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Positive same-sex marriage gathering in Chapel Hill

It’s always good to counter the southern homo-bigotry I post on the Blend with some positive pieces on things happening locally. Yesterday there was a gathering of about 100 people who discussed the issue of same-sex marriage at the United Church of Chapel Hill. (Herald-Sun):

Allowing same-sex couples to marry is simply recognizing the humanity of gay and lesbian individuals, a speaker told a crowd during a Saturday morning retreat on the topic. And denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage is akin to oppressing their human rights, added Marvin Ellison, speaking to some 100 people gathered at the United Church of Chapel Hill.

“Ours is a marriage culture,” said Ellison, a Presbyterian minister and the author of “Same Sex Marriage? A Christian Ethical Analysis.” “Doesn’t it make sense that many same-sex couples who grow up in this culture would want to marry?”

Ellison was the featured speaker during the “Same-Sex Marriage?” retreat sponsored by the United Church, various gay and lesbian advocacy groups and several other churches from around the Triangle.

“This has been a conversation here for quite some time,” said Rick Edens, the pastor of United Church. “But it’s a much broader conversation than one congregation. I can’t think of a congregation that’s not a member of this conversation.”

The United Church has been “open and affirming” for nearly 15 years, meaning it accepts and welcomes gay, lesbian and transgender members. Other groups and congregations haven’t been so accepting, criticizing and banning unions between people of the same sex.

…Chapel Hill resident Kathy Feld traveled to Vermont this summer to witness her daughter’s union to her female partner. She attended Saturday’s retreat as a show of support for her daughter. Feld said Ellison’s message that controversies have always existed around marriage struck home. “That gives me hope,” Feld said. “We got through those controversies, and we’ll get through this. I really want equal access for my daughter.”

…”Ending the marriage exclusion is therefore another example of ending the social oppression,” said Ellison, a professor of Christian ethics. “Much more about this debate is not just a question of who can marry, it’s suddenly about the model of marriage. It’s about equality.”

Vicki Gardner, an organizer of the retreat, said same-sex marriage was both a church and civil issue — both for the community at large and for herself.

“I am a lesbian and have a family,” said Gardner, who is from Durham. “I would like access to the same rights married people have.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding