Thursday, June 5, 2014

Marriage Equality in Arkansas with Rallies, Flying Fur, Duelling Bible Verses, the Whole Shebang: A Footnote

As a footnote to my previous posting about what has been happening on the marriage equality front in Arkansas since our supremes stayed same-sex marriages, I'd like to share with you two letters that have caught my eye, both from our statewide alternative free paper, Arkansas Times. The first of these appeared in that paper a week ago, and the second this past week.

Jajuan Johnson is a friend of mine, a fine person who's a doctoral candidate at a state university. His perspective is valuable, because he's African American and is commenting on the rally organized by Rev. Jason Rapert that I discussed in my previous posting, which drew a group of black preachers to the steps of the state capitol on May 22 to rant and rave about the extension of the right of civil marriage to a minority group. Here's his letter:

Bigger picture 
Dozens of preachers, mainly black, gathered at the Arkansas state capital today to protest gay marriage. We haven't seen this type of "ecumenical" protest since the '60s civil rights movement! 
Regardless of your moral or religious stance, their priorities are totally misaligned. Arkansas ranks 49th in child poverty, minority voting rights are being threatened, mass incarceration of blacks, Hispanics and the poor are at an all-time high, Affirmative Action is about to be a thing of the past, federally funded health care coverage is under siege, violence in many of the neighborhoods where their churches are located is riveting — and you choose to march against what two consenting adults decide to do with their lives. 
Gay marriage is no threat to democracy. Is it me or is someone missing the bigger picture of the Gospel meaning, which is to bring liberty to the oppressed? And the ultimate truth is some of them are gay as well but too coward to stand in truth. Now, let the church say, Amen! 
Jajuan Johnson 
Little Rock

The letter below appeared in today's issue of the Times. I don't know Marisa Nelson, but what she says here echoes what I'm hearing other Catholics in the area saying about our bishop's obtrusive, much-resented attempt to use his episcopal power to influence the state supreme court to knock down Judge Piazza's ruling. Friends of Steve and mine, a faithful weekly-Mass-going Catholic couple a little older than we are, took us out for a lunch to celebrate our marriage last week, and I heard an earful about how they deplore what the bishop is doing, and how it has seriously undermined his moral authority for them and many other Catholics.

Marisa Nelson writes:

Suggested dogma 
I am a Catholic. I've heard arguments against homosexual relationships and gay marriage my whole life. While I appreciate the "hate the sin, not the sinner" rhetoric that attempts to promote love and not hate, I'm not sure the two sentiments are compatible. I'm also not convinced that the Church's anti-gay marriage stance isn't based on fear and intransigence. So here's what needs to happen. The standards that homosexuals are held to must be placed on all people. The Church says that a true marriage is between a man and a woman who are open to God's gift of life. Sex is for procreation, and homosexuality is wrong because it will never lead to new life. What if a heterosexual couple cannot or will not have children? Catholics must work to ban all marriages that will not lead to childbearing. This includes marriage between couples where one or both are infertile or utilizing artificial birth control. Gay marriage is also decried because it is "unnatural" and goes against "tradition." Sex using artificial birth control is by definition unnatural. And while methods of artificial birth control have been around throughout history (much like homosexual relations), they do not fit the Church's definition of traditional. Banning these marriages will promote marriages the Church claims to be interested in. Or, we could all admit to the hypocrisy involved with bans on same-sex marriage and focus on the true moral issues our state faces: poverty, poor health and low educational attainment. 
Marisa Nelson 
Little Rock

And as Jajuan says, Let the church say, Amen. 

The photo: one of a number of photos we took as a friend worked with a graphic artist to create an announcement for us to send friends and family members at a distance, telling them of our wedding. A photo of our rings is on the announcement, but the final copy doesn't have the busy embossed linen background of this photo.

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