On September 10th, the Atlanta Police Department raided a well known gay bar, The Atlanta Eagle, and all 62 patrons were forced to lay down on the ground, be searched, and have their IDs run. Not a single patron was arrested for any charge, despite the 3 paddy wagons the APD brought with them. The Atlanta community responded with a rally to show support. I and about thirty members from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta took part.
Here’s a video of my comments at the rally:
Here are my essential comments:
My name is Rev. Anthony David. I am a pastor of a local congregation, and I want to tell you, I am proud to be here today. I am proud to serve the gay community, and I believe that the real sin here is not homosexuality, but homophobia. Homophobia is the sin, not homosexuality.
My congregation is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, and I’d like to hear a shout out from fellow congregants who are here with me today. And if we have other Unitarian Universalists from other local congregations, I want to hear a shout out from you. And you know, we’re not the only faith community out there for which homophobia is a sin, and I want to hear a shout out from people of other faith communities who are here standing with us. I love it!
There are several points I’d like to make. One is that the police should protect the Constitutional rights of Atlanta’s residents, not violate them. When Atlanta treats people as second-class citizens, that is not right. Trust is violated, and that is tragic. We need our police, absolutely, but not in this way, not in the way that they treated people several days ago. We need our police, but not in this way. A lot of trust has been violated and a lot of reform is necessary to make sure this kind of thing never happens again.
Another point that comes to mind: Unitarian Universalists and many other people of faith believe (as I said earlier) that homophobia is the sin, not homosexuality. What is wrong is not lawful expressions of sexuality that come from mature, responsible adults. What is wrong is not the sexual identity that people are born into, who they are. What’s wrong is harassment, police or otherwise. What’s wrong is anti-gay and racist comments, profanity yelled at innocent people, people forced to lay down on the floor while handcuffed for more than an hour. This is America, this is 2009!
My last point. Unitarian Universalists and many other people of faith stand on the side of love with the BGLT community whose humanity and Constitutional rights are too often denied. We have got to stand up, we have got to unite. If it happens here, it can happen anywhere. We need to stand up and do something about this.