About 3 weeks ago, I was filled with great joy at the Supreme Court ruling that allowed same sex marriage throughout the whole United States. This ruling capped a long struggle for this fundamental right for my gay and lesbian friends and for the many who have fought in the courts and in the streets to change public opinion. When I told my wife of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, she told me that it made her very proud of her country. I felt the exact same way. Though many Christians are denouncing the Supreme Court ruling, this obscures the fact that a growing number of Christians support same sex marriage and the rights of LGBT people. In 2008, when the Evangelical, Mormon and Catholic Churches lobbied successfully to pass Proposition 8 in California, I personally knew Evangelicals, Mormons and Catholics who disagreed with their churches and were against Proposition 8. In the 7 years since then, more Christians from those denominations, as well as Christians from other denominations, have spoken out for marriage equality and LGBT rights. Here is a sample of Christians supporting the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.
About 100 evangelical pastors and leaders signed an online letter supporting the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage, and then went one step further by calling on Christians around the country to continue to work for LGBT rights in other areas — like bullying in schools and employment and housing discrimination. Here is an excerpt of the online letter:
As Evangelical pastors and leaders, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of good news for all people. Following in the way of Jesus, we are compelled to be a voice for the voiceless and to fight for the dignity and equality of all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender identity. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of civil marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. We join with millions of people around the country in celebration of this major step towards justice and equality for LGBTQ people in the United States. While we believe that the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step in the right direction, we are also reminded that this victory is only one step towards true equality for LGBTQ individuals and highlights our need, as people of faith, to continue to work for justice. In many places across our country, discrimination against LGBTQ people continues to be protected by law.
• In 28 states, LGBTQ people can be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
• In 28 states, LGBTQ people can be refused housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
• In 8 states school systems, LGBTQ inclusive curriculums are prohibited.
• In 32 states, schools have little to no protection against the bullying of LGBTQ students.
These numbers demonstrate that we still are far from having a just and equal society for LGBTQ people. As evangelical pastors and leaders, we call on our fellow evangelical Christians around the country to lift our voices on behalf of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, working to make our nation, our communities, and our churches welcoming and inclusive spaces for all people.
From the website of More Light Presbyterians, a group fighting for LGBT equality within the Presbyterian Church:
The Supreme Court just issued a historic ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case effectively granting the ability to marry to same-sex couples nationwide. More Light joins in those who are rejoicing this incredible news. It seems as if, all of creation has groaned as we have waited for the day when marriages of all loving and committed families are recognized by both our church and our country. The LGBTQ movement within faith communities have been struggling for years for this day–a day where our families are recognized by both the movement to which we belong and also the states where we live. We celebrate this moment in history, because we understand that family is the bedrock of our communities. Recognizing families helps strengthen both church and society.
…In a fraught time as this where we have a reason to celebrate, we are also mindful of all that is happening in the world, and the devastating reality of anti-black racism. We know that one ruling does not go far enough towards justice and equity. We join together with those who recognize that the liberation of LGBT folks are bound up with the liberation of black and brown folks, globally. We know that this ruling from the Supreme Court is but a first fruit of the Spirit, and that we will continue to groan together as we work with and across our differences to achieve a liberating social change for all.
Today, the justices of the US Supreme Court found in a 5-to-4 ruling that marriage equality — the notion that state-blessed unions include same-sex couples — is the law of the land. This is a significant milestone for the LGBTQ community, and we are joyously celebrating what truly is a landmark decision.
AWAB, as part of our work to gain full equality for LGBTQ Baptists, believes that a thoughtful and informed exegetical reading of Scripture does not condemn homosexuality and therefore does not proscribe the Church’s recognition of committed relationships between any two people. To this end, AWAB member churches have been conducting marriage and commitment ceremonies for many years. Under this ruling, our member congregations, from Maine to California and from Washington to Florida, can join two people not only under God but also by powers vested by and recognized by the State.
…While we pause to celebrate this ruling and the rights of people to marry whom they choose, we also recognize that this is NOT the end of the struggle for equality. Many states still allow job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, jeopardizing the very economic livelihood of our brothers and sisters. “Religious Freedom” laws are being twisted from their noble origins to authorize blatant civil discrimination in the public marketplace. Our transgender family continues to struggle with scorn and disfellowship within churches, and with increased violence and anti-trans legislation (e.g. attempting to deny simple, safe access to identified-gender bathrooms) in public spaces.
AWAB has been at the forefront of these issues for more than 22 years, and we celebrate this breakthrough ruling for LGBTQ people. With your support and God’s blessing, we will continue working for justice and equality for every Christian, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here is an excerpt of a blog by Francis DeBernardo of the Catholic LGBT group New Ways Ministry:
New Ways Ministry rejoices with millions of U.S. Catholics that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided in favor of marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples! On this historic day, we pray in thanksgiving that justice and mercy have prevailed and that the prayers and efforts of so many have combined to move our nation one step closer to fairness and equality for all.
