by Karen Kulm, Vancouver First Congregational UCC
When New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage on June 24, 2011, the repercussions were felt in Oregon and Washington. It seemed like marriage equality could become a reality in 2012. In Washington, this would be done legislatively. Polling indicates there are enough votes in the House to change the law, but not yet in the Senate. The democratic governor has already said she would sign the law. In Oregon, a ballot measure to reverse the voter-authorized 2004 ban on same-sex marriage is required.
A broad coalition of groups working for marriage equality in Oregon is deciding right now if they have the momentum to go forward with a ballot measure. Hundreds of people have been phone banking and polling to see if the support is there. Now is an important time to talk about why marriage matters. Marriage equality is a social justice issue. Marriage helps to support loving and committed families in a way that civil unions/domestic partnerships simply cannot.
In May, a national Gallup poll showed 53% support for legalizing same-sex marriage. A 2010 Pew Research poll showed 49% of white mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage while 38% oppose it. In 2005, the United Church of Christ (UCC) General Synod passed a resolution in support of equal marriage rights for all, which encouraged UCC members to oppose legislation denying civil marriage rights to couples based on gender. Yet the religious right’s very vocal opposition to marriage equality often dominates the media. Justice-minded people of faith must speak out.