Celebrating 15 Years of Soulforce: Remembering the Rollercoaster Year of 2004
The 15 for 15 campaign continues, celebrating 15 years of Soulforce activism. So far we have raised more than $4645 toward our goal of $15,000 by the end of Pride Month! Please donate here: http://soulforce.com/donate.
We have the witness of history that teaches us that social and progressive change has always occurred because of the groaning, pushing, and striving of a minority, never the majority; of the oppressed, never the oppressor. – Jimmy Creech
2004 was an eventful year for Soulforce, and for LGBTQ rights in general. In the previous year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, leading to marriage licenses being issued in the state in May, 2004. In February, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In response to Newsome’s actions in San Francisco and the Massachusetts ruling, President George W. Bush endorsed a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as part of his reelection campaign. Also as part of this campaign, anti-marriage-equality constitutional amendments were placed on ballots in 11 states—all of them passed on Election Day, November 4. Bush was reelected.
The following is a letter of encouragement to Soulforce supporters sent by Soulforce Chair Jimmy Creech on what was, for many LGBTQ activists, a day of crushing sadness and disappointment:
November 4, 2004
The reelection of George W. Bush and the passage of constitutional marriage amendments in eleven states is sobering, if not depressing. Religious fundamentalism is the big winner. Truth, equality, compassion, freedom, and diversity are the losers. A large majority of US citizens has affirmed the political momentum toward U.S. military and ideological domination of the world, continued assault upon the environment, increasing disparity between the rich and poor, denigration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, abrogation of civil liberties, … the list goes on.
What are we to do?
We have to keep working for what we know to be true, just, and righteous. We have no other choice. To stop is not only spiritual suicide, it’s complicity with our own oppression and the oppression of others.
Don’t let go of your rage, your anger. Your rage is a sign you’re alive and well, and understand what’s happening! Don’t let it destroy you, but use it to fuel you passion for justice, your compassion for the oppressed, and your demand for respect and equality.
In spite of the euphoria and confidence George W. Bush and his supporters feel today, our country is moving toward crisis. Crisis opens the door to new possibilities. We cannot see these new possibilities in the fog of the moment, but they are there. Our job is to keep preparing the way for them by embodying truth, compassion, justice, freedom, dignity, and nonviolence in our own lives, by continuing to hold accountable leaders and institutions that do spiritual and civil violence to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and by working in the political process to resist tyranny and to bring about change. We must be steadfast and persistent.
The struggle will be long and hard, and there may be little if any success for us to see for some time to come. We struggle in hope, not in certainty. Hope is born of our belief in what is true, good, and righteous, not in confidence of victory. I can offer you no comfort, no solace, except to say that we are not alone in this struggle. We have each other, a glorious community spread across this land. We have the witness of history that teaches us that social and progressive change has always occurred because of the groaning, pushing, and striving of a minority, never the majority; of the oppressed, never the oppressor. And, the God who created us, loved us into being and loves us still, is with us and won’t bail out on us.
Soulforce will continue the fight to end spiritual violence. We will not despair or be discouraged. We count on you to stand with us!
Blessings on all of you!
Jimmy Creech, Chairperson
Soulforce Board of Directors