• Faith leaders present at the press conference included Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow of Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit, Rev. Joe Summers, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Ann Arbor and co-chair of Inclusive Justice, Rev. Alicia Skillman of Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, Rev. Ed Rowe, pastor emeritus of Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, Julie Nemecek, an ordained Baptist minister and Judy Lewis, a faith leader at Temple Emmanuel in Oak Park. (BTL photo: Jason A. Michael)

Michigan Faith Leaders Petition Congress to Protect LGBTQ Constituents

Jason A. Michael
By | 2018-10-24T16:32:12-04:00 October 24th, 2018|Michigan, News|

At a press conference Friday, Oct. 19 that capped off the daylong Faith, LGBTQ Inclusion and Human Rights conference at Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit in Clawson, faith leaders from across Michigan came together to announce plans to petition members of Congress to protect their LGBTQ constituents from discrimination. The initiative is sponsored by Inclusive Justice, a statewide, faith-based coalition, in partnership with Freedom for All Americans, an LGBTQ activism organization.
“Over the course of the next year, we will work to train and empower faith leaders from across Michigan to speak out with federal lawmakers in Michigan about non-discrimination protections,” said Adam Polaski, Freedom’s senior director of online programs and partnerships. “We don’t have any specific meetings set up just yet, but we’ll be working toward them in the coming weeks, empowering faith leaders themselves to arrange meetings with representatives, senators and their staff members in congressional offices here in Michigan.”
Just a couple weeks before the midterm elections, faith leaders issued a bold call to action to people of faith in Michigan working toward LGBTQ protections in the state and nationwide.
“There is no sacred text that does not declare that every human being is a magnificent creation of the divine,” said Rev. Ed Rowe, pastor emeritus of Central United Methodist Church in Detroit and a longtime civil rights activist. “The struggle to protect the rights of LGBT people is a struggle for all of us. It is a struggle to be faithful to our God, faithful to our vows, faithful to what God has called us to be and do. We cannot be silent without being complicit, and we cannot be complicit without being held accountable for being part of the problem.”
Judy Lewis is a faith leader at Temple Emmanuel in Oak Park.
“I believe that no one should face discrimination because of who they are of who they love,” Lewis said. “I know that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are our friends, our neighbors, our children, our parents and our fellow congregants … should have the same opportunities as any American to earn a living, to have a safe place to live and to have access to the same opportunities in business and social situations.”
A minister at Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, Rev. Alicia Skillman is also the former executive director of the Triangle Foundation. She spoke at the event, too.
“During that time, I heard hundreds of stories about the way discrimination shatters the lives and spirits of our people,” Skillman said. “People are often surprised that in 2018, even with marriage equality, we are still being discriminated against and it makes no sense. [But] what makes sense is that you show up on Nov. 6 and vote for people who know what inclusion looks like, and vote for people who know what equality looks like. … That’s what we’re asking for today, that all faith-based leaders stand up and show up and their families and friends stand up and show up for equality.”
Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow is the senior pastor and teacher at MCC-D.
“In Michigan, our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender neighbors are left vulnerable to discrimination because of a lack of explicit protections at the state and federal levels, and as a Christian, I know that this gap in the law is unacceptable,” Stringfellow said.
“We look forward to meeting with Michigan’s elected officials in the coming year to explain the need for a federal law protecting LGBTQ residents once and for all.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.