. . . . but it always bends toward justice." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Vermont. Connecticut. Iowa. Massachusetts. New Hampshire. New York. California ('yes' and then 'no' and now an even stronger 'maybe').
New Jersey, which has had domestic partnership and now civil unions, no doubt, will be next.
Gay Rights Activist are predicting a sweep of the North East (Maine and RI) by 2012.
As of January 1, 2009, NJ, Maine, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and Maryland have created legal unions for same-sex couples that offer varying subsets of the rights and responsibilities of marriage under the laws of those jurisdictions.
And, this just in: The D.C. Council Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District -- a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.
President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
One possible effect of the repeal, as one Lambda Legal lawyer once said to me a decade ago, that the issue of gay marriage will, eventually, be settled by the IRS.
The arc of history is surely bending, ever so slowly, toward justice.
And yet . . . . according to several sources, as of January 1, 2009, thirty states have constitutional amendments explicitly barring the recognition of same-sex marriage, confining civil marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman.
More than 40 states explicitly restrict marriage to two persons of the opposite sex, including some of those that have created legal recognition for same-sex unions under a name other than "marriage." A small number of states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage swept the last Election Day, with voters in 11 states approving constitutional amendments codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.
The amendments won in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah and Oregon.
We've come a long way, but we ain't there yet.
The two question for us as we approach General Convention in Anaheim are:
1. What will we do, as a church, to provide liturgical rites of marriage for churches in diocese in those states where gay marriage is legal?
2. Does this necessitate a change to our canons?
Susan Russell, President of Integrity, seems to have an answer. Read Integrity's press release here.
I suspect, if nothing else, that it will be a Very Hot July in Anaheim.