Washington DC Church Bells Peal for U.S. Supreme Court Marriage Decisions

Today at noon the bells of many churches in Washington DC, including the National Cathedral and New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, pealed in celebration of today’s same gender marriage decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a historic day for LGBTQ people. “I rejoice in the knowledge that the justices have reached a decision that makes our union—indeed all our unions—more perfect and certainly more equal,” writes The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral.

“We, the members and congregations of More Light Presbyterians, celebrate today with all those whose legal  marriages will finally be recognized by the federal government, and we rejoice with millions of Californians who now have civil marriage equality returned to them. We are mindful that the same Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act yesterday, and that that injustice must be corrected by Congress at the earliest possible moment. We will also continue to work for change in the PC(USA) to remove the restrictions on sessions and clergy to host and officiate at Christian weddings of same gender couples.

With the addition of California, there are now 13 states and the District of Columbia with legal same gender marriage recognized federally. This means that there are 4,542 Teaching Elders (clergy) in 46 presbyteries who are put in the untenable situation of trying to obey a muddled mishmash of Permanent Judicial Commission rulings, or truly be pastors to the same gender couples among them. These numbers will only continue to rise as we move toward the 221st General Assembly of the PC(USA) in Detroit a year from now. The GAPJC has called on the church to answer this problem. We will continue to work to help the church move toward full justice for LGBTQ people.”

~Patrick Evans, Interim Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians

From the Washington National Cathedral:

“Today’s rulings announce a new era for our country, one in which married lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans can finally enjoy the same federal recognition and protection that our laws have for so long extended to their fellow citizens. I rejoice in the knowledge that the justices have reached a decision that makes our union—indeed all our unions—more perfect and certainly more equal,” said Dean Hall.

“We are ringing our bells at the Cathedral to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants. Our prayers for continued happiness are with them and with all couples who will be joined in matrimony in the years to come, whether at Washington National Cathedral or elsewhere.

“Today’s rulings advance civil marriage equality, but they should also serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality. Countless faithful Christians have lived out their lives in committed same-sex relationships, and we have seen the fruits of their fidelity in our families, our congregations and our communities. If we use this historic moment to see more clearly how their faithfulness contributes to the common good, we will better be able to walk with our LGBT sisters and brothers as an act of Christian faith.”

In two landmark decisions the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed Proposition 8 on standing. The Court found that Proposition 8’s supporters did not have standing to appeal, since they suffered no harm. This leaves in place a lower-court ruling striking down Proposition 8. California now joins the states with same gender marriage, and, with the striking down of DOMA, the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages in these states.

The United States v. Windsor (DOMA) decision:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

The Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8) decision:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-144_8ok0.pdf

Here are some key quotes from United States v. Windsor (DOMA):

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.” ~Justice Kennedy

“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.” ~Justice Kennedy

“The Constitution’s guarantee of equality ‘must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot’ justify disparate treatment of that group.'” ~ Justice Kennedy

“By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” ~Justice Kennedy

“The power the Constitution grants it also restrains. And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” ~Justice Kennedy

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