Grace Abounds: Moving toward Marriage Equality in Maryland
February 22, 2012 by HRC staff
Post submitted by Sharon Groves, former HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program
On Friday, February 10, the Civil Marriage Protection Act passed in Maryland’s House of Delegates by a vote of 72-67. Although we heard from some who expressed religious opposition to marriage equality, we also heard from supportive religious voices, voices which were strong and organized. Their support for civil marriage equality inspired us by speaking out about how they believed in marriage equality not in spite of their faith but because of it. There were clearly many factors and many brave and tenacious people that brought marriage equality one step closer to a reality in Maryland, but we cannot underestimate the role people of faith played in this momentous decision.
In the next few days you will be hearing plenty about the numerous voices who played a role in bringing marriage equality one step closer to becoming a reality for loving, committed same-sex couples, including religious voices, but for now, as we talk about the role of faith, I want to tell you about the power faith is having in this moment.
Religious leaders have been at the forefront of this campaign from the start. They have been speaking as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Pentecostals, Unitarians, and Evangelicals for equality. They have been called by their faith and through their calling they have inspired others to use their religious convictions in their work for justice. Following clergy testimony in the Senate and House hearings, ordinary citizens amended their testimony to voice their religion as well: “I am also Catholic and a supporter of marriage equality” they told the legislators. “I am a believer and I also believe marriage should be open to gay and lesbian loving couples.” Faith became something to celebrate and claim as boldly as their support for marriage equality.
The powerful Rev. Delman Coates, who is the senior pastor of an 8,000 member congregation in Clinton, Maryland, heroically lent his voice to this campaign and because of it has healed a pain felt by thousands of LGBT couples in the state that have not been able to openly proclaim their commitment to each other. But through this work he also has healed an open wound in his own family. While in the throes of this work he decided to call his estranged cousin who he hadn’t spoken to in 20 years and apologized for “participating in [a family] conspiracy of silence.” You can read more about this in the Washington Post.
This is holy work and we are humbled by its power.
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