Rally participants Sept. 30. (Photo via Equality Florida/Facebook)
TAMPA | Equality Florida and Metropolitan Community Church leaders from across the state came together Sept. 30 to showcase their “faith against hate,” rallying against laws impacting LGBTQ+ and other marginalized Floridians.
Each organization’s roots lie in social advocacy. Equality Florida is the state’s largest LGBTQ+-focused civil rights organization, while MCC became the first Christian denomination with a primary, positive outreach to members of the LGBTQ+ community in 1968.
The denomination has over 200 churches and spiritual communities with more than a dozen affirming churches in Florida. They include Joy MCC in Orlando, King of Peace in St. Petersburg and MCC Tampa, which celebrated 50 years of ministry in 2021.
The partnership was a direct response to “the most virulently anti-LGBTQ session in the legislature’s history,” Equality Florida said in a press release. The 2022 session saw the expansion of Florida’s “Don’t’ Say Gay or Trans” law, targeted gender-affirming care and other trans rights and sought to restrict drag performances.
These and other laws were used for “censoring higher education institutions and accelerating statewide book banning efforts to those imposing government restrictions on transgender people and their families who seek best practice medical care and enact draconian bathroom bans in publicly-owned buildings,” Equality Florida noted.
“This rally is just one example of how MCC shares the message of God’s inclusive love, for all God’s children,” MCC Moderator Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston said. “Jesus didn’t stay indoors demanding justice and proclaiming good news, he went out onto the street. MCC proudly does the same!”
“I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with affirming churches and faith leaders who believe that LGBTQ people are included in the family of God, are loved as their authentic selves, and deserve the same freedoms and equal protection under the law as every other person,” Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality Nikole Parker added. Both she and Eggleston spoke in Tampa.
“Equality Florida is committed to continuing our work to build and expand interfaith coalitions that push back against the legislature’s slate of hateful laws,” she continued, “and work together to rebuild an inclusive Florida where everyone has the freedom to be who they are and love who they want to love without fear of hatred and discrimination.”
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