A year ago, when the Rowse-DeBoer marriage equality case was heard in a federal court in Detroit, I joined marriage equality supporters picketing in front of the courthouse. There I was lucky enough to meet Jami and Krista, a lovely same-sex couple who have since become parents and celebrities (but not in a good way).
Jami and Krista’s baby girl, Bay, is the infant who, at just four months old, was turned away by a doctor who refused to treat the child of a lesbian couple. When my friends decided to publicize their experience of discrimination, I felt like I needed to stand with them.
Anger is not a good Christian attitude, I grant you, but I find myself furious with the pediatrician citing her faith as her reasoning to discriminate. I also find myself furious with a state that allows this to happen.
Once upon a time a doctor might have turned away patients who were black, or Jewish, or Irish or Italian, for that matter. Today, if Jami and Krista had experienced the same situation because they were Catholic or Latino, the civil rights laws enacted in the 1960s would enable them to sue. Today in some states, sexual orientation has been added to the list of protected classes, but not yet in Michigan. The fight for civil rights is not finished.
Christ is always calling us out of our comfort zones and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
He embraced the marginalized of his society, sharing meals with the poor, healing the sick, and challenging the authority of the religious and political leaders of his time who upheld the societal rules he came to break down.
It didn’t make his life easy. In fact, it cost him his life at the hands of the Romans. It wasn’t easy for his disciples either. And while we still read his lessons aloud in church two millennia later, we still struggle to follow the path of Christ and to see his likeness in the faces of others.
Our Baptismal vows call us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself…strive for justice and peace among all peoples, and respect the dignity of every human being.”
What might Christianity look like if we all practiced those words among our friends and into the world at large? Could the church be a beacon of caring, hope and love in this culture of fear? Could we find our lives changed by the Spirit, so that we become disciples and build God’s Kingdom as a society of love, with justice and peace and dignity for all? We will, with God’s help.
Please join me in calling upon our state legislators to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Michigan’s nondiscrimination law and to vote against “license to discriminate” laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, for little Bay and for my friends, Jami and Krista.