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Boycott marriage? Some Quaker meetings are saying no more marriages until everyone can get married

Not all religious organizations are opposed to same-sex marriages. A number have actually joined the movement for marriage equality. Among them are Quakers in the unprogrammed, universalist tradition. They have been marrying gay and lesbian couples for decades, even though those marriages have not had legal standing. These meetings have active LGBT members and attenders.

If you are not familiar with marriages in unprogrammed Quaker meetings, it is important to recognize the difference from other marriage ceremonies. There is no minister on the pulpit declaring the couple “husband and wife.” Instead, everyone attending the meeting for marriage is recognized as a minister and signs the marriage certificate. The couples proudly display their marriage certificates on the walls of their homes. These certificates are unique works of art. Due to the unconventional view that Friends have of marriage, it has taken a long time for Quaker marriages to gain legal recognition.

Strawberry Creek Meeting, in which I am a member, recently received a packet of material in the mail from Claremont Meeting, near Los Angeles. The packet includes a minute approved by Claremont this year that states that meeting will no longer officiate any marriages until same sex unions are legal in California. Claremont is following the lead of Twin Cities Meeting in Minnesota, and the packet includes documents and a similar minute adopted by that meeting late last year. Our clerk gave me the papers to scan and post to our meeting’s website. Those documents can be viewed at
http://sites.google.com/a/strawberrycreekquakers.org/marriage-equality ,
as well as other documents that were e-mailed to me by the clerk of Claremont Meeting.

I continue to feel the love and support of this religious community that is committed to the equal treatment of all individuals, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. Not all Quaker organizations are so supportive, most notably Quaker churches who consider homosexuality a sin. I appreciate the strong leadings of Friends who find the practice of marrying only heterosexual couples to be inconsistent with our testimonies of equality and integrity. I know a number of heterosexual couples who have married in their meetings while expressing disappointment that lesbian and gay Friends are being denied that opportunity. While I share that concern over inequality, I am not comfortable with the decision to deny marriage to any couple, especially Quaker couples who have been allies for LGBT rights. Instead of denying rights to anyone, I would feel more supportive of efforts to marry all couples in defiance of Proposition 8. What an impression it would make for an entire congregation of Quakers to accompany those couples to the county clerk’s office to demand a marriage license and refusing to leave until one is granted.

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July 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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