Religious Conservatives Fight Rash of Gay Marriages

It’s not even June, the traditional month of weddings, and gay marriages are busting out all over.

This week, gay and lesbian couples were allowed to get married in the District of Columbia, despite anti-equality activists challenging the new law all the way to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts put the kibosh on the challenge Tuesday, calling the issue one of “exclusively local concern.” Gay and lesbian couples in Mexico City, meanwhile, are getting ready to walk down the aisle after a new law there legalizing marriage equality and adoption takes effect.

As with all victories in the fight for marriage equality, neither of them are safe from repeal, and leading the fight are religious leaders. Bishop Harry Jackson and the National Organization for Marriage have spearheaded the protest in DC, and the Catholic Church has been on the forefront of the fight in Mexico.

Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, Mexico has stated his opposition to same-sex “marriage” in Mexico City, not only because it goes against the dignity of the family, but also due to the legislation’s “repercussions” on society. The archbishop denied that “the Catholic Church wants a ‘sin’ to be criminalized,” as some have argued. However, he clarified that the Church “disapproves of marriages between people of the same sex because they undermine the foundation of the institution of the family.” “That people want to carry on a sexual relationship and do what they wish in the privacy of their bedrooms can’t be punished by the State or turned into a crime,” he said. “What concerns the Church is elevating that to the category of marriage, because this goes against the dignity at the heart of the family.”

The Catholic Church knows a thing or two about going against the “dignity at the heart of the family.” In the wake of the marriage equality law in D.C., the church pulled the plug on adoption services, lest gay couples should present themselves as fit parents. It also has stopped providing insurance for spouses of their employees in the DC area, lest any gays or lesbians it may unwittingly employ be treated like a family for insurance purposes. So much for the dignity of any gay or lesbian families—and to hell with whatever “repercussions” on society their callous acts in DC may cause.

Both Bishop Jackson and the Catholic Church will continue their fight against marriage equality. The Church has an ally in Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón, who maintains the Mexican Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Several challenges to the law filed by governors of other Mexican states have been denied by the Mexican Supreme Court, while others are pending.

The court said the challenges brought by the governors of three states controlled by the conservative PAN Party were “clearly inappropriate.” The decision, written by Minister Sergio Valls, said the states did not have the legal authority to challenge the laws of another state or the nation’s federal district of Mexico City.

There is, however, one religious bright spot in all the fighting. Dumbarton United Methodist Church in DC has announced it will celebrate same-sex marriages. “As a pastor, I am called to extend care and grace to all people even as Jesus did,” said Rev. Mary Kay Totty, pastor at the 238-year-old church. “We celebrate love and loyalty wherever it is found.”

This is a bold step for the church, since the United Methodist Church forbids same-sex marriage ceremonies to take place in its buildings or its clergy to conduct them. While Methodist polity affirms gay and lesbian people as being “of sacred worth,” the denomination forbids the ordination of gay clergy and affirms marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Totty said the church is aware the clergy are at risk by performing same-sex weddings in a denomination that does not sanction them. “However,” she said, “marriage equality is about justice and civil rights. The District of Columbia acknowledges that it is wrong to discriminate against people based upon sexual orientation.”

While the Catholic Church is running away from gays and lesbians and their families, it’s nice to see at least one religious group running full speed to welcome home God’s prodigal sons and daughters.

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