My reflections in recent days have called to mind a group of individuals and families I work with or have visited as a minister and chaplain.
This group encompasses college students, professionals, singles, families with children, and couples without children. These dear ones pay their bills, enroll their children in school and extra- curricular activities, commit to mortgages, own a business and are active and engaged in civic and community life.
The common ground which these individuals and families share is rooted in their connection to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Inter-Sexed community. Common ground is not the only thing members of the LGBTQI community have in common.
As LGBTQI, these dear ones may face isolation, discrimination, and open hostility from family members, neighbors, coworkers, supervisors, teachers, and ministers. As a Unitarian Universalist minister and Inter-Faith chaplain, I have the privilege of engaging in ministry and service to this population as they strive to cope on a daily basis and claim their place as beautiful human beings and families.
A big part of my work is serving as an Ally for the work and issues that directly impact this group.
I am not alone in my work as an Ally. Many Allies have stood with this group in our community and across the Upper Cumberland and beyond. Recently, the LGBTQI community has won marriage equality, yet still faces the real possibility of discrimination when seeking competent and unbiased therapeutic aid in the context of counseling.
As a chaplain, minister and counseling intern seeking future licensure by the state of Tennessee, I find it disheartening that our state legislature would further alienate and discriminate against citizens of our community and state. Members of the general assembly will hear bills that seek to eliminate marriage equality (House Joint Resolution 529) and increase instances for discrimination in the counseling profession (Senate Bill 1556).
At the same time, I am thankful for the work accomplished and the positive contributions LGBTQI members have given to the Smithville and Upper Cumberland communities for generations past and present. More Life to You and Joy.
Rev. Mark C. Pafford
Chaplain and Minister