So, I’ve been engaged for a while and it happened about a year ago while on vacation with my now fiance, Steven. We got engaged weeks after DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was overturned. It was fun, he couldn’t believe it, and I was nervous because it’s such a profound moment of PDA that it took all of my strength to do it. We did it next to the reflection pool with the Abraham Lincoln statue looming in the distance, as well as the Washington monument in the photo (below). That wasn’t the beginning of our marriage journey though, the beginning of this journey started 1.5 years before that in January of 2012. We sat down with our Pastor at Highland Baptist Church and said… “We want to get married in this church.” For a straight couple, they wouldn’t have needed to meet with the Pastor, they would have just had to fill out an application, agree to the rules, and pay their deposit and find a date. Not us though, we’re gay, and our church had never done that kind of thing before. So we had to start the process to get this talked about by the church so that we could eventually get married in OUR church.
It was our 4th anniversary at this point, and I remember our pastor saying, “This is going to take some time.” We expected that. Our church was already broaching a pretty tough subject concerning changing our baptism policy in regards to membership, but we wanted to start the conversation. So it was talked about with some of the leaders, and decided then wasn’t the time. So it was shelved for about six months. Then it came back up and a deacon sub group was formed to discuss it. Most admit the group lacked a clear directive, and so they met and talked about it for months with no real resolution. Then it got shelved for a while longer.
That next summer was when we got engaged, DOMA was dead, and things were looking up! Once the excitement of the engagement started wearing off, we started hearing that they were going to start discussing our request with the 3rd Deacon chair since our original request. And it seemed the issue was likely going to be shelved again by the end of 2013. Steven and I sent some loving, challenging emails about how we really couldn’t wait a 3rd year to get married. We had to start planning. This limbo wasn’t good for us, our friends, or our families who we kept telling “We’re still talking about it at church.” Through much prayer and patience we entered into the new year mourning the possibility we wouldn’t be able to get married at our church. Then we received an email that changed everything. I’m not sure if it was the time away over the holidays, but our Pastor and other leaders came to an agreement that it was time. A new Deacon subgroup was formed in just a month with a clear direction and understanding of what they were supposed to discern (Deacons at my church provide spiritual discernment, they don’t decide on things). And things were in motion.
For most of the 2.5 years that we’ve been waiting for the church to come to this moment, Steven and I were pretty quiet about it. Our church friends near and dear knew it was us, but most in the church didn’t. It was a best kept secret in order to let them discuss the ‘issue’ and not the ‘people’. In the end, the Deacon subgroup decided that they didn’t have to decide. They would approach this issue the same as other issues, and that was to let normal processes work. They did it when we ordained a gay minister. They also followed normal processes when we voted to accept a nomination of a gay Deacon, and dedicate the baby of a lesbian couple. The Deacon body discerned that no one should (including the congregation) vote on whether or not gay marriage should or shouldn’t happen. It wasn’t in our bylaws, it wasn’t in our policies, and therefore, didn’t require a congregational vote.
There are some people who are upset with how it went down. We’ve had some people come up to us and express how they are upset at the process, wish they had a say, but support the decision and who are happy for us. While we accepted those comments as nicely as we could, I don’t think they realized the repercussions of what they were saying. We have been waiting for the opportunity to get married at our church for over 2.5 years. And we committed to ourselves, and our families that we would start planning at the end of the summer 2014 for a wedding. We couldn’t wait any longer. And it pains me to think, but if we weren’t able to get married there, we probably wouldn’t have come back. That reminder of my church not thinking my relationship was good enough to get married at would have been too much to bear.
So the decision came out and people have been quick to judge my Pastor and my church for this ‘non-decision’. My church isn’t new to controversy, nor my Pastor. It’s been a very trying time for my church and I love them for the burden they have taken in order to remind everyone (especially the LGBT) that God’s Transforming Love is for everyone. There were a ton of news articles that ended up getting written, based off of one in which Steven and I were interviewed. It made it to the front page of the local Sunday Paper even. Appeared on USA Today, The Advocate (biggest LGBT Magazine in US), and even hit an European LGBT News Site. While it’s been exciting, it’s been extremely unnerving. I never thought we’d get the amount of support we’ve received, and I thank all of my family, friends, and strangers for all of those well wishes, prayers, and thoughtful posts congratulating us.
Lots to do. May 2015 isn’t that far away! Maybe Kentucky will even be ready to legally do it by then.
Enjoy the video, like it says: It’s time.