Monday, April 27, 2009

All these people are getting married in my state today...

....and I am stuck in Chicago for a conference of 2030 clergy in the UCC.  Figures.  Catch y'all on the flip side.

On the plus side, it is a GREAT event, you should have heard "Men of Destiny," who gave testimony in word and song at tonight's worship service, and you should really get to know my amazing colleagues.  Oh, and if you are in your 20s or 30s and considering ministry in the UCC, you are not alone.

Go Read Pope Laura the Beneficient

(I just added that last part today; she is generous and kind and definitely deserves the title)  

Yes, it is a "response" to something I just blogged, but she raises some key issues about our assumptions of people who live in various parts of the United States.  And yes, isn't it telling that one of the places you'd "naturally expect" same-sex marriage to be a no-brainer (California) is a place where not only is it no longer legal, but also that the marriages performed there in mid-2008 may soon be invalidated....while the fact that today, same-sex couples are getting married in the cornfields of Iowa?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion...Again

My piece "A Spot of Good News" was front-paged over at Pam's House Blend. Thanks, Pam and co.!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Spot of Good News

(cross-posted in a slightly different form over at Pam's House Blend)

As you know, I'm a UCC minister who serves a very progressive church in SW Iowa, not a bastion of liberalism by any means.  Steve King, he who feared that Iowa would become the new "gay marriage mecca," "represents" (and I do use the term loosely) the district in which I live.  I also have a part-time gig as a sexuality educator for an affiliate of a national reproductive-health-care organization (that also provides abortions, so I bet you can guess what it is).  My moms are gay, so I generally identify as "queer by proxy."  Oh, and I'm a local school board member.

We hear a lot of bad news about being a GLBT student in public schools. A LOT. I know that many of us have experienced a great deal of hatred and discrimination from our schooling years, and that lots of us carry those scars with us.  So I wanted to share a perfectly delightful story, and hopefully share a vision of what may yet be possible for the many GLBT students who come through our schools in the next few years.  

A few weeks ago, a youth in my church told me that her friend X was planning to bring his male date to prom.  I was kind of thrilled, and a little apprehensive. A few days later, I heard the same thing from our HS principal (also a member of our church), in the context of a marriage equality conversation.  When I commended him for supporting this young man, the principal said, "Well, first of all, it's the law.   And yes, it's great he's bringing his date!"  (Isn't it nice to have administrators who get it, and who are advocates for our kids?)

Our high school prom is a really big deal.  It is held at a local restaurant, and there is a red-carpet walk-in where couples are formally announced. Parents, kids, grandparents, all sorts of community members come, applaud the couples, and take pictures.  I told my youth I was planning to see her at the walk-in, and asked if her friend X was going to.  She said no, it felt like a big enough risk just to bring his date.  I was sad, but after hearing so many horror stories, I kind of understood.  Then my youth texted me yesterday.

"Are u still coming to walk in?"  Well, I sure was planning.  "Well, X is going to do walk-in now and he really wants some positive support."  Well, that settled it.  How could I not go?  

Now, I live in a very conservative part of the state.  I'm pretty much the only pro-choice pastor in the community, and I am certainly the only member of our ministerial association who supports GLBT rights or would perform a wedding for a same-sex couple.  I've been called a blasphemer and probably worse by my colleagues.  There is not a lot of support for things like marriage equality in my community.  For a lot of people, homosexuality = all that ridiculous stuff the Religious Right pushes.

So you can understand my anxiety for X.  Would the community be shocked?  Would they boo him?  Would they throw things at him?  Would they be silent?  Would the announcer refuse to announce the couple?  I imagined all these possibilities.

Well, I arrived a little before the procession began, and it was really neat.  I saw the mom of the youth, and she told me what X's car looked like.  I also saw who the announcer was, and relaxed a little.  He's a cop-turned-post-office-worker, and a really decent guy.  He may not be a GLBT activist, but I couldn't see him embarrassing anyone.

