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Apr 26 2011

Well I’ll be…

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – something will happen that catches me completely by surprise:

A [city] church has voted to stop signing marriage licenses in protest of the state of [state]‘s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Douglass Boulevard Christian Church made the unanimous vote Sunday. The Rev. Derek Penwell, senior minister of the church, said it’s unjust that heterosexual but not homosexual couples can benefit from marital rights involving inheritance, adoption, hospital visits and filing joint tax returns, saving thousands in annual taxes.

A Christian church defies not only public opinion but state law to support gay rights. In what bastion of freedom-hating, Democratic liberalism did this happen? Oregon? Massachusetts? Connecticut?

Kentucky.

In 2004, Kentucky voters passed an amendment to the state constitution by a three-to-one margin, banning same-sex marriage and unions and reinforcing what had already been state law. Large religious groups were among the drivers of that amendment, with endorsements from leaders in Kentucky’s two largest denominations — the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky. The state’s largest congregation, Southeast Christian Church, ran an advertising campaign before the referendum, promoting traditional marriage. Some congregations, however, support the right of same-sex couples to marry and will perform same-sex ceremonies in their services, even though they have no legal standing in Kentucky.

While the gesture is symbolic, it certainly injects some measure of dissonance into the narrative that you can’t be a good Christian and support gay rights. Especially in the American South, with its deeply-entrenched conservative Christian tradition – and the mountains of bigotry that go along with that – someone taking a stand against the tide of anti-gay hatred is a rare and welcome sight indeed.

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2 comments

  1. 1
    peddiebill

    I too am surprised. Here in New Zealand the methodist Church has a number of parishes that perform same sex marriage for precisely the reason given by the unusual Kentucky pastor who spoke up. We also have a number of ordained homosexual ministers.I had not however realised that there was a similiar degree of tolerance in the Bible belt US which all too often is regarded as a bastion of the red-necked version of Christianity. I’ll bet this pokes the red-neck nests.

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    It’s a small church, and will undoubtedly alienate the majority of Christians in the state, but I’m overjoyed that this news made it out of Kentucky – it will bring a lot of positive attention to the issue there.

    Thanks for your comment!

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