July 28, 2017
The Bishops of the Diocese of Virginia continue our commitment to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in all aspects of our common life as a Church and as a nation. We are proud to be in community with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and concur with his statement (below) in response to our President's decision to exclude transgender persons from military service. We also stand by the guidelines for the inclusion of transgender persons in our camps and schools, which we developed last year. Be assured of our unwavering support for God's beloved children, no matter their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick
Statement from the Presiding Bishop
In light of President Trump‘s tweet banning transgender individuals from serving in the military and the Department of Justice’s argument that employers can legally discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, I am compelled to oppose these actions and to affirm the moral principle of equal rights for all persons, including the LGBTQ communities. I do so as a follower of Jesus Christ, as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and as a citizen who loves this country.
This conviction is not born primarily of a social ideal, but of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the witness of our biblical and theological tradition.
Genesis 1:26-27 teaches us that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. This is a divine declaration of the inherent sanctity, dignity and equality of every person.
Further, the sanctity of every human person and the principle of human equality before God are deeply imbedded in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. In Mark 22:26 and Luke 13:10-17, Jesus teaches the inherent worth and dignity of the human person. In Matthew 5, he tells us of God’s love for all people equally. In Luke 10:25-37, he commands us to love God and to love every person. Above all, Jesus teaches that we are to treat all others as we ourselves would want to be treated (see Luke 6:31-36).
As followers of Jesus Christ we believe the inherent sanctity, dignity, and equality of every human being as a child of God is part of the moral foundation of our faith. In the Episcopal Church we promise in Holy Baptism to “respect the dignity of every person,” and to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.”
As Americans, we believe in civil and human equality, as one of the foundational ideals of our country. Discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is a violation of the fundamental ideal of equality in America. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
Those rights – and the protection from discrimination – apply equally to all Americans.
I truly believe that the overwhelming goodness and kindness and sense of justice of the American people are summed up in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, which says that we are “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Therein is the soul of America!
So, to the transgender individuals currently serving in the armed forces: thank you. We are grateful for your service and for your sacrifices. We support you and all service members and veterans. You are our neighbors, brothers and sisters in God‘s human family, and fellow citizens of this country we love.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church