Religious leaders celebrate Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality

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Photos by Rebecca Bowe

While proponents of the now-unenforceable Proposition 8 might have pointed to scripture to justify opposition to same-sex marriage, a group of religious leaders from throughout the Bay Area came together this afternoon to celebrate an historic Supreme Court ruling upholding marriage equality.

Clergy from a variety of faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and the Church of Latter Day Saints gathered on the steps of Grace Cathedral on San Francisco’s Nob Hill on June 26 for a buoyant press conference held in celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“The lies of separate but equal have no place on this holy hill,” said the Rev. Marc Handley Andrus of Episcopal Bishop of California. “Gay marriage is marriage, gay parents are parents, and all people are people.”

“For 20 years I’ve been marrying gay and lesbian couples, because in the eyes of God, that love and commitment was real, even when it wasn’t in the eyes of the state,” said Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Beyt Tikkun Synagogue. “We as religious people have to apologize to the gay community,” he added, for religious texts that gave opponents of gay marriage ammunition to advance an agenda of discrimination.

He added that the take-home message of the long fight for marriage equality is, “don’t be ‘realistic.’ Thank God the gay community vigorously fought for the right to be married – because they were not ‘realistic,’ the reality changed. Do not limit your vision to what the politicians and the media tell you is possible.” Their message caught on, he said, because “The theme of love touched people who had stony hearts in other respects.”

Mitch Mayne’s presence was especially significant.“I am an openly gay, active Mormon,” he explained to the crowd. “I am an optimist. I think you have to be, to be a gay Mormon,” he added, eliciting some chuckling from the crowd. “As a gay man, and as a Mormon, I believe Prop. 8 was one of the most un-Christlike things we have ever done as a religion,” Mayne stated. But he said he’d witnessed an unexpected outcome as a result. “Out of this troubling time has come a mighty change in heart from inside the Mormon community, with greater tolerance than ever before,” he said, adding that many Mormons had marched in solidary with gay and lesbian couples.

Rev. Kamal Hassan, pastor of Sojourner Truth Presbyterian in Richmond, said, “I am glad that DOMA was struck down, because it did not defend marriage – it exclusivized it, and defended heterosexual privilege.” But Hassan, like many other clergy members who spoke, seized on the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act the day before its ruling on same-sex marriage as yet another civil rights cause that needed to be fought.

“The work is not finished – it continues until the rights of all people are protected and defended,” he said. Referencing the famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King that the arc of history is long but bends toward justice, Hassan said, “We’ve got to be some arc drivers. We should not be as patient as we’ve been so far. We have to push in order for these things to move forward.”

Comments

I would call the 4th reason you cited above about morality, but never mind.

I am curious about the majority-rule reason. I wonder what categories of laws such people think should be subject to majority rule. For example, if the Constitution didn't expressly outlaw slavery, would such a person be all right with slavery existing in a state which instituted it by majority rule? Or are there categories of laws that shouldn't be subject to majority rule?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 10:36 am

White House are decided by voting. You can argue about how democratic the electoral college is but, in essence, we have the government that a majority of Americans want. Or at least of those who bother to vote - the rest can be reasonably presumed to ne indifferent.

And as noted before. even appointees are appointed by those whom we elect.

As it happens, there is (presumably) a majority in favor of minorities not being disenfranchised or disadvantaged, although it is possible to envisage a different system, and in fact such systems do exist albeit in more homogeneous countries.

The fact that there are differences between the States, and even within a State between Counties and Cities, show that the principle of local autonomy applies here. Foreigners are often surprised how, say, driving laws vary depending where you are in the US. You can say the same for laws about gambling, drinking and so on.

I don't think we'd have any form of slavery any more anyway. For all that is spoken about the Civil War, we'd have got rid of slavery at some point anyway, just as every other western nation did in the 1800's.

But personally I'd be comfortable with the States having more discretion than they currently do, and I do not see a particular problem with gays being able ot marry in one State and not in another. After all, nobody forces you to live in Texas if you're gay. You can move here, and many do.

Having greater differences between the States, and allowing local communities to define their own social institutions, allows for more choice. If there's a State whose laws, taxes etc. you particularly like, then you can move there. We don't have to have a vastly powerful central government trying to impose conformity on us all.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

An important reason you left out: a person could oppose marriage generally and want to abolish rather than tweak it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 10:24 am

decline to get married themselves, rather than seek to impose abolishment on those who do not feel the same way.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 10:43 am

I am a clergy person of a non-traditional faith who works side by side with many Catholic, Christian, and Jewish clergy people. I was at this rally and I know many of the people who spoke and organized it. As a queer person who has been deeply harmed by the way that some religious leaders have used the Christian and Jewish religious texts, I feel that it is not only okay, but incredibly important that religious leaders be held responsible. At this rally, one of the early speakers was a Rabbi who apologized to the queer community for how their religious texts have been used for oppression. There is deep and life-changing healing that can come for many many queer people from statements like these. These religious professionals are volunteers, giving time and energy in their lives already filled with service to the community, to speak out so queer folks know that there are churches who would welcome them exactly as they are.

This isn't about religion mixing with politics. This is so much more than a political issue. This is a human issue. This is a life issue. This is about the rights and love of a whole segment of our population and how folks from the religious community are speaking out in support and solidarity. This is about healing and unity. This is about people who are both queer and deeply religious who found ways to make peace with their religious texts and can speak from authority about the love and acceptance that religion can offer. You don't have to be religious to understand the importance of these actions. You don't have to be religious (or become religious) to be healed and touched by these clerical voices. There are Americans across the land whose lives are changed for the better when these good people use their religious authority to preach love and acceptance. It's an amazing thing to see and a blessing to receive.

Posted by Katie on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 3:16 am

should be followed by a "who cares"

Religion is by it's nature anti all kinds of things.

Asking the members of a religion to go back in time to make up for it all is ridiculous.

Go on with your life, stop waiting for approval from moronic operations like organized religion.

It trips me out that people have such an issue with things that I figured out when I was a teen.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

Strict interpreters of the Bible may differ with these clearly liberal religious perspectives. Orthodox Jews and Christians share beliefs similar to Moslems with respect to homosexuality. It isn't hate - it is their devotion to the literal words in the old testament.
But from a legal perspective, there is no reason to not have complete equality. Religious leaders should clarify the differences.

Posted by Richmondman on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 9:37 am

For example, the longtime head of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is a minister. He often talks about how separation helps churches remain doctrinally independent at least as much as it helps citizens retain their freedom of and from religion.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 9:45 am

is a pretty odd operation.

I was a member for a few years in the 90's and was on the mailing list. Every article in the magazine had a comment from Lynn, in the same way every article I read from Scientology or the 700 club had a mention from L Ron Hubbard or Pat Robertson when I read those house operations.

Religion is about opportunism. just as true belief politics is, witness San Francisco progressive politics.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

Of course they support gay marriage. Those Sun Worshippers were founded by forest frolicking fruitcakes. Don't be fooled by every Pagan that throws the word "Christ" around.

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