Pro-Queer Multi-Faith Campaign Launched in North Carolina

National Multifaith Campaign Calling for Full Dignity and Equality of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People Launches in North Carolina Days Before Gay Marriage Vote

Inspired by Sundance Award-Winning Film Love Free or Die, effort will move “conflicted people of faith” to become supporters of LGBTQ equality through Great Schlep-style, person-to-person activism

April 12, 2012, New York, NY—Groundswell, a social action initiative of Auburn Seminary, will launch the Groundswell of Courage campaign, a multifaith, national, grassroots campaign that supports full LGBTQ equality and dignity this Saturday, April 14th, 2012, in North Carolina, just 24 days before North Carolina’s May 8 ballot initiative that would change the state constitution and ban same-sex marriage and legal recognition for North Carolina’s LGBTQ couples.

The campaign is inspired by the Sundance award-winning film Love Free or Die, which profiles Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop. The Groundswell of Courage is modeled after the “Great Schlep,” a highly successful campaign that encouraged young Jewish Americans to have one-on-one conversations with their elders about supporting President Barack Obama in 2008. The Groundswell of Courage kicks off with a film screening of Love Free or Die at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival at the 1000-seat Carolina Theatre on April 14, 2012 at 4:40 p.m. During the launch weekend, Groundswell will host events and film screenings in Charlotte, Durham, Elon, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem.

“I am so inspired to see Love Free or Die be put to good use in changing the hearts and minds of conflicted Christians and other people of faith,” said Macky Alston, Director of Love Free or Die. “For me, growing up gay in a community of faith that rejected me at first, but came to accept and love me for who I was is in many ways the story of my life. Now, I have a husband and two children thanks to the courageous leadership of faith leaders like Bishop Gene Robinson, bold politicians, and a groundswell of grassroots support for LGBTQ equality. Still, in 44 states, marriage is illegal for same-sex couples, and in 32 states, there are significant legal obstacles to adoption by same sex parents or gay people. Not to mention the fact that there are so many others like me who have yet to have the full love of their own faith communities. Hopefully, this film and this campaign can help change all that.”

Groundswell’s national campaign focuses on the seven states likely to hold ballot initiatives concerning LGBTQ equality in 2012: California, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington.
Through screenings of Love Free or Die, as well as Groundswell speaking engagements, the Groundswell of Courage invites faith communities and college and seminary student groups to form their own local Groundswells.  Local Groundswell groups invent their own ways to fulfill the “Each One, Move One” pledge to stand for dignity and equality in 2012 and beyond, host screenings of Love Free or Die, and intersect with the goals of other Groundswell campaigns. Groundswell will connect individuals who would like to fulfill the pledge with nearby Groundswell groups.

“Religion has long been used to justify the oppression and dehumanization of LGBTQ people:  in homes, in houses of worship, in voting booths.  Indeed, some people of faith will likely vote against the full equality and dignity of LGBTQ people because of their religious convictions during the 2012 election cycle,” said Valarie Kaur, Groundswell Director. “We are here to change that. Today, a groundswell of people is emerging from the shadows of silence to stand for the full dignity and equality of all, no matter who they are or who they love. They are helping their conflicted loved ones to change their hearts and minds – in this election cycle and beyond.”

THE EACH ONE, MOVE ONE PLEDGE
“I pledge to reach out to a friend or family member who is conflicted about supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people because of his or her religious convictions.  I pledge to engage that loved one with my story of courage, sharing why I believe it is important for all of us to open our hearts and minds to the inherent dignity of all people.” For more information on the pledge, click here.

ABOUT THE FILM
Love Free or Die, directed by Macky Alston and produced by Sandra Itkoff, is about openly gay bishop Gene Robinson, whose courageous story inspired bishops, priests and ordinary folk to recognize the humanity of someone who happened to be LGBTQ and change history.  For more information, see www.lovefreeordiemovie.com.

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