(Original letter dated Friday, June 26, 2015)
Today I join many of you in celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling establishing same-sex marriage as a civil right in all 50 states. The desire of couples to love one another within the bond of marriage is no longer a legal right reserved solely for straight couples. The Supreme Court recognized today that same-sex couples have that same right. Same-sex couples are entitled to enjoy relationships with one another and their families within a context of dignity and respect. In my estimation, God is at work in this, breaking down barriers and bringing all things together as a matter of unconditional love and justice.
I thank God for the faithfulness of the LGBTQ community here at Travis Park United Methodist Church and elsewhere. These folks and their allies have worked tirelessly toward this day. Their commitment continues to inspire me. I celebrate and affirm the love that same-sex couples share with one another and with others. My own capacity to love and understand has deepened because of their witness. I thank God that the congregation I serve took a stand for LGBTQ inclusiveness a decade ago in becoming a reconciling congregation within The United Methodist Church. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin!”
With all of this said, there is still work to do. Continuing to change discriminatory policies is an ongoing effort within our nation, within The United Methodist Church, and around the world. When it comes to our denomination, the Supreme Court’s ruling today establishes a clear and compelling conflict between our church’s expressed commitment to respecting the human and civil rights of all persons, and our church’s discriminatory policies regarding LGBTQ persons. Our Book of Discipline states: “Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.” Now that the Supreme Court has established marriage equality as a constitutionally protected civil right, the leadership of The United Methodist Church should allow pastors to follow their consciences and perform same-sex marriages on church property without threat of punitive action until such time as the church eliminates all discriminatory language from our Book of Discipline.
I look forward to the day when discrimination against LGBTQ persons will be as thoroughly rejected as an intolerable evil within human society and the church, as slavery is now among the vast majority of people in the United States of America. God, hasten the day!
Grace and peace,
Rev. Monte Marshall
Travis Park United Methodist Church
San Antonio, TX