Today volunteers across Oregon fanned out to begin talking to neighbors about marriage equality – one of the great civil rights issues of our time. In Portland, supporters of marriage equality gathered at Sunnyside Church to hear U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell tell the tragic – but ultimately victorious story – of how Campbell’s partner died of cancer, but because they were not married the couple was at first denied the right to be buried together until Senator Merkley won a battle, but not a precedent, to let them rest together for eternity when the time comes in a national cemetery.
Homosexuality is not a sin but bigotry and discrimination are. Holy Scripture is used to deny gays and lesbians the most basic of civil rights protection in many communities, including employment protections, but such use of Scripture is theological malpractice. I was honored to host today’s Portland group at Sunnyside Church and to offer a welcome. Just a generation ago people used the Bible to oppose inter-racial marriages in the United States. Today the same theological arguments are employed to oppose marriage equality for gays and lesbians. But Jesus never spoke of this issue. What he did command was that we love our neighbor as we love God. Legal discrimination against gays and lesbians is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
This is an issue being faced by people all across our nation. In the past, opponents of equality for gays and lesbians could count on religious leaders as allies. Not anymore. The United Church of Christ, where I am an ordained minister, became the first mainline denomination to endorse marriage equality back in 2005. Many Christian leaders have followed since.
Sunnyside Church and University Park Church, the two Reconciling Congregations in the United Methodist Church that I serve in ecumenical partnership, will be holding a joint worship service on Sunday, June 16th at 9:30 am at University Park Church (4775 N. Lombard) before the Portland Pride Parade. Our churches will then be marching with the Community of Welcoming Congregations in the parade. We invite all in area to join us in worship and for the parade.
To learn more about Oregon’s campaign for marriage equality visit: http://www.oregonunitedformarriage.org
Listen to the story about today's event from Oregon Public Broadcasting: