Michael Hamar

Letters to President Barack Obama - A Retired, Ordained United Methodist Pastor

Filed By Michael Hamar | May 23, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Congressional Democrats, DADT repeal, gays in the military, religious based discrimination

As readers of my personal blog, Michael-in-Norfolk, cannot help but know, Carole - Retirement.jpgI am one of the bloggers participating in the SLDN campaign "Letters from the Frontlines - Letters to President Barack Obama," along with the Bilerico and dozens of other LGBT blogs. I have received many comments on the series, but one really struck me that I received yesterday - a message from a retired United Methodist pastor who said that the series had prompted her to write her own letter to President Obama.

I was touched by the letter and, with the author's permission, I am going to publish it in its entirety. The letter is important in my view because (1) it reminds us that we have important straight allies, many of who are Christians, and (2) it reminds others that despite what our enemies contend, there are many gay Christians.

I want to thank Reverend Vincent (pictured above in a photo on the Church website at her retirement party) for sharing her letter with me and other bloggers involved in the SLDN campaign and for allowing me to share it with all of you readers. Here is her letter.

The emphasis is mine

May 21, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington DC 20500

Re: Urging a speedy repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Dear President Obama,

It is an honor and a privilege to write to you. My husband and I voted for you, and we are very glad you are our president. Thank you for your outstanding service in these very difficult times.

I write as a mother, wife (46 years) and retired, ordained United Methodist pastor who served churches in California for sixteen years. I'm in touch with many gay and lesbian people and their families, and am aware of their hopes and struggles to gain equality.

In this context, please allow me to plead with you to immediately do all that you can to end the terrible policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Can you issue a temporary stop-loss order for discharging our gay and lesbian service members, while the Pentagon completes their study and Congress repeals this discriminatory policy? It is my observation that these actions must be done soon, or I know that the LGBT community and their allies will not be supporting Democrats and will sit out the November elections in discouragement.

Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are hurting, as are their families. As a pastor, I have heard many heart-breaking stories. So I've had to learn the issues and develop a response. It became most important to me to understand how one interprets the biblical passages that seem to condemn homosexuality. After years of study, I have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin, nor does the Bible speak to our understanding of LGBT issues today. The lesbians and gay men in our congregation at Almaden Hills United Methodist Church in San Jose, CA and in other congregations I have served, love and serve God with all their hearts. They didn't want to be gay and fought for years against their gay orientation. Being gay wasn't a choice; it's a fact of their being. Given my experience, I would debate my brothers and sisters who see it differently.

Gays have been done great harm by unjust social policies, the church and even their families. It's past time to stop the hurt and make matters right. With hope that you can aggressively lead the Pentagon and Congress to "do the right thing" and do it now, I send you my prayers and support. God bless you, Mr. President!

Grace and peace,

Reverend Carole L. Vincent
M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA

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Well said. But, to make it easy for the rest of us - that look at religion as the primary reason for our struggle - could we please find a way to describe these "new Christians?

When Christians abandon the traditional belief that homosexuality is wrong, deviant or sinful we need a way to recognize/acknowledge them. Many of my Catholic friends do not share traditional Catholic teaching/belief that we are "disordered." I just call them "New Catholics."

Maybe someone can come up with something a little more creative.

Yeah, because that would seem to just centralize homophobia in Christianity, make it seem like real Christians are homophobic or something.

Why try to categorize "them"? We are all children of God. No-one judges other than God.

Because some of "them" really, really believe it, some kinda believe it, and some believe it maybe twice a year. The ones that really, really believe have caused all of our discrimination. If I could tattoo them, I would.