Press Release: February 17, 2003

Affirmation Endorses "Open Letter to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, and Transgender (LGBTST) Communities Opposing War"

Contact: Rev. Peggy R. Gaylord, Affirmation Co-Spokesperson, 607-723-4091 or, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

On Feb. 15, 2003 the National Affirmation Council signed on to an Open Letter initiated by The Audre Lorde Project (ALP) and the National LGBT Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Within the first three weeks from its initial release, more than 130 endorsers, including more than eighty (80) organizations within and outside the United States have endorsed the Open Letter to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, and Transgender (LGBTST) Communities Opposing War.

The Open Letter, first released on January 27, 2003, calls for active and creative opposition by LGBTST communities to the U.S. government's "war on terror" and impending war on Iraq.

"We urge our chapters and other groups and individuals, especially ones of faith, to add their names to this letter and to work for peace," stated National Affirmation Spokesperson Rev. Peggy R. Gaylord, Binghamton, NY. "As Pope Paul VI said, 'If you want peace, work for justice.' And I would add that we must work to extend mercy as well."

The endorsing organizations include people of color, youth, women-centered, faith-oriented, anti-violence, academic, local and statewide LGBTST advocacy, legal advocacy, community-based health, economic justice, and cultural groups or agencies, and more. The list of endorsers and the Open Letter may be seen in its entirety at ( to endorse, e-mail

"There is a groundswell of progressive grassroots and national LGBTST organizing against war on Iraq, which is one part of a much larger U.S. government 'war on terror'," said Dayo Gore of the Audre Lorde Project. "Even as we join with majorities in the United States and throughout the world in opposing a pre-emptive strike by the U.S. government against Iraq, we are also organizing resistance to the racism, violence, and repression that characterize the government's so-called 'homeland security' measures."

Both ALP and AFSC say that the 'war on terror' has become the justification for an accelerated redirection of federal funds away from human needs -- health care, housing, child care, social services, and education -- toward policing, prisons, and militarization, a redirection of human resources the organizations say was underway prior to 9/11. LGBTST communities are feeling the impacts. Those bearing a disproportionate share of the poverty and suffering resulting from funding reductions and budget cutbacks are communities of color, women, children and youth, and poor people.

"War on Iraq and the U.S. government's larger 'war on terror' cannot produce safety or security, but only human suffering, widespread violations of human and constitutional rights, and ecological catastrophe," said Whitlock. " "Lasting peace can only be built upon a foundation of human rights, social justice, and economic security for all."

The Rev. Gaylord concurs with the statement: "This continues to be an GLBT issue for us not only as people of faith concerned with any human justice but because in the past year of 'The War on Terrorism,' members of our communities have also experienced increased violence (including domestic and hate violence); lowered priority of human needs and social programs in order to support homeland and military security spending; increased militarization of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), supporting the expansion of a profit-making prison-industrial complex; and increased political surveillance and attacks on human and civil rights. We know what it means to be targets of hate and violence. We understand what it means to be scapegoats. We call on everyone to join national and local coalitions to hold a vision for peace with justice, a lasting world peace."

Affirmation's spokesperson noted that, in similar action, on Feb. 6, Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher, the President of United Methodist Bishops, urged continued restraint on acting against Iraq. She asked President Bush, a fellow United Methodist, to use "every possible means to prevent war" with Iraq.

It is important, Christopher wrote, for the U.S. to continue, "looking for every peaceful way of protecting the world and our nation against the tyranny manifest around the globe." The international Council of Bishops, Christopher continues, "has heard the voices of the men, women and children of Iraq who suffer daily from the effects of U.N. sanctions. . . . Their present misery will fade against the innocent bloodshed to come in the event of war." Her statements reflect The United Methodist Church's historic positions on issues of war and peace, most recently adopted by the 2000 General Conference.

Christopher closes on a note of prayer: "We pray that every possible means to prevent war will be pursued. . . . This is not a moment for haste, but rather for deep thoughtfulness and prayer. . . . The Council of Bishops holds you before God in prayer in this time of decision."

In addition to the letter to the president, Christopher issued a broader letter to the 9.8 million worldwide members of the denomination, informing the church of her letter to the president, and urging United Methodists to join their bishops in prayer. "World-shaping and life-shaping decisions will be made in the coming days and weeks that require God's guidance," Christopher wrote. The letters are Christopher's second pastoral response on the crisis with Iraq. On Oct. 4, 2002, Christopher asked United Methodists to join in praying for peace, for the leaders of the nations, and particularly for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, also a United Methodist. See for a complete statement of these letters.

For more info about the Open Letter statement, please contact ALP or Kay Whitlock/AFSC

See also: Affirmation Re-Affirms Policy Statement on War.

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