Enjoy U.S. gay-rights win; now fight wrongs abroad

Albert Ogle
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

On the day when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act” and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriages in California, the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle writes:

Today, I celebrate 35 years of ordination as a priest in the church. It has never been easy to maintain a commitment to an institution that has been so historically homophobic and remains the largest barrier to LGBT people having equal access to citizenship or access to HIV prevention and health services globally.

In 76 countries, it remains illegal to be LGBT as it was in Ireland where I was ordained on this day so long ago. Today, LGBT people can get married in Belfast’s City Hall and even though the church in Ireland remains the last ship in the convoy to fully accept LGBT people, the legal right as a citizen to get married has been affirmed.

Today, the United States joins many other countries who have shared this painful process and marriage is no longer seen as a weapon to misuse by the majority against the minority, but “is honored among ALL people” to quote the Book of Common Prayer.

I celebrate the honor given to me by church and state to marry many heterosexual couples over these past 35 years and am no longer burdened by the need to treat members of my congregation differently when they come to me for marriage counseling. Heterosexual same-gender couples are welcome to share fully in the sacrament of marriage. Similarly all are welcome to share the sacrament of ordination, and baptism.

In my church, there are no second-class Christians. Today in the USA, here are no second class citizens.

It has been a long journey for all of us to come to this place and we must say a prayer of thanksgiving for the many who made this possible and the millions around the world who share our joy, even though they are still seen as criminals by clergy and politicians alike.

My prayer on this anniversary and on this historic day that we can turn our resources and energy from the battles now won in the USA, to the wider LGBT movement globally. There is nothing more honorable than to love and to serve others and globalization not only makes this possible, but makes it a moral imperative for this movement. We share the difficult journey with others and they hold what is sacred and true about us, even though there are times we may not believe it or our institutions do not believe it.

It is now our calling as the LGBT movement to bind ourselves in sacred covenant to others around the world that are part of the same procession moving from injustice to justice, from discrimination and persecution to full citizenship and a place at the table of their own destiny. As we celebrate our joy, others will see the vulnerability of the global LGBT movement as an easy target for rage and further persecution. The struggle and the journey are not over. This is not the time to be self-congratulatory or complacent.

The dreadful war machine of homophobia is being turned from us to point more directly at them and we must disarm it.

No one is fully safe and secure until this victory is won.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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