The Maryland Business Gazette, covering the nationwide anti-Prop. 8 protests in their own backyard, gives us an example of how marriage inequality translates into religious inequality.
“Debby Morris, a gay woman who has married her partner three times, once in a Wiccan religious ceremony in 1999, in the marriage demonstration at the Millennium March in 2000 and in Massachusetts in 2004, said they plan next to head to Connecticut which recently legalized same sex marriage … Morris … said Proposition 8 makes her a “second class citizen,” and her demonstration in front of the LDS Temple was in reaction to the role of the church in financing Proposition 8 advertising. “I don’t force my religion on other people, don’t force yours on me,” Morris said.”
Thanks to the current situation of marriage being a religious/civil hybrid, Christians, Mormons, and other supporters of “traditional marriage” are, in essence, defining marriage for Pagans, Unitarian-Universalists, certain progressive Christian denominations, and other faith groups willing to provide the blessing of marriage to gay couples. And yes, LGBT Pagans are taking it personally that Mormons and Christians are telling them their religious rites can’t be legally valid.
“Yesterday morning, as my spouse (and using that word is a spell) was sobbing, she kept repeating ‘why do they hate us so much?’. I told her…amidst my own tears…. that it wasn’t so much hate as fear. Fear of difference, fear of change, fear of sexuality, and fear of all of us being fully in our power. Love is the antidote and it will prevail. Harvey Milk was right when he said we must ‘come out, come out, wherever you are’.”
As the dust settles on the initial electoral defeat, religious groups who bless, honor, and perform same-sex marriages are getting involved in the judicial struggle to overturn Proposition 8.
“The religious institutions that file this petition … count on article XVIII to ensure that the California Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for religious minorities cannot be taken away without a deliberative process of the utmost care possible in a representative democracy. If Proposition 8 is upheld, however, the assurance will disappear– for, just as surely as gay men and lesbians could be deprived of equal protection by a simple majority vote, so too could religious minorities be deprived of equal protection— a terrible irony in a nation founded by people who emigrated to escape religious persecution.”
The above quote, from a legal petition to void Proposition 8, comes from a coalition that includes the United Church of Christ, the California Council of Churches, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (among others). They realize that the precedent created here not only stops future same-sex marriages in California, but also creates an unequal religious hierarchy with the “winners” getting legal blessings for their marriages.
In a land of real religious equality Debby Morris’s first wedding, her Wiccan handfasting, would have been the only one she needed. The fact that she has to find loopholes and travel the country to find some sort of legal recognition is not only an insult to all loving same-sex couples, but an insult to the Wiccans who performed that ceremony. As the battle rages on, it is becoming increasingly clear that it isn’t only about what gays are legally allowed to do, but about what religious minorities are legally allowed to do. A shift in thinking that may change the entire battle.