Tag Archives: marriage equality

Matthew Vines:”Even Christian Evangelicals are warming to gay marriage”

Evangelicals are starting to change their minds about gay marriage. In recent months, three large evangelical churches – EastLakeCommunity Church in Seattle, Washington, GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and City Church in San Francisco, California – have announced that they no longer believe all same-sex relationships are sinful. Leading evangelical ethicist David Gushee changed his position on the issue in a landmark speech last fall, and celebrated pastor Campolo did the same in a statement on his website earlier this month.

This new pro-gay movement among evangelicals is still a minority, and staunch conservatives have been pushing back. But bit by bit, the number of American evangelicals who support marriage equality continues to rise.

A new poll released by evangelical research firm LifeWay Research in April demonstrated this shift. True, it showed that 66 percent of American evangelicals, fundamentalists and born-again believers say that same-sex relationships go against God’s will. While that is a super- majority, it is a substantial decline from just three years ago, when the same poll found that 82 percent held this view.

In part, that shift can be explained by the same forces that have changed much of the rest of American society. More evangelicals have openly gay friends and loved ones and, according to LifeWay, those who do are nearly twice as likely to support marriage equality as those who don’t.

But relationships alone are rarely sufficient to change conservative Christians’ minds on issues that are both political and theological. After all, evangelicals have based their opposition to gay rights on the Bible since the LGBT movement began. For years, even many sympathetic Christians have felt unable to embrace the LGBT community because of Scripture.

But while the Bible doesn’t change, interpretations of it can.

via  Reuters.

With Overwhelming Yes Vote, A Rainbow Over Dublin

With votes still being counted in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum, early indications are that it will be a comfortable win for Yes.

  • The Irish Times liveblog says the “general consensus” is that Yes will win by 2-1.
  • David Quinn, a prominent leader of the No campaign,  has tweeted congratulations to the Yes campaign.
  • Regular reports from the counts show that in the rural areas, the vote is neck and neck. In urban areas, Yes is comfortably ahead.
  • In Dublin it’s overwhelming and appropriately, here’s a rainbow to show for it.

Prominent English Religious Leaders “Rejoice” in Gay Marriage

gay marriage, uk

We rejoice that from tomorrow same-sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales.

As persons of faith, we welcome this further development in our marriage law, which has evolved over the centuries in response to changes in society and in scientific knowledge.

We acknowledge that some (though not all) of the faith organisations to which we belong do not share our joy, and continue to express opposition in principle to such marriages. We look forward to the time, sooner rather than later, when all people of faith will feel able to welcome this development.

Martin Pendergast, chair of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, has released a statement in support, on behalf of CSCS:

The Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality(CSCS) welcomes the support for same-sex marriage expressed by a number of religious leaders from different faith communities in a statement issued today, 28 March 2014. CSCS would also like to highlight the growing acceptance of same-sex unions, including their religious celebration, by grass-roots believers, congregations, and organisations from a variety of faith traditions.

Signatories to the CEC / LGBTI Anglican Coalition letter included senior office bearers of Liberal Judaism, the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, Quakers in Britain, the Movement for Reform Judaism and the Metropolitan Community Church, North London, and Revd Steve Chalke of Oasis.

Anglican signatories included one serving and seven former Anglican bishops and five Anglican deans. A second serving bishop, Nick Holtam of Salisbury, was not named in the published list of signatories, but has released an independent statement in support of gay marriage, and praising the courage of those couples planning to wed.

This mood of celebration was also expressed in a leader article in Church Times, which noted (in part):

THE first same-sex marriages this weekend will be occasions of celebration. At the political level, an inequality has been remedied. At a personal level, the virtues of love, commitment and faithfulness will be proclaimed publicly, as they are at every wedding. All of this is to be celebrated, as it was this week in a letter signed by clergy in Camden, north London: “We pray for all those who are marrying this year – that they may find rich comfort and blessing in each other for the whole of their life together.”

The full list of signatories to the CEC / LGBTI Anglican Coalition letter is:

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism
Revd Sharon Ferguson, Senior Pastor, MCC North London
Revd Steve Chalke, Oasis

Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Richard Lewis, former Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Peter Selby, former Bishop of Worcester
Rt Revd John Saxbee, former Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Michael Doe, Preacher to Gray’s Inn, former Bishop of Swindon
Rt Revd David Gillett, former Bishop of Bolton
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, former Bishop of Hulme
Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
Very Revd Jonathan Draper, Dean of Exeter
Very Revd Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely
Very Revd Lister Tonge, Dean of Monmouth
Very Revd Mark Beach, Dean of Rochester

(Cross – posted from Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality)

“Indiana Catholic bishops issue statement on gay marriage ban” – Indianapolis Star

Indiana’s Catholic bishops issued a statement Thursday on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but they stopped short of taking a position on the hot-button topic.

Arcbishop Joseph W Tobin

The statement, signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Indiana’s five bishops, emphasizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but also the dignity of all people.

“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” the statement says. “At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

Church officials said the statement isn’t intended to stake out a political position, but to inform people about Catholic teachings as they weigh the issue.

“People have the right to make their own decisions on these issues, but it needs to be done with an informed conscience,” said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Archdiocese

-continue reading at Indianapolis Star

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"Indiana Catholic bishops issue statement on gay marriage ban" – Indianapolis Star

Indiana’s Catholic bishops issued a statement Thursday on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but they stopped short of taking a position on the hot-button topic.

