TALKING TO PEOPLE OF FAITH: Black Theologian Argues for Equality

Guest Blogger: Rev. Randall Bailey

Three events have profoundly impacted my view of Same Gender Marriage. My late brother, Mark Aaron, who died in 1991 after a three year struggle with HIV/AIDS, was involved in varied relationships. One of the more positive relationships was with Bobby, who was a waiter at an upscale restaurant in Atlanta. Bobby and Mark became a budding couple and were together at all family gatherings. We were all pleased at the development in Mark’s life, especially as it signaled positive changes in his own behavior and his own feeling good about himself. On Thanksgiving Day 1986 Bobby proposed to Mark at the dinner table presenting him with an engagement ring. Mouths fell open. Some protested that this was going too far. I remember sitting there thinking to myself, “This is weird, but it does seem to be the logical next step in their relationship. Maybe we should give it some support.” When I voiced these sentiments I was talked down. Their relationship ended soon thereafter. I wonder sometimes how that relationship would have developed over time, had the family been more open.

In November of 1989 at the American Academy of Religion there was a Womanist Panel which debated whether the Lesbians should be put out of the movement, since such behavior was against the Bible. (Womanism is a Christian theological system which begins with the experiences of Black Women as a major source for theological speculation.) There was much support for the proposal. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon, the first Black woman to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church and the first Black woman from the US to receive a PhD in Ethics took the microphone. She stated that Womanists negatively critique Feminists for only dealing with gender and not also dealing with race and class and thereby show Feminists not to be liberationists. She then stated that were Womanists to adopt heterosexism (a term I had never before heard), they would be giving up the claim to being liberationists, since they would be embracing an oppressive ideology which would say only those who are and practice heterosexuality are to be considered normative and acceptable. It hit me at that moment that this was clearly a justice issue and I would have to rethink my own thoughts on the subject.

In 1995 I delivered a plenary lecture to the Racial and Ethnic Minority Conference of the Association of Pastoral Care. In that lecture I was advocating for our going beyond oppressive elements in the Christian tradition and in the biblical text. I addressed racism, sexism, classism, ethnocentrism, and heterosexism. One of the attendees took me to task on my final point, reminding me that “God made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve” and charged me with bringing havoc to the Black community with my views. I asked, “Then who made Steve, if not God?” I then argued that the patriarchal stances in Genesis 2 should not be embraced, especially around issues of procreation as the primary reason for marriage and sexual activity. Since the questioner looked to be about my age, mid-fifties, I then advanced that were she to adhere to her interpretation of Genesis, then she would agree that post-menopausal women should cease from sexual activity, since they could not conceive. She vehemently argued against that claim, to which I asked, over the laughter of the audience, “Then why can one group of non-procreators be allowed to marry and have sex while another group cannot?”

These three events in my life have shaped my views around Same Gender Marriage. To say that gender is the primary determiner of marriage, means that the primary function of the institution is procreation. If so, we should require sperm tests and ovary exams before issuing a Marriage License. If we in the Church deny the Institution of Marriage to those who are in same gendered relationships, we are saying that they are not fully human and cannot share their love and commitment to another in the face of community and that they are not deserving of psychological, emotional, social, economic, political, and spiritual support to face life’s challenges. In essence we would be saying that they are not made in the Image of God. We would also be saying that justice is not a key component of our theological understandings.

***Randall C. Bailey, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA is a member of Freedom to Marry's Voices of Equality. Dr. Bailey is married to Ms. D. Jean Lewis Bailey, formerly of Memphis, TN, and they have two young adult children.


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Voice for Equality: George Takei

George Takei currently plays Naito Nakamura on NBC's Heroes. Best known for starring in the original cast of Star Trek as Mr. Sulu, Takei has also made guest appearances in numerous television show and movies.

He and his husband, Brad Altman, were married on June 17, 2008.

A prominent activist for marriage equality and civil rights, Takei told Time after the November 2008 election that the fight for marriage equality is far from over and defended both his own marriage and broader marriage equality:
"You don't amend the Constitution of any state by threatening the very core of that Constitution: equal protection under the law."

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Voice for Equality: Christina Aguilera

She joined a long list of celebrities in 2008 voicing their support for the freedom to marry: "Marriage should be about two people celebrating their love for each other. It shouldn't have anything to do with someone's sexual preference."

Four-time Grammy Award-winner singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera is known for her vocal ability, commercial success, music videos, and ever-changing image. Apart from her work in music, she dedicates much of her time as a philanthropist for charities, human rights, and world issues.

Thanks John for this great nomination!

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Rep. John Lewis: “You Cannot Separate The Issue Of Civil Rights”

Box Turtle Bulletin
January 19, 2009
In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday today, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), one of Freedom to Marry's Voices of Equality appeared on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” to talk about his experiences during the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s. He also reflected on the importance of fighting for civil rights for everyone, including LGBT people. (Link)

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Bishop Robinson’s moral witness lights the way for Obama’s presidency and policies

Google Comments
January 13, 2009
Evan Wolfson writes, "When he stands before Abraham Lincoln's statue to mark a new presidency, Bishop Robinson will provide President-elect Obama, and the nation and world, a lesson in values to light the way forward. Prayer must then be matched by policy." [Link]

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Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop to Deliver Invocation at Lincoln Memorial

New York Times
January 12, 2009
Evan Wolfson said, “Bishop Robinson is a world historical figure at this point. He is at the center of the Episcopal Church’s embrace of gay people and a symbol of inclusion even when it’s difficult. And to choose him, of all the other figures that could have been chosen, even as a balance to Rick Waren, I think it still is a very powerful statement.” [Link]

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N.H. bishop invited to D.C. to give prayer

Concord Monitor
January 12, 2009
N.H. Episcopal Bishop and Freedom to Marry Voice of Equality Gene Robinson has been invited to give a prayer at one of President-elect Obama's first inauguration events at the Lincoln Memorial. The event, at which Obama is expected to speak, will air on HBO. [Link]

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Interview: Tahlib Britton of Freedom to Marry

Gay Agenda
December 31, 2008

Check out what Tahlib has to say about his experience with marriage equality, equal rights, homophobia and much, much more by listening to the show. [Link]

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Good reasons to support, none to oppose

The Providence Journal
November 19, 2008
The question came up during an appearance by David Gergen at Roger Williams University last week. Gergen is the man who wrote President Nixon’s one-sentence resignation letter. He has worked for four presidents -- Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He has seen government work and not work. And he thinks full rights for gays is something that has to happen because it is the right thing. He told the large audience in Bristol that it is the new civil rights struggle. [Link]

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Slash Speaks Out On Freedom to Marry
November 18, 2008
Velvet Revolver and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash released a video with his wife, Perla Hudson, showing their support of marriage equality. The video features Slash playing "The Star Spangled Banner" while Perla tells viewers, "I married my sweetheart. You should be able to marry yours too. Say ‘No’ to hate and ‘Yes’ to equal rights. Keep up the fight!" [Link]
Read more from non-gay allies.

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