Tuesday, March 26, 2013

marriage equality

I took a poll on The Cheshire Patch website today but my response will never be counted since I declined to join said Cheshire Patch and receive updates about life in Cheshire each day. My life in "The Shire" is fine and I don't really need to know how it is for others in our town, which may seem a bit distant and withdrawn, but the reason I love Cheshire is that 'life in Cheshire' essentially has no peaks and valleys. It's just sort of peaceful and full of sameness.

The poll was asking about my opinion regarding marriage equality. I have, when you think about it, no particular wisdom on the subject but I do know that I define my life and who I am in a very few ways and one of them is being married to Bern. I just don't understand why the opportunity to define your life by your marriage and your spouse should be denied to anyone.

As a child and adolescent, I had a lesbian first cousin who was in a decades long committed relationship with another woman. They lived in Florida and both taught at the same High School. But they drove to work in separate cars and didn't socialize at school. They were faithful their whole adult lives to each other but had to keep that defining relationship of their lives secret. Maybe knowing Sarita and Eloise as I was growing up--they were always around at holidays and during the summer--seeped into me by psychological osmosis. I really loved them--they were so much more interesting and fun than most of the Bradley family.

What I  heard today from one of the lawyers for Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court about 'the purpose of marriage' was mindless and outrageous. He suggested the purpose of marriage was procreation. Justice Kegan got the biggest laugh of the day by saying people over 55 who were married weren't going to produce a lot of kids. Bern had her tubes tied when our daughter, Mimi was born. According to the logic of that argument, Bern and I had no business being married anymore since we would never produce off springs again. How ridiculous is that?

The kids of gay/lesbian relationships were on the heart of Justice Kennedy, who will probably be the vote that decides if the Supreme Court even addresses marriage equality on this go-around, commented that the children of same-sex relationships needed their parents to be legal and recognized. I never thought of that though I know a bunch of gay/lesbian couples who have children. In an era when so many children are born (as the old saying goes) 'without benefit of marriage', it just makes sense to provide the opportunity for as many as possible to have two parents. I never thought of that but it should be a position of the evangelicals who so object to children out of wedlock! How ironic would that be--the right-wing supporting same-sex marriage to make children 'legidimate'.

I'm the wrong one to ask. It just seems so unfair to keep people who want to be married from being married, period. I'm a great believer in marriage. Some of my colleagues in ministry used to call me "marryin' Sam" because I'd be a part of most any wedding since I thought if people wanted God somehow mixed up in their relationship, I ought to help them do that.

But that's just me, I guess. The winds of opinion have shifted greatly, but there are still many people who just don't get that love is love and commitment is commitment.

Gay and lesbian folks are often labeled promiscuous by straight folks. I wish I had kept count of how many straight men and women over the years of my ministry said to me: "if I WASN'T married" before telling me the affairs they would have had. I believe the vows of marriage have a "objective reality". Marriage, like other sacraments of the church, aren't simply 'symbols'.

Most Episcopalians who know me think I am hopelessly 'low church' since I went to Virginia Seminary and push informality to the limit. But the truth is, I truly, absolutely believe in the "objective reality" of the sacraments. Once, when St. John's in Waterbury was the site of the Downtown Co-operative ministry's Good Friday Service, an American Baptist was helping me give communion from the reserved sacrament (since Eucharist cannot be celebrated on Good Friday or Holy Saturday). I was administering the bread and he was passing the cup. I heard him say to someone at the altar rail, "this symbolizes the Blood of Christ". I went over to him and threatened to take the wine from him if he didn't tell the Truth as I believe it, "This IS the Blood of Christ".

The celebration and blessing of a marriage is a sacrament. It is (I know you know this....) The Outward and Visible Sign of an Inward and Spiritual TRUTH.

Sacraments matter ultimately to me. I've been a part of several same-sex marriages. Until this year, I was forbidden by the bishop of CT to hear the vows and pronounce the couple 'married'. I could 'bless' the union but not sign the marriage license. There had to be a JP or someone else who could sign the letters there. That's changed now with our new bishop. But I've not yet been involved in truly celebrating the sacrament--spiritual and legal--for a same sex couple.

I hope I get to do that sometime.

It will come. Marriage equality, love equality for gay/lesbian folks and straight folks will win the day at some point. And my granddaughter will not remember when that wasn't true. Perhaps not this time, though I hope and pray, but it is as inevitable as a tsunami. Just as it should be, I say.

Just as it should be....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.