Saturday, June 25, 2011

"The Morning After" in NY

Yes, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The sun is shining, the breeze is wafting, the flowers are blooming ... and there's marriage equality in New York. Woo hoo!

And while I know the journey to justice is long ... that there are miles to go before we rest ... that for all the rejoicing same-sex couples married in New York will still not have the 1138 federal protections their opposite-sex neighbors have ... etc, etc, etc ... NEVERTHELESS today is a day to rejoice and be glad that the arc of history bends a little closer to justice. And to check out the morning after reports.

New York Times has an interesting analysis of "how" the victory was won:
The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.
And great to see these statements supporting the historic legislation coming from a number of New York bishops.

New York's Mark Sisk:
It was with thanksgiving and joy that I received the news of the New York State legislature’s affirmative action on the Marriage Equality legislation that it had been debating with such intensity.

The legislation, as enacted, appears to be closely aligned with the long standing views of this Diocese that the civil rights of all people should be respected equally before the law. In terms of the issue of marriage rights for gay and lesbian people that position was made most explicit in the resolution enacted at our 2009 Diocesan Convention.

The legislature’s action in broadening the definition of marriage to include same sex unions has to do with civil law, as it properly should. It does not determine Church teaching about the nature of sacraments. That is our continuing work. However, nothing in the unfinished nature of that work should cause us to hesitate to give our most profound thanks for the step that has been taken in affording equal civil rights for our brothers and sisters.
Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano:
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”

These words taken from the promises in the Baptismal liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer can be prayed more clearly today as the Gay and Lesbian community and all of New Yorkers begin to live into the reality and joy that same gender marriage is now law in New York. To the many LGBT members of the diocese I celebrate this day with you, your loved ones and families. Today the New York Senate has helped us all move yet closer to living the reality that there are no outcasts in the church. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will engage this new law with a generous and open response allowing, under the provision of our General Convention, the use of rites for same gender marriage by priests of this diocese who believe they are called to preside at the exchange of vows, once the law has taken effect in 30 days.

Respecting the dignity of every human being will also be lived out in our continued care for those who do not celebrate this milestone in the lives of God’s people. Respecting the dignity of every human being includes those who feel a sense of loss and anger. The love and charity of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospels does not have winners and losers. We are all God’s people, redeemed and sanctified by the enormous love of God made real in Jesus Christ. Let us all move forward in the knowledge of that love and charity and more fully live into the reality of being the Body of Christ.
Rochester Bishop Prince Singh:
First, I want to celebrate the fact that our leaders in Albany have demonstrated their affirmation of the human rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons. This is a good day for New York and I am profoundly proud to be a New Yorker, an American and a follower of Christ.

Second, as a leader in the Church it is significant to celebrate what our baptismal identity affirms as God given: the human dignity of a community that has been overtly and covertly ostracized and often treated as less than others. Equal Marriage Act gives faith traditions like mine the ability to transparently enrich the definition of marriage. We will use the lenses of human dignity and loving kindness to live into a new normal where all adult lifelong-loving-commitments are treated as they should be: Holy.

Third, I want to assure members of my Diocese that no priest will be forced to bless the civil marriage of the LGBT parishioners. We already practice a provision in our polity that does not mandate a priest to officiate in the marriage of a heterosexual couple for any reason. I will be setting up a task force in our Diocese to help us chart our course to engage this journey reverently, deliberately and in congruence with Church Law.

I pray that the all New Yorkers, those who support and those who oppose this Act, will celebrate the fact that the human rights of a community have been affirmed by the state. Since no one is free until everyone is free, Marriage Equality takes us closer to our pursuit of a more wholesome society.

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