la seguridad que necesitamos, siguen estando con nosotros una parte de nuestra comunidad. Seguiremos orando por todas las personas gay y transgénero que lamentablemente siguen afrentando violencia mientras están encarcelados, por otros que quizás estén en la misma cárcel que Allen Andrade. Oraremos también por el propio Allen a quien se le ha negado la oportunidad de rehabilitarse para vivir en integridad como parte de la comunidad.

En nuestras tradiciones de vivir con fe y de luchar contra la opresión, la historia sagrada no termina en violencia ni retribución sino en justicia y restauración. Aplaudimos y apoyamos el trabajo de justicia, dignidad e igualdad que el CENTRO NACIONAL DE IGUALDAD PARA LOS TRANSGENERO hace, así como la propuesta de ley HR 1913. Igualmente aplaudimos y apoyamos el trabajo del Senador Webb (S.714) de crear una comisión hacia la reforma del sistema de justicia correccional. En buena hora.

Apoyamos hoy a los legisladores que honran con igualdad, la dignidad y las posibilidades del ser humano. La diversidad es una Creación de Dios, excepto la pobreza; porque ‘esa’ es nuestra propia creación. Donde haya odio y falta de respeto personal o institucional, urgimos a nuestros líderes en Washington que respondan no tan solo con indignación, pero tambien con imaginación moral.

Sinceramente,

•The Rev. Malcolm Himschoot (Commerce City, CO)
United Church of Christ
•Nicole Garcia (Louisville, CO)
Transgender Representative, Lutherans Concerned/North America
•Mr. Barb Greve (Hamden, CT)
Co-Founder, Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together
•Rabbi Levi Alter (Malibu, CA)
President, Female-To-Male International (Human Rights Gender Non-Discrimination Organization)
•The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge (Allston, MA)
Priest, St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Co-Chair Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, TransEpiscopal
•The Rev. Dr. Julie Nemecek (Spring Arbor, MI),
Co-Director of Michigan Equality
•Chris Paige (Philadelphia, PA)
Founder, TransFaith Online
•Seth Donovan (Denver, CO)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Full Inclusion Committee
•The Rev. Sean Parker Dennison (Salt Lake City, UT)
South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society
•Barbara Satin (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)
Executive Council, United Church of Christ and Institute of Welcoming Resources and Faithworks Associate of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
•Noach Dzmura (Berkeley, CA)
Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
•Senior Minister Carmarion D. Anderson (Dallas, TX)
Living Faith Covenant Church
•Minister Monica Joy Cross (Berkeley, CA)
Pacific School of Religion
•Angel Celeste Collie (Chapel Hill, NC)
Metropolitan Community Church
•Rabbi Elliot Kukla (San Francisco, CA)
•The Rev. Megan Rohrer (San Francisco, CA)
Director, The Welcome Ministry
•Richard Juang (Cambridge, MA)
Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality
•Rebecca Anne Allison, MD (Phoenix, AZ)
President-Elect, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, United Church of Christ
•The Rev. Pat Conover (Silver Spring, MD)
Minister, United Church of Christ
Steward, Seekers Church
•The Rev. Allyson Robinson (Gaithersburg, MD)
Associate Director of Diversity, Human Rights Campaign, Alliance of Baptists
•Jakob Hero (Berkeley, CA)
Pacific School of Religion
•Kate Bowman (Denver, CO)
Board Chair, The Gender Identity Center of Colorado
•The Rev. Vicky Kolakowski (Berkeley, CA)
New Spirit Community Church
•The Rev. Paul Langston-Daley (Glendale, AZ)
Minister, West Valley Unitarian Universalist Church
•The Rev. Michelle Hansen, S.T.M., M.Div. (Waterbury CT)
Episcopal Priest (Retired), TransEpiscopal, Treasurer and Moderator of the Twenty Club
•Aidan Dunn (San Francisco, CA)
Stanford University

