I can remember the day that I got married…both of them. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my husband and I were married first by a local city clerk in New York state in 1998. A week later, our wedding went on as planned in a local United Methodist Church in Massachusetts. While both ceremonies were important, the more memorable and meaningful one for us was the one held in the church. It was there that we stood before our families, friends and God and declared our love and commitment to each other.
A few years ago, my uncle married his partner in my hometown of North Adams. My family gathered to celebrate my uncle and his partner’s commitment, love, and responsibility to one another just as they did almost 10 years earlier at my wedding. Strangely, this act did nothing to change, or diminish, the bond my husband and I share. Yep, that was sarcasm.
You see, while my uncle’s marriage does not threaten my life or marriage in any significant way, it does change his life. By being married, my uncle and his partner have all the rights and privileges that I do in my marriage – not just the legal ones, but also the right to use all of the same words as they see fit.
As a pastor, I am reminded daily that Jesus boiled all the religious teachings of his day down to two things: 1) love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength and 2) love your neighbor as yourself. When we embody this simple, yet difficult, message, Christianity becomes a faith centered in love. If we are ever unsure of what our faith would have us do, we only need to ask, “What is the most loving thing to do?”
When I think about Referendum 74 and ask, “What is the most loving thing to do?” I conclude that voting for and supporting R74 is the most loving thing I can do. After all, my uncle’s marriage didn’t destroy mine, turn my children ‘gay’, change my rights, or even impair the religious freedoms of faith communities that still wrestle with this issue.
The marriage equality bill offers freedom to the people of Washington State to choose who they want to love. Additionally, it gives communities of faith – those with more progressive understandings of God -- the right to honor those relationships with a title that they find appropriate, marriage. I have already voted to approve Referendum 74 and I encourage you to do the same.