Overturning same-sex marriage ban was interfaith triumph
On Thursday, the California Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
I couldn't be more delighted. I've been marrying same-sex couples without benefit of legal documents for more than 30 years. I'm looking forward to the day when I can do it with marriage license in hand.
The California court held that the ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection and that no compelling interest by the state was served by the separation of same sex versus opposite sex status.
Hawaii's situation is somewhat different, but the basic issues of fairness and equality are the same.
California Unitarian Universalist churches have been deeply involved in getting the initiative overturned. That struggle was led by a UU minister, the Rev. Lindi Ramsden, and the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, California. Ramsden said, "Loving, same-sex couples can now be treated with equal dignity and respect when we marry them in our congregations. Those same-sex couples who have been married religiously, but undocumented legally, will now be able to get legally married."
In the decision of the court, it is clear that the work of the religious community made a big difference. While no clergy person, nor faith organization, will ever be forced to marry a couple that does not fit their religious requirements, today's ruling means that no longer will faith communities who do offer the religious rites of marriage to same-sex couples be required to treat them differently.
Over 400 religious organizations, congregations and clergy from a wide range of faith traditions, signed the interfaith amicus brief in support of the marriage case before the California Supreme Court, voicing their deeply held commitment to end the prohibition against marriage for same-sex couples. The Unitarian Universalist Association, the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ and Soka Gakkai International-USA (Buddhist) were among the signatories that demonstrated their support for
human dignity and religious freedom.
Ramsden, executive director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, whose organization sponsored the interfaith brief, stated, "Today's court's decision answers the prayers of people from many faiths. How beautiful that the commitment and courage of California's same-sex couples can finally be recognized and protected, and that all Californians will now be able to marry the person they love. Today the court affirmed that the religious views of some cannot be used to restrict the rights of those with differing religious beliefs."
Kerry Chaplin, interfaith
organizing director with California Faith for Equality, a key collaborator in creating the interfaith brief, stated, "As a person of faith, I believe that today's ruling reinforces what many of us were taught as children, to love and treat our neighbors like we want to be treated."
At the end of the court decision, the long list of names of clergy and congregations in support of it is a wonderful witness of support for the freedom to marry.
The Rev. Mike Young
is minister of First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, a Unitarian Universalist welcoming congregation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org