Friday, May 16, 2008

I had planned to use this space this week to share some of our plans for Integrity's witness at the Lambeth Conference in July, but the "breaking news" of yesterday's California Supreme Court decision has "bumped" that story. So stay tuned til next week on the Lambeth news front! (And if you're in San Diego, come let's talk about it on Saturday afternoon, where I'll be the guest of Integrity San Diego. )
While yesterday's positive action by the California Court was not completely unexpected, I think it is safe to say the scope of the ruling surpassed what had even been hoped for. For those unfamiliar with the journey we've traveled to this point in California on the issue of marriage equality, here's a note from Integrity's Field Organizer, Jan Adams:
We need to kill the meme that this decision has anything to do with "judicial activism." The legislature, twice, has passed bills approving gay marriage rights. That's legislative action. The only reason those bills did not become law is that the Governor, the executive, vetoed them, deferring to the Court.
Now that the Court has spoken, the executive says he will not oppose the decision. Gay marriage has made the rounds of the system and jumped the normal procedural hurdles. Now we may need a vote of the people -- a campaign we are forced to struggle through. But that will only be AFTER we've played by all the rules. Our opponents want to change the rules because they don't like the outcome the rules have rendered.
Sounding vaguely familiar? Why yes it is -- because it's the same "change the rules when you don't like the outcome" strategy the schismatics have used in the Episcopal Church, attempting to shift the debate they lost on the American Church playing field to the global Anglican Communion.
Speaking of the church, I'm getting questions about what this all means for the Episcopal Church in general and for Integrity's legislative agenda toward General Convention in specific. This morning I was interviewed by a reporter who asked about our plans for GC09 ... would we now be "pushing for marriage?"

I told her that our goal was the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments and marriage equality was certainly part of that goal.

AND, as there were a variety of ways to reach that goal, we would be continuing to be open to how the Holy Spirit was going to work to lead us there. There are a number of different resolutions already wending their way toward Anaheim, we're working hard with allies in both the House of Deputies AND the House of Bishops to move the Episcopal Church forward and we're confident there will be forward movement.

I told her that I am convinced that the decision yesterday by the California Supreme was a huge step forward toward "liberty and justice for all" in the civil arena and that I'll be looking for the Episcopal Church to "go and do likewise" and take another step forward toward the full and equal claim it has promised the gay and lesbian faithful since 1976.
Finally, I want to share with you the following evaluation of the Court ruling I received this morning from a Florida attorney -- who just happens to be a straight, white, male, libertarian-leaning-conservative Episcopalian (and one of my best friends.) He writes:
The amazing thing about the opinion, much to the dismay of the religious right I'm sure, is just how conservative it is. I well remember the decisions that came out of the Rose Bird court many years ago, that frequently strained logic and common sense, but this opinion is actually a well-reasoned and rational application of precedent and the law as it exists under the California state constitution.
There is no judicial innovation here, just the recognition that, under well established law, marriage is fundamental right and that for a statute abridging that right to pass constitutional muster, the government must demonstrate a compelling state interest served by that restriction.
I am certainly no fan of judges who usurp the proper function of the Legislature (the primary concern of the dissenters here), but this decision simply acknowledges that the present statutory scheme creates two systems under which the State of California recognizes this type of permanent relationship between couples, giving one the time honored and respected name of marriage and the other the sterile, bureaucratic-ese name of "domestic partnership."
One is clearly preferable to the other (ask any fundamentalist which they would prefer) and under California law, at least, offering the first arrangement to one group of people while not offering it to another, violates the constitutional requirement that, for the most part, people must be treated the same.
See also "respect the dignity of every human being" and "love your neighbor as yourself."
This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Until next week,
All best blessings,
(The Reverend) Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA

Next week: An update on plans for our witness at Lambeth Conference (honest!)
For more information about Integrity, or to contribute online to Integrity's Canterbury Campaign, visit the Integrity website.

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