In 2012, the voices of Christian faith for LGBT equality have advocated for change across the country. Keep reading to see Believe Out Loud's top ten moments of the year!
10: The First Lesbian was approved for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA), following a historic policy shift last summer allowing for the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. Rev. Katie Ricks wrote: "At each new step forward in the ordination process, I realized that the "goal" that I had achieved was not the most amazing thing that had happened. Rather, I learned to put my life into the hands of God. I learned to trust in a community of companions to guide and walk alongside me on this journey of faith."
9: Matthew Vines became a national sensation for his compelling research and presentation on what the Bible says about homosexuality. The twenty-two year old Kansan went to Harvard University, but after two years, he decided to take a leave of absence to study the Bible and homosexuality. Matthew's presentation continues to support the Christian community as it expands its viral reach on YouTube.
8: The U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted in support of the ordination of transgender people and made it illegal to discriminate against them in the 1.9 million member church. "TransEpiscopal," a group of transgender Episcopalians including the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, spearheaded efforts that lead to this historic policy shift.
7: While the United Methodist Church closed its General Conference in Tampa, Florida, without voting to include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church, delegates continued to work for LGBT equality. Bishop Melvin Talbert invited his fellow Methodist to participate in an act of biblical obedience: "I call on the more than 1,100 clergy [who have signed marriage initiatives] to stand firm in their resolve to perform marriages for same-sex couples and to do so in the course of their normal pastoral duties, thus defying the laws that prohibit them from doing so."
6: Catholic Vice President Joe Biden paved the way for President Obama's historic support of marriage equality. Discussing his support in an interview on ABC News, President Obama cited his Christian faith and the Golden Rule as motivators for his new support. The news inspired hundreds of Christians to write letters of support and thanks.
5: Rev. Otis Moss III challenged African-American ministers, who threatened to vote Republican or not at all, in response to President Obama's support of same-sex marriage. "There is a difference between rights and rites," said Moss, the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. "We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective." His denomination also celebrated forty years of LGBT advocacy this year and welcomed its 1000th "Open & Affirming" congregation.
4: Reading direct quotes from white preachers supporting racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, the Rev. Dr. Phil Snider aired a supportive speech for LGBT equality. His presentation before the Springfield, Missouri, city council replaced "racial integration" with "gay rights" to illustrate that biblical gay bashing is on par with biblical white supremacy. The video has been viewed over 3 million times.
3: Baptist pastors came to the front lines to combat anti-gay campaigns in the black community: "We as black Baptists are not single-issue persons, and we see more important things than getting stuck on this matter of whether or not there should be same-sex marriage," said Pastor Amos Brown, of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, California.
2: Over 300 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marched in Salt Lake City Gay Pride. It was an emotional day along the entire parade route filled with cheers and tears as Mormon faces became more visible in the fight for equal rights. Students at Brigham Young University also recorded a message of love and hope to LGBT Mormon youth in a powerful "It Gets Better video. So did their parents.
1: And our top pick for 2012: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. For the first time in U.S. history, marriage equality has been approved by popular vote, and it couldn't have been done without the support and tireless efforts of faith communities. Christian voices took center stage as pastors and congregations released statements and videos to support LGBT equality. Those who were conflicted offered their stories and journeyed with the public to change hearts and minds. Believe Out Loud will continue to mobilize Christian voices as we work toward LGBT equality in 2013.