By David Taffet Contributing Writer

With the debate over same-sex marriage raging nationally, many local churches have long helped gay couples wed with their sacraments

Cathedral of Hope’s pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson.

The Cathedral of Hope doesn’t believe in discriminating against those who wish to marry — senior pastor the Rev. Jo Hudson says she’ll marry you even if you’re straight.

In fact, the ceremony performed at the cathedral is identical for gay or straight couples. The only difference is, "When we do heterosexual marriage, the pastor also acts as an agent for the state. For a gay or lesbian couple, we are acting purely as religious agents," says Hudson.

Commenting on the idea that gay and lesbian marriage destroys "traditional" marriage, Hudson notes that she has heard of couples breaking up due to infidelity, financial problems and a variety of other reasons. But she has never heard a couple say, "My marriage is falling apart because of gay marriage."

Here is a list of local gay-accepting churches that perform same-sex ceremonies.

AGAPE MCC — 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth. 817-535-5002. Rev. S. David Wynn, Sr., Rev. Teri Lubbers, Rev. Gina Purcell. Require pre-service counseling.

Ascension Lutheran Church — 4230 Buckingham Road, Garland. 972-276-0023. Pastor Kurt Friederich. Blessing service for church members.

Bethany Presbyterian Church — 4523 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-4084. Other: Called "an open, caring, inclusive, multicultural ‘More Light’ congregation."

Cathedral of Hope — 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 214-351-1901. Rector and senior pastor, Rev. Jo Hudson. Contact Rev. Steven Horelica at the Cathedral for marriage information.

Celebration Community Church — 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 817-335-3222. Pastor Carol West. Non-denominational Christian congregation.

Center for Spiritual Living — 4801 Spring Valley Road, Suite 115. 972-866-9988; Senior minister Rev. Petra Weldes; Rev. Marsha Meghdadpour. Marriage or commitment ceremony. United Church of Religious Science.

Community Unitarian Universalist Church — 2875 E. Parker Road, Plano, 972-424-8989. Rev. Patrick D. Price. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Congregation Beth El Binah — Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan St. 214-521-5342, ext. 1784. Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor. Reform Jewish congregation. Reform Judaism recognizes marriage between two Jewish men or women; however Rabbi Leynor will performs an interfaith service.

First Unitarian Church of Dallas — 4015 Normandy St. 214-528-3990. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus — 411 S. Westmoreland St. 214-333-9779. Pastor Tony Hoult. Performs holy unions.

Harvest MCC — 3916 E. McKinney St., Suite B, Denton. 940-320-6150. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas — 2735 Villa Creek Drive, Suite 290. 972-243-0761. Revs. Colleen Darraugh, Steven Pace, Kay Seitz. Performs weddings or holy unions. The church facility is available for non-members to rent.

New Hope Fellowship Church — 2438 Butler Road, Suite 108. 214-905-8082. An independent evangelical church, it performs holy unions and commitment ceremonies.

Midway Hills Christian Church — 11001 Midway Road. 214-352-4841. Rev. Terry L. Zimmerman. Performs union ceremonies.

Promise MCC — 2527 W. Colorado Blvd. 214-623-8400. Senior pastor Rev. Jon Haack; Rev. Lonnie Parks. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Trinity MCC — 1846 W. Division St. Suite 305, Arlington. 817-265-5454. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Unity Church of Christianity — 3425 Greenville Ave. 214-826-5683. Rev. Steve Colladay. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies. The minister is openly gay and supported by the congregation.

White Rock Community Church — 9353 Garland Road. 214-320-0043. Senior pastor Dr. James P. Walker; associate pastor Douglas Shaffer. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies or weddings — "whichever the couple is comfortable with." An activities center is available for receptions.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff — 3839 W. Keist Blvd. 214-337-2429. Rev. Mark Walz. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Four states and seven foreign countries offer marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

Massachusetts, which authorized marriage in 2004, was followed last year by Connecticut. Last month, Vermont passed marriage legislation and Iowa’s supreme court recently declared same-sex marriage a right in the Hawkeye State. (Marriage became legal in Iowa after a unanimous court ruling written by a judge appointed by a Republican governor. Vermont’s legislature upgraded their decade-old civil union law to marriage by overriding the governor’s veto.)

A favorable court ruling in California led to marriage in that state last June. That right was taken away in November by passage of Proposition 8. The state’s supreme court has heard arguments in an appeal and a ruling, expected by June 3, may reinstitute marriage equality there — or confirm Prop 8.

New York’s governor, David Paterson, issued an executive order last year recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere — an order upheld by two state courts. Two weeks ago, Paterson introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. While leadership in both the assembly and senate favor the legislation, neither body is expected to generate enough support to pass it this session.

Also in April, the District of Columbia began recognizing marriages performed elsewhere. That decision is subject to review by Congress, which could overturn the ordinance, although most observers doubt that would happen.

Rather than marriage, several states have passed civil union laws. When New Jersey enacted civil unions, it intended for gays and lesbians to have all the same rights as married couples. To study whether civil unions achieved that equality, they created a panel to monitor the differences. More than half of the first 1,000 couples with New Jersey civil unions filed complaints with the new commission alleging discrimination in many areas including hospital visitation rights, access to a partner’s health insurance and other workplace benefits.

New Hampshire enacted civil unions in 2008. Both Washington and Oregon register domestic partnerships. Oregon’s law gives couples all benefits and rights granted by the state; Washington’s law was upgraded this year to include all state benefits as well.

Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and Spain offer full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Israel and Japan recognize all marriages performed in other countries, although they do not issue marriage certificates to their own gay and lesbian citizens.

Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as one state in Brazil, the Mexican state of Coahila and Mexico City have civil unions. In Mexico, each state must recognize the laws of other states making civil unions, in effect, legal throughout the country.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 1, mobile newяндекс и ключевые слова