Since we've been talking a bit about heroism and gay rights 'round these parts recently, it seems a good time to mention the small group of churches that are refusing to preform civil ceremonies for any couple, gay or straight, until those ceremonies are legally binding for all:
It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, you can't get legally married at Lyndale United Church of Christ.
The small, liberal church in south Minneapolis was the first of several Twin Cities congregations last year to stop performing civil marriage ceremonies as long as gay marriage is illegal. These churches, and a handful of others around the country that took the same step, will still hold a religious ceremony to bless the unions of straight and gay couples - but straight couples must go separately to a judge or justice of the peace for the marriage license.
This seems like a phenomenally good idea, one which will hopefully encourage other churches to mark the difference between church and state and defuse the 'gay marriage issue.' If a couple wants to form a legal contract that will allow them to take advantage of the legal benefits of marriage, they can get a civil ceremony. If they want that civil union blessed by whatever deity to whom they direct their prayers, they can find a like-minded church to bless their union. If you don't like the unions that one particular religious organization is or isn't blessing, go to another or stick to the civil ceremony. The A.P. puts it this way:
...it's a new strategy for achieving legal gay marriage, with supporters hoping to push toward a society that views civil and religious marriage as separate institutions.
"There's a real shift going on here where I think more and more people are recognizing the distinction, that what the state offers and the church offers are two different things," said the Rev. Mark Wade, pastor of the 540-member Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville, N.C.
Last year, Wade stopped signing marriage licenses, and now speaks of it as a stand for the separation of church and state. "We tell couples to go to the magistrate," Wade said. "I felt I couldn't serve an unjust law. That didn't make any sense to me."
So, logical arguments in favor of tolerance coming from... churches. It's really different, but I like it.