Jay Bakker and Religious Straight Americans Speak Up for Gay and Transgender Neighbors

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Faith leaders from across the nation will participate in Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008, a project that spotlights straight Americans' support for gay and transgender neighbors over the week of September 14-20.

"Gay and transgender Americans are our neighbors" will be the simple message of faith leaders across the nation during the week of September 14-20, 2008.

These religious leaders are part of Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008, a week that will spotlight fair-minded straight people around the country. In 2007, the project's inaugural year, nighttime vigils lit up 36 American cities in 25 states over seven days.

This year, churches in cities as diverse as Brooklyn, N.Y., Superior, Wis., Danville, Ind., Modesto, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Portland, Ore., will sponsor Seven Straight Nights events.

Leading the clergy is Jay Bakker, pastor of Revolution NYC Church and star of the documentary series One Punk Under God.

"As Christians, if we follow the example of Christ in loving our neighbor as ourselves, then we have to realize that everyone is our neighbor, everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect and grace," says Bakker.

Jay Bakker is the son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner. His non-traditional approach to ministry achieved national attention in the Sundance Channel documentary One Punk Under God, which documented his journey to become a gay-affirming Christian.

Like Bakker, Michelle Garland has been on a journey to support gay and transgender friends. A Modern Orthodox Jew and married mother of three, Garland initially feared that, even as a straight woman, she would become the target of harassment.

"I was determined to do what I knew in my heart was right. I believe we are all G-d's children and to deny love to a fellow human is to reject the spark of G-dliness that is in each of us," says Garland, who is now organizing a Seven Straight Nights event in Ames, Iowa, for the second year in a row.

Nationally, Seven Straight Nights is sponsored by Atticus Circle and Soulforce, who are currently seeking straight people who are interested in organizing a Seven Straight Nights event in their communities. For more information, visit http://www.sevenstraightnights.org

Atticus Circle is a national organization that educates and mobilizes fair-minded straight people to advance equal rights for LGBT partners, parents, and their children.

Soulforce is a national social justice organization that advocates freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.


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