The kids started coming, and they were all announced.  There were several groups of girls, and a few "girl couples," which it was hard to tell if they were "couples" or friends who simply came together.  (Funny how communities have a high tolerance for girls coming to prom with other girls, but guys coming together freaks people out.  Yes, this was another reason for my concern.)  A couple of the girls held onto each others' arms, which I thought very sweet.

Then, X and his date arrived.  X wore a powder-blue tux with a black vest, and his date wore a black tux with a powder-blue vest.  (Cute, right?)  They got out of the car, clutched arms in the very traditional prom date entrance, were announced cheerfully, and walked down the red carpet to applause and photos (including me, calling like a maniac to a kid I'd never met to say how great they looked).

 That was it.  No booing, no whispers, even, that I could hear.  No outrage, no protesting.  Just, two boys walking in to prom, like any other couple.

It is times like this that I'm profoundly grateful for the "Iowa Nice" attitude that lets kids bring their dates to prom and doesn't make an issue of it, even if others don't "agree with homosexuality" (whatever that means).  It's also a time when I realize I need to check some of my own assumptions about this community, and to stop expecting the worst from these largely theologically conservative farmers.

In the midst of so much horror, discrimination and violence, I am just so profoundly grateful for the ways that this community steps up.  Believe me, if it can happen here, then we have won.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something I'd Never Thought Of ...

A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with my friends JW and J.  J and I had planned to eat together, and JW, who works near the coffee shop/cafe, arrived not long after and we invited him to join us.  J and I were talking about the Iowa Supreme Court marriage ruling, and she asked me to share my thoughts concerning the arguments that Polk County had put forward.

"Marriage is to make babies, and 'we've always done it this way'" was my snarky summation.  We laughed at the ridiculousness of it, and I noted that I thought it strange that the Polk County recorder had let a relatively inarticulate and obviously out-of-his-depth ADA argue the case.  JW, a local attorney, said, "Well, maybe that was on purpose.  The DA has to enforce the law as it is on the books, but ... maybe they wanted the plaintiffs to win.  It's not like counties never hire outside counsel for cases like this."  

I confess I'd never considered this possibility.  Could it have been that the Polk County recorder and DA wanted to get this case to the SC, and wanted this discriminatory law overturned?  All of a sudden, I was filled with gratitude for this potential legal strategy.  Since I don't know the Polk County recorder, nor their DA, I can't say for sure.  But this actually sounds pretty plausible to me.  Why didn't the DA hire outside counsel for this case - one with national implications?  I am sure there are tons of organizations who could have pleaded (pled?) this case for the DA, maybe even pro bono.  Crazy!

This is relevant because, of course, some local county recorders are trying to get out of their legal obligations by claiming their opposition to same-sex marriage is religious in nature.   (I think Jocelyn over at wtf would jesus do? or someone at Street Prophets pointed out yesterday that these same people also oppose re-marriage on religious grounds, but they seem to have no problems processing those requests.)  Yeah, not so much, according to the state AG.

Here's the thing: when you work for the government, you are not allowed to discriminate, even if your religious beliefs support discrimination.  When you take an oath to discharge certain duties, you are legally bound to discharge those duties even when you don't like it.  If you decide that you can no longer discharge those duties in good conscience, you are not able to live up to the oath of office you took.  One is not legally required to work for the state, so if working for the state violates your conscience...well, find a new job that doesn't.  It's really not that difficult.

As a local school board member, I'm required in that capacity to uphold the state constitution, not to uphold the Bible.  If I have a religious objection to something, I can't simply say "my religion forbids me to do this, or require me to do this."  I must find a legitimate legal reason to object; or I must abstain.  And if there's a large divide between my personal religious beliefs and my legal duties, I need to consider resigning my position.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out, as next Monday is when counties have to (or get to!!!) start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  A part of me suspects this is a tempest in a teapot, or attempts to stir up trouble where there isn't any, really.....but, we'll see.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rants and Ramblings on the Death of a Child

I've had the misfortune of attending way too many funerals for young people. Suicides and accidents have been the bulk of these wretched events, but tomorrow I am attending a funeral for an infant, SM, who died about two weeks before she was due to be born. This was a much-hoped-for, much-longed-after daughter and granddaughter; the couple are new friends of ours.

