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Asheville pastor takes up the cause of gay marriage equality

Blender Ann, who sent in the report about the anti-discrimination rally in Asheville over the weekend, passed along word that a pastor there has stepped up to challenge the bigotry on gay civil equality.

Pam,

Wanted to give you a head’s up about news concerning the aftermath of the rally to protest GLBT workplace discrimination in NC.

…As you know, at the rally on Saturday the Rev. Lane Calloway challenged her fellow clergy to cease performing marriage ceremonies until GLBT folks have the right to marry in NC. Well, the next day, one of the clergy present at the rally, Rev. Joe Hoffman, First Congregational United Church of Christ, took her up on the challenge. Step by little step, progress is being made, civil disobedience is being demonstrated, and hearts and minds are being won over…..step by small step.

Here is a snippet of the great news, from the Asheville Citizen-Times:

The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville (http://www.uccasheville.org/), made the announcement in his Sunday morning sermon in an effort to treat his gay and lesbian parishioners the same as heterosexuals — a move that he believes is a first in this area.

When I sign that piece of paper for marriage, as an agent of the state, I give (heterosexual couples) about 1,100 rights and privileges that gay and lesbian couples do not get,” Hoffman said. “I believe in equal rights for all people. As a minister, I was participating in a system that was unjust.”

…Hoffman said he made the decision on a personal level and says he is not speaking for his church, made up of more than 200 members.

“I hope it will prompt people to think,” Hoffman said. “I hope they will question what this is all about. I think for heterosexuals, it will be a small inconvenience to have a religious ceremony and then get it legalized. But I hope it calls attention to the great injustice that people who are gay and lesbian live with every day.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding