Pullen Memorial Baptist
The full congregation of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, has voted unanimously to prohibit its pastor from legally marrying anyone until the state recognizes thoroughgoing marriage equality. The vote had the full support of its pastor. The 650-member church is a part of American Baptist Churches/USA, having been expelled from the National Baptist Convention nearly twenty years back for its decision at that time to bless gay marriages. In a statement, the congregation said that it cannot, in good conscience, deny to gay couples "the same rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples." The statement went on to say that "as people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination." To be sure, Pullen Baptist will continue to perform marriage ceremonies but they will simply be "holy unions that reflect the spiritual nature of the solemn commitments between people in a loving relationship."
The catch: the pastor will no longer sign the state certificates required to effect legal marriages. Heterosexual couples will have to see magistrates for that.
This is particularly poignant in North Carolina, as voters there will decide a 2012 ballot question whether or not to enshrine in the state constitution heterosexual marriage as the only valid kind. This much must be said: putting to a vote the question whether or not minority adult citizens may enjoy the same fundamental rights as citizens in the majority is not democracy. At best it is a benighted, hare-brained exercise. Would anyone deny that voting on the fundamental rights of adult citizens would be a lunatic idea were the minority racial or religious and not sexual?
The bottom line: this church is standing up to discrimination.
In the words of one of Pullen Baptist's deacons:
Current laws on same-sex marriage deny justice
to gay people and are rooted in the same
alleged biblical grounds as slavery.
As I'll be off to Philadelphia for several days, I'll take this chance to wish you and your families a safe, delightful holiday despite the relatives.