Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be ordained as an Episcopal bishop, has a lot to celebrate this week: Not only did the Supreme Court bring marriage equality to all 50 states last Friday, but on Wednesday the Episcopal Church announced clergy could perform weddings forsame-sex couples.
At a special interfaith service on Friday, Robinson delivered a stirring sermon about dignity, equality and the LGBT community's responsibility in the wake of these victories.
The service took place at Philadelphia's landmark Christ Church, where George Washington, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin had all been parishioners. It was part of a weekend-long anniversary celebration of the historic 1964 gay rights demonstration at Independence Hall.
In his remarks, Robinson recounted a story from Acts, about John healing a lame beggar outside the temple.
"Gay people are used to begging for scraps," the retired bishop told attendees, who came from all walks of life. "Until someone lifts us up and tells us God loves us beyond our wildest imagining."
He scoffed at those who say there was no room for the LGBT community in Christianity, recounting how black slaves were given Bibles to keep them docile.
"The slaves actually READ the Bible and saw the seeds of their salvation," beyond the literal words. Similarly, he said gays and lesbians "have read our Bible, and saw in it the seeds of our liberation."
Robinson explained that God had two "asks" of us in return for last month's victory: One, that we continue the fight for equality—especially for transgender people—and secondly that we look beyond America's shores to help the international LGBT community.
While his spiritual rhetoric was inspiring, Robinson also injected his sermon with humor: At one point he joked that he was pretty sure Episcopal Church founder William White—who is buried under the altar at Christ Church—"wasn't rolling over in his grave" over Robinson's address.
Other events in the LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration include a re-enactment of the Annual Reminders, film screenings, panels, VIP events with Judy Shepard and Edie Windsor, and "Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights and the Supreme Court" an ongoing exhibit at the National Constitution Center