Episcopalians are raising their voices on behalf of marriage equality in several states where that issue is on the ballot. In New Jersey, Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark took direct issue with his Roman Catholic counterpart Archbishop John Myers in today’s Newark Star Ledger.
Myers opposes marriage equality and believes that Catholics who differ with him should refrain from receiving Communion. Beckwith believes Myers is mistaken about what constitutes a “threat to the family.” He writes:
In our unstable economy and increasingly chaotic society, the stress on families is enormous. All religious institutions seek to support people and families through these challenges, and offer guidance as they do so. Myers and many other religious leaders harbor the conviction that families led by same-sex partners undermine the institution of marriage and the well-being of children. In 33 years of ordained life, I have seen just the opposite: blessing and supporting relationships that are marked by love, fidelity and commitment — whether they are headed by a man and a woman, two women or two men — provide a foundation of social stability that supports all families. Marginalizing people has never been a pathway to community stability.
My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state — including 42 percent of children in Newark — living below the federal poverty level. I have been with too many kids over the years who have felt the violence of being pushed out, kicked out, ignored, forgotten or treated as acceptable collateral damage in political and economic battles between adults. We can do better.
Meanwhile, in the state of Washington, the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton makes the case for marriage equality in the Everett Herald. A few choice paragraphs:
Marriage calls people into faithful companionship and care of one another in a mutual lifetime commitment. In this way, it embodies the selfless model of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of the people. Unfortunately, in my work I have seen repeatedly how social and religious prejudice harms individuals, families and communities…..
All around us, we can see that loving relationships and stable families take many forms. Anyone who has ever adopted a child or married into a blended family knows this is true. Becoming a family takes work, patience, dedication, and communication. By the same token, those who are unable to have children or who marry later in life know and trust that the promises and treasures of marriage are more than procreation…..
Fidelity, commitment and faith are not values exclusive to a particular race, creed or orientation of people; they are transcendent values that belong to all. As Jesus encouraged in his own ministry, our minds and hearts must be transformed within us so that indoctrinated prejudices can be changed within our community.