Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bending Toward Justice

Tomorrow afternoon, the Assembly Legislative Operations & Elections Committee will see plenty of excitement. Why? Oh, their hearing tomorrow will feature SJR 13.

Already, this week has been a huge one for marriage equality. Right on the heels of Rhode Island becoming the 10th state to enact marriage equality last Friday, Delaware became the 11th yesterday. And right on the heels of Delaware securing equality, Minnesota may very soon become the 12th state as its full Legislature takes up marriage equality starting tomorrow.

And that's not all. Illinois and New Jersey are likely to see further action in their state houses soon. Meanwhile, Hawaii has a law suit pending, and New Mexico may soon follow. And top of all that, Oregon will have a referendum campaign next year to overturn the constitutional marriage ban passed there in 2004.

So against this dramatic backdrop, the Nevada Assembly takes up marriage equality. So what else might possibly happen to add to the mix? How about this? This morning, Episcopal Diocese of Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards posted a stunning op-ed for the Reno Gazette Journal. Here's a sample.

I support marriage equality not in spite of my religious beliefs, but because of them. As Christians, we are committed to cultivating love and compassion within our church and community. The moral imperative to respect and care for other people compels us to insist on their right to form loving relationships sealed in the legal bond of marriage. That right is part and parcel of being human.

Our ability to fall in love, commit ourselves to another person and build a life together is a gift of God. However different churches may view same-sex relationships, we should all agree that the state has no right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples the way it once did against mixed-race couples. A basic sense of justice, found in all religions, stands against such discrimination.

I respect my fellow Christians who do not believe a same-sex relationship can be a sacramental marriage. They have a right to their convictions. But this law is not about sacraments. It is not about what constitutes a “Christian marriage.” That is a question for churches, not the state, to decide. This is about civil law. It is about the right to enter into the legal relationship of marriage. That right is fundamental and should not be denied to gay and lesbian citizens who are as capable of maintaining stable family relationships as straight couples. [...]

If this law has any effect at all on religious liberty, it increases that liberty by allowing those who believe in same-sex marriages to perform them while those who oppose same-sex marriages can still refuse. It is the current ban on same-sex marriages that infringes on personal conscience.

Of course, this flies in the face of the dogma pushed by the likes of Richard Ziser and Janine Hansen. Nonetheless, many people of faith embrace full LGBTQ equality and civil rights. And regardless of one's religious beliefs, no one should be denied the right to marry the person one loves.

This will be on full display tomorrow in the Assembly. We'll see more testimony from loving, committed couples just asking for equal rights. And we'll see more spin from the perpetual anti-equality campaigners.

Yet while the anti-equality campaigners keep trying to deny equal treatment under the law to Nevada LGBTQ families, equality keeps sprouting up across the country. And the arc of the moral universe keeps bending toward justice. Tomorrow's hearing in Carson City and Las Vegas will be another bend towards justice.

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