New Challenges to Gay Marriage Bans From Within States & Denominations

Don’t look now but the marriage equality snowball is gaining momentum. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act allowing legally wed gay and lesbian couples access to the federal rights and responsibilities of marriage, LGBT rights groups have wasted no time using the momentum to push for more changes.

Couples in states like Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and Pennsylvania have filed lawsuits challenging those states’ laws against marriage equality.

At least one county official in Pennsylvania is joining the fight. Montgomery County’s register of wills, D. Bruce Hanes, began issuing marriage licenses in the state.

On the church side of the equation, in a little-noticed move by much of the media (and even hard to find on their own website), The Disciples of Christ voted at its general assembly in Orlando, Florida this month to affirm LGBT people as members and leaders in the denomination.

On the heels of that move, 85 retired United Methodist clergy announced they would defy their denomination’s ban on performing same-sex weddings. “We will refuse to treat people as inferior, second-class citizens of God,” Fado said.

The clergy could face revocation of their credentials, as well as a loss of their retirement benefits if charges are brought against any of them.

According to the National Organization of Marriage’s blog, this is all just “Lawlessness”: 

but it’s executed by courts, politicians, and legal officials being pushed by powerful gay marriage activists to abandon their oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the law. In the eyes of our opponents, and increasingly among their allies, the right of homosexuals to “marry” trumps everything else — including the rule of law!

Which, of course, gives way to the hysterics of people like Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

“If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government. I think there is no doubt that the advocates who are driving this effort in the United States want to see us end up in that same place,” Cruz said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

He is, of course, not alone in his freak out.

Certainly, it is only a matter of “when,” not “if,” marriage equality will eventually be the law of the land in the United States. Those who continue to stand in the path of the growing snowball of support do so at their peril. They can either stand firm in their denial of the human dignity and worth of all people and all families, or they can be bowled over (metaphorically speaking, of course). One can only hope they realize, as Pennsylvania’s Hanes did, that it’s better to stand on the right side of history than in the path of the oncoming avalanche.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)