To the members of the Pflugerville ISD,
My name is Jim Rigby, I am pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Wells Branch Parkway.
I have come here tonight to thank you for your recent decision to offer domestic partnership rights to all the people who serve schools in our community.
I understand there are clergy in our area who oppose your decision. I respect my Christian brothers and sisters and affirm their religious liberty to say publically what they believe to be true. Where I disagree with them is when they believe they have a right to force their religion interpretations into the public sphere and to deny others the same rights they would claim for themselves.
My understanding of Christianity is fundamentally different from my brothers and sisters who believe homosexuality is a sin. I have never found any teaching of Jesus that prohibits homosexuality, but I have found plenty that tell me not to judge my neighbor. I have a direct commandment from my savior to treat my neighbors the way I would want to be treated, and when my neighbors are attacked unjustly, I feel I have a duty to rise to their side.
When my Christian brothers and sisters attack my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, when they constantly criticize their families, when they demean the faithful love these people have for one another, when they come into this public sphere to deny domestic partner benefits because they don’t approve of how my brothers and sisters live, they are not exercising their own religious liberty, they are infringing on the liberty of others.
Earlier today the Defense of Marriage Act, prohibiting same sex marriage, was struck down as unconstitutional in a federal appeals court. This was inevitable. One indispensable element of our American democracy is “inalienable rights.” “Inalienable” means they can’t be put up for a vote. Our Declaration of Independence says every person is born with inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Every person in this room has rights that cannot be overridden no matter what the majority says. So we are not discriminating against the majority when we insist that unpopular minorities must receive the same rights as everyone else.
I wish the church would stand up for persecuted minorities, but since we often don’t, and since we sometimes are even the source of persecution, I’m glad there are those of you here who stand up for all the people who live and work in our community.
Jesus once summarized his entire teaching as being a good neighbor. I have come here tonight because, by offering the same rights to all the people who work for our schools, you have been a good neighbor. And, as one who attempts to follow Jesus, I wanted to say “thank you.”