Saturday, September 20, 2008

Episcopal Bishop of Arizona Speaks Out Against AZ Marriage Amendment

We are all for marriage - right?

by Bishop Kirk S. Smith

One more comment about election issues, then I am done. Last week I wrote about Prop 200, and its attempt to impose crushing debt loads on the poor.

This week I would like to say something about Prop 102, which is bound to get me more e-mails because it is about that favorite media topic, sex.

This proposition, the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" left me scratching my head. Doesn't Arizona law already define marriage as a union between a man and woman, and didn't voters already reject a similar initiative in the last election? Why are we going through this again?

I urge you to read the arguments on both sides, and you can find them at: I did, and afterwards I was even more convinced that Prop 102 has nothing to do with upholding marriage and the family -- after all, everyone supports that. Rather it is a much more insidious attempt to exclude gay and lesbian partnerships from full protection under the law. Those who feel that homosexual unions are somehow a "threat" to the American family (Dad, Mom, 2.2 kids) seem determined to make sure that people who are in such unions will know that they are not welcomed in this state, even if their union is recognized elsewhere, hence the constitutional change. I suspect that as more states allow gay/lesbian marriage, the greater will be the perceived threat.

I do wish the supporters of Prop 102 would be honest about their goal instead of bombarding us with misleading ads showing happy family outings and children romping on the playground, implying that such things are somehow endangered by two people of the same sex being in love and wanting to spend their life together.

No matter what you might think about the acceptability of gay/lesbian unions, the way this issue is being presented is really a matter of equal protection under the law, and more important for some of us Christians, whether we are going to "respect the dignity of every human being," as we say in our baptismal vows.

I know that some of the faithful will disagree. The Roman Catholic leadership has come out in favor of the initiative. However, it surprises and disappoints me that after the courageous campaigning for the human rights of undocumented immigrants, that the Catholic leadership would turn their backs on oppressed people on their own doorstep.

Marriage is a complex topic. As the quote below shows, the concept of marriage has changed radically over the course of history. How we regard marriage has deep political, cultural, and religious foundations. I hope that we might look beyond our familiar assumptions and prejudices and do what is right for all God's people, even those who are different from us.

So, I am going join with the League of Women Voters, the mayors of both Phoenix and Tucson, and civil rights groups, and AGAIN say no to this effort to define the family and decide who is welcome in our state and who is not. In my church, all are welcome.

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Well said, Bishop.

1 comment:

PamBG said...

I really do not understand the whole argument of 'gay unions threaten heterosexual marriage'. I wonder if any passing commentator would care to explain?

On a somewhat separate subject of Civil Law:

Is not the separation of Church and State enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights?

I don't understand why so many States seem so keen to enshrine in civil law what they see to be Christian principles over and above common-sense natural justice.

Irrespective of any views that someone might have of whether or not homosexual acts are sinful, it's not the job of the civil government to pass laws designed to enforce Christian doctrine.

Is civilization going to break down if long-time domestic partners have a right to their partner's pension fund or a say in their medical care?