COG, ADF, and Prominent Pagans, on Marriage Equality

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 28, 2013 — 10 Comments

With the landmark Supreme Court hearings this week on the issue of marriage equality, cases that could potentially make sweeping sweeping changes regarding the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, national Pagan organizations are stepping forward to reiterate their ongoing support. We’ve already seen the active involvement of Selena Fox, founder and co-executive director of Circle Sanctuary, and now two more organizations, Covenant of the Goddess and Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, have expressed their solidarity and wish for equal rights (and rites).

Covenant of the Goddess (COG), one of the oldest and largest Wiccan/Witchcraft advocacy organizations in the United States, posted a short media statement to their National Public Information Officer’s blog.

The newly elected COG national board for 2013.

The newly elected COG national board for 2013.

“The Covenant of the Goddess, a 38-year old Witch and Wiccan advocacy organization, extends its support to the entire LGBT community in its struggle for marriage equality within our country. We respect the diversity of religious thought even when it’s divergent from our own. As such, we support the legalization of civil marriages with all the associated civil benefits. Religious ceremony and choice should remain a private matter. While this issue is debated in our country’s highest court, we will continue to hold space with our own LGBT members and their families.”

Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), the largest Pagan Druid organization in the United States, also released a statement yesterday noting their historical support for inclusiveness and equal rights.

Current and former ArchDruids of ADF at a Clergy Retreat.

Current and former ArchDruids of ADF at a Clergy Retreat.

“Since our founding, Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) has championed inclusiveness in our rituals and in our church. Our Constitution has long forbidden discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, color, physical disability, age, gender, or affectional orientation. And we all stand together in affirming this basic principle.

As such we support not only our LGBTQ members, but all of our members, in knowing that they stand equally before the Gods and Spirits, in fellowship with each other and in equal reciprocity with us all.

We pray that the  Justices of the US Supreme Court will be granted the wisdom and understanding that they will need to perform their duties.  ADF also calls upon all its members to live by our virtues in opposing discrimination, and to do what is right to effect positive change in our lives.”

In addition to those organization’s official statements, prominent Pagans within our community have been stepping forward to make their own views heard. Church of All Worlds (CAW) co-founder Oberon Zell in a statement sent out to supporters via email said that, quote, “I am a member of a religion (Pagan) which strongly feels that people should be able to love and marry whomsoever they choose.” Zell went on to say that “it should be evident to all (as it is to opponents of marriage equality) that laws governing the structure of marriage are in fact, RELIGIOUS laws intended to establish the predominance of a particular faith, and “prohibit the free exercise” of other faiths. And therefore any such laws are ipso facto unconstitutional.”

T. Thorn Coyle, author, teacher, and co-founder of Solar Cross Temple, at her personal blog, advocates for societal changes far more sweeping than same-sex marriage.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“I stand for love, yet haven’t joined in very active support of what some people call “gay marriage” or others call equal rights because the struggle feels much, much larger. Fighting for the rights of my gay and lesbian friends to marry is on one hand a wonderful thing. I am for people making commitments and sacred bonds to one another. I am for all citizens of a country actually having equal rights under the law. To give one set of citizens rights denied to another set is illegal and unjust. However, for me, allowing two men or two women to marry one another just isn’t enough. It isn’t the sort of equality I really want. I’m more queer than that, and more of an anarchist, of course.  I desire equity far more pluralistic than the simple replication of a state sanctioned nuclear family.

What right does government have to tell us what sorts of relationships are important to us, or what sorts of families we can build and grow together? We cannot build the society I want for us all – a society of comrades and friends, who care for one another’s children, who wipe away the tears of a friend we’ve had for 30 years, who share food and housing when times are tough or when times are very good – we cannot build this when we are intent upon saying that love is only important, and only has rights, when shared between two people.

Love is greater than that. We are greater than that. I firmly trust that we can work out how to love and whom to commit to on our own. If we want to write up contracts saying that the children of our best friend of 40 years can inherit our home when we die, we should have the right to do so. If we want our girlfriend at our bedside in ICU, that should also be allowed.”

