Spokane Clergy Continue To Show Support for Same-Sex Marriage After Supreme Court Confirmation
On Oct. 26, former Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett was appointed Supreme Court justice, in place of the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Since her confirmation, many LGBT people have been fearful “about what Coney Barrett’s perch on the Court will mean for LGBTQ rights,” according to an article by LGBTQ Nation.
Barrett is a Republican, a devout Catholic and known for her opposition to issues like abortion and gay marriage, according to a BBC article.
As a result of the confirmation, some pastors have urged LGBT couples to get married, fearful that their right to marriage (affirmed in Obergefell v. Hodges) is at risk with the majority of Supreme Court justices being Republican.
“I, personally, do not think that’s going to happen,” said Rev. Heather Tadlock at Bethany Presbyterian Church. “But, [then again] today I’m speaking with a lot of hope.”
One community pastor in St. Louis, Tori Jameson, hosted “Pop-Up Elopements,” from Oct. 11-15, two weeks before the appointment. Each day, Jameson offered free wedding ceremonies at the city hall, open to any LGBT couples who wanted to be married, according to an article by them.
In Spokane, Tadlock hasn’t been approached by any couples recently but is, “open and willing to marry any two adults who want to join together in a lifelong commitment,” she said.
Tadlock said she believes in taking time before marriage. She said marriage “is not something to jump into quickly and without preparation.”
Her church usually requires couples to do premarital counseling, out of respect for each person in the couple and not rushing into anything they might not be prepared for, she said.
Bishop Gretchen Rehberg, of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, is also open to marrying a couple of any sexual orientation but would ask questions first, such as how long they have known each other.
As bishop, Rehberg doesn’t perform many weddings but sets policies for priests to follow in line with the Catholic canon. One policy relating to marriage in the Episcopal Church is a set time required before a couple gets married. This policy can be waived by clergy in the diocese for pastoral reasons, such as a spouse going overseas, someone being sick, or a time like right now.
Rev. Andy CastroLang has been the pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ for 18 years and has performed same-sex weddings for much of that time.
“I’ll keep doing them whether there’s a law or not,” CastroLang said. “I’m not feeling like they have the power to stop me.”
Marriage is a function of the church and state. The state makes marriage legal, and the church blesses it. Rehberg said her parishes will continue to “bless relationships in the name of God,” if the legal right gets taken away.
“We will walk with you,” Rehberg said. “We will walk with our brothers and sisters wherever they are because they are beloved.”
CastroLang said she hasn’t heard anyone in her congregation being stressed about the confirmation, but more are worried about violence across the U.S. She said the way to stay hopeful is to remember those who have faced these challenges before.
“I don’t get to say, “I quit,” just because it’s hard,” CastroLang said. Minorities have put up with adversity for hundreds of years, she said.
Rehberg said her church believes in the respect and dignity for all and the mission to seek and serve God. This applies to respecting politicians, too, Rehberg said.
“Everyone is loved,” Rehberg said. “And the state can’t take that away.”
Cambria Pilger is a senior at Whitworth University, studying journalism and mass media communication, with minors in Spanish and business. She is a proud Colorado native, freelance writer and residence life intern at school. Beyond her career, Cambria is passionate about exploring, learning new skills, making art, playing video games and getting to know people.