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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 23 BCA’s forty-year practice of performing same-sex marriages. In the afternoon, five panelists shared their experiences of growing up LGBTQ and their paths to Buddhism. Some shared their struggles and hardships, especially in terms of relationships with their parents. Others spoke of their feel- ings of acceptance and inclusion within their respective sanghas. After the panel, we formed small discussion groups so that everyone present could share their thoughts and comments freely. Listening to the animated conversa- tions during dinner and reading par- ticipants’ feedback after the event, I realized that we had successfully created a beneficial forum for dialogue. I myself learned a lot from this one-day seminar. What impressed me most was the panel- ists’ deep commitment to living within the teachings and the gratitude and joy they find in being part of their sanghas. Prior to this event, the BCA had had a long history of LGBTQ inclusion; the first same-sex marriage ceremony performed by a BCA priest occurred in the 1970s. In 2004, the BCA Ministers’ Association issued a formal resolution condemning the U.S. government’s prohibition of same-sex marriage. Ear- lier this year, the Ministers’ Associa- tion again took a stand with a formal resolution encouraging the Boy Scouts of America to remove all limitations of participation due to sexual orientation, both for scouts and leaders. And just last month, the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, for the first time in its history, participated as an official contingent in the 2013 San Francisco LGBTQ Pride Celebration and Parade. The Buddha’s teachings are for every- one. We strive to follow the spirit of Buddha and share the dharma with oth- ers universally. All of our BCA temples share a common teaching of openness and inclusion. Our struggle is to ensure that each of our temples expresses it. Exclusion and discrimination, even in our minds, is not justifiable. That said, discriminatory attitudes may arise. At such times, we should humbly scrutinize ourselves under the light of the dharma and sincerely receive Buddha’s guidance. Only then can there be genuine respect, enabling everyone to find a safe and welcoming place within the Buddhist community. The sangha, for me, is where the dharma finds its actual dynamic expres- sion. It is this very dynamism that allows us to transform our ignorance into the awareness of living as equals, together, within the dharma. Namo Amidabutsu Members of the Buddhist Churches of San Francisco take part in the city’s 2013 LGBTQ Pride Celebration and Parade