RIPPLES June 12, 2015
Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ
Are you ready for marriage equality?
The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on marriage equality. If the decision overturns the remaining state laws banning same-sex marriage, UCC clergy and lay leaders in those states will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for public witness.
Here are some suggestions.
- Contact your local or statewide LGBT equality organization and ask if they’re organizing the presence of clergy at locations where marriage licenses will be issued. The Unite for Marriage website is also listing local events.
- Represent your congregation at offices issuing marriage licenses on the first days of marriage equality in your state. Wear your preferred robe or vestments and stole. Bring a business card or postcard with your church’s address and contact information to share with couples whose marriages you celebrate.
- Ask members of your congregation to bring a sign or banner with a rainbow image and words like, “The United Church of Christ celebrates your love.”
- Advertise in local LGBT media that your church welcomes same-sex couples and is open for same-sex weddings.
Oppose ‘Religious Exemption’ laws
On Wednesday the state legislature in North Carolina forced through a law allowing public officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On Thursday Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law allowing private adoption agencies—which provide most adoption services in the state—to turn away same-sex couples.
These are the latest in a series of “religious exemption” laws that are sweeping through the country. In other states, legislatures are considering bills that could exempt private business owners and landlords from any existing or future law protecting LGBT persons from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Even when marriage equality becomes the law of the land, religious exemptions represent an attempt to limit the scope of LGBT legal rights. Powerful forces are behind these campaigns, and in many states “religious exemption” laws have a good chance of passage. The ONA Coalition has introduced a resolution “Reaffirming Our Commitment to Full Equality for LGBT Persons” for consideration by General Synod later this month. Opposing these laws is a priority for the Coalition in the coming year, and we’ll keep you informed about actions in your state.
‘Black Lives Matter’ for the ONA movement
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel writes on behalf of the Coalition’s Leadership Team that active solidarity with the “Black Lives Matter” movement is an essential part of the mission of every ONA congregation. “ONA offers the opportunity to root ourselves in our deepest gospel values as Christians: love, justice, grace, compassion. ONA offers the Body of Christ an opportunity to be both a better body and more Christ-like,” she writes.
National ONA Gathering: still time!
Yes, there’s still time to register for the National ONA Gathering! Don’t miss this inspiring family reunion of the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ! If you can’t attend both days, you can register separately for Wednesday or Thursday. And if you’re staying for General Synod (or live within driving distance of Cleveland), don’t miss our fabulous ONA Dance Cruise Sunday night, June 28! A DJ, free snacks and a cash bar are provided. It only costs $30 for an evening of fun! Join us, and invite your friends!
‘Our Whole Lives’ training opportunity
“Our Whole Lives” helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It has transformed many ONA churches seeking to explore deeper connections between faith and sexuality. OWL is seeking applications for a workshop to train trainers for OWL’s young adult and adult levels. The event is Oct. 1-4 in Cleveland. The deadline for applications is June 15.