The Christmas gifts have been unwrapped and we have toasted in the New Year. As we settle into 2014, what lies ahead for MLP and our work in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and society? The path ahead is well captured in this prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book, “Grant us the gentle blessing which a home can give.” Far too many LGBTQ people are unable to find a home, a place to belong, among their family, church and community and are denied this gentle blessing taken for granted by so many.

“God, the mother and father of us all,
you have created families and love of every kind.
Give us courage to listen to each other and to learn,
and grant us the gentle blessing
which a home can give.”

How do we create a church and society that provides a nurturing home for all, including all LGBTQ people? More Light Presbyterians will take the following steps in 2014 to broaden the circle of inclusion and welcome for all.

First, we will partner with our friends at Covenant Network to work for marriage equality at the 221st General Assembly in Detroit, June 14 to 21, 2014. We are working at the national denominational level to enact two critical pieces of legislation so that teaching elders can celebrate the marriages of all loving and committed couples, and so that our constitution fully affirms God’s blessing of the sacred covenant of marriage made by all faithful couples in the PC(USA). As at prior General Assemblies, we will build a team of volunteers, coordinate a witness of rainbow scarves and keep you updated on legislative progress during the assembly.

Second, we will continue to strengthen local More Light churches in their witness and expand our outreach. We will bring Building an Inclusive Church Trainings to more churches and seminaries as we work to reverse the damaging effects of anti-gay Christian churches and bring More Light across this nation. In 2014, we will pay special attention to providing pastoral care and guidance to More Light pastors.

Third, we will have a particular focus on connecting people of faith to the campaigns and organizations working for justice and rights for LGBTQ people at the state and local level. In addition, we will look for opportunities to meaningfully intersect with organizations working for economic justice, environmental justice, racial equality, disability rights and gender justice and look for ways to use our influence in global LGBTQ struggles.

It is tempting to see progress as inevitable after the stunning victories for LGBTQ equality in 2012 and 2013. In two landmark decisions last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed Proposition 8 on standing. In 2013, the freedom to marry became a possibility in nine additional states, bringing the tally to 18 states and the District of Columbia. California passed the nation’s first state law that requires public schools to let children use sex-segregated facilities and participate in gender-specific activities based on their gender self-identity. Connecticut recently became the fifth state to require insurance companies to cover transgender medical care.

But as the Washington Post editorial board points out, “Further progress can’t be taken for granted. LGBT people, and their friends and loved ones, are reaping the rewards of decades of hard work in the face of persistent discrimination. The need for such hard work isn’t over.”

It’s still unclear whether the wave of equality that has swept from state to state over the past two years is national or regional, bound to crash ineffectually on more conservative parts of the country. The Supreme Court stopped short of declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right — which is the logical and moral outcome — in large part because a more ambitious ruling might provoke a nasty and counterproductive backlash. As long as the justices feel that way, a nationally consistent right to marriage will probably be elusive, even if more judges, like the one in Utah, choose to be more daring. Meanwhile, Congress has yet to guarantee workplace equality. And countries from Russia to Uganda to India to Australia went backward in their stances on gay rights this year…In 2014, as in every prior year, the fight for equality will take hard organizing and patient persuasion.

In addition, far-right groups in California have set their sights on attacking recently won rights for transgender students. If successful, repealing these rights sets a dangerous precedent that we know is likely to be copied around the country.

More Light Presbyterians is proud to partner with you in the fight for equality and freedom and in the work of organizing and persuasion until all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people find home everywhere they are.

Photo above: Bear Ride, Brian Symonds and Susan Craig at the Pacific Presbytery meeting after hearing the news that Amendment 10-A had been ratified. On July 8, 2010, the 219th General Assembly (2010) approved a change to the Presbyterian Church (USA) Constitution to remove barriers to the ordination of openly lesbian and gay candidates to ministry by a vote of 373-323-4. The proposed change was ratified by a majority of the 173 presbyteries on May 10, 2011 when the Twin Cities voted. (Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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