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New bilingual guide on sexual orientation, gender identity and the Bible for Latino/a families and churches

June 29, 2011

In an effort to foster a dialogue with Latino/a families and churches on sexual orientation, gender identity and the Bible, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and UNID@S, today unveiled a new bilingual guide, A La Familia: A Conversation About Our Families, the Bible, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at a press conference during the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) 82nd national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“LULAC is against all kinds of discrimination. I am extremely proud of my home state given that New York just approved same-sex marriages,” says LULAC’s New York State Director Ralina Cardona. “As Americans, we need to accept and tolerate each others’ differences. That’s what separates this great country. We are not all of the same culture, color, sexual orientation or religion, but we are all Americans and in our unity lies our strength, but in our differences lies our power.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people often face unique challenges in Latino/a families and churches. To help in the process of acceptance and inclusion, A La Familia is born out of a profound desire to faithfully integrate an excluded group of people back into the life of their churches and families. This guide is written for two primary audiences: heterosexual people honestly struggling with LGBT issues and the Bible, and those whose sexual orientation and gender identity have marginalized them within their family or church or even both.

“As Latinos and Latinas, we know what it means to live under oppression,” says the Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, co-author of A La Familia and HRC Religion Council member. “From current immigration policies, to discrimination in the workplace, to anti-Hispanic biases in the media, we as a people are all too familiar with structural violence. To stand for justice can never be limited to Latinas and Latinos who are like us; it must also include the marginalized within our own familia. Hence, this booklet, A La Familia, is our attempt to make sure no one is excluded, no one is discriminated against, no one is abused due to prejudices and bias. It is an attempt, for those of us who call ourselves Christians, to live up the the good news of our faith.”

“While we know that God’s extravagant welcome and justice are powerfully known in many Latino faith communities, this is not universally true,” says the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “We’ve seen recently the tragedy in Puerto Rico as violence against LGBT people is stoked by religious rhetoric. This is true in too many communities. We must do better.  We must ensure that love and respect are the fruits of our faith communities. A La Familia is a powerful step toward this kind of a world.”

“Conversations about sexuality, gender identity, faith and family are essential for building and sustaining robust and vibrant communities that value the spiritual life of all its people,” says Sharon Groves, Ph.D., director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign. “A La Familia, written by Latinos/as for Latinos/as will generate and support such conversations among Latino/a Protestant and Catholics about family, the Bible, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what God calls us to be to one another.”

“As Christians, we struggle every day with living the word of the Lord. As Latinas and Latinos we work to embed it in our lives and our families,” says Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of UNID@S, the National Latina/o LGBT Human Rights Organization. “A La Familia will guide us through a thoughtful dialogue about the integration of faith, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Catholics and Protestants, Latinas and Latinos are a welcoming people. This guide will help expand, integrate and grow our communities and bridge the mythical schism so many believe separates us.”

Download a copy of A La Familia: A Conversation About Our Families, the Bible, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity here.

Read the press release in Spanish here.

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