Blayne Higa of Hawaii leads the Buddhist invocation Tuesday at a rally of religious leaders for gay equality legislation.
The Rev Dr Y’lon Dozier preaches at the Metropolitan Community Church in Baltimore. But she came to understand the tragedy of bullying during her previous posting in Schenectady, N.Y., where five teens committed suicide in a matter of months between 2008 and 2009.
"We learned that these girls made a pact ahead of time, and it was based on bullying from one of the girl gangs," she says. "Young men were also bullying them because they had made a pact to stay chaste until marriage.”
Dozier says she never wants to officiate at the funeral of a teen who committed suicide again.
That's why Tuesday she joined hundreds of clergy from all over the country who are lobbying Congress to pass a bill that protects students from bullying for any reason, including sexual orientation.
"It's unacceptable that students fear their safety when they go to school," says another pastor, Kharma Amos from Fairfax County, Va.
Amos says she and fellow Christian, Jewish and Buddhist leaders are also urging their representatives to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law passed in 1996 that says states cannot be compelled to recognized same sex marriages from states where its legal to do so.