May 31, 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I know that I speak for all New Yorkers, as I certainly do for my brother and sister bishops, in expressing our sorrow and outrage at the murder of Mark Carson on the eighteenth of this month. This killing was clearly an anti-gay hate crime, and is being treated as such by the police commissioner of New York City. Hate crimes teach the whole community that every person identified with an historically oppressed group may at any time be victimized for the sake of the fears, hatreds, biases, weakness and pathologies of others. But even more than that, every word and action, every sentiment, that seeks to divide people from people or puts one people above another feeds a climate in which such violence can be seen by some as acceptable or excusable or even as the fault of the victim his- or herself. This is the insidious power of hate crimes, and it is why such crimes are treated differently by our laws and courts. We grieve that Mark Carson, who did nothing to provoke such an attack, and who did not deserve to lose his life, has fallen victim to these corrosive prejudices and this awful aggression. We grieve also for our cities and towns and for those forces active among us which work to rob people of their dignity, their freedom, their safety and even their lives. We grieve for the dehumanizing consequence of such violence that touches every one of us, and we grieve for the Body of Christ, into which the forces of violence and hatred continue to drive nails.
The murder of Mark Carson received great media attention. Less known is that the attack on him was only one of nine criminal acts of violence against people in Manhattan during May which were precipitated entirely because the victims were gay. Everyone needs to know this. Nothing could be more destructive to our common life or more grievous to God than such a pattern built upon a foundation of real evil, of unbridled hatred.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York has worked and continues to work to identify, recognize and eliminate the last vestiges of anti-gay bias in our structures and polity. This work is not finished. But we have labored to remove every barrier to the full inclusion of and participation by the LGBT community in our church in the whole of our life, including access to ordination and all diocesan and parochial leadership. Most recently we have broadened our understanding of and teaching regarding marriage to include same sex couples, and have happily embraced sacramental marriage equality as an expression of the fullness of our common life, and as a grateful response to the myriad ways in which the love of God is expressed through all of our lives. This holy work, and the fruits of it, are part of the way we hope to live out our baptismal imperative to "strive for justice and peace," and to "respect the dignity of every human being," and as a witness to the love we receive from God and have for one another. We believe and are convinced that this is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow is June, during which our communities will observe Pride Month. We will take into this month the still-fresh memory of these victims of anti-gay hate-crime violence, and most especially our brother Mark Carson. The LGBT Pride March in Manhattan will take place on Sunday afternoon, June 30. I will again be on the diocesan float. All are invited to come and join your fellow Episcopalians who will ride that float or accompany it on its way.
There are many voices in our culture which insist that homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian life. We emphatically do not believe that. So do find a way in these coming weeks to grieve the fallen, to make your witness to the love of Jesus, to engage our godly call to justice, and to let the world see and know that there are countless faithful Episcopalians in the LGBT community, and that they are loved, embraced and respected by the larger body of the Church of which they are and have always been a part.
The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche
Bishop of New York