Dear Bishop Webb,
Hello my name is Kate Gitchell; I am a 20 year old college student. I have my associate’s degree in Liberal Arts and have earned a place at SUNY Cortland for my Junior and Senior year and will most likely continue on my education to a Master’s degree and possibly even farther. I am an educated, straight woman, I don’t find it necessary to mention the latter, but in context of this letter I feel as though I am obligated. I have also been a member of Tabernacle United Methodist Church my entire life. I was born into this church, into this family. A family that consists of White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, of men, women, children, transgender people, straight people and Gay people and though it may not be a conventional family I wouldn’t have it any other way. A vote was made in our church to become a reconciling congregation, a congregation that allowed members to be who they truly were without the fear of being rejected or turned away.
Rev. Steve Heiss is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. He is kind, he is brilliant and he is brave. My life would not be what it is today if he had not fulfilled the role that he had, and looking back on all the years I’ve known Steve that is becoming more and more evident. When we made our vote to become a reconciling congregation that was our congregation standing behind Steve wholeheartedly and not only trusting him in his leadership but genuinely believing in what it was he stood for. It would be hypocritical of Steve to not provide his services in marrying couples who are so obviously in love. Isn’t that what this world needs more of? People like Steve fighting for what they believe to be right? Making the brave choice of coming forward and practicing what he’s preaching?
I admire Steve I genuinely do, and though you may think I am young and naïve, I know what it is I believe in, I believe that this world can grow and move forward. That people can move past the hate, past the judgment and give everyone the sense of equality that they deserve. There was a time in history that as a woman my voice, my opinions wouldn’t have mattered. I hope sooner rather than later that people of every sexual orientation can look back and say that was just a time in history. Steve Heiss is a man to learn from, a father, a friend and a hero. I’m proud he can give a voice to those who can’t do it themselves, and I will stand behind him through every obstacle that he is faced with. Thank you.