Monday, June 20, 2011

Toward more perfect union

Today was the day we were told the New York State Legislature might vote to legalize gay marriage in the state - or not. (In fact the vote might not come until Thursday.) It'll be a big deal either way but I get the sense that if it's not this year, it'll be soon. Apoplectic Archbishop Dolan's right: this isn't China or North Korea. Our historical experience is one of widening the franchise and deepening our respect for all people and their right to lead a good life. It's taking us places few societies have ever been. History isn't over. What an adventure.

At church today we had a party. Officially it was to launch our own "It gets better" video, but of course it would have been su-weet to be together to celebrate history in the making. Turns out the sanctuary of Holy Apostles has been part of that history for longer than any of us realized. A historian of the contribution of religious congregations to the gay rights movement whom I know recently discovered my connection to Holy Apostles and sent me a talk she gave about it a few years ago. It covers the period 1967-76, when no less than eight formative groups - secular as well as religious - were meeting here!

Blessings of unions were happening, too. It wasn't our Episcopal congregation (though she tells me the rector put together a "Blessing of friendship" with the support of Bishop Moore), but the newly formed Church of the Beloved Disciple, which met - 600-strong! - on Sunday afternoons. (Above is a clipping from a New York Post article on one such union, in April, 1971!) And it was the liaison between the two congregations, Ellen Barrett, who was in 1977 ordained to the Episcopal priesthood by Bishop Moore, the first lesbian priest - at Holy Apostles.

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