Despite not being a parent, much less one who's gone through the horror of losing a child, I've come to know that people tend to say a lot of stupid, heartless and ridiculous things in such situations. Sometimes, ministers are especially guilty of this. I really hate hearing bad theology at the funerals of children and youth. (Well, I hate hearing bad theology all the time, but bad funeral theology is the absolute worst.) I know that people mean well, and are trying to help and not hurt, but honestly, do they think about what they are saying before they open their mouths?

Here is my top three list of stupid things you should never, ever, ever say to a parent who has lost a child:

3. God had a special task for this one in heaven. I actually heard this in a conversation this week. Long ago, a kid had flu-like symptoms; the family, who didn't have health insurance, couldn't afford a $25 copay to learn their kid had the flu, so didn't go to the doctor. The kid ended up having diabetes and died from the complications. A young friend wanted to know why this little girl had died and she didn't, since she also had diabetes. The above was her mother's response.

Look, I know that it's hard to explain to little kids about our whack health system, but let's be honest: the kid didn't die because God had some special task for her; she died because her parents didn't have access to adequate health insurance. A tragic mistake, not the family's fault...but also not God calling a kid home. Um, no. Whether avoidable, preventable, accidental, or even occasionally intention, whenever when a child dies, it's not God's will. Ever.

2. God's will is mysterious. Really? You think it's God's will that children die? What kind of horrible God do you worship? Keep me away from Him, thank you very much. In a famous sermon by William Sloane Coffin on the death of his own son Alex, a woman says to him, "I'll never understand the will of God." To which he replies, "I'll say you don't!" He goes on to say that at the moment of Alex's death, God's heart was the first to break, and that in all things, God offers us "minimum protection, maximum support."

1. God needed another angel. Really? Do you truly believe that a) God needs anything, and b) that even if God did need anything, God's need could somehow be greater than OUR need? Are you honestly going to tell grieving parents that God needed that child more than her parents and community did? Your god is that needy, that greedy? Seriously? Bullshit.

I get that when we have people we love who are grieving, we want to help. We want to take away that suffering, or at least imbue it with some sort of meaning that will help the grievers get out of bed in the morning.

We also have this thing in our culture where we are stuck in a third-grade notion of God being omnipotent and able to do anything. That's where a lot of this bad theology comes from; we believe that if something happens, it's because it's somehow God's will. But the hard reality is that God is not all-powerful. At least, not here on earth. If God were all-powerful, we'd be getting ready to celebrate SM's birth. There would be no genocide, no poverty, no rape, no hunger, no addiction, no murder, no oppression of any sort. The question of why God permits suffering is intimately tied to things like free will and random chance, and any real answer would be far too long for a blog post. Permit me to say, however, that even when God wants to prevent suffering, God is not always able to do so.

This is not to say that God cannot draw good out of suffering. This is where God is most powerful, I believe - in helping us draw good out of terrible situations. It's not easy, and it's not always possible. It certainly seldom happens in the way we think it will. Even if lives are transformed and realities changed for the better as a direct result of a child's death, it still doesn't make the death "worth it." There will always be a hole where that child should be. And in the end, only the parents parents have the right to say, somewhere down the line, "We miss her, we'd rather have her here, but there are some good things that happened after this horrible death that might not have otherwise happened." We don't have the right to say that for anyone else. Ever.

When a child dies, it is utterly incomprehensible. It tears at the order and fabric of the universe in particularly devastating ways. And yet, it is totally human of us to try to make sense of utter nonsense. I get that. I desperately want to take away some of the grief my friends are feeling right now, and the normal way we think that happens is through an explanation. (What makes this situation even more heart-wrenching is that the doctors don't know why SM died. But I don't suppose that would matter very much anyway; it just maybe gives a focus for the grief.) But let's be honest: if it were you, would any of this stuff make you feel better?

