Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard is a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a progressive Baptist minister. He is organizing a march/rally for marriage equality to the Kentucky State Capitol to coincide with the Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8.
Rev. Blanchard and his partner Dominique James were arrested in January after refusing to leave a county clerk’s office that denied them a marriage license. Blanchard told police he had a “spiritual obligation” to stay. “If we don’t act, we are accomplices in our own discrimination. We have to resist.”
MLP asked Bojangles about the impact of a favorable Supreme Court ruling for states like Kentucky with constitutional amendments banning same gender marriage and how people of faith should respond.
“I am optimistic that our nation’s Supreme Court will rule the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. If they indeed rule in favor of equality, it will send both a political and spiritual message to states like Kentucky which have amended their own constitutions to legislate discrimination against gay couples. It’s not likely that the Supreme Court’s ruling will encourage any of the homophobic legislators in Kentucky to rethink their stance on gay marriage. Yet, the ruling could very well mandate that same-sex marriages performed in states which allow them, be recognized as lawful contracts in states that currently discriminate against same-sex couples. This would be my realistic hope for the ruling’s effect, should it affirm marriage equality, here in Kentucky.
I would like to say to the PC(USA) and other people of faith that marriage equality is not a social, political or ‘gay’ issue. It’s a civil right and as children of God, we know that inequality is morally wrong. Two people of the same gender who are in committed, loving relationship should not be discriminated against because of their innate sexuality. It’s my prayer that people of faith stand in solidarity with those seeking marriage equality and call on our nation, our states, and our cities to end discrimination against same-sex couples.”
On Sunday, March 3, Blanchard came to the Open Door Community Fellowship, a gay-friendly church that sits several miles from where the Kentucky Derby is held each spring.
The reverend wanted to talk about the rally on March 26, and noted that the date nearly coincides with Martin Luther King’s famous civil rights march.
“You’re going to hear that this march and rally won’t make one bit of difference,” Blanchard said. “In 1965, when Dr. King marched with over 8,000 people from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, he knew and they knew that they were not going to change the law in Alabama. They were going to have the opportunity to get a witness of faith that would dramatize the discrimination. That’s what we need to do.”
Four couples from the church have been married in Washington D.C. and in one of the nine states that allow gay marriage, but the licenses have no legal weight in Kentucky.
“It’s gotten to a point where I can’t put my life on hold any longer,” said Jay Joseph, who is 34. He recently traveled to Connecticut to marry his partner of seven years, Dane Joseph.
The couple would like to adopt children, but Dane, a citizen of Grenada, has been unable to secure work papers in part because gay couples are not entitled to spousal benefits.
Cassey Gillett, who married her partner, Stephanie Gillett, in New York last September, says she would not want to live anywhere but Kentucky, where the couple is raising four children from their previous heterosexual marriages.
“I’d love to live in New York, but I can’t just abandon Kentucky,” said Cassey. “Kentucky is a place for families. It is an awesome place to raise children.”
She said she expects marriage to be legalized in her lifetime, but she said Kentuckians need to be shown that homosexual couples are no different from straight couples.
“I swear, if you come to our house, the most exciting thing is reading a book or playing a game,” said Cassey. “We are a completely normal family.”
(According to Blanchard, the “rift” between civil rights approaches setup in this article is simply untrue)
Read the full story of Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard’s arrest for trying to marry his partner in the Huffington Post.