The best funerals are the ones where there are smiles and laughter amidst the grief and tears. By that standard, a recent memorial service at the Park Church was a fantastic funeral. The deceased was well loved in the community, and the widower had great and touching stories of their time together. Our Sanctuary was filled with both tears and laughter.
It might never have happened. You see, this was a same-sex marriage, and marriage equality is still relatively new, and incredibly tenuous.
The legal strategy Texas has successfully used to strip women of their constitutional right to reproductive freedom also opens the door for states to strip same-sex couple of their right to marry. In fact, the vigilante citizen lawsuits white Christian nationalists are using to victimize women and the LGBTQ+ community in places like Texas and Florida (and that reach across state borders) were pioneered in 2015 in North Carolina and meant to target anyone, including pastors and congregations, that performed same-sex weddings, even if no marriage license was involved. The United Church of Christ sued, with the case hurtling toward the Supreme Court when marriage equality became the law of the land.
If you were able to legally marry thirty years ago, good for you. I wasn't. Members of your church family couldn't. And while marriage equality might not be threatened in New York, a medical emergency in Florida could mean being locked out of a spouse's ICU room because you aren't “next of kin” if you aren't married.
We have our freedoms because drag queens fought back at the Stonewall Inn, because loved ones dying of AIDS dragged us out of the closet and into the streets, because folks like me were willing to take incredible risks with our careers and our safety to make sure there would never again be a Matthew Shepherd left dying on a fence.
We do this for our lives, and our sisters and brothers in the United Church of Christ do this because Jesus did this. He broke bread with those shunned by “powers and principalities.” He offended the powerful and the religious establishment. He risked and lost his life calling for a world of justice and love.
This LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and every month, may we be courageous followers of that faith lived into the world.