LA Times Article on Methodist Support

Timothy Kincaid

July 18th, 2008

cal-meth.bmp
We told you earlier about the support that marriage equality is receiving from United Methodists in California. An anecdote shared by the Los Angeles Times may shed some light on at least one reason why these ministers are willing to face punishment from their national denomination in order to bring joy to the lives of gay couples.

The Rev. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett of Claremont United Methodist Church joined a retired deacon from her congregation to co-officiate at the July 5 wedding of two longtime members, Howard Yeager and Bill Charlton.

The wedding was held off site — at a Claremont complex for retired clergy and missionaries — to avoid violating the rule against such ceremonies in churches.

Rhodes-Wickett, who led the Lord’s Prayer and gave a homily, said she hoped to avoid discipline by stopping short of actually pronouncing the couple married. That action was performed by the retired deacon, who also signed the marriage license.

Rhodes-Wickett said she did not want Yeager and Charlton to leave her church to exchange vows.

“This is my flock,” she said, adding that the men have been together 40 years, 22 of them as members of her Claremont congregation. “It’s a matter of integrity and a matter of what it is to be a pastoral ministry.”

We as a community owe a debt of gratitude to Howard Yeager and Bill Charlton. As best I can tell neither man is an activist. But they have for at least the past 22 years been living activism with an impact that no form of marching or protest can achieve.

Richard W. Fitch

July 18th, 2008

This is the type of affirmation that mainstream America, and especially ‘christian’ America, needs to see in the struggle for marriage equality for ALL Americans. When the nation becomes more aware that not all same-sex couples seeking the rights and responsibilities of marriage are ‘militant activists’, the insight that they are not that much different than any other committed couple will, hopefully, sink in. It is sad when true Christians must resort to extreme means to have their unions blessed and that any clergy involved risk being censured by their church hierarchy. The quiet witness that this event proclaims needs to be subtly spread far and wide.

cd

July 20th, 2008

It should be pointed out that California voters have soured on the referendum process and its constant misuses to try to bypass the state legislature on mundane matters in general.

It’s been a long time since any initiative that has started off under 50% support has succeeded in California.

I think the climate on gay rights has changed since 2004-05. Up to 2005 about 98% of the ‘undecideds’ in polling on gay rights issues could be counted on to go to the anti-gay side at the ballot box.

Since then I think that ‘undecided’ in gay rights polling has come to mean the genuine article, i.e. a third very slight leaners each way, respectively, and some people who won’t vote or vote on purely arbitrary grounds. IOW, I suspect about a third of the ‘undecideds’ in the California polling can in fact be gotten to vote against Prop. 8.

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