When a kid dies, do your friends and family the courtesy of not making up bullshit reasons for why this happened, especially not bullshit reasons that put God at the center of what happened. Stick with the psalms of lamentation that rail against God if you must. But better yet: just show up. Bring them food. Hug them. Cry with them. And keep your mouth shut.

This, by the way, is how you bring God into the center of such a tragedy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Youtube Goodness

So, I have this thing where I hate to do something that everyone else is doing.  If everyone is watching "West Wing," I'll resist because it can't be that good, and even if it is, it will probably be cancelled in a season.  (Oops!)  I'll also resist because I've been burned liking something that ends up being totally mock-worthy - see, high school concert, comma, Vanilla Ice.  

It should come as no surprise, then, to know that I've been resisting watching this whole "Susan Boyle" thing on "Britain's Got Talent."  One, I hate reality shows.  Two, I especially hate reality shows that mock other people.  Three, I hate Simon Cowell (in good Christian love, bless his heart).  Did I also mention I'm not a huge fan of musicals?  But tonight, with the buzz still inexplicably growing, I asked Backbencher if he'd seen it and if it was really that good.  "Oh, yes," he said.  "Youtube it now."  

So I did.  And it was amazing!  Her voice is so strong, so phenomenal, so ... great!  Now, it's not the voice of an angel - it's better than that.  It's the voice of a SINGER!!!!  I am not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes.  I could give you all this commentary about our looks-obsessed culture and how she's a living indictment of it, but I suspect you've heard it.  I admit from the photos I thought she might be "special" in some way, and her story of never having been kissed, living with cats and caring for her mother kind of reinforced that.  

But as soon as she walked up on stage, it was obvious she is a wickedly smart, wickedly funny woman.  She knew her pipes would blow everyone away.  And they did!  Oh, just go see it.  If not for the first time, then go enjoy it again!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All in All, Not Such a Super Day

Wow, what a day.  Taxes were due, and I forgot to ask Backbencher to sign the forms before he left for work today.  Since he works an hour from home, and I wasn't going to drive all the way to his job, and he wasn't going to drive an hour back home, and our post office closes before he gets back from work....we met halfway.  Not how I wanted to start the day.  Plus, we owe some $$$ and of course, quarterly taxes are also due today.  *sigh*

Then, I learned that a couple I am getting to know who were so excited for the birth of their daughter at the end of this month lost the girl on Monday.  I don't know if I can imagine anything worse (and please, don't tell me if you can).  Just please pray for T and J.

THEN, I learned that I actually know the young woman my friends MJ and Guillermo have been supporting at NYU's Relay for Life this weekend.  Lauren Beam and I were on the track team together for a couple of years; she's wonderful and amazing...and has stage 4 colon cancer in her early thirties.  Please support Team Beam here; and if you want to be a real winner, bump MJ Pasion or Guillermo Rojas over the edge in their fundraising - just click their names and donate on their page.

Then, our favorite Chinese place closed tonight.  We waited over an hour for food, but it was totally worth it because it is our last chance to enjoy China Gate.  Godspeed, Kiet and family.

In a totally ironic turn of events, youth group today focused on seeing the glass as half-full versus half-empty.  That, and baseball.  So, on the positive side, I had a great little run today.  And the Chinese food was delicious.

Letters to the Editor

Our local weekly often has "gems" of letters to the editor. If I've written previously, you can bet that they are all about how appalled the reader is that I serve a church because I'm obviously the spawn of Satan or some hedonistic forced-abortion satanista. Or, if they are feeling charitable, just hopelessly misguided and in need of lots of prayers to repent of the errors of my ways and teachings. What can you do? I usually stew for a few minutes, then laugh and laugh.

