Pastor Valerie Williams: Sharing God’s Good News on Marriage

Valerie Williams is the pastor of St. Luke's Community Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

My name is Pastor Valerie Williams and I support the freedom to marry because it is the right thing to do.  Plain and simple.

 

As the pastor of St. Luke’s Community Church in Jacksonville, Florida, one of the best things about my job is sharing God’s good news with the members of my congregation. I believe I am obligated to minister to all members of the community including LGBT people and those who may be struggling to reconcile their sexual orientation or gender identity with their spirituality.

 

Part of my work is performing holy union ceremonies for hundreds of couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. In our church, we believe that the Lord recognizes any couple that chooses to take on the responsibilities, challenges, and joys of a committed relationship.

 

The rite of holy union holds particular significance for me. Cindy and I were joined together in a spiritual ceremony in May 2009.  It was the happiest day of my life.  But while we know that our relationship is valid in the eyes of the Lord, in Florida and 44 other states, same-sex couples like us are excluded from marriage.

 

Cindy and I are active participants in our community. We work hard to care for our friends and neighbors and we’re diligent about paying our taxes. And despite our commitment to love each other til death does us part, our government excludes us from the protections and obligations that only marriage can provide.

 

The elected officials who claim they are protecting marriage by excluding same-sex couples from marriage are simply using marriage as a wedge issue to further a political agenda.

 

We protect marriage not by excluding people, but by ensuring that marriage is an option for all committed couples.

 

As an active member of my community, I know that the tide is turning. Every day I meet more and more people who support the freedom to marry.  What I see in our community is reflected in recent nationwide polls showing a growing majority of Americans supporting marriage equality.  

 

When the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriage was issued, public opinion was nowhere near where we are now with marriage.  Today, no one would argue that we should have waited a single day to end that discrimination.  If people truly search within themselves, they will see that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is wrong. Plain and simple.