Catholic bishops have been quick to react to yesterday's court ruling that California's Proposition 8 ballot was unconstitutional, speaking of their disappointment at what they see as the "injustice" of the ruling (an ironic choice of words, as it is the business of the courts above all, to deliberate and rule on matters of justice. The learned judges in this case, confirming earlier decisions by lower courts, have found that the "injustice" lay in creating two classes of persons, one with lesser rights than the other). Frances De Bernardo at New Ways / Bondings 2.0, recalling the active role that the bishops played in perpetrating the original injustice, reflects on the harm that has done to the Catholic Church in California, and draws an important lesson from it: the urgent need, going forward, to move from a political stance on the matter to a pastoral one:
Though this case temporarily provides a victory for the marriage equality movement in California, there is still work of reconciliation work to be done in the Catholic Church there. In a post two weeks ago, I mentioned that a California friend told me that the hierarchy’s heavily funded campaign to pass Proposition 8 has had a harmful effect on the pastoral life of LGBT Catholics and their allies in California. Many have become alienated from the church and left it because of the vociferous anti-gay nature of the campaign and its rhetoric. While the hierarchy has been focused on the political nature of the marriage debate, it’s time that they started to look at the pastoral component of it, too, and begin the much needed work of reconciliation–for the good of the entire church.
Other denominations that were active in the Prop 8 campaign against marriage, have expressed similar and predictable disappointment. I am more interested though, in the mounting evidence of an opposite, supportive view from faith leaders.
Religious support in favour of justice and equality in marriage.
Last week, an English bishop declared his support for gay marriage in the UK. In Washington DC, an Episcopal bishop has declared similar support for marriage equality in Maryland.
The new Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday endorsed the legislative campaign now underway to legalize same sex marriage in Maryland.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, wrote on the Washington Post website that gay marriage opponents should not be so certain the Bible is on their side. In her reading the Bible
... condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.
In Pasadena, Rev Susan Boyle called the ruling a "victory", reversing the Catholic bishops' argument from religious freedom:
The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Pasadena, where they have refused to sign marriage licenses for any couple until gay couples could be legally wed, went straight to rejoicing.
Russell, an Episcopal priest, called it a victory for
...all Americans who believe that the "liberty and justice for all" in the pledge we teach our children really means ALL. It is also a victory over those who erroneously believe that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment gives them freedom to write their theology on marriage -- or anything else -- into our Constitution.
Russell dismisses the notion this tramples on freedom of religion, saying in a statement that everyone is
... just as free today to decide for themselves whether God equally blesses our marriages. What the 9th Circuit Court said today is that they are NOT free to decide whether the Constitution equally protects them.
- Prop 8 To The Supremes Plus Some Interesting Poll Data (Enlightened Catholicism)
- Marriage Equality Victory: Proposition 8 Unconstitutional (More Light Presbyterians)
- Prop. 8: San Diego mayor, once a gay-marriage foe, cheers ruling (latimesblogs.latimes.com)