By Jim Smith, DignityUSA Program Manager
In January 2013, a town of 334 citizens in eastern Kentucky became the smallest municipality in America known to have approved an ordinance protecting LGBT persons from discrimination. City commissioners in Vicco, KY voted 3-1 to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers, and by sellers and renters of housing.
Small town. Big news. How did it happen?
It happened because enough people were impassioned enough to stand up and speak out, unified on a particular issue of justice, and not ready to give up easily. The openly gay mayor of the town led the charge, but alone he was powerless. It is because of what happened in Vicco, and what could happen in small and big communities across the nation, that we gather at our convention in July to “Let Justice Roll Like a River.” We will bring inspiration from ballot votes in 2012, and from legislative initiatives in 2013. We will bring stories of secured justice from our own circles of community. And we will bring hope for the future.
To plant us firmly on good ground, our first plenary of the Convention will remind us of the foundations of our belief in the inherent beauty and dignity of all God’s people. Maureen Fiedler, SL will bring the fire of her spirit and depth of her knowledge to help us remember where our Church has planted seeds of justice in teaching and action, and how this rich heritage brings us to the solid ground on which we now stand. Jim Nickoloff, professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, will then join her on stage. He will weave the intersections of liberation theologies, Latino experience, and LGBT justice into the conversation.
That is just a taste of what you will encounter in Minneapolis this July. Join us on this solid ground of justice, and bring your hunger to see our communities fully embrace the dignity of all God’s people.