This posting was submitted by a PFLAG Alamance mom. It was written by her daughter. We all know that legal marriage in a civil courthouse provides legal benefits—but legal marriage means so much more. Please comment by emailing info@PflagAlamance,org
Ir is No Small Thing to Stand in a Historic Moment
I had said “I do” before, standing in the front of a church sanctuary, wearing a white dress and looking into her beautiful eyes. She wore a white dress too.
In good and bad, joy and challenge, we’d promised before God and community to stay by another’s side and share it all. We had already said “I do” to all of it.
And so I didn’t think about what it might be like to say it again, standing in the Santa Cruz County building. I had no idea what it would feel like for us to walkinto a clerk’s office and actually receive a marriage license. It didn’t occur to me that I would be so happy to write a check to the county for anything. Truth is saying “I do” in front of the county clerk meant more than I could have ever imagined.
It is no small thing to stand in a historic moment, to participate in the righting of an injusticeyou haven’t dared dream would come true for you.
Does having a civil marriage license makes our Christian marriage any more valid? Absolutely not. The promises we made to God and each other are not subject to any civil authority. We are blessed beyond measure to serve and participate in a Christian community that already believes our growing family is equal to any other, a community that has been working for many years to move the state to practice the equality of citizens so clearly stated in the Constitution.
I learned the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag almost 30 years ago. As an adult I’ve discovered my allegiance is first to God and that primary allegiance sometimes comes into conflict with the laws of the United States.
I’ve also learned that these conflicts between my core Christian convictions and certain laws, policies and decisions by the government can be held in a creative tension. This tension is possible because og the innate freedom given to me in my creation as a child of God, and because of the freedom of choice and espression promised in the U.S. Constitution.
What i also learned as an adult, though, is that there were limits to the freedom under the law for me. My sister and her husband could be married under the law. They had that choice in every state. But, because I was oriented differently and knew that a woman was the life partner for me, the choice of legal marriage was denied me.
“With liberty and justice for all” didn’t mean me, not wholly.
But then came an ordinary Tuesday morning in June. I said “I do” — again. This time in a courthouse. This time surrounded by another community of people we love and who love us. This time with a simple dress for me and maternity clothes for Shannon.
And the room erupted in joy, tears and applause. The state had made good on its promise to us, as citizens. Our family was finally recognized as equal under the law.
We are deeply and profoundly grateful to God for the loving and Christian community that surrounds us every day. And we are proud to be citizens of California, where “liberty and justice for all” rings ever closer to being true for all its people.
The Rev. Heather Dillashaw Spencer is an Associate Minister at First Congregational Church, United of Christ, in Santa Cruz, CA. She and her wife, the Rev. Shannon Spencer, are expecting their first child this fall.