Gay marriage

David Gushee 07-09-2015
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Photo via sergign /

Despite threats from some conservative Christian dissenters, civil disobedience may turn out to be an irrelevant response to gay marriage.

To understand why, we have to think seriously about what civil disobedience really is.

Here’s a good definition: If a government mandates what religious people believe God forbids, or forbids what religious people believe God mandates, civil disobedience may be required.

In the first case civil disobedience involves the refusal to do what government commands, and in the second case it involves the continued practice of an act that government has banned.

Could this apply to the new legalization of gay marriage nationwide?

Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former President Jimmy Carter. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former President Jimmy Carter said in an interview that he thinks Jesus would approve of gay marriage.

“I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” Carter said in a HuffPost Live interview with Marc Lamont Hill published July 7.

REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage / RNS

A man waves a rainbow flag on Sunday (June 28, 2015) while marching in the San Francisco gay pride parade two days after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Photo via REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage / RNS

In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, a favorite talking point among social conservatives was that even if they lost a battle, they could still win the war: The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges was akin to the 1973 Roe v. Wade verdict legalizing abortion, they argued , and opponents would continue to fight, and steadily work their way back to victory .

There are several obstacles to that scenario, however. Here are some of them.

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Members sing at a church service during the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City on June 28, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Jim Urquhart / RNS

By an overwhelming majority in both of its legislative houses, the Episcopal Church made history July 1 by making marriage for same-sex couples available throughout the church.

The actions on marriage equality came after decades of progress toward fully including LGBT Episcopalians in the work and witness of the church.

4Max /

Photo via 4Max /

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

With these words, Justice Anthony Kennedy supported the decision of the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. Gay and lesbian couples across the country are celebrating this long-awaited decision. Those who are Christians are not only thanking the court but also thanking God. But we know that other Christians are not giving thanks — some are angry, others are confused and uncertain. Can a faithful Christian support the court’s decision? What can we say in response to questions voiced by some Christians?

Jeffrey Salkin 06-30-2015
Heather Adams / RNS

Mandy Roach, left, and Amy Joslin stood behind the March for Marriage speakers and raised signs supporting marriage equality on June 19, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Photo via Heather Adams / RNS

I would like to believe that Charlotte and Trudy are in the world to come, applauding and dancing.


Image via PRRI / RNS

The Supreme Court ruling June 26 to legalize gay marriage rested in pragmatic legal reasoning, the same approach in the June 25 ruling on the Affordable Care Act — the decision that saved Obamacare from a “death spiral.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, described equal protection under the law as an inevitable step in the evolution of changing understandings of marriage across the centuries and essential for the safety and dignity of thousands of gay and lesbian couples and their children.

The Supreme Court ruling June 26 to legalize gay marriage rested in pragmatic legal reasoning, the same approach in the June 25 ruling on the Affordable Care Act — the decision that saved Obamacare from a “ death spiral.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, described equal protection under the law as an inevitable step in the evolution of changing understandings of marriage across the centuries and essential for the safety and dignity of thousands of gay and lesbian couples and their children.

vetre /

Wedding rings on wooded background. Photo via vetre /

In the days before the Supreme Court made it possible for gay couples to marry everywhere in the U.S., we asked two couples of faith — one Jewish who live in a state that forbids gay marriage, and one Christian and opposed to gay marriage — what the decision would mean to them.


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The Constitution was born within a worldview hospitable to transformation and open to corrections of injustices in letter and spirit. Examples abound: women’s right to vote, interracial marriage, the right to open legislative deliberations with prayer, and the right to education without segregation.

The Constitution has never claimed to be, in itself, the last word. Rather, it has claimed to be the first.

While I will not propose that every decision the Supreme Court has made has been for the betterment of all people, today’s ruling on same-sex marriage is an example of a nation reforming itself for the better.

Benjamin Moberg 06-26-2015


The debate is over.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court decided this morning that marriage was a fundamental right for all couples regardless of gender. All Americans who wish to can now marry the same-sex partner they love. Every state law that bans such marriages is now dead. And it is overIt is finished. This debate, at long last, is done.

