- About Us
- Our Stories
- Be Informed
- Take Action
REV. TOM CAPO: We need to help LGBT community be heard
Submitted by j on Fri, 2010-06-11 10:11
When a Unitarian Universalist church decides to become a welcoming congregation, they do more than throw open their doors.
"We have a certification process the congregation goes through with a very intensive curriculum," said Rev. Tom Capo of Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist in Cedar Rapids.
"It takes a year and people have to commit to going to classes. Even people who are supportive may not realize they are carrying prejudice, and these classes help clear that up and allow the person to work more genuinely for the LGBT community."
Peoples congregants also use what they learn to help educate others, recently hosting Unitarians from Minnesota and Illinois to find out what's helped change hearts and minds in Iowa. They also advocate for the freedom to marry at events like One Iowa's Lobby Day (pictured; see more photos and video from the event) and other venues where they can talk to elected officials about faith and equality.
Rev. Capo says the congregation will be repeating the curriculum this year too because transgender issues have been added.
"We're a welcoming congregation, but we think it's important to keep learning," Rev. Capo said.
Rev. Capo's desire to learn is, in a way, what brought him to the Unitarian Universalist Church. The product of a Catholic family and a Jesuit high school, he was encouraged early on to give a lot of thought to his beliefs.
"In high school we were really pressed to ask questions and look deeper," Rev. Capo said. "But some of the teachings and traditions were inconsistent with what I felt, like a woman's right to choose or that being gay or lesbian is a sin. Once they went down that path and I became aware of it, I began a journey of exploration to figure out what I believed."
After finishing college and beginning work as a psychotherapist, a nurse Rev. Capo worked with recommended her Unitarian Universalist Church.
"The first time I walked into the UU Church, it felt like home," Rev. Capo said. "The first day I was there, they had a discussion group about a woman's right to choose vs. right to life, and it was amazing that they were able to talk about both sides of the issue. I couldn't believe it."
And though Rev. Capo says he'd been aware of the need for LGBT rights early on, it wasn't until his experience with the Unitarian Universalist Church that he realized he needed to lend his voice. And once he got to Iowa, the need to speak up became a passion.
"In Texas, I'd go all over to officiate holy union ceremonies for gay couples because no one else would do it, but they were always tinged with sadness because the couple had none of the rights of marriage," Rev. Capo said.
The weddings Rev. Capo has officiated here -- all over the state -- are missing that sadness since the Iowa Supreme Court decision more than a year ago.
"One of the first things I noticed was during a lesbian wedding I did for friends in their home," Rev. Capo said. "I had to stop a few times during the service because I was so happy for them I almost started to cry.
"All these people were now finally able to get married, and I was experiencing so much joy for them it brought me to tears."