Equality

20 11 2013

Today the governor of Illinois will sign the law that legalizes same-sex marriage in Illinois.  Not just civil unions… actual marriage.  After years of hoping and working, this is finally becoming a reality.  And I am overjoyed.   It has been far too long in coming and will be nothing but a blessing – to those who can now finally have the legal status they always deserved, to the families they are building together, to the friends and family who love them, and even to those who say that it doesn’t affect them.

Of course it doesn’t stop the conservative, religious, “pro-family” types from spewing their own particular brand of venom.  We have a bishop down in Springfield who will be doing an exorcism today – on the governor? the legislators?  someone? – anyway, to rid Illinois of the evil spirits of (I guess) inclusion, love, and tolerance.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, predictably, penned a sniffy letter that went out to all the churches in his diocese.  In a moment of apparently unintentional irony, he wrote this:

We are called, by reason of our belief that every person is made in God’s image and likeness, to love and respect all of our brothers and sisters, without exception. But we express this respect within the context of our belief in how God has made us and made the world.

So:  Right after the words “without exception,” we see the word “but”.  This is precisely comparable to the construction “I’m not a racist, but…”  Dear Cardinal George: You have made it abundantly obvious that your “love and respect” comes with limits.  But by all means, continue to lead your church into what you’d like to think of as the moral high ground.  Where you’re actually leading them is into the shallows of irrelevancy.

And at this point I must include my favorite blog comment on our cardinal: 

Since he has the word “Cardinal” in his name, he should stop talking about gay marriage and start doing more cardinal-ly things, like going around in a bright red suit to all the local bird feeders and climbing the tallest tree in the neighbor and singing so that all of the other cardinals in the neighbor know this territory is his. 

As much as I love this image (oh, how I love this image), I’d like to see the cardinal – and  by extension, the church he leads – addressing actual social problems like urban violence (not that we have any of that in Chicago), poverty and income inequality (yeah, none of that either), homelessness (naah…), or pedophilia in the clergy (what pedophilia?).  Instead of spending the millions of dollars opposing the legislation, how about putting the money some place where people would actually be helped instead of hurt?

I will never in my life understand what is so threatening to religious conservatives about same-sex marriage, how their own marriages can somehow be mysteriously affected by anyone else’s.    The sanctity of a marriage comes from the people in it.  It isn’t magically conferred by either state or church, and isn’t taken away by people who don’t do marriage the same way you do.

Thankfully, there are people of faith who are responding to this legislation with love and joy.  On the day that the bill passed the Illinois house, the Right Reverend Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of Chicago, wrote this:

I believe that marriage is a sacred vocation. The union of two persons in heart, body and mind is a school of holiness, a way of ordering our lives so that we might learn to be more faithful servants of Christ. I also believe that the faithful, loving, and lifelong union of two persons–of the same sex or of opposite sexes–is capable of signifying the never failing love of God in Christ for the church and the world. Such unions can be sources and signs of grace, both for the couple and for the wider community. And I believe that we need all of the sources and signs of grace that we can get.

Amen, my friends.  Grace to you, and to all of us, on this day of widening equality and justice.

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