This is a good day to be present. I want to document this day into my memory, so I might tell my children about it later. Although at 25 I can’t possibly understand all this decision entails, there may be a day down the road when I stand tuxedoed and teary-eyed and holding the hands of another, and I want this memory to color that moment. I want to feel the gift of it.

But this day also brings up a lot of complicated feelings for me, too. I am, after all, a follower of Jesus, and many in this family of Christians are not celebrating with me. They are unsure of what to say, uncertain of what the future holds. 

Photo via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

A lesbian couple kiss during the annual gay pride parade in downtown Rome on June 15, 2013. Photo via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

Pope Francis on June 14 stressed the importance of children having heterosexual parents, just a day after Rome’s gay pride march demonstrated the changing attitudes about same-sex couples outside the Vatican walls.

Addressing around 25,000 followers from the Diocese of Rome, the pope said the differences between men and women are fundamental and “an integral part of being human.”

The pontiff likened a long-lasting marriage to a good wine, in which a husband and wife make the most of their gender differences.

Joe Kay 06-15-2015
Image via Syda Productions/

Image via Syda Productions/

When I reached high school and started dating, my relatives had a lot of questions: "This girl you’re going to the movies with: Is she Catholic? Slovak? What’s her family’s last name? What does her father do for a living?"

She had to be Catholic, of course. Preferably Slovak. If not, some other nearby nationality. Anything less would get disapproving comments. Those questions may sound odd now, but they mattered back then. The Catholic Church had only recently concluded Vatican II, which tried to bridge centuries of animosity between churches. Accepting Protestants as equals was something new. And many of the immigrants in my neighborhood were trying to preserve the culture and traditions that they brought from Europe. They were afraid of losing their heritage in the new land.

For them, traditional marriage meant choosing someone from the same faith, the same ethnic background. Simply put, they were afraid. Terrified, actually. They feared that if marriage changed, their world would fall apart. 

That's why to so many people, my relationship wasn’t about finding someone who fit me — it was more about me finding someone who fit them.

Photo via Christoph Wagener / RNS

Pope Francis during a homily he delivered in Sibari, Italy, on June 21, 2014. Photo via Christoph Wagener / RNS

Pope Francis will meet a gay married activist in Paraguay next month, according to an LGBT rights group in that country.

The pontiff is due to meet Simon Cazal, co-founder and executive director of SomosGay, on July 11 at the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference in Asuncion, the country’s capital.

Catholic conference organizers approached Cazal earlier this month with an invitation in which they noted the “impact of your organization on Paraguayan society.”

As the Supreme Court is poised to rule on same-sex marriage, evangelical Christian leaders are expressing opposing viewpoints, even though polls show a majority of the movement's rank-and-file oppose it.
the Web Editors 06-12-2015
Image via lev radin/

Image via lev radin/

By the end of June — and as early as next week — the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of gay marriage nationwide. In a pre-emptive move to refocus narrative and legislative control at the state level, two states this week enacted laws designed to protect religious objection to same-sex couples. Here's how.

Many evangelicals are wrestling with the question of whether you can support same-sex marriage and remain an evangelical.
This is what happens when there’s nothing left to say about marriage equality.
Photo via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS

Martin O’Malley. Photo via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS

Martin O’Malley, who just wrapped up his second term as Maryland governor, is loudly, proudly Catholic — even when some doctrine-devoted church followers hiss at his socially liberal views.

Here are five faith facts about O’Malley, 52, who is expected to announce his candidacy on May 30.

Kim Hjelmgaard 05-26-2015
Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

A couple walks in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015.Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

In many ways, Ireland remains a heavily Catholic country.

Yet the emphatic “Yes” vote to same-sex marriage rights on May 22 represents a seismic shift in the nation’s social liberalization and challenges the Roman Catholic Church to rethink its role in Irish society.

Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

A poster supporting the Yes vote is displayed in Dublin on May 19, 2015. Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

“In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.”

But not so much anymore.

On May 22, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.