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Gay rights advocates keep the faith

June 30, 2009

Would love to have covered this unlikely meeting in San Antonio Sunday. John Hagee, the conservative and often controversial megachurch pastor met with gay rights advocates on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall

Elaine Ayala reported in the San Antonio Express-News that the visit from Austin members of  Soulforce and Atticus Circle was pretty uneventful. Members of Hagee’s Cornerstone Church said the visitors were pleasant, but of course Hagee, who has had some choice words about homosexuality in the past, didn’t exactly renounce his views. 

Still, Jeff Lutes, the executive director for Soulforce and an Austin resident, said he’s committed to continue meeting with faith communities.

“I feel cautiously and hopefully optimistic,” said Jeff Lutes, founder and executive director of Soulforce.

Ultimately, the groups seek a better understanding of LGBT equality and pursuit of equal marriage rights. Lutes said they see “a clear connection between our civil rights and what the church is teaching,” pointing specifically to a sermon by Hagee in which he proposed a constitutional amendment protecting marriage.

Of course, Lutes is not the founder of Soulforce. The organization was created by the Rev. Mel White and his partner Gary Nixon. I had the pleasure of interviewing White once at the Statesman. He talked about how he and Gary used to attend an even more controversial evangelical church — Thomas Road Baptist Church in Virginia where the late Rev. Jerry Falwell presided. The couple would stand silently whenever Falwell said something hurtful about homosexuals. Pretty powerful. 

Also, please see my former colleague Joshunda Sanders’ piece advancing the Sunday trip.

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