Lafayette Religious Leaders Ask City Council to Recognize Pride Month
The month of June is recognized as Pride Month around the world, and local religious leaders are asking the Lafayette City Council to do the same.
The seven local religious leaders, including six reverends, penned a moving letter to the Lafayette City Council, addressed to "our fellow leaders of the Lafayette community", asking for an official declaration of Pride Month in Lafayette.
In the letter, church officials signed their support in recognizing each June as Pride Month in the city and the parish of Lafayette. They believe that the simple act of recognition would benefit all of the citizens of the area, especially those in the LGBTQ community.
In the past, Lafayette's Mayor-President Josh Guillory showed no interest in making the declaration. He responded to a question from The Current about recognizing Pride Month in Lafayette by saying:
The role of government is not to define traditional values. I would further say that you can turn to sources such as the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions of faith. I think people turn to those institutions for guidance, meaning old traditional values. - Josh Guillory, February 12, 2020, The Current
That was then. Fast forward 16 months and, well, it appears that nothing much has changed in the Mayor-President's mind; he still isn't budging when it comes to supporting a declaration for Pride Month.
But will a letter from religious leaders from those "institutions of faith" the Mayor-President spoke of change his mind? Will the letter help him develop any empathy for the LGBTQ community? Maybe not, but it might sway the city council.
There are members of our community who have been ridiculed, rumored about, discriminated against, threatened, beat up, some even murdered, all because of who they choose to love. A simple recognition could go a long way in helping them feel accepted.
As the religious leaders state in the letter, young people who are members of the LGBTQ community are five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight people of the same age group. Five times more likely. Why? Because they feel they are being cast aside. They feel like they are less than. They feel like they are not accepted by the very community in which they live. They feel that they are not loved.
Who is it that makes them feel that way? Anyone who does not recognize them as contributing members of society. The parents who disown them because of who they love. The bosses who fire them because of who they love. The landlord who won't rent to them because of who they love. The government who won't recognize them because of who they love. This letter to the Lafayette City Council is hoping that, through a simple act of recognition, the tide of hate in Acadiana can begin to turn.
The religious leaders, in the letter, go on to say how much of a contribution members of the LGBTQ community make to their individual congregations and, as a result, to Lafayette as a whole. "LGBTQ+ members and staff in our congregations are invaluable." the letter reads. "There are individuals who host 12 step recovery groups, provide music..., teach Sunday school... serve the needy... and provide clean water ministry partnerships in foreign lands."
These church leaders, in the letter, explain that they have a duty to love everyone, "not just the people who think, pray, look, or love like us."
The most moving paragraph of the letter, in my opinion, is the final paragraph.
The final paragraph asks "How do we protect people? How do we love the unloved? How do we see the unseen?" Their answer is simple: "We acknowledge their existence. And we celebrate that existence by name, on purpose. We believe in the sacred value of every individual."
Through published interviews and videos, it appears that Mayor-President Josh Guillory is still hesitant to declare Pride Month in Lafayette, but, according to KATC-TV3, the Lafayette City Council will, again, vote on the issue this coming Tuesday, June 15th.
The most recent poll from Gallup shows that 70% of US citizens support same-sex marriage. That is an overwhelming majority. Why does South Louisiana seem so far behind the times?
A vote to proclaim the month of June as Pride Month in Lafayette failed last year; maybe this plea from local religious leaders will help sway the city council in their decision.
Maybe this year we'll show our true Southern Hospitality.
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