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Wednesday

July 2014

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Pastor: same-sex marriages 'normal and right and good'

Finally, the day came that they had long hoped for; the day that many prayed would someday be theirs. On June 9, that day finally arrived.

At 1:45 p.m. Monday, the Rev. Nansi Hawkins of Emmanuel United Church in Dousman married three same-sex couples at the Waukesha County Courthouse.

"Jeanne Phelan and Terry Skiba gathered on the lawn with their fellow church members Jim and Alex Langreder to finally take the legal vows they have sought for so many years," Hawkins said.

"Jim and Alex held their two young children as they took their vows. As this marriage was ending, another couple walked out of the Waukesha County Courthouse and asked if they could be married too. In their arms was their 3-week-old son.

"Jeanne Phelan and Terry Skiba have been in unrecognized union for almost 20 years; Jim and Alex Langreder have been in unrecognized union for 12 years. What will be different for them now? For Jim and Alex, they will both get to have full parental rights for both of their children.

"For both couples, their financial burdens will be eased by tax codes enjoyed by married couples. They will not have to worry about being denied access to their spouses in the hospital if there's an accident. And their relationship will be publicly honored in a way it never has been before. That's a big one: To be seen as normal and right and good, and to be treated equally under the law," Hawkins explained.

For the pastor, performing wedding ceremonies for couples who have waited so long to legally exchange vows, the day was filled with significance.

Hawkins knows that the controversial issue often leaves same-sex couples without a church.

"Since many churches cannot accept openly gay persons, many gay and lesbian couples have no church home. Since the time frame for same-sex marriage before a possible stay may be limited, Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Dousman is offering weddings at no cost to same sex couples through June 20," she said.

Emmanuel Church openly welcomes and embraces the LGBTQ community in its common life.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R) declined to comment on the matter because the federal judge who overturned the ruling did not issue an order to grant same-sex marriage. Kleefisch said there is a holding pattern on whether a higher court will address the judge's ruling.

Opposing views

Other area officials, including the Wisconsin GOP, Catholic Memorial, Nashotah House and local churches, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the overturn of the ban on same-sex marriage by deadline.

The Rev. John Yockey, pastor at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in Oconomowoc, referred to the church's belief on the union of marriage.

"Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman with a twofold purpose: the unitive and the procreative.

"Equal in dignity, man and woman have subtle but real differences between their genders. They accept God's call to covenant the whole of their lives together and grow in a unique friendship, sharing the whole of their lives all their lives. Same-gender friendships are precious and necessary for human well-being, but they're not seen as identical to the inclusive, life-uniting potential of marital friendship.

"At the same time, the covenant of marriage is called by God to be open to participate with him in the procreation of new human life. Heterosexual intercourse has that openness in bodily bonding hypothetically even during/after menopause. Homosexual intercourse lacks that inherent, bodily openness to procreation," Yockey said.

"'Marriage equality' assumes that every kind of intimate friendship is basically the same with the same values and goals. Roman Catholic teaching will never agree. Traditional, monogamous and heterosexual marriage is uniquely unitive and uniquely procreative among the models of human friendship.

"So long as secular society respects the autonomy of the church in defining its theology of marriage, we'll probably live and let live. Should secular society ever require the church to adopt its philosophy and practices, there'll be a clash," the pastor said.

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