•Joanne Herman (Boston, MA)
Old South Church, United Church of Christ
•The Rev. G Green (Kenosha, WI)
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
•Ari Lev Fornari (Boston, MA)
Rabbinical Student
•Diane DeLap (Wilmington, MA)
Co-Spokesperson, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns
•The Rev. Sarah J. Flynn (Burlington, VT)
All Souls Ministry, American Catholic Church of New England
•The Rev. Dr. Erin K. Swenson (Atlanta, GA)
Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Presbyterian Church, USA
•The Rev. Sky Anderson (San Jose, CA)
Minister of Community Life, M.C.C. (Metropolitan Community Church)
•The Rt. Rev. Dr. Lynn Elizabeth Walker (Brooklyn, NY)
Orthodox Catholic Church of America
•Kelli Anne Busey (Dallas, TX)
Metropolitan Community Church
•Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Paterson, NJ)
Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University and founding memer of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus
•Mycroft Masada Holmes (Boston, MA)
Co-Chair, Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality
Chair, Keshet Transgender Working Group (TWiG)
•The Rev. Rik Fire (Warminster, PA)
Ecumenicon Fellowship
•The Rev. Laurie J. Auffant (Lowell, MA)
Unitarian Universalist Association
•Reuben Zellman (San Francisco, CA)
•Stephanie C. Battaglino (Cliffside Park, NJ)
Commissioner, The Oasis - the LGBTi Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, NJ
•Donna M. Cartwright (Baltimore, MD)
TransEpiscopal
•Kate Bornstein (New York City, NY)
Buddhist
•Woody Camacho (San José, CA)
The Metropolitan Community Church of San José
•The Rev. Jay Wilson (San Fransisco, CA)
The Welcome Ministry & Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries
•Jeremiah Gold-Hopton (Atlanta, GA)
Worship Ministry, Northwest (Atlanta) UU Congregation
•Randall E. Klein (Walnut Creek, CA)
Founder, Light in the Closet Ministry, Hillside Covenant Church
•The Rev. Jake Kopmeier (St. Petersburg, FL)
King of Peace MCC
•Jake Nash (Cleveland, OH)
Minister of Worship, Emmanuel Fellowship Church
Executive Director, TranFamily of Cleveland
•Lauryn Farris (San Antonio, TX)
Lay Leader, United Church of Christ
President, San Antonio Gender Association

•Joni Christian (Kent, OH)
Visionary Kent UCC
•Elder Andrea' V. Boisseau AIS (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham
•Elder Sara Herwig (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham
•Elder Alanna Block-Butler (Waltham, MA)
First Presbyterian Church Of Waltham

Institutions are included for identification purposes only.

Transgender faith leaders lobby for hate crime legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Dozens of transgender religious leaders converged on legislators today in Washington D.C. to deliver a joint letter in support of hate crimes legislation and against the history of violence against transgender people. The House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on HR 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act which has the goal of helping local officials handle the demands of hate crimes investigations.

The full letter was released to the media at a press conference on Tuesday, April 28, at the Foundry United Methodist Church in northwest Washington D.C. where transgender faith leaders spoke out for both protection of transgender people, who are often targeted for hate crimes, as well as for reform of the criminal justice system that favors incarceration over education.

The Rev. Malcolm Himschoot said, “Lawmakers and judicial authorities need to bring moral imagination to the problem of hate crimes. If people are taught to hate and dehumanize transgender people, they can also be taught to be respectful.”

The full letter from transgender religious leaders reflected on the recent murder of Angie Zapata in Colorado:

The ‘guilty’ verdict reached in a court of law dignified, but could never repair, the value of Angie’s life and the gravity of her loss. Yet, our experience in ministries that work toward nonviolent alternatives reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders does not allow us to believe we can achieve safety by disposing of people behind bars.

Nicole Garcia, transgender representative for Lutherans Concerned, North America said, “The recent murder of Angie Zapata galvanized transgender religious leaders. As people of faith we hold to a story of justice, not violence; a story of restoration, not retribution. Hundreds of transgender persons have been murdered and that must stop. All of us must open our eyes to our beautifully diverse world. It is time for transgender people of faith to be seen and heard. It is time for a season of respect.”

Himschoot, a United Church of Christ minister, initiated the statement in support of hate crimes legislation and full human rights of transgender people. The statement was signed by fifty faith leaders—many of whom attended the lobbying day and delivered the statement to members of the Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Transgender faith leaders spoke to decision makers about the poverty that comes with prejudice and employment discrimination. Encouraging the resources and reliability of federal protection everywhere, they spoke highly of officials in Colorado who resisted the so-called “trans panic defense” as an excuse for murdering transgender people.

We are grateful for responsible investigators, prosecutors, and a jury who invalidated a harmful and re-victimizing “trans-panic” defense. No one is responsible for their own beating, bashing or killing.

Garcia said, “I don’t live in fear anymore. I live with hope. I live to educate and help people realize that we are all human beings with feelings, family and faith. We all matter. I pray that Angie’s family finds some peace and consolation in the guilty verdict. I pray for Allen Andrade. His life will now be a series of prison cells for years to come. I hope he finds peace as well.”

•Letter from Transgender Religious Leaders to Legislators in Support of a Inclusive Hate Crimes Bill (Tuesday, April 28, 2009)
•Call to Action:From Fear to Hope by Nicole Garcia
Special Thanks

For further information, please consider these resources.

NCTE Fact Sheet on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act (H.R. 1913)

GLAAD Resource Kit on the Angie Zapata Murder
HRC Fight the Hate website
The Transgender Religious Leaders Network is an emerging collaboration of transgender-identified religious and spiritual leaders, connecting to support one another and collaborate on diverse projects.

Catholic Hiarachy : Out of Step with the Catholisim in America