By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
FINALLY, GOODNESS AFFIRMED
Hallelujah! DOMA has been struck down and I’m out, proud and loud that I Do Gay Marriage.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of my ordination as a minister. During that time I have done, well, I haven’t counted, a LOT of weddings. Officiating at a wedding is one of the great honors of being a clergy person. Preparing couples spiritually for their life together and guiding them through the wedding ceremony that creates that sacred bond has provided me with some of the most profound moments of my ministry.
Most of the weddings have been for heterosexual couples, but among them have been a handful of same sex couples. I’m here to testify that there is no discernible difference between the love that same sex and heterosexual couples bring to the altar. The only difference I can relate is that same sex couples tend to have been together longer, often with decades of love and commitment under their belt. However, everyone comes to the marriage ceremony because they believe in the promise of this marriage and their sincerest desire to love, honor, and cherish this other person for the rest of their lives.
Pride is a sin, but I will also point out that of the marriages I’ve officiated, only a few have separated. So, while it really isn’t kosher on HuffPost to advertise professional services I will state again that I Do Gay Marriages (and straight ones too of course).
Now there are some ministers who, in anticipation of DOMA being struck down, stated their commitment to defy the Supreme Court ruling, saying “Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. The Supreme Court has no authority to redefine marriage.”
I’m not exactly sure what they mean when they say they are going to defy the ruling. Just to be clear, any clergy person can theologically oppose same sex marriage. Nobody ever can or should be mandated to perform a religious act – including officiating at a wedding. Want proof? Ask most Rabbis about doing an interfaith marriage. So, these conservatives who have planned to defy SCOTUS on DOMA are within their theological right (and rites) to refuse.
However, there are thousands and thousands of clergy who feel that our religious rights (and rites) have been inhibited by DOMA and laws that limit the legal implications of the marriages we have performed between same sex couples.
Today is a clear victory for religious freedom as it maintains the rights of clergy who say ‘I Don’t’ to gay marriage, but liberates those of us who say ‘I do.’
Today’s ruling on DOMA is also a personal victory for me. I said ‘I do’ to gay marriage six months ago when I stood at the altar in the Episcopal church I attend with my partner of 12 years and solemnly swore our love and commitment to one another before God.
I didn’t know how I would feel, having been on the other side of the equation so many times. But when my beloved read a love poem by Auden, and I read of Jonathan’s love for David, and the priest led us through the vows of ‘for better or for worse,’ I realized my life was indeed changed.
Introducing me to Brad and leading us into our relationship was the greatest thing that God has ever done for me and every day I offer prayers of gratitude. I am better in every way because of the love that we share that sustains me in my ministry and my day to day life. I am a better person and a better Christian because of my relationship.
I am filled with joy and gratitude that the Supreme Court has heard my ‘I do’ as both a minister and as a married person.
This article is republished from the June 26, 2013 Huffington Post.