Brethren-Mennonite church group condemns Sen. Eichelberger’s “assault upon gay and lesbian people.”
Statement by Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests says he
“brings shame to himself and to the Church of the Brethren.”
(HARRISBURG, PA)—In a strongly worded statement, a church-based lesbian and gay advocacy group has condemned Senator John Eichelberger’s recent remarks as bringing “shame to himself and to the Church of the Brethren.”
The Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests (BMC) issued their statement in response to the growing controversy around Eichelberger’s comments calling LGBT people “dysfunctional” and saying of same-sex couples that “we are allowing them to exist.”
Last week, activists presented Eichelberger a petition with 5,000 names asking for an apology. He refused, saying, “You know where I stand.”
Senator Eichelberger’s state-funded website (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senate_bio.cfm?districtnumber=30) says that he is a member of First Church of the Brethren. BMC is the LGBT caucus for his denomination, the Church of the Brethren, which prompted their condemnation of Eichelberger. Their website (www.bmclgbt.org) says, “The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community.”
Carol Wise, executive director of BMC, is a former Pennsylvania resident, now based in Minnesota. She called on Sen. Eichelberger “to educate himself and cease his assault upon gay and lesbian people. His uninformed and callous remarks do little to promote understanding and serve only to foster an atmosphere of fear that gives rise to acts of violence and discrimination. Our families, and all families, deserve better.”
The entire statement from BMC is attached.
Statement in Response to Senator Eichelberger
Senator Eichelberger brings shame to himself and to the Church of the Brethren, his religious affiliation, through his ill-informed and disrespectful comments about gay and lesbian individuals and families. In addition to significant misinformation about the realities of gay and lesbian relationships, it appears that the Senator’s imagination and fantasy life have gone into overdrive as he anticipates polygamy and child marriage emerging from same sex marriage. Indeed, we would gently remind him that such practices are most generally advocated in cultures that are quite punitive of same sex relationships, not affirming of them.
Senator Eichelberger comes from a Christian denomination that, while not supportive of marriage equality, specifically calls upon its members to “challenge openly the widespread fear, hatred and harassment of homosexual persons” as well as “advocate the right to jobs, housing and legal justice.” It is disheartening to hear his disregard of such directives by calling gay and lesbian relationships “dysfunctional;” by his casual dismissal of the needs of the children of lesbian and gay couples; and especially by his disturbing comment that gay and lesbian people are “allowed to exist,” as though our very lives depend upon his generosity.
We urge Mr. Eichelberger to educate himself and cease his assault upon gay and lesbian people. His uninformed and callous remarks do little to promote understanding and serve only to foster an atmosphere of fear that gives rise to acts of violence and discrimination. Our families, and all families, deserve better.
Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests
Minneapolis, MN 55406