Arcbishop Joseph W Tobin

The statement, signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Indiana’s five bishops, emphasizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but also the dignity of all people.

“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” the statement says. “At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

Church officials said the statement isn’t intended to stake out a political position, but to inform people about Catholic teachings as they weigh the issue.

“People have the right to make their own decisions on these issues, but it needs to be done with an informed conscience,” said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Archdiocese

-continue reading at Indianapolis Star

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Gay Marriage, Civil Unions, and the Church

June is a big month for marriage equality. In the UK, it’s now clear that the House of Lords will approve the Marriage (Same – Sex Partners) Bill, in the USA, the Supreme Court will make two rulings that will most likely further advance the cause (while stopping short of declaring a full right to marriage). The Church of England has accepted that it has now lost the political battle against the gay marriage bill, and will instead concentrate on improving the detail. Already this year, three countries and three US states have legislated for equal marriage, and the Brazilian court has confirmed that even without legislation, gay couples have the right to marriage.

This political progress to full equality, and the fierce opposition that it has encountered, has obscured an even more remarkable movement, of greater significance for queer people of faith – extensive acceptance of civil unions/ civil partnerships, and of our relationships. This chart from the Pew Research Centre illustrates how strong this has been, in the USA. (Similar growth applies elsewhere).

PRC_Legal_Agreements

Polls on gay marriage have become commonplace, especially in the US, done frequently by a wide range of polling firms. The Pew polls are particularly notable, because they’ve been doing it for a long time, and so have a powerful collection of comparable data with robust sample sizes, and also because of their specific interest in religion, as indicated by the name. (“Pew Research Centre” is associated with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life). For any Pew poll, it is worth digging into the detail, for cross-tabs on religious denomination. This graphic illustrates the results for the question on “allowing gays and lesbians to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples?”

% in favour of legal unions

Civil Unions, Support 2013

For American White Catholics in particular, these results are remarkable: just more than four out of five support legal recognition – even more than for the “unaffiliated” group (essentially, those with no religion). In the UK, a similar pattern was observed in the House of Lords debate on the equal marriage bill. The interventions by Catholic peers included some from all sides – in support of the bill, in opposition to the substance but in favour of advancing to committee stage debate on detail, and opposition that was so strong as to reject even progressing to a second reading. But in all interventions, there was clear support for the principle of equality and non – discrimination – opposition was based only on concerns about the word “marriage”, and that civil partnerships or similar provided sufficient equality.

It is against this backgrounyd that we must assess recent declarations by Catholic bishops for some form of legal recognition and protection for same – sex couples. As os so often the case with Catholic bishops, like Gilbert and Sullivan’s renowned Duke of Plaza – Toro, they lead their regiments the church from behind, following where ordinary Catholics have already gone. Those speaking up now, are simply catching up with the real church. This catching up, what is more, goes well beyond the simple matter of supporting legal contracts to protect gay couples – it challenges the whole of church teaching on same – sex relationships. The same Pew poll shows it clearly – the majority of American Catholics no longer believe that “engaging in sinful acts” is sinful (once again this is up sharply from ten years ago), and even more now believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society:

However, opinions among Catholics have changed substantially. In 2003, more Catholics said homosexual behavior was a sin than said it was not (49% vs. 37%). Today, a third of Catholics (33%) say it is sin, while 53% disagree.

and

….. wide majorities of Catholics (71%) and white mainline Protestants (65%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society. And those without religious affiliation favor societal acceptance of homosexuality by roughly five-to-one (79% to 16%).

 Pew Research Centre

The Washington Post had a story last week headlined “The political war over gay marriage is over. The culture wars continue” (or something like that). Change “culture” to “religious”, and that’s my position, exactly.

The political wars will take time to reach completion, but it’s only a matter of time. The churches must now deal with the implications, for themselves. The cardinals and bishops who are speaking up publicly are only those will to show their noses. There are many more, just waiting to do likewise. Once they start talking about legal recognition, they will have to start talking also about the inherent value of these relationships – and then, of the need to find some way to recognize and celebrate them, in church congregations. That can’t be done, without accepting that same – sex love in itself, is not intrinsically sinful. Exciting times, ahead.

As the old platitudes for against gay marriage fade away, we need to create a more reasonable, constructive debate about the real meaning and value of marriage – and other forms of relationships. But this needs to look at the realities, not nonsense about labelling opponents as “homophobes” on the one hand, or dire warnings about the destruction of the institution of marriage, on the other. The fact is, that marriage has constantly evolved (been “redefined”) over many centuries, and taken countless forms in different societies. As Mark Jordan observes in his superb  ”Blessing Same-Sex Unions“,  many so – called “traditional” weddings today are far removed from any real religious content,  with the chief presider over ritual no longer a priest or pastor, but the wedding planner – closely followed by the photographer, caterer and the florist. There’s as much of real Christianity in these marriages, as there is in the modern “traditional” Christmas, which has been equally debased by commercial interests.

Our experience as gay and lesbians in loving, committed relationships, without the distortion of these commercial weddings and based on real partnerships, freed from artificial and customary role models and patriarchal assumptions, will be useful in teasing out a new, revitalized understanding of the real value of marriage and other committed relationships  – .useful for the whole church.

A continuing constructive debate about the religious value of marriage, as distinct from the secular protection in law, may well result in further redefinition of marriage – for the better.

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