Jesus’ Guest List is Under Attack - Statement on the Massive Rise in Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Jesus’ Guest List is Under Attack - Statement on the Massive Rise in Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Four hundred twenty-eight in three months.

Four hundred twenty-eight anti-LGBT legislations have been introduced in this country since the beginning of 2023!
 These numbers are staggering and frightening, not only for people within the LGBTQ community.

Legislators all over the country try to police bodies that are not white, cisgender, male,
and/or straight. They try to push education away from critical, nuanced, and caring approaches that center on the needs of minorities to ideologically driven censorship. They try to vilify and restrain gender expressions and bodily autonomy, slandering drag queens and trans people (as well as their supporters) as "groomers" and "abusers." And even victories we thought long-won, like same-gender marriage, are under attack again. 
The rhetoric is sneaky, the goals opaque. It is too easy to just read it as plain queer- and trans- phobia. It is part of a concerted effort of certain political actors to obtain and maintain power and cover up their lack of actions in other areas. Racist dog whistles around Critical Race Theory and African-American Studies AP courses, have to be seen in connection with anti-queer speech and legislation. It is a pattern of attacking and vilifying the "other" to gain political power and cultural supremacy. It is a pattern that has occurred in some of the worst times in history.
When I recently attended a UCC church in Connecticut for their Open and Affirming anniversary, a gay congregant shared his story of running a crisis/suicide hotline for gays and lesbians decades ago. The stories were heartbreaking and empowering at the same time.

While listening to his words, I could not help but think of high suicide rates among queer youth, especially trans kids, today; how many of these children's lives are saved by support hotlines and gender- and sexuality-affirming environments and care; at the same time, I shivered thinking about the people we might lose and already are losing due to the lack and the attack on these very spaces and people. It is important to remember that it is a matter of life and death, even if it is hard. Listening to queer elders and people affected the most will make this abundantly clear.  
In the same church, I preached on Jesus' radical hospitality, about Jesus' guest list that contains all the people which those in power and with privilege would rather disappear. Luke 14:7-15 names the poor and the disabled, but if we really understand this passage in its depth, we see that the list would incorporate so many more these days: the drag queens, the youth deprived of adequate education and care (around sexuality, gender, race, etc.), trans people of all ages and identities, a married gay couple next to a polyamorous queer community… the people who are called “perverts” and threats today, the people that were called prostitutes and sinners at Jesus’ time.  
I invite you not to get distracted by those that claim "Jesus," "Christianity," and "decency" as ways to cover up their hate. If we, as a church, keep our eyes on Jesus and the people invited to his table, we know who our community is, who we have to fight for, and who we are called by the divine to protect and respect.  
If you want to get started on this path or learn more, here are three avenues for you to do so:  
  1. Inform yourself about what is going on in your local politics, and be a counterweight to hate and exclusion! Rev. Greg Gray - who is co-heading our ONA Ministry Team - and his UCC church in Enfield have made it a practice to purchase books that are banned from school and public libraries due to anti-queer rhetoric. They offer copies for free to their community.  
  1. Listen to and attend seminars with trans educators and activists about ways to be an ally. One such option is to attend this seminar with Schuyler Bailar.
  1. Take a look at this action list by the national setting of the UCC and start by choosing ONE and doing it:  
  • Learn who your Legislators are at the State and Federal levels of government – and get to know them! Use this tool on the UCC website to look up contact information. 
  • Review these Advocacy 101 tips, and get involved by emailing, calling, or visiting your legislators asking them to oppose any legislative attacks on trans youth. 
  • Call on Congress to oppose any legislative attacks on trans youth, such as HR 734, a bill that would prevent trans youth from taking part in school sports teams that match their gender identity. Send a message to your member of Congress here to oppose this bill, and spread the word
  • Educate others about what is transpiring in your state and attend hearings online or in-person at your state capitol as a presence in solidarity with trans youth and parents. 


Michael Streib

Michael is the Queer Justice Advocate for the Southern New England Conference UCC, and pastoral resident at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Somerville, MA

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