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(Photo Credit: The IRD)

(Photo credit: The IRD)

By Aaron Gaglia (GagliaAC)

Marriage equality advocates gathered early Tuesday morning for an interfaith service promoting gay marriage.

Religious groups have been very vocal on both sides of the gay marriage debate. Tuesday was no exception as religious groups were very prominent at both the March for Marriage (pro-traditional marriage) and the United for Marriage Rally (pro-same-sex marriage). The pro-gay marriage advocates gathered early Tuesday morning for an interfaith service to kick off the day with.

The event entitled, “A Prayer for Love and Justice” took place at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation just down the road from the Supreme Court. The program called participants to “Welcome all spirits and faith traditions to a union of prayer for love, marriage equality and justice for LGBT people.” This event was put on by The United for Marriage: Interfaith Committee & United for Marriage Coalition, and cosponsors included the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a religious pro-choice organization.

This event featured a wide range of religious organizations and traditions including the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Mormons for Equality, Metropolitan Community Churches, the Five Mountain Zen Order, Muslims for Progressive Values, and even Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church.

The event began with the Venerable Lawrence Do’an Grecco (Zen Buddhist) chanting to a tribal drum. He was then followed by more chanting from Marlon Fixico (National Confederacy of Two Spirit Organizations). The Muslim Call to Prayer, the blowing of the Shofar, and a Christian song followed the chants.

The service featured five different sets of prayer with songs interspersed throughout. In the opening set of prayers, gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson prayed these words: “We know that you love us and hallow our relationships. We also know that the church, the synagogue, and the mosque have gotten it wrong about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.”

During the set of prayers themed: “Discrimination is Judgment, Judge Not”, Reverend Mary Kay Totty, United Methodist Church, read 1 John 4:20-21, which speaks of the importance of loving our neighbor.

This event also featured two very interesting usages of Scripture. Bishop Yvette Flunder of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, alluded to Ecclesiastes 3 and said “the time has come” for full LGBT equality. Yet the most creative usage of Scripture was from Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries of the UCC. He did not just proof text, but gave a pro-gay marriage paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13.

Here is an excerpt from it: “Love, she is amazing. Love is relentless. Love is extra gracious. Love looks after the interest of other people, not the interest of one’s own self. Love doesn’t preserve rights and privileges just for some. Love doesn’t promote hierarchies to the expense of equality because love just doesn’t think that way, love just doesn’t work that way. Love doesn’t hurt people. Love never leaves people out. No, love goes all the way. Love removes every obstacle. Love appeal to the highest court in the land when necessary.”

After praying for marriage equality, ministers then blessed the same-sex couples in the room. The same-sex couples stood up (there were approximately 10 of them) and four different ministers said a blessing over them. Wiccan High Priestess, Reverend Selena Fox led the couples through the Wiccan practice of hand fasting. Then the Very Reverend Gary Hall, the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, said a blessing over the audience. In his blessing he said, “You made us as we are, gay and straight, bisexual, transgender and you’ve called that good.”Reverend Jill McCrory, the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists and Imam Daayiee Abdullah, Muslims for Progressive Values also blessed the couples.

After the service, the participants then marched to the Supreme Court to the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” By just looking at this service and the rally, it appeared that the battle was lost. People of faith, those traditionally against gay marriage, were present and very vocal in favor of marriage equality. Besides approximately 20 dissenters, including the hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, everyone in front of the Supreme Court was pro-marriage equality.

Yet after about an hour, a flood of proponents of traditional marriage came marching down the road in the March for Marriage. Those participating in the March for Marriage equaled, if not outnumbered, those participating in the marriage equality rally. After stopping in front of the Supreme Court, the marchers made their way back to the National Mall for a rally. Though the traditional marriage rally was not exclusively Christian, it featured many Christian elements.

The juxtaposition of these two events sends a very important message that evangelicals need to hear. The pro-gay interfaith service reminds us that yes, it is true, many Christians have departed from the truth of Scripture, even to the point of being willing to participate in pagan rituals for a common political agenda. Yet the March for Marriage proved this is not the whole story. There are still many Christians who believe and are committed to the Bible’s definition of marriage. Our church and our culture have not come to a unanimous verdict to allow gay marriage. The verdict is still yet to be decided.