Texas Judge Rules Which Churches Acceptable For Gay Families

A district judge in the Texas court system has released an official ruling that the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is not an acceptable church for the daughter of a lesbian mother.

The ruling came in the midst of a custody ruling as part of a divorce between the lesbian mother and her husband.

"I'm holding the judge's order in my hand and reading and re-reading his words. I can hardly believe what I am seeing," said the Rev. Troy D. Perry, Moderator of more than 300 MCC congregations.

In his legal opinion, Judge Keith Nelson of the 78 Judicial District of Texas wrote:

"The primary issue is where the child would attend Sunday school and church...the intent was for mainline churches to be utilized in the religious training of the daughter. This would include the Catholic Church, and church in the Protestant faith such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Christian, Episcopalian, which are considered to be the standard religious institutions in the Protestant field. The Metropolitan Community Church does not fall within this category."

"This is a violation of the First Amendment protections to freedom of religion," said Perry. "We have joined hands with the National Center for Lesbian Rights to fight this injustice and protect the constitutional rights of this lesbian mother and her child."

"This is not only shocking," said Perry, "it's an attack on GLBT families and people of faith. Because we're gay or lesbian, this homophobic, sexist judge feels he can decide by official government decree which churches or synagogues are "acceptable" and which are not. What in God's name will it take to get the government out of our lives -- or from attempting to control our GLBT families?"

The lesbian mother reports she tried to comply with the judge's ruling and attended the types of churches listed in his order. "We never felt comfortable in those places," said the mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's legal rights. "My heart almost broke when my daughter begged me to take her back to the MCC church."

"I am asking all people of goodwill to support this case. And I encourage those who believe in prayer, to remember this courageous mother and her beautiful young daughter with their prayers," said Perry.

According to Perry, an appeal of the judge's decision was filed in the Texas court system on Friday, April 23. "I have made a personal commitment to this family that we will pursure the appeals process as far as we have to to ensure that justice is done, and to protect other GLBT families from this kind of government interference into our personal, family and spiritual lives," added Perry.

Since its founding in 1968, UFMCC has been at the forefront of the drive for spiritual and social justice for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons. The denomination successfully fought for the of rights of gays and lesbians to serve as chaplains in public jails, and has fought a variety of anti-gay laws and ballot initiatives.

UFMCC is composed of more than 300 local congregations in 15 countries. UFMCC has 42,000 official members and adherents, and more than 225,000 persons attend the services and programs of UFMCC annually. Additional information on UFMCC is available on the Internet at http://www.ufmcc.com.

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