Friday, July 10, 2009

Clergy Refusing to Sign Govt Marriage Certificate

I don't really see why the government is involved in telling people who they can marry. If a marriage is seen as the binding together of two souls, if a marriage is based on love and the desire to have a home and a family, well I don't see the government really having the expertise to make decisions about that, sorry. As far as ownership of property, custody of children, insurance and other financial and legal agreements, yes, I can see the role of the government in regulating those kinds of contracts between partners, but marriage is not special in that regard, business partners deal with most of those issues, or ones like them. Marriage though seems to me like something that falls in the domain of religion.

There is a movement starting up now among clergy from various denominations to take possession of the institution of marriage by refusing to sign legal marriage certificates. The group's web site is HERE. Salon has the article this morning.
July 10, 2009 | Art Cribbs leans forward in his pressed blue shirt and pink tie, wide-eyed and wistful, exclaiming his love of wedding ceremonies while sitting in his office one morning.

"It's just glorious," he said. "Every time I do a wedding, I go back to my wife and reconnect. It's like reliving our own wedding vows."

But Cribbs, a 59-year-old African-American minister with the United Church of Christ in San Marino, Calif., isn't attending many weddings lately.

As part of a nationwide movement, Cribbs is refusing to oversee the union of couples until the right to marry is granted to all, and laws like Proposition 8 in California, which deny the right of same-sex couples to marry, are repealed.

Headed by John Tamilio and Tricia Gilbert of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Cleveland, the Refuse-to-Sign campaign seeks to make the division between church and state clearer, as it concerns the issue of marriage.

Supporters of the campaign argue that faith leaders have, by default, become agents of the state, signing off on marriage licenses -- whether or not they agree with the state's policy on marriage. By asking clergy to refuse to sign marriage certificates, they hope to make a distinction between the obligation of the state to afford equal rights to all and marriage as a religious sacrament.

In short, the Refuse-to-Sign campaign says, while churches have the right to choose whether to bless same-sex couples, states should not have such a choice, and have a duty to extend marriage certificates to all who seek them. Clergy say, "I won't"

It seems to me this approach could take the entire "gay marriage" issue off the political table. There will be some churches that perform the ceremony and some that don't. The partnership agreement can be a legally regulated contract like any other, and marriage between two soul-mates will be handled by religious authorities, not bureaucrats.

Skipping down ...
It's an idea that organizers think both conservatives and liberals can get behind.

The Refuse-to-Sign movement, despite being made up largely of liberal organizations, is actively making an appeal to conservatives: We want your church to be able to decide for itself on the issue of same-sex marriage, even if, in the end, it chooses not to bless same-sex couples; we just don't think the state has that choice.

Although conservatives may not like the direction the country is heading, they could be satisfied with the knowledge that they will continue to have the freedom to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, without getting hassled by the state or other religious organizations.

And although the Obama administration has been receiving piss-poor grades from the LGBT community of late, there are enough who are afraid of what might be around the corner -- on both sides of the debate -- that a movement to seek more autonomy, and separate church and state on the issue of marriage, could very well be appealing. For supporters of gay marriage, it means avoiding the possibility that friends who are homosexual will never achieve marriage status, and for those on the other side of the debate, it means the religious communities they belong to won't be forced to comply with a state mandate with which they disagree.

There you go, the flip side of this proposal is that a church can refuse to marry people of the same sex if they want. As it is, there are inclusive churches and prejudiced ones, and you're free to go to whatever suits you. There is something satisfying about it.


Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

This is great news, and a much more Christian movement than the Mormans who spent millions of dollars supporting a law that discriminates against some couples' rights.

Here's another interesting tidbit of news for today. Obama will be meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this afternoon. reports:

...fresh off his appearance at the G8 Summit in nearby L'Aquila, Obama is to buzz over to the Apostolic Palace for a sit-down with the pontiff, who upended quasi-sacred papal protocol by making room for the meeting late on Friday afternoon and delaying his summer exit to his hilltop villa at Castelgandolfo. (Popes always receive visitors in audience in the morning, and yes, such an accommodation is a big deal in the pontifical cosmos.)...

...Ever since Obama was elected, in fact, church officials in Rome have signaled a much greater and much more public openness to Obama than church leaders in the United States. Indeed, Obama received a telegram of congratulations from Benedict on the day of his election -- "historic," the pope called it -- and the two men later chatted by phone. The Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, has been almost glowing in its coverage of Obama, especially compared to the dim view of Catholic theocons, some of whom have lobbied for the L'Osservatore editor to find a new job...

...As E.J. Dionne writes in The Washington Post, "the pope and many of his advisers also see Obama as a potential ally on such questions as development in the Third World, their shared approach to a quest for peace in the Middle East and the opening of a dialogue with Islam." You can include climate change, immigration, and human rights, too...

"the arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"

July 10, 2009 9:57 AM  
Blogger Tish said...

The interim ministers who have been serving my church for the past year have joined the Refuse-to-sign movement. They will officiate at the joyful blessings of commitment which we call "weddings," but they will not act as agents of the state in sealing legal contracts.

The next step would be for couples who do have the right to legally marry (straight in all states, gay in a few states) to choose the two-part option: Let the state seal the state's certificate and let the religious community bless and celebrate the commitment.

