Today’s letter – Shouldn’t Churches Decide

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The biggest arguments I’ve been in about same-sex marriage have hinged on what the bible says about same-sex relationships. Apparently not even the churches can decide!

Some, like the Episcopal Church, believe that all God’s children should be able to participate in the rites of the Church. Others, like the Catholic Church, decided that gay people are not worthy of the rites of ordination and marriage.

When St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach had to choose between “treat thy neighbor as thyself” and “I’m better than the gays,” they decided to leave the Episcopal Church. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that St. James cannot violate the beliefs of the Church, and take the property of the Church with them.

St. James is the exception that proves the rule: freedom of religion demands freedom to marry. The Supreme Court realizes this, the legislature realizes this, and the churches realize this. Why does our government continue to block my freedom to believe, and my freedom to marry?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – a great precedent

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

In a development that bodes well for a favorable decision in the same-sex marriage case pending in California’s Supreme Court, today’s Wall Street Journal reported that the highest court of the Presbyterian Church ruled that a Northern California minister had not violated denominational law when she officiated at the weddings of two lesbian couples.

A regional judicial committee had rebuked the Rev. Jane Spahr for performing the ceremony, but the church’s high court cleared her of all wrongdoing.

If the Presbyterian Church can witness and support the commitments of committed couples, perhaps someday our government can too.

Yours,

Today’s letter – even Presbyterians can see the folly of exclusion

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I have written to you before about the rift over homosexuals in the Episcopal Church, but now it seems as though the Presbyterians are headed towards similar turmoil.

Lisa Larges is a deacon in San Francisco who is seeking ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. The constitution of the church limits its clergy, elders and deacons to people in man-woman marriages or who are sexually abstinent; but it also has a policy of allowing exceptions for conscientious objectors.

Larges has called the special ban on gay clergy a “mar upon the church and a stumbling block to its mission” with enough conviction that the regional body of 77 churches voted last week to allow her third application to proceed by 167 to 151, and she will be interviewed in April.

She says “The church is a beautiful, messy thing. It’s about loving the church in spite of the church. It’s about being part of a movement to call the church back to its best self.”

If the Presbyterians can make an exception to their special ban on same-sex marriage, can’t you?

To borrow Ms. Larges’ words, depriving just some people of the ability to participate fully in our economy and society is a mar upon the state and a stumbling block to its mission of ensuring life, liberty, property and happiness for all. Governor – it’s time to call your state and your party back to its best self and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,