Mae Ryan/Courtesy Bill Owens
Bishop Guy Erwin and Pastor Bill Owens.
How is today's historic Supreme Court decision resounding with people of faith? The issue of gay marriage is, for some, a religious question: Is it moral? Would God approve?
Not all congregations feel the same way, and in some cases, those views have changed in the nearly five years since Prop 8 was first approved. We hear opposing views, first from Guy Erwin, the first openly gay Bishop-elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with whom we spoke a few weeks ago shortly after he was elected.
Then we hear from Reverend Bill Owens, head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, who, in 2008, helped organize a group African-American churches throughout California in support of Proposition 8.
Bishop-elect Guy Erwin:
On his church's view of gay marriage:
Lutherans believe that marriage is not a sacramental arrangement, but is actually a civil contract. So this will actually expand that possibility for us in some new jurisdiction over time. States that already have same-sex marriage, Lutheran clergy are authorized to perform them assuming that their own consciences are all right with that and their congregations agree.
On what this decision means for him personally:
"It means that I will probably marry my partner very shortly, we have a domestic partnership arrangement in California that is legally practically the same as marriage, so it won't make much practical difference, but for the sake of outward form, I think we will upgrade to married status now."
On how spirituality's role in his same-sex relationship:
"For people of faith their relationship with God and their commitment to their beliefs are part of everything they do. We are called to live in the world as believers and marriage is an important part of that. In fact we understand marriage is a really useful place for people to learn how to be Christians in a sense because loving the other is the main thing we do in marriage and it's a more intimate expression of the love of neighbor that we should have for all fellow citizens."
On how today's decision will affect the debate among Christians:
"It might continue to polarize the Christian community between those who have a more legalistic understanding and a more literal reading of the Bible. Certainly the opposition to homosexuality from the conservative parts of Christianity is rooted in the Bible, the Bible says so little about it and says so little about marriage for that matter, It's used as a defense for a set of assumptions about the ways things are that is in itself not necessarily biblical."
On the sermon he would tell his congregation today:
"I would say that this is another opportunity for us to demonstrate witness of love and acceptance to all people, one of the basic tenants of our church, and gives us a chance to minister to people who felt excluded. It also gives us the necessity to ministering further to people who might be disappointed by this outcome."
Reverend Bill Owens:
On his reaction to the news:
"My reaction is a little frustrated and my focus are children, there's no way that a man can be a mother to a child, there's no way a lady can be a father for a child...I think what is happening in our society as in Roe Wade, we're overlooking the child, we're overlooking the helpless, and it's adults getting what they want, what they feel."
On what's next for his group:
"We will still aggressively fight this. It's not over with, by a long shot we will aggressively organize and work with other organizations with like minds and we'll move forward to watch out for our children and to watch out for the future of society. No society has prevailed when they went down this road. It becomes a device of the society, its all about what I want, what I feel, what is good for me. We have no ill will toward anybody, we love everybody, some of my friends are homosexuals, but I don't condone homosexual marriage."
On how he views marriage in the religious context:
"I do have a religious component, but there's a psychological and sociological component. I could leave the religion part out. I would have the same conclusion that a child has a right to a mother and a daddy. We're destroying our society and the future of our children, and moreso the African-American community."
On his view on whether gay marriage is a civil right:
"This is not a civil right, I think this is a civil wrong. What the homosexual community did is they highjacked the civil rights movement. Even foreigners who are not citizens talk about their civil rights. What are civil rights? Blacks in this country suffered for 200 years and we just wanted the right to vote, to go to school, to get a good job, and we didn't have those rights. A man is made for a woman and a woman for a man. I just don't see the comparison. It's what they want, its what they desire."