The Bishops Come Out (Against Prop 8)

This is a positive thing:

California’s six most senior Episcopal bishops Wednesday unanimously declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage.

The bishops argued that preserving the right of gays and lesbians to marry would enhance the “Christian values” of monogamy, love and commitment.

“We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruno, flanked at a news conference by fellow clergy members and gay and straight couples, added: “We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage.”

Indeed, my marriage is in its fourth consecutive year of not being in the least threatened by same-sex marriages here in these great United States. Every once in a while I check with the wife about this, and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: So, is our marriage threatened by same-sex couples marriage yet?

Her: No, but it is threatened by you asking that same stupid question again.

This little note from the bishops is a reminder (and one I think needs to be given, since I think some folks forget) that quite a few Christians out there don’t believe it’s a virtue to want to destroy other people’s marriages. To those Christians, I say: bless you.

44 thoughts on “The Bishops Come Out (Against Prop 8)

  1. Indeed. As a married heterosexual myself (last time I checked), I have to wonder about just how weak one’s own self image has to be in order to be threatened by two other people who aren’t exactly like you getting hitched. My thought is, that it can’t be very strong.

    Either that, or some people are hiding from some truths about their own orientation. I dunno.

  2. If it hasn’t come up by now, Elaine, the answer is probably “no.” Although I suspect you knew that already.

  3. Woot! Go Episcopals!

    Sometimes I’m rather proud of my church.

    And the last time I asked my husband if he thought our marriage was threatened by the homosexuals, he looked at me funny and said, “No – should I?”

  4. Meanwhile, one might think that people so concerned about the sanctity of marriage would be a little more concerned about Britney Spears going to Vegas for the weekend, marrying an equally loaded member of her entourage on a whim, and her only regret is that she had to wait until office hours on Monday morning to get it anulled. I’ve had boxes of tissues that lasted longer than your average celebrity marriage.

    And a pair of 80 year-old lesbians formalising their fifty year partnership is the death knell of civilization as we don’t know it?

    Someone is missing the point by several thousand light-years

  5. Hurrah for bishops!

    A sentence I never thought I’d utter outside of a chess game.

    And hurrah for California. Well played, home state. Well played indeed.

  6. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has recently pointed out, many church “leaders” are focussed more on this non-issue than substantive problems like poverty.

    Moral bikesheddinglike this seems to be becoming as common as its political and managerial counterparts.

    I would say that Pope Scalzi’s encyclical on poverty has spoken more eloquently than most of these professionals.

  7. As I have said many times, True Christians are Liberals.

    The rest are just mouthbreathers content to follow anyone charismatic enough to make them forget their ugly lives and lack of self-respect.

    To quote Tapetum “Go Episcopals!”

  8. As I have said many times, True Christians are Liberals.

    Well, who died and made you God, Miss Thang!

    As far as I’m concerned, when I go to mass I’m part of a community of faith where it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, liberal or conservative. It would be nice if some people did a little spiritual work on leaving all their worldly judgemental bullshit in the parking lot, including the political. We talk a lot about the separation of Church and State. Some churches really need to start talking about the re-separation of the pulpit and the campaign platform.

  9. It´s a rare occurance I can wholeheartedly approve a christian announcement, regardless of congregation. But once in a while it happens like today. When it happens it´s often one from the Unitarians or my much valued “EpiscoPagans”. Go for it.

  10. Great to see some members of the clergy are willing to stand up against bigotry and hatred. It saddens me to look at history and see our churches used and manipulated by those filled with bigotry or hatred. The struggle for equality by women and blacks was made more difficult by those attempting to justify their bigotry and hatred through their particular “interpretation” of the bible.

  11. Me: So, is our marriage threatened by same-sex couples marriage yet?

    Her: No, but it is threatened by you asking that same stupid question again.

    So, in a way, the fact that gay marriage isn’t legal is threatening your marriage.

