President Obama rocked the country yesterday by announcing his support for marriage for all loving couples. This came just a day after North Carolina became the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment to ban marriage for loving same-gender couples.
President Obama knows that a growing number of Americans and people of faith understand this as a simple matter of fairness for all families: their children and their loved ones. Obama has chosen to stand in the gap, even as conservatives manipulate religion to undermine the core value of equal standing before the law.
In North Carolina a stunning Associated Press photo showed a polling place in a United Methodist Church with a "VOTE HERE" sign below the United Methodist logo (below) and next to the shockingly biased statement, "A True Marriage: Male and Female and God."
Many of the people in North Carolina who voted to prevent loving same-gender couples from marrying will tell you they voted against us because they are Christian. I would urge them to read their scriptures again and ask themselves whether they are like the religious leaders for whom Jesus reserved his harshest condemnations, or whether they are like those who got up and followed Jesus because, for the first time, they were told that God loved them, too.
As the spiritual leader for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and straight, I see how lives are transformed by the love of God, the community life of believers, and the affirmation of diverse families. Metropolitan Community Churches are in nearly 40 countries around the globe.
I see the changes happening everywhere. Even as last week the United Methodist Church refused to change the policy of condemning gay and lesbian people, I see stalwart United Methodists -- bishops, lay leaders, average people in the pews -- choosing life! They are choosing to marry loving couples regardless of gender and regardless of official church policies. They are choosing to open their doors. Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin G. Talbert called the policies of exclusion "immoral and unjust" and declared they were "unworthy of our loyalty and obedience."
I was baptized as a child in the United Methodist Church. I have never given up hope, even though I had to leave that denomination to hold on to hope. I know a new day is dawning. My mother is still a member and knows that, at its best, the United Methodist Church lives by its founder John Wesley's basic rules for living: "Do good. Do no harm. Stay in love with God." We believe members of the United Methodist Church will begin living up to its own highest standards, no matter what rules are on the books.
Today, I believe that President Barack Obama has sounded a clarion call to people throughout the United States to live up to our highest value of freedom and justice for all. It is my calling to believe. I believe!