by Susan Russell
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
All Saints Church has long been in the forefront of bending that arc toward justice in general and for LGBT people in specific. In 1992 when the blessing of the union of Mark Benson and Philip Straw was celebrated we were way out on the leading edge in a church that had no official provisions for such blessings and no protections against LGBT discrimination.
Over the decades the landscape has changed dramatically – both in the church and in the culture. Dozens of General Convention resolutions have moved the Episcopal Church closer and closer to “full inclusion” within the church – and in 2012 the Episcopal Church went firmly and unequivocally on record in support of civil marriage equality by adopting a resolution entitled “End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Marriage.”
As we know, the arc has been bending in our nation as well with dramatic gains in the struggle for marriage equality since the dark Prop 8 days here in California. On April 28th the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on four pending marriage equality cases – and as they deliberate toward a decision in June, All Saints Church will be represented in with nearly 2000 clergy and faith leaders who signed the amicus brief which began with these words: “Brief for amici curiae President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Bishops of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.”
“No religion’s belief or practice should be allowed to restrict the rights of people to marry and receive equal protection under the law,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies when the brief was filed. “It is long past time to end any kind of discrimination against God’s children in this country.”
Any of God’s children. And not just in this country, but in this human family. That’s the radical vision of “a world redeemed by Christ-like love; all life in Christ made new” we sing about in church on Sundays. It’s the reason we put our faith into action at the table-on-the-lawn every week. It is a core value of All Saints Church rooted deep in the DNA of a congregation whose rector protested the deportation of Japanese Americans to Manzanar in the 1940’s; which stood against the Viet Nam War in the 70’s, for a woman’s right to choose in the 80’s and for equality for LGBT people in the 90’s.
The list goes on and on – and the work goes on and on. In this moment in time we take heart in the movement toward marriage equality and we rightfully take pride in the part All Saints Church has played in that struggle. But we know that marriage equality will not fix homophobia any more than women’s suffrage fixed sexism or integration fixed racism. As the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice our job is to continue to be vigilant in discerning how and where we can best use our individual and collective voices and resources to be benders of the arc – making God’s love tangible 24/7 as we work to turn the human race into the human family.