Tag Archives: marriage equality

No wedding bells this week

According to an article on the Los Angeles Times Web site posted about an hour ago, Judge Walker did not remove the stay on his ruling on Proposition 8, and there can be no immediate same-sex marriages in California until he does so:

Reporting from San Francisco — A federal judge Thursday refused to permanently stay his ruling overturning Proposition 8 but extended a temporary hold to give supporters time to appeal the historic ruling.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who overturned the measure on Aug. 4, agreed to give its sponsors until Aug. 18 to appeal his ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. No new marriages can take place until then.

Walker said the sponsors of Proposition 8 do not have legal standing to appeal his order because they were not directly affected by it.

That last paragraph mentions an important point. The fact that the State of California, in the persons of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, refused to defend Prop. 8 puts the opponents of Prop 8 in a legal position that may not allow for an appeal. Having said that, given the current membership of the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s hard to believe they would let that stand in the way of their hearing such an appeal. Politics: endlessly fascinating, not entirely rational.

“Sex with Ducks”

Back at the end of May, the music duo Garfunkel and Oates posted a music video on Youtube titled “Sex with Ducks.” See, Pat Robertson apparently once said that if you legalize same-sex marriage, pretty soon people would be having sex with ducks. When I heard that, I immediately wanted to know: which ducks? I mean, it’s hard imagining anyone being attracted to Anas clypeata, but maybe that’s what turns Pat Robertson on. Who knows?

Anyway, the music video by Garfunkel and Oates is very silly, and the song, with its bright bubblegum melody and oh-so-sweet harmonies, is a hoot.

Thank you, Jean, for pointing this song out! And UU Jester, I want to know how this applies to duckies! And, for everyone’s reference, here are some of the lyrics of the song, taken from the MySpace page of Garfunkel and Oates: Continue reading

The legal relationship between same-sex marriage and gender equality

The headline from today’s San Francisco Chronicle says it all: “Unconstitutional: Same-sex marriage backers rejoice as federal judge strikes down Prop. 8”. I’ve been reading over parts of the judge’s ruling, available as a PDF file on the Web site of the San Jose Mercury News. I was particularly struck by the judge’s reasoning that by outlawing same-sex marriage, Prop. 8 discriminates, not only on the basis of sexual orientation, but also on the basis of gender:

Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 as violating the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th amendment] because Proposition 8 discriminates both on the basis of sex and on the basis of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation discrimination can take the form of sex discrimination. Here, for example, Perry is prohibited from marrying Stier, a woman, because Perry is a woman. If Perry were a man, Proposition 8 would not prohibit the marriage. Thus, Proposition 8 operates to restrict Perry’s choice of marital partner because of her sex. But Proposition 8 also operates to restrict Perry’s choice of marital partner because of her sexual orientation; her desire to marry another woman arises only because she is a lesbian. [p. 119]

The judge also pointed out that, in the past, marriage had been a “male-dominated institution.” Then as gender equality became the law of the land, marriage had to change such that both partners became equals: Continue reading

We’re happy, but…

This afternoon, federal judge Vaughan Walker of the Northern California District Court released his decision: Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

This evening, the mood at the rally outside San Francisco City Hall was ebullient.

Sign at tonight’s rally at San Francisco City Hall

There was also a serious undercurrent. Everyone present knew that Walker’s decision would be appealed by the supporters of Prop 8. Everyone knew the odds are that this legal battle will be fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Everyone present knew that there is a good chance that supporters of marriage equality won’t wait for a Supreme Court decision, and that we’ll try to have an initiative on the ballot in 2012.

The rally ended fairly quickly (and it would have ended earlier but for some long-winded clergypersons; boy, people in my profession do like to hear themselves talk). I was just as happy it ended fairly quickly; it was a typical San Francisco summer evening, cloudy, with a chilly damp wind. My favorite quote from the evening: “There is nothing more delicious than being a love warrior today.”

Prop 8 court decision tomorrow

From a U.S. District Court announcement dated today:

Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al
Challenge to “Proposition 8”
Chief Judge Vaughn R Walker
United States District Court for the Northern District of California

On August 4, 2010, the court will issue its written order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law following the court trial held in January and June of this year. The order will be e-filed in the court’s Electronic Case Filing system, and will be immediately available thereafter through ECF and PACER. There will be no court proceeding associated with the publication of the order.

Read the full announcement here. The decision is supposed to be released between 1 and 3 p.m. Pacific time.

In my area (Bay area, the Peninsula), I know there will be a rally of celebration or recommitment here in San Mateo tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, corner of Fifth Ave. and El Camino Real. There’s also one being planned for Mountain View, 6:00 p.m., City Hall and Caltrain station. And of course, San Francisco: march stepping off from the Castro 5:00-6:00 p.m., rally at City Hall at 6:45.

Gayapolis lists some nineteen rallies in California, and a few others across the country, including several places in Texas, as well as Denver, and Rochester, New York..

There’s another, longer, listing of rallies on the Prop 8 Decision Ning site. Note that there will be a Prop 8 rally in Phoenix!

For my friends back in Massachusetts, Join the Impact is going to have a rally at Copley Square, Boston, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, and you can find details on their Facebook page.