  12. Yay for us ! There are days, like this one, where I’m damn proud to be an Episcopalian (even tho’ my bishop in the Diocese of Dallas is one of the leaders of the anti-gay / liberal / uppity women group in the church :P )

    Oh, and Grammar Nazi time: we are Episcopalians, not “Episcopals” – Episcopal is an adjective, not a noun :)

  13. Has anyone here seen the Sept 1 issue of People Magazine?

    Ellen and Portia’s wedding, huge cover splash, 8+-page story inside, coverage equal to any other A-lister’s nups.

    It was plastered all over every newsstand and checkout counter in the country, and I never heard or saw any controversy about it. I think it’s going to be hard to get Prop 8 passed when it will destroy such a high-profile marriage.

    (all due respect to Mr. Takei and his intended, but Ellen & Portia kinda make a better poster-child couple…)

  14. Craig, sadly, one of the women that so many people have read about who were the first couple married in both San Fran and then CA died a few weeks ago.

    Del Martin was a great advocate and role model. My prayers go out to her partner of 56 years, Phyllis Lyon.

  15. I know enough about Episcopalians to be unsurprised that they’ve taken this stance.

    In October, my brother and his longtime SO are getting married in Sacramento. Though I may personally have my reservations about gay marriage as an institution, I fully support the two of them using any and all means available to them to ensure that they’re protected under the law. And I will be there for them, along with my current girlfriend; in fact, I’ll be DJ’ing their wedding reception, employing my experience as a Second Life DJ for a happy occasion in First Life.

    My first marriage ended a little over a year ago, with my ex-wife moving to Finland, where she remarried and is now pursuing an education. In due course, I will no doubt marry again, as my current girlfriend and I are already feeling bonded to one another. I guess what it comes down to is, do I really want to deny the ability for my brother and his SO to protect and care for each other, the way I want to protect and care for my girlfriend? And the answer is, no, I don’t.

  16. Jeff Zugale @ 16: Didn’t see the People story, but tried to watch the Ellen show the other day when she was going to air the wedding photos…the local Atlanta station ran the season opener again in the regular daily time slot and ran the wedding show in a 3:15 AM overnight slot.

    Sounds like censorship to me, was the station afraid they’d offend people or did they recieve complaints? Come on now people, if you don’t like it, change the channel! That’s what the remote is for! Besides, this is Atlanta and we’ve got a HUGE Gay & Lesbian population. What IS the problem???

    Tres disappointed with the local station, and couldn’t get a straight answer as to why the unannounced local schedule change.

    So Hooray for the Bishops! I’m hetro, but fully support the right of everyone to spend their life with the significant other of choice. Matter of fact, planning to attend a friend’s same-sex union in the spring! She’s happy with her partner, so I’m happy for both of them.

  17. Things I learned in church:

    a) God loves us, and wants us to be happy
    b) We’re happiest and most fulfilled by loving and serving others
    c) We can’t control (and are not responsible for) the actions of other people, only ourselves.

    So, as regards same-sex marriage: it’s their choice, it’s in God’s hands, and all I can do if I want to be true to my beliefs is be happy for their happiness (which I am, so that works out well).

    Of course, most of the people who scream the loudest about same-sex marriage being the end of civilization are not doing it out of any sincere belief. It’s a very cynical attempt to stir up thoughtless outrage; people are much easier to manipulate and control when they’ve let their emotions run away with their heads. I’ll just say that if you’ve read the same Bible I have, then Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly have a lot more to answer for than Ellen DeGeneres or George Takei does.

  18. “Mikeon 11 Sep 2008 at 1:58 am

    As the Archbishop of Canterbury has recently pointed out, many church “leaders” are focussed more on this non-issue than substantive problems like poverty.

    Moral bikesheddinglike this seems to be becoming as common as its political and managerial counterparts.”

    Well Mike, as soon as you can present the evidence that this single public statement somehow indicates that the bishops in question are obsessed with gay marriage above all else, send out the bat signal to let me know. Otherwise, please don’t make our dear Archbishop look dumb by quoting him out of context and slinging his words around willy nilly.

