Gay marriage anniversary

Yesterday was the first anniversary of legal same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Unitarian Univeraslist Association had a lovely reception for the plaintiff couples in the legal suit that brought about the equalization of marriage. Six of the seven couples were able to attend, as well as Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who represented them, and staff and volunteers from Mass Equality and Freedom to Marry, two civil rights groups here in Boston. Yummy cake, yummy cheese, and bubbly champagne–all smack dab in the middle of a work afternoon–then we trouped out to Boston Common for a photo op with the State House in the background.

For a more political and strategic take on the day, I liked what AndrewSullivan had to say:

Above all, we have changed consciousness. In civil rights movements, that’s what matters and that’s what endures. People forget that two decades ago, homosexuality meant simply sex for most Americans–and unsavory sex at that. Or it meant counter-cultural revolution. Or left-wing victim politics. By fighting the marriage fight, we changed the terms of that debate. We co-opted the language of our enemies–the language of family, love, responsibility, commitment. We did this not simply because it helps us win over the middle of American politics. But because it’s actually reflective of the reality of many of our lives.

Gay irony

Interesting summary of an article on the now-adult children of gay and lesbian couples over at SRV.

It ends with this wonderfully ironic gem:

The children of lesbian parents can be just as mean as any other’s: “A well-worn anecdote circulates in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a progressive neighborhood, about two gay men who were concerned when a little boy teased their child for having no mommy — only to discover later that the little boy in question had two mommies.”

Revolting opinions of a science fiction writer

Here is Orson Scott Card going on about marriage. Apparently it’s not a unique example. Google on “Orson Scott Card marriage” and you’ll get an eyeful.

No mention, of course, about the evils of plural marriage. I think he should turn his attention to the abuses perpetrated by Mormons (whether LDS or not) before he spreads his hateful lies about gay and lesbian people.

Legislative Testimony

Testimony in support of the Marriage Bill, H 3677, before the Massachusetts House
23 October 2003

To: Honorable Chairpersons, members of the Judiciary Committee, and members of the General Court

I speak in support of the Marriage Bill, H 3677. Simply as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I would urge you to approve this bill, ending discrimination based on gender and granting same-gender couples the civil rights and responsibilities of marriage.

But I speak to you today as a member of the Religious Society of Friends (also known as Quakers). As a Quaker, I am no stranger to the differences between civil law and religious practice. Mary Dyer, a Quaker whose statue stands in front of this building, was hanged by the authorities on Boston Common in 1660. She was a martyr for religious freedom. Her statue should stand as a warning against the perils of allowing religious practice, no matter how large the majority, to dictate civil practice for all.

Quakers today are not being hanged, but we still seek equal treatment before the law. Many Quaker congregations take the relationships of same-gender couples under their care, which is to say that we authorize and oversee the marriage ceremony and commit to providing pastoral care to the marriage. My own congregation, Beacon Hill Monthly Meeting, which meets only blocks away, has for over 15 years recognized marriages of its members without regard to gender. In April 1988 the Meeting officially stated that:

We, the members and attenders of Beacon Hill Monthly Meeting, affirm our belief in that of God in every person. Furthermore, we attest that this belief embraces all persons regardless of sexual orientation.

Beacon Hill affirms that all couples, including those of the same sex, have equal opportunity to be married within the framework of the meeting process. The love between these couples, as it grows, will enrich their relationship, the Meeting, and the world at large. The Meeting is committed to supporting these couples according to their needs.

Beacon Hill acknowledges the Certificate of Marriage signed by the couple and those present at the ceremony as the witness of Friends to the couple’s spiritual union. Mindful that only the heterosexual couples among us currently have the right to legally sanctioned marriage and its privileges, the Meeting asks Friends, and particularly couples preparing for marriage, to examine how best to respond and bear witness to the inequalities still present in the system.

Massachusetts, of course, long ago ceased to persecute Quakers, and statutes regarding “procedure to perform (solemnize) marriage” include not only provisions for clergy of various denominations and civil authorities, but this clause:

a marriage maybe solemnized in a regular or special meeting for worship conducted by or under the oversight of a Friends or Quaker Monthly Meeting in accordance with the usage of their Society.

Thus, for some couples whose marriages have been allowed by Beacon Hill Meeting, our action is sufficient evidence for the state to extend the responsibilities and benefits of marriage to the couple. For other couples, equally in love, equally faithful to one another, equally contributing to our community and to civic life, equally examined by our careful marriage process, our action has no legal effect. How can the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allow us to act as agents of the state in marrying opposite-gender couples and then disregard our careful religious discernment concerning same-gender couples?

If religious definitions of marriage are to continue influencing the civil definition of marriage, if the state is to continue allowing religious officials to act as agents of the state in conducting marriages, then the state must not discriminate between different and even conflicting religious practices. In this case, I urge you to extend the same civil rights and responsibilities to all the couples married under the care of Beacon Hill Meeting by approving bill 3677.

“Traditional Christian Marriage”

Christian Century reports on page 7 of its Sept. 20, 2003, issue on an editorial from the August 16 Los Angeles Times:

The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church’s founder, [Henry VIII], and his wife Catherine of Aragon, his wife Anne Boleyn, his wife Jane Seymour, his wife Anne of Cleves, his wife Catherine Howard and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on our “traditional Christian marriage.”

Way to go, LA Times! (It’s on their website, but you have to pay to get the full text.)

Bishop calls for tolerance in gay row

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bishop calls for tolerance in gay row A lay leader at Greyfriars Church, Reading, responds: “The gravest consequence will be to the Anglican Church’s witness to the name of Christ in our land. May God have mercy on us all and give those in authority Godly wisdom at this time.”
Well, sure: if John is appointed suffragan bishop, it will be a witness that Christ is for everyone, a repudiation of the hatred and bigotry all too often promulgated by the so-called Christian Church.