Politics, Public Policy and Progressive Faith

26 June

Faith Leaders Celebrate SC Marriage Rulings

At long last, the Supreme Court has ruled on Prop. 8 and DOMA.  I want to highlight statements from people of faith. The Washington Post did a nice roundup of responses from those who oppose marriage equality and from its supporters.

A few other statements:

A quote from Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer (@mikeschue) in a statement of support from the United Church of Christ:

Today’s rulings from the US Supreme Court are great steps forward in the movement for equality and justice,” said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, UCC Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy. “The decision means a great deal to so many of our UCC members and their relationships. The General Synod has supported marriage equality in each of these cases by joining friend of the court briefs. …

Ultimately, this is not about what the UCC believes or what another church believes or what any other faith tradition believes,” Schuenemeyer said. “This is about the core values of who we are as a nation, in which our founding documents say, ‘All are created equal,’ and call for equal protection under the law for everyone. Every citizen places their hand over their heart and makes a solemn pledge of liberty and justice for all. Not just for some, but for all.

From the supportive statement of the Union for Reform Judaism:

There is no more central tenet to our faith than the notion that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine, and, as such, entitled to equal treatment and equal opportunity. Many faith traditions, including Reform Judaism, celebrate and sanctify same-sex marriages. Thanks to the Court’s decision, the federal government will now recognize these marriages as well, while still respecting the rights and views of those faith traditions that choose not to sanctify such marriages.

From a statement by the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Peter Morales (@uuprez):

While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court did not declare the freedom to marry as a constitutionally-protected “equal protection” right that would apply to all states, I applaud this historic step towards equality.

The Unitarian Universalist Association joined two amicus curiae briefs in these cases with other religious organizations in support of marriage equality. In both cases, the UUA argued that a broad cross-section of religious denominations recognize the dignity of lesbian and gay people and their relationships, recognize the necessary distinction between civil and religious marriage, and recognize that civil marriages of same-sex couples will not impinge upon religious beliefs or practices, but rather will prevent one set of religious beliefs from being imposed on others through civil law.

Unitarian Universalists have been vocal supporters of marriage equality for decades.  I thank them for their dedicated commitment to our Unitarian Universalist principle of affirming the worth and dignity of every person.

There is still so much work to be done to ensure equal protection for all who live and love in our country. As we know, marriage equality strengthens families, protects children, and ensures the basic rights of citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples.

It remains my fervent hope that soon marriage equality is afforded to all in this country. Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love with all families.”

From a Huffington Post piece entitled “Movement for Justice: Changing the Story” by Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis, senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City:

;”>The U.S. Supreme Court rulings today are a testimony to the ways time and personal stories change our understanding. The decisions are part of an ongoing narrative of change in the movement for justice. It took time, but Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat changed the story of segregation in the south. It took time, but Martin Luther King’s inspired speech helped us all to dream dreams of reconciliation. It took time, but the court ruled it is unconstitutional to deny married same-gender couples federal benefits and the court paved the way for California to allow same-gender marriages. Congregations and religious leaders who testify for marriage equality change the story. We do it because we hear the still-speaking Word shout into our hearts: Now is the time for justice.

Finally, check out a prayer of thanksgiving by John Shore (@johnshore). Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you for this victory today. We need to know that justice can be done. And once again you have shown us what we so often fail to remember and believe, which is that we—us, ourselves, right here, right now—are the means by which your justice—being the truth of the love you instilled within us—is realized, presented, practiced, done out here in this cruel world we know.

Today the weak have been defended, the vulnerable protected, the persecuted relieved.

Today is your day, Lord. Today is our day. Today is a day for everyone who loves love. And that, whether any given person realizes it or not, does, and must, include us all.

23 June

Exodus’ Exit Greeted with Relief, Skepticism

The big LGBT news did not come from the Supreme Court his week–that’s likely to be next week. Instead, it came from Exodus International, a long-time champion of “reparative therapy” to turn gay people straight (or straight-ish, anyway). Alan Chambers, leader of the 37-year-old organization, acknowledged that efforts to change sexual orientation are ineffective and apologized for the damage Exodus has done to gay and lesbian people. The dissolution of the group was covered on Our America with Lisa Ling in an episode alliteratively entitled “God & Gays.” Chambers says a new group, Reduce Fear (or possibly “Reducing Fear”), is being formed from the ashes of Exodus. Reactions to the announcements were mixed.

No one who believes sexual orientation is a given–not subject to nor warranting change–was sorry to see Exodus go, but the existence of the Restored Hope Network and the emergence of Reduce/Reducing Fear dampened the relief. And not everyone was impressed by Chambers’ apology. One of the best (read: snarkiest) take downs comes from John Shore (@johnshore), who identifies as an “Unfundamentalist Christian.” Shore, who frequently writes about how badly the Christian church has handled sexual orientation on his blog and in a recent book, doesn’t buy Chambers’ contrition. Says Shore in “An open letter to Exodus International’s super-remorseful Alan Chambers,” after reading the apology and listening to Chambers’ speech at Exodus’ last conference, held last week:

Not once in your speech—which I’ll be the first to say was veritably jammed with talk about God and forgiveness and healing and welcoming and redemption and reconciliation and peace and love and joy and salvation—did I hear you express regret for you and Exodus having spent over three decades helping to destroy the lives of gay people and their families through your peddling and capitalizing upon the message that God’s greatest desire for every gay person is that they cease to be gay.

I heard you say that you regret the way in which Exodus communicated that message. … And I definitely heard you repeatedly say that it’s high time for the church to start welcoming gay people, and all others who are marginalized and “in need.”

But (as opposed to them being “in need”) I never heard you say that it’s okay for people to be gay. You didn’t come close to saying anything like it. What you said—though one must resolutely gaze into the haze of the great many other things you said before this critical message of yours clearly emerges—is that your new house, Reducing Fear, will be built upon the same dark foundation upon which the ruins of Exodus now sit. …

I assume you’re aware of this, but just in case: acute remorse usually engenders a sense of profound humility. A lot of people find heart-wrenching regret incompatible with pride and ambition. I must admit that I am one such person. When I feel the full weight of something egregiously immoral that I have done, the last thing I want to do is go wading amongst the very people whom I’ve damaged, and start telling them about all my new plans for championing their best interests. But maybe that’s just me.