  19. @9 Craig – Major Props Dude! When I go to church (or to the grocery, or any other place) the Bible I read says I am in the company of imperfect people who have all sinned. That same Bible says all sin is equally hateful to God…and it isn’t my job to figure out how to prioritize things God says are equal! The beam in my own eye sometimes gets in the way of seeing that sometimes, but I try. I guess I can’t help but think I should spend time focusing a little more on how God wants ME to live rather than judge how others live. That’s an issue for their personal relationship with their Creator, and not for me to judge.

    @21 Kendra – Ellen DeGeneres annoys me because I don’t find her funny. Ann Coulter annoys me because she’s unnecessarily abrasive. Bill O’Reilly annoys me because he’s intolerant of other folks’ views. But the Bible I read says they have no more or less to answer for than you, I, or anyone else ever born (except one)…

    As for Gay Marriage (the real point of the thread) – not a fan, so much like a Barry Manilow concert, I will refrain from participating! :) Seriously, don’t we have real issues to solve in this country?

  20. Um…should clarify – I mean to say (re: real issues above), why don’t we just adopt a “live and let live” policy rather than try to legislate faith, morality, etc.

    Didn’t want to be misinterpreted by any closet Barry Manilow fans…

  21. @23 StevieB

    Yeah, I see what you mean; I just get so frustrated when I see the attitude that we should hate someone because God is supposedly angry at them because it’s a double whammy of presumption and blasphemy. Firstly they’re assuming that they know what God thinks of someone, and secondly they’re directly contradicting the whole “Love one another” commandment. The fact that they then try to get other people to feel the same way really chaps my hide.

    Add in the fact that most of them are only saying stuff like this for political gain and not because they actually believe it (or, in other words, lying), and I guess my head just about explodes. You’re right, though; I’m not really practicing what I preach when I say stuff like that, am I?

  22. Christy @ #17. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were exactly the people I was thinking of, but was too lazy to Google. I don’t mean to sound pretentious or presumptuous, but Phyllis Lyon is certainly in my prayers — but she’s at least got the comfort of knowing she had so many years of blessing and love you can’t get with a piece of paper. But they got that too, in the end.

    My partner and I have been together for thirteen and a third years. Including the days we’d cheerfully have thrown each other out an airlock, BSG-style. :) But who said the good stuff in life comes without a lot of work and a few scars.

    And looking at my own friends and family – there’s certainly a few marriages/long-term partnerships that are cesspools of abuse, hatred and dishonesty I wouldn’t want a bar of. (Sadly, the children involved have little choice.) But others? Well, why the hell would I want to “threaten” or “destroy” the lives of people who are far from perfect, but have actually made commitments that they stick at.

    StevieB @ #23: Exactly where I’m at — put your own spiritual backyard in order (and there’s a lifetime’s worth of yard work to be done), before you start hanging over the fence telling the neighbours what to do.

    And I didn’t really mean to get my bitch on at Corby Kennard, but I really do think that Christians really need to get a grip on something a very wise priest once said to me: “God can make his judgements without our help; but nobody can live our lives for us.”

    I also get more than a little pissed at the wider idea that holding to a particular political ideology is some mark of moral superiority in any sphere of life. Anywhere in the Anglosphere (except the theocratic wing of the GOP) my politics would be considered solidly on the centre-right. Does that, in itself, make me either an angel or a devil. Of course not — my politics is no more the sum of who I am than my religion (Catholic), sexual orientation (gay), ethnicity (child of a mixed-race marriage), income/profession (freelance writer who isn’t doing too badly, but isn’t turning down work either) or anything else. And I know plenty of people who don’t share my political views who are still decent, honourable and kind human beings.

  23. Ah, Craig. You misunderstand me.

    I am a Liberal and have a personal faith with basically trucks with the ideals of Christianity. My family are Republicans and call themselves Christians. I accept all people (who do not wish to harm others) – my friends run the gamut of color and sexual orientation and have most of my life. My family are racist and homophobic. (They won’t admit it, but their comments and attitudes are pretty obvious.)

    I consider a Liberal to be a person who has a personal belief but wants a society where everyone can have their own personal beliefs without them being regulated. If I, for instance was against gay marriage (which I am not, but for sake of argument …); as a Liberal, I would want others to be able to have their gay marriages regardless of my beliefs. As Republicans, my family want everyone else to live the way they want them to.

