Reverend hopes the marriages she performs in FL will be legal once and for all

The Church literally brought Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis and her wife, Barbara Tyner, together. It was 22 years ago, and Barbara, a realtor, was coming to the church to meet the buyer of a house. She immediately spotted Candace, who was there serving as the assistant pastor. 

The couple got married in Washington, DC in June of 2012 – but for the next two years, Candace, now pastor of MCC Church in Florida, understood how difficult it was for her gay and lesbian congregants who wished to marry in their church. “We’ve been performing ‘holy unions,’” she said, “I just don’t sign the marriage license. We’ve been doing this since the denomination was founded in 1968.” 

While Candace said these always felt just like “official” weddings, she knows it hurts the couples that they cannot end with official legal documents. Although her congregation has vocally supported the freedom to marry for years, the state that it is in has not – until now.

That’s why Candace and her congregants are thrilled for this week, when the freedom to marry will finally come to Florida on January 6. Now, they’re excited to celebrate a wonderful week of the freedom to marry and demonstrate that when same-sex couples are able to marry, no one is hurt and the entire state benefits.

“For me, it became a social justice issue, not a faith issue,” Candace said. “Because there are so many rights that are denied if you can’t have a marriage – social security, estate taxes, survival benefits, to speak on behalf of your partner in the hospital.”

Candace doesn’t often find herself in the company of religious people who disagree with her opinions on marriage between same-sex couples. In fact, Candace points out, quoting the Bible to defend discrimination doesn’t make very much sense. “Jesus never spoke out against homosexuality,” she said. “Sometimes, people get scared that their faith might crumble if they question what they’ve read or have been taught.”

Ultimately, Candace believes that God loves all people, regardless of sexual orientation. That is why she is thrilled for Florida to accept all committed, loving couples – so that all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, can enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of marriage.