Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marriage is ...

Some folks sacred cow.

Once upon a time, I was of the opinion that civil unions were the answer. Require that all "marriages" be civil unions first and make religious ceremonies an option. That way, everyone would get the legal benefits and religious organizations would get the right to restrict the definition of marriage in any way they felt was within the tenants of their faith.

But then a strange thing happened. In June of this year, Rev. Martin Dudley of St. Bartholomew the Great in London performed a blessing of a civil union for two fellow Anglican priests, the Rev. Peter Cowell and the Rev. Dr. David Lord.

Lots was going on at the time in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion with the Lambeth Conference approaching and the topic of homosexuals in the clergy a hot button topic that was driving the Communion towards a show down among conservatives and liberals. There were calls for Rev. Dudley to be excommunicated or, at the very least, fired from his post. Turns out that as Freeholder of St Bartholomew's it would be nearly impossible to oust him. While reading the coverage, I followed a link to the Order of Service for the blessing. As I read it, I came to the realization that this was a marriage ceremony, no matter what Dudley might call it. It was deeply moving to me and made me realize that marriage- that religious ceremony- was what these two men wanted and what they deserved. It struck me that it made no sense to deny a believing Christian the right to participate in the ritual of marriage to bless their relationship just because the two parties happened to be of the same sex.

I thought of two of my former Girl Scouts. What right did I have to tell one that because he was transgendered or the other that because she was a lesbian that neither of them could get married? Would their relationships be any less worthy of God's blessing just because they didn't fit the "norm"?

If Civil Unions are the necessary legal step to recognize all homosexual relationships in a legal sense, then Marriage is the next step. It would proclaim to all that every relationship, no matter the party's sexuality, is sacred.

Proposition 8 is on the ballot in California and hopes to limit the rights of homosexuals by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. There are many articles and blogs on both sides. But a few stand out. John Koch talks bout his personal experience with his boss and the lessons he has learned from her that have made him a better parent. He poses the unsettling question that if gay marriage is outlawed in California, will gay couples then have to fear that the state will take their children? John Seery's argument that Christ's Sermon on the Mount is a call to read the Old Testament, and that particular thorny passage in Leviticus, in a broader sense with less emphasis on the letter of the law is particularly appropriate.

We need to move past our fear of the outsider in this country and accept that there are many variations upon mankind. One is no more better than the other. This applies to sexuality, to politics, to nations and races. Let us hope that we can at last shed the shackles of our own prejudice and begin to see our fellow man as human beings, each worthy of God's love.

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