Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coverage of Marriage Rallies in DC & Beyond

Rally at L.A. City Hall: (L to R)
Lori Kizzia, Diocesan Organizer Jim White,
Randy Kimmler, The Rev. Susan Russell
Last week, Integrity encouraged its members to participate in the "Light the Way to Justice" events which were taking place as the Supreme Court considered cases involving both California's Proposition 8 and the "Defense of Marriage Act."

From Los Angeles to Virginia Beach, our members took part in rallies as elected officials, activists and people of faith spoke about the importance of having our relationships recognized.

The timing was both hugely inconvenient and profoundly significant for religious leaders as the hearings fell squarely in the middle of the busiest and most important week in the Christian calendar, as well as during Passover.  Integrity's former president, the Rev. Canon Susan Russell, wrote in the Huffington Post:
I'll admit my first reaction to the announcement that the arguments had been scheduled for March 26 & 27 was an incredulous "Seriously?" And yet as the clock has ticked down to Holy Week, it has become clear to me that the preparation happening for the work in the halls of justice is just as holy as the preparation happening in the halls of worship. I have come to see a profound synchronicity between a core value I hold as an American -- "liberty and justice for all" -- and a core value I hold as a Christian -- "love your neighbor as yourself." And I have been deeply gratified by the number of people of faith standing up and speaking out for equality -- not in spite of their faith but because of it.
She attended and spoke at a candlelight vigil on the evening of Sunday, March 24th on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, along with Integrity Diocesan Organizer Jim White and others from All Saints: Pasadena.

The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of New Hampshire, also pondered what conclusions could be drawn from this religious and judicial overlap in a guest column in the Washington Post.
"It was not lost on this person of faith that the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality took place during the season of Passover for Jews and Holy Week for Christians. Was it coincidence, providence or simply God’s divine sense of humor, that these hearings would overlap with the greatest story of oppression-to-freedom ever told, reenacted at every Seder table? Would the justices find any connection between the Holy Week/Maundy Thursday edict from Jesus to “love one another” and the pleas for justice and respect from LGBT citizens? Time will tell."
Bishop Robinson attended the events in Washington D.C., which included both an interfaith prayer service and a themed seder in a nod to the number of people of faith who were taking part.

The Believe Out Loud crew in D.C.
Joseph Ward, James Rowe, Alison Amyx & Leigh-Anne Borkowski

A child shall lead them: 9-year-old
Leo talks marriage equality in D.C.
Joseph Ward, Director of the Believe Out Loud campaign and his team, also attended the D.C. rallies.
"I cautiously entered Holy Week knowing and feeling the mood of America changing, but it was overwhelming to see it confirmed in many ways by so many loving people in and outside of Washington, D.C."
Joseph wrote in a Huffington Post column that he was struck by the testimony of Leo, a 9-year-old boy whose two mothers are unable to get married:
"We cheered him on as he talked and read passionately about his support and love for his mothers. As he left the stage he yelled excitedly, 'Mom, I was the youngest speaker!' He walked past and I told him he did a great job to which he smiled and said, 'Thank you!' It was moving to hear Leo speak out for his mothers and gay people like myself."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concern during the Proposition 8 hearings about the effect of the current inequality on the children of same-sex parents, an estimated 40,000 of them in California alone:
"There is an immediate legal injury and that's the voice of these children... that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?"

Province III Coordinator Susan Pederson and members of
Integrity Virginia Beach at a rally in Norfolk, Va.

Members of Integrity Virginia Beach including Province III Coordinator Susan Pederson attended a rally on the steps of the Walter E. Hoffman Federal Courthouse in downtown Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday March 26th, organized by the Rev. Mark Byrd of the New Life Metropolitan Community Church. 

"The possibility of rain kept some of our friends from coming to the rally but there were folks there from many different faith groups," Pederson reported. "We had a good crowd and the reception by the folks passing on the street was positive. We stood together as one in prayer for marriage equality."

The Rev. Scott Allen and Dixie Dugan White, co-founders of
Integrity Bethlehem, at a rally in Allentown, Pa.
The co-founders of Integrity Bethlehem, the Rev. T. Scott Allen and Dixie Dugan White, were part of an event on Saturday, March 23rd at the Edward N. Cahn Federal Courthouse in Allentown, Pa., which was organized by the Pennsylvania Diversity Network. Since the courthouse is on the Main Street of Allentown and very busy, many people slowed down and honked and gave the thumbs-up sign to the 100 or so gathered there. Speakers included City Council representatives from Allentown and Bethlehem, Labor Union Activists (Teacher's Union), local LGBT activists and a keynote from a woman who described the disadvantages she encountered while settling her late partner's estate.

"It was a cold day with a fairly brisk constant breeze which made it feel much colder!" recalled Allen, "But the people gathered there sang 'This Land is Your Land' and 'Going to the Chapel' with heart and energy! It was a diverse group with straight allies and LGBT from many walks of life present."

Randall Abbott and his partner Jerrod, Integrity life members who attend the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Springfield, Ill., were invited by the Rev. Martin Woulfe of the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation to a silent witness and sidewalk prayer vigil at Paul Findley Federal Plaza in that city, the state's capitol on March 25th.  "We were surprised at the number of horn honkers supporting us, including a Springfield police cruiser, a USPS truck, and several State of Illinois vehicles," Abbott reported.  "I estimated that about half of the passing vehicles did honk to support marriage equality on a cold, blustery day in downstate Illinois."

Abbott described the experience as "particularly gratifying" since the Bishop of Springfield, the Right Rev. Dan Martins, has stated he will not permit the recently-adopted rite for blessings of same-sex relationships to be performed in the diocese. On the other side of the state and the issue is the Bishop of  Chicago, the Right Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, who has spoken out strongly for marriage equality. The Illinois Senate passed a marriage equality bill on Valentine's Day, and the House will take it up before May 31st.  The measure has the backing of governor Joseph "Pat" Quinn II.  

Students, a P-FLAG chapter and others attend a rally on the
campus of Montclair State University in New Jersey
Pride flags on display at St. Stephen's Church
on the campus of Ohio State University
In New Jersey, Integrity Stakeholders' Council Chair Christian Paolino joined a rally organized by student groups on the campus of Montclair State University on Wednesday afternoon.  Members of the North Jersey chapter of P-FLAG were also in attendance.  Among the speakers was State Senator Ray Lesniak (D - Union), who is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature banning "reparative therapy" on LGBT young people.   Senator Lesniak also published a book called What's Love Got to Do With It: Making the Case for Same-Sex Marriage during the effort to legalize marriage equality in New Jersey in 2010.  The bill, which passed in both houses, was vetoed by Governor Christie.

Meanwhile, many others across the country took part in vigils and rallies, or simply prayed that the Court be inspired towards a just and humane outcome.  At St. Stephen's Church on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, the Rev. David Soland reports that a petition for the Supreme Court was included in the Prayers of the People.

Rulings are not expected until June.

Were you in Washington DC or at any of the events across the country?  Please contact us with your thoughts and photos.



Such a great cloud of witnesses... love seeing the "round up" from all around the country!


I am thrilled to say that one of the very first "Light the Way to Justice" rallies was held in Casper, WY outside of the Dick Cheney Federal Building. It was a BITTERLY COLD day but the 50 people who attended on that Palm Sunday were aglow with excitement over the very real possibility of Marriage Equality finally spreading across the land. We had 3x as many people send their regrets about not being able to attend and the "Honking Horn" poll showed overwhelming support from the folks driving past. The two statewide TV stations & Wyoming Public Radio gave us excellent coverage. We're still getting positive comments and thanks from people who saw the rally on the news.