A Pastoral Response to SCOTUS

imageJune 26, 2015 will go down as an historic day in American history. This morning the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision, stated that the law of the land was marriage equality. That all people regardless of their biological sex or the biological sex of the person they love are NOT prohibited from the sacred bond and union of marriage. In fact the closing paragraph of the opinion is a more profound statement of the sanctity of marriage than I’ve heard from a vast majority of people within the Church. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right” (Read the full ruling here.) This is an amazing thing and it should be celebrated. I can imagine that this is one of those days that I will never forget.  I will always remember where I was when I heard that marriage equality was the law of the land in all 50 states of this country. This morning between the hour of 7:30-8:30 (MT) I was sitting in conference room 155D in the Salt Lake City Convention Center, Salt Palace for a legislative committee meeting for committee 16, the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation Committee. We were working on wording and debating a resolution when a committee member announced the news. The committee broke out into applause and moments later the committee next door – the committee on marriage – broke out into a roaring applause and cheers. I was struck by the profoundness of the moment, by the fact that so many people have been fighting for this longer thn I have been alive. I was in a state of shock as part of me thought this would never actually happen. Part of me didn’t believe it was true. For part of me, something didn’t feel right. The committee took a break to celebrate and let the moment sink in before going back to our work. The session ended and following the committee meeting was a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. As the time for the liturgy approached the musician announced that in light of the SCOTUS decision they were changing their preludial music. They invited those gathered for worship to stand, dance, and celebrate in the joy of the morning. That is when it hit me. As, what seemed like the bulk of convention, celebrated and danced I realized that there are those amongst us for whom this is not a joyous day. There are those who are saddened and betrayed by what happened. Justice Scalia begins his dissent by saying, “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.” It seems to me that it is easy for us to bask in the elation of this day and ignore others – to, as some may see it, rub this in their faces. As a Church we have a responsibility to care for all those in our Church, even those who disagree with the majority. It is my hope and prayer that in the midst of joyous celebration we can hold those who disagree in prayer and recognize that we all still need to welcome each other, to join in prayer, and share in the Blessed Sacrament of our Lord and Savior.  Those in the majority opinion should rejoice in this historic day, but not at the expense of our more conservative brothers and sisters. It also seems to me that we all need a word of caution. We should rejoice and celebrate, but we are fooling ourselves if we think this is over. We only need to look at racial integration and abortion rulings to see a single ruling does not solve the problem. If a single ruling of SCOTUS solved racial integration there would never have been Brown v. Board II or Green v. County School Board of New Kent County. If Roe v. Wade solved the question of abortion we wouldn’t still be fighting for a women’s right to control her own body today. Today’s ruling, however historic it may be, is not the end of the struggle for marriage equality throughout the United States. Governors and judges have vowed to ignore SCOTUS. Political figures have threatened violent and extreme political protest. We may be on the verge of serious and tragic backlash. Most of all I worry that this backlash may be played out in aggression and action against my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in more conservative parts of the country. I worry that those who are angered by this ruling will take that agression out on those feeling the joy of this historic day. My joy this day is accompanied by fear and worry of what is to come. Bottom line, this is an amazing and wonderful day. One I will never forget. It is my hope and prayer that we are responsible in our celebration. Responsible in whatever parties and celebrations take place – particularly in regards to substance abuse. Responsible in caring for those who are angered, hurt, and betrayed by this – those particularly in our Churches. Responsible in responding to whatever backlash results from this radical change in Federal policy. Today is a glorious day.   Let us rejoice, let us be glad, and let us bemindful of the true reality of today’s SCOTUS ruling.


Filed under General Convention

4 responses to “A Pastoral Response to SCOTUS

  1. Sherilyn Pearce

    Dante, beautifully said and very pastoral. (did you mean to write ….are not prohibited from the sacred bond….?)

    You rock. Can’t wait to see you mañana.



  2. Pingback: Here’s to a Grace Filled Day | desiringthekingdom

  3. Pingback: The Power of Silence | desiringthekingdom

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