The following speech was delivered by Brandan Robertson at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. on June 30th, 2015 as part of the Service Honoring the Road to Equality.
This evening, we gather here in this sacred space to give thanks to God for the dawning of a new day in our nation.
Tonight, we gather here to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling that affirms the fundamental dignity and equality of every single child of God, of every diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.
Tonight, we also gather here to remember those whose lives vanished like a vapor, gone too soon before they could see this beautiful day.
Tonight, I stand here before you and with you with a heart brimming with gratitude and appreciation, both to God and to the thousands of people who have struggled and fought with lives dedicated to ensuring that the dream of equality would one day become our reality.
Beloved, tonight, it is our reality.
Just 10 years ago, a majority of people of faith in this country were preaching a message of exclusion and condemnation of LGBTQ people.
A majority of our political leaders and legislators said same-sex relationships violated the sanctity of marriage.
Just 10 years ago, a night like tonight would have been unfathomable.
And yet, here we are. Everything has changed, for good.
My journey towards coming to terms with my queer sexuality and becoming an advocate and activist for equality has been a rather short one.
Just six years ago, you could have found me on a night like this on a street corner in Baltimore, holding up signs that said “REPENT” and preaching against the dangers of the “gay lifestyle.”
I, like so many of you, grew up being taught that my sexual orientation was fundamentally flawed and sinful, and that in order to be a faithful Christian or a whole person, I needed to stand firmly against the “gay agenda” which sought to undermine the “Biblical values” that our nation was based upon.
I never had the opportunity to even dream of a day where I might be able to legally marry a person of the same-sex, much less to think that it would be blessed by my country and by my God.
But over the years, as my own relationship with God grew in depth and maturity, as I studied the Scriptures and got to know so many beautiful LGBTQ individuals, all of the messages that I had been taught about sexuality and equality began to dissolve. They didn’t hold water. They didn’t match up with reality.
I tried everything I could to hold on to the teachings of my youth. From religious counselors, to versions of reparative therapy, to cutting off relationships with anyone who identified as openly gay.
But the more I isolated myself and tried to fix myself, the more I sensed God’s Spirit gently nudging me to stop struggling and to embrace the person that I fundamentally was created to be.
That I was, in the words spoken from the mouth of God in the story of Creation, “very good” just the way I am, with all of my intricacy.
My six-year journey has taken me from feeling imprisoned and overwhelmed by the way God had made me, to this place, where I feel fully alive and more hopeful than ever.
My journey has brought me to the place where tonight, standing before you, as a committed Christian and an openly queer man, who now lives in a society where increasingly, I can live free, embracing all that God has made me to be, without fear of judgment or oppression.What an amazing thing that God has done.
Last weeks Supreme Court ruling for equality means that no matter who I fall in love with, we will be afforded the same rights and benefits as every other heterosexual couple in this nation.
It means that should I want to begin a family with a partner of the same-sex, that our family will be recognized and affirmed by our society. That our marriage no longer needs qualifiers. It isn’t a gay marriage or lesbian marriage. It is marriage. Period.
It means that my children will grow up in a nation where their family is not seen as “less-than” or “dysfunctional”, but rather as one of the many beautiful expressions that Love can take.
Fridays decision was a much needed and beautiful step forward, but let us also be mindful that in the midst of our celebration, there is still a lot of work left be done.
For we still live in a nation where in nearly 30 states, LGBTQ people can still be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone. In the same number of states, there is little to no protection for LGBTQ children from bullying in schools.
And beyond issues of sexuality, we still live in a country plagued by racism, as we were so brutally reminded just a few weeks ago with the horrendous events of Charleston, South Carolina or by the historically African American churches that are burning to the ground all around the Southern United States this week.
Indeed, we as a people continue to make huge steps towards justice, but we still have a long way to go.
Out of our celebration and thanksgiving tonight, may we rise up with greater resolve to press harder and louder for justice and equality for all people, both in our nation and around the world.
May this victory we have accomplished propel us to work harder for the victory and dignity for all people in the human family.
And finally, I want to make one more observation.
I firmly believe that all of this movement towards Justice is part of something far bigger than any of us will ever be able to fully fathom.
I believe that Friday’s ruling is just one more part of a powerful and ongoing movement of God’s Spirit, calling humanity forward towards a more just, a more equal, a more diverse, and a more beautiful Reality.
I believe that this ruling for equality, this nation-wide shift in the way same-sex relationships are viewed, even the individual shifts taking place in the hearts and minds of millions of people in our nation is all a part of something Jesus’ called “the Kingdom of God”.
Or another way of saying it, all of this is all part of humanity maturing and becoming more fully human, more connected with God, and more unified with one another in all of our diversity and elegance.
We as a people are evolving and moving forward. Our world is getting more complex and more mysterious. God is up to something BIG.
And this rushing river of progress cannot be stopped. It’s flame will not be extinguished.
What a tremendous privilege it is for all of us to be apart of this tremendous day.
In this Spirit, may we continue to march forward, filled with passion and love, moving along with the rhythms of God’s Spirit, to make our lives, our communities, our nation, and our world a place where Love truly has the ultimate victory.
A new day has dawned, indeed– and thanks be to God that we have arrived here to partake in it together.
[To watch the entire service from Washington National Cathedral, click here]