SCOTUS

The Voting Rights Act Turns 50 Today

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Today is the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act, passed Aug, 6, 1965. The act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, created key provisions to prevent racial discrimination in voting laws.

The Voting Rights Act has been called "the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress."

Today's anniversary is a bittersweet commemoration. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4, which had required Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia to seek federal approval before imposing changes to voter laws.

In Defense of Marriage

Image via  isak55/Shutterstock

Image via  /Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

I’m Ready to Say Yes

Image via nito/Shutterstock

Image via /Shutterstock

The year is 2005. We are sitting down to dinner with our friend, Michael, in his apartment. Michael is gay and he’s wrestling with what that means. He is also searching for a church and he is drawn to oursbecause his theology and his understanding of God appear to align well with it. At some point in the meal he stops the conversation and asks bluntly,

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason and I exchange a look and the table falls silent. Finally I look up at Michael and say quietly,

“No. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.”

Fast forward several years. We’re in a new city and a new church. Jason gets an email from someone interested in checking out said church the following Sunday. She explains that she is gay and believes God made her that way. She’s not interested in debating the point. She’s just interested in finding a church. She thinks ours might be a good fit and asks the exact same question that Michael asked:

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason agonized over that email for days and it pained him immensely to write her back and say no. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.

How I Went From Texas Baptist to LGBTQ Advocate

Image via Kichigin/Shutterstock

Image via /Shutterstock

“I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture. … I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. 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…” —Jimmy Carter, from his interview with Huffington Post Live

I grew up in Texas as a churchgoing Baptist. I memorized Bible verses as part of my “sword drills,” went to church camp, took part in the clown ministry and even helped in the nursery.

Then I was kicked out at age seventeen for asking too many questions. My youth minister actually threw a Bible at my head and, in a less than nuanced way, invited me to move on, lest I contaminate the minds and hearts of my friends with my doubt.

Some of my questions had to do with their biblical interpretation, which was literal — and their assertion that the texts we were memorizing were the perfect, infallible Word of God, straight from the mind of the Divine to the paper on which it was written.

I had questions.

Sitting Between Two Hashtags

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Image via Sojourners.

When I think about that trip to Charleston with its confederate flag, slave auction block, statues to slave holders, and museums honoring the daughters of the confederacy, it makes it a whole lot harder to fully believe in the hashtag #lovewins. And when I see the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that racism has infused a largely white-led movement for LGBTQ justice — an infusion I have been complicit in even as I have attempted to critique it — my conscience convicts me.  I know that in this one moment, love has won a precious victory that allows me the privilege to be healthy, loved, and fully seen. I also know that at this moment systemic racism has murdered nine beautiful people and brutalized countless others. It is a moment in time that asks us to both celebrate and mourn, and more than anything else reminds us of the work yet to be done.

A Response to 5 Common Christian Critiques of Gay Marriage

4Max / Shutterstock.com

Photo via 4Max / Shutterstock.com

“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?

Clue to Gay Marriage Ruling Was Threaded in Obamacare Opinion

PRRI / RNS

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.

Liberty and Justice for All?

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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.

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