This is, I anticipate, just the beginning of Pagan expressions on this issue as we await the rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8 in June. For my own views, and a wrap-up of coverage to date, see yesterday’s post. We here at The Wild Hunt will be highlighting special coverage and voices on this issue as we head towards the Summer.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.corrigan.338 Ian Corrigan

    Yes, historically all four (Five counting Isaac) of ADF’s Archdruid’s are/were guys. There *are* publicity shots that include our leading women as well ; ). Thanks for the coverage.

  • Emerald

    Im happy to hear Oberon Zell remind everyone that the government doesn’t actually have a place in marriage.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

      Me too. I’m glad he mentioned the religious aspect to this too. It is indeed setting up one religion above all others and forcing us all to uphold a moral code we don’t buy into. I was always surprised none of our clergy attempted to sue over this. Maybe someone did and I just never heard about it.

      • cernowain greenman

        Clergy cannot sue for this based on the issue of “standing”– which came up in the case against Patrick McCollum– and in both cases now before the Supreme Court. Clergy can perform marriages, but it is the state that makes it “legal”. Therefore, clergy cannot sue on behalf of the people they are marrying to make the marriage legal if the state doesn’t recognize it.

    • cernowain greenman

      I agree with Oberon about the “love” part of relationships. He is absolutely right about this. But marriage is also a legal contract about money, wealth and property rights. That has to be a part of this conversation, too. For example, it also about who gets Social Security checks when one of the spouses dies. It is about having to pay more taxes at the time of your spouse’s death if your marriage is not recognized by the state.

      And it gets more complicated when you have more than one spouse, which I believe is what Oberon is alluding to. If poly marriages are made legal someday (and I think that really is a distinct possibility) then the government will have to decide, say, when a person has several spouses, who gets the Social Security benefits? The first wife/husband? Or, do they split the benefits among the spouses? If so, do they divide the money equally, or based upon how much time each spouses was in the group marriage?

      The marriage issue before the court has a lot to do with money and not so much with love.

      • Scott

        I’d characterize it as having a lot to do with the Constitutional requirement for equal protection under the law, rather than love, but it’s a point well made. The difficulty for plural-marriage arguments is that an awful lot of the federal (in particular) statutes regarding marriage relate to primacy: who is the person empowered to make decisions on behalf of X? These statutes are not disturbed by expanding the gender options for a two-person marriage. They’re completely upended if marriage has more than two partners, in ways that courts are completely unable to remedy – those issues would have to be addressed by statute. I don’t know if that primacy argument would be enough to overcome an equal-protection claim, but it definitely makes the climb steeper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

    Thanks for the post, Jason. I’m proud to be a part of such a great crowd.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I don’t see CUUPS in the survey, but CUUPS is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, which has supported gay marriage for some years now. I noticed one of the characteristic UU “Standing on the Side of Love” signs in a newspaper photo of events.

    I want to take on a mis-statement by the Chief Justice, who asked whether something that wasn’t even invented until the year 2000 could be found in the Constitution. The fact is that, every time in the last forty years BGLTQs sought something like domestic partner benefits or a civil domestic partnership registry, the Religious Right would scream it was “tantamount to gay marriage.” In a very real sense the Relgious Right, even before the AIDS epidemic, invented gay marriage as a straw man, and eventually BGLTQs decided to breathe life into it.

    • Scott

      This is especially ironic given that the Court had just that morning issued a ruling that use of drug-sniffing dogs, which were clearly never envisioned by the authors of the Constitution, could constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment. Apparently novelty only matters when the Court wants it to.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I must say that I don’t care about homosexual marriage. It doesn’t impact on my life, one way or the other.

    I am, however, the kind of person who feels that any legal restriction needs to be strongly justified. (Fewer laws is good.)

    Combine these two things and what you get is the stance that it is nonsensical to have a restriction on two (or more) people of the same sex getting married.