Last weekend I was on Oregon’s coast, hosting the exhibit of “Coming Out as a Person of Faith.” This weekend I officiated a wedding in the hills below Mount Hood. At both of these events the petition for the Freedom to Marry in Oregon was being circulated. At both of these events I spoke on the meaning of marriage: Marriage creates a family, it means commitment, it means a deep and abiding love. All loving couples who want to make a commitment to each other should have the freedom to marry. For every couple, this commitment creates a shared life that benefits and blesses families, neighborhoods, and our whole interconnected world.
As a community minister my social justice work often crosses over into my other ministries, but it isn’t every day that I can use the same words at both events!
The petition campaign to give all loving and committed couples the freedom to marry is going well and I have every expectation that a law creating marriage freedom will get onto the ballot, and pass next November. This will make Oregon the first state to successfully undo the “between a man and a woman” clause that was added to the constitution. Though we were a little disappointed Oregon wasn’t at the front of the race for justice, we will be the first state to correct a constitutional amendment. I hope we will provide a road-map to other states where the constitution needs to be corrected.
For many people the question of allowing all couples equal access to civil marriage is a non-issue. Several years back I remember one member of my congregation expressing complete shock. She was floored that my marriage was not legally recognized, Incredulous that the issue had not been handled years ago. But for others religion remains a barrier.
It is one of my greatest honors to be witness to the shift people experience when they view the Coming Out as a Person of Faith exhibit, or engage in an open-hearted, faith-based conversation with me.
The exhibit shares the stories of several people of faith: leaders in the community, gay, lesbian, and trans couples, parents of gay or lesbian sons or daughters… Visitors to the exhibit see photos, read the stories, and hear the participants speak. Then, we sit down together to talk. The reconciling goes both ways. Individuals who have felt rejected from their faith see open hearts and arms and can contemplate rejoining communities of depth and meaning. Individuals who felt constrained by their faith are released from a prison of their past and become free to love, without having to give up their faith.
I look forward to a time when religion is not a barrier, but a way for people to connect and create more love. Where all couples have the freedom to marry and we can move on to taking down the next barriers to justice as we work to make the world a better place.