Betsy, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Montana at Missoula, maintains a private practice in Berlin, and the Rev. McLaughlin, who earned a Ph.D. in medieval history at Harvard University, is the retired rector of St. Barnabas and a parishioner at St. Paul's, Lancaster.
I've known them for years - more years than any of us really cares to admit, thank you very much. They've been together oh, I'm going to guess a little less than 20 years. When you're with them, you know that they are absolutely right for each other.
Ellie was one of my presenters for ordination 24 years ago. I still have the holy medal she gave me of Elizabeth Seton as part of my ordination present.
She also did a special tutorial for seminarians in my senior year at Episcopal Divinity School, helping us to discover what it was to preside at Eucharist as a woman.
I still remember her saying, "In the end, it is far less important what you do with your hands and when. It is much more important that whatever you do and say comes from a place of truth and authenticity in your soul. If you do not tell the truth, either in the pulpit or at the altar, the people will know it immediately, and they won't believe you. And, if they can't believe you, how can they believe your belief in Jesus?"
I was remembering those words as the news broke that the State of NJ lost the Marriage Equality bill tonight by six votes - five of which were abstentions.
Vote it up, vote it down, but for crimminies sake, take a stand. Vote!
Well, this ends the battle to win marriage equality through the legislative process in the State of NJ, but moves it now to the NJ Supreme Court, where a positive outcome seems more certain.
The law is the law, after all, and the justices can see that because they are not blinded by the fear of losing an election based on how they vote - or, whether or not they abstained.
Oh, then 'the fundies' will launch a Proposition 8-like movement and we'll be at it again. But, so will the LGBT community and our amazing allies.
As Martin Luther King so famously said, "The arc of history is long, but it always bends toward justice."
The prophetic call is to "love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with your God."
These guys love mercy, okay, but they don't do justice and they don't even know how to walk humbly - with God or anyone else.
Meanwhile, we rejoice with Betsy and Ellie. Their victory gives us hope. And strength. And courage to face another day.
The love they share and the sacred vows they made to each other are nothing less than the Bright Light of the Epiphany Star come to warm a cold winter's night.
The report I received from Berlin, NH included a note that the newly married couple ended the ceremony with a "rousing rendition" of that wonderful James Moore "country gospel" song, "Never Grow Old."
Betsy is 62. Ellie is 74.
Well, you know I got all girly-burbly.
If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, perhaps it's because you don't know the hymn. Here. Give a listen.
(In a Land Where We'll) Never Grow Old
I have heard of a land on the far away strand,
’Tis a beautiful home of the soul;
Built by Jesus on high, where we never shall die,
’Tis a land where we never grow old.
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old;
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old.
In that beautiful home where we’ll never more roam,
We shall be in the sweet by and by;
Happy praise to the King through eternity sing,
’Tis a land where we never shall die.
When our work here is done and the life crown is won,
And our troubles and trials are o’er;
All our sorrow will end, and our voices will blend,
With the loved ones who’ve gone on before.