Local religious leaders host discussion on LGBT rights

The local Progressive Religious Coalition sponsored an event today to discuss LGBT issues and how they affect congregations.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Dozens of people are coming together to support the local LGBT community.

The local Progressive Religious Coalition sponsored an event Sunday to discuss LGBT issues and how they affect congregations.

The group formed around 10 years ago in Augusta by clergy across religions and denominations as a grassroots effort to bring change to their faith communities.

“Some of us decided to get together some progressive clergy, which are a minority of clergy within the Augusta area, but wanting to get together to share teachings of progressive religious teaching,” said Robert Klensin, president of the Progressive Religious Coalition. “And also to support each other in sharing those issues.”

They invited a speaker from Atlanta-based LGBT non-profit to show a documentary called “The New Black” about the campaign for marriage equality in Maryland.

“This film isn’t designed to persuade anyone or to get a particular response,” said Rob Woods, a field organizer at Georgia Equality. “The only that we’re looking for is to start a conversation.”

Afterward, the group that gathered to watch the film discussed heavy issues, such as sexual orientation, civil rights, religion and oppression.

“[The film] gives us a platform and a space to do that,” Woods said.

According to the advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, Augusta needs more than just discussion. The group measures how LGBT-friendly cities are — and Augusta scored a 12 out of 100 in 2015. The organization says laws are the biggest thing missing. The Garden City scored a 0 out of 30 in non-discrimination laws.

“Taking the initiative with something like the Municipal Equality Index scores, you’re commissions, and you know, councils, when they get a better understanding of how they’re being rated,” Klensin said.

“The New Black” is available on Netflix.

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