Guest Article By: Matt McDonald
On June 26th, 2013 I was having lunch in my favorite downtown Bangor, Maine restaurant with my dear friend Greg. Greg and I were engaging in conversations about being leaders of communities of faith, about different perspectives of theology, and about how the Supreme Court was going to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act.
(For those who don’t remember, in September of 1996 a federal law passed by a supermajority in both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Clinton that empowered certain States the ability to not recognize same gender marriages, which were recognized in other States).
During our meal, the news broke that the Supreme Court had ruled 5-4 that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. I remember clearly my friend’s face as I read him the news from my iPhone. I don’t remember him crying, but I do remember his eyes looking as though they were full of emotions.
You see my friend Greg–besides being an incredible person of faith, besides working tirelessly for those who live on the fringe of society, besides being one of the most compassionate human beings I know, besides being an excellent preacher–is a gay man.
And the Supreme Court of the United States had just made a ruling that impacted him and his partner who he was preparing to marry. Soon their marriage would be granted all the federal rights and benefits granted to all other married couples.
What a very special moment.
As I get older I become more thankful for being able to share those moments with my friend Greg.
It was not only a day of impact for Greg, his partner, and many same gender couples, it was the day I decided to come out of the closet in a way
For over fifteen years, I identified as a “conservative”, both politically and theologically. I was a Republican because Jesus would obviously be a member of the Republican Party, and I thumped the Bible with the best of them. I proudly supported “traditional” marriage and more than once preached sermons that spoke to the evil of same-gender marriages, with my preaching notes full of “right wing” talking points. I thought I was doing what was right by making sure gay people didn’t experience equality under the law. I was wrong. My attitude was wrong. My understanding was wrong.
Looking back at my social media feeds, I see that June 26th, 2013 was the first time I made public my support of Marriage Equality for all.
That was the day I opened the closet door and walked out and said “I am a Christian, I vote Republican, and I support marriage for all”.
Fast forward to January 16th of this year. The Supreme Court made the announcement that soon they are going to make a decision that will resolve the debate over same gender marriage. The ruling they are going to make is whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, or whether States have the right to ban the practice.
With a majority of Americans now supporting the right for same gender couples to marry, and with over 70% of Americans living in places where same gender couples can marry; and with the declining influence of groups like the Moral Majority, the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage; isn’t it time that differences are put aside and we as a civilized people stand in unity with our gay and lesbian friends, family members, and neighbors?
Looking forward, I am making a bold prediction that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality for all by a vote of 6-3, and with the ruling the Supreme Court will join sides with people across the spectrum of faith and politics in saying that the Constitution is a document of inclusion, not of exclusion.
A Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all, and to all you love.
Matt McDonald is a loving father, has over fourteen years’ experience working for nonprofits, is politically independent, loves to travel, and is in the early process of practicing non-violent religion. Follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_McDonald_