If you attend one of these other rallies, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll be at the rally in San Francisco, and will report back in a couple of days.

Same sex unions in Great Britain

Guardian online has a nice opinion piece by Andy Pakula about same-sex unions in England. Andy is the minister of the Newington Green and Islington Unitarians in London. Andy writes in part:

Since 2004, pressure has grown to remove the ban on mixing religion and civil partnership. Three religious groups – the Unitarians, Quakers, and Liberal Jews – have come to their own decision that they must treat all couples equally and have pressed for changes to give permit them this element of religious freedom. The gay Labour peer, Lord Alli, recently tabled an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act that would lift the ban on civil partnerships in religious premises. Opposition from the bishops in the House of Lords, however, led to its withdrawal.

A letter to The Times today from a group of senior Anglicans strongly supports the repeal of this ban.

Andy’s piece is short and well-written — definitely worth reading.

2009 in review: Liberal religion in the news

In 2009, the mainline Christian denominations continued to be drawn into conflicts around wedge issues such as same-sex marriage and ordination of women. These conflicts over wedge issues may be exacerbated by religious conservative activists, including the misnamed “Institute on Religion and Democracy” (IRD), and overseas groups such as the conservative Anglican bishops in Africa who continue to intervene in the U.S. Episcopal Church. Indeed, according to some observers, groupslike the IRD use wedge issues to deliberately sabotage mainline and liberal Christian denominations.

2009 saw growing rifts in the Episcopal Church, and ongoing conflict in the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), etc. I was unable to determine if the United Church of Christ continued to face the problem of conservative individuals funded by outside groups taking over local congregations. Back in 2006, in an interview with Dan Wakefield, theologian Harvey Cox said, “The energy of mainline Protestant churches has been absorbed by the battles over abortion, and over gay rights and gay marriage that’s divided entire denominations in recent years. There’s nothing left over for the kind of battles that were fought in the past for peace and justice in the nation and the world.” (The Hijacking of Jesus, p. 102) Three years later, the situation has not changed.

Unitarian Universalism, closely related as we are theologically and historically to the mainline churches, has been affected in different ways by the continuing conflicts over wedge issues. Because we embrace same-sex marriage, women’s right to choice, and ordination of women, Unitarian Universalism has become marginal in U.S. political culture; it is difficult to believe that any Unitarian Universalist could become president of the United States. We Unitarian Universalists seem to have embraced our politically marginal status to the point where many Unitarian Universalists automatically stake out politically liberal positions — without ever determining if political liberalism and the Democratic party can be equated with religious liberalism. This peculiar politico-religious orthodoxy continued to hamper open conversations about, and honest critiques of: second-wave feminist theology; identity politics; and the way we are beholden to consumer capitalism. Yet second-wave feminism primarily benefits upper middle class white women; identity politics forces the kind of binary identity choices that we say we deplore in theology; and consumer capitalism directly contradicts several of those “seven principles” that we tout.

In another part of the region where liberal religion and politics intersect, the religious right has been doing a very good job or helping liberal Christians (and, to the extent they bother with us, helping Unitarian Universalists) stay on the margins. A very public example of this marginalization is Barack Obama. Religious conservatives forced Obama to repudiate his liberal Christian UCC church during the campaign, and since then the Obama family has not settled on a regular church to attend — I suspect that the Obamas can’t stand the theology of the politically acceptable churches, while Barack Obama can’t stand the political consequences of attending another UCC church, or any liberal Christian church for that matter. The situation has gotten bad enough that, to the best of my knowledge, the Obamas did not attend church on Christmas eve. (A BBC commentator has suggested that the Obamas would best fit in with Florida Street Friends Meeting [Quaker] in D.C., and I suspect he’s right — but such a church choice would be political suicide.) Obama is but one prominent example of the marginalization of liberal Christianity in U.S. political life.

As a religious educator, I can’t help adding that this is not good for the religious education of the Obama children. Their children need exposure to a living religious community in addition to whatever home-based religious education the Obamas may provide. Michelle, forget the political cost to Barack — take the kids to Florida Street Meeting!


One can only hope that in 2010 we religious liberals — especially we Unitarian Universalists — learn to start from liberal theology, rather than starting from liberal politics. Instead of toeing the politically liberal party line, let’s clearly articulate the religiously liberal party line: that individual salvation is not good enough because we have to save the whole world; that it’s most important to help those who are poor, those who are suffering, and those who have been pushed to the margins of society; that women are just as good as men; that consumer capitalism treats human beings as mere consumers, and falsely states that the highest good in life is buying more stuff. From a pragmatic point of view, maybe we’ll be doing many of the same things — but we’ll have religious, not political, reasons for doing them.

And if we can do that, we’ll really be newsworthy.

What Mexico City and Washington D.C. have in common…

…both cities have voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The BBC reports on the Mexico City vote… and UU World magazine reports that Washington’s mayor signed the bill at All Souls Unitarian Universalist church. (And yes, the Washington vote has to be approved by Congress, so don’t go counting any chickens. In a comment, Scott Wells says I’ve got the process wrong — and Scott sounds hopeful that this might go through!)