Rev. Griff Martin: “May love win. May children have a home.”

The following is the testimony of Rev. Dr. Griff Martin, Senior Pastor of First Austin: a baptist community of faith, in opposition to SB 892, the proposal currently moving through both chambers of the Texas Legislature to allow faith-based child welfare groups that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBT children and families. Rev. Martin was unable to deliver this testimony to the Senate committee in person, so these remarks were sent directly to the bill author — and are reprinted here with Rev. Martin’s permission.

I am here today as the Senior Pastor of First Austin: a baptist community of faith, the First Baptist Church located just a few blocks away from this very room, a church that welcomes all people, a vision we hope for our entire world: all people, all people, all people.

This year two of our community’s stories of love involve families whose rights are being threatened by this bill, SB 892 which would allow child welfare services to discriminate against LGBT families. Both of these stories involve same sex couples whom have adopted children.

One set of parents has adopted black children and last fall they were the victims of a racist hate crime. I witnessed these incredible mothers rise above reactionary behaviors and to use this moment as a teaching moment for the world, literally inviting those who created the hate speech into their homes for dinner to see how they were a family and to get to know them, to share their home in hopes of opening minds and creating a safer world. That is the kind of home our world needs children raised in.

The other set of parents have adopted children with disabilities and I have seen this family literally walk to hell and back this year. They have buried one of their beloved children. They have sacrificed time and income to have surgery for another. And in all of this, they have been a beacon of love and hope. In these times of true heartbreak and struggle, these mothers have continually put their children and their needs ahead of their own and through grief and pain I have seen two mothers shine and maintain a home of love and hope for their young children. Once again this is the kind of home our world needs children raised in.

 At the funeral for this young child I related the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Three grown adults, siblings, one of whom the traditional church has loved to label beyond the sexual norms of the day, all sharing a home, a home that in those days would have been labeled non-traditional, a home that did not meet the standards of “normal” back then, a home that did not have a male and a female, a home that this bill would very likely discriminate against and yet this is the home where Jesus continually went again and again for rest and restoration, this is where he went to find love and hope in our world, these were his chosen family. Surely we would not have wanted to deny Jesus that right to find chosen family and to make home in a non-traditional home…. And surely we would never want to deny any child in our foster and welfare system the right to have a family, traditional or non-traditional.

May our fears and ignorance not stop us from giving children a home. May we become a world of all people, all people, all people. May love win. May children have a home.

Rev. Dr. Griff Martin, Senior Pastor of First Austin: a baptist community of faith