Same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court

BOB ABERNETHY, host: For more on religious groups and same-sex marriage, I am joined by Kim Lawton, managing editor of this program. Kim, this is a tremendously powerful and divisive issue for religious groups, isn’t it?

KIM LAWTON: It is and these cases are going to be really, really important for these religious groups. They’re going to be very involved on both sides of the issue. Some of the strongest opposition to gay marriage at the legislative level, at the court level, has come from religious groups, especially evangelical groups, Roman Catholics; the Roman Catholic bishops have been speaking out in favor of traditional marriage. So I expect there’s going to be a robust amount of activity not only in terms of these religious groups writing friend-of-the-court briefs and telling the High Court what they think about the issue, but also at the grass roots. I’ve already been getting emails about prayer campaigns that are being organized. For example, the bishops after Christmas are doing a prayer campaign to support what they call traditional marriage, life, and liberty.

ABERNETHY: And how do they divide up? Catholics and evangelicals are one, but it’s not all one or the other, is it?

LAWTON: Exactly. There are growing movements within the religious community in support of gay marriage. There are religious groups who look at this as a matter of equality and justice. Jewish groups have been—Reform and Conservative Jews have been very supportive of gay marriage. Orthodox—not in the Jewish community; in the Christian community a little more complicated. Certainly while the Roman Catholic Church at the hierarchy is opposed, you have grass-roots groups, like there’s a group called Equally Blessed that says you can be a faithful Catholic and still support this on an equality issue. And then a lot of the mainline denominations really torn over the issue. United Church of Christ and Unitarians support gay marriage, but a lot of the other ones still define marriage as between a man and a woman.

ABERNETHY: And I think about conflict within one congregation, for instance, not only within the members of the congregation, but the bind the pastor can be in if the state says one thing and the Bible says another.

LAWTON: Well, exactly. This has been an issue in some cases where in states that have legalized gay marriage and the pastors are in denominations that don’t recognize it, and so congregants who are gay come to them and say we want to be married in a church, but the pastor says, well, our denomination doesn’t allow that.

ABERNETHY: Kim Lawton, many thanks.

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, December 14, 2012

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