My Reflections from the 2015 Faith & Family LGBTQ Power Summit in Salt Lake City
Wow! What a week. The Faith and Family LGBTQ Power Summit held in Salt Lake City, Utah, last week was epic. As a new member of the Task Force’s Public Policy & Government Affairs team, the Summit was quite an introduction to the Task Force’s work on the intersection of faith and LGBTQ rights. The opening plenary given by Bishop Yvette Flunder is definitely worth a watch so you too can feel inspired by faith and organizing.
However, what stands out most in my mind is the warm and welcoming spirit of all of my Task Force colleagues who were at the Summit. This is the first organization that I have been a part of that starts its meetings by giving everyone a moment to give a shout out of yesterday’s victories. Everyone’s excitement about organizing and mobilizing LGBTQ and faith communities is awe-inspiring.
My personal victory from the week was organizing and delivering my first training, ever. Alongside Samantha Master and Reverend Emma Akpan – both reproductive justice advocates at Planned Parenthood Federation of America–I trained participants on the intersection of reproductive justice and religious exemptions. The training went so well! Our audience was captivated by the differences between a reproductive justice and a reproductive rights analysis. Participants left the training with a deeper understanding of the need to put the most vulnerable populations at the center of a reproductive justice analysis, because only when we are fighting for the rights of the most marginalized among us will we be able to ensure full reproductive justice for everyone.
For some people in the audience, the training provided an introduction into the history of healthcare refusals and how this history has become center stage in the current political debate due in large part to the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. This session gave me motivation to begin to craft a toolkit that can be used for public advocacy and education, which will combine reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality and faith in an effort to fight against religious refusals in healthcare; more on the toolkit to come.
All in all, while in Salt Lake City, I recognized how important standing in solidarity with faith leaders is in the fight against religious exemptions, especially in healthcare. But, it’s good to be back in D.C. so that I can implement what I learned into my future work and life.
by Candace Bond-Theriault, Policy Counsel for Reproductive Rights, Health and Justice, National LGBTQ Task Force