Religious leaders react to federal ruling against Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban

Several religious leaders on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate expressed their thoughts about a federal ruling against Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban.
by Carla Hinton Modified: January 15, 2014 at 10:36 pm •  Published: January 16, 2014

Ruling seen as positive

Meanwhile, The Rev. Justin Lindstrom, dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, said he views the federal judge's ruling as positive.

“I'm excited about the ruling because I think it is a win for equal rights,” Lindstrom said. “It won't destroy the integrity of marriage. I think it will actually build on it — the importance of recognizing relationships.”

Lindstrom said last year, his historic downtown Oklahoma City church went through a monthslong process to gain the approval of Oklahoma's Episcopal bishop to host same-gender covenant relationship blessings at the church.

Such blessing ceremonies would not be recognized as legal marriage because of Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage.

Someone who said he was not shocked by Tuesday's ruling was the Rev. Steve Kern, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church and a member of a group of clergy who recently held a prayer vigil outside the Civic Center to protest a satirical play featuring homosexual characters.

He said he was disappointed in the ruling because it disregards the same-sex marriage ban approved by Oklahoma voters.

“The fact of the matter is 76 percent of the voters voted to keep traditional marriage as the law of our state. The will of the people is being overruled. Our Constitution says ‘we the people,'” Kern said.

Meanwhile, Heath, with Edmond Trinity Christian Church, said the issue of same-sex marriage is a “justice” issue, regardless of how some religions view it.

“The state provides economic benefits for long-term committed relationships and they should do it for both gay and straight people,” he said.

In 2012, Heath's Edmond church formally became an Open and Affirming congregation recognized by the Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Alliance, an organization independent of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. As such, the church made it known that it welcomed members of the gay community and Heath had no plans to preach against homosexuality.

Vered Harris, rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel, a Reform Judaism congregation in Oklahoma City, said she was happy with the ruling.

“Reform Judaism is in support of equal rights for all people including those people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” Harris said. “Just because the majority is in favor of prohibiting gay marriage, that does not make the majority opinion just.”.

Optimistic about the future

Another same-sex marriage proponent, the Rev. Scott Hamilton, former associate pastor of Church of the Open Arms, said “The feeling with the LGBT folks in the last 24 hours has been euphoria but frankly, there has been a feeling more important than that and that is hopefulness.”

Hamilton, who is executive director of the gay and lesbian advocacy group called the Cimarron Alliance, said he isn't concerned that same-sex marriages can't be performed immediately in the state because he is optimistic that this will happen soon.

“While we can't go get a marriage license today, we are light years ahead of where we were on Monday,” he said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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