Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marriage Matters

Two new reports, just out today, indicate positive movement towards recognition of same sex couples -- and that we're not there yet.

My colleague Robby Jones of Public Religion Research released a report today on American attitudes on marriage equality. The exciting news -- almost six in ten Americans now favor civil unions or marriage for same sex committed couples, including 61% of Catholics and 70% of mainline Protestants. The bad news is that 40% of those surveyed report hearing negative messages about homosexuality in church compared to 4% who have heard positive messages, and those who have heard negative messages are more likely to oppose marriage (which is why its so important that progressive clergy speak out and take action on these issues and why improving the sexuality education of seminarians is so important.)

The ELCA (that's the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Task Force on Human Sexuality released its second revised report today. The good news is that it calls for sex education for children and teens, and that it takes a big step forward for the Lutherans by permitting gay and lesbian clergy to live in committed relationships (current policy "requires" all to be celibate, regardless of relationship status.) Unfortunately, according to my friend and colleague Emily Eastwood of Lutherans Concerned, it falls short because it does not recommend any public recognition of same sex relationships by the church, neither blessings of unions or rites. The task force report will not become policy until voted on at the ELCA general assembly in August.

But, I see the arc bending towards justice in both of these two reports. I'm going to make a guess here -- in the next four years, civil unions will be a reality in at least fifteen states and in the next ten years, most of the Mainline Protestant denominations and all but the Orthodox Jews will both recognize gay and lesbian out clergy and perform blessings on their marriages where it is legal. AND I'm going to do my part to see that that happens. I hope you'll do yours.

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