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Susan Russell annoys the religious right

Susan Russell annoys the religious right

You will no doubt be surprised to learn that the Rev. Canon Susan Russell has written something that has annoyed the religion right.

Last week’s Susan wrote a wildly popular article for the Huffington Post, thanking Kim Kardashian for making clear that it is careless heterosexual couples–not committed spouses of the same gender–who are making a mockery of the institution of marriage. She wrote:

As we continue to work for family values that value all families and a protect-marriage movement that protects all marriages, we will have your example to add to Britney Spears’ 55-hour marriage, Larry King’s eight marriages and Newt Gingrich’s three (just to name a few) as proof positive that marriage needs protection, all right — but not from gay and lesbian couples who want to pledge to live together until death do them part.

Now The Daily Kos informs us that the Family Policy Institute is unhappy about the attention that Susan’s argument has received.

Joseph Backholm, executive director of the group writes:

Saying marriage doesn’t matter because Kim Kardashian can’t keep hers together is like saying you shouldn’t try to make healthy food choices because people eat candy bars.

But Susan isn’t arguing that marriage doesn’t matter. She is arguing that it matters intensely; that it matters as much to same-gender couples as to straight couples; and, if I can tease out a point that she makes implicitly, that same-gender marriage benefits society, not least in producing stable homes in which to raise children put up for adoption by their presumably straight parents.

It reminds me of a line from the statement that the Rt. Rev. John Chane, the now-retired Bishop of Washington, made when he was asked by the authors of the Windsor Report to refrain from allowing his clergy to officiate at same-sex blessing ceremonies in 2004.

“It remains puzzling to me that no one objects to my baptizing the children of gay parents, blessing their home, their car and their dog, yet I cannot bless the loving relationship which makes this family’s life possible with upsetting so many of our Anglican brothers and sisters.”


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I just think that using Kim Kardashian is a cheap way to get Google hits and headlines in the Huffington Post. I think continuing to make a strong argument without easy targets is better and more sound.

I don’t entirely disagree with Susan’s point, it’s the method.

As for the statistics, I’m eager to see them when California and New York are included.


@joebrewer, I think you are missing Susan’s point, as the opposition did. Her point was that the values of fidelity, monogamy and commitment are not based on gender.

As for Kim Kardashian being an “easy target” and ridiculing “celebrity marriages”, I’m all in favor. I think that most of us can safely conclude that a marriage that ends in 72 days (or 44 hours!) is not one that has been suitably prepared for or thoughtfully considered. I somehow doubt they went through a serious, soul-searching premarital counseling process. I think that’s more a threat to marriage than a committed gay couple together for decades tying the knot.

The superficiality of a society that celebrates a marriage-as-media-frenzy and disdains marriage as a solemn vow deserves every scorn it gets, regardless of the gender of the celebrity.

As for the rates of divorce, the first studies are now available. Divorce rates are overall lower for LGBT couples, but to be fair, this is likely to reflect in part the nature of the couples who have married thus far:

the partners getting married tend to be those who have already been together for some time. They already have weathered the stormy middle years of coupledom, and they are consciously committed to being a family. For that reason, we should not be surprised that they are not rushing to get divorced so quickly. Of course, there are a fair number of such couples whose relationships don’t last, but on the whole it’s a rather select group. Think about it — the couples with shakier relationships are not likely to travel across state lines to get married …

–Susan Forsburg


I am frankly tired of the “Kim Kardashian proves gay people should be able to get married” dialogue. First, it’s a supremely easy target that is at this point unoriginal and has been driven into the ground. Second, as a priest, Susan should be grieving the fact that a marriage did not work out, regardless of the orientation of the couple. Third, when the first celebrity gay marriage falls apart in a matter of days, I trust she’ll be writing a column retracting her words and admitting that no one is perfect. Unfortunately, many marriages do not work out, and gay marriages are among them. This is the wrong way to go about proving a point, but as much as I respect Susan, I think she also often writes before thinking and does so for shock purposes. As a married gay man, I will be holding my breath when the first divorce statistics are available for same-sex marriage.

Ellen Ekstrom

Susan wrote only what many people were thinking. I find it amazing that so many find it abhorrent

two people in love wish to make a sacred, spiritual and public committment before God and the people; that it continues to be an issue when so many more in our nation are losing their jobs, homes, going to bed hungry night after night, and are losing their self-esteem and hope.


There are some good discussions on the Episcopal Church in the Daily Kos comments section as well.

Gb46 – please sign your name next time you comment. Thanks ~ed.

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