Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Church Ceremony Celebrates Gay Pairs

Church Ceremony Celebrates Gay Pairs

While I often criticize religious groups for opposing gay rights, it's nice to remember that there are those among the religious who value love more than hate and tolerance more than ignorance.

In a gesture of love that has become in Virginia, as elsewhere, a gesture of political protest, about 60 gay and heterosexual couples, some young and others who've been together 25 years or more, reaffirmed their vows of commitment yesterday in a ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington.


For such clergymen as Rev. Richard Nugent, gay rights is a religious issue.

To a large extent, the ceremony in the rectangular, concrete-and-glass church was also about demonstrating a religious ethic that is counter to the more conservative one preached from many pulpits.

"We've been saying for years that hate is not a family value," said Ullius, 58, who reaffirmed her vows to her partner of 25 years, Buckner, 54. "Discrimination is not a family value, and inequality is not a family value."


Ceremonies like these are happening all over the country. The nation may not recognize gay marriage, but gay and lesbian couples are having marriage ceremonies anyway. They wear rings, they refer to husbands or wives, and they join their lives together.

For others who took part, the ceremony was only secondarily a political statement; primarily, it was a rare opportunity to declare their love in a public way and to feel accepted by a community.

"If I had a wedding," said Joyner, 55, of Alexandria, "I don't know how many of my family members would show up."

She is generally shy, she said, and not prone to activism. But when the time came yesterday, she marched outside, joined hands with her partner of five years, Lovelace, and in the cool afternoon said, "I will," in front of a congregation that clapped for them.


In fifty years, our children and grandchildren will look upon those opposing gay marriage as those of our generation now look back upon those who opposed interracial marriage. Will you be able to tell them you were on the side of justice? Or will you stand ashamed and repentent before them?

13 comments:

JDHURF said...

While it is fantastic to see any religious sect supporting gay marriage one must remember that Unitarian Universalits are not a religious sect by the common definition. Many secular organizations claim that they are really a congregation of humanists that have not gotten rid of their church going habit.

“many UUs appreciate and value elements of Christian spirituality, but adherence to orthodoxy of any kind (Abrahamic or other) is a personal choice and not a requirement of UU's creedless, non-dogmatic foundations. Even before formal Unitarian and Universalist organizations merged, the theological significance of the names expanded and evolved far beyond their traditional and historic definitions.” – wikipedia.org

In a survey, reported but not sponsored by the UUA, Unitarian Universalists in the US were asked which term or terms of a set provided best describe their belief. The top choices were:
Humanist – 54%
Agnostic – 33%
Earth Centerd – 31%
Atheist – 13%
Buddhist – 16.5%
Christian – 13.1%
Pagan – 13.1%

I don’t want to stray too far on this tangent I just want to help make it clear that UU is not the average religion, what other religion incluedes so many atheists? UU would be one of the very few religions that I would support and I am very glad to see their staunch support of civil unions, very awesome. The specific quotes from UU’s were really good, I really enjoyed this post. The religious that oppose civil unions between same sex couples are just as biased as the religious zealots that claimed that blacks were only one eighth of a white man and that women were also not equal to white men. Opposition to gay marriage is irrational, biased, callous, heartless and religious induced. This religious induced bigotry should be reformed and remediated at all costs. It’s good to see the UU’s doing their part….I have also heard of liberal Jewish Temples doing the same, do you have any info on that JA?

Just for clarification I am a heterosexual, Secular humanist - atheist. It seems that anytime someone speaks up on behalf of the gay population one is assumed gay themselves…..how immature are thost that oppose homosexuality? Apparently very much so.

Jewish Atheist said...

jdhurf,

While it is fantastic to see any religious sect supporting gay marriage one must remember that Unitarian Universalits are not a religious sect by the common definition. Many secular organizations claim that they are really a congregation of humanists that have not gotten rid of their church going habit.

True enough. They're not the only ones, though. According to religioustolerance.org, the following religious groups "support marriage and/or civil unions for all adults, independent of sexual orientation:"

Central Conference of American Rabbis (about 1,800 members who serve over 1.5 million Reform Jews.)
California Council of Churches
Pacific Congress of Quakers
Unitarian Universalist Association,
United Church of Religious Science
United Church of Christ
United Church of Canada
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Just for clarification I am a heterosexual, Secular humanist - atheist.

Me too. The only way I'd oppose gay marriage is if they tried to make me have one. ;)

Laura said...

Money says someone here is going to bring up that the difference between gay and inter-racial marriage is the "choice" issue. Remember, that to many people who oppose gay marriage or gay rights of any kind, they still view heterosexuality as the normative form of human existence and homosexuality as a the choice of a deviant lifestyle over a proper one.

