Marriage Equality and the Church

When I saw people on the ChicagoNow Facebook page acting hateful to Siblingless of "Being Catholic...Really," because of her post about gay marriage, I had to say something. I told Siblingless this on her blog, but I'm putting it here so my readers can see it, too, since it does share my views on legal recognition of gay marriage.

Siblingless, I'm sorry that some people are calling you a bigot, hater, or an asshole on the ChicagoNow Facebook post. It's a rather strong response on their part, borne out of frustration, that's really not warranted. You're a kind, compassionate person--I want you to know that.

However, I do agree with peoples' comments here and on FB about equality and justice. Denying the equal right to a slip of paper given out by the government that acknowledges the companionship of a couple in order to provide benefits is bigotry. I wouldn't say hatred, but I would say, "misguided attempt to win the hearts of sinners," perhaps. Legal recognition of gay marriage has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with government and laws.

Why should we deny gay partners the right to see their loved one in the hospital, or make caregiving decisions when they are incapacitated? Why should we deny government benefits for their loved ones when a loved one dies? Why should we deny health care to their partner simply because some believe they are sinning? It is the opposition to legal recognition of gay marriage that actively hurts them and their families in very real ways. The Jesus I know cared and helped people, no matter their state of grace or of sin. Why shouldn't we?

This is why, while I am not too sure about the theological underpinnings that proponents use to advocate for church recognition of gay marriage, I fully support federal and state laws that recognize gay marriage the same way federal and state laws already recognize marriages made outside of the sanctuary, so to speak.

To the name-callers--be careful who you call a "hater." By calling her names, you might accidentally be a hater yourself. I know it was probably not the intent of you nor of Siblingless, but you know, it doesn't really help further the conversation.

Now, as for my own position on gay marriage, let me first say that I could be entirely wrong when I say that I don't think that churches should be celebrating marriages of couples of the same sex. It is a holdover of Catholic theology, even though I am now part of the Episcopal Church (which does bless these marriages.) On the flip side, I do know that there's not much said about gay marriage in the Bible. The theology arises out of reasoning, based on Biblical concepts (mostly the "be fertile and multiply" parts). The funny thing about theology and reasoning-- it can lead to a very different conclusions, including the conclusion that there is no prohibition against gay marriage.

I suppose my own views on federal recognition of marriage has evolved much the same as President Obama's views. I started off all, "oh, God didn't make Adam and Steve," and I once signed the Manhattan Declaration--a document that upholds heterosexual marriage as the only valid sort of marriage. I might have been an annoying stereotypical home-schooled conservative, I don't know. I'd have to ask my friends who knew me back then to know for sure.

Over the years, though, my views slowly changed as I thought more about my beliefs.  I could say I'm moved by compassion, but I hesitate to describe myself like that. That's a word better applied by someone else. But when I learned more about the real-life effects of not having a legally recognized marriage, I felt incredibly outraged for their sake. I may or may not agree with what they do, but love is love.

I would be outraged if I couldn't see my husband if he was in the hospital. I'd be angry if we couldn't adopt solely because we were heterosexual. I would be frustrated if my husband couldn't be on my insurance because the state didn't recognize our marriage certificate, and bitter if he fell gravely ill because of that deficit of insurance care. (My employer is good though--they've recognized domestic partnerships for insurance purposes for a long time, but not everyone is like that.) I would be a protective angry mother bear if my husband had children, but I couldn't adopt them legally and thus have them under my insurance.

These are real situations homosexual couples face. And it makes me sad.

Look at this visualization of gay laws, state by state. Man, it's depressing. I'm glad Illinois is better than some other states, but why did frickin' Iowa beat us to the "full equality" status? Iowa's a farm state! (I say this tongue firmly in cheek. Please, no emails from angry Iowans.)

It shows that we have a long way to go in ensuring equal rights for every member of our society. As I told Siblingless, legal recognition of gay marriage has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with government and laws.

Filed under: Becoming Episcopalian

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