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

Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

At least we know the Mormons will be on our side for that one.

Posted by anon on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 5:23 pm
Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 9:10 am

marriage, then why not the take the number of participants out of the equation as well. It is clear that polygamists are being discriminated against.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Polygamists aren't a recognized class for equal protection analysis purposes.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

Are you suggesting that three people cannot share a permanent loving, mutually-supporting relationship?

Posted by anon on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

And maybe someday they will become a class for the purposes of equal-protection analysis. But there aren't now, and gay people are. That's the difference.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 3:23 pm
Posted by anon on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

...that means you have no moral problem with either, as well.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 4:22 pm
Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 5:53 am

I can't think of one, but there are many who seem to have moral problems with homosexuality. That's why I asked you.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:03 am

gay marriage as either being "a religious nut or as being immoral. There is always a tendency to dismiss those who hold different political opinions on the basis of some derogatory categorization, but there are perfectly reasonable, secular arguments to oppose gay marriage.

In my case, I am indifferent to whether gays can marry or not, i am not religious, I have no moral issue with being gay, and I think that each State should be free to make it's own decision, which is pretty much what SCOTUS is saying at the moment.

I'm more concerned about States' rights than Gay rights.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:25 am

"There is always a tendency to dismiss those who hold different political opinions on the basis of some derogatory categorization..."

You ought to know that more than most, considering how you regularly tar progressives, liberals, and such.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:46 am
Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 9:20 am

I'd appreciate it if you'd talk more about that. What is it about the states that make them the best place to set and implement most government policy?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:49 am

all powers devolved to the States except where specifically vested in the Federal government e.g. national defense. That is historically why things like marriage licenses and driving licenses are granted at the State level, while being administered by the County. The principle is that decisions should be made at the most local level possible, as that empowers voters the most.

This is in opposition to the European practice of managing such things at a national level, although one could argue that under the EU, each sovereign nation is analogous to US States, and some European nations allow same-sex marriage while others do not.

The more de-centralized the government, and the more local the decision-making, the more power and control an individual voters feels that he has over how institutions should run. Ideally, each community makes up it's own rules about who can marry or who can drive.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 9:27 am

ALL of US are elevated & more dignified when a group or minority are afforded equality under the constitution! It's a win for everyone! I wish more people would acknowledge this. Women have made great strides with MUCH more work ahead. The door is more open.

Posted by Geo on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

ALL of US are elevated & more dignified when a group or minority are afforded equality under the constitution! It's a win for everyone! I wish more people would acknowledge this. Women have made great strides with MUCH more work ahead. The door is more open.

Posted by Geo on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

Some feel diminished by this, and 38 States still disallow gay marriage. That's over 3/4 of the States.

Posted by anon on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

are always interesting in that "we are all in this together," (no matter the buzz words) means "we are all in this together under the terms I define."

Group mind people like to speak for all people in these moralistic terms for some reason, while usually claiming to be individualistic.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

disagree with their political opinions.

Most of us can differ on some political issue but still like and respect each other. But extremists are convinced that anyone who differs from their line is a sinner and a devil.

That leads to intolerance like we see here from those who support gay marriage. They genuinely believe that majorities in the 38 States that disallow it are evil.

Posted by anon on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

I think a lot of it is just resistance to change.

I worked with a guy during the prop 8 thing who was an atheist, he worked with gay people, and was all worked up over it the whole thing. He would give a different answer every time I laughed at him about it.

Progressive are pretty good at defining things using their opportunism of today to cast people as evil who don't agree with them, they tend to be as narrow as the people they call narrow minded.

What really separates a progressive from a born again Christian?

Posted by matlock on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

But socialism is the opium of the disengaged, the disturbed and the disconsolate.

Posted by anon on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

I wonder what the rational purpose in regarding hetero- and homosexual relationships difference is. The Court couldn't seem to find one that wasn't rooted in animus towards the latter. Can you?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

on your own personal set of values. I'm sure that those who oppose gay marriage are not all irrational and, as noted earlier, not all opposition is for religious reasons.

But I see no rational reason why twosomes should oppose marriage for threesomes for much the same reasons.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 5:55 am

I think one reason is that, the more parties there are in a relationship, the greater the potential for instability. I don't necessarily agree, but it's a rational reason to put out there.

Another reason is that, historically, polygamy has involved one husband and multiple wives, with the husband in the dominant position, often abusively. This bothers anyone interested in women's equality. Again, this wouldn't obtain in many polygamous relationships, but it can't be ignored.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 8:04 am

serve or service a woman? Ants and bees certainly have that model, and didn't Cleopatra have a whole bunch of concubines serving her?

As for the number, legal contracts have long involved multiple parties. they don;t have to be bi-lateral in order to be legally effective.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 9:30 am

our closest genetic relatives are female dominated.

Polygamy probably came about in most places because males are higher wage earners with greater status and can support more wives and children. It would make economic sense to attach yourself or your daughters to a rich guy if you wanted to ensure economic stability.

Mormons did because they are a kooky group, modern polygamy in the west seems tied to this sort of nutty business.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

swell their numbers. Given that a guy's participation in procreation is trivial, but for a woman it is all-consuming, that can make a lot of sense.

Posted by anon on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

Statistically i have not seen any proof of that argument. If there is another adult person (a woman in this case) in the house. It will be safer for the wife. The man will most likely behave better. I agree that the dynamics become more complex, yet there are more points of view and the chance of objectivity, rationality might prevail if the relationship is based upon mutual consent. I am not talking about situations of suppressing agency. Like the FLDS group.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 7:36 am

Hm, it seems like the very same arguments that society had 20 years ago regarding same gender relationships. Have we not learned anything?
Wow!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 7:17 am

number of participants be an issue either?