    I find this abhorrent and am no longer content to be polite to people who would have large segments of the American population relegated to walled off areas or islands or the back of the bus just because they look different or think different or love the “wrong” way. This is no longer the 1800s and as a civilization we should be past all of that shit.

    People who involve themselves in organized religion do so for a few different reasons, but none of them should be so that they can tell everyone else how to live. Indeed, they should be telling all of us that they have NO RIGHT to tell us how to live, JUST LIKE the Bishops did. THAT is what The Bible tells us to do – not to judge as that is not our purview. If you truly believe the Bible, as the Christians claim to, then you know better than to legislate by religion. You know not to judge others. You know that telling other people they can’t marry because you don’t like how they live is not your right, especially under God.

    In short, you are not a True Christian; i.e. one who knows what being a Christian is actually about. So, a True Christian, one who actually lives by the actual values of the Bible, would not oppose gay marriage because it has NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM.

    So, I’m not really sure what you thought I meant up there. I’m not sure why you felt you had to “get your bitch on”. And I’m really not sure what you meant by what you said to me. But according to your comments I’m pretty sure we are on the same side here, as I have seen nothing you’ve said that I disagree with.

  24. I could never understand this: gays are supposedly bunch of immoral people sleeping around, having one night stands and never settling down to stable relationships.

    Then, when some want to settle down and have stable relationships–they aren’t allowed to.

    Something wrong here?

    It would be great if more Christians could drop the Old Testament and focus on the message of the New one.

    Questions of salvation, the divinity of Jesus, faith-vs- works and all the other fine points of Christianity aside, the message was AND is: Lets be nice to each other for a change.

  25. Mike@7
    Is social justice bikeshedding? There are plenty of issues that need our attention. And most of us can multitask.

    I suspect the Most Reverend Rowan Williams’ opinion that: “many church ‘leaders’ are focussed more on this non-issue than substantive problems like poverty,” stems more from his own ambivalence towards homosexuality and internal politics in the C of E and its patron, the English Government.

    Shrugging it off as a non-issue is moral cowardice.

  26. I think he’s saying that this should not be an issue – it should be resolved already – and that there are issues where people are actually suffering and need help that should be the focus.

    I’m pretty sure he’s not dismissing it.

  27. Corby @ #27 wrote:
    So, I’m not really sure what you thought I meant up there.

    Well, my hackles went up at As I have said many times, True Christians are Liberals no matter how I read it. And perhaps if you’re not communicating your intended meaning clearly and accurately, could it be possible (as an irritatingly sharp English prof once said about one of my essays) that the problem is with the writer not the reader?

  28. It would be great if more Christians could drop the Old Testament and focus on the message of the New one.

    As a Jew, I’d just be happy if more people who claim to follow the Bible *read* the Old Testament. The idea that the OT is all about God being mean, but he changes his stripes in the NT, is supercessionist ignorance.

  29. SteveB wrote, “As for Gay Marriage (the real point of the thread) – not a fan, so much like a Barry Manilow concert, I will refrain from participating! :)”

    And that, right there, should be the response of any true conservative who isn’t supportive of gay marriage / civil unions (vs. the tripe we hear from those that have confiscated the term for themselves).

    [Mr. Rogers]

    You see, if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same gender. Wasn’t that easy, boys & girls ? ::peaceful, happy smile::

    [/Mr. Rogers]

    There now, problem solved! :)

  30. Imani @ 22: I’m not sure what straw-man position you’re trying to create for me, but from my perspective and the AoC’s comments, it’s not about the California bishops here.

    Likewise Dave @29, what about pulpit declarations against gay marriage is “social justice”? From your final comment, you imply that the failure of bishops to condemn gay marriage would be moral cowardice. Please explicate the morals involved…

  31. mythago@32:
    I apologise for any offense. My point, and I stated it awkrardly was that every “Christian” I know who states a position advocating the death penalty, subjugation of women and/or ethnic minorities, war and genocide _invariably_ cites the voice of God from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy.
    When they try to justify their hatreds and fears with Biblical support, it is harder to do so with Jesus saying love your neighbor.

