All I can think of as I write this column is what a joy it was to see so many same-sex couples get married this weekend, and to be a very small part of it by officiating at a couple of legal civil services and signing marriage licenses. As I write, we’re in a temporary period where an emergency stay on Judge Friedman’s opinion has been placed, and we’re waiting to hear what will happen next. I know that whatever path the courts might take, the arc has been bending towards justice, and that ultimately we will have same-sex marriage in our state.
Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister, is the first one to use that image of the arc of the universe bending towards justice, and it was picked up and used by Martin Luther King, Jr. However, I like the way President Obama has used it, as he has said, “The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”
This past weekend, Unitarian Universalist ministers, UU lay people, UU wedding couples, and even a UU church building actively bent the arc towards justice. It’s an amazing thing to look at the fact that over three hundred same-sex couples were legally married in our state. Our ability to perform additional marriages may be in limbo right now, but these couples are legally married right now. In every one of the four counties that marriages were performed, UUs made it possible, through their ministers, the actions and witness of their lay members, their couples willing and ready to get married, and even the use of their building in Muskegon, where the county clerk issued licenses from within the Harbor UU Church.
It’s not often that we get to see civil rights history being made on this level. The suffragists fought for equal rights for women for so long that most of the original suffragists were dead by the time that women got the vote. And Unitarian Universalists have been working for decades for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, as well. Many people have died along the journey. So it’s not lightly, but reverently and tearfully, that I celebrate that the day has come. Our constitutional ban had been in effect almost a decade, and it was finally overcome. And deep in my heart, I did believe, and I know you did too, that we would see this day. The work isn’t done, the fight isn’t over, but this is a huge milestone in our journey.
Standing on the Side of Love,