The key is to convince these people that it is not a choice. I know many gay people, and all of them have said they've felt different since a very young age, and this is the core of who they are, not a lifestyle choice.

Jewish Atheist said...

Laura,

I suspect that while many believe it's a choice out of ignorance or wishful thinking (it makes their literal reading of the Bible easier) some of the most vocal are themselves homosexuals in denial. You see, they did make a
"choice" not to "be" homosexual. Instead, they're inflicting an innocent woman with a husband in denial and themselves with a life that's a lie. Particularly if you focus on the fact that many religious people argue that the Bible doesn't recognize homosexuals as such but just bans homosexual behavior. There have been a few vocally anti-gay Republicans who have been shown to be gay or reasonably suspected of being gay. (Paul Koering, Drier, Bachmann, etc.)

Foilwoman said...

I actually got married in that church (the UU). My marriage fell apart, but for the usual reasons. I always wonder why everyone cares who anyone else marries. I care under these circumstances:

(1) It's someone I want to sleep with; or

(2) It's someone who can't meaningfully consent (minor, prisoner, slave).

Otherwise, I don't care. And as far as (1) goes, if they don't want to sleep with me, well, they have the right to unilaterally reject me and pick someone else. So only (2) really applies. So all those men who want to sleep with and/or marry other men? Not an issue for me. It's hard enough to find someone to love without the government banning you from marrying. Once you exclude mean people, dishonest people, and people who smell bad, there just aren't that many potential partners left.

Sadie Lou said...

You know what's weird? I don't recall any of the kids at my school being from a "same sex" home. Do you guys? I'm almost 30 and I think Laura and i are the same age--were you aware of any kids at your school with gay parents? I just thought about this the other day because I realized that my kids could possible run into this scenario with some of their friends...

Jewish Atheist said...

I went to an Orthodox Jewish school, so while there were a couple of (heterosexually married) parents who spoke and acted like Jack from Will and Grace, there were no students with gay parents. I'm sure they wouldn't have been allowed to attend. (Well, mostly sure, anyway.)

Jewish Atheist said...

That was confusing. I meant to say that there were no families with two dads or two moms, but a couple with dads who appeared to be flaming homosexuals but were married to women.

secularhumanist said...

Re: Laura's comments. While I completely understand the political importance of arguing that homosexuality is not a choice, I have long felt that a better/ possibly even more honest tack to take (not that this would ever float, given our current culture) would be to advance the idea that sexuality is essentially a private matter and, as such, we should all be free to choose how we want to express our sexuality and with whom, etc. This way, it makes no difference whether or not homosexuality is biological or not. What matters is that people should be free to do whatever they want sexually, as long as it's between consenting adults. After all, we make "lifestyle choices" in all other areas of our lives. Why shouldn't we be "allowed" to do it in this one?

Laura said...

Secular: Agreed. It shouldn't matter at all. Unfortunately, given the legal language in our country, it does :\

JA said: "some of the most vocal are themselves homosexuals in denial".

You know what's funny? I just saw a show on HBO called Middle Sex: Redefining He and She and part of it was a psychological study done to examine just that. It's been long suspected, but never proven. They separated heterosexual, male college students into two groups using screening instruments (surveys): Homophobes and not. They then strapped them to a device that measured sexual arousal (basically the intensity/existence of an erection), and sat them down to watch gay porn. Wouldn't you know it - the homophobe group were more sexually aroused. And when doing a post-test questionnaire - even though their arousal was plain for everyone to see - they still said they found it disgusting. Interesting huh? It's still running on HBO - you should catch it.

Laura said...

Sadie: No, I don't recall kids coming from an openly gay household. Though I did know several gay students. I imagine kids in Oak Park (town I grew up in) schools encounter it more now - OP is the only Chicago suburb to legally recognize domestic partners.

Sadie Lou said...

I went to school with two openly gay students and then a whole bunch more that I suspected were gay. I just think it's interesting that we have gone a very long time without legalizing gay marriage and it wasn't even that widely accepted (like I pointed out, I didn't have any friends or people I knew that had gay parents) and now it's quite the opposite--I just saw a show on MTV about teens struggling to fit in at highschool because they have gay parents. Didn't seem like much of an issue when I was going to school and it's not because it was a secret or anything, it just didn't exist.

Foilwoman said...

Sadie lou: I think that's the point. You didn't know about it, therefore it didn't exist. But maybe it was a secret, and that's why you didn't know about it? Maybe people would have liked to be in committed gay relationships but felt they couldn't because of opprobrium, osctracism, and negative career and social consequences? Oh lucky heterosexual spouse of that man or woman!