As New York state legislators are debating legalizing same-sex marriage in their state, the issue makes news in other venues, too. The New York Times reported this weekend that President Obama's views on the issue are "evolving." He plans to host a Gay Pride reception at the White House later this month and has been raising money in the gay community. But Jimmy Creech, author of Adam's Gift and a former Methodist minister who lost his credentials for performing same-sex marriages, recalls meeting with Obama's staff when he was a senator. Creech expected Obama to be sympathetic to gay marriage. "But he said the conversation turned frosty when same-sex marriage came up. 'We talked about this as an expression of bigotry, using religion to justify discrimination,' Mr. Creech said. 'They did not like that; the word 'bigotry' was inflammatory to them."
Just as President Obama's views are evolving, the Associated Press reports that "a growing number of pastors in the United Methodist Church say they're no longer willing to obey a church rule that prohibits them from officiating at same-sex marriages, despite the potential threat of being disciplined or dismissed from the church." Jimmy Creech plans to attend the trial of Reverend Amy DeLong in Wisconsin this week. She faces the loss of her credentials for admitting to being in a lesbian relationship herself and for marrying a lesbian couple. While the outcome of the trial is far from certain, clearly the Methodist church has come a long way since Creech's own trial. The AP reports that "hundreds of pastors from states including Illinois, Minnesota and New York have signed statements in recent weeks asserting their willingness to defy the rule."
And in one last sign of changing times, ministers of various denominations in Omaha, Nebraska, where Jimmy Creech was pastor when he was tried by the United Methodist Church in 1999, unveiled a proclamation callling for an end to religious and civil discrimination based on sexual orientation. KETV reports, "Rev. Eric Elnes, pastor of Countryside Community Church, said the proclamation was created because, 'we were just fed up with the popular notion that the Christian point of view is anti-gay.'" Creech will be preaching in Omaha in October.
In his book, Creech describes the struggle against discriminiation in the church and in society as ongoing. He is ever hopeful that progress is being made. "What gives hope its power is the confidence that whatever the present situation is, it is not final. Injstice and evil are temporary, not eternal. The future is always open to change and new realities (p. 336)." Clearly change has come since Creech's 1999 trial, thanks in no small part to activists like him.