Friday, June 15, 2012

Speaking the language of morality

Ari Ezra Waldman, who blogs about gay legal issues, has turned his attention to those who have come before us and who have sacrificed to get us where we are now. I'm writing about this particular post because it is about the religious leaders on our side.

Troy Perry started the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 so gays and lesbians would have a safe place to express their faith. He began performing same-sex weddings in 1970, even though the gov't wouldn't recognize them.

Brent Hawkes is Perry's counterpart in Canada. Hawkes performed a same-sex wedding in Toronto in 2001 and the city clerk refused to register it. That brought on a lawsuit, which led to the changes in Canada's marriage laws.

Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco was led by John Moore in 1960. He gave a series of sermons about people of faith should reach out to gay people. Cecil Williams took over in 1963 and made that reaching out official and real. He started pushing for gay equality.

There is also Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, gay Orthodox rabbi David Greenberg, Randy Roberts Potts, and Father Bob Pierson. The last one argues that voting for marriage equality is the Catholic thing to do.

There are the actions of these people and many others not named who put their faith into action. Examples are the religious briefs filed as part of the suits trying to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. These briefs say that "DOMA violates the Constitution's ban on the establishment of religion, or the favoring of one religious doctrine over another."

That means we must discuss our issues in terms of morality, not just rights and freedom, and we must seek out religious allies who already speak that language. We can't just ask government to leave us alone, we deserve full inclusion in society. In a country with strong Judeo-Christian roots, we must prove the moral worth of gay people. The church can help with that.

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