All couples deserve marriage

To the editor:

When Katy and I went to our pastor to show off her engagement ring, Rev. Pennybacker leaned back in his chair with a huge grin. “Great!” he said. “Let’s talk.” And we did, about money, kids, communication, and sex; church, grad school, and employment. At some point, he said, “Promise each other that if things get rough, you’ll call me before you call a lawyer.”

For 23 years of married life and pastoral life, I’ve become the one who gets to lean back and grin. Couples tell me how they met and fell in love. They tell silly stories about “his cat, who hisses when I sit on the bed.” We laugh and talk about how relationships deepen and progress, and how they’ll grow in faith.

But some couples also share pain. Their love is real. They long to share life in covenant with each other and with God. They even promise to call me before they call a lawyer. But they face things Katy and I don’t face: unsupportive families, judgmental communities, political scorn, religion wielded like a weapon.

The tears I’ve seen! One bride said, “I fought being lesbian because my church told me it was sinful, and for years I believed it. I hated myself.” And now? “After a long struggle, I’ve come to trust God loves me. I’m even beginning to love myself.” What’s still troubling you? “Dad always said when I fell in love for life, he’d walk me down the aisle. But because my ‘love for life’ is a woman, he won’t even come to our wedding. I have to walk down the aisle alone.”

Every couple I marry, gay or straight, deserves to be able to say: “Our families love us. Our church embraces us. Our neighbors welcome us. Our children are proud of us.” The path is hard enough without the state constitution also standing in the way.

As a pastor privileged to unite loving couples, straight and gay, in marriage, I’ll vote no on the marriage amendment. It’s how I say to loving families a joyful and supportive yes.

Spirit of Joy Christian Church pastor