Today the Supreme Court of the US has sounded a death knell to marriage discrimination in our country. To celebrate, I thought I’d share something I shared last year when a Virginia court sounded the same death knell to marriage discrimination in a number of southern states, including my home state of North Carolina. North Carolina’s discrimination against same-gender couples was actually added to our state constitution a few years ago. When this was being debated I was pastoring a church in Fayetteville, NC called “Diversity in Faith: A Christian Church For All People”. My church members were very active in
the local fight to raise a voice against this unjust law. To celebrate a court ruling which paves the way to the end of this law and of marriage discrimination against same-gender couples in my state, I shared the words of a speech I gave at an Anti-Ammendment One rally I and several faith leaders joined in during the debate preceding the state ballot initiative which led to the creation of Amendment One.
Why do I oppose writing discrimination into the NC state constitution? For me as a Christian minister, my faith compels me to oppose discrimination in all its forms, particularly in the form we see expressed in the proposed constitutional amendment. My faith compels me for two reasons. First, because this amendment imposes one group of churches’ interpretation of Christianity upon all North Carolinians and my faith teaches me that the state imposing a particular denomination’s view on other people corrupts both the church and the state. Secondly, because my faith teaches me that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…
This amendment promotes one particular, very conservative view of the Christian faith above all others, including many non-Christian faiths and even other Christian denominations. Many religious groups in America, such as the Unitarian Universalist Church, do not oppose same-sex relationships and are refused the right to practice their own tenets by the ban on same-gender marriage. What’s more, many Christian denominations also support GLBT equality, including the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United Church of Christ, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and my own faith family the Progressive Christian Alliance. What our state is currently doing by banning gay marriage is imposing the religious views of certain religious denominations on all North Carolinians. By writing this ban into our constitution, we are writing not just GLBT discrimination but also religious discrimination into our constitution. We are beginning the slippery slope of imposing a few churches’ views on other people of faith and people outside the faith community. I think all people of faith, and people of good will, ought to stand together against legislation that writes into law things that impose the beliefs of one religious group upon all people, whether they are religious or not and whether or not those beliefs are a part of their faith.
My faith also compels me to oppose this amendment because my faith teaches me that injustice against any member of the human family is injustice against all. What happens to my neighbors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning impacts me directly. This is the message of the Christian faith throughout the ages. “No man is an island to himself,” said John Donne, Anglican priest and poet. Baptist preacher and civil rights leader Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” As the prophet Micah who is held in respect by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike witnessed, these issues of justice for others are at the core of what it means to be a person of faith: “[God] has shown you, O human, what is good. What does the LORD require of you, but to act justly, To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
I pause now to remember this struggle, and to thank God for all the voices of people of faith who cried out for justice and fair treatment for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. I also thank God for people of good will who do not identify with a faith community.
Let’s remember that marriage is only one area where discrimination against LGBT people goes on. Let’s continue to fight for equality on all fronts, remembering God’s call in Micah 6:8 to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Let us also not forget other areas of injustice — the horrible racial injustice so many face, for instance — realizing injustice to anyone is a threat to justice for everyone.
And I’m not just whistling Dixie!
Your progressive redneck preacher,