Traditional marriages are out. "Celebrations of commitment" are in.Oh, no! A church standing up to defend people's families from discrimination-- why won't someone think of the children?
To protest Virginia's laws banning same-sex marriage, [Pastor] Ensign and the church's governing council decided recently that Clarendon Presbyterian will no longer have any weddings, and Ensign will renounce his state authority to marry couples.
Any heterosexual couple who has their union "blessed" in a "celebration ceremony" at the tiny church will have to take the extra step of being officially wed by a justice of the peace at the courthouse.
"What we're saying is that in the commonwealth of Virginia, the laws that govern marriage are unjust and unequal," said Ensign, 45, who has served as the church's pastor since 2003. He said that the matter had been bothering him for months and that he suggested the policy to the congregation's leaders because his conscience would not allow him to continue performing legal marriages on the state's behalf.
Clarendon Presbyterian's stand comes as the state's General Assembly is set to take up for the second time a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, similar to amendments that have been passed in 19 states. It was cleared by the General Assembly last session and will have to be approved again before a statewide referendum in 2006 or 2007.
Supporters of the amendment said that Ensign's protest would have little effect -- and that he was only hurting his congregation.
"I think it's a shame that this clergyman would seek to undermine traditional marriage, which is the foundation of American society," said state Sen. Nick Rerras (R-Norfolk), one of the legislation's sponsors. "It's a terrible message to send to our youth."
Predictably, I think this is a pretty fabulous gesture. Kudos to the leaders of the church, this is a move that will surely get them both positive and negative attention. Eventually I think everyone might have to marry this way-- separation of church weddings and state marriage license.