…While the U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently opposed marriage equality measures on all fronts, Catholic people in the pews have had a different perspective from their leaders. The lived faith of Catholic people has taught them that love, commitment, and sacrifice are the essential building blocks of marriage and family. Their daily experiences interacting with lesbian and gay couples and their families has taught them that these relationships are identical to heterosexual marriages in terms of the essential qualities needed to build a future together, establish a family, and contribute to social stability and growth.
The U.S. bishops now need to reconcile themselves to the new social reality of marriage equality, as it is poised to spread to all 50 states. They can do so by entering into a dialogue with lesbian and gay Catholics to learn more about the reality of their lives and how their faith inspires their relationships. The bishops should declare a moratorium on firing lesbian and gay church employees who have married legally. These firings have been a scandalous trend with effects that are harmful not only to the people involved, but to the life of the Church.
One week after the Supreme Court ruling, the Episcopal Church voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. Brady McCombs and Rachel Zoll wrote for Yahoo News:
Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, solidifying the church’s embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago with the pioneering election of the first openly gay bishop.
The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. It passed in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay participants at the meeting. The House of Bishops had approved the resolution Tuesday by 129-26 with five abstaining.
The Rev. Brian Baker of Sacramento said the church rule change was the result of a nearly four-decade long conversation that has been difficult and painful for many. Baker, chair of the committee that crafted the changes, said church members have not always been kind to one another but that the dynamic has changed in recent decades.
‘We have learned to not only care for, but care about one other,” Baker said. “That mutual care was present in the conversations we had. Some people disagreed, some people disagreed deeply, but we prayed and we listened and we came up with compromises that we believe make room and leave no one behind.’
The Mormon LGBT group Affirmations had one of the most poignant statements on the Supreme Court ruling. While rejoicing the recent SCOTUS ruling, they also note the June 25, 2015 verdict in Ferguson, et al. v. JONAH, a consumer fraud suit by five individuals — one of whom is Michael Ferguson who is gay with a Mormon background and familiar to many in the Affirmation community — against an organization providing services to gay and lesbian individuals claiming to be able to convert them to heterosexuals. In the Affirmations blog, they rejoice the two court rulings while seeing the struggles within the Mormon Church that are ahead for LGBT Mormons.
Regardless of where one stands on the core question of whether homosexuality is part of the normal spectrum of diversity in God’s creation, or a flaw or a sin that should be fixed or resisted, these values of empathy, family, agency and community are the values that will allow everyone to move forward in a faithful, compassionate way. The court rulings and laws recognizing same-sex marriage and regulating or limiting conversion therapy practitioners, are welcome news to the majority of openly gay, lesbian and bi individuals and their families and friends, because they grant much needed rights and protections, and empower us to live our lives without fear and in accordance with our conscience.
Affirmation Vice President, Kathy Carlston share the following on the date of the Supreme Court ruling: “Today I am grateful that my little family, my wife and I, are able to have the same recognition and responsibilities extended to all other married couples. My heart is rejoicing. Our sacred union, our walk together has never depended on external sources of approval save for our relationship with God, but there is something enobling about being accorded the same opportunities and protections as any other family. For those who struggle to feel happy about the Supreme Court’s decision today, know that we love and respect you, and that we hope you will never be treated with unkindness for your beliefs. We’ll walk with you.”
As Fred Bowers, a member of the Affirmation Board put it, “There are no words that can express the joy that I feel at this moment! … I honor [my ancestors’] sacrifices and what they had to ‘rise above’ in order for me to arrive into the world. To my 2nd great grandparents, I try every day to do justice to the great legacy of courage and the love for freedom that you left for me and I promise I will ‘keep rising’ until the end.“
Randall Thacker, Affirmation President, said, “I rejoice with my fellow LGBTQ Mormons, their families and friends in the United States who are celebrating the recent court decisions. These rulings give tremendous hope to future generations and affirm that we are whole and complete children of God as we are and that our committed relationships contribute to creating a stable society. Our interactions with those who oppose these outcomes in the weeks and months ahead may not be easy. In fact, they may be excruciatingly difficult. Do not be dismayed! Move forward in your lives with fortitude and strength, engage opponents with kindness, and have faith “that all things work together for good that love God.” (Romans 8:28) Reach to God to strengthen and comfort you, knowing that our Divine Creator’s love is bigger than any other.”
It is likely that members of the Affirmation community will be dealing with varying degrees of conflict among family and friends over these issues. The language we use to talk about these issues, and the way we treat those who disagree with us in the days and weeks ahead may play a big role in determining whether we alleviate or exacerbate fears of intolerance or decay of values.
A youtube video of Marriage Equality in the United States