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COMMENTARY: Love and compassion can go a long way in changing hearts and minds

I am pleased to see a story in this week’s LGBT Weekly encouraging members of our local LGBT community to rally in support of the San Diego Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in University Heights, which authorities say has been targeted by several hate-motivated arson crimes.

In the article, community activist and columnist Nicole Murray-Ramirez said that she is working to contribute an additional $5,000 to the reward fund that has been set up to find the perpetrators of the hate crime, from an anti-hate crime fund originally endowed by and for the LGBT community.

“We’re talking about a church; a place where people go for spirituality,” Ramirez told LGBT Weekly. “I may not agree with their positions against equal rights for all Americans, but I’m sure not going to shrink from my responsibility to stand up in support of anyone who’s been victimized by the kind of violence that kept our community in the shadows for so long.”

I appreciate this showing of love and compassion coming from within our community in light of the recent concern over some LGBT community members and myself supporting The Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinners, which provide a hot holiday meal for individuals and families in need.

Some in the LGBT community have called for a blanket boycott of The Salvation Army citing religious beliefs held by some members of the organization, but I am glad to see that some outspoken members of our community may be having a change of heart, encouraging others to have compassion for organizations that may not have the best track record in its dealings with diverse groups.

While Murray-Ramirez’ call for support comes at a time when the Jehovah’s Witness group has been attacked, it is no different than calling for people to support the programs and services of The Salvation Army. By supporting these groups, and showing them the love and compassion that exists in our LGBT community, we have the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of the people who hold such deep-rooted religious beliefs that result in hatred and intolerance.

Working together with groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Salvation Army, we can work toward more civil, open dialogue that will lead to greater acceptance all around.

We stand together with Murray-Ramirez and other community leaders who have put the call out to support the San Diego Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.

As a matter of full disclosure, SDGLN Publisher Johnathan Hale has a personal relationship with Carl DeMaio. Their relationship in no way impacts the editorial decisions made by Ken Williams, SDGLN Editor in Chief, and does not influence our political coverage.