In a matter of hours or days, the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down pivotal decisions that address our country's most basic concepts of equality -- the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry and the right of already married gay and lesbian couples to receive the full range of federal benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples. During the coming robust public discussion about these legal decisions one thing is certain: The conservative Christian voices will be omnipresent in the media, perpetuating a false, one-size-fits-all impression of the faith perspective on LGBT issues.
Now is the time to dispense with the classic stereotype that religious leaders oppose same-sex marriage. A growing multifaith movement of religious leaders is helping the faithful understand how religious teachings and text compel acceptance -- and celebration -- of LGBT people and relationships, not rejection.
Some faith leaders and clergy have always been ahead of the curve on societal issues, often in times when the courts lagged behind the needs of society. Nearly every school child learns how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used his religious understanding and teachings to advance civil rights and non-violence. In the days before Roe v. Wade, many clergy in New York supported a woman's right to choose and make decisions about her own body. On immigration -- as a matter of principle based on the core teachings of our traditions -- faith communities of all kinds have banded together against prejudice and assembled a massive movement calling for policies that support families, not tear them apart.
So it should come as no surprise that people of faith across our great country are waiting in hopeful anticipation for Supreme Court to simply do what is right and fair: to strike discrimination from our federal laws and ensure that all couples who choose to enter the sacred bonds of marriage receive equal rights and protections -- regardless of their gender. Every human being is created in the image of God and has sacred worth.
Fifteen years ago, before it was legal in Massachusetts and in my church, I officiated at the marriage of my sister-in-law to her wife. The original vows that they said to each other that day were so beautiful that many couples I have married since then have adopted those for their own wedding. Over the years, I have watched as they have lived into the fullness of marriage, the true spirit of "for better or worse". From raising children and caring for aging parents to illness and the ups and downs of professional life, their relationship embodies the love that God has for all of us.
And I am not alone. Congregations and religious traditions have been welcoming and blessing loving gay and lesbian couples for years. Bishop Gene Robinson's story, as told in the documentary "Love Free or Die," provides a unique look into evolving Christian attitudes about same-sex marriage, LGBT people and the church.
In 2012, Auburn Theological Seminary partnered with faith leaders and the Human Rights Campaign to elevate the diversity of views and faith voices on LGBT equality and same-sex marriage. Through our work together with conflicted Christians, we found that it is the conversations, relationships, storytelling, and learning happening every week in religious houses of worship and seminaries across the country that have truly changed hearts and minds. Among those that supported the historic strides made in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington were clergy and the faithful. More recently, a March 7 - 10, 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 58 percent of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples, while only 36 percent oppose.
Extending marriage to all couples is an important step toward acknowledging the shared humanity and equal worth of all God's children, and I, along with many others, certainly hope the court will do what is fair and just to advance equality for all.
But whatever the court decides, faith leaders across religious traditions will continue proactively to pursue an inclusive loving worldview, whether from the pulpit or in the public sphere. For we are united in one belief: We are all God's children.