In the summer of 2008, I stood on the steps of the Los Angeles County Superior Court with members of my congregation to perform religious weddings to any gay couple who had come out with a valid marriage license, at no charge. The congregation was there with rainbow-colored cupcakes. For three Friday afternoons (the most popular time to get marriage licenses) we stood there in the bright California sun. I wore my white robe and rainbow stole and we congratulated every couple who came out. I had two takers that summer, who still write to me on occasion. Thousands of couples in love were married that summer. We called it the “summer of love.” On November 4th the people of California passed Proposition 8, banning same sex marriage. The weddings from the previous four months were valid but after that date no more. The legality of same sex marriages would be fought in the courts until June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples have the right to marry.
I will never forget the heartache I felt when all those dozens of couples I had married in 2008 were betrayed. For all of us it seemed that their love had been made illegal. To be sure, I have always performed religious weddings for any two loving people, but the legality of those marriages was always in question until 2015.
This Saturday from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM on the Jessup Green a new organization, Westport Pride, will have a “Coming out Rally.” I will be there and will be ready to offer a blessing. I hope to see many of you there. While same sex marriage may seem like a cause past its prime, it is not. Marriage, like all legal protections, is still discriminated against. Not legally, but still locally. This congregation has always been on the side of love. We were one of the first to become a “welcoming congregation” even as other denominations are still struggling with this issue today. Our siding with love has grown to include transgendered and other queer people who deserve the same rights as straight people. We continue to learn and grow and act with compassion. Join me if you can this Saturday.
And in support of our Jewish neighbors there is a rally tomorrow night, Wednesday, at 7:00 PM on the Jessup Green against anti-Semitism. Hate crimes and hateful acts have continued to rise in the past five years. We stand with all our friends in faith: Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist, people who are being harassed because of who they are spiritually. We side with love for all who are struggling in the midst of this pandemic because of who they are and what they believe.
Join me Friends, and let’s put our heart where our values lie.
Yours Always, Rev. John