The marriage bill should not be signed in any church

Good news — Mayor Fenty will sign the legislation which allows same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia tomorrow. From there, it must survive thirty legislative days in Congress before coming law. I’m hopeful, though all it would really offer Jonathan and me is the dignity of the title of marriage, and the opportunity to have our marriage recognized in a few other states.

The bad news? It will be signed at All Souls Church, Unitarian. To recap, I’m

  • a resident of the District of Columbia
  • a Unitarian Universalist minister
  • a gay man in a domestic partnership, who will benefit from this act

In short, I care about this legislation and I care about the symbolism.

This act is fundamentally about civil marriage. Yes, religious professionals have rallied on both sides, but where so-called religious liberties have been touched, it has been to protect anti-gay forces. It’s no secret this was the politic way to get this passed. But it’s precisely by conflating religious and civil marriage that gays lose in the public sphere.

Signing the act in a church — any church — is counter-productive and a confusion of symbols.

6 Replies to “The marriage bill should not be signed in any church”

  1. I guess I’m being slow today, because I don’t get it. If you want to get married in a civil service rather than a religious one to keep the two aspects of marriage separate, why not get married at the courthouse?

  2. Scott, have I told you lately how much I appreciate your T? This is an intelligent and impartial assessment of the reality. Much as we dearly might want it to be otherwise, I truly admire your pragmatism. Actually, you sound like David, here, and that’s meant as a compliment. šŸ™‚

  3. As much as the religious leaders who spoke out for marriage equality helped in this fight, this is a bad move for the reasons you site. It’s hard enough already to separate civil marriage from religion and church from state in dealing with matters homosexual. It almost seems like this is Fenty thumbing his nose to the churches who opposed marriage equality. Bad, clumsy move.

  4. i welcome your point, that we need to de-sacralize human rights and get them back to inherent humanhood status.

    too little has the left been willing to address the cost of the theological self-justification, including dr king’s, back when we were pushing for racial equality.

    i am not here to argue against dr king, only to stress that this cost comes from uuism’s deliberate decision to eliminate solid humanist theological sophistication in ministry. too many of us judge our movement with short-term social accomplishments.

    having said that, i confess that the work of marriage equality gives me tremendous pride as a uu. i glow with hubris and happy memories and will look up the pictures of that church, one of the first in dc to offer racially integrated social facilities to kids, in its moment of glory. they DO have a solid theogical core around inclusion, and unlike too many of the rest of us, they live their message through a transformed congregation. from what i’ve heard, first they include, then they get to know each other, and that is how they’ve grown in spirit without losing their fundamental soul.

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