A public-service announcement- URGENT JUSTICENET PRESS RELEASE +gt;From The Universal Fell

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A public-service announcement---- URGENT JUSTICENET PRESS RELEASE >From The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches "Serving 250,000 lesbian and gay Christians in 245 American cities and 17 countries around the world..." LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIANS TO FAST AND PRAY FOR THE DEFEAT OF THE "DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT" (DOMA) AS DEBATE BEGINS SEPT. 5 IN THE U.S. SENATE Washington, D.C. (Friday, August 30, 1996) On Sunday, September 1, in churches across America, 250,000 lesbian and gay Christians and their allies in other faith communities are being called to fast and pray for the defeat of DOMA (the 'Defense of Marriage Act'). The Senate debate begins Sept. 5. "While our sisters and brothers will begin the Fast on September 1 in their communities across the nation," explain Dr. Mel White, UFMCC* Justice Minister and spokesman for the fast, "we will launch our 'Fast for Understanding' officially in front of the Capitol on Wednesday, September 4. "If DOMA is approved by the Senate and sent to the President, we will shift our fast to the White House and continue there, praying that God will give President Clinton the wisdom and the courage to veto this tragic bill." The Rev. Troy Perry, founder and Presiding Elder of the UFMCC calls DOMA, "...one of the most dangerous and misleading bills in the nation's history. To say that Congress and the President can permit one state to disregard a legal marriage from another is to ignore the spirit and the letter of the U.S. Constitution and its 'full faith and credit' guarantees. Of course," he adds, "undermining the Constitution and replacing it with ancient biblical law (as they interpret it) is exactly what the religious and political extremists are trying to accomplish." The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, a UFMCC Elder and the African-American pastor of an MCC congregation in Falls Church, Virginia, agrees. "Not since the Jim Crow laws segregating and demonizing African-Americans has the legislative and the executive branches of the U.S. government combined their forces in such an aggressive, hostile action against an entire American minority." "DOMA," claims the Rev. Candace Shultis, Pastor of the M.C.C.-D.C. congregation in Washington, D.C., "is just one more step towards achieving the ultimate goal of the extremists: to signle out homosexuals for second-class citizenship, to rob us of our legal rights, to force us back into closets (and ghettoes), to criminalize our loving relationships, and to eliminate homosexuality (and homosexuals) altogether." When asked how long the fast would be, Dr. Mel White replies, "Each person will decide. For some, it will be one meal, one day, or one week. I hope to fast and pray until the Senate and the President have made their decisions about DOMA. It isn't easy to miss three meals in a row, let alone to go without food for weeks at a time. But when our fellow Americans seem wiling to ignore the truth about God's lesbian and gay children and even to pass laws like DOMA that lead to intolerance and discrimination, we must show our concern in real, sometimes sacrificial ways. On Wednesday, September 4, at 9:00 A.M., on the Capitol lawn, Dr. White will launch the "Fast for Understanding" with a brief prayer vigil, praying for members of the Senate, the President, and 'the religious and political extremists who have gained such power over the nation's political process.' Each day will end at 9:00 P.M., with a similar candle-light vigil on the Capitol lawn. In towns and cities across America, thousands of lesbian and gay people of faith will gather simultaneously, every 12 hours, for their time of prayer and fasting "for God's help in ending intolerance and discrimination, not just against lesbians and gays, but against all God's children who suffer." "You don't have to fast to be an important part of this "Fast for Undestanding," White explains. "Anyone interested in doing justice is invited to attend our morning and evening vigils and/or join us in our daily efforts to bring the truth about lesbians and gays to Senators, their staff members, the media, other government officials, residents of the District, and tourists passing by." Once an Evangelical pastor, seminary professor, filmmaker and ghost writer for leading conservative Christians (including Pat Robertson), Mel White battled his own homosexuality for 30 years with various 'ex-gay' therapies, exorcism and even electric shock. After attempting suicide, White decided to accept his sexual orientation 'as a gift from God.' For the past four years, working as the unsalaried Justice Minister for the UFMCC, White, and his partner, Gary Nixon, have spent much of their time confronting religious and political extremists including Robertson, Falwell, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Lou Sheldon. White's book, Stranger at the Gate: to be gay and Christian in America, was a best seller, and lead to interviews on Sixty-Minutes and Larry King Live. In 1995, Dr. White was arrested and jailed while trying to meet with Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach. White refused to pay the $50. fine (for 'trespassing') and spent the next 21 days fasting in jail, waiting for Mr. Robertson to hear his case. "When he finally came to visit me in jail," White recalls, "I asked Pat to tell his 700 Club viewers about the terrible rise of hate crimes against God's lesbian and gay children; to condemn anyone who incite or commits those crimes; and to meet with P-FLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) whose children have been bashed and murdered in the current hostile climate created in part by Pat's anti-gay words and political actions, like the 'Defense of Marriage Act' supported by his Christian Coalition. Robertson refused." White is quick to explain that "...this is not a hunger-strike where we stand at the gate and demand our way. This is a fast in the tradition of the Jewish and the Christian prophets who prayed and fasted that our Creator's loving Spirit would break down the barriers of intolerance and discrimination and open stubborn minds, including our own, to justice and to truth.' Although it seems certain that DOMA will be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, White still hopes 'that God will use our small sacrifice to advance the truth that lesbian and gay Americans love and serve the nation, too, and that we deserve the same (not 'special') rights enjoyed by heterosexual Americans." *UFMCC (The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, with 300 congregations and 250,000 congregants, is the largest Christian community in the world with a primary ministry to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians.) For More Information and/or Interviews, CONTACT:Dr. Mel White (Ph) 714-494-0960 (a 24 hour information service). Dr. White In D.C. (Ph) 202 638-4048 or (ph) 703 359-9740 Permanent address, PO Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA 92652 The Rev. Elder Troy Perry (ph) 310 360 8640 The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner (ph) 703 532 0992 The Rev. Candace Shultis (ph) 202 638 7373 (For more information or to subscribe to the complete, unique and timely reportage/commentary of The "c.c.watch" Electronic News Service, call 305/751-5001. We track and report on the activities of Pat Robertson, his many enterprises [especially the Christian Coalition], and his fellow travelers...and then we disseminate information that the public might never otherwise receive.)

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