Dr. Joel L. Kushner, Director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at HUC-JIR and a member of the steering committee of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, was one of two spokespeople from Roundtable at a press conference on May 13 in Puerto Rico, where an elected official recanted a previous vote against same-sex marriage and spoke out for the first time in support of marriage equality. Luis E. Farinacci Morales labeled his previous vote a mistake and called for equality for all under the constitution.
Dr. Kushner stood with national LGBT and allied faith leaders from more than a dozen Protestant, Catholic and Jewish traditions, as they spoke out in the shadow of the brutal murder and decapitation of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose killer was sentenced to 99 years in prison the day before the press conference.
Dr. Kushner said, “I long for the day when the headlines will be about graduations and weddings instead of murders and sentencing.”
The National Religious Leadership Roundtable met from May 12-14 outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to build skills to function at the intersections of issues related to race, orientation, economics, religion, gender identity, age, ability, etc., so that differences become opportunities to build bridges rather than become obstacles. These leaders also held a historic meeting with five progressive congregations in Puerto Rico who are opening their doors to LGBT people in the face of significant discrimination and hatred.