This week's letter, in response to a quote of mine that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald (the nearest daily), was rather cute. I reprint it here in its entirety and verbatim (except for the town name):
"Saturday morning right on the front page of my newspaper is the United States with a big red dot over Iowa. And in reading about this abomination against God a small church Reverend in XXXXXXX has proclaimed a victory.
We as Christians and disciples of God have again let Satan's foot in the door."

The red dot, if you're new to this site (and God only knows why this would be the post that brings you here, but, hey, welcome, have a seat, enjoy the view) is in regards to marriage equality, which came to Iowa on April 3.

Thank you, Donald Allen of my hometown. It gave me a good laugh; also, I laughed again when my friend JW called to ask if Satan was home. But I just have one question - when were the other times we let Satan's foot in the door? When women started to get ordained? When women were no longer the property of their fathers or husbands? When the abominable snowman was revealed to be a gentle giant who just needed a tooth pulled?

Seriously, Kids, it's a Semi-Colon; how hard is it to use?

Go read Lucky Fresh's rant on the underuse of the semi-colon; it's compelling stuff.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Nuff Said

On marriage equality as a barometer of religious freedom.

Very Belated Post

I had the honor to speak at the Council Bluffs Marriage Equality Victory Rally on April 3, and yep, I'm just getting around to posting what I said. To be accurate, what I said can best be described as "inspired by" what's below, because at the last minute I decided to go off-script and just speak.

April 3, 2009 ~ At the inauguration of our current president, Barack Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein spoke of “the sweet victory of this hour.” Iowans, these are our words today!!! For we who love justice and equality, for we who wish to affirm that all Iowans are equal under the law, for we who believe that all Iowa families deserve to be treated fairly, this is indeed a sweet, sweet hour, a sweet, sweet victory.

God is good – all the time!

Yes, it’s true. I believe that God has brought us to this day. God rejoices with us as we celebrate the triumph of love over fear, justice over oppression, and holiness in the midst of our closest relationships. God is smiling upon Iowa this day! As an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, I affirm that God is still speaking and God says we are all equal in God’s eyes. We are all beloved of God! We are all free! The sweet victory of this hour is in the ways that all blessed and holy relationships may now be honored fairly by the state of Iowa. Thanks be to God!

Even as I invoke the name of God in giving thanks for this sweet victory, I know that there are some here and throughout our great state who feel this decision is a travesty in the eyes of God. I cannot change your mind. I am not here to change your mind, sorry though I am that we disagree.

I am here to ask to you to acknowledge just one thing: that in our society, marriage often has both RELIGIOUS and CIVIL aspects. This union of religion and civics within the word “marriage” makes lots of people uncomfortable. Believe me, I get it. It is a curious conflation. But it is real.

What we celebrate today is not a religious victory. [It’s not, even for those of us who support marriage equality as a religious issue.] This is a civic victory: that insofar as marriage is a civil contract, the state has no business discriminating against consenting adults who wish to enter into it. What has happened today is that the Iowa Supreme Court has affirmed the equal recognition and protection of the privileges and rights of all individuals in civil marriage, no matter the gender of each partner.

As for the religious definition of marriage … well, the courts have no jurisdiction there. Insofar as marriage is a religious compact, even a sacrament, the state has no business telling religion what to do or whom it must join in holy matrimony. And it does not pretend to. If your religious beliefs or that of your church, synagogue, masjid or other place of worship do not recognize marriage between two persons of the same gender, you are free to go on believing and practicing that belief. You do not have to marry same-sex couples. You don’t have to go to their weddings and you do not have to have those weddings in your places of worship. The First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion are intact.

What has changed is only the civil definition of marriage. (only!) But for we who love justice, for we who walk in love, for we who seek liberation for the oppressed, it is enough. It is enough.

