Gary Hall, the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., spoke this morning at the Unite for Marriage rally on the steps of the Supreme Court before the oral arguments on four landmark marriage equality cases. Here are his remarks and his prayer -- a wonderful antidote to the "But the Bible says..." arguments against equality and an inspiration to all who strive for justice.
The Book of Genesis tells us that God created human beings in God's own image. The Gospel of John tells us that in Jesus the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Today I stand before you not only as an advocate for marriage equality but as a Christian person to say that faithfulness to the Bible demands that we extend the freedom to marry to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
For too long the opponents of marriage equality have used the Jewish and Christian scriptures as a screen to hide behind. They say that same sex marriage is unscriptural, that marriage equality violates the Bible. On this auspicious morning, I would ask that they take the time actually to read their Bibles. In those pages they will encounter a stirring story of God's passionate love for human beings.
God created us in the divine image. God took on our life and struggles by becoming one of us in Jesus. The Bible tells an expanding story of God's universal and expanding love, justice, and reconciliation. And it promises that God will not rest until all of God's creation and all of God's people -- straight people, gay people, bisexual people, transgender people -- are free to live in lifelong faithful marriages with those they love.
We are not the first generation to see the Bible used in defense of inequality. On the eve of the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln learned that his anti-slavery positions were being opposed by the clergy. He is reported to have said: "Here are twenty-three ministers of different denominations, and all of them are against me but three; and here are a great many prominent members of churches, a very large majority of whom are against me. I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery." He concluded with these words: "I may not see the end, but it will come, and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find they have not read their Bibles aright."
God's truth is on the march. We are made in God's image and called toward a new world in which love, justice, and truth will prevail. Sooner or later, all Americans will enjoy the freedom to marry those they love. And when that happens, everyone will know that those who stand for human dignity and marriage equality have read both the Constitution and our Bibles aright.
A centering prayer to open the United for Marriage rally at the steps of the Supreme Court:
O God: you speak to and through us in our various traditions: we give you thanks for your spirit and love which animate and empower the universe. We are deeply grateful for your love and the ways in which it expresses itself in the love of human beings for you, for your creation, and for each other. And we are mindful that you have brought us together for the purpose of extending your love and blessing to all who call upon your name.
As we gather this morning on the steps of the Supreme Court, we ask that you visit this place and all engaged in this process with a double portion of your spirit. Bless the plaintiffs and legal counsel who argue today; bless the justices and grant that they may be open to your spirit in their inward thoughts and outward deliberations. And bless all those who seek marriage equality in our nation, granting that through the court and through us your loving and just will may prevail in our land. We ask all this in your many sacred names. Amen.