  32. Mike: I take as my text for todays’ homily this quote from the Book Of Wikipedia, on Rowan Williams:

    In “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today”, an address to the Anglican Communion in June 2006, he said: “It is possible – indeed, it is imperative – to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation, and still to believe that this doesn’t settle the question of whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of God’s will.”[23]

    I did not intend to “imply that the failure of bishops to condemn gay marriage would be moral cowardice.” I was pointing out his refusal to address the issue completely one way or another is a cop out.

    Churches should have the freedom to include or exclude any person or action based on their collective beliefs. The AOC’s main problem here is he is a part of the British government, as he is installed by and answerable to the Crown of England. And, as a result, has an influence on civil matters beyond the pulpit.

    Oh, and regarding my thoughts on preaching against gay marriage: please refer to my reply to mythago.

  33. Ahhh…I’ve finally figured out who/what this “AOC” stuff is about. As a bit of Episcopalian/Anglican trivia, the Archbishop of Canterbury is usually referred to as “the ABC”, “Cantuar” (from the Latin for “Canterbury”), or sometimes “+Canterbury” (the little “+” sign is supposed to represent a cross). Us ‘Piskies never use “AOC” ;)

    The Episcopal Church can be a veritable font of obscure, and sometimes interesting, trivia. And I am restraining myself mightily in not going off on a wild tangent with more of it ;)

  34. I think there’s a lot of vehement agreement in the posts above.

    I think what Tutu meant about same-sex marriage being a waste of time is that the Anglican Communion has spent a great deal of energy on it, when it should be focusing on issues of poverty and starvation. You don’t have to TAKE a position on same-sex marriage to know that’s true.

    The Episcopal Church of the United States owes no allegiance whatsover to the Archbishop of Canterbury. That’s why they stopped being part of the Church of England (the US was having a revolution at the time, and the anything “of England” was not a healthy thing to be).

    ‘Episcopal’ means “of, pertaining to, or characterizing bishops.” So a Roman Catholic bishop has episcopal duties, that is, duties deriving from his status as a bishop. The Episcopal Church is called that because the decisions are made by the bishops—they elect a Presiding Bishop from among their number, but s/he isn’t held to have any special spiritual authority on the order of papal infallibility or anything of that sort.

    Finally…despite the above, I’ve always thought ‘episcopal’ should have something to do with a device called an episcope. Would that be something that lets you look at things from above? Is an imaging satellite an episcope? Or should it be something you can use to observe bishops? I know, a wireless webcam mounted in a bishop’s mitre!!!!

  35. Craig, again, I agree with you, and I wasn’t rude to you. Why are you attacking my statement?

    You know, just because you didn’t understand what I wrote, doesn’t mean I wrote it wrong. No one else seemed to take offense.

  36. Corby:

    I don’t really want to get into the kind of sniping that brings down The Wrath of Scalzi, but three points and I’m moving on:

    1) If you want to talk about on-line rudeness, it’s hardly Miss Manners to accuse someone else of wilfully misreading (and misrepresenting) your comment just to pick a fight.

    2) I have to take what people say at face value — and please don’t assume I’ve ever read more nuanced and fully-developed comments you’ve made on the same topic, or expect me to magically intuit a subtext that’s not actually in the text.

    3) “No one else seemed to take offense.” Good on them. Others can speak for themselves without my presumptuous assistance.

  37. Please, guys. Miscommunication. You fundamentally agree. Can’t we leave it? This would be a very silly thing to fight over.

    I think this is an abi’s rule case: last word loses. That means that at the moment, I lose. I’ll take that for the team, if you’re willing.

  38. Dave Hall @ 36 – Buddy, I’d say that has a lot more to do with the “Christians” you are hanging out with. Pretty much anyone who actually reads their Bible (most of us) are ambiguous at best about the death penalty, believe all men and women are created equal, and don’t want to subjugate anyone. Genocide is right out (props to Monty Python). :)

    Seriously, I hope you don’t judge everyone by the errors of the few…and maybe loosen up a bit on the hyperbole once in a while.

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