August 17, 2013

Not all faiths espouse gay marriage as rite

While same-sex couples can marry legally in 13 states, the landmark decisions change nothing in the eyes of churches.

By ANITA CREAMER McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Rabbi Mona Alfi marries Dan Hoody, left, and Dave Felderstein at the Congregation B'nai Israel in Sacramento, Calif., during a brief window in 2008 when gay marriage was legal in the state – as it is once again.

McClatchy Newspapers

At 70, Jan Seaman is a committed Roman Catholic, active in St. Francis of Assisi Parish in midtown Sacramento. She would like to marry her partner of 21 years, Mary Marks.

Just not in the church.

"When we get married, we'll do something like a nice garden party," said Seaman, a retired university professor. "I don't have any affinity for getting married in church."

She volunteers with St. Francis' new outreach ministry for lesbian and gay parishioners, hoping to welcome back those who left the church in 2008, alienated by the Proposition 8 campaign.

"The church is like my political party," said Seaman. "I don't agree with everything they say and do, but I'm more comfortable in a Catholic church."

Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the Mormon Church defines marriage as being between a man and woman.

That? fine with Holly Reynolds, a lifelong Mormon who lives in Sacramento. At 35, she's been married for 13 years and is the mother of four.

"I'm very welcoming and accepting of people regardless of their sexual orientation," she said. "But I'm in favor of marriage between men and women."

Partly, that's because she thinks children need to be raised by both a mother and a father, she said.

"It's not a matter of what my church says I need to believe," she said.


In Granite Bay, Bayside Church doesn't perform same-sex marriages, either. But Curt Harlow, one of the pastors at the 14,000-member nondenominational Christian church, said it's likely someone has asked.

"We would tell them that everyone is welcome here," he said. "But we hold to the biblical view that marriage is between one man and one woman. That's the long and short of it."

Clergy members from other faiths disagree with that interpretation of the Scriptures.

The Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Sacramento's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, recently performed his first same-sex wedding ceremony in the church.

"Why are we choosing one passage and ignoring the passage that says you can stone your child if he's rude to you?" he said.

"The Bible until recently was used to say that marriage between the races was wrong. This is a very similar argument, I think. Marriage has been a very evolving target, and this is one more evolution in the cycle."

In 2008, Alfi performed more than 15 same-sex weddings at Congregation B'nai Israel. Most involved longtime couples such as the Allen-Brechers, who have been together for more than two decades.

For most of those couples, Alfi said, marrying in their faith made a difference in their lives.

"There were a number of couples, I called them and said, 'Are you going to get married?'"said Alfi. "They said they'd done the legal things they needed to do, and I said, 'This is different. Trust me, you'll feel different.'"

"They were shocked at how much it meant to them to stand in front of their friends and family and be married by a rabbi."

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