Ashland church to stop signing marriage licenses

Posted on 07 Jan 2009 at 5:37pm
By Associated Press

UCC ministers want state to recognize same-sex marriage

ASHLAND, Ore. — The clergy at one Ashland church are refusing to sign marriage licenses until same-sex couples can legally tie the knot.

The Rev. Pam Shepherd and three retired clergy members who attend the Congregational United Church of Christ will still perform weddings. For the license, however, couples will have to see a judge or justice of the peace.

Shepherd told the Ashland Daily Tidings she made the decision after realizing that by signing the licenses she was inadvertently giving her approval to discrimination.

"Every time I sign a license, it’s like I’m saying, ‘OK,’ but it’s not OK," she said.

Shepherd said she signed about five marriage licenses last year.

The clergy’s decision was announced last week with unanimous support from the Church Council to a congregation that is overwhelmingly straight, Shepherd said.

Her sermon on Sunday, Jan. 4 focused on marriage equality.

"I know a lot of other ministers in the community will disagree with us, but it grows out of our faithful reading of the Bible and our attempt to follow Jesus," she said. "For us, it’s a faith issue. It’s not just a political stand."

Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only states that permit gay marriage. A few states, including Oregon, allow civil unions or domestic partnerships that grant some rights of marriage.

Charles Harlow, one of the church’s retired clergy members, said the issue of same-sex marriage is about justice and equality.

"And I’m not against love," he added. "I think we need more of it in the world, not less, and people shouldn’t be beating other people over the head because they like a person that is the same gender they are."

Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings, http://www.dailytidings.com

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