Same-sex marriage is, as it has been since the issue became a national talking point, contentious.
But after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that knocked down one of the major pieces of the Defense of Marriage Act (which forbade any federal recognition of same-sex unions), USA Today released public opinion polling information done across the country that showed 55 percent of respondents favored government recognition of same-sex marriages, while 40 percent opposed it. In 1996, those who supported marriage equality were a distinct minority — only 27 percent were in favor.
While several states across the country, including New York, Washington, Iowa, Maryland and Vermont, have legalized same-sex marriages, many religious organizations, specifically those of various Christian denominations, have been vocally opposed to the legalization of same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is far from the end for these groups.
The city of Tempe has been considering adopting civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, following in the footsteps of Bisbee, Ariz., which began allowing civil unions on July 5.
And, in a solidly and reliably conservative state, which voted in 2008 to add a ban on same-sex unions to the Arizona constitution, three Tempe churches of different denominations have lent their support to those who favor gay marriage.
It’s refreshing to see churches, albeit churches of liberal denominations in the middle of liberal Tempe, to be getting out in front on the issue. In Tempe, congregations from the Disciples of Christ, the Ecumenical Catholic Communion and the Episcopal Church all came together for a church service on Sept. 15.
The Community Christian Church, the Guardian Angels Ecumenical Catholic Community and the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Parish were united in “making sure that Arizonans who are gay know that there are faith-based communities that support their right to marry and worship in a church,” according to The Arizona Republic.
The current crop of college-age young adults is much more likely to be accepting of same-sex marriage than any generation that came before it. According to a 2012 ABC/Washington Post poll, “66 percent of adults under 30 are sympathetic to gay marriage, while only 31 percent of those 65 or older” are in support.
According to the Associated Press, when a Dona Ana, N.M. county clerk began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples last month, there was more or less a “lack of public outrage or protest” — somewhat odd, considering same-sex marriage was included among the planks of both major political parties’ platforms in the 2012 election cycle and remains very much a part of current political debate.
It’s great and even encouraging to see faith communities become more “open and affirming” of same-sex couples. However, the unfortunate fact remains that in states that don’t allow gay marriages, including Arizona, those couples are essentially treated as second-class citizens in the eyes of the law, unable to access basic benefits that are automatically afforded to heterosexual married couples.
We’re still living in “two Americas.” And that should change.
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