The congregation of the Douglas Boulevard Disciples of Christ Church unanimously voted Sunday to end the practice of issuing marriage licences to heterosexual couples so long as same-sex couples are legally prohibited from marrying.
“As an Open and Affirming Community of Faith (a designation signifying DBCC’s commitment to full acceptance of all people, regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation), our membership is committed to treating homosexuals and heterosexuals equally. Our congregation believes it is unfair to provide different services and benefits to heterosexual couples than we can provide to gay and lesbian couples,” said associate minister Rev. Ryan Kemp-Pappan.
Senior minister Rev. Derek Penwell added, “Heterosexual couples enjoy a number of benefits that result from having state-sanctioned union. They may inherit property, adopt children together, visit one another in the hospital, and save thousands each year in taxes by filing as a couple. Ministers, as agents of the state, have the power to confer these benefits-and the imprimatur of normalcy-on heterosexual couples, but we do not have the honor to bestow these benefits on gay and lesbian couples.”
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, finds the development encouraging.
“We’re really supportive of Douglas Boulevard’s Disciples of Christ church’s descision to take a position that favors equal marriage for all,” Hartman says.
Hartman adds that the decision reminds him of the position taken in 2004 by Rev. Todd Eklof, former pastor of Univeralist Unitarian church in the Clifton neighborhood, who was fired by the arch-conservative Kentucky Farm Bureau when he refused to marry couples so long as same-sex marriage remained illegal.
“I find it emboldening that more and more churches are sort of seeing the wisdom and honoring all of their congregants in the same way,” Hartman continues. “We think it’s a great step toward a full state of fairness.”