Dear United Methodist Moderates:
I call you to publicly support the civil marriage rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to implore our civil servants to support the constitution.
Whatever your personal/theological views of same sex marriage in the Church, please know and remember that the UMC has a strong statement supporting the Civil Rights of gay and lesbian persons (see the full statement at the conclusion of this blog).
Therefore, I implore you to support the civil right of our citizens, and of your own church members, and to push our government officials to do the same.
As you know, government officials in many states are refusing to do their duty to uphold the Constitution, and to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. In the cases where a civil servant (county clerk, for example) has sworn an oath to their office, that oath includes a provision that they uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. Here, in fact, is that oath as found in the Texas Constitution:
“I, _______________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of ___________________ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”
By not issuing licenses, then, they are in violation of their duties as a public servant, and of the Constitution of the United States. This is clear. Therefore, in your position as moral leaders in your communities, I urge you to speak to those intransigent leaders, and to insist they follow the law.
During the past few days, one of my deep frustrations so far –in the statements I am seeing coming from Bishops and other “moderate” leaders around the connection –is that the statements are entirely focused, unduly and fearfully, on avoiding conflict within our churches. And as such, they are, in the main, entirely failing to address the Civil Rights of gay and lesbian persons.
Personally? I would want your support for full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Church. But, especially over the next few weeks and months, I would EXPECT you to say something….anything…about the Civil Rights of gay and lesbian persons under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and to encourage our United Methodist people to show similar respect for our constitution and law.
This is the struggle for Civil Rights in our time.
Eventually, both God and your grandchildren will hold you to account, not only for what you did or did not do to “save the church,” but also what you did, or did not do, to support the basic Civil Rights of lesbian and gay persons.
Looking back from your own future selves, did you…
Say something bold about supporting the Civil Rights of all people? (as our polity suggests you now should)
Or, did you…
Cower in fear over possible conflicts in the Church, and fail in any way to acknowledge the rights of Americans?
Your legacy, and the judgment of God, are awaiting your future self. United Methodists everywhere, gay and straight people everywhere, public officials everywhere, await your witness NOW.
From the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church:
“Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law. Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.”