Greater NW Pride: Pride Month Moments: Marriage Equality Anniversary


Pride Month Moments: Marriage Equality 5th Anniversary!

I begin with a note of personal privilege: Christian and I are getting ready to get married in the summer of 2021. 
We figured out the place we plan to get married in Portland. It will be an outdoor, garden wedding, so probably July. We are praying to God that the pandemic will be over by then.
The two witnesses have said yes, along with an officiant or two. A list of who we would like to invite grows daily. There’s family, and then friends and associates…
We are working on the design of the rings as I write this. A jeweler friend in North Carolina is doing us the honor of designing the ring with us. We’ve also decided what we plan to wear, thanks to a fashion guru on Vashon Island. Flowers are still to be determined, though it is Portland, so roses will be in the wedding somewhere. 
We kind of know who we want to perform music in the ceremony, and he has said yes. And the dance band after the ceremony during the reception has been chosen.
Honeymoon destination is still to be determined.
I must admit I never thought I would be married again. I married my best friend from church when I was 23-years-old. We were so young. Coming out and embracing who I am as a gay man, created in the image of God, meant that that marriage would come to an end in divorce, though being a dad to two amazing children, and now a grandpa, never stopped.
And here I am. Here we are. Planning a wedding. I’ve officiated well over one hundred weddings, so I know a few things about what I like and don’t like in a wedding.
None of this was possible until five years ago, June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) decided, in a 5-4 decision.  National Public Radio reporter Bill Chappell reported that “states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognizing their unions. Justice Anthony Kennedy was seen as the pivotal swing vote in the case, writing the majority opinion… ‘They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,’ Kennedy wrote of same-sex couples in the case. ‘The Constitution grants them that right.’” 
The Obergefell vs. Hodges motion, “affirmed what millions across the country know to be true in their hearts: our love is equal,” said lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, who challenged Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage… “the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court—‘equal justice under law’—apply to us, too.” 
It is said that anniversaries are important in life. “They remind us of important events, both personal and cultural… an anniversary puts a pin on the calendar to remind us of something that matters to us. It’s a chance to reflect on a relationship or a cultural identity… Whatever the anniversary, it vies us a chance to look back over the years since the event we’re marking and reflect on how it has shaped us.”
This Pride Month Moment post is the fifth anniversary of a SCOTUS ruling that made our wedding-to-be possible. We remember only too well what it was like in American modern society when being married or in a “civil union” was seen as courageous by some, and downright ungodly by others. Marriage is, in part, a contract between two consenting adults and the state. Marriage can also be a holy affair, celebrated by the community of Christian faith that has nurtured both of our identities and lives. As it is for all of us who are married.
And it matters to us.
Hopefully, in 2021, the United Methodist Church, in whatever form it is in that time after decisions are made at General Conference, will see, too, what many are now recognizing five years later: the love of LGBTQI2S+ (two spirit) people is equal to non-LGBTQI2S people, both in the eyes of the law, and also in the purview of God. Marriage equality is simply going to grow in time and is not going away. And soon, with time, the UMC will change as well.
As for Christian and I, well, we look forward to getting married next July 2021, made possible because of SCOTUS, and not because of the church! Your celebratory prayers, commenting on the marriage feast in Cana (of course), a few verses from 1 Cor. 13, and good thoughts and blessings will be generously welcome by the soon-to-be-married couple. 
And happy fifth marriage equality anniversary to us all!

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!