Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Connecticut's Quest for Marriage Equality

I am just back from my first meeting as a member of the steering committee of the National Religious Leaders Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The meeting was in Hartford, CT and we had the opportunity to attend some of the hearing at the Connecticut State Legislature on marriage equality yesterday.

More than 95 people testified at the hearing yesterday -- it went until almost midnight. At midday, we took a break from our meeting to listen to some of the testimony and the questions and answers. The hearing room was so crowded that we were directed to an overflow room. I wish I had taken my camera. Here were the fifteen or so of us, most in clerical clothes, most gay, lesbian, or transgender, wearing bright yellow EQUALITY stickers, and fifteen or so anti-marriage equality persons wearing white "RELIGIOUS LIBERTY Marriage is between a man and a woman" stickers in one room, watching legislators question witnesses, with two capitol police posted outside the door.

They seemed surprised to see us, but there was not any opportunity for dialog or conversation as we listened to the piped in hearing. But, I really wanted to talk to them. I didn't understand how their stickers could say "Religious Liberty." I certainly stand for that. And surely they know that the bill pending in Connecticut would continue to allow each faith tradition to discern who is eligible for marriage in its own tradition. What would change is that clergy like me, who perform ceremonies for both other sex and same sex couples, would have those ceremonies recognized not just by our faith community but the state as well.

On Sunday, I had an editorial in the Connecticut Post titled "Marriage Equality: Relational Justice for All." I hope we can count on Connecticut's legislators to vote for "liberty and justice for all."

P.S. Three cheers to The JewishTheological Seminary that announced yesterday that "effective immediately, JTS will accept qualified gay and lesbian students to our rabbinical and cantorial schools." They've probably been doing that for a long time, but such students have not been able to live openly or be ordained as out gay and lesbian rabbis. Another step for justice.

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