Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Write To Marry Day
Thanks to Fran for alerting me to the Write to Marry Day Blogswarm.
I have been married for twenty-five years. The marriage is legally binding and recognized not only in the state in which the license was signed, but in every state of the union. The marriage ceremony was performed by a member of the clergy and signed by him. Our marriage is recognized in both civil society and in ecclesiastical circles.
As a married couple we have purchased homes, had children, filed our taxes, and shared a toothbrush on occasion. I had never given much thought to this right that I have taken for granted until I heard the stories of people who are denied this right because the person they want to marry is of the same gender.
Marriage is a right that heterosexuals take for granted and treat lightly on one hand (50% divorce rate) and then vehemently deny to others. It is a strange state of affairs. I do not understand the motives of those who would deny this right to others. I certainly can read and hear their rationalizations. Arguments against allowing other citizens of the United States to this basic right to marry are fear-based and false. They are desperate rationalizations for prejudice. Perhaps we think what we have isn't as valuable unless others cannot have it.
In addition to being married I have had the unique opportunity to sign marriage licenses and to perform ceremonies throughout my ministry career. I have officiated at well over 100 weddings. Four of them would have been weddings had the state recognized them as such.
Many of my colleagues don't like doing weddings. I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting with the couples, offering counseling (mostly skill training in communication and managing conflicts), and creating a service with them. I am looking forward to the day when a gay or lesbian couple asks me to officiate at their wedding and I can sign a marriage license for them. I will do so at the first opportunity. Until then, I officiate at Holy Union or Commitment Ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples when asked. I offer counseling and treat these sacred occasions the same as I do for opposite gender couples.
Marriage is no easy deal. It takes a lot to make it work. It would be easier for gay and lesbian couples to raise their children, pay their taxes, and purchase their homes if their relationships were recognized as marriages, as mine is to my wife of twenty-five years. I shake my head in disbelief when the most vociferous opponents to extending the right of marriage to gay and lesbian couples self-identify as Christian. What is so odd about the whole thing is that civil marriage in California or in any other state has nothing to do with Christianity. People can be bigoted as they want for as long as they want in the name of Jesus regardless of whether the state recognizes gay and lesbian couples as legally married.
Not all Christians are like that. Many of us understand the message of Jesus to be one that calls us to make life easier and more blessed for others rather than less. We think it is better to remove millstones rather than place additional ones around others' necks. We think the Christian call is to fairness and justice.
That is why I am participating in Write to Marry.