New LGBT Campaign Calling on Faithful
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It was an unusual backdrop for a marriage equality campaign: the chapel at the First Presbyterian Church of Lansing.
"It is not conceivable that the LGBT community could take on a ballot measure and that's why we wouldn't just be going to the LGBT community," said Emily Dievendorf, the Executive Director of Equality Michigan. "We would need our allies,"
Allies like religious leaders who support gay marriage.
"Doctrines change over time. They change because we have scientific discoveries, they change because we have a difference in our culture, and they change because we have understood the bible in a different way," said Rev. Sarah Midzalkowski, an Episcopal Priest, who spoke at the announcement. "If you did take all of the bible literally no one would go to Red Lobster on Sunday after church for a meal of crab legs and shrimp."
The group also needs allies that have financial backing-- like the ACLU. A ballot initiative would cost more than $20 million to win. The new group "Michigan for Marriage" will consider that in 2016. For now the LGBT community and its supporters want to share stories and gain voters.
"Multiple routes to victory ensures a win. But that also means investing in multiple routes to victory," said Dievendorf.
Those routes to victory include court battles, legislative battles, and public opinion battles. The target audience for the new education campaign isn't liberals-- it's conservatives, communities of color, and the faithful.
"So when it's appropriate we bring it up, but it's not something that we focus on every Sunday," said Rev. Nicolette Siragusa of the United Church of Christ when asked about what she teaches her congregations about gay marriage.
The group wants to persuade all people that now is the time to extend marriage to everyone.
"And it certainly is legal rights, but it's also we're falling in love for all the same cheesy, beautiful reasons that you are," said Dievendorf.
We spoke to several church leaders for this story. Some are in favor, others didn't want to comment. A spokesperson for the Michigan Catholic Conference, while expressing respect for the LGBT community and sensitivity about the issue, said the church's teachings will not change. It defines marriage between one man and one woman.