And see, if you are like me, and worship in a faith community where all people are welcome to participate in the full life, fellowship and leadership of the congregation, no matter their sexual orientation, now, the same-sex holy unions we perform can now have the same weight and authority as the heterosexual unions we perform. Because brothers and sisters, we have been marrying gay and lesbian couples for years! And we will keep on doing it – this time with the knowledge that we celebrate not only a religious uniting of two of God’s children, but also a legal creation of a family. What a joy that the state has finally caught up with what we have known to be true all along – that love makes a family.

Seven months ago, in the state of California, I had the privilege of uniting in holy matrimony and in civil marriage two women who had been a couple for twenty years. These women had raised three children together and seen more trouble than most of us can imagine. They had loved each other in the closet for most of that time, and they resisted most ways of having their relationship recognized formally. But when the time came for marriage equality in their state, they jumped. They opened their lives up to their friends and coworkers. They called their children and invited them to the special day. They got on their nicest clothes and they walked down a dusty path in a beautiful park and they pronounced their vows to each other, and they kissed, and they were legally married. The law recognized what the spirit had always known – that these two people were meant for each other, now and forever. And on that day, possibly the only person happier than they were was their daughter – the minister who presided at their union. Me.

So you see, this is not only a political victory, but it is a personal and family victory for all Iowa’s families. Thank you, God, for the sweet victory of this hour."

I missed a few good points raised by others, such as the fact that I support marriage equality BECAUSE OF my Christian faith, not in spite of it, but I think the message came through anyway. I also added a couple of points, like apologizing on behalf of Christians everywhere for the abuse GLBT persons have suffered at the hands of "the Church." (I know I can't make up for it, I know I'm not personally responsible for it, but it needs to be said nonetheless.)

It was a great rally and to the best of my knowledge, we had no counter-protestors. The thrill of that day was partly eaten up by the annoyance of the next few days when protests became more formal in the Iowa Legislature, and at the local legislative coffee when the people who represent this district were ridiculous in their assessments.

Our state senator even invoked the tired line of "teaching this to our children in schools" and our state representative went on and on about how the court overstepped its bounds. Why don't these people get that they don't have a right to vote on other people's civil liberties? Do they not understand that the function of a state Supreme Court is precisely to rule on the constitutionality of laws enacted by the legislature? Have they never heard of "checks and balances"? Did they ever show up for their civics classes? The mind boggles.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Wingnuttery Sex Education

Oh, God, Andrew Sullivan found these videos and I must share with you.  I especially love how he calls it "vu-gINE-ul sex" in the 2nd video.  I think it should be pretty obvious why this man has no idea what the clitoris is for, "since it doesn't have a reproductive function."  The horrible misogyny is in really fine form.  (Also, he thinks that sperm sort of hang out in the womb and magically become a baby - no mention of the egg.)

I have no idea who this man is, but he is truly an embarrassment to evangelical Christianity.  

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Great Facebook Commentary on Iowa Supreme Court Ruling

All my friends from California told me I was nuts to leave there to come to Iowa to serve a church.  I explained that the privilege of being a straight white woman is that I can go to A LOT of places and speak on a number of important issues, and that people will hear it differently coming from me; and that I had a responsibility as a person of faith to go to some of those more challenging places.  Basically, I came to Iowa to be a missionary for progressive Christianity.

Of course, progressive Christianity is already alive and well in Iowa, but in my part of the state, I really am a missionary.  (And I'm occasionally vilified for this!)  I actually love it.  I shake stuff up here.  And it's odd, because sometimes I get down on myself because I think I should be doing so much more, and I'm really not so radical after all, blah blah blah....until I remember that in this context, supporting marriage equality and a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children is incredibly radical to almost everyone except the people in the church I serve (and even some of them think it's radical).

