Religious leaders rally for gay rights
Group says Antioch Bible Church wrong to oppose state bill
By John Iwasaki, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 29, 2005
KIRKLAND -- Religious leaders who favor increased protection for gays took their cause to the Eastside Wednesday, directly challenging the Rev. Ken Hutcherson and his supporters.
About 30 people of various faiths gathered at the entrance of Lake Washington High School to support long-stymied legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The group also met "to counter the very loud voices by a very few fundamentalist religious leaders" who oppose the bill, which was narrowly defeated in the 2005 Legislature and is expected to be reintroduced in the upcoming session, said Robert Jacobs, Northwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Jacobs later said he was referring to Hutcherson -- whose Antioch Bible Church meets at the high school -- and Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Mercer Island. He is president of Toward Tradition, a national coalition of Jews and Christians.
"They speak so often ... as if they represent the word of God," Jacobs said. But the Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy and laypeople at the news conference showed a different religious perspective, he said.
The Rev. Monica Corsaro, ecumenical campus minister at the University of Washington, said it was erroneous to use scripture critical of homosexuality as the basis for withholding support for gay rights.
"We can't be literalists when it comes to interpreting scripture," said Corsaro, who also is co-chairwoman of the Religious Coalition for Equality. "It's not the perfect word of God. It's heretical to superimpose 21st-century context and values on first-century context and values."
Hutcherson and Lapin, who did not attend the event, defended the biblical condemnations of homosexual behavior.
"It's hard to get around what the Bible says about the sin of homosexuality," Hutcherson said. "We believe in an inerrant word of God. That means there's no mistake. Biblical truth overrides culture and time."
Lapin said it was "chilling" to imply that "those who wish to echo the words from Leviticus, spoken from Sinai three millennia ago, should be suppressed."
In April, the state Senate defeated HB1515 by one vote after it had passed the house. State law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, marital status and other factors. The bill would have added sexual orientation to the list.
Microsoft Corp. initially supported the bill, then pulled back -- before Hutcherson threatened to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products, the software company said. Hutcherson maintained that Microsoft shifted only after he voiced his threat.
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