Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why I will be on the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. - Mark Twain
                People have asked why so much of my blog has been devoted to the same sex marriage debate. Others have asked how a Christian minister can join a public protest against these proposed laws. I do so because I am passionate about this matter. And I am passionate about it because I love my brother Robert.
When I told my brother I had decided to attend seminary, his reaction was troubling. Bob had always been supportive. I was taken back when he seemed so aloof about this announcement. Days later I phoned to talk of it but he was clearly uneasy about the conversation. When he reacted similarly a third time, I asked directly what the cool reception was about.
            Bob was concerned my new commitment to Christianity would adversely affect our relationship. You see, my brother was, among so many other things, a gay man. I say “was” because he died in 2006, leaving behind a partner to a loving relationship of 20 years. How many hetero marriages last that long?  
Though unjust laws prevented them from marrying, Bob and Lee had a most committed, loving partnership. Bob worried my “coming out” as a Christian would require me to choose between him and the church. It is true I had to make a choice between the Old Testament and loving my gay brother…but then I made that choice long ago when I decided to follow Jesus.
A significant amount of my three years in seminary was used to explore parts of the Bible used by some to bolster prejudices against gays and lesbians. No doubt there are verses they can cite but then the Bible has verses about anyone can cite to justify about any number of social biases. Many are in the Old Testament alongside admonitions against eating certain animals, wearing certain clothes, borrowing on interest, shaving your entire beard, cross-breeding cattle of different species or sowing different kinds of seed in one field and women wearing men's clothing. Actually there are 613 such laws altogether and it is true, among them is a law against same sex relationships.
It isn’t that we don’t uniformly enforce all 613 religious commandments that renders the anti-gay section problematic. If you’re an Old Testament Christian, you might even justify believing in those laws. But Jesus said not one word about homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter. He did however talk of loving one another. Jesus was once asked which was the greatest commandment. He didn’t simply say “love God and your neighbor.” He added, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two.” That means the validity of all 613 laws must stand the test of love and if any fail that test, the law cannot stand.

You just can’t love your neighbor, but take away their birthright to love and live together in a marriage with all the legal rights enjoyed by your straight neighbors. In fact, the very act of using one’s public office to denigrate the lifestyle of another is a failure to follow the Great Commandment.

So tomorrow I will join the public protest because I love my brother, his partner and the others whose God given rights are threatened by some members of the legislature.


  1. Dear Rodger,
    I'm preparing my second newspaper column on the gay marriage issue and would like to refer to your protest. I have made reference to the film "In My Father's Church" where a woman asks her United Methodist pastor father to marry her and her partner as an example of the theological path and the issue of sanctity within religious traditions. I am contrasting that to the legal issues of the marriage license and the power it carries and hence what legal ramifications are suffered by gay couples when their marriage isn't licensed. May I quote your blog? What are the top five legal issues in your mind? Thanks, Mary Keller, Weekly column "Looking Backward and Moving Forward" in the Cody Enterprise

  2. Thanks Mary,
    This is language from the bill: "A party to a domestic civil union or marriage which would be void under subsection (a) of this section if contracted as a marriage in Wyoming, shall not be entitled to the legal obligations, responsibilities, protections or benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Wyoming to married persons and spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil or criminal law."

    So the main legal issues I see are:
    1. The impact falls on people who either move to Wyoming or experience certain events while just traveling through;
    2. Under Wyoming law, a spouse is protected from being excluded from his/her spouse's estate through inheritance. This bill would nullify that protection even though the marriage was legal in the state where it was performed;
    3. Under Wyoming law, spousal communications are deemed confidential in criminal and civil court cases. The bill nullifies this protection for same sex couples;
    4. If you have health insurance under a group plan covering your spouse, insurance companies may deny claims that occur in Wyoming, e.g. a couple legally married in Iowa, have a car accident while travelling through Cody. The Cody hospital may be left unreimbursed;
    5. My guess is there are many such issues the legislature has failed to consider involving such important matters as child custody, joint ownership of property, etc.

    Hope that helps,


  3. I heard about this also on the NPR today. I think it's great what you and your wife are doing. It has always bothered me that some Christians spew hate against other people. I don't recall the bible giving anyone the right to pass judgment. We are ALL born into sin, so how can we judge the lives of others. Perhaps it would be better to evaluate our own lives and hearts to better serve God through our actions and love for others.

  4. Amen. Thanks for reading the blog and for commenting. I use the blog to give people an alternative view of Christianity. If Jesus had any message it was indeed to challenge the dominant religious and political dogma.

  5. I just stumbled over your blog and I live it! I'm so glad to see like-minded persons in a state where they are so rare. I have always been curious about something you mentioned in your previous blog regarding the Old Testiment: If people argue homosexuality is one of over 600 "abominations", why do they not see the others as wrong and not put into practice in their daily routines? Surely they have to see error in their logic right? If not, why are these other no-nos overlooked?


  6. Dear Timothy...thanks for reading my blog. I have a Rabbi friend who wrote about this question. Being a Rabbi and these 600 laws being a part of the Jewish Bible (our Old Testament), he has an interesting perspective, Rabbi Harvey uses the story of Moses and Pharaoh to make his point. "What is Pharaoh’s stubbornness? Pharaoh has a predisposition to bigotry. All of us do, that is, all of us have some hardness in our hearts. Why did Pharaoh, why do we, have this predisposition to bigotry? Because -- all bigotry derives from the same human need, the need to build our own self-esteem, to feel better about ourselves. A cheap, easy way to build self-worth is to knock down the value of others." So...this particular ancient law continues to matter because it is one of those on which some can justify their need to marginalize others. Curiously...there are several of those 600 laws that teach acceptance of immigrants. As you know, those are not touted much these days. Thanks for your note. Rodger