Well, yesterday was my vindication to all those mockers from CA.  Marriage equality is here to stay - for at least 3 more years, as opposed to the what, 6 months?, it was available there.  Yeah, we totally rock here!  In the immortal words of Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting," "How you like them apples?"  Or, as I kept saying so ineloquently yesterday, "SUCKAs!!!!!!"  (Bless their hearts)

Well, now that that schadenfreude is over (and to any of my friends from CA or anywhere else who wants to get married in Iowa and me to preside, get on my calendar soon because I imagine my dance card may soon begin to fill.......), so many peeps came up with some GREAT Facebook commentary on this decision.  I shall share a few gems below:

From Will, a friend from NYU XC: "A new - and surprising - state slogan: Iowa: more progressive than California."

From Patrick, former camper from Caz, "I think [the ruling] said a same-sex marriage ban was 'totally gay.'"

And some news article quoted a woman at one of the rallies with a sign that said "Corn-fed and Ready to Wed."  Well, I'm already married, but I'm ready to marry you, gay couples in the Outer 47.  Come be blessed by our state and its progressive values.  Even in my part of the state, you'll find plenty who share your joy.

PS Check out Backbencher's post on the ruling.  It's great!  (Partly because he's great!)

Friday, April 03, 2009

State Supreme Court Smackdown!

The ones getting smacked were the people representing the Polk County Recorder's office, of course! Marriage equality has come to Iowa today, and I couldn't be happier!!!!

I also, being the dork that I am, read the full decision (okay, I skimmed parts of it - I understand the difference between strict scrutiny, rational basis, and intermediate scrutiny, so I just needed to know what they used). It is amazing. Read it here. (The six-page summary for you wusses is here.)

The Iowa Supreme Court took every argument that the Polk County Recorder's office raised and thoroughly ripped them to tiny little shreds. Then they poured gasoline on those shreds and burnt them. Then, they took the ashes, and steamrolled over them. It was a thing of beauty. I love when justices do this - it is devastating and marvelous all at once! I had every confidence that the defendants had a weak case, and boy did it show in this decision. And can I just say, "Thank you!!!" to the justices for their strong, reasoned, principled, and thorough work? A-freakin-mazing.

Also, they nicely made clear that this is about CIVIL MARRIAGE and does not affect RELIGIOUS MARRIAGE in any way. Except that now I don't have to feel that I'm participating in a discriminatory act when I sign opposite-sex marriage licenses. And, of course, I can marry gay and lesbian couples, starting April 24. But all y'all who don't want to perform same-sex marriage and who want to pour on the hate over my gay and lesbian friends still are free to do so.

And it was UNANIMOUS! What a great day to be an Iowan!! God be praised! And thank you, God, for justices who do their work mindful of the firestorm it may create but courageous enough to do their job of interpreting the constitutionality of laws nonetheless.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Tomorrow is the day when the Iowa Supreme Court will issue its ruling on Varnum v. Brien, a marriage equality case. (That would be "same-sex marriage" for all you folk not totally up on the liberal lingo regarding the issue.) It could very well happen - we could be the next state to support our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters when they choose to enter into the civil institution of marriage. Wouldn't that be great?

Some, of course, may wish to enter into the religious institution of marriage at the same time. If so, come to my church! I'll be glad to marry you to your spouse - but you will have to do the pre-marital counseling stuff I require of all couples I marry.

In case you were wondering, I am saving my eloquence for the rally in Council Bluffs tomorrow, where I'll be speaking on behalf of (at least some) communities of faith in support of marriage equality. See you tomorrow at 5:30pm; location to be updated as soon as I know it!

In the meantime, let's pray for equality and justice for all Iowans (it's a Christian prayer, but feel free to translate to your own tradition as is appropriate):
God, in your mercy, you create us for intimacy and love, and you shape our desires in many holy ways. You give us the bonds of marriage that we may make a family with our beloved, and that through our dearest relationships your love may be made manifest. We pray this evening for the state of Iowa and its great people, that we may be a place where all couples may freely marry their beloved. Tonight we pray especially for our gay and lesbian citizens, that come tomorrow, they may share equally in the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Give us courage to speak your love in clear tones, strength for the journey that lies ahead, and grace abundant, as you have so shown us in Jesus Christ. Amen.