Why not just define marriage as an alliance of any number of adults, and leave it at that?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 8:07 am

Right you are, just recently. Who's to say that a polygamous class won't be protected in the future, sure it might not receive the same level of legal scrutiny as race or gender but it would be higher than a rational basis standard. What I want to know is now that we are expanding what marriage is, what is the legal argument against other forms of marriage (polygamists) without using the same arguments traditional marriage people use.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

What is it about the gender of the parties that is the sine qua non of marriage?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:59 am
Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Answering a question with a question doesn't really answer the question.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 10:27 am

We've been focusing on gender but one might just as validly consider the number of parties, as well as their gender.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 11:59 am

But not necessarily concurrently. We might ask and answer each separately. I was hoping Guest would do so.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

traditional definition, and simply be defined as an "alliance of any number of persons, of any gender".

One could also open up the question of whether it should be possible to participate in more than one marriage, as long as one honors all the "rules".

I believe that is the "slippery slope" argument that some have used to oppose any further relaxation of the definition of marriage, the fear being that it will end up being meaningless.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

One could--and probably did--make similar slippery-slope arguments when married women began to be able to own property, vote, when interracial marriage was allowed, when no-fault divorce was allowed, when the concept of rape within marriage became accepted.

Marriage mostly used to be a property transaction with women as pawns. Marriage has changed a lot, and will continue to do so, I suppose. There was never any one "default moment," no line that was crossed to which we can now fret that anything goes.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

Probably depends on whether you think society is getting better or worse. Which camp are you in?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

It s wrong to ask why or why not regarding a relationship between adult consenting adults. A government body should never even be involved in the debate of who can live with who. Who gave them that right anyway? Nobody should ever tell another human being with whom they can live with. As long as there is mutual consent.
A church can have its own policies and believes. If you want to get married in their church, then you abide by their rules. If not, then you do not.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 7:12 am

It was telling them who can marry, which is different.

If society provides an institution that comes with benefits and privileges, society is surely entitled to establish some ground rules about who qualifies and who does not.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 8:06 am

Unless some of them agree with progressives.

Every once in awhile a religious leader may have hit on something good for mankind, but then they have that whole religious thing going on that usually negates the rest.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 5:48 pm
Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 5:55 am

What other reasons are there? I'm especially interested in ones that aren't based either in disgust with homosexuality or which disparage the institution of marriage itself.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:05 am

1) The additional cost of tax breaks and welfare benefits

2) The opportunity for increased immigration into already densely populated places

3) Members of classes who still cannot marry, e.g. threesomes, polygamists, first and second cousins.

4) A (non-religious) belief that stability in society is best served by restricting marriage to those who can (at least, theoretically) breed together.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:29 am

You may or may not know Andrew Sullivan, the writer who championed same-sex marriage in the '90s when it wasn't on most LGBT rights activists' radar screens. Today, he posted a succinct summation of his longstanding thesis that same-sex marriage is actually a socially conservative advance:

"One reason I wanted marriage equality was because I believe in the way marriage can – but not always, of course – stabilize people’s lives, give us a designated human being to take care of us when sick or unemployed, ease men toward domesticity, support women and men in child-rearing, etc. And I think finding a way to support that in the tax code is a small nudge toward real social conservatism – increasing the ties that bind and the institutions that guide us."

Some of your points are addressed in that paragraph, but let me give it a try, point by point:

1) The additional cost of tax breaks and welfare benefits: It has been shown that same-sex couples are actually a pretty small percentage of the overall population, and that they, as a rule, are more affluent than their heterosexual counterparts. Any added burden in this area is likely to be small, and is certainly outweighed by the justice of the equal recognition of our relationships.

2) The opportunity for increased immigration into already densely populated places. I assume you mean green cards, which Janet Napolitano invited same-sex couples to go for just today. Again, we're talking about a comparatively small group of people.

3) Members of classes who still cannot marry, e.g. threesomes, polygamists, first and second cousins. This isn't a case against same-sex marriage rights, it's a case for them if you're looking to extend these rights to these groups. Indeed, the kind of new thinking that has led Americans to accept same-sex marriage (a clear majority, now) might someday lead to these groups' acceptance.

4) A (non-religious) belief that stability in society is best served by restricting marriage to those who can (at least, theoretically) breed together. I'd be curious to know more about why you think male-female couples, even ones who can't breed (like old folks, couples in which one is irreversibly sterilized), etc., best serve social stability.

In these days when same-sex couples are adopting, raising children from previous opposite-sex relationships, undergoing in vitro fertilization, and making use of surrogates, there's no real barrier except a financial one to same-sex couples raising children, including those of which at least one and maybe both they're the biological parents.

I can't see why, under your rubric, the union of two gay men, each of whom have fathered a child through surrogacy, and who are raising them together, is inferior to one of an opposite-sex couple who can't ever get pregnant together and who have no interest in parenthood.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Forgive me, anon; I assumed you were espousing all these reasons as your own. Sorry if that was incorrect, and that you were simply reciting theories held by others.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 8:11 am

certainly not because I thought you would find them convincing. Rather I was addressing the question of whether there can possibly be some people who oppose gay marriage for reasons that are non-religious and non-moral. I think so.

Another secular reason to oppose gay marriage might simply be that a majority of people in the State that you live in oppose gay marriage, and you believe that a majority should decide such things.

Posted by anon on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 9:19 am

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