5/26/19- Another Res. Experience: Marriage Equality

Posted on : May 23rd, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The road to marriage equality was not smooth or easy.  It was also quite unexpected.  Many in the lesbian and gay community did not see “Marriage Equality” as a pressing issue or need.

In my early days as the national Coordinator of LGBT issues with Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, one of the biggest road blocks we encountered in trying to get the Presbyterian Church to welcome and ordain us, was the issue of sex “outside of marriage.”  One day during a strategy meeting with other LGBT leaders, I innocently suggested we might consider asking the Presbyterian Church to recognize “Holy Unions” or “Commitment Services” as the equal to heterosexual marriage.  The response to my suggestion was about equal to “the Texas Chainsaw massacre!”  Later, I would discover that was not the real issue behind the Presbyterian Church’s objection to sex – inside or outside of marriage.

So how did equal marriage become a national issue?  In February 2004, Gavin Newsom had just begun his first term as Mayor of San Francisco.  On Valentine’s Day weekend in 2004, Newsom decided to allow same sex marriages.  He instructed the County Clerk’s office to prepare marriage licenses for same-sex couples.  This bold and unheard of action, became the focal point of a world-wide media event.  I have never seen anything like it.  The whole world’s attention was focused on San Francisco.  Ultimately, the California Supreme Court annulled those licenses, but went on to rule that effective at 5:01 pm, Monday, June 16, 2008,the State of California could no longer discriminate in issuing marriage licenses based on the sex of an applicant.  Once again, the State of California had equal marriage.

As often happens in California, when the population is divided about a court ruling, someone puts forth a ballot Proposition.  Prop 8 was certified and placed on the November ballot.  Prop 8 simply stated that in the State of California legal marriage would only be permitted between a man and a woman. The battle for and against Prop 8 was intense.  The polls indicated it was too close to call.  The final vote was 52 for and 48 against.  That meant same gender couples could no longer marry.  There was an immediate challenge to Prop 8 questioning whether the State could legally discriminate based on sex.  The case ultimately ended up at the US Supreme Court. 

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court officially overturned Proposition 8 when the Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 5–4 ruling required all fifty states to perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities.

Those in opposition of equal marriage were predicting that allowing equal marriage would bring about the end of western civilization as we know it.  It would lead to the collapse of western civilization.  But amazingly, it didn’t. 

In looking back, one of the most unique aspects of this Resurrection Story is that it happened both outside of the Christian Church and even against the will of most of the Christian Church.  That should teach all Christians a lesson about the power of Christ to raise up communities into new life, but it didn’t.  Sadly, the Christian Church continues its oppression against people based on sex, gender and sexual orientation.  Which is why you and I are called to share our story, give hope to those who feel hopeless, and advocate for justice and equality. 

More on Sunday!



1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 (contemporary language)

Paul teaches the Corinthians that love is the greatest gift.

            If I speak in ecstatic religious language or the language of angels, but have not love, I sound like a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal.  And I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, but have not love, I gain nothing.

            Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

            Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for ecstatic speech, it will cease; as for knowledge, it too will pass away.  For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but one day we shall see God face to face.  Now I know in part; one day I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So, faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.


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