Gov. Chris Gregoire is providing courageous and just leadership in her support for same-sex marriage (TNT, 1-5). Now the Legislature and the rest of us need to step up with our support. Making it legal is a matter of justice for all.
And it’s not difficult. Let the legal part of getting married be taken care of entirely at the courthouse. As couples now go there to obtain a marriage license to marry they would then go there and complete the marriage contract and be given a certificate of marriage. Nothing more to do: same for all, hetero or same-sex couples. It also solves the problem for those who object to same-sex marriage and fear being “forced” to preside at a same-sex marriage service.
Separated from the legal dimension, for persons of faith the role of the clergy person and the religious community would be exactly as it is now (except that the clergy person would not be a servant of the state, needing a marriage license to proceed and forms to fill out).
As now, clergy persons could have procedures offered to those anticipating marriage – helpful information, marriage counseling and/or workshops. They could also help in planning for and carrying out a “service of blessing” with liturgy, scriptures, prayers, vows, music, flowers, reception, etc., after the marriage has taken place.
(Haugen is a retired Lutheran pastor.)