July 10, 2009 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is great

I hope all the liberal churches do it

bad news for Democrats in Congress from the head of the Jackass Party:

"L'AQUILA, Italy (July 10) - A lasting worldwide economic recovery "is still a ways off," President Barack Obama declared Friday"

July 10, 2009 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Closer to home DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality issued this

Declaration of Religious Support for Marriage Equality

We are District of Columbia clergy and religious leaders of many faiths, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We represent religious institutions in every ward in the District. We have worked together over many years for peace and justice and now join our voices again to speak a faithful word for freedom and equality.

We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples.

Our religious traditions and scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is our human capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples.

We recognize that there are principled differences on this issue within the religious community. We affirm that the state should not require any religious group to officiate at, or bless, same-gender marriages. However, the state also should not favor the convictions of one religious group over another by denying individuals their fundamental civil right to marry whom they love.

Recognizing that there is heartfelt disagreement on this issue, we call on all people of the District of Columbia to engage in a respectful and loving dialogue on marriage equality. As religious leaders, we commit ourselves to such a dialogue and encourage our colleagues on all sides of this issue to do the same.

God is love and love is for everyone. In this spirit we raise our voices in the struggle for the right and freedom to marry.

Supporters can sign the declaration here.

July 10, 2009 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"God is love and love is for everyone."

Conflating love and marriage is deceptive.

Marriage should be a loving relationship.

But not all love should be manifested as marriage or sexually.

Taken in context, scripture does not endorse homosexuality when it says "God is love" and these religious leaders are guilty of malpractice.

July 10, 2009 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's one for Anon-B:

"head to 7-Eleven on Saturday, July 11 for a free Slurpee to celebrate the chain's 82nd birthday"

July 10, 2009 12:53 PM  
Anonymous correction said...

Here's another interesting tidbit of news for today. Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI this afternoon:

"VATICAN CITY -President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday for frank talks between two men who disagree on abortion and stem cell research.

After the meeting, the Vatican released a statement that underscored the pair's deep disagreements on abortion.

"In the course of their exchanges, the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interest of all and which constitute a great challenge ... such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience," the statement said.

Even in his gift to the U.S. leader, the pope sought to communicate his beliefs.

Benedict gave Obama with a copy of a Vatican document on bioethics that hardened the church's opposition to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization.

Obama told the pope he would read it on the flight to Ghana.

Earlier, the pope's secretary, the Rev. Georg Ganswein, had told reporters the document would "help the president better understand the position of the Catholic church.""

July 10, 2009 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yay, GM!

"General Motors ordered that all of its YouTube videos posted to coincide with the Chevrolet "Gay Day at the Movies" ad campaign be removed.

"The video was not appropriate and not in good taste," said GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss.

The videos have all been removed, but the USA Today reports that "The video featured two "go-go boys" washing a Camaro in yellow underwear with the word CAMARO across the bottom."

The decision to abandon the gay-themed ad could be seen as alienating the gay community, but GM probably shouldn't worry too much."

July 10, 2009 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Obama's appointment of Francis Collins to run the National Institutes of Health is significant as a culture war statement.

A devout Christian, Collins is one of the foremost advocates for the notion that science and faith are compatible.

The former head of the Human Genome Project, Collins is also the author of The Language of God.

He's a strong believer but he doesn't let that weaken his scientific rigor (for instance, he's been critical of Creationism and Intelligent Design).

In Science and the Sacred, a blog on Beliefnet published by Collins and his foundation, Biologos, Mr. Collins wrote:

"Suppose God chose to use the mechanism of evolution to create animals like us, knowing this process would lead to big-brained creatures with the capacity to think, ask questions about our own origins, discover the truth about the universe and discover pointers toward the One who provides meaning to life. Who are we to say that's not how we would have done it? If you believe that God is the creator, how could the truths about nature we discover through science be a threat to God? For many scientists who believe in God -- including me -- it's just the opposite. Everything we learn about the natural world only increases our awe of the God the creator.

I urge us all to step back from the conflict and look soberly at the truth of both of God's books: the book of God's words and the book of God's works.

As people dedicated to truth, let us resolve to move beyond a theology of defensiveness to a theology that celebrates God's goodness and creative power."

Mr. Collins was mocked by Bill Maher in his movie Religulous, so perhaps Mr. Collins' appointment will generate suspicion among secularists.

And because he's advocated "theistic evolution" -- the idea that God set in motion the laws of the universe, including natural selection -- there are some more fundamentalist Christians who may sniff at Mr. Collins.

But to me, Mr. Collins is not just a scientific leader, he's a Christian role model.

He shows that being a believer doesn't mean checking your brain at the church door, that people of faith have just as much intellectual heft as seculars and, most important, how faith and science can happily co-exist.

July 10, 2009 10:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sociopathanon: “Taken in context, scripture does not endorse homosexuality when it says "God is love" and these religious leaders are guilty of malpractice.”

Neither does Scripture endorse the heterosexual love “manifested” as remarriage, Jesus defines it as adultery. According to your logic, religious leaders who “marry” those who have had prior marriages are also guilty of malpractice.

So much for your belief in Scripture.

July 11, 2009 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of context, improv, why don't you read the whole of scripture and put the verse you refer in context?

July 11, 2009 11:35 PM  

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